By Seung Park; Slicer Lexicon by Eliott Norbut and Seung Park
The purpose of this document is to set forth a description of the OmniWeb (O-Web) in the Starsiege Universe.
An Introduction to the O-Web
The O-Web is a network of nodes connected by communication satellite arrays in geostationary orbit around Terra Mater, Luna, Venus, and Mars. On outposts such as ones established on the moons of Jupiter and Saturn, collapsable HVR (hypervelocity radio) antennae are used to establish an uplink with the nearest functioning comsat grid. The O-Web is an integral part of the lives of every citizen of the Empire, by ready transfer every human being alive. The often-faceless corporation-states gain a much-needed rapport with their citizens through this medium, and many of life’s daily transactions may be done webside at a much higher rate of efficiency and comfort than actually getting up and transporting to the appropriate store would normally allow.
There are specialized datumplanes of the O-Web that are normally used only by certain groups of people; CARNet, for instance, is a ‘plane that links researchers around the solar system together in their search for greater knowledge and understanding of their respective topics. GLORIA, on the other hand, is the highly-restricted Imperial armed forces network. These and others will be described in detail in this document.
The advent of the Devastation successfully ended up wiping out all traces of the budding planetwide communications system that is now thought to be the predecessor of the OmniWeb. In 2044, a SanFran metrozone work party inadvertantly unearthed the remains of pre-Devastation technology; while this discovery in itself was considered relatively unimportant at the time – pre-Devastation artifacts were rather commonplace – later studies conducted by NAP archaeologists show that this large piece of unearthed equipment was actually a set of computers linked together by a network of some kind.
This discovery lay untouched in the strongboxes of a prominent metrozone lord until the beginnings of the Age of Hope, when he turned over much of his wealth to the increasingly-popular metanat government. Initially, this artifact was thrown in along with many others in a cursory investigation – but when the researchers began to have suspicions about this discovery being part of an ancient computer network, more and more money and time began to be funneled into it.
This discovery, along with the extensive research funneled into advanced data systems in the Era of Hope, was enough to spark a planetwide revolution in communication networks. The early-model local-area based networks slowly grew into the WorldWeb of the late Age of Hope, survived the two holocaustic EarthSieges, and endured to become the OmniWeb we know today.
DATASPHERES AND DATUMPLANES
The O-Web is divided into three major areas of operation called dataspheres. They are called this because each datasphere indeed looks like a rough sphere on a 3-D representation of the Sol system. Each is described in detail below.
Datasphere Babylon – Babylon consists of the Terra Mater and Luna networks. The largest and most congested by far of all the datumspheres, as well as the oldest, it serves the billions of people living on Terra, Luna, and affiliated space stations. Even though it is equipped with the latest, most updated equipment, the sheer amount of data passing through Babylon’s checkpoint nodes every day slows it down appreciably. While the more prominent nobles and organizations of the Empire enjoy access to specialized and restricted datumplanes (most noticeably GLORIA and PACEM), the ordinary citizen of the empire within the Babylon datasphere enjoys a level of access only barely better than that allowed to those in the other two dataspheres. This fact aside, denizens within Babylon have developed the frame of mind that members of the other two ‘spheres are in some way inferior to them.
Datasphere Gateway – The Gateway serves the people living on the near colonies – Venus and Mars. It has none of the luxuries and very little of the powerful, modern equipment that Babylon functions on, and thus the Gateway has the capability to broadcast simultaneously less than half the datumplanes that Babylon routinely carries. Officially there are no restricted datumplanes allowed in the Gateway area; there are automatic failsafes that immediately 404 a restricted datumplane once it is detected. However, some talented spinners and slicers in the employ of the resistance factions in both planets seem to have somehow worked their way around this limitation.
Datasphere Frontier – The Frontier is defined as any territory not within either Babylon or Gateway. It affords only sporadic, slow access to a small number of datumplanes to the normal colonist, and the equipment that makes up the backbone of this network is so antiquated and slow that the creation of restricted datumplanes is pretty much a physical impossibility.
