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The Future of Reality

Category: Center for the Future Of Museums Blog

I highly recommend this talk, When Games Invade Real Life, by Jesse Schell . It’s worth taking half an hour to plonk yourself down with a soda and let him blow your mind.

Museum-ers will find this lecture particularly heartening because, contrary to the standard drumbeat of “the future is virtual,” Jesse argues that technology is going to help us reconnect with the real world. A interface with the physical world and real friends, he points out, is the defining characteristic of the most popular recent games (Guitar Hero), toys (Furbies) and social media time-sucks (Farmville, Mafia Wars). Even the blockbuster movie Avatar was a fantasy about using technology as a portal to migrate to a more authentic, primal world.

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The beginning of the talk takes an interesting look at how people are monetizing virtual participation in non-intuitive (& extremely lucrative) ways. Worth thinking about how this could apply to museum pricing and incentives.

Mid-way thru Jesse digresses into an argument against the wide-spread belief that all electronic gadgetry will converge (basically a setup for a pretty funny slam of the iPAD.) Stick with it though, as he proceeds to paint a mind-bending picture of a hyper-interconnected world in which all objects (from your cereal to a bus) can interact with you and influence your behavior (what you eat for breakfast, how you get to work). This could be a force for good (promoting walking or public transportation) or evil (encouraging people to reap rewards for drinking soda or watching television ads). When he gets to interactive digital ad-based tattoos, though, he starts freakin’ me out…

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