[comp.org.uniforum] Customizing cyberspace

gourdol@imag.imag.fr (Gourdol Arnaud) (11/03/90)

Several people here stated that they wanted to have their own view
of the cyberspace. That is, they want to choose if they see
net "access" as big circles (red, blue or whatever) or as
doors with a label on it, or as building with a big sign...
Some have also argued about cyberspace should "look like" 
reality or not.
Tell me if I'm wrong somewhere, but I think that there's something
wrong with this.

Today, cyberspace (or Internet if you prefer) is using text
data only. The message are those characters I am sending
you. You are free to choose the font with which you
read my message (if your deck (or rather terminal) allows you
to do it. But this is because I can't send you my message with
some font information. Let's make a step in the future (not
speaking yet of real cyberspace). I got a microphone attached
to my terminal. With it I can record voice messages. Let's
suppose I choose to send you the message this way. Do you
mean you would like to choose the way my voice is altered
when you receive it ? I do not want you to alter my message this way.
Suppose I send you a graphic or a video sequence. Do you want
your system to "translate" it ? I sure do not want. if I send
you the message a certain way, I want you to receive it the same
way, even if you can alter it after. As you can take the words
I am sending today and then put them in any order you wish. But
it's not MY message any more.

So, to go back to cyberspace, when the bandwith will be
high enough, we will not just send each other ASCII characters,
but sound, still pictures, video sequences, and maybe other
things as well (comportemental programms). You can not
customize this, as this is not just your deck that is making
cyberspace alive, but the whole network.

I think that what we must find is some common world that
everybody linked to the Net will see (or listen or feel).
And each of the one linked to the net will be able to customize
the way he looks, not the way others appear to him.
The analogy with today is the header of the messages. Everybody
agree on them. Idem with the character set.
This suppose that this virtual world should be "natural" to 
everybody. I don't say it will have to look like real world,
but that we will be able to feel good in it.

Now, it's time to give my own view of how cyberspace could look.
It's based on many very could cyberpunk books.
The net is like a big town. There are some big buildings in it
(big .com) with their name flashing in very huge neon-letters.
When I want to send a message to someone I go to the building
he is in.  I can go quickly at any place of NetTown. I go at
the bulding entry. Here maybe there is a groom waiting for me.
If I can't enter the building, he will tell me so, pointing
at the mailboxes outside the building. I then go to the maiboxes
and quickly find the one of my friend (I can quickly locate it
because there is a big sticker with a picture of him on it).
I then go INTO the mailbox. I then enter a small room with
a sofa, two big armchairs and a little table. There is an
"electronic representation" of my friend waiting for me here.
This time he chose to appear as a magician with a dark blue robe.
He greets me and tells me he is out for now. I tell him
about a problem I had with a programm he sent me. The electronic
representation listen carrefuly while it's looking in it's
knowledge database. It finds a fact my friend (the human one)
has put in it about this problem. The rep (short for electronic
representation) tells me "Oh, yes. Here is what should solve your
problem". He puts his hand into his robe and pull a crystal orb,
that I take. This orb is a representation of my friend's program.
If I want, I can enter into the orb. But as for now, I leave the
rep and get out of the mailbox. I now goes to a cafe called
"Mona Lisa" where they are used to speak about how to improve
virtual realities. As I enter I see the barman
and several other folks here, some talking to others. Near the
fireplace, there is a guy talking and showing some drawing on
a sheet of paper. I approach and carrefuly listen to him.
He is explaining how he would like to see cyberspace from
his deck. On the paper, are some circles of different colors.
I ask him "What do colors means ?". He explains me "Green are
the host to which I can connect. Blue are the one which contains
useful informations". Of course, it's not really him
who explains me all this, but a rep. Disagreeing with it's views
I decide to post a reply. I then explain him how I see virtual
worlds and cyberspace and make various drawings and video-sequences.
An AI programm is analysing all what I'm saying and translate it
into a knowledge base. Later, a rep will expose my views to
everybody in "Mona Lisa" who wants to listen to me. I then get
out of "Mona Lisa" and shut down my deck.

This is how I would like cyberspace to be. Now, it's pure 
fiction (today). But there are things we should do today :

1) Imagine what tomorrow could be (even if it appears as
   "daydreaming"). This should give us a goal.

2) Build what we can today. I think the "system database" is
   a good idea.

3) Improve what we have today.
   Are there many people out there who are using something
   more evolved than a vt100 ? I personnaly use a Mac, but 
   I'm sure there are some with Sun, Appolos, NeXT, even PCs.
   We are all able to do pictures with those machines (and
   even sound for some of us). Why can't we send these to
   the net. I mean, as easily as we can send characters.
Please, if you agree or disagree with my vision of cyberspace
let me know.

 / Arnaud Gourdol.      //         On the netland : gourdol@imag.fr /