Each Datasphere is in turn made up of a number of layers called Datumplanes. Each datumplane in essence functions like a channel; the content of each ‘plane is specialized towards one certain topic each. For instance, a ‘plane dedicated to travel would feature offices of major spacelines, as well as public forums discussing the pros and cons of popular (or unpopular!) vacation spots. On the other hand, a news-based ‘plane such as the Imperial NewsNet would be much more spartan, simply getting the news across to subscribers with myriad different media.
By and large, webwalkers are represented by agents – a kind of electronic “body” that can be as simple as a monochrome poly to as complex as a 3-D render (usually idealized) of a human being. The walking toaster agent, for instance, is quite popular among child users of the O-Web; a 3-D render of popular model Laura Hathaway or legendary HERC ace Victor Petresun, on the other hand, is the agent of choice for millions of teenage webwalkers systemwide, and not a few adult ‘walkers.
THE UNIVERSAL DATUMPLANE
The Universal Datumplane is the only ‘plane that MUST exist across all Dataspheres at all times. It is the main street and the entrance conduit to many millions of O-Web users systemwide, and as such it also takes up the most spherewidth on any given Datasphere. For instance, the Universal Datumplane on the Babylon ‘sphere can often take up to 10% of the total spherewidth on a crowded day.
According to one’s tastes and aesthetic preferences, the appearance of the Universal Datumplane may be customized for each user. The basic metaphor used – and the one that most people prefer – is a long, elegant promenade leading to a Webside replica of the Imperial Palace in Nova Alexandria. One then has the choice of wandering off into the surrounding (and, in this case, infinite) gardens into a random datumsphere, or transferring straight into the palace structure for NewsNet broadcasts and translinks into any other available datumplane.
Also known as specplanes, these ‘planes serve specialized populations. Roughly 60% of all specplanes are restricted: the O-Web equivalent of a members-only site. The other 40% have automated OGREs – Organization Gateway Registries – meaning that no special qualifications (other than a genuine interest in the topics being discussed inside the ‘plane in question) are required for access. Virtually all of the 60% of specplanes are government/official Empire property; others are accessible only by armed forces personnel; still others available only to Knights. The highest-profile specplanes include:
CARNET – Possibly the only large-scale specplane in existence not regulated in some way by the Empire, the Computer-Assisted Research NETwork binds all research centers and all researchers together in one cohesive bazaar-style forum should the aforementioned research centers/individuals choose to participate. The amazing thing about CARNET is, no matter how many Imperial purveyors worry about the inherent chaos involved in an electronic organization like this, it has endured past the expectations of even the founders of CARNET itself. It has become so popular, in fact, that the Empire has adopted it as the official specplane of ILS – the Imperial Library System.
GLORIA – The General eLectronic ORganization of the Imperial Armed forces has had a long, distinguished history. Born of the primitive, jury-rigged commnets used in the first Earthsiege by the ragtag TDF, it has long since evolved into a close-knit community of the Empire’s warriors interacting at all levels. It is for most part strictly monitored by a round-the-clock surveillance team of the Empire’s best ravelers known simply as the eGuard, and public openings of this massive and exclusive “gentlemens’ club” are few and far in between.
ANGeL – The Aristocratic Network of GLORIA caters to the upper crust of the armed forces – in other words, the Knights and nobles within the TDF’s ranks. Membership to ANGeL is a highly-coveted resume item, as is being part of the security team of this most highly-guarded of specplanes. Intrigues are about as rampant here as they are in the courts of any noble in the “real” world, with one difference: everyone is sharply and constantly reminded that it is physically impossible to invoke Code Duello Webside.
PACEM – The Personal Advanced CommNet of the EMperor is the specplane to end all specplanes. From here, the Emperor may create and destroy ‘planes and even full ‘spheres at his whim. Being granted an audience through PACEM is a highly prestigious event – only a few notches below being called in front of the Emperor in real life. It is even more heavily guarded than ANGeL, and the security systems present here scare even the most genius of slicers away. Being caught tampering with PACEM is a crime punishable by summary execution. Which might explain why, in its long history, no one has dared to slice into it.
The Mechanics of the O-Web
This section will try to cover some of the theories and computer protocols underlying the workings of the O-Web.
