RealTime IT News

Science Fact More and More Resembles Science Fiction

Remember the three-dimensional virtual data palaces described in William Gibson's seminal book "Neuromancer?" The book that coined the word "cyberspace?"

Now, two prominent Internet pioneers founded a company to create three dimensional maps portraying the relationships between computers and information, according to a New York Times report.

And the maps may well carry advertising.

The company, Invisible Worlds Inc., is the brainchild of Carl Malamud and Marshall Rose, both Internet software developers who are credited with helping to create some of the most widely used technology components of the Internet.

"The idea underlying the new company is that the current generation of Internet navigation tools--portals, search engines and directories--makes it difficult for users to visualize dimensions of cyberspace, the virtual universe that has resulted from the emergence of the Internet and online services," the Times said.

"We think you should be able to take your mouse or joystick and drive around the Internet," Malamud was quoted as saying. "One of the reasons the Web seems so chaotic is there is no way to see it visually."

Malamud said this is the first commercial effort to build the tools to map the entire Internet.

When it is made available sometime next year, the company's set of visual rules, known as the Blocks protocol, will make it possible for computer users to examine locations of and relationships between Internet computers and network connections much as they would peruse a map or an atlas, the Times said.

Initially, users will view the interactive maps using a standard Web browser. But Malamud said he hoped someday to see the development of map-viewing software with more powerful visualization features.

The new company is planning to create two demonstration maps, one focusing on financial information and the other on music and media, the Times said, selling advertising or possibly even renting "space" in the areas it maps. Invisible Worlds is also hoping that its new protocol will create a market for tools, service software and map-viewing programs.

Rose is the author of the Post Office Protocol, or POP, used by millions for sending and receiving e-mail. Malamud has developed a number of nonprofit projects including Internet Talk Radio, the first online station, in 1993.