The Haunted Stars
In the centuries since the invention of the internet, online communities have grown and evolved into something hardly recognizable by those early pioneers of the digital frontier. Today, humanity is connected through digital lines of communication that are virtually omnipresent, and humanity is interconnected at a level never before even considered possible. Thus, the Link was born.
Gone are the days of users connected through computer terminals that are linked to the greater internet through servers and providers. As humanity left Earth, and with it their digital lives, a new solution was found to create local networks while bypassing the archaic hub-based form of networking. Today, the Link is composed of billions of individual servers that inhabit many every-day objects, such as jewelry, clothing, vehicles, and even weaponry. This decentralized networking solution creates an ubiquitous computing environment where a person is always online, no matter where they are.
Of course, the Link does have some limitations. Because of the light-lag of data transmissions on interplanetary (never mind interstellar) scales, a person’s Link is typically limited to the planet, station, or ship they are on. Because of the incredible amount of personal storage available today, and the virtually unlimited bandwidth offered by the intermeshed nature of the Link, a person’s Link information is automatically updated whenever it comes into contact with another Link network that they are allowed access to. So if traveling from Earth to Mars, for example, as they leave Earth their live access to the Link will cease, and an individual would be limited to their ship’s Link. But while the information from Earth is no longer live, they still have access to all of the information that was available at the time of departure, in addition to any activity on the ship itself. Then, upon arrival in Mars-space, the ship’s communication facilities would attain a Link download, and pass on updates to those aboard of the Mars Link, which can be immediately accessed.
Communication throughout colonized space is largely done through the Link, though between habitats or planets people can communicate via the Link transmitted over a few mediums: tight-beam laser array, radio, microwave, or quantum casters. Text, voice, or video can all be used to communicate either locally or to another Link network, or even meeting through a virtual, computer generated environment called a Simulspace.
To access the Link, there are several different options. By far the most common is through the use of personal computer interfaces (PCI), otherwise known as Uplinks, miniature computers which can be housed in any number of accessories. Through this Uplink (housed in, let’s say a bracelet), a person can view the Link through a few different methods: worn glasses with built-in displays, Linked contact lenses, or more rarely, a holographic projection. Manipulation of the Link can be achieved through voice commands, hand gestures, or through eye-movements.
The second method of connecting to the Link is more expensive, but far more efficient, and slowly gaining popularity, is through the implantation of a PCI in a user’s brain. The procedure is accomplished through non-intrusive nanosurgery, actually growing the implant within the brain, directly connecting the Uplink to the user’s cerebral neuronal cells and cortical centers responsible for language, speech, and visual perception. This allows for transducing (the act of emulating thought to communication), which allows for the control of the implant through thought alone. In the same way, input from the Uplink is transmitted directly into the brain in a fashion that the user chooses, but typically in an augmented reality overlay.
This implanted variation of the Uplink (named the Cerebral Link, or “C-Link” for short) was born out of the older Datalink implant that mech pilots were required to possess in order to attain neural linkage with their mech, when it was discovered that combining the technology with that of a standard Uplink allowed for the combined abilities of both devices. As such, currently the C-Link is most popular among pilots, with a growing number of military units, celebrities, and the generally wealthy coming onboard with the idea. Many experts say that despite most of humanity’s general distrust of optional cybernetic implantation, it won’t be too long before the regular Uplink is a thing of the past.
• Public search engines, databases, mesh sites, blogs, forums, and archives, along with new content alerts.
• Syndicated public newsfeeds in a variety of formats, ﬁltered according to your preferences.
• Sensor (mostly audio-visual) feeds from any public area of the habitat.
• Private network resources (including tactical nets).
• Automatic searches for new online references to your name and other subjects of interest.
• E-tags pertaining to local people, places, or things.
• Facial/image recognition searches of public mesh/archives to match a photo/vid still.
• Personal status indicators (medical and/or mechanical): blood pressure, heart rate, temperature, white cell count, nutrient levels, implant status and functionality, etc.
• Location, functionality, sensor feeds, and status reports of your possessions (via sensors and transmitters in these possessions).
• Access to one’s life-spanning personal audio-visual/XP archive.
• Access to one’s life-spanning personal ﬁle archive (music, software, media, documents, etc.).
• Credit account status and transactions.