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Tim Bray : "Do we conclude that nobody will ever want to navigate information spaces using an immersive-VR approach?"

The short answer is: no. The long answer is: yes. I just don't think that mapping (no pun intended) information onto a geographical model will work. In fact the only way it will work is to disabuse users of the every notion they have about geography and, well, that's just not going to happen. Nor should it. My first reaction when I look at those screenshots? Fuck, you mean I have to walk all the way over to that other building to get the file I'm looking for? It doesn't matter that I know that in magic computer land it's only a click away, or that distance is measured in spare computrons and not in, well, space and time. My whole life experience tells me that walking, for example, from Queen to Bloor takes about a million years and, virtual or not, that's going to have a serious impact on my enthusiasm for the task at hand. It's been 4-5 years since I've done any work creating virtual spaces, but when I did, I had a pair of quotes that hung over my computer :

She gestured for the living room, phasing past what would've been the door to her mother's bedroom. She'd barely wireframed it, here, and there was no there there, no interriority. The living toom had its sketchy angles as well, and [furnished] she'd imported from a Playmobil system that predated her Sandbenders. Wonkily bit-mapped fish swam past monotonously around in a glass coffee table she'd built when she was nine. The trees through the front window were older still: perfectly cylindrical Crayola brown trunks, each supporting an acid-green cotton ball of undifferentiated foliage. If she looked at thee long enough, the Mumphalumphagus would appear outside, wanting to play, so she didn't.

She positioned herself on the Playmobil couch and looked at the programs sattered across the top of the coffee table. The Sandbenders system software looked an old-fashioned canvas water bag, a sort of canteen (she'd had to consult What Things Are, her icon dictionary, to figure that out). It was worn and spectacularly organic, with tiny beads of water bulging through the tight weave of fabric. If you got in super close you saw things reflected in the individual droplets: circuitry that like beadwork or the skin on a lizard's throat, a long empty beach under a gray sky, mountains in the rain, creek water over different colored stones. She loved Sandbenders; they were the best. THE SANDBENDER, OREGON, was screened faintly across the sweating canvas, a though it had almost faded away under a desert sun. SYSTEM 5.9. She had all the upgrades to 6.3. People said 6.4 was buggy.

-- William Gibson, Idoru

The painter Philip Ernst, father of Max Ernst, when painting a picture of his garden omitted a tree which spoiled the composition and then, overcome with remorse at this offense against realism, cut down the tree.

-- Barbara Tuchman, The Proud Tower

Which, taken together, pretty much sum up my feelings about all things virtual.

refers to


Kendall Grant Clark : The Social Meaning of RDF ←  → With truths like these, who needs lies?