Monday, February 9, 2009

Geography, Politics and Religions of Cyberspace

My latest experience with web host providers and domain transfers, beside raising my blood pressure (which is usually luckily low thanks to vegetarianism, and daily "cardio-yoga" practice) has been, on the positive, side quite fascinating.
It has been like finally trying to understand and visualize ---my brain needs to translate everything in images and diagrams--- the world of cyberspace. And creating metaphors and extablishing parallels between the physical and the virtual worlds has been quite amuzing.
In cyberspace we can find nations (the web host providers are the rulers), citizens (everybody with internet connection) and the web sites "owners" probably analogous to whoever provides public services in the physical world. The web site owners rent space at the server provided by the host providers, and pay "taxes" to the domain registrars. Above all there is the equivalent of religious authority, whatever cannot be explained in a rational way, the lords or regulators above all. Those you are even afraid of mentioning the name...DNS!!!!! wiki defines them as "a hierarchical naming system for computers, services, or any resource participating in the Internet. It associates various information with domain names assigned to such participants. Most importantly, it translates domain names meaningful to humans into the numerical (binary) identifiers associated with networking equipment for the purpose of locating and addressing these devices world-wide"

So far nothing terrible exciting. It becomes uncredibly cool when the metaphor is transformed into reality and you try to imagine (and for me to visualize) what happens when you transfer from one host provider to the next. "Physically" you transfer your files, billions of bytes, from on one server to the other. Quite easy to understand so far. And you transfer the domain name.
This is where the magic happens! This is the Neverland of Cyberspace! Your billions of bytes are parked in two servers. But when you enter the name of your site during the transfer, time stands still and the screen is blank! I am mesmerized by watching with happening with as I write.

The blank screen is like...the passage from purgatory to hell or paradise, the sleep-wake cycle , the emptiness of buddhism, the void of the mind in zen meditation, almost a mystical experience. In the world of cyberspace you are just a blank space: your thoughts which you materialized in text, images, and sounds are dematerializing again, waiting for the magical moment of the DNS to reappear and be reborn.

Welcome to cyberspace!