| Those two scenarios describe the two basic strategies for creating virtual realities. The first strategy is best illustrated by Myron Krueger, widely recognised as the father of artificial reality, who creates responsive rooms which interact with people in them. The second strategy is illustrated by most of the other people who have followed him into the field. Like the Zen monk, who decided that the world could be covered in leather by making a pair of leather sandals, they dress people in goggles and gloves which create the illusion of being in a virtual reality they can explore and manipulate. This distinction is analogous to that between the original Ganzfeld and the pocket Ganzfeld. The original, designed by German psychologists to create an environment in which all receptors of the eye were equally stimulated, was a hemisphere, six feet in diameter, with the subject sitting in the centre; the pocket version, designed with typical Yankee ingenuity by American psychologists, was created by cutting a ping-pong ball in half and taping one half over each eye.|
COMMUNICATION STUDIES AS CENTRAL DISCIPLINE
Virtual reality/cyberspace introduces new issues into the discipline of communication studies, which make the old issues, published only a decade ago, look quite quaint (Journal of Communication 1983). The Ferment in the Field was a Tempest in a Teapot. The central issue could be whimsically reduced to the question of whether communication studies should be a branch of political science (critical studies) or of business administration (administrative studies). The threat of dissolving into another discipline, which has always haunted the field, is now replaced by the opportunity to be the central discipline in the academy. The shift in emphasis from media to hypermedia is part of a system of correlated shifts - from a modern, industrial society, based on energy, to a post-modern, post-industrial society, based on information; from physics, a study of energy systems, to biology, a study of information systems, as the basic discipline; from a behaviouristic concept of the person to a humanistic concept of the person, and so on. This paradigmatic shift also shifts communication studies from a peripheral to a central role in the university.
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