Re: VR: Lat/Long of Internet Servers

Kenneth C. Jenks (
Mon, 18 Jul 94 18:03:44 -0500

I wrote:
>>I think we need the lat/long client/server to form the basic grid of

>>cyberspace. The rest of cyberspace can literally be built on this

>>foundation. (Mark Waks) shot back:
>"Need" is a very strong word. And, quite frankly, I disagree

I'm glad you disagree vigorously -- it makes the argument more
interesting. I stand by my words until convinced to withdraw.

>When I'm wandering around the Web, I don't care *where* a
>server is located -- it's the furthest thing from my mind. I wander
>from California to Norway at a shot, if that's where the data happens
>to be. My expectation of cyberspace is very much the same way -- I
>want to know *what*, not *where*. (Or, at most, I may want to know
>where something is logically, but don't give a damn where it is

You're confusing "hyperspace" with "cyberspace," but I'll forgive you
that. Hypertext links should certainly be visible in VR cyberspace.
But what should they look like and how do you follow them? And how so
you know where they lead before you follow down the primrose path? You
argue that you don't care where they lead; you'll follow blindly,
dunking your head in California and surfacing in Norway. I'd say
that's a long way to swim if the same data is available in Oregon.

You, Mark, might instruct your VR web browser to view your version of
cyberspace not in polar coordinates but in network "bandwidth"
coordinates: the smaller the bandwidth between you and another server,
the further away it appears in your VR view. You may want your view's
Z coordinate tied to the popularity of the server, so the really
popular servers ( are at the top of your view, with the boring
servers (like mine, in the
gutter, at the bottom of the view. So now your view has cylindrical
coordinates: R defined by "bandwidth," Z defined by "popularity." What
do you use for Theta? What does your VR view of the 'Net look like?

My point is that you have your own, personal view of how cyberspace
should look, and you should be able to build your VR view of the 'Net
according to your favorite logical variables. I prefer a
geographically oriented view, so I (and people like me) should be able
to use that view. Geographic proximity can be very useful in queries
and searches (see below).

If you don't use lat/long as the basic coordinate system for
cyberspace, what variables do you use? (And if you do use lat/long,
what do you do for determining the size, brightness, and colors of each
node on the 'Net?)

>I could see building a map like this on *top* of a purely logical

What have we got now (today) but a purely logical system? I'm a
map-oriented person, and I'd like to start building cyberSPACE.

>Indeed, it shouldn't be especially hard -- it's almost
>exactly analogous to the map-based systems springing up on the Web.
>But in my experience, those systems are at best marginally useful
>unless I'm trying to find out information about a specific locale,
>which is rare.

I would find information about specific locales quite useful. For
example, I might want to find all of the mexican restaurants (and their
menu servers) within 2 miles of the airport I'm flying into tomorrow.
Or I might want to post a note to all home computers within 10 blocks
of my house telling people who care to read about it that my dog has
gotten out again. Or I might want to ask "Who are the people in my
neighborhood?" And what is the phone number of the house 4th down
Pence street -- I think I see somebody prowling in their yard.

This kind of geography-based information is VERY important in the real
world. Right now, it isn't screamingly important in FTP or WWW or
Gopher, etc., but it could be in the future. That's what we're
designing here: the future appearance of the Internet.

One reason it's rare for you, right now, to ask for locale-specific
information on the Internet is that it currently isn't accessible that
way, so it's very hard to ask for it. Another reason is that there
aren't a whole lot of servers in every local -- yet. If you consider
the 'Net not just as a way of downloading nifty software and cute
images but as a tool for improving everybody's standard of living, as
integrated into the community, locale-specific queries, searches and
postings become much more useful.

>As a possible application -- sure. As the fundament of cyberspace --
>I don't think so...

OK, then: what is to be the fundament of cyberspace? Domain names?
Obscure SNMP parameters? "Bandwidth" and "Popularity?"

Mark, when you gaze into the future and look out at the Internet
through your VR eyes, what do you see?

-- Ken Jenks, NASA/JSC/SD5, Space Biomedical Research Institute (713) 483-4368

"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new

landscapes, but in having new eyes..."

-- Marcel Proust (1871-1922)