My name is danah boyd and I'm a Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research, a Research Assistant Professor in Media, Culture, and Communication at New York University, and a Fellow at Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society. Buzzwords in my world include: privacy, context, youth culture, social media, big data. I use this blog to express random thoughts about whatever I'm thinking.

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on being virtual

Lately, i’ve become very irritated by the immersive virtual questions i’ve been getting. In particular, “will Web3.0 be all about immersive virtual worlds?” Clay’s post on Second Life reminded me of how irritated i am by this. I have to admit that i get really annoyed when techno-futurists fetishize Stephenson-esque visions of virtuality. Why is it that every 5 years or so we re-instate this fantasy as the utopian end-all be-all of technology? (Remember VRML? That was fun.)

Maybe i’m wrong, maybe i’ll look back twenty years ago and be embarrassed by my lack of foresight. But honestly, i don’t think we’re going virtual.

There is no doubt that immersive games are on the rise and i don’t think that trend is going to stop. I think that WoW is a strong indicator of one kind of play that will become part of the cultural landscape. But there’s a huge difference between enjoying WoW and wanting to live virtually. There ARE people who want to go virtual and i wouldn’t be surprised if there are many opportunities for sustainable virtual environments. People who feel socially ostracized in meatspace are good candidates for wanting to go virtual. But again, that’s not everyone.

If you look at the rise of social tech amongst young people, it’s not about divorcing the physical to live digitally. MySpace has more to do with offline structures of sociality than it has to do with virtuality. People are modeling their offline social network; the digital is complementing (and complicating) the physical. In an environment where anyone _could_ socialize with anyone, they don’t. They socialize with the people who validate them in meatspace. The mobile is another example of this. People don’t call up anyone in the world (like is fantasized by some wrt Skype); they call up the people that they are closest with. The mobile supports pre-existing social networks, not purely virtual ones.

That’s the big joke about the social media explosion. 1980s and 1990s researchers argued that the Internet would make race, class, gender, etc. extinct. There was a huge assumption that geography and language would no longer matter, that social organization would be based on some higher function. Guess what? When the masses adopted social media, they replicated the same social structures present in the offline world. Hell, take a look at how people from India are organizing themselves by caste on Orkut. Nothing gets erased because it’s all connected to the offline bodies that are heavily regulated on a daily basis.

While social network sites and mobile phones are technology to adults, they are just part of the social infrastructure for teens. Remember what Alan Kay said? “Technology is anything that wasn’t around when you were born.” These technologies haven’t been adopted as an alternative to meatspace; they’ve been adopted to complement it.

Virtual systems will be part of our lives, but i don’t think immersion is where it’s at. Most people are deeply invested in the physicality of life; this is not going away.

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44 comments to on being virtual

  • As someone who makes video games for a living, I have to agree with you. Check out this (short) paper from Zimmerman/Salen’s “Rules of Play” on the Immersive Fallacy:

    http://www.nyls.edu/pdfs/zimmerman.pdf

  • Ged

    If we think about this from a people and personality point of view as as well, looking at a Jungian based measure like the Myer Briggs Type Indicator shows how people have differnet information preferences and are likely to want to interact with information, their world and each other in different ways.

    Virtual worlds by their very nature will lend themselves to some personalities rather than others. This supports your argument that the world won’t go virtual

  • In France, I was surprised to see that WOW gamers met quite frequently at barbecue parties. That bloggers are very often daters, just slow daters :-)
    The other day, a 3 year old child showed me a bucket full of sand and asked me if i wanted to eat the cake she made. I just asked what her cake was made of, she gave a few thoughts about it, knowing that there was a problem of virtuality, but couldnt lie – her father was close to me – and ended saying “of sand”. “Then i cant eat it, it’s disgusting”. She was vexed, for 2 minutes, then came back, with the same bucket, and said with a blink of eye “Do you want a piece of this delicious chocolate cake, you see, there is chantilly there” (in French, the flavour of the words make the story far more credible).
    Let them play, please :-)
    By the way Danah on stage, it s pure chantilly, thank you for coming in Leweb3.

  • I love danah, but I think she has missed the mark here.
    When danah says “When the masses adopted social media, they replicated the same social structures present in the offline world.” she might not know this is exactly what is going on in SL.

    More on my blog at http://www.storygeek.com.

    M

  • One of the more interesting things about the virtual world (for me at least), it that it allows me to “talk” in a way that I can’t in the regular world. Being in an area where there is very little interest in politics and current events, I use my blog to vent my thoughts, frustrations and opinions. So I believe in my case, the virtual, while complimenting it also enhances it.

  • Lately I’ve become very irritated by the number of online culture gurus such as yourself that are passing judgment on Second Life without really investigating it properly so they fully understand what it is about. :-)

    I love your work Danah, but have you actually spent any time in SL? Have you tried to see what all the fuss is about?

    The mistake that you – and many others – make is thinking that immersive environments are necessarily some sort of escape from the physical world.

    What we are seeing is a new, richer type of online environment which will be integrated with our “real” lives, the same as the web has become integrated with our real lives. Who could have imagined 10 years ago how much time we would spend interacting with the online world?

    And I spend no more time in front of the screen than I did before discovering Second Life.

    Immersive environments like Second Life present an interface that allow unique qualities that are not available elsewhere on the Internet, that is – immersion, presence and shared experience.

    I suggest you attend some events in world and see how different it is to surfing the web alone or visiting social software sites alone, or even attending web-based conferences.

    I think you will find that what is happening in SL is not that much different from what you are describing in other social networking sites. I’m taking my real world network with me, as you say. Most of my SL friends are real world friends and colleagues, but the more time I spend in world, the more this changes, as I meet people with common interests through hanging out in shared spaces and at events.

    And SL has two of the three requirements you set out for a social network site – profiles and other social networking tools (such as friends, groups and events listings) – which I use to find like-minded people. It doesn’t have persistent, public comments though, but I’m not sure if this matters.

    Besides, Linden Lab are working on bringing a web browser within SL, so that every social network service will be available from within the 3D interface eventually anyway.

    Hope to see you in world some time!

  • Please don’t mistake my views – i don’t think that virtual worlds are an escape for all (or even most) participants. There are certainly those who use them to escape – again, this is often those who are feeling supremely alienated elsewhere. I think that most people use games for pleasure – it’s fun to socialize, compete, create, organize, etc. I also think that for most people, they do not add to screen time – i think that there is a shift from television consumption to game playing for most MMOGs (or at least that’s what i saw in interviews).

