The planet earth is round; this is a common fact known by all. In Gibson's novel Mona Lisa Overdrive, the question of shape is not as simple. Cyberspace is so expansive and in theory one could create whatever reality came to mind. The parameters of this created world are however large you initially set it to. The shape and depth of cyberspace are hard concepts to grasp. Why do things look the way they do in cyberspace? If cyberspace is man made does it have limits? Has cyberspace surpassed man's control ad become a growing universe of its own? In Mona Lisa Overdrive, the character Gentry tries to understand the depth to which cyberspace extends.
"Gentry was convinced that cyberspace had a Shape, an overall total form. Not that that was the weirdest idea Slick had ever run across, but Gentry had this obsessive conviction that the Shape mattered totally. The apprehension of the Shape was Gentry's grail.
Slick had once stimmed a Net/Knowledge sequence about what shape the universe was; Slick figured the universe was everything there was, so how could it have a shape? If it had a shape, then there was something around it for it to have a shape in, wasn't there? And if that something was something, then wasn't that part of the universe too? This was exactly the kind of thing you didn't want to get into with Gentry, because Gentry could tie your head in knots. But Slick didn't think cyber space was anything like the universe anyway; it was just a way of representing data. The Fission Authority had always looked like a big red Aztec pyramid, but it didn't have to; if the FA wanted it to, they could have it look like anything. Big companies had copyrights on how stuff looked. So how could you figure the whole matrix had a particular shape? And why should it mean anything if it did?"[p. 76]
1. Is cyberspace infinite? Can a man-made reality have unlimited possibilities? Does cyberspace have boundaries?
2. "If it had a shape, then there was something around it for it to have a shape in, wasn't there? And if that something was something, then wasn't that part of the universe too?" In the show Dot Hack//Sign the cyberspace universe is created with different portals connecting the player to different areas. This creates an immensely large environment but one that never has a set shape to it. How does one put a shape to separate entities that connect into one larger program? Does cyberspace work in a similar fashion? How does one put a shape to something as immense as a created world?
3. "The Fission Authority had always looked like a big red Aztec pyramid, but it didn't have to; if the FA wanted it to, they could have it look like anything."- In a cyber world where impermanence is the law, how does one know what is real? Is cyberspace just man-made reality?
Last modified 30 October 2006