CONSTRUCTS, 3STRUCTS, 2STRUCTS, AND BEYOND
Each datumplane is made up of at least 3 layers: a ground/terrain layer, a sky/atmosphere layer, and a nonmoving constructs layer. Constructs are divided up into 3structs (3-dimensional objects) and 2structs (foundations and mesh frames behind the 3structs), but not many people know (or care) about the distinction between the two.
Each layer consists of four different datastreams: the InitPlaneVariables stream, which deals with the initialization of 2structs and foundation layout; the TextureMap stream, which deals, rather obviously, with downloaded and uploaded textures; the 3StructRuntime stream, which deals with the initialization of 3structs and placement on the foundations as directed by the InitPlaneVariables stream; and finally the WalkerPosition stream, which tells the designer of ‘plane where the ‘walkers onplane are located.
These streams may be handled by several different interface methods, as will be described in detail in the next section.
O-WEB UPLINK METHODS
Portals into the O-Web range from the very small (a personalized datapad) to the very large (Chameleon Hall in the Imperial Palace, Nova Alexandria). Depending on the apparatus being used to channel the webwalker into the portals and through the planes, the interface presented will differ.
The most intuitive – and also the most complex – of uplink methods is also the most highly touted. The Environmental Interface Engine quite literally puts the user Webside, through the use of millions of microscopic holodiode projectors embedded into the walls of a zero-g environmental chamber. Once the user is inside one of these chambers, which many people refer to as datachambers, the uplink to the O-Web is established and the walls light up in a fully explorable, 3-D environmental representation of the Universal Datumplane.
While datachambers are impressive and often disguised to look more like gardens or storerooms (via a standard masking holographic display while not in use), they are by and large used only by members of the nobility, who can afford such extravagant displays of wealth. Due to the calcium depletion that will naturally occur in zero-g environments, people who overuse this particular interface are rather derisively labeled software, usually by those who cannot afford EIE.
A more standard interface to the O-Web is the one preinstalled in billions of homes systemwide: the holovid machine. While this interface allows none of the interactivity and very little of the immersiveness of the EIE experience, it is much cheaper and delivers all of the content that EIE would.
The holovid interface responds to both verbal commands (left, right, forward, back) and to a specialized joystick built into the holovid unit. Hi-fidelity speakers provide the aural feedback from the web, and an optional set of force-feedback gauntlets provide tactile sensation. While this setup is indeed a shrunken affair when compared to EIE, it is an attractive and cheap option for those not quite affluent enough to waste their hard-earned Angelmarks on such an extravagant display of wealth.
For those who wish to quickly access information that is at a certain datumplane at all times, the Simple Data Transfer Protocol (SDTP) is used. Completely text-based, the only thing that SDTP does is dump data from a specified location into another specified location (such as a datapad) and then shut down. It was designed, as noted above, primarily for use in datapads.
It is also possible to walk the O-Web using an OXPL debugger; this no-interface interface has been dubbed the underside of the O-Web for obvious reasons. Pretty much any spinner, raveler, or slicer of any worth spends most (or even all) of his or her time Underside, again for the obvious reasons of having to be at the most vulnerable/ground state section of the O-Web in order to repair/administrate/slice.
As opposed to the other interfaces, which try to cleverly cover up the massive amounts of data being transferred through clever, interactive 3-D environment, Underside shows very clearly the sheer amount of data being transferred every second on the O-Web. Were one to visit a high-traffic site such as the Universal Datumplane Underside, one would be greeted with a stream of digits, protocol names, confirmations, and denials scrolling by so fast that only a trained professional would be able to make any sense of the unintelligible stream of alphanumerics moving as fast as the computer can render them onscreen.
ENCRYPTS AND OTHER GENERAL TABOOS
Webwalkers have a near-superstitious fear/dislike of encrypts. This fear, although hardly justified as NEXT networks and the O-Web have nearly nothing in common, fuses readily with popular culture’s hatred of anything resembling anything remotely Cybrid in activity – such as data encrypts. Officially outlawed on the O-Web and also on all physical media, this is perhaps the one law on the O-Web there is no need to enforce – SNOW nodes will read snowsigs automatically for encrypts, and if there are any the offending data packets are immediately destroyed. However, on physical media this edict has proven a bit more difficult to enforce, especially on Mars and Venus, the hotbeds of rebellion.
