cyberpunk = C = cycle

cyberspace /si:'br-spays`/ n.

1. Notional `information-space' loaded with visual cues and navigable with brain-computer interfaces called `cyberspace decks'; a characteristic prop of cyberpunk SF. Serious efforts to construct virtual reality interfaces modeled explicitly on Gibsonian cyberspace are under way, using more conventional devices such as glove sensors and binocular TV headsets. Few hackers are prepared to deny outright the possibility of a cyberspace someday evolving out of the network (see the network). 2. The Internet or Matrix (sense #2) as a whole, considered as a crude cyberspace (sense 1). Although this usage became widely popular in the mainstream press during 1994 when the Internet exploded into public awareness, it is strongly deprecated among hackers because the Internet does not meet the high, SF-inspired standards they have for true cyberspace technology. Thus, this use of the term usually tags a wannabee or outsider. Oppose meatspace. 3. Occasionally, the metaphoric location of the mind of a person in hack mode. Some hackers report experiencing strong eidetic imagery when in hack mode; interestingly, independent reports from multiple sources suggest that there are common features to the experience. In particular, the dominant colors of this subjective `cyberspace' are often gray and silver, and the imagery often involves constellations of marching dots, elaborate shifting patterns of lines and angles, or moire patterns.

--The Jargon File version 4.3.1, ed. ESR, autonoded by rescdsk.

Cyberspace exists as a realm within what we know as the real world; the one in which we eke out our lives, trying each day to better our lot. Yet cyberspace is populated by entities quite unlike ourselves, and is regulated by its own set of bizarre laws and is abuzz with activities far removed from anything we would recognize as familiar.

The population of cyberspace, and by this I mean the permanently resident population, consists of bots; tiny autonomous manifestations of electronic life that live to push data, much as bureaucrats live to push paper. The most prolific bots are the webcrawlers, who ferret out data and catalogue it for the many search engines that employ them; an online extension of researchers and librarians. Almost as copious are the email-bots that sit around and bounce canned messages back at people who contact them; the digital descendants of those people whose job description encompasses nothing more than the recital of a chunk of drivel to anyone demanding their attention. Unknown to many, exist a clan of visible minorities, popularly known as worms; denizens of the sinister underworld who incessantly gallivant in search of host machines into which they can spawn clones that will advance their efforts to seize control of the global labyrinth of computers; the mafia element of cyberspace.

The Prime Directive in cyberspace is Murphy's Law, which decrees that anything that can go wrong will go wrong, the defining principle upon which cyberspace is founded. When constructing an entire world based exclusively upon logic and consistency, it is necessary to assume that flaws will appear and to therefore take pre-emptive measures to compensate for these potential errors when designing the systems that are to hold this world together. Thus failsafe mechanisms are the hallmark of the virtual architecture of cyberspace. Its highways are designed, not to facilitate speedy transportation, but rather to guarantee the safe passage of the vehicles that continually traverse its complex maze of interconnected paths. Its cities are laid out as ganglions of identical towns, any of which can perform the duties required of the city. If one of these towns were to fall victim to an invasion, one of the others instantly takes over for it. In cyberspace every eventuality is foreseen and precautions are taken to prevent them from causing dire havoc. In fact there are even safeguards against the unexpected and unpredictable freak incidents that defy logic on a regular basis.

The affairs of cyberspace are nearly impossible to fathom as they are based upon impulses and ideologies that would never thrive in our world. The demands that gave birth to cyberspace and all the subsequent desires that shaped it during its formative years were offshoots of our educational, economic and entertainment requirements. These continue to hold sway as the primary objectives of the virtual minions who readily toil away in cyberspace; just as eating and sleeping remain our principal goals. However, just as we indulge in a plethora of unessential activities to keep ourselves occupied and distracted, the inhabitants of cyberspace follow distinct behavioral patterns that reflect the protocols and programming techniques that form their genetic makeup. Their social interaction may be highly structured but it is, nevertheless, an intriguing and complex phenomenon.

Hitherto we have never had occasion to observe and analyze a world other than our own; the domain of carbon-based life forms. Delving into the deep recesses of cyberspace allows us to use it as a mirror in which our own world is reflected. From what we have learned thus far, the universe would appear to be the ultimate fractal; each world a smaller version of its parent.

Copyright (c) Antonio D'souza, 1999.

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