This phrase was used by William Gibson
in Mona Lisa Overdrive
to describe cyberspace
. In his vision of the Matrix
, space itself is not a spatial referent; cyberspace represents data
and not place
. Speaking of 'place' in the Matrix is to confuse its essential purpose.
The context of the phrase is in a character's recollection of a child's tutorial on cyberspace. In fact, however, Gibson's storyline for the Cyberspace Trilogy (Neuromancer, Count Zero Interrupt, and Mona Lisa Overdrive) does present the notion of self-aware constructs 'living' in the Matrix. Unlike humans, for whom the Matrix is a data navigation tool and not an explicit virtual reality, these constructs display actual presence in the Matrix that is observable by humans who are accessing it. To them, then, there must be a 'there,' there - for they are occupying a space, as unreal as that space may be.
Typical users of the Matrix do not do this. They are disembodied viewpoints. Only code objects, created and in some cases controlled by the users, are normally displayed in the Matrix for other users to see - because those code objects, as machine data, have become part of the totality of data which the Matrix was created to display.