    While i believe all of this to be true, i do not believe that they are the future for everyone’s free time (let alone everyone’s full time). I spend too much time with people deeply invested in physicality to believe this to be true. The teens that i talk to would do anything to go out and play with their friends in meatspace; far too many of them are on MySpace because they aren’t allowed physical interactions with their friends. This strongly suggests that virtuality does not equal physicality for all people.

    I understand that people want to attack me for not understanding because i haven’t drank the koolaid and am not an active member in any immersive virtual system. I’m not. I haven’t been since the 1996 when my carpal tunnel kicked in in full blast. And i probably never will be for precisely that reason. At the same time, i’m not a teenager any longer (even if some of you think that i am). I don’t use MySpace for personal social organizing (as anyone who has tried to send me messages there knows). I don’t create videos for YouTube. But i do observe, track, and interview people who use these systems. Do i believe that i’m qualified to be writing a dissertation on immersive virtual systems? No. But i don’t think that my views are completely ungrounded – they are based on innumerable conversations with young people.

    I totally support those who are making and participating in Second Life and other immersive systems. I genuinely believe these systems are great for people. But i don’t believe that they are for everyone.

  • Also, i recognize that people are modeling offline structures into SL. Most institutions that i’m a part of have a virtual representation. This was not what i was implying wrt social network sites.

    Most immersive systems are primarily about building social communities that are present primarily virtually in an asynchronous fashion. (SL is the furthest from this.) When people model their social worlds in social network sites, it’s primarily to support offline social relations. This is why many teenagers have no problem losing their MySpace accounts and creating a new one – they didn’t lose any social connections that they built up associated with their virtual presence alone. (I will try to address this behavior more directly in a different post later.) The primary locus of interaction is offline; MySpace supports those relations just like the mobile phone supports those relations. This is not the dynamic in immersive virtual worlds, even SL (except for conferences or formal events that are simultaneously physical/virtual). This is precisely what it means for these systems to be *immersive*.

  • Danah, with respect, while you keep using words like ‘game’ and ‘play’ and ‘pleasure’ to describe Second Life, it shows you still really don’t understand what it is. Referring to it in only these terms trivialises it. Please spend some time in world or research what is actually is going on in there.

    Second Life is a not a game – it’s a platform, just like the web, and like the web, people use it for a wide variety of purposes – to find information, to meet people, to communicate, to network, to learn & train & educate, to attend presentations, for prototyping, user testing and market testing of products etc. Increasingly real world companies are setting up shop looking for ways to sell real world products. This includes Amazon.

    And yes, sometimes they use it to play and have some fun with their free time. But many users, and this is increasingly the case, are using it in exactly the same way we are using the web – as part of our daily lives, including our working lives. Do you call what you do when you are researching, blogging, banking and shopping ‘play’, and something you do in your free time?

    I’m not arguing that we will or should spend more time online, no matter what the platform. I agree with you that being in the physical world is more desirable than being in Second Life, whenever possible. But exactly the same thing can be said of the web. I think what we will see is 3D start to take over from web time (and TV time as you note), not an addition to it.

    I don’t think Second Life is for everyone either, but neither is the web.

    I’m not trying to attack you, I just find it frustrating that influential people like you are passing judgment without knowing the facts.

    Criticise Second Life all you like, not be into it all you like, even hate it if you want, but please find out what it really is first.

  • Perhaps i should also point out that my first body of work was on how 3D systems are hugely problematic because of their reliance on motion parallax as the primary depth cue (resulting in huge visual disorientation for people whose systems prioritize shape from shading over motion parallax).

    Sean – in my comment before yours, i talked about pleasure, not play (except in the turn of phrase “play with friends” in meatspace which references the broader realm of socialization). Yes, i think that a lot of people blog because for pleasure. This is what is meant by leisure time. The only other time i’ve used “play” in reference to immersive systems concerns WoW which is primarily about play.

    I also don’t believe that the web is the end-all-be-all for work spaces. There’s a reason why people have been resistant to telecommuting. And this is only amongst the white collar population. Most people do manual labor for a living. I don’t see farming going virtual anytime soon as a means for producing body sustainability. (Virtual farming for fun is a different enterprise.) Manufacturing, shipping, medicine, law enforcement, etc. are never going to go purely virtual. Again, i’m AOK with the privileged white collar workers getting to go virtual, but that is not the masses. The only opportunity for the masses is in leisure time and i don’t see this happening.

    As for things like banking, there’s a reason people do them online – efficiency. This is why i see this as going mobile. I think that the tasks that people have to do for life maintenance will always be done using whatever platform is most efficient. If that’s SL, cool. But i kinda doubt it.

    Again, i know people are using SL for a wide variety of pleasure and work but i still disagree with you that it’s for everyone and for everything.

    I am not passing judgment based on lack of facts about SL. But i fear you’re passing judgment based on lack of information about people who aren’t like you. Most people’s lives, values, goals, and interests are not actually virtuable.

    (Tangentially, i think that one arena of life that is ready to go virtual is religious practice. You already see this with the Frank Warren church and with the sermons through mobile phones. I think that the highest adoption of virtual spaces globally will be through this avenue.)

  • Danah, I didn’t say ‘it’s for everyone and for everything’, and I would never suggest that farming, manufacturing, shipping, medicine and law enforcement would go virtual. That would be plain silly. :-)

    All I’m saying is that many of the things we are doing online on the web now we will be doing in immersive environments in the future. And then some, as there are plenty of things you can do in 3D immersive environments that you can’t do on the web today, like fly through and experience architectural designs.

    Banking on the phone? Sure. You picked on my worst example. We will only being going virtual on those things that warrant it. I admit that people are doing some stuff in Second Life now that doesn’t make much sense. If I want to access information for example, in most cases I’d rather Google it, rather than wandering around a virtual library. But people are experimenting at the moment and they will learn what works and what doesn’t, in the same way they did with the early web.

    I missed your comment at 11.02am… on ‘Most immersive systems are primarily about building social communities that are present primarily virtually in an asynchronous fashion.’ I would say while this has been the case in the past – indeed many SL residents only form networks in world, prefer to stay anonymous and resolutely resist giving any real world details out – this is starting to change.

    More people are taking existing social networks in world with them. Separated loved ones are using Second Life as an opportunity to share time and presence together, and business, like IBM, are starting to set up in world spaces for their employees. Or are you saying that these don’t constitute social networks?

