re: Immersion or Augmentation

2006.07.19 (Wednesday, July 19)

The SLCreativity blog frames an important (in)world issue concerning “2 views of Second Life,” immersive vs. augmented. What are the implications for the built environment, as well as for building the environment, in both real life (RL) and Second Life (SL). I’m going to attempt to re-frame the issue by considering it from the perspective of “representing something.”

Augmentation: As far as the augmentation argument is concerned, there are 3 nuances to consider:
a) augmenting RL with SL; and,
b) augmenting SL with RL; but also,
c) enhancing other metaverses with SL.
Maybe this distinction comes from an a priori bias of seeing neither SL or RL in a vacuum, but rather as 2 very intricate pieces of the other’s puzzle. Another bias I have is to consider SL a platform rather than just a game. This somehow necessitates reading usefulness into what we do with it and how we use it. Thus, if we can define SL as an interface, filter or conduit between content & container, between information & its communication, we can begin to understand SL as a part of this framework.

Anyway, deconstructing the plural, reversible nature of the transactions between SL and its’ siblings and cousins, recognizes their common effort to decode and inform the world(s) around them. This being said, the fact remains that metaverses are a specific and unique kind of container because of their dominant expressive material (media) : immersive Space (but I digress, (or do I?)).

Immersion: The idea of immersion in SL being defined as “not be(ing) contaminated by anything from the outside” is misconstrued. As I’m attempting to articulate through my work on this site (a bit laborious, perhaps, but I’ll find a way to be more succinct…) most of SL’s content is conceived by establishing a direct or indirect semantic link between a RL artifact and a SL reference. Thus, in order to access the meaning, atmosphere or usages of a build in SL –its signification, prior knowledge or experience of the RL artifact is necessary. In this scenario, the immersive purity becomes necessarily ruptured by having to access, at the very least, a mental image of the reference, or worse, a Google search, in order to understand what’s going on. In the example below…
can this be an “immersive” or even meaningful experience…

…without this reference?
For total, non “-contaminated” immersion to occur the signification system must turn to SL itself, a self-referential system, and tap into the SL deep structure, to arrive at true immersive expression.


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