Monday, October 10, 2005

What is an Idea in a Computer?

I'm really working on something in the back of my mind. Some kind of connection, some kind of explanation for the way ideas, speech, and freedom interact, and the ways that we can use technology to further those interactions.

The ideas are fomenting in my mind, but all revolve around communication, for suitably wide definitions of "communication".

Here is something related to it. Click on the pictures - see it. Imagine walking by it or - as is more usually the case where it lives - flying by it. What an appealing little building! I can't imagine just flying by unless I was in a big hurry. It's a building you want to enter!

Chip, the author, is smack-on about the strengths and weaknesses of the design. But he's looking at the building from a different angle than I am.

Regardless of how attractive the building is, once I get inside and find it selling footwear, I'm disenchanted.

Obviously, the primary drive is, in fact, to sell footwear. He doesn't lose a paying customer when he disenchants me. There's certainly a place for that, I don't begrudge it. But I, of course, am thinking about what I would like to see.

A whole world to explore. And by "explore", I mean "wonder about" rather than "wander about". Going into the SecondLife business district and you'll see a zillion shops that sell clothes, footwear, nightlife, etc. These places mean nothing to me, save as a barometer for economics and social norms.

The buildings which are interesting - and the people who are interesting - are the ones which don't fit into my experience. Buildings which cannot exist, buildings which serve unusual purposes. Buildings shaped in ways I've never seen before. Buildings which sell things I've never seen and can barely comprehend. This gets steadily more difficult the more I see.

Buildings are, in their way, better than people. People are restricted organisms. Even the friendliest people are often unavailable and never fully plumbable. A building is always open, always plumbable. A society is made of buildings and products - the people in the society are represented by what they make. Architecture is central to virtual worlds... but "architecture" is a word which means so very little. An architect designs a house. But what about the giant, inhabitable statue? What about a robot? Wings? The avatar itself? They're all built using the same tools, the same tenets. They are all simply forms of speech, in the language of this virtual world.

There's something hidden in this. Something I don't quite understand yet.

Something about duplication, mutation, theft, and teaching. I'll figure it out.


Chip Poutine said...

An excellent post.

I find myself fumbling somewhat, in that the builds reviewed to date are to varying degrees transformative notions of architecture as it currently exists, but most are far from breaking out and really exploring possbilitities inherent to the medium.

As a means to initiate a broader discussion I'm looking to point out positive examples of builds that appear to be moving in the right direction, namely an intentional (or unintentional) attempt to communicate on an experiential level that seems appropriate to the circumstance of SL.

Craig Perko said...

That's good, but I would probably choose to also highlight buildings which are communicating in ways inappropriate to SL, but still intriguing.

As a side note, I have to do word verification to leave a comment ON MY OWN BLOG. Blogger's got to implement this thing better.