VR’s Evolved Relationship to Media


Rheingold: VR and Media

Rheingold discusses a surprising relationship between VR (and emerging technologies in general) and the media (pp 34-35). As consumers, we relate to emerging technologies in a very specific manner — through media oriented around anticipation. Rheingold raises an often neglected point that the producers of these technologies had a problematic relationship with the media’s anticipatory tonalities in their reporting of VR. The exciting implications of VR established themselves as effective selling points for mainstream media in the 90s. The reality, however, as Rheingold discerned, was that these ideas and sensational images of what VR could be won’t actually exist for decades. There was a pressure being placed on the researchers of VR in the 90s to accelerate their development process to keep up with the fictional technologies that were being propagated in tech magazines. The generation of researchers that worked on VR technologies grew up in an era when VR was attempted multiple times but never managed to live up to its true potential simply due to the lack of computing power. So, it’s worth noting that these researchers lived in a time of technological doubt when it came to VR — to be bombarded with media expectations for advanced VR was all the more discouraging. Rheingold’s delineation of this dynamic made me think about how different today’s researchers are in their relationship with media. This generation’s researchers grew up in the fastest growth period of technology in history, and so their hopes for emerging technologies are far more ambitious and lofty. Just look at how giant tech companies relate to media — they boast on the possibilities of their technology and take pride in their (very real) potential. It’s a great selling point for customers and investors. Seriously, take a look at Sony, Google Alphabet, Tesla, and Apple. Before, especially in VR, this never happened. It was a risk to come out and be that ambitious because the technologies to make certain visions come true didn’t even exist. Today, the tech tool box has expanded and we’re seeing an entirely new dynamic emerging between tech researchers and the media — one predicated on profitable anticipation that’s grounded in actual potential. We’ve come a long way.

Cool stuff on VR:

360 Short Film, “The Invisible Man”

360 Short Film, “The Fight for Falluja”

360 Tutorial Video, “Surfing 101”


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