Where am I?

As keen eyed readers will have spotted you can now see a map of where TerraNovans are currently located. It’s neat. But it’s not the map I wanted. I wanted a way to show you all where we are virtually. The problem is that I don’t think that map exists. I’m not sure we even have a metaphor for it. That is - the true metaverse; the universe of virtual universes.

Like other TNers and probably a good slice of our readers I’m all over the metaverse, sometimes in multiple spaces at the same time – Second Life, WoW, There, EvE, SWG and those ‘almost-spaces’ like Animal Crossing; heck I might even get a Cyworld account.

Now, there is the growing set of gamertag type services like onxiam (that’s ‘on x I am’ – geddit geddit). These site collate IDs – some in slightly more clever ways than others – but I want more.

I have this shadow in my mind you see. Like the cube is a partial shadow of a tesseract. I can feel the space of virtual spaces that I want to see mapped and made into a geographical metaphor. I want someone clever and creative to go invent a way to easily understand the relative positions in virtual spaces that we occupy. I know it’s not just a list of IDs, or a flat diagram – I know what it isn’t but I don’t know what is is.

If you done it; gosh, even if you know what I’m on about, do post and let me know I’m not going mad.

[ed. 8/8/6 Ren] Thanks to my friend Jo I now at least have a word for the feeling I’m trying to express: propinquity. Those darn crossword fiends, they have a word for everything.

Comments on Where am I?:

Andy Havens says:

Ren you bugger...

Now that's in my head as a puzzle until I or someone else (my money is on someone else) figures that out. Thanks. Thanks alot. That's like asking a riddle but not knowing the answer.

Bugger. Bugger. Bugger.

Posted Aug 3, 2006 4:45:32 PM | link

illovich says:

It would have to be some sort of 3-dimmensional venn diagram... I'm picturing myself as a blob (easier to do, the older I get ha ha) that stretches into various clouds, with larger and smaller pseudo-pods (I guess they wouldn't be pseudo.... virtua-pods? ePods?) representing average amount of time in the last month representing where I was...

Is there a historical referent for representing a fractured self existing in multiple spaces at once?

I wasn't expecting to think I needed to talk to an art historian today.....

Posted Aug 3, 2006 6:09:05 PM | link


Sounds like a spring graph to me. They evolve into clouds.


Posted Aug 3, 2006 6:57:28 PM | link


There are some virtual world visualizations here: http://www.cybergeography.org/atlas/topology.html

Posted Aug 3, 2006 7:04:18 PM | link

Corey Bridges says:

Working on it...! ;)

Posted Aug 3, 2006 8:07:32 PM | link

Daniel Speed says:

I guess someone was reading "Mona Lisa Overdrive"

Posted Aug 4, 2006 5:12:03 AM | link

monkeysan says:

If you're wedded to the idea of using hypercubes, then I suppose one could create an n-hypercube, where n is the number of virtual worlds onto which individuals' relative positions are mapped. Each virtual world map would be a 3-space projection of the n-cube. Only one virtual world map could be examined by a viewer at a time, but perhaps 2d projections from other virtual worlds could be ghosted. But that gets so confounding to think about, let alone build.

Instead, it seems easier to just create a set of virtual world maps just like your TN map. Assign a unique marker to each TN member and display all of the maps simultaneously. You could even build a database of such maps so that a user could filter just the virtual world 'relative positions' he/she were after.

Posted Aug 4, 2006 2:10:32 PM | link

Edward Castronova says:

I guess our brains are wormholes in this universe, since we exist simultaneously in multiple worlds.

Posted Aug 4, 2006 6:27:47 PM | link

Peter says:

Here's an idea. To start with, imagine every person on earth as a rectangular column resembling a line segment. The length of this line segment represents how old the person is; that is, the amount of time spent on the Earth. We can thus see the population of the earth in two-dimensions as occupying a given area, and also view it in three dimensions to give more detail.

Now, imagine that each person participating in a virtual world gets additional segments added to his or her 'Earth' segment, representing each world and the amount of time spent in it. Now we have a representation of each person on Earth and what they play.

Next, imagine that we can change which segment (that is, which world) serves as the 'base' of the image, and rearrange the order of the other segments (or which segments to show) as well.

For example, we could see all the players of WoW gathered together - and all the other games they play - as different 'layers' of worlds. The easiest way to compare the populations of two worlds would be to set one game as the 'base' and the other as the next-lowest level.

The visual image I'm getting here resembles clouds over land, or those toys which can form images out of thousands of pins.

This make sense to anyone else? Apologies for the lack of visual modeling.

Posted Aug 5, 2006 1:00:40 PM | link

Rohsiph says:

I found this article via Kotaku, and wanted to share my immediate thought:

With the amorphous description from the article, my mind wandered to the distribution of the Nine Worlds from Norse mythology up and down the World Tree. Though I've run across a dozen interpretations just of mapping the Norse mythological system, a few examples have me thinking that their basic ideas can be implemented to tackle the metaverse.

Basically, we have a three-dimensional sytem composed of tiered two-dimensional layers--there are worlds below, there are worlds above, and there is the real world in the middle. I can easily imagine problems trying to determine what would constitute worlds across a plane of above/below the real world, but if we add more layers (acknowledging it would add even more engineering nightmares), I think it might work.

We have a branch for the gaming worlds, and we have a branch for the social worlds, and we have a branch inbetween them--now, the key factor that I can't think of solving with this direction is that of finding the common thread between all of the worlds. The mythological structure worked metaphorically with each world perched at a different height of the World Tree, which all creatures drew life from. I am not sure there is an equal thread that can be used to string all virtual worlds together.

I guess I haven't offered much help, then, but I have a feeling that sources such as myths and legends might provide a key to finding the best method.

Posted Aug 8, 2006 2:57:13 PM | link

PhboenixsFlame says:

Um... Just to ya know... Kind of shore things up. I'll email this as well in case the comments aren't checked.


Seems like the thing that is being looked for.

Posted Aug 9, 2006 11:52:20 AM | link

ren reynolds says:

Of course the comments are checked. I don't quite get how this addresses the question. As I understand it the RoadMap is a futures thing about where Virtual Worlds are going, not how we map propinquity within and between them.

Posted Aug 9, 2006 2:25:27 PM | link


Sounds like you'd need equal importance for both the virtual spaces and the identities of the people inhabiting those spaces. So perhaps a model similar to the "visual thesaurus" variants around the web would serve you. You can start at any one data point, be it person or virtual space, and see the interconnections in 2D or 3D that run from that person or space to another person or space. I think a 3D version would be easier to follow and look more appealing.

Posted Aug 14, 2006 10:33:15 PM | link