We skip ahead in time to see Hiro chillin' at his pad (a spacious twenty by thirty foot U-Stor-It storage unit) with his roommate Vitaly Chernobyl, who is a rockstar.
Now we get a physical description of Hiro: He has his mother's Korean slanted eyes, and his father's African-American darker skin and dreadlock-prone hair.
Hiro has his portable computer turned on, and he's got goggles and headphones to go with it; through this system, he can plug into the Metaverse, a.k.a. virtual reality.
He's out for information, since he needs to make money somehow. He hasn't had a hacking job in a while, and his time as the Deliverator is, sadly, over, so he works as a stringer for the CIC (the Central Intelligence Corporation), which is what happened when the CIA and Library of Congress merged. As a stringer, Hiro finds information, uploads it, and sometimes gets paid for it. Emphasis on the sometimes.
In the Metaverse, Hiro is approaching the main street, just called the Street, which is the lifeline that ties together the whole virtual realm. It's got rules of physics built in so that people can pay tons of money to put up signs and other advertisements, whereas if you venture to the outer portions of the Metaverse, you can have crazy gravity-defying combat.
Especially Downtown, everything is shockingly bright and garish and in-your-face. This is because only the richest, most privileged of the earth's citizens can afford to get into the Metaverse, making it the advertising opportunity of the century.
Hiro's house is more tasteful; since he and bunch of hacker buddies got in on the Metaverse ten years ago, they were able to purchase and develop their own space just off the Street.
Hiro remembers back before the Street was so densely populated and the monorail program was written, back when he and his friends would write motorcycle software just to get around in the darkness.