Who"s davidlian?

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davidlian is an ultra-geeky chinese dude that works for a technology PR agency. He loves fiddling with techno-toys, plays Warhammer 40K, and shoots pictures wherever he goes. Here, he rants about PR, Technology and anything else. Don't expect balance and un-biased, he ain't no journalist. Anything said on this blog are solely davidlian's personal views. Don't confuse them with company mantra, client's views or views of any organisation he may be part of.


Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Working in a mixed reality?

The lunch address at WCIT 2008 Day 2 was by far better than the rest of the morning.

This really smart chap from Fuji Xerox - Dr. Lawrence A. Rowe from the famed FX Palo Alto Laboratory - spoke about working in the "Mixed Reality World." Now, I know the discussion of Virtual Worlds is old and flogged to death, but one point that Dr. Rowe made gave me pause for some thought. Mixed Realities.

I love Twitter. I've made up with Facebook. I confide to my GMail. And carefully lug around my N95 and (now) Eee PC. And I'm not just me. There's a good number of people who are 'me' too. Some are colleagues whose late night drinking escapades I follow on Facebook. Some are friends, getting married and sharing the experience with Flickr. Then the clients, which pop up in my Inbox the whole day. My world is within my arms reach again; but the virtual isn't everything.

Mixed Realities. That's a great point. It's easy to get carried away with the Web 2.0 "bubble"(?) and think the future's gonna be about brains networked wirelessly. But it isn't and the challenge is always going to be "how do you tie back what's real to what's virtual?" At some point, you have to get real.

I liked an example Dr. Rowe used. In Second Life, there's a virtual Capitol Hill where you can attend lectures being actually made in the real Capitol. Real-time, real-life streaming. And I thought, that sounds really interesting - could we maybe have a Virtual Parliament that streams the real-life parliament?

The thinking is that we then need to examine where the virtual ends in each application. My job makes me really reliant on email, but there's a point when its handed-off to meeting real people and connecting in the real world. It's interesting because simple virtual realities like email means that you "virtually" meet a prospective customer via email before travelling half-way across the globe to seal the deal.

It's formulaic but different for each person. Your quotient for the mixed reality differs based on your work, your culture and who you are.

But further thinking, and advancements in technology could tip this formula. Would it, for example, be possible to hold an entire parliament sitting virtually in Second Life? Or maybe on a smaller scale, a press conference?

Whatever the case, the invasion of technology in our lives must make us think: "what's my reality again?" I can assure you, it's mixed.

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