The characters spend the first chunk of the book trying to solve a code puzzle given to Lu by the goddess Sudo. When they solve it, it triggers a great storm in the realm of AR, a plane of reality that previously had nothing even close to weather. The sky turns an ominous yellow during the day and and a dark rust color at night, until the rain starts.
Because Sudo is dramatic, she designs it to rain for 32 days and 32 nights. The rain is pure static, random 1s and 0s pelting down from the sky and accumulating in low-ground, or, places with the densest internet activity. The flood rises stories high. Long before the rain stops, people start to figure out how to navigate AR in the flood. When messages are sent, the edges get corrupted by the damp static, so people begin starting and ending their messages with 140 characters of nonsense, to sop it up before it can get to the part they want to preserve. In just a couple days there are widely available extensions and apps that waterproof your data, so it doesn't get damp when you send it.
Weeds begin to grow between the cracks in the sidewalks, the cracks between digital spaces. They grow underwater, wavering seaweed like, loosely structured and held up by the flow of the water. As the static/water soaks into the ground, into the unindexed web, the plants learn to attain more structure, having to hold themselves up now. They evolve and learn in a different kind of AI, an AI with plant-like intelligence rather than human intelligence. Stronger and taller plants grow.
Still concentrated in cities where the water was concentrated, overgrowth is constantly being fought back by the average user, clippers and mower DLCs are released by demand, fancy corporate ones and cheap personal ones. Despite the upkeep, the plants grow flowers and go to seed, and its hard to stop. They're made of blockchains that learn to protect and defend themselves. They sink roots deep into the unindexed web, creating pathways and convoluting pathways. The feed themselves on the raw static that now soaks it, the static that masks encrypted places even more than before.
Sudo is a gardener, as she told Lu, and her garden is full of wildflowers and weeds. They are smart and have a will to live and will do what is necessary to keep themselves from being eradicated, but they aren't bad or destructive. They are new, and this is a story of learning to coexist, learning to thrive.
It started with the weeds growing between the cracks in the sidewalks.
Seeds are little bundles of data, encased like a zip file, and when they open they start to grow. What are they filled with? Is it useful?
Blockchains are linked lists who's links are encrypted. Maybe the DNA of the plants is encoded in this way. To some, they are beautiful, to others they are valuable, and to others still they are dangerous.
Sudo has been planting for years, where will she decide to put plants the thickest?
Some of her earliest seeds may be in locations that don't get used anymore. abandoned subways? Buildings?
How does The City feel, being washed so clean and filled with sprouting life? Refreshed? Soothed? Stretching and itching like growing pains?
Consider weather patterns. We don't just get rain, we also get high pressure systems with dry spells. Maybe the plants would be in danger of dying. Or maybe that aren't like that at all. Maybe they aren't like normal plants. Seeded by sudo, maybe they're filled with chaos.
Aren't organic plants also, though? Consider an old forest with trees that grow so tall that they kill all the undergrowth, animals can't live there because there's no food, a person could die. Trees aren't always benevolent, just because they're quiet and pleasent to be near. They can be agressive, oportunistic, unkind.