It is taboo on the O-web to ask a person (or, for that matter, query even an agent) as to the true identity of who resides on the other side of the interface. While military-style callsigns provide some sort of identification, it is possible for any webwalker to go anon, and thus to render it almost impossible for anyone other than close associates to figure out who is on the other side of the line. Support groups and substance-abuse recovery groups are two examples of electronic organizations that are very religious in the use of its members going (and staying) anon.
Anyone who insults another person’s honor while webside is required by law to uphold Code Duello should the offended party wish. Once again, however, ‘walkers who choose to flame others usually are cowardly enough to stay anon while doing the flaming. However, there are rare instances where one party is stupid (or enraged) enough to do the flaming directly, with full true identity. For instance, the Imperial Knight Colossa Eun Alba would probably have been mad enough, at first, to true-identity flame his colleague Titus Thau-Yuros with impunity in ANGeL forums and beyond should he have wished.
Plagiarization of another’s ‘planedesign is strictly forbidden. A professional spinner found guilty of copying another spinner’s ‘planedesign is shunned by colleagues and prospective employers alike. Ameteur spinners, on the other hand, are allowed to copy portions of ‘planedesign as long as they put up a disclaimer in plain view that the ‘plane is a first attempt/being built for self-education purposes, and then with a standard “all copyrighted structures are property of (so and so)” and so on.
OXPL: A BRIEF LOOK
The OmniWeb eXtensible Programming Language is an industry standard registered with the ISA. Although the ISA does release the standard OXPL compiler, XL, the programming language itself is actually maintained and upgraded largely by the spinner community in general, along with infrequent input from ravelers and even slicers.
In its current iteration, OXPL is a highly object-oriented programming language which draws unwittingly on earlier, pre-Devastation proglangs such as C++ and Lisp, as well as parts of SGML and HTML. In its most superficial layer, OXPL is extremely HTML-like in its simplicity and shallow learning curve, but full mastery of OXPL requires at least a few years of intensive study.
SNOW: SECURITY PROTOCOLS
SNOW, depending on who you’re asking, is either a necessary evil or the greatest invention since the wheel, the reality, of course, being somewhere in between. In essence, it is a set of nodes that exist between every major transfer point on the O-Web. All data eventually passes through a SNOW post, and when it does the snowsig of each data packet is analyzed by a standard exam packet – cybrid viruses, encryption, words of rebellion, slicer virus and probe signatures, struct destruction profiles.
In doing so, SNOW nodes also slow down high-traffic sections of the web immensely, as each packet MUST pass through the nodes to proceed – and there are only so many nodes, so many staffers willing to administrate a SNOW site at a time. Furthermore, the passage of so many data packets through SNOW conduits causes the generation of junk data, which is eponymously called, of course, snow. Enough snow can clog the entryways of a SNOW node, and when this happens a snow-out occurs.
While snow-outs are extremely irksome, most citizens agree that they are, once again, a necessary evil. No webwalker, after all, would rather have free infiltration by cybrid viruses over the slowdowns caused by SNOW… even though, of course, the reality is that SNOW usually is able to provide little to no protection against advanced Cybrid viruses.
SOME FINAL THOUGHTS
The O-Web and its mechanics are a strange mixture of anonymity and paranoia, strict control and freewheeling near-chaos. What is seemingly controlled by the Empire is in reality loosely held at its seams in many ways, and what seems so free and intervention-free may be a hotbed of Imperial security. There is a joke – a rather old one – that the phrase “trust nobody” gains new meaning on the O-Web. This is an unfortunate, but necessary law of the O-Web… for nothing is at it seems, and reality is only what one makes of it here.
In the varied walks of webside life, the characters that one will meet will always fit into one of four categories. (1) ‘normal’ citizens, (2) spinners, (3) slicers, and (4) ravelers. There is a fifth category, OmniPresence, but as the Emperor is the sole OmniPresence, there in practice is no fifth category.
Over 90% of all the denizens of the web fall into this category. Not much to say about them; they live their lives on the web just like any other.
Spinners are in a unique position. They are at once respected and honored for their architectural abilities, and reviled for the choice they made in taking their business Webside, due to the anti-computer tendencies of the general population. As would be expected, these professionals are highly trained in both architecture and programming, as well as some degree of data stream design. They are responsible for designing the datumplanes, and for most part are found in the job of maintaining and upgrading existing datumplanes for corporations large and small.
