the wedding of cyberspace and meatspace

Are any of you Deviant Artists?  I just set up my deviant account there… I’m not really much an artist, but hey, I can dream, can’t I?

The reason I set up an account there was actually to test a feature of their userpages… If you look at my userpage you’ll notice a green button that says GeoURL.  This is a quick way to search for webpages by geographical location, which ties into a site that Luke and I like a lot called Headmap.  Headmap is a project to connect cyberspace with “meatspace”, by mapping URLs to physical locations and then wearing computers around so that you can superimpose the internet onto the world around you.  With this futuristic system, park benches can have blogs, roads can have songs attached to them, and you can walk up to a building and see its website.  For an analogy, consider hypertext, or “linking”.  Usually when you write words, they are isolated, they have no meaning aside from the meaning that they have in your head.  However, with hypertext, words can be connected to all sorts of information through the World Wide Web.  Just think how much more potential a living website has compared to a dead, static book, and you begin to understand the possibilities that wearable computing and enhanced or “mediated” reality offer.

If you want to know what this future might look like, you’ll want to read up on Steve Mann, the cyborg professor, one of the pioneers of wearable computing.  Despite (or perhaps because of) his extreme geekiness, he has a wife, which means there may be hope for me someday 😉  He has an interesting idea called Subjectright… he thinks that if we have intellectual property over our writings or musical creations, isn’t it ridiculous that we do not have property rights on ourselves and our likenesses and personal data?  Are songs more important than people?  It’s a well thought out philosophy, and his claiming of the right to control both outbound information (privacy rights) and inbound information (right to not be disturbed by spam) is wonderful.  I’m not sure how I feel about everything he says, but I think it is logically consistent with the idea of intellectual property.  Does this demonstrate the absurdity of intellectual property, or is it a good use of IP as opposed to the abuses that we usually see?

Finally, as I mentioned on my last blog entry, I lost a black biking glove… have you seen it?

6 thoughts on “the wedding of cyberspace and meatspace

    • Very pretty deviations indeed! I don’t think I know ashsong (aka Michael, apparently) by name, although I’m sure I’d recognize him in person. I don’t know many people’s names.

  1. Subjectright

    I see Subjectright as a sort of kooky idea and lean toward the first interpretation of it. If it existed it would have the potential to be much more evil than copyright, especially since it implies the existence of a sort of copyright in order to be effective. If I can control what people can know about me, it means I can also control how people can distribute the information they already have about me, or else the former control is useless; one brave soul can take the penalty for stealing my likeness or an embarrassing story about me and the whole rest of the world can still know it.

    Also I have a pseudo-Luddite icky feeling about “mediated reality” and anything that maps cyberspace onto meatspace.

    • Re: Subjectright

      I agree, I also worry about the system that would be necessary to enforce “subjectrights”, I’m sure it would lead to the same problems as copyrights, encouraging laws like the DMCA.

      However, I don’t feel Luddite at all, cyberspace/meatspace connection doesn’t seem like a bad thing to me, anymore than internet/text connection seems like a bad thing. It makes data exchange easier, and more information is generally a good thing in my opinion. Could you elaborate on your objections?

      • Luddism

        I’m not sure how to verbalize my feelings of objection rationally. I’m not sure if it would be a bad thing (depending on how you define good and bad) for society in general, I just know that I’d feel funny about beginning to mix VR and R to that great an extent, because at least for me the VR always begins to take over.

        For me the process of data gathering (surfing the Web, scouring libraries, etc.) is a different process from sensorily experiencing the world (going to tourist sites, seeing friends in person, walking on the beach). I worry that in our society the interpretive part of the brain that does the former is taking over and inhibiting our ability to do the former; I myself have difficulty simply being part of a moment without analyzing it and trying to figure out how it fits into a system of data. I think trying to combine the process of being somewhere with reading a website about it misses the point of being somewhere — but maybe that’s my prejudice. The main issue is that MR combines the process of being somewhere with the process, generally, of being at your computer and connected to the Internet. There’s no guarantee that the ability to access information about something anywhere will stop at the ability to access information directly relevant to the spot that you’re at.

        I’m one of the pseudo-Luddites who uses technology a lot for a lot of things but still values the ability to go “off the grid” at times, and mediated reality technology has the potential to create much stronger pressure to stay on the grid. Just like cell phones, by making it possible to stay in touch more often, began to make it a requirement to stay in touch more often in many jobs, so I think MR tech would begin to make it a requirement to stay plugged in all the time to catch e-mails in the corner of your eye while eating lunch.

        This is one reason I still don’t have a cell phone, so I can if I choose strictly divide my time between time I make myself available to others and time that I don’t. And just as with cell phones I think if visual-overlay eyewear became the style I’d end up not buying one and having to explain why I don’t have one any time someone asks me about it.

        I suppose in this sense I value “inbound subjectright”, or the right to decide how much I am to be communicated to by others. I don’t think it’s an absolute right, but I think it’s a right that’s being culturally eroded and I’m not sure exactly what to do about it.

        • Re: Luddism

          Well, this “inbound subjectright” is actually what this technology is supposed to defend. Right now if you are walking down the street and there is an ugly objectionable advertisement, you have no choice but to look at it. If you have a wearable computer on, however, the computer can discard it as spam, and make the billboard display your e-mail, or a waterfall. With mediated reality, you can discard the useless junk, and make your perception into art. Check out the pictures on his website of art created with wearable computers.

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