Re: Language and thoughts

Stephen de Vries (
Wed, 13 Nov 1996 12:39:37 GMT2

On Mon, 11 Nov 1996 Walter Wlodarski wrote:

> Stephen de Vries wrote:
> >Another huge leap in improving
> >communication will happen when
> >we start using VR technology as a
> >comm. tool by writing in 3D.
> I'm not so sure of that. A researcher at Palo Alto's research center
> told to Wired Magazine:
> "In its ultimate environment, VR causes the
> computer to become effectively invisible by taking over the human
> sensory and affector systems. VR is extremely useful in scientific
> visualization and entertainment, and will be very significant for
> those niches. But as a tool for productively changing everyone's
> relationship to computation, it has two crucial flaws. First, at the
> present time [1992], and probably for decades, it cannot produce a
> simulation of significant verisimilitude at reasonable cost. That
> means that users will not be fooled and the computer will not be out
> of the way. Second, and most importantly, it has the goal of fooling
> the user - of leaving the everyday physical world behind. This is at
> odds with the goal of better integrating the computer into human
> activities, since humans are of and in the everyday world."
> [WIRED 2.02: "PARC Is Back!" by Howard Rheingold]

To use VR as a comm. tool it doesn't need to be much more advanced
than it is at the moment. Having an extra dimension in 3D as opposed
to 2D "writing" lets us use the extra dimension to represent more
information, eg. closer to you might be earlier, while further away
is later. This allows us to arrange info in a more meaningful
and intuitive way.
The minimum requirements for this setup are:
a navigable 3D environment with moderate resolution (1024 X 768).
a way of hanging documents, movie clips and sound in this
Current VRML specs are very close to achieving this.

> >As more of our communication moves
> >to the electronic platform,
> >written speech will become less
> >important, less productive and more
> >of a subset of communication
> >than it's very backbone.
> When telephone was invented, many predicted that mail would disapear.
> It didn't.
> When radio was invented, many predicted that newspapers and books would
> disapear. It didn't.
> Now that numerical communication appears, you predict that written
> communication will fade away. I'm septic.
> I never wrote so much since I use a computer!

Agreed, maybe I did not emphasize my last phrase enough. I think
that written speech will become a subset of our communication which
incorporates sound, images and writing. It will definetely not
disappear (not soon anyway).

> >Parallel-non linear languages
> >will free
> >our minds from a thousands year old
> >thinking paradigm, making
> >thinking and communicating
> >a much more liquid experience
> It seems to me that communication tend to be more a serial process than
> thinking (or thinking more parallel than communicating). Ideally, we should have
> specific languages for communicating and different ones for thinking.

If we think parrallely, it would be a great advantage to be able to
communicate in this way as well. Computer networks work best if the
connections are digital, since computers think digitally.
Stephen de Vries
- Challenge the guardians of the possible -