January 27, 2006

what if it's not the end?

What if every time you turn on a device, pick up an object, walk through a room, cyberspace is all around you? What if cyberspace is oozing through the walls that once held it back, seeping out of the very fabric of reality? What if cyberspace is 'out there' in the network, and cyberspace also suffuses the world all around us, immersing us simultaneously in the physical and the hyperreal?

In a sense, cyberspace has always existed in a latent form and in our collective imagination, but until we invented the right kind of windows to look through, it wasn't explicit and we couldn't see it. Once we built networks and connected our computers, cyberspace became a new territory that we could visit, colonize, and explore. But cyberspace was a separate place from our world only because the necessary bridging technologies didn't exist. Now that they do, we no longer need to take that long journey down the wire to get there. Instead, cyberspace is coming to us.

As Adam Greenfield says of ubicomp, "...it's fundamentally about the surfacing of information that has always been latent in our lives". The world is filled with, nay, made of implicit linkages -- everything in the world, every person, place, and thing, is interconnected. Everything has a backstory, everything has an identity, everything has a virtual presence. The technologies now exist to make these links and histories and names explicit, persistent, and findable. Internet. Hypermedia. Wireless. Sensors. Social networks. Positioning. Physical and digital tags. Peninfinite storage.

What if our world is filling up with cyberspace like atmosphere into a vacuum, a sponge thrown into the sea, sweet water into a glass, fuel into the tank? What if this is not the end of cyberspace, but rather just the beginning?

Posted by Gene at January 27, 2006 11:14 PM