| Now that we have the technology to simulate the entire nervous system, we can seriously consider mapping our subjective maps isomorphically on to the objective world. Hypermedia can serve two basic functions in such a mapping - as a window on the objective world and as a mirror of the subjective map. The two terms - virtual reality and cyberspace - are used almost synonymously. The same people who had attended the First Conference on Cyberspace in Austin, Texas in May 1990 (Benedikt & Fussell) turned up, with similar papers, at the Virtual Reality conference in San Francisco, California in January 1991 (Helsel & Roth). However, it would be useful to differentiate between the window function (virtual reality) and the mirror function (cyberspace). This distinction has a number of important implications. For example, whereas the window function emphasises veridicality (an accurate perceptual map), the mirror function emphasises rationality (an accurate conceptual map). The cartoon-like images currently available are a liability in virtual reality - virtual reality is 1% reality and 99% virtual - but may be an asset in cyberspace since a cartoon can emphasise the important aspects of a complex situation and thus help deal with the management of complexity. |
Whereas traditional media invite you into an alternative reality, hypermedia invites you into a virtual reality. This is the most dramatic development within hypermedia because it holds out the promise of finally providing an artificial medium which is a medium in the sense that water is a medium for fish and air is a medium for homo sapiens. Traditional media may engross you, but hypermedia engorges you. Virtual reality is such a good simulation of natural reality, that you can behave and experience within this artificial environment much as you would behave and experience in the natural environment which it represents.
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