Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Snow Crash

I am currently reading Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson (written in 1992). In the first ten or so chapters, he managed to predict Second Life, World of Warcraft, Google Earth, and people being disillusioned with online social interactions because they are less real than face-to-face interactions. According to Wikipedia, one Google Earth co-founder claimed that Google Earth was modeled after Snow Crash, while another co-founder said it was inspired by Powers of Ten.

He also independently coined the use of the word 'avatar' for an online persona (although somebody was already using it in a virtual reality program called Habitat that he didn't know about when he was writing it). I am pretty impressed with this. Mind you, it says in the acknowledgements that he is a programmer himself and had read the Apple Macintosh user interface development guidelines, so I guess that gave him a head-start in predicting stuff. Of course the political situation in the book is different to current reality, but still entirely plausible.

If you haven't read Snow Crash, I highly recommend it. It makes William Gibson look like an amateur. It's also really well-written.


Ailia said...

I keep meaning to read this, maybe your review will finally get me off my butt!

Steve Hayes said...

Sounds interesting -- I'll look out for it.

Have you read Skallagrigg by William Horwood? It's also about computer games programming, to solve a real life puzzle.

Yvonne said...

Thanks for the tip, I'll look out for that.