Spinners, by and large, are well-paid professionals. Dubbed “the acceptable face of the O-Web” by more than a few, they almost universally have a prejudicial aversion towards slicers and even neophyte hackers. The reason for this is the stereotype that spinners hold against slicers, which goes something like this: slicers tend to want to do one of two things to spinners’ creations: (1) dismantle them to see how they work or (2) once having done that, destroy it. While the latter is usually false – the goal of the slicer is to get away with espionage with nobody knowing – this stereotype has proven impossible to surmount.
The web-spinning tools of choice for most spinners in the Imperial era include:
• A graphic texture design program; the most common one in use today is Imperial Software Design’s Sur/Reality v6.1. An excellent all-around graphic program, this aging product more than holds its own against newer graphics suites. Its user interface has never been surpassed by any other graphic design program yet.
• A CAD program, such as CADmium 2 or ArCADe Professional. CADmium is found in use slightly more frequently than ArCADe, although the latter has a slightly easier learning curve.
• An OXPL-compliant (OmniWeb eXtensible Programming Language) compiler / programming environment. The ISA (Imperial Standards Agency) publishes XL – the official open-standard OXPL compiler – which is pretty much the compiler of choice among both professional and amateur spinners alike. The professionals like it because of its open-standards nature; the amateurs prefer it because it’s free. The current build of XL is designated 145-3/b.
Although the ISA publishes XL, it is in actuality the spinners’ responsibility to upgrade and maintain what has become, in the eyes of the general public, “their” language. To this end, many of the highest-profile spinners (such as Babylon Mainstreet designer Crystal Gathis-Peterson and CARNET maintainer Liam Paul Minovsky) have banded together to form Spinning Professionals Inc. – SPIN (all letters pronounced, to differentiate from the spin relating to popularity). In effect, it has become the de facto governing body determining what OXPL is and what it will become.
The spinner trade is a very commercialized one. There are several universities offering courses in ‘planedesign, and at the end of a spinner concentration the student is awarded a B.S.D. – Bachelor in Spin Design – and is then registered in SPIN as a professional spinner.
The hottest spinner communities are based in New San Francisco, Nova Alexandria, and the Seoul-Tokyo Metro Axis in the PacRim.
In public, the corporations feign either ignorance or hatred towards this class of O-Web professional. In reality, however, slicers are highly-paid – and highly illegal – spies for these corporation-states. They are the ones who, among other things, carry out industrial espionage, destroy other entities’ valuable data, intercept messages meant for other eyes, and other cloak-and-dagger electronic operations. They are also scapegoats should the illegal activities be discovered; each slicer knows that should he or she be caught in the act, the corporation who employed him or her will deny all knowledge of him or her. Still, among certain circles and datumplanes slicers are at once reviled and envied for the dark, alternate world in which they live – something like an earlier generation’s fascination with the Beat generation.
While slicers may be under the employ of rival corporations at once, there is a sense of camaraderie and fellowship among this dark class. There is an unwritten code of ethics that each member, like it or not, follows to the hilt. Like a dark priesthood of a sort, slicers are not eager to accept neophytes into their network; yet, once talent and commitment are demonstrated by the said neophyte, training begins in earnest. The corporations, knowing that they need the slicers as much as the slicers need them, allow this kind of training to happen under their noses.
Some of the common laws of this class include:
• All knowledge is common. There will be no slicing secrets within the slicer community.
• Peer review is crucial. If a slicer thinks a fellow slicer is guilty of wading around with a machete / acting like a hacker, this behavior is immediately reported to respected members of the community as well as to the accused slicer.
• No slicer shall use a chainsaw while within another slicer’s datumplane.
• Try to electron fence as much as possible; discrete, surgical strikes over the overpowering nature of a machete or a chainsaw.
• If a slicer is caught, he or she will give out no information to the authorities that would jeopardize any of the other slicers active in the ‘sphere.
Every slicer starts out as a hacker – an individual who slices amateurishly, and with very little skill. Hackers are known for their overuse of machetes – bulky, inefficient viruses and protocols that choke spherewidth, are obvious in their implementation, and very blunt. Machetes are rarely able to slice through even the simplest of security node firewalls.
