Dawn of the New Everything: Encounters with Reality and Virtual Reality

Dawn of the New Everything: Encounters with Reality and Virtual Reality

The father of virtual reality explains its dazzling possibilities by reflecting on his own lifelong relationship with technology.Bridging the gap between tech mania and the experience of being inside the human body, Jaron Lanier has written a three-pronged adventure into "virtual reality," by exposing its ability to illuminate and amplify our understanding of our species....

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Title:Dawn of the New Everything: Encounters with Reality and Virtual Reality
Author:Jaron Lanier
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Dawn of the New Everything: Encounters with Reality and Virtual Reality Reviews

  • Blake Williford

    I thoroughly enjoyed this read. Having already read Lanier's other two books You Are Not a Gadget and Who Owns the Future, I'm very familiar with his humanist views on technology and the questionable ethics of how technology is being implemented in our current age - But Lanier is also the pioneer of Virtual Reality and in this book he reveals his incredible and bizarre life story. From raising goats and living in a geodesic dome of his own design in rural New Mexico, to making his way to a young

    I thoroughly enjoyed this read. Having already read Lanier's other two books You Are Not a Gadget and Who Owns the Future, I'm very familiar with his humanist views on technology and the questionable ethics of how technology is being implemented in our current age - But Lanier is also the pioneer of Virtual Reality and in this book he reveals his incredible and bizarre life story. From raising goats and living in a geodesic dome of his own design in rural New Mexico, to making his way to a young Silicon Valley where he and a ragtag group of hippie hackers developed the first VR company and VR systems - It's a really fun read.

    Though Lanier is a computer scientist, composer, artist, philosopher and arguably one of the most brilliant people alive, his writing style is accessible and not overly technical. His thoughts meander a good bit but in to humorous territory, and he stays relatively focused and bounces between his life story and his thoughts on VR.

    I would consider this (and his other books) required reading if you even remotely consider yourself a technologist or work in technology. We are forging ahead too quickly, blindly, and stupidly and building an unsustainable surveillance economy which does not empower people - Awareness is the most important thing for changing it, and Lanier is a refreshing dose of badly needed humanism. He continues that trend in this book as he discusses the true promise of technology - Making us more connected, more empathic, more empowered, and building an egalitarian society where everyone benefits from it.

  • Antonio Gallo

    Che cos’è la realtà? La risposta presuppone la conoscenza dei “luoghi”, reali e virtuali, nei quali ogni giorno viviamo e che crediamo di conoscere abbastanza. Purtroppo, ahimè, alla fine, ci accorgiamo che quella che abbiamo vissuto, non è quella realtà che abbiamo pensato. Infatti, nessuno è venuto a dirci, almeno finora, cosa c’è “oltre” di essa. Il “dopo”, per intenderci. Per non parlare poi del “prima”.

    Se le cose stanno così, parlare di “realtà virtuale” potrebbe sembrare una provocazione,

    Che cos’è la realtà? La risposta presuppone la conoscenza dei “luoghi”, reali e virtuali, nei quali ogni giorno viviamo e che crediamo di conoscere abbastanza. Purtroppo, ahimè, alla fine, ci accorgiamo che quella che abbiamo vissuto, non è quella realtà che abbiamo pensato. Infatti, nessuno è venuto a dirci, almeno finora, cosa c’è “oltre” di essa. Il “dopo”, per intenderci. Per non parlare poi del “prima”.

    Se le cose stanno così, parlare di “realtà virtuale” potrebbe sembrare una provocazione, un non senso. Invece, la RV sembra essere diventata un argomento utile per leggere il futuro. Questo libro, appena uscito, cerca di dare delle risposte a questo interrogativo. Nei ventuno capitoli con le tre appendici si possono leggere una cinquantina di definizioni di cosa l’autore intende con RV.

    Se fate una ricerca in rete scoprirete che Google vi proporrà milioni di risposte. Eccone alcune: “una tecnologia mediatica per la quale misurare è più importante che apparire”. Oppure “quella tecnologia che evidenzia l’esperienza”, o ancora “un simulatore che addestra a fare guerra informativa”. Tutto e di più, come si può immaginare, specialmente in questo momento in cui i media sono sempre in primo piano a far rumore. Come è logico che facciano: è il loro mestiere.

