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April 16, 2009

<< Bill Reads Books | Library Culture / Information Culture >>

Sketchup 2100

Not really much of a narrative, and not even really a vision of the future. Instead it feels like a Borges story in video, a kind of thought experiment, and I love it:

Or maybe I just think that because I’ve been reading some of the Heidegger linked in this thread. Man as world-builder, etc.

(Via Life Without Buildings.)

Posted April 16, 2009 at 4:30 | Comments (5) | Permasnark
File under: Media Galaxy


Really liked the music, too. Played the video once again in the background just to enjoy it.

This, I think, is the post-Heideggerian point, and the real "postmodern technology." For Heidegger, the trouble with the typewriter -- and maybe the Kindle, too -- is that it introduces an industrial machine that alienates language in a profound way. In particular, the word is alienated from the hand.

But with this kind of holographic VR technology -- and maybe the iPhone or the Wii, too -- the hand/body comes back, but it's not the same as with the pencil or the hammer. There's something incredibly powerful about being able to use just your body, "without mediation," to perform those kind of operations -- but also something incredibly uncanny about it too. Uncanny and truly posthuman.

Yeah, I totally buy that this is what we like about the iPhone: That it brings physicality back into the equation, and we find that satisfying on a really deep level. Your interaction w/ the virtual world is no longer squashed down to fit through the single, infinitesimal point of the mouse cursor.

It's physicality, sure -- but it's a WEIRD physicality. It's some kind of hybrid of our (relatively) intuitive assumptions about navigating the old-tech physical universe and our (relatively) learned assumptions about navigating digital applications and filesystems. It's a return as a revolution.

And right now, it's really a three-quarters turn. I remember something Bill Gates said at All Things Digital a couple of years ago; he was going on about the cool things that we'll be able to do with VR technology in the next ten years, like play a baseball video game where you can actually swing a bat to hit the ball. Walt Mossberg said something like, "oh, they have that now," meaning Wii Sports (which had just come out) -- and Gates said something like, "no, not with a controller -- you'll actually be able to swing your own bat."

Swing a bat, not a controller; write with a pencil, not a stylus --

-- But of course, this immediately suggests, if the program can recognize these physical objects, why can't it just recognize our bodies? Why can't I just swing my hands, or write with my finger?

And better still, why can't I swing a holographic bat, write with a holographic pencil, type on a holographic keyboard?

Let's try to agree -- things are getting not just cool, but weird.

Cool but weird. I'm in.

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