We all have a desire to explore. It’s in our nature as human beings to seek out novel things, both the conceptual and the physical. To be human is to be an explorer.
Virtual worlds give us an opportunity to explore and discover new environments filled with new people. And given the malleable nature of virtual worlds, we can design these environments in ways to specifically encourage exploration.
But trying to encourage people to explore by design is tricky. Read on for some thoughts and examples.
Most people deeply involved in Virtual Worlds, from researchers to developers to enthusiastic users, have read Neal Stephenson’s novel “Snow Crash.”
In it, Stephenson coins the term “Metaverse.” He describes it as a perceptually immersive successor to the Internet, populated by avatars interacting with each other in a collaboratively created virtual space.
If you’ve read it, you probably remember the Metaverse with its cool motorcycles, thrilling swordfights between avatars in The Black Sun, and the endless glittering stretch of The Street.
Seductive stuff, yes?
But I bet most of you don’t remembersomething mentioned in the novel. And I can sum it up in a simple question:
At least, that’s what we’re constantly being told.
Technologists wax poetic about how computers can increasingly replicate our ability to think and reason. Folks like Eric Schmidt gleefully proclaim that people really want Google to “tell them what to do next.”
Even Clay Shirky believes that people re-Tweeting on a global scale somehow means the Internet itself is beginning to engage in human-like problem solving.
Someone recently asked me “Do you think the Internet itself will someday become intelligent and self aware? Like a big brain?”
I replied “No. Never. But something much better could happen.”