Virtual Worlds: A Journey in Hype and Hyperreality

Benjamin Woolley
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In Virtual Worlds, Benjamin Woolley examines the reality of virtual reality. He looks at the dramatic intellectual and cultural upheavals that gave birth to it, the hype that surrounds it, the people who have promoted it, and the dramatic implications of its development. Virtual reality is not simply a technology, it is a way of thinking created and promoted by a group of technologists and thinkers that sees itself as creating our future. Virtual Worlds reveals the politics and culture of these virtual realists, and examines whether they are creating reality, or losing their grasp of it. 12 photographs.
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About the author

Benjamin Woolley, writer & broadcaster, covers both the arts & the sciences. His writing includes "Virtual Worlds," a book on virtual reality, "Bride of Science," a biography of Byron's brilliant daughter, & contributions to various British periodicals. He lives in London.

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Additional information

Publisher
Benjamin Woolley
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Published on
Dec 31, 1993
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Pages
274
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ISBN
9780140154399
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / Science & Technology
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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'HyperReality is a technological capability like nanotechnology, human cloning and artificial intelligence. Like them, it does not as yet exist in the sense of being clearly demonstrable and publicly available. Like them, it is maturing in laboratories where the question "if" has been replaced by the question "when?" and like them, the implications of its appearance as a basic infrastructure technology are profound and merit careful consideration.' - Nobuyoshi Terashima
What comes after the Internet? Imagine a world where it is difficult to tell if the person standing next to you is real or a virtual reality, and whether they have human intelligence or artificial intelligence; a world where people can appear to be anything they want to be. HyperReality makes this possible.
HyperReality offers a window into the world of the future, an interface between the natural and artificial. Nobuyoshi Terashima led the team that developed the prototype for HyperReality at Japan's ATT laboratories. John Tiffin studied they way HyperReality would create a new communications paradigm. Together with a stellar list of contributors from around the globe who are engaged in researching different aspects of HyperReality, they offer the first account of this extraordinary technology and its implications.
This fascinating book explores the defining features of HyperReality: what it is, how it works and how it could become to the information society what mass media was to the industrial society. It describes ongoing research into areas such as the design of virtual worlds and virtual humans, and the role of intelligent agents. It looks at applications and ways in which HyperReality may impact on fields such as translation, medicine, education, entertainment and leisure. What are its implications for lifestyles and work, for women and the elderly: Will we grow to prefer the virtual worlds we create to the physical world we adapt to?
HyperReality at the beginning of the third millennium is like steam power at the beginning of the nineteenth century and radio at the start of the twentieth century, an idea that has been shown to work but has yet to be applied. This book is for anyone concerned about the future and the effects of technology on our lives.
Epic history of the first Virginia Colony and the true story of Pocahontas, to coincide with the colony’s 400th anniversary in 2007.

Four centuries ago, and fourteen years before the Mayflower, a group of men-led by a one-armed ex-pirate, an epileptic aristocrat, a reprobate cleric and a government spy-left London aboard a fleet of three ships to start a new life in America. They arrived in Virginia in the spring of 1607, and set about trying to create a settlement on a tiny island in the James River. Despite their shortcomings and against the odds, they built Jamestown, a ramshackle outpost which laid the foundations of the British Empire and the United States of America.

Drawing on new discoveries, neglected sources and manuscript collections scattered across the world, Savage Kingdom challenges the textbook image of Jamestown as a mere money-making venture. It reveals a reckless, daring enterprise led by outcasts of the old world who found themselves interlopers in a new one. It charts their journey into a beautiful landscape and sophisticated culture that they found both ravishing and alien, which they yearned to possess, but threatened to destroy.

It shows them trying to escape the 'Savage Kingdom' that their homeland had become, and endeavoring to build 'one of the most glorious nations under the sun'.
An intimate story in an epic setting, Woolley shows how the land of Pocahontas came to be drawn into a new global order, reaching from London to the Orinoco Delta, from the warring kingdoms of Angola to the slave markets of Mexico, from the gates of the Ottoman Empire to the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Note that it has not been possible to include the same picture content that appeared in the original print version.

In this age of DNA computers and artificial intelligence, information is becoming disembodied even as the "bodies" that once carried it vanish into virtuality. While some marvel at these changes, envisioning consciousness downloaded into a computer or humans "beamed" Star Trek-style, others view them with horror, seeing monsters brooding in the machines. In How We Became Posthuman, N. Katherine Hayles separates hype from fact, investigating the fate of embodiment in an information age.