    Anyway, all I can say is: watch this space!

    http://www.thestreet.com/_googlen/newsanalysis/second-life/10328170.html

    :-)

  • Yes, very annoying notion that. Perhaps we simply need a little more precision when we talk about the virtual, that which is not actually there. We deal with an increasing amount of “virtual” on an everyday basis, and that definately makes a difference, but that kind of vritual is not “immersive”, even if we are arguably immersed within it to some degree. Btw, I like the term immersive virtuality when referring to the kind of Stephenson/Gibson VR that you mention.

  • Interesting post, particularly the notion that the online world replicates the offline one. So while there are redeeming features such as the ability to connect with nodes spread across different networks, as more & more of the population get onto the net, one will also see abundant rudeness (see NYTimes David Pogue’s recent piece), the herding & crowing of bullies, the hijacking of issues through sheer numbers. It never ceases to amuse me how the practice of groups is played out on listservs: one member ‘speaks’, and the next thing one knows is that several of his known chums chime in, a throwback to high-schoolish behavior to my mind, & yet it is so rampant! A version of caste-driven actions, I would think.

    It’s going to be very fascinating to see social behaviors play out as more & more people have access to this space.

  • A bunch of loosely related points:

    I agree we’re not mostly going all virtual. But this leaves a lot of room for the virtual.

    Setting aside the 3D stuff, the article makes clear social network claims, most importantly “In an environment where anyone could socialize with anyone, they don’t. They socialize with the people who validate them in meatspace.” But this is clearly wrong in general. Large blogs and other online communication systems generate communities of people who don’t know each other in meatspace. In fact the opposite phenomenon, of meatspace meetups between people who’ve never met each other except on-line, is fairly common and has a long history.

    Once we accept this, a very interesting question remains: What difference do “immersive” environments make in the formation and nature of these social networks? I simply don’t know how to answer this in any general way, but I don’t find that this article sheds much light.

    Regarding Anjali’s comment, of course the behavior described is very common. However I think that one difference between meatspace and virtual worlds is that we can tailor the virtual worlds in all kinds of ways to change the social dynamics. If you are in high school or an office and there is a bully, you can’t get away from them without severely limiting your other social options. But in virtual worlds there are many ways to avoid “bad actors” while having a lively social life.

  • Hi Danah, I left another comment earlier today, but I was informed that it was held for moderation, I assuming because it contained a link. Is it still in the cue or has it been swallowed by your spam filter?

  • Brian O'Hanlon

    I read through this discussion yesterday evening late, and I have still to throw an eye on shirky’s at corante. But for my auntie who is getting involved in some kind of wiki project to introduce new health standards in a hospital she works at, I wanted to dig out Nicholas Carr’s roughtype post ‘is web 2.0 enterprise ready’, where he comments on Andrew McAfee’s MIT Sloan Management article on the subject. I found this quote from Carr, which is worth throwing into the discussion here:

    “there’s always at least a small group of technologically-inclined employees who will gravitate to a seemingly cool new platform. The real test comes later, when the personal costs and benefits of using the system become apparent to a broad set of employees…”

  • Brian O'Hanlon

    I just noticed the ‘required reading’ on Andrew McAfee’s blog site. His link to the New York Times Magazine cover story, ‘Open Source Spying’.

  • Brian O'Hanlon

    Of course, spying is just one piece of the puzzle, in terms of world political balance and resolution. Because the world is becoming so global and linked together in such complicated ways, machines will increasingly become necessary to underpin the workings of this global system of trade and relationships. Even at the level of the individual, we see how technology is being used to underpin a way of life and economic reality that would seem foreign to earlier generations. This web of connections, while mostly good, can turn against you at the most unexpected of times, like when you change jobs, or get sick or something – it is hard to switch off these days, when you really need to. The machine doesn’t want to shut down.

    “The Internet lets Amazon aggregate demand for books at the end of the long tail, and thereby profit. The Net also lets Wikipedia aggregate supply from people at the end of the long tail of willingness to produce, and we all profit. But these people are a tiny, tiny fraction of all Internet users.”

    That is a statement about the platform that is the internet. I guess selling books, is an exercise in logistics management. There are other tasks which might be fully accelerated by some kind of cyber intelligent system. For instance, it might be useful for a general in charge of armed forces to enter into a virtual world, to study a situation is more ways than meatspace would allow him or her to.

    Consider concepts such as cyberwar, which will become more important in the future, definitely a platform with its own specific properties might be required. I read not too long ago in one of Malcolm Gladwell’s books – I think it was Blink, about the ‘cyberwar’ the Americans undertook as an exercise prior to the last gulf war. Certainly, it would appear that the information systems the military were using at that point, were no help at all. You will have to refer to Gladwell’s own book, for a proper explanation of this.

    Waging war is not like selling books. Consider all those grown men who keep toy trains and toy battle field mock ups of famous wars in their ‘spare’ room. I don’t think the web as a platform, via VRML or anything similar with ‘scale’ up to the complexity of arrangements of time and space required. I know you give examples like WOWs etc – but lets face it, if you ask any real hard core gamers about the ‘war simulation’ games out there at the moment – it is so easy to defeat the code, when you get used to it. A more stable and reliable platform is needed to wage wars in.

    I listened with interest, to Ester Dyson adn Mitch Kapur talk in the web 2.0 converence a while back. How the early stages of computing gave us tools like the Excel spreadsheet – which allows us to study non-linear phenomena. But in this ‘web 2.0′ stage, we cannot accelerate individuals any more, it is about accelerating the group. Ester talks about a sort of project management application for ordinary folk. The conversation at the web 2.0 conference asked good questions – like why did the calendar stay in paper format for so long.

    Another question to ask, is why have we so many devices for telling the time or date, which don’t match up? I remember reading about the communist calendar once, and how Stalin invented several calendars to try and organise better productivity in the planning economic experiment, that was old Communist Russia. Let us consider the fact, that Russia was attempting something far more ambious with ancient vaccuum tube computers, than web 2.0 is trying to do today with infinite silicon pulling power. I got this email from a pal of mine, a few days back:

    “Did I ever tell you that my parents bought a building to house their
    company in. It was ~35K sq feet, had 40 foot ceilings on the first
    floor, air conditioning from hell, and barely any heating. It was built
    in the 1950s to house a computer.”

