Today's Reading: The giant worm to Saturn

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Truth be told, I usually find Jaron Lanier obnoxious, unconvincing, and mushy. His obsession to fancy himself the last bastion of humanism amid the rabid, materialistic techno-geeks bores me, and, though he’s a virtual reality pioneer, I’d never found any of his ideas particularly visionary. Until yesterday.

I was teetering (with excitement) when I read his answer to Edge’s 2005 question: What do you believe is true even though you cannot prove it?:

My belief is that the potential for expanded communication between people far exceeds the potential both of language as we think of it (the stuff we say, read and write) and of all the other communication forms we already use.

He goes on to describe what must surely be one of the most mind-blowing ideas I’ve ever read: “post-symbolic communication.” (Yup, I’ve got the weirdest fetish with symbols themselves — which seems to me to be the mother of all fetishes.) Anyway, wow. That sort of thing is precisely what I imagine when I ramble madly about VR to people (Sergio and Beca can attest to that) only to get the same dull, unimpressed answer: “So what? It’s all fake.” (As if they don’t already spend well over half of their lives in media, which is just another name for artificial, fake, realities: the web, IM, TV, movies, books, games, radio, ads…)

But I digress. I think this extract from an interview to Lanier, The giant worm to Saturn (~1000 words), is a great intro to “post-symbolic communications”. Go read it.

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