Hayles relates three interwoven stories: how information lost its body, that is, how it came to be conceptualized as an entity separate from the material forms that carry it; the cultural and technological construction of the cyborg; and the dismantling of the liberal humanist "subject" in cybernetic discourse, along with the emergence of the "posthuman."

Ranging widely across the history of technology, cultural studies, and literary criticism, Hayles shows what had to be erased, forgotten, and elided to conceive of information as a disembodied entity. Thus she moves from the post-World War II Macy Conferences on cybernetics to the 1952 novel Limbo by cybernetics aficionado Bernard Wolfe; from the concept of self-making to Philip K. Dick's literary explorations of hallucination and reality; and from artificial life to postmodern novels exploring the implications of seeing humans as cybernetic systems.

Although becoming posthuman can be nightmarish, Hayles shows how it can also be liberating. From the birth of cybernetics to artificial life, How We Became Posthuman provides an indispensable account of how we arrived in our virtual age, and of where we might go from here.
Computers have dramatically altered life in the late twentieth century. Today we can draw on worldwide computer links, speeding up communications by radio, newspapers, and television. Ideas fly back and forth and circle the globe at the speed of electricity. And just around the corner lurks full-blown virtual reality, in which we will be able to immerse ourselves in a computer simulation not only of the actual physical world, but of any imagined world. As we begin to move in and out of a computer-generated world, Michael Heim asks, how will the way we perceive our world change? In The Metaphysics of Virtual Reality, Heim considers this and other philosophical issues of the Information Age. With an eye for the dark as well as the bright side of computer technology, he explores the logical and historical origins of our computer-generated world and speculates about the future direction of our computerized lives. He discusses such topics as the effect of word-processing on the English language (while word-processors have led to increased productivity, they have also led to physical hazards such as repetitive motion syndrome, which causes inflamed hand and arm tendons). Heim looks into the new kind of literacy promised by Hypertext (technology which allows the user to link audio and video elements, the disadvantages including disorientation and cognitive overload). And he also probes the notion of virtual reality, "cyberspace"--the computer-simulated environments that have captured the popular imagination and may ultimately change the way we define reality itself. Just as the definition of interface itself has evolved from the actual adapter plug used to connect electronic circuits into human entry into a self-contained cyberspace, so too will the notion of reality change with the current technological drive. Like the introduction of the automobile, the advent of virtual reality will change the whole context in which our knowledge and awareness of life are rooted. And along the way, Heim covers such intriguing topics as how computers have altered our thought habits, how we will be able to distinguish virtual from real reality, and the appearance of virtual reality in popular culture (as in Star Trek's holodeck, William Gibson's Neuromancer, and Stephen King's Lawnmower Man). Vividly and entertainingly written, The Metaphysics of Virtual Reality opens a window on a fascinating world that promises--or threatens--to become an integral part of everyday life in the 21st century. As Heim writes, not only do we face a breakthrough in the technology of computer interface, but we face the challenge of knowing ourselves and determining how the technology should develop and ultimately affect the society in which it grows.
The rise of George Villiers from minor gentry to royal power seemed to defy gravity. Becoming gentleman of the royal bedchamber in 1615, the young gallant enraptured James, Britain’s first Stuart king, royal adoration reaching such an intensity that the king declared he wanted the courtier to become his ‘wife’. For a decade, Villiers was at the king’s side – at court, on state occasions and in bed, right up to James’s death in March 1625.

Almost immediately, Villiers’ many enemies accused him of poisoning the king. A parliamentary investigation was launched, and scurrilous pamphlets and ballads circulated London’s streets. But the charges came to nothing, and were relegated to a historical footnote.

Now, new historical scholarship suggests that a deadly combination of hubris and vulnerability did indeed drive Villiers to kill the man who made him. It may have been by accident – the application of a quack remedy while the king was weakened by a malarial attack. But there is compelling evidence that Villiers, overcome by ambition and frustrated by James’s passive approach to government, poisoned him.

In The King’s Assassin, acclaimed author Benjamin Wooley examines this remarkable, even tragic story. Combining vivid characterization and a strong narrative with historical scholarship and forensic investigation, Woolley tells the story of King James’s death, and of the captivating figure at its centre. What emerges is a compelling portrait of a royal favourite whose charisma overwhelmed those around him and, ultimately, himself.

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