    I would imagine myself, that a real virtual space to enhance productivity of a whole army, would not be called Web x.0 anything. It would have to be a whole new application running on the network. It would probably be the equivalent of web 20.0 rather than web 3.0. I think that this Stephenson/Gibson virtual space that everyone talks about, it out there on the distant horizon somewhere, and could be used as a tool to help build civilisations on Mars or beyond. But in computing terms, we are still back Bletchly Park, with notepads and chalk, as far as the holo-deck level of virtual reality is concerned.

    I think Thomas Friedman’s description of the Flat World platform, will be remembered years from now, by students of VR, as an account of one of the earliest ancestors to Holo-deck world. Like Kevin Kelly talks about bacteria now, is the context of ‘where life came from’, and what is evolution – Darwinian or Lamarckian.

  • Brian O'Hanlon

    Apolgise guys for the sequence of posts here. I forgot to point out Danah, you mention religion is ready to go virtual. It is a very intriguing possibility. But do bear in mind, something about ancient ‘pagan’ religions which we might be about to rediscover. There were a lot of things, in the older religions, which were about time and organisation of resources etc.

    I watched a television series about the Celtic people recently. It described at one point, the de-centralised organisation of the Celtic people, really not unlike the internet kind of world we live in today. There was no central capital, like in the Roman world. But what was interesting, was the tools the Celts had for organising time – they had some kind of caladar made of bronze with lots of little holes punched in it, with bits of string etc. Apparently, the Celts had much better ‘computers’ back in those days than the Romans had. Anyhow, when the Roman conquered the Celts, a great deal of effort was made to erase the evidence.

    But it seems interesting, you should talk about virtual religion, at the same time the web 2.0 conference should talk about calendars moving into the virtual space too. And my ideas about the Celtic world, where a decentralised system was used all across Europe. It was vulnerable as we know from studying of networks today – but it also afforded a social environment, where a Celtic woman could rise to become the wealthiest and most influential member of a community. Something the Romans, who granted no rights to females at all, found horifying.

    So while on one hand, I find this ‘new technology’ all very new and interesting. On the other hand, I wonder how far we have to journey back in time, pre-Roman, pre-Catholicism to find de-centralised organisation of economics and society.

  • Danah,

    I’m glad I waited and didn’t just respond. Your follow-up comments have been very informative. I find that I get the most from SL when I’m interacting with those 8 who are most significant to me. It’s the exact same 8 who I keep updated through twitter, who I answer their phone calls, who I will suffer through chatting with on my phone or sending an SMS (thumb typing), and who I never block on IM.

    SL makes a wonderful way to get these folks together in an immersive and very friendly environment.

    I am suggesting that people who don’t get-it will be turned immediately once their inner-circle finds it . It’s not unlike the speed of adoption of IM, FB, or MS in a certain demographic when their children leave the nest.

    Kevin

  • danah –

    Great post, but I have to say that my qualitative experience has been that there are just as many counter-examples of people engaging in significantly different social behavior in SNS than they do in meatspace. In particular, I have met many, many people in Ryze, especially work-at-home moms (WAHMs), who in the virtual world are gregarious extroverts, but say that in meatspace they are actually quite introverted — that their online experience has brought them out of their shell.

    Also, the diversity issue can’t be denied. While Indians may be organizing themselves by caste on Orkut, 3 or 4 a week are also contacting me, living on the other side of the world, and I’m engaging them in conversation and learning more. I’ve been fascinated to learn about homeschooling in India, the life of being in the Christian minority there, the beauty of Karnataka, where I’m dying to visit, the challenges of working in the highly competitive BPO segment, and so on.

    In Anarchy Online (my MMO of choice), I’m part of an organization of several hundred members from all over the world, ranging in age from like 12 to 50, with a wide diversity of professions, religious views, political views, and so on. And those topics do come up in org chat and our forums. I’m certain that many of them don’t have exposure to that level of diversity of thinking among their meatspace friends and colleagues.

    Honestly, I probably wouldn’t seek out that level of diversity in meatspace. The vast majority of my meatspace friends are WASPs-turned-“spiritual”. Virtually, that’s a small fraction of my friends.

    So I agree with you that I don’t expect us to reach the point of total immersion on a mass scale (though wearable computing, which you didn’t mention, may make it more of a factor than you anticipate). However, my experience has been that virtual social spaces do foster diversity and encourage extrovertedness among many who are shy in meatspace.

    And that’s a good thing… a very good thing.

  • One thing I am learning lately (from Kurt Squire) and really grabbed onto: tremendous value for learning game design and game play = moving back and forth between real world and virtual world.
    Also, Jane McGonigal, and “flash mob” activities.
    Real people can use virtual tools to take action and make a difference in the real world.

  • A rereading of Stephenson’s Snow Crash, the fetishizing of which is the operative metaphor of this post, would pay dividends, such as:

    * There are a wide variety of information interfaces, with the metaverse being only one of them

    * Remember “Earth”? (Think Google Earth)

    * Remember “The Librarian”? (Think the Semantic Web)

    * Remember the “Gargoyle”? (Think MIT media lab/augmented reality)

    In regards to Second Life, there is a lot more going on than hype, though we have plenty of that. Sean FitzGerald has it right that SL is an interface. Sean also has it right that it is a platform. Second Life as it currently exists is likely a kind of version 1.0 multi-user virtual environment interface/platform, like the early Mosaic Browser and html specification. 3d interfaces and virtual environments are not going to replace the 2d web, but will certainly supplement it in important ways.

    Get a Second Life, we can discuss this further inworld…

  • (I’m posting this again. I posted it yesterday and was informed it was held for moderation. I’m hoping that’s because I included a link, which I have now removed.)

    Danah, I didn’t say ‘it’s for everyone and for everything.’ I would never suggest that farming, manufacturing, shipping, medicine and law enforcement would go virtual. That would be just plain silly!

    All I’m saying is that many of the things we are doing online on the web now we will be doing in immersive environments in the future. And then some, as there are plenty of things you can do in 3D immersive environments that you can’t do on the web today, like fly through and experience architectural designs.

    Banking on the phone? Sure. You picked on my worst example. We will only being going virtual on those things that warrant it. I admit that people are doing some stuff in Second Life now that doesn’t make much sense. If I want to access information for example, in most cases I’d rather Google it, rather than wandering around a virtual library. But people are experimenting at the moment and they will learn what works and what doesn’t, in the same way they did with the early web.

