It is said that in a few decades time 80 percent of world population will live in cities. Those cities will depend on a superstructure of networked technology in order to provide food, water, energy and communication. The Impakt Festival 2010 Matrix City in Utrecht, the Netherlands, will discuss
(…) both the growing dependency of urban societies on their technological superstructures as well as the phenomena of massive online virtual environments with their unstable population and continuous reformulation of their own raison dâ€™etre. This connects to the physicality of real-urbanism that loses its own purpose and function without networked technology, and to virtual environments that are losing their purpose without the physicality of human presence.
Interesting thought, “virtual environments with their unstable population and continuous reformulation of their own raison dâ€™etre.” The organizers continue:
Virtual flight depicts the slow movement from the autonomous exclusive realm of virtual worlds, toward something that is more connected to real world physicality. During the last 5 years, we witness a stagnation in the development of virtual worlds. World of Warcraft with its “hack and slash” concept still dominates online worlds, while Second Life remains lost in defining the purpose for its own existence. This stagnation shows how technological, virtual platforms are dependent on a meaningful raison d’etre for individual participation, and that the massive euphoria around virtual online worlds from the mid 2000s ended in ontological dead-end, mostly because it didn’t take into account the complexities of social laws. More and more examples point currently to fusions between virtual environments and â€œrealâ€ social events, where the virtual framework is mirroring offline realities.
The conference about Superstructural Dependencies takes place on Friday October 15.
I won’t be able to attend but the ideas expressed in the announcement are fascinating. Augmented reality, location-based networks and games, alternate reality games (very interesting Wikipedia entry!) are ways to mix virtual and physical realities. All those genres can be ‘for entertainment only’, and/or have commercial, educational and transformative purposes.
(hat tip to Bruce Sterling who mentions this event on Beyond the Beyond and comments on it).
No, no conspiracy. The whole piece started from talking with colleagues of mine who work in print and television, many of whom have producers and editors who call such online material and venues “the competition” and prefer to find ways to slant pieces negatively.