Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Holograms are pointless in Cyberspace

"Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny", or something like that. I prefer "ontogeny recapitulates culture." I'm not even entirely sure what that means, but Grant Morrison said it while drunk, so I'm sure it's pretty deep.

Wertheim ends her chapter questioning where personal space ends. The net may be intangible, but regardless it is vast and infinite. It's essentially an alternate universe, or maybe reality, which is made real via our access to it and our ability to manipulate it. Some people practically live there. Cyberspace as a reality is a whole new means of existence, though Wertheim notes regularly that such metaphysical dualism dates back to the ancients. She also talks a bit about MPD, multiple personality disorder, but more on that later. Think of it this way: cyberspace already has laws. Be it DRM or a user agreement for an online community, these rules can affect your ability to experience the inter-web and even your "real" life.

The Bradbury short takes this all to a new level. What happens when we inevitably co-exist with the virtual? Technology does seem to want to advance to a point where cyberspace can be experienced as physical space. HDTV is great, but will our eyes be able to distinguish next generation televisions from reality? What if there were a 1,000,000 point Dolby surround system? Bradbury dreams up a future where we can manifest cyberspace. The only thing limiting cyberspace is the imagination, I suppose. In The Veldt, people can telepathically control a hologram room. Whatever they think, or want to think/see, is presented. Of course, once it is made physical, it becomes inescapable. One day, if things continue the way they seem to be, virtual lions may really eat you.

Instead, I'd like to see a greater effort of inserting our minds into the virtual, more like The Matrix or Ghost in the Shell. Thought controlled cyberspace is way less problematic than a similarly controlled (holographic) virtual reality. So long as you firewall your brain, nothing is going to physically kill you. Maybe we are moving as a society toward a place where the physical and the virtual realms are equally tangible, and maybe one day they'll fuse. Still, it's impractical to want to manifest imagination, since it seems it'll either make everyone schizophrenic or dead.

Grant Morrison thinks that people with MPD are from the future. More accurately, they are what humanity will evolve into. He sees cultures as organisms, that mankind grows together as a species. As we grow, we evolve more and more to interact with one another. The greater our ability to communicate/interact/co-exist, the less we will consider ourselves individuals. MPD is an instance of someone existing in the present day reality who contains a potentially infinite number of personalities in one physical body. Hmmmm, I was about to write a bunch of crazy stuff about time and 4th dimensional trancendance, but I think I'll hold off until we read The Invisibles and it has some kind of context. Otherwise it just sounds completely insane. Morrison is whackjob, after all.

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