Becoming Virtual. Reality in the Digital Age by Pierre Levy

By Pierre Levy

Virtual fact is a phenomenon that captivates humans of every age and all degrees of technical services. it seems that on the net and in desktop video games, and is used, between different areas, in high-tech software program for medical professionals, engineers, and scientists. yet, is it rather anything new? and the way does it have an effect on us?

Examining the social and cultural impression of latest electronic applied sciences, Levy tackles the idea that of "the virtual," demonstrating the way it has consistently been a permanent component to the human brain. He indicates how the physique, the textual content, and the economic system, are made digital. He then unearths how the net and sites at the moment are remodeling the digital right into a "collective intelligence" associated with electronic communication.Succinct, available, and profound, changing into Virtual is an highbrow travel de strength from one among France's so much excellent younger thinkers.

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The telephone separates voice (the audible body) from the tangible body and transmits it to a remote location. My tangible body is here, my au­ dible body, doubled, is both here and there. The tele­ phone already actualizes a partial form of ubiquity. The audible body of my correspondent is also affected by the same act of doubling. So that we are both, respec­ tively, here and there, but the distributions of our tan­ gible bodies intersect. Systems of virtual reality transmit more than im­ ages; they transmit a quasi-presence.

Helping to control texts, structure them, articulate them beyond their lin­ earity, such auxiliary technologies construct what we might refer to as an apparatus for artificial reading. Hypertext, hypermedia, or interactive multimedia thus continue an ancient process of artificializing read­ ing. If reading consists in selecting, diagramming, and constructing a network of cross-references within the text, associating it with other data, integrating words and images within a personal memory that is continu­ ously being updated, then hypertext mechanisms rep­ re sent an o b je c tiv a tio n , e x te rio riz a tio n , and virtualization of the reading process.

By considering the computer merely as an additional instrument for producing texts, sounds, or images on permanent media (paper, film, magnetic tape), we deny its cultural fecundity, that is, the ap­ pearance of new genres associated with interactivity. The computer is thus primarily a means of potentializing information. Based on an initial store of data, a model or metatext, a program can calculate an indef­ inite number of different visible, audible, or tangible manifestations, on the basis of the current situation or the demands of the user.

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