First Site

In 1992, Batman Returns was the hot summer movie. Everybody wanted to see Tim Burton’s sequel to his 1989 blockbuster smash.

It was also the first time I saw a URL splashed across a billboard in public. Right under a giant poster for the film, I saw “http://www.batmanreturns.com”.

What was odd was that this a full year before even most geeky people were using a Web browser (the Mosaic browser, to be precise). So the ad was an entirely conceptual play — a nod to the idea of the Web, before there actually was a Web that the public could readily access.

I wonder whether that will start to happen with newer forms of public interfaces. With all the recent talk about implementing Neil Stephenson’s Metaverse, we don’t quite yet have the equivalent of Mosaic for VR — an easily accessible place where anyone can go for free, with no strings attached, to explore a rapidly growing world of community-built information.

Maybe we will know that place has arrived when major movies start advertising in it. And maybe that will start to happen about a year before you can actually go there.

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