    I missed your comment at 11.02am… on ‘Most immersive systems are primarily about building social communities that are present primarily virtually in an asynchronous fashion.’ I would say while this has been the case in the past – indeed many SL residents only form networks in world, prefer to stay anonymous and resolutely resist giving any real world details out – this is starting to change.

    More people are taking existing social networks in world with them. Separated loved are ones using Second Life as an opportunity to share time and presence together, and business, like IBM (Google ‘Big Blue Goes Virtual’) are starting to set up in world spaces for their employees. Or are you saying that these don’t constitute social networks?

    Anyway, all I can say is watch this space! :-)

  • Brian O' Hanlon

    I listened to Bruce Perens talk recently about the open source software movement. Bruce agrees with Richard Stallman on most philosophical points of availability of source code and software licensing. Except for one thing, Bruce thinks open source and proprietary software can co-exist inthe same world. Why is it, that often in software worlds, people want to choose one or the other? People subscribe to this notion of zoning, we found in urban planning in the 20th century. Namely that residential areas are only residential areas, industrial areas are only industrial etc. People have described the city of Bejing to me several times in this way. I don’t know what Bejing is like to live in. I don’t know if Jane Jacobs would endorse such a design. I think virtual and web space, are opportunities to extend the complexity of space, which Jacobs speaks so lovingly about. It is hard to design like this. The best minds in urban planning haven’t figured it out.

    “Consider, for example, the orthodox planning reaction to a district called the North End in Boston. This is an old, low-rent area merging into the heavy industry of the waterfront, and it is officially considered Boston’s worst slum and civic shame. It embodies attributes which all enlightened people know are evil because so many wise men have said they are evil. Not only is the North End bumped right up against industry, but worse still it has all kinds of working places and commerce mingled in the greatest complexity with its residences. It has the highest concentration of dwelling units, on the land that is used for dwelling units, of any part of Boston, and indeed one of the highest concentrations to be found in any American city. It has little parkland. Children play in the streets. Instead of super-blocks, or even decently large blocks, it has very small blocks; in planning parlance it is “badly cut up with wasteful streets.”

    From ‘The Death and Life of Great American Cities’, Jane Jacobs.

    What Danah Boyd’s discussion on Being Virtual fails to point out, is the great opportunity we have now sitting in front of us. We have the opportunity to provide many different kinds of work place in the same design. Over the summertime here in Dublin, I witnessed an interesting thing. I was sitting outside a cafe in Dublin city centre one Sunday morning. There was a couple beside me, a man was reading a newspaper and the girl was sipping her coffee. After a while, she was begging the man to come with her to a web cafe. She wanted to catch up on some news.

    Why anybody would forsake the summer sunshine in Dublin on Sunday morning, to catch up with ‘friends’, social networks and news feeds on an LCD monitor is beyond me. But to try and resolve the matter, the man walked across the street to a shop and returned with a second newspaper for her. She took one look at the front page and still protested. It became clear to me, that her man preferred his news as ink squeezed onto dead wood with a cup of coffee in hand. While she had to get her news, in her favourite online immersive way. A Sunday morning, just wasn’t complete otherwise. So the physical and virtual space have to merge in some way to keep this couple happy.

    Something, Jane Jacobs describes in her book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, is how
    automobiles are employed as convenient villians for all urban problems. If we solve the traffic
    problem in cities then we will solve all other problems at the same time. We see traffic
    engineering departments command huge resources to build infrastructure and plan our environment. But we don’t see an end result worth the investment in most cases. Because traffic problems alone do not cause decay in cities. In the virtual/ web space/ meatspace debate, we are wasting a lot of our energy arguing over who will become the traffic engineering department. The platform battle is waged to decide who will gain control over the online ‘commons’ space.

    But whether a space is virtual, web based or real doesn’t strike me as the issue. There are an infinite number of ways in which designers can and have screwed up the design of all three of these kinds of space. We should try to aim for good design in general, and erase these silly boundaries we make between different kinds of space.

    Consider the idea expressed by Nicholas Negroponte, of the weather forecast broadcasted in pure digital bits. You would be free on your end, to interpret this data stream however you wish. Depending on your life and how the weather affects you, you could ‘view’ the information through whatever instrument or lense you wish. I will be the first person to wear a digital eye piece, and use software to provide alternative views of my world, if it helps me to get around. Surely this is what we are seeing with blogging and the data feeds people tend to use. Without having to wear a clunky prostectic device, using RSS feeds and blogs, people are getting used to the idea of adjusting their lense to suit their personal requirements and preference.

    I have lived in Dublin city in Ireland all my life, and this weekend myself and an Italian friend took a short train journey together. We were at a loss however – there was no map in the entire train station. This was Connolly Station, one of the two main train stations in the city of Dublin. Not even the information booth had a map of where the various stops were. In this city of information and fibre optic technology, we had no idea where we were going. My Italian friend made sure to point this out to me, that no bus or train station in the country considered the person from another country, trying to find their way around. I was aware that Ireland has been a little island stranded on the edge of Europe all my life. But what I didn’t consider was the lack of signage was in our cities to help people move efficiently within them. This is after how many millions of Euro spent in the Traffic Engineering department?

    As a last resort we asked the ‘ticket checker’ which platform our train was on. Half an hour later, having got the train on platform 7, we arrived in a maintenance shed 3 miles away. Hardly the destination I was looking for. We had trouble getting out of the maintenance facility and some security guy had to escort us through the big steel gates which led out to an unknown portion of the city. My Italian friend seemed to see the humour in the whole pathetic situation, but I didn’t. Much of our experience could have been avoided by a simple virtual tool, like a map at the train station.

    Later that evening, a taxi driver called to the front door of our house. He was asked to collect someone who had ordered a taxi. No one in our house had ordered a taxi. There is an effort under way in Dublin at the moment, to automate private taxi companies. They have pocket PCs on their car dashboard, bluetooth headsets and connections back to ‘head office’. It seems machines are replacing human beings again. If these system ever work, it will save a lot of work at head office in taxi companies. But right now, I am just reminded of Kevin Kelly’s description of the bee hive in his book ‘Out of Control’. Kelly talks of the drone bees who go back and forth all day long for no apparent reason. In the hive intelligence there is always a large portion of waste of resources, to eventually get the right answer. Kelly imagines the drone bees say to themselves, ‘ah well, just another day at the office’.

  • Oh yes… and I think Mads has raised a good point about language, which could be causing confusion and misunderstanding.

