The Value of Virtual

“The very fact that virtual possessions don’t have a physical form may actually enhance their value, researchers at Carnegie Mellon’s Human-Computer Interaction Institute (HCII) and School of Design discovered in a study of 21 teenagers.  A fuller appreciation of the sentiments people can develop for these bits of data could be factored into technology design and could provide opportunities for new products and services, they said.

‘A digital photo is valuable because it is a photo but also because it can be shared and people can comment on it,’ said John Zimmerman, associate professor of human-computer interaction and design. For the young people in the CMU study, a digital photo that friends have tagged, linked and annotated is more meaningful than a photo in a frame or a drawer.”

Virtual Possessions Have Powerful Hold On Teenagers, CMU Researchers Say,” May 9, 2011

“We’re going to have to look at information as though we’d never seen the stuff before …. The economy of the future will be based on relationship rather than possession. It will be continuous rather than sequential. And finally, in the years to come, most human exchange will be virtual rather than physical, consisting not of stuff but the stuff of which dreams are made. Our future business will be conducted in a world made more of verbs than nouns.” —John Perry Barlow, 1994

“Many virtual worlds may foster scientific habits of mind better than traditional schools can, because they constantly require inhabitants to experiment with unfamiliar alternatives, rationally calculate probable outcomes, and develop complex theoretical structures to understand their environment. Probably for better, but conceivably for worse, virtual worlds are creating a very new context in which young people are socialized to group norms, learn intellectual skills, and express their individuality.”—William Bainbridge, “The Scientific Research Potential of Virtual Worlds,” Science, July 27, 2007.

“Business travel might be replaced to a significant degree by tele-immersion in 10 years. … I am often asked if it is frightening to work on new technologies that are likely to have a profound impact on society without being able to know what that impact will be. My answer is that because tele-immersion is fundamentally a tool to help people connect better, the question is really about how optimistic one should be about human nature.”

—Jaron Lanier, “Virtually There,” Scientific American, April 2001.

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