Archive for the ‘CCS-blog’ Category

A Pale Shadow of Reality: Virtuality as a Second-Best Option

Friday, March 14th, 2008

This rant kicks off with a Tech Republic article on telepresence that was linked in the February ’08 Litmus. I’m reading Litmus because the lovely people at ACID have been kind enough to chip in on my research, and they went to the trouble of putting it together, so it’s clearly something I ought to be doing. Fortunately it’s an interesting read, at least to someone of my peculiar interests.

The linked article on the other hand, while being bang-on to my research topic, only serves to annoy me. It’s not that the article is wrong; it’s more that it expresses a widely-held but misconceived view of what telepresence is for and how it should be developed.

The headline sums it up nicely: Telepresence: The next best thing to being there. This reminds me of the early Virtual Reality hype. The idea is that the aim is to perfectly replicate what we already have – perfect photo-realism! Stereo vision! Touch! Taste! It’s what Baudrillard might call the simulator’s obsession with reality. And since we’ll never quite perfectly simulate reality until we have Gibsonian neural interfaces, then whatever we make will always be second best.

No need to draw this out. I am tired of this obsession. Reality is interesting, but human minds do not need to be tricked into a full sensory illusion in order for a technology to be useful. Text is immersive, when well written. Bodies moving in space is part of it, but it’s not the whole ball of wax. We construct our everyday mixed realities as we inhabit our own minds while simultaneously modeling the minds of those around us; considering our own context and the other contexts available to other people and systems that we are connected to. And not only in the moment; we include the potential availability of other connected realities, for example when we plan to pick up the phone when we get off an aeroplane.

Telepresence is its own thing; augmenting and interoperating with our other modes of communication and interaction just like the telephone and the post. It does not need to perfectly mimic reality, any more than virtual environments must be “virtual reality” (in the sense of realism). This conflation with realism is why I don’t use the term VR. I prefer VE, or even Ivan Sutherland’svirtual worlds” when talking about a self-contained virtual place. But really the key for me is that unless you’re planning to wipe your users’ brains and create for them an entirely new self-contained context then you’re never making a new reality, you’re just making something that will be part of the rich and multifaceted realities that we already inhabit.

Local knowledge

Wednesday, February 27th, 2008

So – looking into the Design Creativity Workshop to be held at this year’s Design Computing and Cognition conference, I notice that the information is on the web page of my CCS colleague Yukari Nagai, who is also on the program committee. Her research into design creativity is of course all deeply relevant to me.

I am reminded that I’m surrounded at CCS by a fascinating group of researchers and practitioners. So since I have a lot of reading to do, I’ve decided to start at home.


Wednesday, February 20th, 2008

I stumbled on this nice interview with Matthew McGinity about the T-visionarium and other iCinema applications. Note to self: consider 10M diameter by 4M height for the panorama cylinders in the prototype CVE.

Here’s a link to the video – not embedded because ZDnet’s embed code is dodgy.

IE2007 Now

Monday, December 3rd, 2007

I’m at IE 2007 in Melbourne, and so are Damski and Yusuf and Christy Dena and a number of other people. I have so far enjoyed listening to Troy Innocent, who appears to be making something with resonances of Jaron Lanier’s post-symbolic communication and Leibniz’s Universal Character. And I’ve been very happy to both listen to and converse with Bruce Joy from Vastpark, who is several kinds of clever. And just this minute I’ve been regaled by Christian McCrea and am enjoying a ramble by Darshana Jayemanne on the Nonsense of the Aura. Lots of goodness here :)

Honours Research Report

Monday, December 3rd, 2007

My Honours Research Report is here (9.5 MB PDF). Tomorrow I’ll be demoing the VR model of Utzon’s studio in Hallebæk born from a practice-based enquiry into the nature of collaborative place, one of the studies described in the report. So now, to bed 😉

Honours research presentation

Tuesday, November 20th, 2007

Here are the slides from my presentation today, in HTML (with nice navigation buttons but maybe too big for some screens), and in Flash (click to go forwards, no way to go back, but automatically fits your screen).

If you’d like to print it out, here is the low-res (1.6 MB) PDF, or the high-res (10.3 MB) PDF  (40 slides on 5 pages).

Big Ups to the Virtual Systems and MultiMedia Massive

Sunday, September 23rd, 2007

Just arrived at QUT’s Creative Industries Precinct for the VSMM conference, the program committee of which has kindly consented to display my poster about the design of collaborative place. I bumped into the most excellent and prolific Eric Champion on the airtrain, so I’m in good company :)

My first task on arrival was to whack up the poster, and the second was to get online through QUT’s wifi. This turned out to be an absurd and tortuous process involving the generation of a unique password for me, the installation of a VPN client, a web gateway, two clickthrough legal agreements that I didn’t read, a password change and a re-login. Thank Drokk I’m not on Windows or it would have required a reboot as well. The lovely people at the registration desk made me my initial login and presented me with instructions – VSMM made it as painless as possible, it’s QUT that is the villain of this piece. This is after all the Creative Industries Precinct, the denizens of which are supposed to be inventing the cyberspace of the future right here and now. How they are to do it with one foot in a bucket of concrete baffles me.

Utzon’s Studio as a Collaborative Virtual Environment

Tuesday, July 24th, 2007

I’ve been reading about various real collaborative places lately, in an attempt to discover what makes them work, and what elements of those can be applied to CVEs. The studios of the Dada movement at the turn of the last century must have been something; I’ve found a few images but not enough to do much with yet. However there’s a fabulous archive of imagery at the NSW State Library covering Jørn Utzon’s studio in Hellebæk, where his small team brought the Sydney Opera House into being. Enough in fact that I’ve been able to reconstruct scenes from the studio. IE2007 is coming up, so I’ve proposed to show the virtual reconstruction of the studio as a demo there (4.6MB PDF).

Update: the demo has been accepted – here is the revised edition for publication (3.7MB PDF).

Virtual 場(ba) 
Research Project 1 – A Preliminary Investigation into the Effect of the 
Design of Virtual Place on Remote Collaboration

Saturday, June 30th, 2007

So, now I have a better idea of what remains undone in the development of virtual collaborative place. Back in April I hadn’t determined my approach to the problem yet, but I did know that I wanted to investigate the effect of virtual place on collaborative behaviour. To this end I proposed a small research project to a distributed workgroup of my acquaintance, with which I am involved as a facilitator, but not as a member. Group members have a broad range of experience in virtual environments (from native to novice), and a demonstrated requirement for better remote collaboration tools. I was gratified to receive their consent to be observed for the study. (more…)

Literature Review: Design for Creative Collaboration in Virtual Environments

Tuesday, June 19th, 2007

I’m finally happy enough with my first literature review to call it done – so, here it is. I’m new to this kind of writing and to the field, so I’ll leave the comments thread open on this post; any feedback is good.

Updating – I’ve extended my review with a section on future research, incorporating some wider reading from areas of study that I think have been insufficiently applied to the design of place in CVEs.