I’m going to be honest. I just cannot get into Snow Crash. There…I said it. This aside, I do understand the edges of the novel and how it foreshadowed technology in today’s world, particularly the parallels found between his Metaverse and virtual worlds like Second Life. While this analogy is the easiest to make, I argue that the Internet itself is a parallel to the Metaverse concept. In other words, the Internet is a vast three dimensional structure in which we exist on a daily basis even without seeing ourselves as an avatar.
Early public Internet use focused on very 2D interaction. A person, company, or organization built a site, and we visited it to get some kind of information. Perhaps we would link out to another site from that one, but the purpose was often the same. The current iteration of the Web stresses social interaction in some form or another. We visit sites not only for information, but we add comments, post videos, rate products, share photographs, and expose ourselves (cleanly, hopefully) to the world. In these contexts we don’t exist as a visible avatar; however, a 3D presence exists.
Take our group’s production of the multidirectional story in the form of a dating site. Although our incarnation is fake, it parodies real environments in which we project ourselves into a world through our words (written and spoken) and images (moving and still). The world of the Internet already allows us create ourselves as real or fantastic as we please without having to put on fake shades or digital dresses. We can reinvent ourselves through a Facebook profile or make ourselves appear as appealing as possible to the opposite sex through a Match.com profile.
Who needs Second Life? Have our imaginations become so limited that we have to literally see this world in order to experience being in another world? Just something to ponder…