Theories and Metaphors of Cyberspace- Abstracts

Implementing Gibsonian Virtual Environments


Dieter Schmalstieg and Michael Gervautz

  • Institute of Computer Graphics
  • Vienna University of Technology, Austria
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  • Abstract.

    We speculate on the possibilities for a current-technology realization of the ideas about a three-dimensional Cyberspace, as sketched in the novels of William Gibson, and also report on our ongoing prototype implementation of a Gibsonian virtual environment.

    Virtual reality research has provided means of conveying multi-sensory information to human participants in real time, while global networks are expanding at a dramatic pace. Both fields together provide the fundamentals for such an effort.

    From an examination of the technological principles of a Gibsonian virtual environment, we conclude what properties such an implementation must have. His fictitious world-wide virtual environment is three-dimensional, highly interactive, spatially continuous, multi-user capable persistent, scaleable and democratic. Clearly, a system with such demanding properties cannot easily be extrapolated from existing network paradigms. A new concept is needed, that provides solution to design issues and semantic questions. Once this is done, strategies for implementing the possible concepts can be developed.

    An implementation of such a system faces a number of problems in the large and in the small. In particular, the semantics of the virtual environment and its inhabitants must be defined. We attempt to gibe answer to important questions such as:

    Once logically sound and technically feasible answers to these problems have been provided, an implementation of Gibsonian virtual environments should become (virtual?) reality.