Maps of Cyberspace
by: Sam Vaknin, Ph.D.
กCyberspace. A consensual hallucination experienced daily by billions of legitimate operators, in every nation, by children being taught mathematical concepts…A graphical representation of data abstracted from the banks of every computer in the human system. Unthinkablecomplexity. Lines of light ranged in the nonspace of the mind, clusters and constellations of data. Like city lights, receding…ก (WilliamGibson, กNeuromancerก, 1984, page 51)
At first sight, it appears to be a static, cluttered diagram with multicoloured, overlapping squares. Really, it is an extremely powerfulway of presenting the dynamics of the emerging epublishing industry. R2 Consulting has constructed these eBook Industry Maps to ‘reflect the evolving business models among publishers, conversion houses, digital distribution companies, eBook vendors, online retailers, libraries, library vendors, authors, and many others. These maps are 3dimensionaloffering viewers both a highlevel orientation to the eBook landscape and an indepth look at multiple eBook models and the partnerships thathave formed within each one.ก Pass your mouse over any of the squaresand a virtual floodgate opens a universe of interconnected and hyperlinked names, a detailed atlas of who does what to whom.
eBookMap.net is one example of a relatively novel approach to databases and web indexing. The metaphor of cyberspace comes alive in spatial, two and three dimensional maplike representations of the world of knowledge in Cybergeographyกs online กAtlasก. Instead of endless, static and bichromatic lists of links Cybergeography catalogues visual,recombinant vistas with a stunning palette, internal dynamics and an intuitively conveyed sense of interrelatedness. Hyperlinks are incorporated in the topography and topology of these almostneural maps.
‘these maps of Cyberspaces cybermaps help us visualise and comprehend the new digital landscapes beyond our computer screen, in the wires of the global communications networks and vast online information resources. The cybermaps, like maps of the realworld, help us navigate the new information landscapes, as well being objects of aesthetic interest. They have been created by กcyberexplorersก of many different disciplines, and from all corners of the world. Some of the maps … in the Atlas of Cyberspaces … appear familiar, using the cartographicconventions of realworld maps, however, many of the maps are much more abstract representations of electronic spaces, using new metrics and grids.ก
Navigating these maps is like navigating an inner, familiar, territory.
They come in all shapes and modes: flow charts, quasigeographical maps, 3d simulatorlike terrains and many others. The กweb Stalkerก is an experimental web browser which is equipped with mapping functions. The range of applicability is mind boggling.
A (very) partial list:
The Internet Genome Project กopensource map of the major conceptual components of the Internet and how they relate to each otherก
Anatomy of a Linux System Aimed to ก…give viewers a concise and comprehensive look at the Linux universeก and at the heart of the poster is a gravity well graphic showing the core software components,surrounded by explanatory textก
NewMedia 500 The financial, strategic, and other interrelationshipsand interactions between the leading 500 new (web) media firms
Internet Industry Map Ownership and alliances determine status, control, and access in the Internet industry. A revealing organizational chart.
The Internet Weather Report measures Internet performance, latency periods and downtime based on a sample of 4000 domains.
Real Time Geographic Visualization of WWW Traffic a stunning, 3d representation of web usage and traffic statistics the world over.
WebBrain and Map.net provide a graphic rendition of the Open Directory Project. The thematic structure of the ODP is instantly discernible.
The WebMap is a visual, multicategory directory which contains 2,000,000 web sites. The user can zoom in and out of subcategories and กunlockก their contents.
Maps help write fiction, trace a userกs clickpath (replete with clickable web sites), capture Usenet and chat interactions (threads), plot search results (though Alta Vista discontinued its mapping service and Yahoo!3D is no more), bookmark web destinations, and navigate through complex sites.
Different metaphors are used as interface. Web sites are represented as plots of land, stars (whose brightness corresponds to the web siteกs popularity ranking), aminoacids in DNAlike constellations,topographical maps of the ocean depths, buildings in an urban landscape, or other objects in a pastoral setting. Virtual Reality (VR) maps allow information to be simultaneously browsed by teams of collaborators, sometimes represented as avatars in a fully immersive environment. In many applications, the user is expected to fly amongst the data items invirtual landscapes. With the advent of sophisticated GUIกs (Graphic UserInterfaces) and VRML (Virtual Reality Markup Language) these maps may well show us the way to a more colourful and userfriendly future.
About The Author
Sam Vaknin is the author of กMalignant Self Love Narcissism Revisitedก and กAfter the Rain How the West Lost the Eastก. He is a columnist in กCentral Europe Reviewก, United Press International (UPI) and ebookweb.org and the editor of mental health and Central East Europe categories in The Open Directory, Suite101 and searcheurope.com. Until recently, he served as the Economic Advisor to the Government of Macedonia.
His web site: http://samvak.tripod.com
This article was posted on February 2, 2002
by Sam Vaknin, Ph.D.