21 Dec 2005
Never write anything digitally ever – redux
I don’t think he reads my blog, at least not with any regularity, but yesterday my brother-in-law IM’ed me this URL: a newsgroup I posted to in 1991, in which I discuss a variety of topics from the LPMud I was helping run at the time, to the future of VR, to teledildonics — all on a thread started by Howard Rheingold.
Does anything on the internet ever really die? Who reads a nntp://sci.virtual-worlds archive on Google from before Google ever existed? Why?
It’s interesting too to see how my personal predictions of the future of technology have failed (again). Not only did I fail to anticipate the advent of the web (calling it “Gopher with pictures. Who cares?“) But I failed in my positive prediction of VR. Maybe it’s still coming and has just not arrived yet. Somehow, I suspect not. But I think it hasn’t arrived for a reason I didn’t get (and simply couldn’t have gotten) at the time: The hardware. As a technophile college student on the verge of the information revolution, I couldn’t imagine NOT wanting to wear goggles or even a full suit that plugged one into the information space. Your HAIRDO? You’re worried about YOUR HAIR? Who cares? Program it to be 6 feet tall and blue in the virtual world, if that’s what you want. And yet, here we are, 14.5 years later, still in the real world. Sure, monitors have gotten larger, we’re still on the cusp of HDTV – something of an irony because already 1080 scan lines is only high definition in contrast to current TV standards. Thanks to the latest video cards, virtual worlds in the form of MMOGs have a level of detail, fidelity, and interactivity that I could barely have imagined back then. But still, it ends at the edges of the screen.
I guess, to some extent, this continues to surprise me. We purchase all sorts of crazy input devices for game consoles. (example, example, example) Yet, we don’t goggle into that world. A turn of the head to the left and we’re looking at the kitchen, or down the hall of our house, not deeper into the Forest of Kith. That said, when’s the last time you saw a gamer turn his head to the left during a video game? Maybe, maybe during a “loading…” screen.