Friday, June 4, 2010

Virtual Reality Flaws

Bolter becomes much more abstract and far out there in the second half of his Windows and Mirrors book. His discussions on virtual reality and digital design seem to offer more of a spiritual experience rather than a theoretical one. On the other hand, one can argue that spirituality is grounded in theories first. Digital design starts out as a physical experience. In other words, designers begin by clicking a mouse and moving a pointer. Then, the sights and sounds designers place on a page, if done properly, are supposed to ignite the senses of those using the page and bring them into a virtual reality experience where what they see and hear becomes their world and they forget everything around them. Thus, there is a strong relationship between the physical world (sight, smell) and the virtual world (mind). Virtual reality is supposed to be enveloping and make you feel as if you are never at a single point in time and space. The 3D depth illusions are supposed to simulate an experience so convincing that you feel like you are in an alternative reality. In theory, this seems to make sense because all our experiences involve both senses and thought. The two can not be separated. However, there's the classical argument that the mind and body can be separated.

There have been attempts at virtual reality experiences, such as Nintendo's Virtual Boy, but none that I can think of has ever come close. Its nearly impossible for me to imagine escaping my present reality and entering into some pseudo-reality and the technology isn't there yet to make it happen. This seems to be more of a utopian vision of technology at its highest level. However, if this were to happen one day, I'd consider it more of a spiritual experience rather than a technological one.

Bolter claims there are those who see cyberspace as a place where we can see through each other's bodies to the pure minds that live within. I understand the internet can not be detached from the rest of the world and it connects all individuals together, but this notion is laughable and maybe even creepy to say the least. The amount of privacy would be less than what it is, or isn't, now. People aren't even aware that with the amount of speed and convenience we have gained through the internet over the years, the amount of privacy we have lost has increased tremendously. In addition, while the internet brings the public closer together, the internet simultaneously isolates the public because if everyone, especially young teenagers, stayed in their houses in chat rooms all day, then no one would go out into the real world and communicate face-to-face. As a result, this could hinder the way in which young teenagers relate to the public when they become older because their social skills may be damaged or not develop properly.


  1. I have to say that you have an interesting point that while this technology can be helpful, it can render young people deficient in social skills. That is what can happen when we allow the creators of technology to "go crazy" and experiment with ways to perfect the monster! And to make things worse, the profit potential for these gadgets makes the situation worse because people start buying devices and become "hooked" on them. I gues the questions we need to ask ourselves are, "Where do we draw the line between cyberspace and real life?" and "What is the trade-off when submitting to high technology?" If we are supposed to not allow ourselves to become transparent and lose notion of our reality, then when can we "wake up" and recognize the interface as a reality check?

  2. From what I learned companies don't really care about the people who use their products. Its all strictly money driven. As long as people continue to gobble up MySpace, Facebook, and now Skype, companies will continue to promote websites like these. You're right though, there is a fine line where people should realize, 'hey...I'm ignoring my actual friends and the beautiful day outside to interact with these virtual, cyberspace friends whom I'll probably never meet.' I understand these cyberfriends are actual people too, but people shouldn't confuse or substitute a virtual world with their actual, physical world around them.

  3. Certainly, reflection/mirroring offer the opportunity for self-reflection, self-reflexiveness, to become conscious of the mode of communication we're using it, rather than have it function as an invisible window or pipeline or environment.