The Melting of the Fourth Wall

Today I watched live video of a panel with five tech gurus talking about the future of media and media technology. It was shown at the Sun Pavilion sim in Second Life and there was a lively (text) chat going on among the audience in SL as the panel spoke.

Ginsu Yoon, the panelist from Linden Lab (the makers of Second Life, where he’s VP of Business Affairs), said something that really struck me. He said that once people get a taste of being able to participate, they don’t want to give it up. My own experience leads me to agree…

I was reminded of a public lecture I attended at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics about a month ago. I felt muzzled, shifting in my chair and wanting to speak. Then something happened that really made me mad. Someone near me raised his hand to ask a question. The speaker said that he wouldn’t take questions until the end of the talk!

Of course, by the end of the talk, the context had changed. Why didn’t the speaker jump on the opportunity to engage his audience and let them help shape the event? After all, that’s how most presentation-style events work in Second Life…

When the speaker said he wouldn’t take the question, my immediate reaction was: Does he not feel comfortable enough with the material to improvise upon it? Or to be more blunt: Is the speaker trying to hide his ignorance? In retrospect, I guess the speaker must be pretty bright – he’s at an institute for theoretical physics after all!

The fact is, my experiences in Second Life have changed my expectations.

A friendly human.

2 thoughts on “The Melting of the Fourth Wall

  1. You are right, of course. Ivan Illich in Deschooling of Society predicted much of this in the late 60’s, but the technology was not there then. Cost structure probably prevented it from really happening. SL has both enabling cost structure and technology to easily make it happen. When you think about it carefully, the potential for a profound change is present here.Will it come to pass? I am not sure, but there are some encouraging signs. Major universites are entering SL. Major scientific and cultural organizations are as well. For those who have not visited Virtual Starry night to see van Gogh in 3D, I urge you to do so. It is stunning and represents immense effort to make art real.ISM has taken a lead in providing "free for all" lectures that are pure Illich in form. The open dialog you refer to is an idication of that along with the diversity of content.Let the metaverse reign. If SL is merely the CompuServe of the genre, there is still no turning back. The cat is out of the bag. Others will follow for sure. We are at the dawn of a new age for the human mind that has no been released from both space and physical reality.


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