Taro Honda's Essay: Virtual Reality

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1 Introduction

History suggest that critical inventions have finally brought reversal to society. For example, development of bullet trains or jet liners were expected to alleviate burden of business people, but now we knew that sometimes both developments have the opposite effects; Present business people may have to go to New York and return to Amsterdam by overnight trip. That is the case for information technology. Now, we are exposed to flood of information everyday. Business people required to know all available information, which is exponentially increasing in every minute. Therefore, paradoxically, I think advanced information technology should try to help out business people from the flood of information. It is impossible to pick only necessary information from huge database and utilize them with the present available technology or conventional methodology in a limited time. Advanced information technology will enable business people to “experience” instead of read or browze information on screen. We could say that is the movement toward “non-literate culture before invention of alphabets” supported by high-technology.

2 What I think happens next

As McLuhan pointed out, we can regard all innovations as extensions of our senses. In that sense, many new development of electronics and information technologies can enhance our senses. Using those elements, people may be able to experience virtual realities, saving time and effort to absorb same knowledge. For example, different from conventional 2D screen, 3D personal theater, which was introduced by Olympus before, will help people virtually “see” something necessary to acquire certain knowledge. Advanced voice recognition system help people “interact” with someone virtually. Even we may be able to “smell” virtually through website in a near future. Telewest Broadband in U.K (http://www.telewest.co.uk/) has tested “Scene Dome”, which generates smell in the basis of the data sent through broadband. Even sense of touch may be virtually brought through information technologies. By combining those technologies, people can experience virtually and may obtain certain knowledge faster and more exactly. The structure of the virtual experience should be “cool” in terms of McLuhan’s terminology because of limited autonomy of viewers and selected data to stimulate each sense of human.

3 Why I think that happens

There are a few reasons I think that happens.

3.1 Recursion to non-literate culture

Development of alphabets bring the culture that too emphasized sense of vision. It is true that aphabets enabled us to convey a lot of information by articulation with alphabets. However, there are huge difference between actual experience and representation using aphabets. The actual experience occurs in a blink, and people there can experience the certain experience using all the five senses. Representation using alphabets tends to bias pseud-experience in the basis of viewrs own perception. As I explained already, some new technologies are going to support virtual realities. First, virtual realities may help people save time because they do not have to read length explanation with only alphabets and can get the experience in a very short time. Secondary, well designed virtual reality may be able to convey fairly exact message that senders want to tell. Because of those two reasons, I think recursion to non-literate culture backed up by virtual reality may prevail to help out people in flood of information with limited time.

3.2 Articulation

Even though new technologies may achieve virtual realities, people have been too habituated with articulation of experience with aphabets. Therefore, sometimes articulation is useful to convery message effectively to viewers. I think new media in information society should follow the way of articulation even though virtual reality could be possible by technologies. The articulation help people understand and memorize experience logically. Therefore, senders should construct information to guide viewrs in a way that they think best to convey message with. They should utilize limitation of information or autonomy effectively to raise participation and complimentality from viewers.

4 Result of the virtual reality

Virtual reality could be a new medium for information society in next ten years. Spread of virtual reality itself will be a message to people in society and will change society to new equilibrium.

4.1 Enhancement

Virtual reality will facilitate speed of acquiring new information. Also, it can help people share actual experience because people do not have to be dependent on languages.

4.2 Retrieval

Virtual reality will value use of own five senses to feel something new to people. It should facilitate use of all available senses instead of too much dependence on sense of sight.

4.3 Reversal

I think virtual reality may keep people from experiencing really new things that now one has experienced before. All the experience could be duplication of someone’s experience. In such case, quantity of really new experience may decrease. Also, excessive dependence on virtual reality could bring another type of social problem. For example, birth rate may drop further because people can enjoy pseud-reproduction through virtual reality.

4.4 Obsolescense

I think virtual reality could make any medium depending on new technology obsolete. For example, any display with information with only text message, such as conventional website, could be replaced by virtual reality. Also, storytelling or books could be replaced by virtual reality.

DE nice clear thinking!