Is VR Technology the Future of Social Media?

As we become more and more isolated, communicating has never been easier. Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Discord, Zoom, are all helping us to keep connected with people around the world. But there is a new form that is starting to break out, VR social media.

What is VR?

Virtual Reality is a booming type of tech that involves putting on a headset of some sort and immersing yourself in a virtual world. There are lots of different types of VR. One of the more accessible options is the cheap headsets that allow you to slide your phone in to act as a screen. There aren’t many options for this type but it’s a good entry-level type of VR. The more popular form of VR is the gaming headsets like the Oculus Rift. The Oculus Rift is actually what gives the idea of VR as a piece of technology for social media as Oculus was recently bought by Facebook. Unfortunately, these have a considerably large barrier to entry with you needing the expensive headset and a powerful PC to be able to support it. But if you do manage to get one, there are lots of uses for it. You can watch movies, play video games, go to virtual museums or exhibits, and of course, use it as a form of social media.

VR as Social Media

With a piece of technology like this that allows you to immerse yourself in a virtual world we are starting to see a similar world to that of the OASIS from ready player one and that is no more obvious as it is with VR Chat. VR Chat is a free piece of software you can install for your pc that acts as a social media network. You boot up the game and pick an avatar and are then placed into a virtual world with others with the game. You can talk to each other, interact, and even play a huge variety of games all with the headset on. As good as clients such as Zoom and Discord are at interacting with each other, VR provides a much more immersive experience. It’s the closest you can get to hanging out in person with your friends in a safe and remote way.

Another big future development is Facebooks next endeavor Facebook Horizon. The idea behind Facebook’s horizon is that it’s going to be a VR sandbox social media space. IT allows building worlds and games within it that you and your friends with Oculus headsets can explore together through VR.

There are also other types of more specific VR spaces such as Sports Bar VR which is, exactly as it says on the tin, a sports bar that you and your friends can visit together and play games like darts pool, and air hockey. It’s a good place to sit and talk and ask each other questions. Here’s another option for free questions about your friends in the form of That’s You. Putting it into VR has allowed for a full party atmosphere virtually.

Issues

The main issue with this being a new front for social media is accessibility. Although companies are working to provide portable headsets that don’t require loads of setup and technological know-how, VR is still a noticeably large investment for your average consumer. If VR is going to take off as a social media platform companies need to find a way to make it so the general public is able to get involved with it. It’s the same as when Mobile phones were becoming a big thing. Companies need to show the public that VR is unique enough to provide an experience that other forms of technology cannot. It also doesn’t help that because social media is so integrated into how we as a society communicate, find work and make friends that for VR to become the dominant form of social media consumption, society would need to buy into that concept and move how they operate over to a VR space as well.

In conclusion, although it will take time, I think that when more commercially available VR headsets become available, VR will have a massive chance at becoming the future for how we communicate as a society.

The Long Tomorrow

June 8, 2010

Review By: Mr. Roboto

Authors: Dan O’Bannon & Jean “Moebius” Giraud (Illustrator)

Year: First appeared in Metal Hurlant, 1976

Category: Cyberpunk Books; Graphic Novels; Proto-Cyberpunk Media


Another piece of the proto-cyberpunk puzzle is found. So far, proto-cyberpunk media has dealt more with the themes of cyberpunk. But what about the look, that Blade Runner-esque future with stratosphere busting skyscrapers and flying cars? Did Ridley Scott have that vision in his head all along?

NOPE.

As it turns out, there was a major influence that would spark the future visions of Scott and Gibson: A short comic about a private eye (or “nose” as the main character called himself) who is hired to retrieve a package. The story itself isn’t much (too short to call it a novel), but the artwork is what influenced Scott and Gibson.

(From Blade Runner Movie site) “Years later, I was having lunch with Ridley, and when the conversation turned to inspiration, we were both very clear about our debt to the Metal Hurlant [the original Heavy Metal magazine] school of the ’70s–Moebius and the others. “

The Long Tomorrow page 2

Problem: Metropolis had these city scenes some fifty years earlier! Did Gibson and Scott ever see Metropolis? Apparently not, since they give their props to Moebius:

“So it’s entirely fair to say, and I’ve said it before, that the way Neuromancer-the-novel “looks” was influenced in large part by some of the artwork I saw in ‘Heavy Metal’. I assume that this must also be true of John Carpenter’s ‘Escape from New York’, Ridley Scott’s ‘Blade Runner’”, and all other artefacts of the style sometimes dubbed ‘cyberpunk’. Those French guys, they got their end in early.”

Fritz Lang and the Germans beg to differ.

My advice: Check both out and see who had the future first.

This post has been filed under Proto-Cyberpunk Media, Cyberpunk Books, Graphic Novels by Mr. Roboto.

