The Cyberspace matrix is an abstract representation of the relationships between data systems. It is a simulated, "consensual hallucination" that facilitates the handling and exchange of massive data, humanity's extended electronic nervous system.
The Cyberspace is a graphic representation of this data abstracted from the banks of every computer.
The matrix has its roots in primitive arcade games, and in early graphics programs that generated spacial geometric shapes mathematically; there was also military experimentation with cranial jacks: lab animals were wired with helmets to control circuits of tanks and war planes. The matrix is actually a drastic simplification of the human sensorium, at least in terms of presentation; the technology of the dermatrodes used to connect is the same as with that of a simstim deck.
Appearance[edit | edit source]
Anyone who connects in the matrix sees a silver tide of phosphenes boiling across their field of vision. The cyberspace slids into existence from the cardinal points (an experienced user can make the transition more smoothly) as the matrix unfolds in their head, like an infinite transparent 3-D chessboard in a colorless void. This void is crowded with the representation of unthinkably complex data and their movements, forming bright geometries representing corporate data, lines of light, and clusters of information that resemble geographical structures.
Case likened the traffic, movement and exchange of data like "proteins linking to distinguish cell specialties".
It is also used to teach mathematical concepts to students. The nonspace of the matrix is virtual, therefore each data construct can (even a toy calculator accessed from a cyberspace deck) can be represented to have infinite dimensions.
When disconnecting, the matrix folds itself like an origami trick.
Geography[edit | edit source]
It has billions of daily legitimate operators globally (15 million according to Burning Chrome) and many illegal.
The clusters and constellations of data and representations of computers form "fields", "towers" and "cities"; dense corporate galaxies and faraway spiral arms of military systems.
The matrix is divided in sectors that belong to real-life geographic locations, institutions, businesses. Such locations have coordinates that are punched physically on the deck. There is the "London grid", where Armitage kept a data base, and a low-security academic grid of the Copenhagen university section. Student operators sometimes leave graffiti at the junctions of grid lines.
Legitimate programmers jack into their employers' sector and work behind invisible walls of ICE, and walls of shadow that screen their operations from others (industrial-espionage artists and hustlers).
One can move in the cyberspace by punching grid points, or coordinates.
During navigation, the user sees the cyberspace shivering and blurring.
Trivia[edit | edit source]
Although the cyberspace is described to be a network of databases, and considered to be a prophetic precursor of the internet, in Gibson's fiction each individual computer is curiously said to rely on its own internal, local database, instead of drawing data from the matrix. For example Julius Deane's small computer is said to be looking in its database while researching for Armitage. Much later, Case orders his Hosaka computer to search its database to make a precis on the Panther Moderns.