Edwin Abbott explored worlds with less than three dimensions in his novel Flatland and mathematicians have explored worlds with more than three spatial dimensions. However, those other dimensions are merely aspects of the narration in their mind movies. To be at home in our objective world, we need to perceive and conceive in four dimensions. The creation of Virtual Worlds, using Virtual Reality, is the latest step in the attempt to provide a means of practicing being in the Real World.


      If virtual worlds have been around in the second generation of books and the third generation of videos, what's new in the virtual worlds on the fourth generation of multimedia? They are populated by avatars - digital representations of people. Your presence is requested. Authors of books and videos have indeed invited you to be present but you were little more than a voyeur. Now you can be a participant observer.

     Avatars can be viewed as a development within the history of virtual communities. Indeed, many critics dismiss avatars-in-virtual-worlds as simply chat rooms with pictures. There is nothing genuinely new. It can indeed be. If I wanted chat with pictures, I'd get the CUSeeme software and a videocam mounted on my computer and chat with others similarly equipped. At least, what I'd see is the real person rather than some fantasy figure, which may not be of even the same sex as the person it represents. The same argument applies to the argument that it is computer dating where you can take your date somewhere. Whereas I appreciate the attraction to young people who have just "invented" sex once again, and applaud their initiative since I don't want to see the whole human enterprise grind to a halt, I personally have no interest in dressing as an Avahunk to flirt with Avatarts in a Virtual Bar. That I can do in the real world with potentially real results.

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