Computers have changed our lives; with virtual reality, they will change our very experience, re-creating it in an image of our choosing. That, at least, is what the champions of virtual reality claim. It will not simply reshape our view of technology, they say, but our view of ourselves and the world we live in. It is about the increasing power of information technology to create simulated environments, new universes that are neither actual nor fictional, but somewhere in between: virtual.
In virtual worlds, Benjamin Woolley examines the reality of virtual reality. He looks at the dramatic intellectual and cultural upheavals that gave birth to it, at the hype that surrounds it, at the people who have promoted it, and at the dramatic implications of its development. Virtual reality is not simply a technology, it is a way of thinking created and promoted by a group of technologists and thinkers that sees itself as creating our future. Virtual Worlds reveals the politics and culture of these virtual realists, and examines whether they are creating reality, or losing their grasp of it.
The author introduced the idea of virtual reality to Britain with his coverage of the subject for The Listener magazine in 1988 and in an item which he presented for BBC2’s arts and culture programme The Late Show in 1989. As well as being a correspondent for The Late Show and writing ‘Signs of Life,’ an edition of Horizon on the use of computers to study and simulate life forms, he has also contributed to a number of national newspapers and magazines on technology, design and the arts.
Benjamin Woolley won the 1992 BP Arts Journalism television award.