I just finished reading “Snow Crash” by Neal Stephenson. What a great book. I had heard references made to this book over the past year from Doc Searls and others but never had the opporutnity to read it. My recent Martha’s Vineyard vacation finally gave me sometime.
” From the opening line of his breakthrough cyberpunk novel Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson plunges the reader into a not-too-distant future. It is a world where the Mafia controls pizza delivery, the United States exists as a patchwork of corporate-franchise city-states, and the Internet–incarnate as the Metaverse–looks something like last year’s hype would lead you to believe it should. Enter Hiro Protagonist–hacker, samurai swordsman, and pizza-delivery driver. When his best friend fries his brain on a new designer drug called Snow Crash and his beautiful, brainy ex-girlfriend asks for his help, what’s a guy with a name like that to do? He rushes to the rescue. A breakneck-paced 21st-century novel, Snow Crash interweaves everything from Sumerian myth to visions of a postmodern civilization on the brink of collapse. Faster than the speed of television and a whole lot more fun, Snow Crash is the portrayal of a future that is bizarre enough to be plausible.”
What I like best about this book is the “Second Life” like world called the Metaverse. Characters in the book plug into this MMORP world via fiber to talk, fight, file share, learn, race motorcycles, etc, etc. It is almost as if the people at Linden Labs used the Metaverse as their road-map for creating SL.
Over the past couple of months more and more people have been discussing SL/Metaverse as the next GUI including Curry and Scoble. I have to say I am very excited that this is on their radar screens and hopefully now on other radar screens as well.
Th most interesting application for me in “Snow Crash” was the librarian. The main character, Hiro, interacts with this program in the Metaverse. The librarian software appears as a 3-D avatar that can be summoned at Hiro’s will to help guide him thru the massive online databases that have been built. Hiro can ask questions and narrows and refine searches through natural spoken language using the librarian. The librarian is even coded to have natural human mannerisms to symbolize processes (ie-breaking eye contact when “thinking”/searching). To me the librarian app is the holy grail of the search front end and back end we have been looking for.
Imagine what will happen when Google and others continue to link and tie together ALL the worlds information and we can then slap a natural language librarian on the front of this so that we can query it as easily as we have a conversation!