V-Rtifacts

And All That Hype

Beware the funny hair… its a tech cult giveaway

Matt Novak, in Smithsonian’s Paleofuture blog, draws some interesting contrasts between Jaron Lanier’s 1991 Omni Magazine interview and his current book: “You Are Not A Gadget: A Manifesto.

1990s virtual reality as seen in The Carousel of Progress (photo by Matt Novak)

While the Omni article portrays Lanier as

“…a man of vision, enthusiasm, and purpose, if a bit of an eccentric: “The Pied Piper of a growing technological cult, Lanier has many of the trappings of a young rock star: the nocturnal activity, attention-getting hair, incessant demands on his time.”

You Are Not A Gadget has the pendulum swinging in the opposite direction – techno-reactionary. As one reviewer puts it:

“Jaron Lanier is really, really bothered by a laundry list of standard arch-conservative nemeses (Marxism! today’s kids! filesharing! the breakdown of the social contract! foreigners stealing our jobs!) as well as a basket of useful-yet-imperfect modern technologies (Wikipedia! Blogs! MIDI! Linux!) He is aware of a sinister cabal of cybernetic totalists who are hard at work on a machine to xerox his brain and force him to use Facebook to meet girls.

He regularly starts a section with the assertion of a Great Digital Evil (the record industry is dying! bloggers don’t spell check!), then insinuates a link to his vague overarching thesis… his desire to save the world from the Great Digital Evil he has not quite described. Apparently people need to be more like squids – while remaining uniquely special humans, of course. Also, financial contracts should be written in LISP. And pop songs should live in coffee mugs so they can’t be downloaded. I kid you not.”

Head over to Matt’s take on the whole affair!

 

Platypus Headsets?

The Science Channel interviews Jaron Lanier who shows off some wide field of view headsets from the late 80’s. Jaron feels like a platypus when wearing one of these JumboTrons. The narrator’s conclusion (and Jaron’s as well): The state of the art in VR hasn’t progressed too much further.

 
(A tip of the hat to Aphradonis over at mtbs3d.com for finding this little gem!)

 

3-Dimensions… For the First Time… 3-D FEELIES!!

MAD Magazine, June 1954:

DDD (3D) COMICS DEPT: By now you are familiar with 3-D Comic Books! You Know that some 3-D books enclose One set of 3-D glasses… You know some 3-D Books enclose Two sets of 3-D glasses! We are proud to announce that we of Mad are enclosing No sets of 3-D glasses for this, our first Mad story in… 3-DIMENSIONS!

Mad 3D

(click on Super-Mickey to view original article)

 

The Joydick

At the risk of overstepping any and all boundaries of propriety, here are complete do-it-yourself build instructions for an “incredible” haptic feedback interface for your Atari console. With a bit of soldering and epoxy, you can add force feedback into any Atari console game, everyone’s a winner, come one, come all. First check out the demo video, then follow these step by step build instructions. Don’t forget anything from the parts list, especially the tissues.

Is It VR Yet?

Harvey Newquist tires of waiting for the New York Post headline to scream: “Wife Dumps Husband For Cybersex Lover” or “Computer Casanova Seduces Virtual Valerie.”

Money quote:

Does the average person get to see or use any of this stuff? Can you go any place just experience the joys of VR? Is Ronald Reagan in full control of his senses? The answer to all these questions is an emphatic “no.” … Try asking your next-door neighbor about VR. Ask him or her about their most recent VR experience.

Has anything changed in the 15 years since this 1996 article was published in the Virtual Reality Special Report?

PDF Here

Yea, though he has walked through the Valley of Silicon, he fears no evil. Jaron Lanier’s rebound…

“Inside Jaron Lanier is a precocious eight-year-old who got together with some friends and built a spaceship,” wrote Howard Rheingold in his 1991 book, Virtual Reality, the definitive history of VR to date. “Now he wants us all to take a ride in it.”


More from Burr Snider’s 1993 perspective in Wired….

Psychedelics and the Creation of Virtual Reality

VR pioneer, Mark Pesce discusses the relationship between Virtual Reality and psychedelic substances.

MAPS: Do you ever use psychedelics for problem-solving tasks? Where you have a specific question in mind, and then you take psychedelics in search of an answer?

Mark: They’ve certainly been facilitators or catalysts for that. The most striking example is all the cyberspace protocols that came to me. I mean “wham,” it came to me like that, and I just saw them. I got the big picture, but the big picture said, “Okay, well you know roughly how to make it work. Now you have to go in and do the detail, right?” I spent three years doing that detail work, and out of that detail work came VMRL, and some stuff which you’ll probably still see in a couple of years. So in that case it was very direct… I’ve done a bunch of research work on the ethics and the effects of virtual environments. And that also was catalyzed specifically in a psychedelic experience. You know, it was like “snap.” It’s a moment of clarity.


Read more…