The Future of Reality

02 Apr 2004|Lee Shupp

The APF (Association of Professional Futurists) conference on the future of reality led me to a couple of conclusions about reality (whatever that is).
To understand the future of reality, we took an ethnographic tour of the strip in Las Vegas, played in a virtual world called Second Life, and talked about where reality is headed. This conversation required several days and nights of conversation and cocktails 😉
What is the future of reality? A couple of observations:

* Reality ain’t what it used to be. Over time, we are moving away from direct interaction with the world to more mediated interactions with the world. The telephone, television, computers, and coming technologies all act as intermedies in our interactions with reality.
* Constructed environments augment direct experience but don’t necessarily replace it. Lots of the moaning and groaning about time people spend online has subsided as the realization has sunk in that both gregarious and shy people spend time online.
* It’s all reality. Some folks kept referring to direct interaction with the world as “reality” and referred to mediated interactions as not being real, therefore somehow not as good as reality. It’s all real- my experience online is just as real as my walk in the park.
* Reality is all a construct anyway. Whether in the dirt world or in virtual worlds, we’ve made it all up. See Berger and Luckman’s “The Social Construction of Reality.”

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