Re: VR: Art vs. Culture

Claude L. Bullard (
Tue, 28 Mar 1995 10:41:06 -0500


| IMHO... Yes it does any communication between two alien cultures has to
| be started by common terms of referance, these are usually visual.

Visual reference is *usual* probably because so much of the human
brain is dedicated to processing it. It is a very complex activity. Smell is
actually more evocative to memory and audio is more common when dynamic
semantic bases are involved. On the Voyager plaque, both visual and audio are
used as an attempt to initiate communication between *VeryAlienCultures*.
While visual is a very broad band communication sense, it is augmented and even
replaced in primacy in some environments and species. Its ambiguity factor is
high and contributes to the entropy of a system in which it is used unless tuned to
the user base. Communication among a single species takes advantage of
common physical characteristics that enable common experience. Communication
between different species usually requires combinations of visual, auditory and
olfactory cues, for example, dolphins, dogs, etc. are trained by all three.
Communication is predicated on training which is typically bi-directional
and negotiated. This is a significant factor for agent systems.

I think the comment you make about a common global culture is
apt yet we ARE still living in multiple environments and that is not to
be ignored as it leads to loss of creativity and evolutionary drive.
Who is the stronger artisan, one that performs a single style, or one
who reaches out and fuses multiple styles to create a unique and
individual style? The first preserves historical artifacts; the second
contributes to the language. Both have a role to play, but the latter
is historically more significant because the variation contributes to
the evolution of the next generation. The former stabilizes it but it
is change that is noted more often than the lack of it.

Given the severe restrictions on resources, and the freeware basis of WWW
development at this time, this community is justified in restricting the user interface
development to reasonably effective symbol sets. 100% coverage is probably not
possible or desirable. Missing sets will be added by those cultures who have the
need and the resources to do so. A long discussion about this has gone on in
comp-text-sgml as the review and revision of the international standard approaches.
It is not the responsibility of every developer to support every symbol set, but it is the
responsibility of the standards developer to ensure that the sets can be expanded.

This said, I'm unsure what immediate impact this has on VRML which as I understand
it, deals with geometric representation which is reasonably universal. In my questions
that started this thread, I was asking about the effectiveness of VR as
a command interface. In this role, I believe it is not efficient at this time else
the Packard Bell system and many game systems would not be text and audio labelling
VR objects. As Mark Pesce pointed out to me, it requires "wisdom" to apply well.

Like the artisan example, it will develop as the tools become common enough for
practicioners to fuse the styles. Using text labels is one kind of fusion. Audio
labels are another. Smell? Oh I hope not. |-)

Len Bullard (living in the future because the past was a success)