Thus, the phrase “to wade around with a machete” means to slice inefficiently and obviously. It is frowned upon in the community, and is a greater danger to the slicer than it is to anybody else. Machetes make too obvious marks, so to speak, on their way out, even if the damage done can be very great at times.
At the opposite extreme are chainsaws. These massive but immensely powerful programs can usually only be written by the most brilliant of slicers, but they are of limited use Webside. They are usually written with the complete destruction of entire datumplanes in mind, and it will often be the case that residual data leaking from the destroyed ‘plane (endearingly dubbed fallout, for obvious reasons) will contaminate and eventually render useless several other planes in its immediate domain. The backlash from the chainsawing of a datumplane will often harm the slicer’s ‘planespace, as the massive initial transfer of data required in a chainsaw detonation usually is only possible within short distances. Chainsaws are, by and large, viruses of desperation. None have been used in recent memory.
The ideal goal of most slicers is to implement a rapier – a virus so efficient, target specific (desired zero fallout), and utterly effective in its goal that not even expert ravelers can figure out for cycles on end how the damage was done, and, more importantly, who did it. A slicer who consistently rapiers his/her targets is said to have the ability to electron fence. To be called an electron fencer is to be acknowledged as a slicer of the highest degree.
It must be noted that there are very few similarities between the hackers that we know and the slicers of the OmniWeb. The average Imperial citizen stereotypes slicers as people who enjoy “blowing things up” – people who have some kind of a chemically imbalanced need to destroy things. The reality is the exact opposite: in their capacity, slicers believe in the acquisition of sensitive data without getting caught. They try to leave a ‘plane in almost the exact same status in which it was found, and often their reweaving methods are so insidious that it takes the ‘plane’s administrator at least a few hours to find the seams and alert the resident watchdog as to what has happened.
The main way that slicers do this is through viruses that create ripgates in the fabric of the target ‘planes. This task can be as simple as implementing a standard virus to as complex as guiding a probe through a wall of SNOW, manually – a feat that takes extreme skill and caution.
The reason why any slicer worth his/her salt stays away from viruses that destroy and/or radically change the nature of data found on the targetted ‘plane is simple: all data passes through SNOW on the direct way out, and since the snowsig of a destroyed or damaged ‘struct is extremely characteristic, the slicer has all but doomed him or herself to being found out, and possibly jailed.
In general, ravelers are an uncommunicative bunch. The public stereotype of one is a quietly strong individual who wears silvered glasses (a foppish affect that no one knows the origin of) and a lot of black. Combined with their usually solitary tendencies and the vast amounts of time they spend coding and improving security systems, they make very few friends and have an almost instinctive distrust of the rest of humankind. They are most often found in corporate computer analyst positions or as administrators of SNOW nodes.
Ravelers exist in part because slicers do, and because the corporations do not particularly like to be spied upon. They are experts of data encryption, protection, and webside security. Although they are in essence slicer hunters, they also share a curious kinship with their dark cousins; both ravelers and slicers are acutely aware that the skills used in either job are almost exactly the same and that in their case, usage is everything.
One of the more famous ravelers of recent memory, Jirilan Dawes-Cho (Babylon datasphere), went as far as to say that ravelers and slicers were clones of each other – just one side grew into kleptomania, the other into paranoia! While this earned him the lasting enmity of most ravelers and possibly all slicers who knew of him, this did not stop him from earning a lucrative contract to update a primary aegis that guarded (and still guards) an main PACEM entry conduit.
In addition to combating slicers, ravelers are given the all-important job of making sure that there is minimal Cybrid penetration into the O-Web. So far, the ravelers have done this through a network of SNOW gateways through which all data flowing must pass. While this often results in a slow-down of large areas of the O-Web called a snow-out, most citizens webside are willing to pay this price to ensure that there are no Cybrids infiltrating into the O-Web in this fashion. Of spinners, slicers, and ravelers, therefore, ravelers are the most honored and respected of all professions online.
Many ravelers are former slicers, and vice versa. As such, the terminology used in the two professions are strangely similar mirrors of each other. Where the slicers use swords, the ravelers use walls and shields. For instance, a buckler would usually suffice to deflect a hacker’s machete; a phalanx would defend against most slicers’ viruses; an aegis would defend against most rapiers and lend partial protection against chainsaws.
