Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Second Earth


Just finished reading an article in MIT's Technology Review on Second Earth, the merging of Second Life and Google Earth (unfortunately requires registration). There's some interesting tidbits in the article, including a reference to a book I've never heard about called Mirror Worlds by David Gelernter (from 1991 - interesting - also covered in Second Life Herald).

It really is too bad the focus is on the merging of virtual worlds (or basically the ability to control or manipulate avatars and interact with the world) with real world data in Google Earth. I find that concept rather dull what with the real world just outside the window and covered in glorious and spectacular HD on shows like Discovery or National Geographic.

No, what will be interesting is the creation of imaginary worlds for the collective experience ('consensual hallucination') of everyone. Not real boring worlds (Earth, Mars), but imaginary ones for the purpose of collaborative storytelling and experiences, virtual religions and the like. Funny that the article mentions the creation of the web as being akin to the creation of these virtual worlds and expects, somehow, that what will be in these virtual worlds will simply mirror the real, and somehow these worlds will reflect places like Amazon (what, a gigantic warehouse of books and electronics with spamavatars trying to recommend this or that purchase?) that grew from the nascent www technology. I suspect in twenty years the most traveled virtual worlds will not be the real (Google Earth), the commercial (WoW, Lineage), or the social networking sites/worlds (Second Life, My3DSpace, FaceBust), but will be imaginary ones created from the ground up by the collective users and by that I do not mean Second Life (which is a cross between a sandbox and the nearest shopping mall) but 'real' virtual worlds that will rival the greatest works of fiction/cinema of the last century. Or religion (what was the last religion 'created' - Scientology?). When we see the emergence of a virtual religion, then we will know the 'consensual hallucination' is real.

Seriously, walking across some rain clouds over Tennessee is just not an interesting use of a virtual world technology.


Overman said...

'Consensual hallucination'... nice. You coin that?

bllius said...

Unfortunately, no. It was coined by William Gibson (who also came up with Cyberspace) in Neuromancer - part of a fantastic trilogy and it should be required reading for anyone: Neuromancer, Count Zero, Mona Lisa Overdrive.