The Shockwave Rider

October 23, 2008

Review By: Mr. Roboto

Author: John Brunner

Year: 1975

Category: Cyberpunk Books; Proto-Cyberpunk Media

The Shockwave Rider

“First we had the legs race. Then we had the arms race. Now we’re going to have the brain race. And, if we’re lucky, the final stage will be the human race.” – Angus Porter

Cyberpunk before cyberpunk. Before the word was ever coined, John Brunner created a world so close to what we now consider to be ‘cyberpunk’ that it needed to be read to be believed. It has a computer network that virtually… and literally… permeates American society, while secret government projects try to squeeze the best minds for all their knowledge to try to monitor a society uprooted by a massive west-coast earthquake. About all that’s missing are the cybernetic implants, although there are bio-engineered people and animals that seem to behave almost human.

What you have is THEE definitive blueprint of cyberpunk, even though nobody knew it for another decade.

 

Synopsis: The Pacific coast finally experiences “The BIG One” that kills millions and displaces millions more leaving them with nothing to live on except welfare. Meanwhile, the rest of the nation is experiencing their own kind of “overload” as varying levels of data access has left some without a permanent residence while the “privileged” live in their own kind of haven. To help cope (or, more like, to exploit) this flux, the US Government, under control of criminal elements, began programs to identify potentially “gifted” students to cultivate their “wisdom” to further the Government’s cause.

Nicholas Kenton “Nickie” Haflinger is the product of this program. His talents were being wasted in a failed education system where intelligence made you a target of gang violence. At the novel’s start, Nickie is back at his old academy at Tarnover where he is about to undergo a form of interrogation where his memories are replayed on a data-analysis system while he is unconscious. When Nickie was awake, he was subjected to further questioning and moral arguments with Paul T. Freeman, who is another of the program’s “graduates” from a place called “The Electric Skillet.”

Between the regression flashbacks and the moral point/counterpoints, we see how Nickie managed to elude the authorities while making a living (several, actually) using the skills he learned at Tarnover… and why he ran away to begin with.

 

Now for the good stuff! So, how did Nickie manage to elude capture for so long? Among his skill-set is the ability to program the data-net using nothing more than a touch-tone phone (PHREAKY!). That, and a high-level access code he stole. With these tools, Nickie was able able to quickly change identities to avoid being captured by creating… wait for it…

WORMS!

That’s right, worms! Those self-propagating programs that hog bandwidth are the result of this book. Nickie programmed his worms to erase all traces of his old identity and to create new ones when needed. He also creates a “super worm” that discloses information that the government has been trying to keep secret.

 

Another proto-cyberpunk classic for your bookshelf. Make some space next to True Names in your library. The Shockwave Rider is a book that must be in your collection.

This post has been filed under Proto-Cyberpunk Media, Cyberpunk Books by Mr. Roboto.

True Names

June 25, 2008

Book Review By: Mr. Roboto

Author: Vernor Vinge

Year: 1981

Category: Cyberpunk Books


True Names

In the once upon a time days of the First Age of Magic, the prudent sorcerer regarded his own true name as his most valued possession but also the greatest threat to his continued good health, for–the stories go–once an enemy, even a weak unskilled enemy, learned the sorcerer’s true name, then routine and widely known spells could destroy or enslave even the most powerful. As times passed, and we graduated to the Age of Reason and thence to the first and second industrial revolutions, such notions were discredited. Now it seems that the Wheel has turned full circle (even if there never really was a First Age) and we are back to worrying about true names again.

This opening paragraph pretty much describes the premise of True Names. This novella, released three years before Neuromancer, gives us a cyberspace adventure that has influenced many a cyberpunk writer… possibly even Gibson himself.

 

Synopsis: Roger Pollack is a computer wizard who frequents the “Other Plane” as “Mr. Slippery” and has other wizard friends whose “true names” are kept secret, even from each other. He is confronted by agents of “The Great Adversary” (The US Government) who has reason to believe that another wizard named “The Mailman” is recruiting other wizards for some type of coup on the net that can lead to control of reality.

 

Everything you’d expect from cyberpunk… and then some. The “Other Plane” connects to many nets, nodes, and databases. Anyone who has the ability to connect and control them can become a virtual god, and when Mr. Slippery finds out who… or what… The Mailman is, you’ll understand why this novella is definitely cyberpunk.

Don’t believe me? Read it online. (BIG ACK signal to “The Rectifier,” though I have yet to find the zip file he mentions.) You can still find the story for sale by itself, mostly online, or as part of a collection like True Names & Other Dangers and True Names: And the Opening of the Cyberspace Frontier.

Read it and see how cyberpunk it is!

This post has been filed under Proto-Cyberpunk Media, Cyberpunk Books by Mr. Roboto.