These appendices provide a glossary of common words found in webside lingo, as listed in order by the classes/professions that use each subset of words. Appendix A, for instance, lists words common to ordinary webwalkers and professionals alike. Appendices B-D, on the other hand, are profession-specific.
APPENDIX A: WEBSIDE LEXICON - COMMON
Agent – (n) the representation of a webwalker. Ranges from a simple poly to a full 3-D render of something more complex. Popular, standardized models include the Laura Hathaway agent and the walking toaster agent.
ANGeL – (n) the Aristocratic Network of GLORIA – a section of GLORIA dedicated to the Knights, High Command, and nobles participating in the TDF.
Anon – (v) to render one’s webwalking identity anonymous. Usage: “to go anon”
CARNet – (n) the Computer-Assisted Research NETwork. A broad-range datumplane that caters to libraries, researchers, and investigators all across the O-web. Possibly the only public large network not controlled by the Empire allowed on the O-Web.
Construct – (n) Any representation on the OmniWeb; these are divided into 3structs (3-D structures) and 2structs (2-D structures and foundational work). Often simply abbreviated as “struct”.
Datasphere – (n) One of the three major divisions of the OmniWeb. Often abbreviated as ‘sphere.
Datumplane – (n) Any one of several million different layers within any given datasphere. Often abbreviated as ‘plane.
GLORIA – General eLectronic ORganization of the Imperial Armed forces; the network of the TDF, Imperial Knights, and High Command.
Main Street – (n) The Universal Datumplane
OmniTag – (n) The nickname and the subsequent unique identification encoding that make up a person’s identity webside. By a cursory examination of another ‘walker’s agent, one can access the ‘tag of the individual behind, so to speak, the agent.
PACEM – Personal Advanced Communications network of the EMperor; the datumplane above all other datumplanes. From here, the Emperor has the power to shut down virtually any other datumplane in existence. In states of emergency, he can even suspend operation of whole dataspheres.
‘Planespace – (n) One’s private webside domain
Port – (v) To enter a different datumplane. syn: Translink
Raveler – (n) A professional who combats slicers. Often found under the employ of corporation-states trying to stop an onslaught of a rival corp’s slicers.
Slicer – (n) One who conducts industrial webside espionage/terrorism, often at the behest of the corporation-states.
SpecPlane – (n) any special or restricted ‘plane, such as CARNet (special) or GLORIA (restricted)
Spinner – (n) A professional or an amateur who builds and maintains structs and datumplanes.
Translink – 1. (n) An entry point into another datumplane. 2. (v) To enter a different datumplane. syn: Port
Webside – 1. (v) To connect to the OmniWeb. 2. (adj) On, of, or relating to the OmniWeb
SNOW – (n) Security NOde Waypoints; gateways through which data must pass on the OmniWeb, which check for the presence of Cybrid viruses. Also the junk data generated by such a checkpoint.
Snowed-out – (adj) Refers to the general slowdown of the particular datumplane or even datumsphere that happens when a large amount of snow is generated. Due to the billions of terabytes exchanged on the O-Web on an hourly basis, snow-out has become a rather common, if annoying, trait of the O-Web.
Underside – (n) the nongraphical, technical underbelly of the O-Web. Rarely used by ordinary WebWalkers.
WebWalker – (n) simply abbreviated ‘walker; a term for any denizen of the O-Web.
APPENDIX B: WEBSIDE LEXICON – SPINNER
Butcher – (n) A derogatory expression for slicers of any kind
Cyb – (adj) an expression of disapproval of OmniWeb design. Derived from the common hatred that the word “cybrid” invokes. Usage: “That struct there is a little too cyb for my taste... better change it.” or “That is one cybed-out ‘plane!”
Electron drift – (n) whorls of data that build up in the wake of a web traveler’s path; too much of this can eventually give a ‘plane a very cybed-out look.
Electron spin – (n) the popularity of any given ‘plane. A popular ‘plane is said to have a high electron spin; an unpopular one is said to have a low electron spin. Often abbreviated just as “spin”.
