: Code 2.0

Chapter 2. Four Puzzles From Cyberspace

Chapter 2. Four Puzzles From Cyberspace

Everyone who is reading this book has used the Internet. Some have been in cyberspace. The Internet is that medium through which your e-mail is delivered and web pages get published. Its what you use to order books on Amazon or to check the times for local movies at Fandango. Google is on the Internet, as are Microsoft help pages.

But cyberspace is something more. Though built on top of the Internet, cyberspace is a richer experience. Cyberspace is something you get pulled into, perhaps by the intimacy of instant message chat or the intricacy of massively multiplayer online games (MMOGs for short, or if the game is a role-playing game, then MMORPGs). Some in cyberspace believe theyre in a community; some confuse their lives with their cyberspace existence. Of course, no sharp line divides cyberspace from the Internet. But there is an important difference in experience between the two. Those who see the Internet simply as a kind of Yellow-Pages-on-steroids wont recognize what citizens of cyberspace speak of. For them, cyberspace is simply obscure.

Some of this difference is generational. For most of us over the age of 40, there is no cyberspace, even if there is an Internet. Most of us dont live a life online that would qualify as a life in cyberspace. But for our kids, cyberspace is increasingly their second life. There are millions who spend hundreds of hours a month in the alternative worlds of cyberspace later on we will focus on one of these worlds, a game called Second Life.[1] And thus while you may think to yourself, this alien space is nothing I need worry about because its nowhere Ill ever be, if you care to understand anything about the world the next generation will inhabit, you should spend some time understanding cyberspace.

That is the aim of two of the stories that follow. These two describe cyberspace. The other two describe aspects of the Internet more generally. My aim through these four very different stories is to orient by sometimes disorienting. My hope is that youll come to understand four themes that will recur throughout this book. At the end of this chapter, I come clean about the themes and provide a map. For now, just focus on the stories.

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