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Todd Suomela

Jaron Lanier on VR and empathy - the double-edged sword | Digital Bodies - 0 views

  • What Lanier doesn’t say here – though he is well aware of the issue from his work on social media – is that the way content production is funded will impact how VR is used.

    In social media, the loudest voices get promoted through the algorithms (and get the views). We’ve been fortunate in the early stages of VR that the medium has been in the hands of artists who care deeply about humanity. They’ve been self-funded, backed by grants from film festivals and other organizations, and relied on a lot of goodwill.

    That’s not a sustainable environment for creating immersive content. VR content is not going to be free but outside of specific professional areas (e.g., medical education) and corporate use (eg., Wal-Mart’s training program) we don’t have a working business model. Resolving this issue is not just a business question – it’s a content question. It will directly shape the types of virtual environments and experiences we’ll have in the future.

    Lanier makes the point in another interview on UnDark,

    Let’s suppose that after Gutenberg, there was this movement to say all books must be free. Nobody can charge for a book. But it’s okay for books to have advertisements. What we would have ended up with is advertisers determining what books there were.

Todd Suomela

the mass defunding of higher education that's yet to come - the ANOVA - 0 views

  • I am increasingly convinced that a mass defunding of public higher education is coming to an unprecedented degree and at an unprecedented scale. People enjoy telling me that this has already occurred, as if I am not sufficiently informed about higher education to know that state support of our public universities has declined precipitously. But things can always get worse, much worse. And given the endless controversies on college campuses of conservative speakers getting shut out and conservative students feeling silenced, and given how little the average academic seems to care about appealing to the conservative half of this country, the PR work is being done for the enemies of public education by those within the institutions themselves. And the GOP has already shown a great knack for using claims of bias against academia, particularly given the American yen for austerity.
  • But his critics can’t see something that, for all of his myopia, he always has: that our political divide is increasingly bound up in a set of class associations and signals that have little to do with conspicuous consumption and everything to do with a style of self-performance that few people ever talk about but everyone understands. It is the ability to give such a performance convincingly that, in part, people buy with their tuition dollars.

    That this condition makes egalitarian politics a part of elite class formation has gone little discussed in my political home, the radical left. I have been excited to see a recent groundswell of young left-aligned people, and many of them are bright and committed. But almost none of them seem aware of the fact that their ironic Twitter accounts and cultural references and received opinions on all manner of political issues are as sure a sign of their class identity as a pair of wingtips and a blazer once was. And until and unless they understand how powerfully alienated the great mass of this country is from their social culture, we cannot hope to build a mass left-wing movement and with it do good things like defend public education. I agree: it’s the economy, stupid, and we must appeal to them by making the case that things like universal free college are good. But if recent political history tells us anything it’s that no economic policy, no matter how sensible, can win if its proponents refuse to grapple with the politics of resentment. The left, broadly, has not done a good job of that. The professoriate? My god.

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