    L’autore di questo libro, di cui ho letto diversi estratti e recensioni, è uno che nella Silicon Valley sin dal 1984 si è occupato di realtà virtuale con quelle famose cuffie. Ora lavora alla Microsoft. Ha scritto diversi libri i cui titoli “Tu non sei un aggeggio” (2010) e “Chi è il padrone del futuro?” segnalano il suo pensiero nei confronti del potere monopolistico delle grandi multinazionali, i colossi della “high tech”.

    Questo libro è importante non solo e non tanto per quanto riguarda la RV, quanto per comprendere dove siamo arrivati, la strada che abbiamo percorso finora per arrivarci e dove siamo diretti. Egli scrive che un tempo, solo una ventina di anni fa, nella Silicon Valley si pensava che il mondo potesse essere “migliorato”, creando un tipo di potere che sarebbe stato più importante del denaro. Per fare questo era necessario che il “software” fosse libero, come l’aria o il sesso.

    A distanza di una ventina di anni, i colossi della tecnologia sono soltanto tre, il web è meno caotico di quando nacque, è più strutturato, ma i risultati non sono quelli sperati. L’ossessione del “libero e gratis” ha quasi distrutto il mercato musicale, le grandi aziende tech globali resistono a qualsiasi tipo di condizionamento locale, senza essere responsabili di quello che fanno con le loro potenti piattaforme. Si preoccupano più per il tempo che i loro visitatori/clienti trascorrono su di esse, piuttosto che della qualità dei prodotti che offrono ed essi consumano.

    Faron Lenier sembra piuttosto fiducioso non tanto negli algoritmi, quanto sul fattore umano che deve essere il centro di Internet. Cosa significa allora, in una realtà come questa, la “realtà virtuale”? Va detto subito che questa non potrà mai avere lo stesso successo dei cellulari, ma avrà la sua influenza. Si svilupperanno ambienti generati al computer in maniera da riproporre la realtà per fini specifici quali ad esempio, la medicina, la formazione, i servizi sociali.

    Bisogna però fare attenzione a non manipolare i suoi utenti. Bisognerà stare attenti a “non ingabbiare i naviganti all’interno di un annuncio pubblicitario”. E’ chiaro, comunque, sin da ora, che la RV si diffonderà dopo che ci saremo sempre di più abituati ad usare al meglio, (e non al peggio!), tutto l’armamentario dei nuovi media, e sapremo come non farci manipolare.

    Potremo così, almeno dare una migliore definizione della stessa RV: “Un’anticipazione di quello che sarà la realtà quando la tecnologia migliorerà”. Ed è un fatto certo, la tecnologia migliora di giorno in giorno sia che essa dipenda dai tecnici che la usano che dalla capacità della società umana a farne quello che vorrà.

  • Tonstant Weader

    To many people, Jaron Lanier is the father of virtual reality. He coined the term in its contemporary usage though points to an older, literary use. Lanier is a credit-sharer, not a credit-grabber, so this memoir of his childhood, early work and years at VPL Research, Inc. is full of sharing the credit with mentors and collaborators. Lanier, though, is not your typical Silicon Valley entrepreneur/coder/inventor.

    First and foremost, Lanier is a humanist. Much of that may come from his unconvention

    To many people, Jaron Lanier is the father of virtual reality. He coined the term in its contemporary usage though points to an older, literary use. Lanier is a credit-sharer, not a credit-grabber, so this memoir of his childhood, early work and years at VPL Research, Inc. is full of sharing the credit with mentors and collaborators. Lanier, though, is not your typical Silicon Valley entrepreneur/coder/inventor.

