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

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

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.

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