This nOde last updated May 21st, 2002 and is permanently morphing...
(11 Ben (Reed) / 6 Zip - 193/260 - 184.108.40.206.13)
Paperback - 384 pages
Tor Books; ISBN: 0312862075
In 1981, three years before publication of William Gibson's _Neuromancer_ (1984), Vernor Vinge's critically acclaimed novella "True Names" invented the concept of cyberspace. This book is the first forum to explore the blossoming discoveries and groundbreaking applications, both current and future, on the new frontier of the Internet and all its subsets.
In my grad student
days, we loved to sit around and discuss the implications of Vernor's ideas.
Sixteen years later, I do research at MIT,
and it's still fun to sit around and talk about how Vernor's ideas are
coming to be.
(Amazingly enough, Vinge has done this not once, but twice: *Marooned in Realtime* contains ideas even more interesting than *True Names* -- all in the setting of a murder mystery that takes place 50 million years in the future.)
These metaphors arise and take power because, as William Irwin Thompson noted in a discussion of computer games, "the conventional worldview of materialism is not subtle enough to deal with the complexities of a multidimensional universe in which domains interpenetrate and are enfolded in one another." The science-fiction author Vernor Vinge came to a similar conclusion in _True Names_, a brilliant novella whose vision of a networked virtual world predates _Neuromancer_ by three years. Unlike the bright neon grid of Gibson's cyberspace, the Other Plane of Vinge's story is a Tolkienesque world of swamps, castles, and magic, a half-dreamed environment that is generated partly through electronic cues that stimulate the "imagination and subconscious" of its electrode-wearing users. The hacker denizens of the Other Plane band together as covens of witches and warlocks, and at one point, a few of them discuss how magical metaphors came to dominate "data space":
The Limey and Erythrina argued
that sprites, reincarnation, spells, and castles were the natural tools
here, more natural than the atomistic twentieth-century notions of data
structures, programs, files, and communication protocols. It was,
they argued, just more convenient for the mind to use the global ideas
of magic as the tokens to manipulate this new environment.
- Erik Davis - _Techgnosis: Myth, Magic & Mysticism In The Age Of Information_