    First and foremost, Lanier is a humanist. Much of that may come from his unconventional childhood. He lost his mother in a car accident when he was young. He grew up in New Mexico in a house his father allowed him to design (geodesic, sort of). He was taking college classes before he graduated high school. In fact, he never graduated. Much of his life reads like Hunter S. Thompson without the drugs and misogyny. Wild, free, spontaneous, and on the edge, that was his life, but it was a life of learning, always thinking, always learning.

    He talks about the development of virtual reality and computers. He also explains why he does not fear the singularity because he does not believe in artificial intelligence. He explains why VR is the anti-AI. In fact, he has fifty-two definitions of VR which is, of course, the “new everything.” He believes that as we develop technology, we also develop, that machines will not outpace us.

    He is full of opinions that reflect his humanism. He thinks the “weightlessness” of the internet leads to the fakery, fraud, theft, and vile abusiveness that is so common. Folks do not have to invest themselves and that lets them be their worst selves. There, I am sure he is right.

    What the heck did I just read? That’s kind of how I have felt all through reading Dawn of the New Everything. I enjoyed every minute of it, but it was a wild ride. I don’t have the background to make this an easy read. I don’t code. I know how to make bold and italic text, but that’s about it. Even simple things like hyperlinks, I have to look at a sample. So, this is a book that I expected to take me out of my comfort zone. It did more than that.

    There’s a stream of consciousness kind of speed and spontaneity to the text. It feels like it was spoken, not written. Perhaps it was. More than anything, though, it was sort of hallucinogenic. I might not understand it all, but it’s all original. His major theme is that we need to center computing and technology on humanity, not on the technology for the sake of technology. Technology should be contoured to humanity and not seek to shape humanity to its contours.

    Lanier sees risk in technology if it is produced without empathy, but also sees tremendous potential for technology, particularly virtual reality, to create empathy. I enjoyed this book very much even though it was a challenge and took me far too long to read it.

    I received an e-galley of Dawn of the New Everything from the publisher through NetGalley. There were no photos or illustrations in the e-galley but I have paged through the released version and it’s full of pictures.

    Dawn of the New Everything at Macmillan / Henry Holt & Co.

    Jaron Lanier author site

    Interview with Business Insider

  • Peter O'Kelly

    A review and interview to consider:

  • Justin Martin

    If there's such a thing as a gentle, nuanced siren - an electric light show that knocks on your door wanting to sit down for tea - this is that book. Lanier uses both a soft light and a hard light to revisit his time in Silicon Valley pioneering virtual reality, and really walked me through how his successes, failures, and needs in his childhood paved the way for the best and worst decisions of his VR demigodhood.

    I can't think of a nonfiction book that has given me more to think about - called

    If there's such a thing as a gentle, nuanced siren - an electric light show that knocks on your door wanting to sit down for tea - this is that book. Lanier uses both a soft light and a hard light to revisit his time in Silicon Valley pioneering virtual reality, and really walked me through how his successes, failures, and needs in his childhood paved the way for the best and worst decisions of his VR demigodhood.

    I can't think of a nonfiction book that has given me more to think about - called me out more, but also been gentle with me - than this one. A bit sloppily written in an effort to make most things meaningful and chronological, but he addresses it. This is a book you can do things with, one that sends you spelunking down a path rather than conning you into satisfaction with a single postcard.

    Its most radical claim is that even in VR - as a crab, as a cloud, as a man with three hands - you still feel as if you are tethered to a root of stability and psychological contiguity. You are still you, and "you" turns out to be less than you thought - your body may not matter - and more than you thought, because your you survives even in a simulated mermaid.

    Good stuff. Need time to digest.

  • Rj

    Lanier's book is an autobiography that looks at his life and career, but as the father of VR it also is an explanation about how VR developed. It is a look at a fascinating individual and how his unique way of seeing the world informed the technology that he helped develop.

    "New York City amplified you right back at yourself, a giant parabolic mirror. As your walked down the street you made eye contact and exchanged subconscious signals with thousands of people. You dove into the densest hub of

    Lanier's book is an autobiography that looks at his life and career, but as the father of VR it also is an explanation about how VR developed. It is a look at a fascinating individual and how his unique way of seeing the world informed the technology that he helped develop.