    Second Life is commonly referred to as a 3D virtual world or a Multi-User Virtual Environment (MUVE).

    Personally I don’t like using the term ‘virtual’ in conjunction with these environments as it implies that they are somehow less real than other environments or ‘real life’. The experiences I have in Second Life are very real and impact upon me, emotionally and cognitively, in a very real way. But I accept these terms are likely to stick.

    Is it immersive? Yes. I experience a sense of ‘being there’ and a sense of sharing space with other avatars – something I don’t get from anything else online (talking on VOIP, attending a web conference or video conference, for example).

    But it is not 100% immersive – that would be virtual reality, with the goggles and the gloves and the complete obscuring of the ‘real’ world. That’s not what Second Life is (yet!).

    (There is also somewhere between the two, which is augmented reality, but I won’t go into that here.)

    Perhaps this is where your view that Second Life is about wanting to live completely virtually comes from.

    I am grateful that this conversation has helped to clarify my understanding of these terms and cautioned me to a more careful and precise in my use of language when discussing these issues in the future.

  • Brian O' Hanlon

    Indeed, I thank you for having made your contributions too Sean. I hope in the future, SL will prove as useful a tool to everyday folk as the web has proved to date. To be honest, I would use almost any means of intelligence augmentation – either social networking wise or in virtual space, if it helped me to undertake design and communication with other designers.

    I think this was the purpose of Howard Rheingold’s book, Virtual Reality, many years ago. To try and publicise the problems virtual reality was helping designers to tackle and solve. What you have described about SL, is a virtual tool which may used to tackle a new kind of challenge, that of networking in a contemporary society. You have explained that point very well indeed.

  • I find it interesting that most people automatically associate the concept of “virtual” and “immersive” web environments with 3D technology. The extent to which an environment is immersive depends less on the technology and more on the social/community constructs which frame the experience.

  • Brian O' Hanlon

    I have blogged a final edition of ‘The Production of Space’ at cooperation commons website. You can also find there, a related kind of piece I wrote about Glenn Murcutt and Hernando de Soto.

    In building online worlds, is not enough just to follow the traffic analogy. This has dominated much of debate amongst executives, startups, journalists and VCs in the past decade or so. Many of the comments I read at Shirky’s post at corante, still concern themselves with the traffic analogy. It should also be noted, that building of all sorts of space happen in periods of boom and bust. This is unfortunate in ways. The ‘meatspace’ Danah refers to is notorious for periods of intense building and demolition. Often following periods of war, when there is little money available and many people to house.

    We tend to forget this now, but following the last big roll out of the web as application, all kinds of uses, which previously had their own protocols and rules, were absorbed underneath the umbrella of web space. Take ‘mail’ for example.

    Over the history of the network, mail has had several homes. Lately, mail has found its home on web space, in the form of hotmail, yahoo, google mail etc. It is far from being clear, if this will be its final resting place. But at the moment, that is where it gets housed. Perhaps ‘mail’ could prove more durable tool, if it was absorbed into a semi-real kind of space? Mail in the real world seems to work wouldn’t you say? In fact, for large amounts of data, I still have to resort to shipping hard disks.

    In order to sustain real online virtual communities, I think you need to examine the complexity of space and how it really works. Alvin Toffler has a wonderful chapter in his book, The Third Wave where he ridicules the notion of a ‘traditional family’ in today’s society. He points out that only 25% of people or less, fall into the definition of a traditional family. Yet, the cities we are building still conform to this outmoded idealism.

    As time goes by, we will have to create cities which take account of the wide spectrum of people that do live and exist in everyday society. This is why I find Henri Lefebvre’s comments in the book ‘The Production of Space’, on Karl Popper, and the Open Society so interesting to read.

  • The virtual worlds that occur for SL participants happen in their heads. The images they see online are what we in the VR world used to call “2.5D” worlds, to signify sub-immersive virtual worlds displayed on a monitor. Flatland with shadows. SL worlds are a dashboard for navigating collectively constructed mental spaces.

    It’s clear that most people who are attributing to SL a 3D experience and “immersion” have never been in a true immersion space that provides haptic as well as visual and aural cues. Nor do they have experience with augmented realities combining true 3D virtual worlds with presence in the material world.

    No matter. When they do, the differences will be apparent.

    I couldn’t agree more with danah: we live in hybrid worlds, semi-virtual and semi-material. We (humans) always have, beginning as the first stories were told by our humanid precursors on the hunt and around the bonfire. The rest is just technological trappings.

  • Brian O' Hanlon

    Excellent range of books you have there Bob on your site. Some titles I hadn’t thought about for years now. Some old favourites of my professors back in the days at Dublin school of architecture.

    I hope I get the time over the next few years, to sit down and properly study some of those authors again. To look some more into the workings of hybrid spaces you describe, between real and virtual.

    I was on the site this evening, of a theoretical project I did 10 years ago, dealing with author Italo Calvino’s writings. A beach not far from Dublin city. I call almost remember the exact paragraph I used from his book. I must dig it out some time.

  • Brian O' Hanlon

    I was asking Howard Rheingold, if he ever read Reyner Banham recently. Howard hadn’t though. I was wondering if you have read Banham that much. I read his book on LA years ago. But I notice in Winy Maas latest book KM3, a section on computer aided design etc, and Banham is quoted. Very interesting guy Maas, heard him talk here in Dublin this winter.

  • Jessica

    > But there’s a huge difference between enjoying WoW and wanting to live virtually

    I think it’s highly unlikely that people want to live in any one place — whether it’s a virtual playground, real playground, office, home, virtual home, virtual office, virtual university, physical university, coffee shop, virtual coffee shop… you get my point.

    It makes sense to me to say something like “as virtual spaces increasingly emulate physical spaces, people can use take their frames and behaviors and sensors — the ones that human individuals and societies have evolved — into a technology-based virtual world and do different things with them than the physical world allows because the technology removes some constraints. Until then, technology adds constraints, although in some cases either the technology can mitigate inefficiencies or the lack of efficiency won’t be so great as to preclude positive experiences in the virtual world.”

