Tuesday, February 07, 2006

On Cyberspace

Well it has been discussed on other, more popular websites that cyberspace, as a concept is out of date and overused. never mind that the same was true about fifteen years ago but now what with internet developments and all they (as in paid sci fi authors and associated Wired Journo's) think there should be a new catch all phrase for the internet that sound cool and a bit street.

The whole reasoning is that internet as a term doesn't really describe the interconnected nature of the web, what with all this social networking stuff, mobile phones doing things nobody really understands and the rest. only thing is that renaming it will be very tricky to do and there is no guarentee that what is thought of will catch the popular imagination. there has been a historic tendancy for only clunky, stupid sounding terms to become accepted in popular parlence, leaving all those who wanted to call the internet the SuperInfosphere looking stupid. because the problem with trying to find a cool name is that all too often it just looks like you're trying to be hip, and as most in the Geekosphere are so utterly socially retarded that anything they think of will only sound good to other socially retarded science fiction authors.

its all a bit late nineties, when everything suddenly had to have net in it and @ signs started appearing for no obvius grammatical reason, rather like anarchists and the A in a circle thingy. the TV series Killernet, by Lynda Laplante still gives me nightmares, but not for the reasons the makers intended and films like Fear.Com will be laughed at by retro leaning kids in fifteen years time. Nothing becomes anachronistic faster than a name. I personally cringe a the idea of thinking of a name, let the people throw one up of their own volition, they're bound to be able to come up with something hipper than any of us could.

The only idea i like so far is that frankly the nature of the internst and IT means it fits over the world unnoticed and that you can't really differntiate between the two. There is simply on, or off. I suppose it will all just be states that you slip into, not real world and internet and that there will be names and concepts for parts but not one overarching one. a lot of time was spent in the early days of the internet imagining what it would look like if displayed as 3d model, the assumption being virtual reality would mean we would access it all through clunky headsets. that similarly anachronistic, in that it has yet to develop that way at all, the closest being having the internet on mobile phones.

it was all very early Gibson, great towers of data and neon lines signifying information. Even he though was not imagining the internst as such and certainly not the World Wide Web, he was visualising the idea of information flow as a three dimensional image, the place where your money goes when it gets put in your account, pure represenation of the mechanics of electronic communication. the internet in its most basic form is this, just the traffic of computers talking and data stored in its raw form. the internet as it is in popular discourse, ie the Web or the various ways the data is viewed is very different, indeed the tectonic shifts in the internet over the last few years have been in how information is used, how it is sifted, displayed and utilised. the whole web 2.0 stuff is all about that, platforms that use pre existing data but in new ways and making it easier and more useful. it gets to the point where it does blend seamlessly into the background, where the internet just becoems the source of information, of entertainment and knowledge and the rest, just how that data is used becomes the interface. basically trying to name it is silly, and not really likley to work, it will just be called the internet for ever until it is unrecognisable from the lovable error prone and erratic system we know today.

I just reckon Cyberspace is as good a catch all term as any, as it describes the bare bones of things, just as internet does, but i think its meant to encompass every type of electronic interaction. plus gibson's universe is frankly much cooler than our own, his only crime is to make hackers look cool, when most of them are just geeks with a feeling of smug superiority at the thought they are all that stands between man and Totalitarian information dominance.

However here are some names under consideration

Ultra modern mega info sphere- mooted by star trek fans, who never really got the concept of cyberspace becasue there were no cyberspace ships or pretty aliens for any virtual Kirk to shag
Binternet- from Viz, from the most popular use of the internet, ie porn
Spamosphere- What it will inevitably become when spam gets clever than people and blogs become self aware
Internets- people laughed at bush when he talked of the internets, but there are plans afoot for a second, better internet that would solve the main problems of the old one- ie spam and stuff being free. needless to say its the bigger companies and the music/film industry pushing that one.
Whingeosphere- vast acres of new technology, the undreamt culmination of man's technology put to the purpose of people moaning about stuff they don't like.
IGoogleSoftPeoplesRepublic- run by a conglomeration of the worlds most powerful interest's and policed by the People's Republic of China.
The Nerd Kingdom- a place where normal people don't know how to use stuff and are at the mercy of the techno literate who charge them vast fees for illusory services and fill their computers with spyware.


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