[Geowanking] Jaron Lanier's 11 reasons Why Virtual Reality Has Not (Yet) Become a Widespread Technology

Anselm Hook anselm at hook.org
Fri Sep 5 17:21:34 PDT 2003

Always seemed to me that VR failed because the originators thought that
form was equal to function...  They invented a grammer for representing
the appearance of things - not the underlying reality - and were dismayed
when they could not breathe life into their clay.

One thing I think that makes this locative media stuff so interesting is
that it is really about getting computers to come out and play.  Instead
of sucking our minds into computers instead we're trying to find ways to
augment the reality around us.  Mapping seems to be of interest to people
who are passionately interested in the real world.  I suspect this is why
a perhaps disproportionate percentage of the geowankers seem to have
ecological and outdoorsy interests.

 - a

On Fri, 5 Sep 2003, Mike Liebhold wrote:

> Scroll down below to read Jaron Lanier's 11 reasons Why Virtual Reality
> Has Not (Yet) Become a Widespread Technology...
> Us carto-wankers could repeat this exercise by prematurely hyping
> locomedia services with
>    1. Expensive gadgets
>    2. Small Screens
>    3. ­Small  memory
>    4. ­Short battery life
>    5. ­Useless Device Form Factors
>    6. Poor Application User Interfaces
>    7. No standard web geocode formats
>    8. No geographic search engines
>    9. Few location sensing networks
>   10. Clunky GIS data  interoperability
>   11. ... add your own ...
> /mike
> ------
> B a y C H I
> The San Francisco Bay Area ACM SIGCHI
> Special Interest Group on Computer-Human Interaction
> announces its September meeting:
> Tuesday, September 9
> 7:00 to 9:30 p.m.
> http://www.baychi.org/program/
>  7:00 to 7:30:
> Tea, Coffee, Socializing, Joining BayCHI, ...
> 7:30 to 9:30:
> Why Virtual Reality Has Not (Yet) Become a Widespread Technology
> Jaron Lanier, National Tele-Immersion Initiative
> PARC's George E. Pake Auditorium
> 3333 Coyote Hill Road
> Palo Alto, CA 94304
> BayCHI program meetings are free and open to the public.
> BayCHI may publish audio or video recordings
> or photographs of BayCHI program meetings.
> BayCHI does not permit recording or photography by attendees.
> --------
> Abstract:
> Jaron Lanier will discuss, in dialog with the audience, the eleven top
> reasons why virtual reality has not yet become widespread.  He has
> prepared a list for us to read in advance:
> http://people.advanced.org/~jaron/topeleven.htmlThe Top Eleven Reasons
> VR has not yet become commonplace
>       With apologies to David Letterman and Spinal Tap
>         In no particular order:
>         1) Gates envy:  Everyone jumped in in the early 1990s with
>         absurdly premature software in the hopes of being positioned as
>         a standard bearer.  VRML, for example.  Utterly useless stuff.
>         Java3D.  Etc.  VR software is HARD and astonishingly some of the
>         most visible of the proposed standards were designed by people
>         who hadn't actually completed any serious VR apps.
>         2) Slow computers.  In fact, the ceiling for real time graphics
>         hasn't budged in 5 years.  SGI and its competitors stopped
>         improving back then.  Now that commodity cards have caught up
>         with SGI, the new hope is building big machines out of commodity
>         cards running in parallel.
>         3) Expensive data/content.  You could hand enter the data to
>         make a word processor or spreadsheet useful from the very
>         beginning, so data wasn't a limiting factor to get pc apps
>         primed.  Useful VR needs lots of hard to get data- insides of
>         human bodies, etc.  And static data isn't enough- dynamics are
>         at the cutting edge of viability because of computer speed and
>         the existing body of applied math techniques.
>         4) Too many charlatans:  $1 per minute crappy VR in malls really
>         hurt the field in the late 1980s/early 1990s.
>         5) Interface components:  Still need higher res screens, better
>         optics, etc.
>         6) Liability problems: Can't rely on consumer market because
>         insurers worry about VR accidents.  Kids walking into hot stoves
>         while they think they're dancing on clouds, or God knows what.
>         7) Because human acuity is so good that you can't get away with
>         so-so specs as you can when the interface is less intimate, as
>         with existing mass produced devices.
>         8) Because expectations are so high, it's too easy to
>         disappoint.  Some of the attempts to build VR products have
>         stumbled on this difficulty.
>         9) Because the basic ideas of VR still need some more work.  We
>         still don't have a clear idea of what a truly useful general
>         haptic interface would be like, for instance.  Of course those
>         of us who are obsessed with the problems are always working on
>         such ideas, and I'm completely confident we'll get there, but it
>         must be admitted that there's still work to be done.
>         10) Because there is still no clear sense of where VR fits into
>         the time and space of our lives and workflows.  VR setups take
>         up space.  Where would you put one?  When would you use it?  New
>         interfaces usually colonize the time and space taken up by older
>         ones.  That's why the first successful consumer computer designs
>         initially looked like typewriters, even though I think everyone
>         involved was vaguely embarrassed by the association.  Same with
>         wireless devices in relation to phones.  What exactly is VR
>         stepping into the shoes of?  It can't really step into reality,
>         so, where? When?  A lot of ideas have come up.  It's the new
>         home exercise machine, or the new game machine (warmer,
>         perhaps), or the rainy day alternative to the bicycle, but
>         whatever it is, there needs to be some sense of time and place
>         for it, at least at first.
>         11) One movie projector can entertain hundreds of people at
>         once.  A room full of people can look at a television.  A few
>         people can look at a PC screen at the same time.  But only one
>         person at a time can fully enjoy VR, even though the equipment
>         costs more than any of the above.  That problem has confounded
>         entertainment applications.
> Having said all this, please remember that considered as an industrial
> (rather than consumer) technology, VR has been a great success.  You
> can't buy a car that wasn't designed in VR, or fill it with gas that was
> found without the aid of VR.
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Go back to Jaron's home
> <http://people.advanced.org/%7Ejaron/index.html>page.

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