Four-fingered butcher – (n) an inept slicer
Intricate – (adj) An exclamation of approval of good OmniWeb design. Usage: “Hey, that’s intricate!” or “INTRICATE!!!” or simply “Tricky! / Hey, that’s trick!”
Pete’s Parser – (n) slang for XL, the official OXPL compiler.
Reweave – (v) to repair damaged structs or basic datumsphere abnormalities.
Rip – 1. (n) an obvious struct / ‘sphere abnormality, usually caused by an inept slicer. 2. (v) to cause such an abnormality.
Tape – 1. (n) temporary, jury-rigged struct repair. 2. (v) to implement temporary repairs on a struct.
Watchdog or Guardian Angel – (n) An often sarcastic expression for a raveler.
APPENDIX C: WEBSIDE LEXICON – SLICER
404 – (v) to willfully destroy a webside construct, whether it be a simple struct or an entire ‘plane.
404ed – (adj) Crashed, destroyed. Also found in its verb form, 404.
Chainsaw – 1. (n) the atomic bomb of the OmniWeb. 2. (v) to implement such a virus. Usually a move of desperation or insanity.
Electron fencing – (n) Slicing very delicately, if you were slicing a government or bank computer for example, or if the computer you were slicing was being watched. Usually followed by unraveling.
Got it wired – (v) Same as "Got it covered" or "Got it set up"
Hacker – (n) Amateur, aspiring or just-for-fun slicers, those with little tact/skill.
Machete – (n) a clumsy, blunt virus; usually a sign of inexperience on the part of the slicer. See Wade around with a machete.
Needle – (n) a cross between a rapier and a chainsaw. A virus which stealthily penetrates security measures in order to plant a secret, time-delayed "bomb", usually with the objective of demolishing a few structs and flooding the 'plane with snow. Much stealthier, longer range and less powerful than a chainsaw, and about twice as difficult to implement as a comparable rapier.
Probe – (n) a program similar to a virus, except probes are manually driven and directed, as opposed to the automatically-directed viruses. Usually used in high-security areas which employ dynamically-updated SNOW.
Rapier – (n) a surgically-accurate, elegant virus. Slicers who consistently rapier their targets are said to be able to electron fence.
Ripcord – (n) a safeguarding protocol that many slicers implement just before sneaking into the target ‘plane. If things go wrong, the slicer can usually invoke the ripcord to get him or herself out of there and into the relative safety/anonymity of the Underside.
Ripgate – (n) the entryway that a virus weaves into the framework of a ‘plane or a ‘sphere. The slicer then uses this illegal gate to grab the data he or she needs, and get out. Or, alternatively, plant a chainsaw/needle as an act of desperation or an act of protest.
Slammin’ – (adj) Cool
Strops – (n) Underside domains where slicers hang out.
Unraveling – (v) Covering your electronic tracks.
Wade around with a machete – (n) inefficient, clumsy slicing. What hackers are said to do. See Machete.
Wired – (adj) well-prepared
APPENDIX D: WEBSIDE LEXICON – RAVELER
note: Ravelers and slicers generally use the same terminology; the following are words that ravelers, but not typically slicers, come into contact with.
Aegis – (n) the most complete anti-virus system creatable. Astronomically difficult to create and implement, and extremely processor-intensive at that. Only the best ravelers can maintain, let alone create, an aegis system. Average radius of protection is about six datumplanes. Will protect against all but a very brilliant rapier or an irresistible chainsaw – both of which are well-nigh impossible to implement.
Buckler – (n) a local, simple anti-virus system. Easily created, also easily put out of commission by any experienced slicer.
Chasing a drift – (v) hot on the trail of a slicer
Phalanx – (n) an anti-virus system more advanced than a buckler. Has the protection radius of approximately two datumplanes. Protects against most slicers’ normal viruses, and provides some very limited protection against common Cybrid viruses.
Sifting through snow – (v) examining SNOW transcripts for evidence of a possible break-in.
Spring – (n) a datumplane with a lack of SNOW; a high-risk security area.
Snowsig – (n) the header byte on any data packet. Called this because a quick look at its status can determine whether the origin of this packet is foreign or not. If a questionable snowsig is found, the packet related to it is retained on the SNOW node and not transferred until cleared by a human administrator.