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Virtual Reality Hardcover – July, 1991

ISBN-13: 978-0671693633 ISBN-10: 0671693638 Edition: First Edition
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--This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Reingold, coauthor of Cognitive Connection , contends that VR technology will replace artificial intelligence as computing's cybernetic frontier. Current reports from Japanese and French VR labs call up ghosts of the development of the VCR and PC: technologies blazed by American inventiveness but paved to commercial success by countries with coherent industrial policies. Reingold's attempt to impart, in sentences of almost 100 words, a VR vision of his experiences in the "cybernetic sandbox" will mean little to readers unfamiliar with the programming problems of VR. Neologisms like "metaplay" and "teledildontics" (sex in a bed of VR) seem like carny-barker teasers, trivializing potential VR applications in engineering, medicine and education. A more linear approach to the topic might have better fit Reingold's purposes.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

The term "virtual reality" describes the computer-generated simulation of reality with physical, tactile, and visual dimensions. This interactive technology is used by science and engineering researchers as well as by the entertainment industry, especially in the form of video games. In this book, Rheingold, editor of Whole Earth Review , reports on his visits to virtual reality labs in industry and universities around the world. He describes the eerie experience of using virtual reality systems that can simulate a walk-through of a building in an architectural graphics program, interviews leading researchers, and speculates on the social and psychological implications of this technology, in which the artificial world overlaps with reality. He also highlights the aims of system designers and gives a good sense of the exploratory nature of this research. Recommended for popular technology and science collections.
- Christopher Jocius, Illinois Mathematics & Science Acad., Aurora
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 415 pages
  • Publisher: Summit Books; First Edition edition (July 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671693638
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671693633
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.5 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #759,084 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Howard Rheingold is the author of:

Tools for Thought
The Virtual Community
Smart Mobs
Net Smart
Excursions to the Far Side of the Mind
Mind Amplifier


editor of Whole Earth Review

editor of The Millennium Whole Earth Catalog

founding executive editor of Hotwired

founder of Electric Minds

Has taught:

Participatory Media and Collective Action (UC Berkeley, SIMS, Fall
2005, 2006, 2007 )

Virtual Community/Social Media (Stanford, Fall 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010; UC Berkeley,
Spring 2008, 2009)
Toward a Literacy of Cooperation (Stanford, Winter, 2005)

Digital Journalism (Stanford University Winter, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 )

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By ChesserCat on April 26, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Back when Internet access was uncommon, Howard Rheingold was traveling the world, talking to VR researchers. He'd visit a lab, give them a presentation about what he'd seen in other places, then see what they had been developing. Then, he'd go to another lab, frequently in another country, and do the same, incorporating what he'd seen at the last place into his presentation. In this fashion, he was serving as a walking information nexus. Researchers who were largely unaware of other research going on in other places would learn about each other, and make contact with each other, as a result of his travels and his presentations.

Hell of a gig if you can get it. Where do I sign up for something like that? And get paid to do it?

Many of the technologies he writes about are still unknown, a decade later. They were cool when he wrote about them. They're still cool. They just haven't gone mainstream, for one reason or another.

If you buy and read this book today, you won't spend much time thinking "gee, that's old hat." Much of it is still quite eye-opening.

The guys in the UK who were using compressed air and hoses, where many people would be trying to use hydraulic actuators (much higher cost), were very interesting.

The differences between US and Japanese mindsets, WRT wearing headsets, was very amusing.

Creating a device which you can move with your hand, which simulates different textures, was intriguing. Not sure what the practical applications are for that, but it was definitely intriguing. There's a whole realm of VR there which I don't know that anyone is touching.

The high-speed motorcycle ride through Brooklyn, without physically moving, would be very fun to try.
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Format: Paperback
First published in 1991, this is a gem that should be one of the first readings of anyone contemplated the sacred and the scary aspects of how humans, machines, and software are being changed by emerging information technologies. While there is a lot of focus on "cool tools" and all the paraphenalia of "virtual reality" qua artificial sensation and perception, the rock bottom foundation of this book can be found in Howard reflections on what it all means for the transformation of humans, business, and society in general.
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