Spook Country: Who Runs the Infrastructure?

September 15th, 2007

Am I the only person bothered while reading Spook Country with the question of who is running the servers?

Put on a VR helmet and you’re jacked into an imaginary world where artists have the sort of funding necessary to build out and run a shared platform for pushing richly textured 3D worlds over wifi.

And that server has some sort of totally smooth handshaking protocol for geolocating you, and streaming back the appropriate scene, and while everybody can publish to this unified virtual landscape, there is no hacking/jacking/spamming going on?

Or am I misreading the technology, and actually the landscapes are stored and served from hacked up WRT54Gs?

6 responses to “Spook Country: Who Runs the Infrastructure?”

  1. steig says:

    and I wonder about the product placement. virtually every car is a VW. is this a prep for product placement in the movie version??

  2. Jesse says:

    It sure sounded like they were all little local setups.

  3. Boris Mann says:

    It’s all about FreeTheNet.ca 😛 Meraki (through Google) is actually funding this kind of stuff fo’ reals. Now I need a Plazes-like app (or Plazes itself…) to hook into some Flickr magic and auto geotag stuff going through our Meraki nodes…

  4. Ingo says:

    There is at least one server directly mentioned — Bobbys. When he bails, there is some mention of how artists are missing their pieces and later, that he put them back online. It is a little bit unclear whether it only affects pieces under construction but my reading would be that it affects all of them.

    One thing that is not mentioned is the hardware required inside the headset and on the laptop (remember how the artist trails behind Hollis, laptop in hand?). The kind of immersion effect described would require head-position tracking, maybe through some kind of accelerometer (it is impossible using GPS alone). Things like that have been built as research prototypes already, so they are not too far ahead. For example, the VAMPIRE project (http://www.vampire-project.org/), had an accelerometer and a camera-assisted setup for head-tracking. More conventional AR systems, e.g. http://www.cc.gatech.edu/~thad/032_research.htm, use a head-set camera combination.

    That said, leaving aside what Gibson described, the model data itself could easily be stored in the local WiFi router and with the rendering (conceivably) being done on the laptop, it seems quite reasonable to realize.

  5. […] Spook Country by William Gibson – I love William Gibson. His novels are fun, easy and quick. Always providing a great bundle of thoughts and entertainment. I really enjoyed Pattern Recognition, so I was excited to read Spook Country. It was OK. I had the same issues that flickr’s Kellan Elliott-McCrea had with it – i.e: who in god’s name is running the infrastructure that the premise of this book is built on. It is very complex. But the part that was unbelievable was that their was no described handshake between the technology and the hosts of the “geo-located spatial content.” It was seamless. Even in my house, with my laptop – connectivity isn’t always seamless. So maybe Gibson is relying on 5 more years of this to make everything better. But during the read, it was annoying. Other than that minor point, I thought the book was decent. […]

  6. kellan says:

    Thanks Joseph! I hadn’t noticed the car placement, now I can’t ignore them, ack.

    Also just got to the point where Alberto is upset that his “River” went away with Bobby’s servers, which suggests that some piece of it was remotely hosted, which technologically maps to my expectations about what is possible with current tech levels, but forefronts the patronage question.