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Are virtual worlds the future of cyber experience?


Two links on Technology Review, a video of Tim Berners-Lee on the Semantic Web and an article on the emergence of virtual worlds, demonstrate how the Internet experience is seeking to transform itself into a new dimension to seamlessly immerse users into a cyber experience.

The article on the increased success of Google Earth and Linden Lab's Second Life is indicative of the Internet's transformation from a medium of information (the information super-highway), to a complete world -- a "meta-verse" in itself. It's interesting how the author contemplates the merging of Google Earth's real world landscapes with Linden Labs virtual world to provide an entirely virtual earth!

And Second Life has been on corporate radars too, as a potential avenue for publicity and advertising. There are virtual offices, virtual neighbours... well... it's a virtual life, really. And what drives the increased user acceptance is the freedom that the users enjoy.

The pieces on Semantic Web ( One & Two) are about creating a "Smart Web" that enables software to make sense of the deluge of data on the Web. This would enable customization of the Web to suit your own taste. An example is the tagging system that you see at social sites. As of now, you know that a certain percentage of people liked a particular travel agency or an article, but it may not suit your own taste, and the system should learn from that and provide information about your own taste in the future.

Semantic Web is about creating a cyberspace where software gets us the data, learns from the data, and tailors the data to our taste. And the virtual worlds are creating a whole new dimension to existence. Is this the emerging future of the Internet? A virtual immersive world where you go to work, shop, and play by just logging in? A la "Matrix"? Can the virtual worlds compensate for sensations in the real world? What do you think?

6 comments
cmj3
cmj3

If your reality is cruddy or even just not what you want - Hitchcock pointed out that no one can stand reality - then you dern betcha that virtual rewards will be considered to be preferable. Virtual worlds could even prevent some (perhaps much) alcoholism.

arniec
arniec

To some yes, to others, no.

pr.arun
pr.arun

Are virtual worlds creating a new frontier for existence that is an alternative to reality?

tokunbo007
tokunbo007

reality is where the actual 'game of life' is played. everyother thing is actually a waste of time, talent and resources.

TheGooch1
TheGooch1

As far as living life, reality is where you want to be. There are plenty of real-life games that you can play instead of locking yourself in a virtual world. Now, I could see virtual worlds ( actually simulations ) being used to for designing, testing, or just checking out a location that you are thinking of traveling to. For example, and architect could lay transpose his designs into a virtual building, parking lot, etc, and let the committee that would approve the project virtually walk around the area to see if they like it or not. The big question is to whether this adds any value over a to-scale model of the same building design. As far as actually living life, people should face reality, and not look for a way to escape it. If you are handicapped, walking around in a virtual world is not going to improve things for you. Learning to deal with your problem and keeping up to date on new treatments/procedures that can make your life easier is the way to go. You should look for activities where you can temporary forget it all. They reduce stress levels that lead to production of free radicals that lead to damage at the cellular level, including brain cells! In conclusion, living in a virtual world is not living.

Bizzo
Bizzo

Virtual worlds as a concept could be pretty amazing. Imagine a world where there's no discrimination against race, gender, age, disabilities and so on. Where a 72 year old wheelchair-bound female could converse with a 22 year old male (misogynist or not) on equal terms. Where a person who's disfigured can wander freely around their virtual world without being looked at oddly. Where a housebound agoraphobic can walk their (virtual) dog in the park. Would be nice wouldn't it? But with anonymity comes deception. There will always be people that join these things for their own devious reasons. There?ll be scammers who are just in for it themselves. The sweatshops in china producing things on-line to sell in the real world. And the most devious of them all, the paedophile. And then you get people who take thing to the extreme, like last year I think, when a man had a heart attack from playing an on-line game for over 30 hours straight. As for virtual worlds creating a new frontier for existence that is an alternative to reality. I hope not. Maybe as an extension to reality, but not as an alternative. There can be no compensation for reality. A walk in the rain, the smell of freshly cut grass, seeing a sunrise or sunset, or just holding the hand of a loved one. Now that?s REAL reality.