Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Research -- Snow Crash Style

Just read the coolest passage from Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash. In best cyber-punk fashion, Stephenson describes "goggling in" to the Metaverse, a VR/avatar-based version of the Internet. The main character, Hiro Protagonist (heh), wanders into the Library and stumbles upon a friend's research project:
The room is filled with a three-dimensional constellation of hypercards [think document avatar], hanging weightlessly in the air. It looks like a high-speed photograph of a blizzard in progress. In some places, the hypercards are placed in precise geometric patterns, like atoms in a crystal. In other places, whole stacks of them are clumped together. Drifts of them have accumulated in the corners, as though Lagos tossed them away when he was finished. Hiro finds that his avatar can walk right through the hypercards without disturbing the arrangement. It is, in fact, the three-dimensional counterpart of a messy desktop, all the trash still remaining wherever Lagos left it. The cloud of hypercards extends to every corner of the50-by-50-foot space, and from floor level all the way up to about eight feet, which is about as high as Lagos's avatar could reach.
This is how I would like to organize my dissertation data.
Excel bites.

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