    "New York City amplified you right back at yourself, a giant parabolic mirror. As your walked down the street you made eye contact and exchanged subconscious signals with thousands of people. You dove into the densest hub of ages. If you were looking for trouble, there it was. Or love, or mutual adoration, or pitiful falls from grace." 67

    "There's something about the 1970s that's hard to convey to younger people unless they have visited China recently. The air used to be a cauldron of poison. When you entered Manhattan, the texture of everything looked and smelled different because of the pollution." 69

    "Manhattan was no place to be poor or depressed. The city pounced on negativity; all of it and then threw some back on you." 70

    "There was also an interior problem with activism. You start to find your own worth in the cause, and that's too narrow a formulation. Activists start to fudge a little to reinforce each other. You pretend you're having more impact than you really are, and that you agree more than you really do." 79

    "L.A. was a cypher....L.A. never yielded to intuition, maybe because it was so enveloped in fantasies, both mine and everyone else's.

    That's not all it was enveloped in L.A. was polluted like New York, but with a distinct stench. New York was diesel, urine, cement and metal dusts from construction, moments of heavy perfume from people who walked by L.A. was car exhausts. The toxic vapours of New York came from other people, but in L.A. they came from you. The back of your throat stung; it felt like millions of people being cooked in bad oil in a giant frying pan." 82-83

    "L.A. at large was depressing. Millions of people allowing their fantasy lives to turn their real lives into shit." 83

    "The texture of life changed. Beforehand I was a weightless rolling stone. When you're a massless particle, you are light; the world exposes impressions as you flash through." 91

    "If I'm not great at remembering events, faces or sequences, how do I know my life? I remember experiences in terms of ideas; how a story I lived through illuminated a deeper question. My experiences become allegories. "112

  • Jim Nail

    I really don’t know how to review this book, it is so completely removed from the life I have lived. But I read every word of it, understood some of it, and learned a lot about the world as it is and where it is going. If, like me, you are a boomer who followed the hippie dream and paid no attention to the technical revolution going on at the same time, you might benefit from reading Jaron Lanier. He links the two dreams of the 60s with a passionate humanism that guides his innovative work and t

    I really don’t know how to review this book, it is so completely removed from the life I have lived. But I read every word of it, understood some of it, and learned a lot about the world as it is and where it is going. If, like me, you are a boomer who followed the hippie dream and paid no attention to the technical revolution going on at the same time, you might benefit from reading Jaron Lanier. He links the two dreams of the 60s with a passionate humanism that guides his innovative work and thought. If you are feeling terrified by the future, you might find some comfort here.

  • Orsayor

    Informative Read. Usually not my cup of tea - but I do believe if you are interested in Virtual Reality - then this is the book for you.

  • Fraser Kinnear

    Well, I learned a lot about VR (e.g., why we'll never have floating holograms, VR programming concerns like latency, and the pros and cons of various interfaces). Lanier has a pretty rosy perspective of how the tech will develop, and why our experience with VR will be much more creative and positive than the existing opinion about video games and social media. Much of this book is memiors from a wild, alternative Bay-Area lifestyle. For better or for worse, there is a ton of name dropping (why e

    Well, I learned a lot about VR (e.g., why we'll never have floating holograms, VR programming concerns like latency, and the pros and cons of various interfaces). Lanier has a pretty rosy perspective of how the tech will develop, and why our experience with VR will be much more creative and positive than the existing opinion about video games and social media. Much of this book is memiors from a wild, alternative Bay-Area lifestyle. For better or for worse, there is a ton of name dropping (why else does one write a memior?), and some fun academic gossip / oral history, like this:

    Actually, far more interesting than the VR stuff was Lanier's various opinions about the culture and technology of tech today. While some of his opinions are curmudgeonly/didactic (e.g., the critique of programming today not being the same as his hey-dey, because he was writing code all the way down to the chip level) or economically naive (we ought to switch the internet economy over to a micro-payment system to replace today's data-hoarding/advertising business model), there are a lot of pretty great gems. Here's a decent list of quotes:

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