Thursday, February 22, 2007

Continuing the interface discussion...

What would come after (if) we made the interface as we know it disappear? How about removing the distinction between the world outside the computer--the "real world"--and that data-world that exists (I'm tempted to say 'lives') inside the computer/network. There are lots of terms for and implementations of this data world. A short tour...

First there was Gibson's--purely conceptual--"cyberspace." Then various versions of MMORPGs (though the simpler ones actually predate Neuromancer). Most recently, we've graduated to the various takes on Stephenson's "Metaverse." What distinguises this version from the earlier ones is that it is explicitly conceived not just as metaphor or game, but as a way to blur the line between the two domains.

These synthetic worlds might in some way be a next step in evolution. They are starting to generate their own economies, are tracked by major news organizations, are being 'colonized' by major 1st life corporations. Want a reality check? The US Congress is looking into taxing online economies!

Eventually, we might actually create some version of the 'noosphere.'

BUT (and it's a big but, at least for me) the navigation is still mostly based on keyboards and mice, which presents an almost-insurmountable barrier to the kind of immersion that would really realize the initial vision. Lots of work to be done in the world of haptics. The recent creation of open source metaverse tools--crude though they are in the first pass--may give us some leverage, as well as potentially speeding up the development cycle.

I invite you to join me in 2L, interacting with either of the two avatars I maintain: MC2 Plisskin (call me 'Snake'), the male version, and ReiToei Xingjian, the more speculative female avatar. Just click here to get started (and it's free!).

ReiToei surveys her world...

No comments: