Re: VR: Art vs. Culture (was: Some Questions About Thinking)

Andrew C. Esh (
Fri, 24 Mar 1995 15:28:50 -0600 (CST)

On Fri, 24 Mar 1995, Kenneth C. Jenks wrote:

> Jon Russell ( asked:
> >Doesn't a visual representation of an object over come cultural and
> >language problems by being language independent ??
> Language problems, yes, but not cultural problems. If you use a trash
> can ("dust bin" to you, Jon) to represent a place to discard things, a
> person from another culture might see a round metal storage container,
> which is correct, in a way, but could lead to misinterpretation.
> As a further example, what structure do you visualize when I say the
> word "home?" For someone like me from the American suburbs, it might
> be a single-familty dwelling with a sloping roof and a driveway. To an
> inner city youth, it's more likely an apartment. To someone from a
> village in the tropics, it might be a multi-family structure with a
> thatched or tin roof. There aren't too many homeless people using the
> Internet, but it might have a different meaning to them. So if you're
> designing a VR construct which allows the user to teleport back to a
> "home state," what should the construct look like? A single family
> dwelling with a sloping roof and a driveway? That shows cultural
> jingoism, and it doesn't match the picture of "home" for most of the
> people in the world. (I vote for ruby slippers, but that's just me.
> Someone from another culture may not even catch the reference to
> Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz.)
> Visual representation is very culturally dependent. Ask any
> photographer or artist. In fact, a culture's art says a lot about that
> culture.

Precisely why we can't be concerned with trying to predict what VRML will
be used for. Maybe we should allow the end user to choose what they want
their home place to look like. Mine will look like my house (or one I
would like to live in :) ). If I am VRsiting (VR visiting) a friend of mine,
I'd be disapptointed if his/her home place looked just like mine.

When they developed HTML, they didn't specify that home pages have to have
any certain sort of look. Method versus Content. Let's provide the former,
and lets the users provide the latter, but let's do it soon.

Andrew C. Esh       
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