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Infinite Reality: Avatars, Eternal Life, New Worlds, and the Dawn of the Virtual Revolution Hardcover – April 5, 2011

4.8 out of 5 stars 54 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“An exhilarating book ... Blascovich and Bailenson are ideally situated to write this guide to the new world ... Infinite Reality a must-read for anyone who wants to prepare for the coming revolution.” (Los Angeles Times)

“Read this book if you want to understand the future.” (JARON LANIER, author of You Are Not a Gadget)

“Brilliant, farsighted, and fascinating, Infinite Reality is an essential guide to our futures.” (PHILIP ZIMBARDO, professor emeritus of psychology, Stanford University, and author of The Lucifer Effect)

Infinite Reality sends chills down the spine.” (MICHAEL S. GAZZANIGA, director of the SAGE Center for the Study of the Mind at the University of California, Santa Barbara)

From the Back Cover

Can our brains recognize where "reality" ends and "virtual" begins? Where will technology lead us in five, fifty, or five hundred years? An unrivaled guide to our digital future that has been cited by the Supreme Court, Infinite Reality is a mind-bending "journey through the virtual universe" (Wall Street Journal). Jim Blascovich and Jeremy Bailenson, two pioneering authorities, explore the profound potential of emerging technologies and reveal how our brains behave in digital worlds.

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow (April 5, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061809500
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061809507
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #413,490 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
As someone with little time for pleasure reading and habitually turned off by anything resembling "technology" in the title, Infinite Reality by Blascovich and Bailenson was a complete breath of fresh air! An incredibly compelling read, I couldn't believe what a page turner a book about the digital age could be. Each mention of perception theory or a previously executed study was instantly linked to something contemporary readers could appreciate, and every single example was engaging and purposeful.
A favorite chapter was "Virtually Useful." A very common saying when referencing virtual reality, "this is really cool...but what's the point?", is addressed flawlessly with a plethora of insights to possible uses of the newest virtual technology. PETA cites the benefits of a virtual zoo where visitors would experience watching animals in their natural environments rather than the repetitive behavior patterns they exhibit in captivity, while the authors explicate the benefits of a virtual window for those stuck in office cubicles (do a rudimentary form of these not already exist in tropical screensavers?)
Students of psychology or communication will instantly recognize some of the classic studies described, but will be able to appreciate them in whole new way. For instance, the classic "invisible guerilla" study was re-examined, and related to how people with racial bias actually see the world differently, something I hadn't previously considered in the context of this study.
However, one of the most fundamental chapters had to be "A Museum of Virtual Media". While seemingly a history lesson at first glance, this chapter was crucial to understanding the prior impact and forthcoming potential of new technologies on the human condition.
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Format: Hardcover
Why should we care about virtual reality? VR seems like one of those "new tech" ideas that burst on the scene full of hype, are flashily rendered in cult-hit scifi movies, and ultimately fizzle outside the mainstream. Jetson-like visions of artificially intelligent machines and personal jetpacks come to mind.

If, like me or John C. Dvorak, you thought that VR is destined to remain a technological novelty with little part to play in the grand scheme of the human condition, READ THIS BOOK. Written by scientists for a general audience, Infinite Reality is bursting with insight and provocation about how "mediating" technologies throw conventional assumptions of how we see ourselves and others out of the window. Who'd have thought looking at yourself in a virtual mirror could change the way you act in real life? Could the technological capacity for editing yourself and "polishing your avatar" lead to an infinitely regressing arms-race of self-presentation?

If you work in social media, READ THIS BOOK. Here's why - conceptualizing VR in the narrow frame of head-mounted displays and 3-d vision systems obscures the fact that the most scientifically compelling part of this book, the underlying psychological theories, are common to ALL kinds of "technologically transformed" social interactions. If you want to know the latest in how any online social behavior molds our overall life experiences, this is the book for you.

The only ding on this book is that the authors can sometimes come across as VR evangelists (a common problem in books that "present the future"), but I'd rather read a book by people with a real passion for the field, than a dryly objective account of the chances of VR becoming ubiquitous in the near term.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The authors do a great job of synthesizing over a decade of fascinating experimental findings in virtual reality (VR). VR isn't just a lab artifact anymore. Millions of people interact via avatars in online games every day. In this book, the authors describe the outcomes of subtle and provocative manipulations in lab experiments:

- What happens when you put someone in a taller avatar? Do they become more confident?
- When you put someone in their own aged avatar, how does it change the way they think about their future?
- What happens when you create a doppleganger avatar of someone, and then show them the doppleganger doing something they have never done?

The book illustrates how virtual reality isn't simply a replica of physical reality. VR allows us to break the rules of physical reality in productive and transformative ways. These studies provide insight into how we should think about identity and personality.

The ideas presented in the book also have broad application. This isn't just about theories in psychology. The empirical findings can be applied to many domains, such as marketing, health games, political campaigning, and social networking sites.

If you want a thought-provoking book on what it means to have a digital identity, this is the book for you.
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Format: Hardcover
Academic research and virtual worlds can both be pretty pointless. Academic research ON virtual worlds - even more useless, right? WRONG. This book describes a series of virtual world examples that are extremely relevant to our lives. True, many of the examples come out of academic research, but the book certainly doesn't read like it. In other words, it's not boring! Actually, it's a fascinating page-turner and conversation starter, kinda like Freakanomics, Blink, Tipping Point, etc. I'm planning to give it as a gift to my "thinker" type friends. You should too!
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