  • hey, i have been there. SL is nothing but a rather uninspired update to the childish culture of the american consumerist dream. yes it’s a fun place, because it is a safe place, and it a clean place (yet). you won’t find race and class conflicts because everyone is practically the same on SL, some generic white middle class suburban carnival figure. there are beautiful animals and funny people there, walking around like in the disney’s version of alice’s wonderland, SL is where everyone can become today’s donald duck and mickey mouse. SL is a marketing heaven, because everything, including the simplest communication there is fundamentally commercialised, it’s what the sims online didn’t have the guts to become, because it is such a totally stupid continuation of the “virtual reality” dream and the utopian crap which luckily never really succeeded, that was before armies of noobs and consumerists came and realize 20 year old dreams. in short: SL sucks! SL is the new “participatory” Sitcom Television.

  • I haven’t quite fleshed out my year-end thoughts on this, but as someone deeply involved in blogging, second life, warcraft, and various social media stuff, I’ve been fascinated on the separations between a virtual world or immersion platform and gaming.

    Are we trying to shove everything into a single package? At some point I had realized that the success of podcast advertising, wasn’t really about advertising in the audio, but in the audio *and* the supporting infrastructures– and this lead me to see the brand, not the medium. And that’s a bit old school.

    And yet, there’s lots of discussion about the virtual world (and sure, SL is not a game-it’s a platform, yadda yadda), but how is that different from creativity and social structures based on game worlds. The social networks around something like Warcraft or Halo or whatever the hot title du jour is?

    My network of friends is my network of friends, and that spans Skype, mySpace, Second Life, Warcraft, blogs and so on. Even business!

    When my pals who started Crayon made the reference to being distributed and working in a single virtual place, I saw it being the same thing as having a web presence and a company’s employees being spread about, using a variety of tools. Locking in interaction to the SL locale *first*, seemed to be a bit short sighted as technological barriers make it very very difficult to interact with the company.

    Sorry for that brain dump, I’ve been working for a while now on my post about how much of what I believe about blogging/podcasting/vlogging and DIY/social media of 2006, is the result of having a dual existence in Warcraft and Second Life *combined*. Not an easy post to write.

  • Brian O' Hanlon

    Eric,

    Thanks for bringing up those points of yours.
    Because, now that I think about it, I had done some thinking about shared working spaces online
    myself a while ago. When I read about Doug Englebart’s vision for computing, which was based
    around McCarthy’s time sharing idea. The whole notion that the one big computer is large and
    powerful enough to service a whole team’s computing needs.

    In the transfer over to the ‘personal’ computer paradigm in the late 70s and early 80s,
    I think we must have lost some of what was useful in McCarthy’s and Englebart’s visions for
    our computing experience. It is similar I think, to when Kevin Kelly talked about Darwin and how
    his theories on evolution overshadowed the work of all other biologists. That it became impossible
    to even mention ideas on evolution, which didn’t conform to Darwin’s notion.

    I responded a while ago to Nicholas Carr’s blog entry, the grid land.
    I also wrote something at the time on CG Architect about ‘Reinventing the Minicomputer’.
    Both are easy to find using a google search.

    I haven’t thought about this whole idea much until I read your post Eric, and I am absolutely
    intrigued by the possibility of teams working together in a single virtual space.
    You will find a piece linked at CG Architect called, How long does a Platform really last?

    I posted up at Aceshardware forum, shortly after I had read of Doug Englebart and his
    projects back in the day, in the great book about the era, What the Dormouse Said.
    I am hugely interested in this subject of team building online, because I work in
    construction and architecture, where it is impossible to operate just as an individual.
    By definition, everything revolves around team working.

    Yet, from my perspective, the whole notion of computing, wants to impose its structure
    onto the structure of companies.
    Critics like Nicholas Carr are against Information Technology’s insistence upon defining people as
    individuals loosely joined for just-in-time collaboration.
    In 2006, we still don’t have the platform to enable team work.
    In fact, I would argue we were closer to it in the 1960s than we are today.

    The web 2.0 touched upon the problem without dealing with it head on.
    Mitch Kapur’s comments, not accelerating the individual, but accelerating the group.
    But the trouble is, web 2.0 can only go so far, and never far enough – or risk offending the
    pillars of Information technology thinking for the last couple of decades.
    This notion about personal everything.

    Even Neil Gershenfeld, working in the seat of MIT itself, who should know better is carried away
    by his fascination with personal fabrication.
    Yet the major problems in fabrication are not to be found at personal level at all,
    but at the level of organisations and teams.
    But Classic Information Technology has pushed too many intelligent people in the direction it
    chooses to go – not in a direction, which would benefit organisations.
    In this sense, Nicholas Carr’s arguments in ‘Does IT Matter’, are bang on the nail.

    Brian O’Hanlon.

  • Brian O' Hanlon

    You will notice, even in the casual discussion of mine lately at CG Architect,

    ‘When will software empower Architects?’

    We ended up discussing the structure of teams and disiplines and how they all could join together in real or virtual meeting places, to accomplish their tasks.

    Second Life is an application that may make no sense whatsoever, to individuals who use their computers in the personal sense.

    If you ask me personally, this notion of the all ‘empowered individual’ with their portable machine is off putting. This notion that everything is online, available and for free. No matter what, you can’t build a sustainable business model around it.

    So much of the hype about Information technology, post the Bill Gates era has exclusively focussed upon individual empowerment.

    Martin Campbell Kelly reflects upon this too in his book, from airline reservations to sonic the hedgehog. Kelly speaks of how Microsoft are ten percent of the software industry, yet in the public perception they seem more like one hundred percent.

  • It is probably time for a “nuts and bolts” approach in IT culture. In Germany the networks of transport, gas, electricity and communications are all regulated by one new ministry, the “Bundesnetzagentur”. Some people must have read Harold Innis again, collegue and teacher of McLuhan, he highlighed the importance of infrastructure within communication technology. It could become necessary to understand IT in the context of larger design patterns for the upcoming planetary tasks and not just as a means in itself (blogging about blogging). Instead of the renewed interest in design and gadgetry (Everware) as in the *form* of things, it needs a new interest in architecture, as in the working structure of things. It could help to understand the internet within a longer history of the spacial and material aspects of civilatory network infrastructures, as well as the “immaterial” software aspects, the abstraction of system architectures, protocols and standards as s means of human organisation, two sides of the same coin. code&culture as Lessig defines it, or Bruno Latour’s ANT. Usefulness measured not just in terms of personal productivity tools, but for the communal and civilatory benefits. The hedonistic fairy tales of cyberspace, the virtual world utopia of a Jaron Lanier are already history, only old media (television and print) are still thriving on it, driving these old school myths from outside. The only big strength of SL is its LEGO-like system architecture and scriptability, which it heritated probably from the object oriented MOO/lambda culture. Its weakness is the doll house aspect of an regressive obsession with identity and the narcicism of investing in an online persona, which is another 90ies cybermyth. SL still has to prove that it is a platform and infrastructure, and that it has a real world impact, besides temporary PR effects. Real long-term potential lays in augmented models like GoogleEarth vs. highly developed persistant game worlds like WOW or the impact of MySpace for the outsourced marketing needs of a failing music industry. To have a chat or phonecall i do not need to put on a silly avatar party suit.. From a European perspective, SL looks like a ghost of the dot-com nineties hunting those who still believe in portals, homepages and “web presences”, a fog machine to distract investors, compared with the state-like institutional power of google. On the other hand we might not even have seen the tip of the iceberg regarding digital microloan systems, to run alternative economies and web2 based local currency systems or weather insurance future stocks…

