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The Burden of Preconception

As an example of how our use of the digital medium is burdened by our preconceptions, consider how in many video games, as well as in some new net shopping centers, and in most virtual worlds, we render cyberspace into a form that looks like a Euclidean three dimensional material world. It is as if we feel compelled to take our bodies with us into cyberspace, when in fact cyberspace is for the mind, and does not need to be limited to the kinds of spaces we are familiar with in the material world.

In a typical virtual world, we move about on a street lined by buildings. We approach a building and click on the door to enter. Inside we find conventional rooms and objects, and we move about in a conventional way. This approach has the merit that it is familiar, and it takes little training to be able to function in the environment.

However, it is reminiscent of the first movies, in which a camera was used to film a play on stage. At this time the nature of the cinematic medium was not understood. The same is true of our use of the digital medium today. Evolution is a way of exploring the properties of the digital medium without biasing our exploration with preconceptions, or limiting it by our inability to imagine the natural forms of complex digital information processes.

Thomas S.Ray
Mon Jul 15 15:51:28 JST 1996