  • It is probably time for a “nuts and bolts” approach in IT culture. In Germany the networks of transport, gas, electricity and communications are all regulated by one new ministry, the “Bundesnetzagentur”. Some people must have read Harold Innis again, collegue and teacher of McLuhan, he highlighed the importance of infrastructure within communication technology. It could become necessary to understand IT in the context of larger design patterns for the upcoming planetary tasks and not just as a means in itself (blogging about blogging). Instead of the renewed interest in design and gadgetry (Everware) as in the *form* of things, it needs a new interest in architecture, as in the working structure of things. It could help to understand the internet within a longer history of the spacial and material aspects of civilatory network infrastructures, as well as the “immaterial” software aspects, the abstraction of system architectures, protocols and standards as s means of human organisation, two sides of the same coin. code&culture as Lessig defines it, or Bruno Latour’s ANT. Usefulness measured not just in terms of personal productivity tools, but for the communal and civilatory benefits. The hedonistic fairy tales of cyberspace, the virtual world utopia of a Jaron Lanier are already history, only old media (television and print) are still thriving on it, driving these old school myths from outside. The only big strength of SL is its LEGO-like system architecture and scriptability, which it heritated probably from the object oriented MOO/lambda culture. Its weakness is the doll house aspect of an regressive obsession with identity and the narcicism of investing in an online persona, which is another 90ies cybermyth. SL still has to prove that it is a platform and infrastructure, and that it has a real world impact, besides temporary PR effects. Real long-term potential lays in augmented models like GoogleEarth vs. highly developed persistant game worlds like WOW or the impact of MySpace for the outsourced marketing needs of a failing music industry. To have a chat or phonecall i do not need to put on a silly avatar party suit.. From a European perspective, SL looks like a ghost of the dot-com nineties hunting those who still believe in portals, homepages and “web presences”, a fog machine to distract investors, compared with the state-like institutional power of google. On the other hand we might not even have seen the tip of the iceberg regarding digital microloan systems, to run alternative economies and web2 based local currency systems or weather insurance future stocks…

  • It is probably time for a “nuts and bolts” approach in IT culture. In Germany the networks of transport, gas, electricity and communications are all regulated by one new ministry, the “Bundesnetzagentur”. Some people must have read Harold Innis again, collegue and teacher of McLuhan, he highlighed the importance of infrastructure within communication technology. It could become necessary to understand IT in the context of larger design patterns for the upcoming planetary tasks and not just as a means in itself (blogging about blogging). Instead of the renewed interest in design and gadgetry (Everware) as in the *form* of things, it needs a new interest in architecture, as in the working structure of things. It could help to understand the internet within a longer history of the spacial and material aspects of civilatory network infrastructures, as well as the “immaterial” software aspects, the abstraction of system architectures, protocols and standards as s means of human organisation, two sides of the same coin. code&culture as Lessig defines it, or Bruno Latour’s ANT. Usefulness measured not just in terms of personal productivity tools, but for the communal and civilatory benefits. The hedonistic fairy tales of cyberspace, the virtual world utopia of a Jaron Lanier are already history, only old media (television and print) are still thriving on it, driving these old school myths from outside. The only big strength of SL is its LEGO-like system architecture and scriptability, which it heritated probably from the object oriented MOO/lambda culture. Its weakness is the doll house aspect of an regressive obsession with identity and the narcicism of investing in an online persona, which is another 90ies cybermyth. SL still has to prove that it is a platform and infrastructure, and that it has a real world impact, besides temporary PR effects. Real long-term potential lays in augmented models like GoogleEarth vs. highly developed persistant game worlds like WOW or the impact of MySpace for the outsourced marketing needs of a failing music industry. To have a chat or phonecall i do not need to put on a silly avatar party suit.. From a European perspective, SL looks like a ghost of the dot-com nineties hunting those who still believe in portals, homepages and “web presences”, a fog machine to distract investors, compared with the state-like institutional power of google. On the other hand we might not even have seen the tip of the iceberg regarding digital microloan systems, to run alternative economies and web2 based local currency systems or weather insurance future stocks…

  • Couldn’t agree more – here’s what’s going on in the UK in education in terms of this;

    http://www.l4l.co.uk/?p=41

    All the vids on that site are showcasing things that are going on in the UK to do with this in one way or another.

    Exciting times!

  • I’m having trouble doing a trackback to your site, so I’ll leave a comment.

    Why Web 2.0 and Web 3.0 will co-exist

    Or why Secondlife and similar metaverses will never formally be coined Web 3.0, the next-generation Web.

    My friend Rawn covered the recent announcement from Sony on their Playstion Home environment, lauded as a secondlife killer.

    Rawn asks:

    Is this the death knell for SecondLife or MySpace? Let me know what you think.

    Although I cannot properly review something that isn’t released, I will say no on both counts….

    http://blogs.globalcrossing.com/playstation-home

  • silpol

    omg, how they went into clinch with you :)

    actually, it is time now, when you can repeat famous “may you live in interesting times” – it looks like SL will be going off LindenLab rather sooner than later, and it will be open and… most probably changing it’s DNA on the way…

    BTW, from tech point of view – AFAIK HW accelerated shaders has improved so much for last few years, making dynamic shades so realistic, that you might not even see difference from RL, so the problem of “motion parallax vs. cue from shadows” might be mitigated by now

  • (Shape from shading is produced by the little flicks in your eyes that are always recalculating this. Shaders aren’t able to adjust for each variation of the eye – they render for a virtual camera… two if it’s binocular.)

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