We Feel Fine in Virtual Reality

Filed as Features, General on March 29, 2007 6:00 am

When was the last time you used a phone book? How do you find where some place is in a new city? How do you check a fact quickly? Where is your dictionary? I spend a lot of time online doing things. I have for years. That’s so 1990s.

This week I talked to a man in Nairobi. He’s working to save the last 700 mountain gorillas. I spoke to a young man in New Jersey who made his first business cards about his is first ebook cover. I helped a woman in Singapore who’s becoming a healthcare professional.

I’ve realized something.

We starting to live online. We don’t just leave comments. We don’t just pass disjointed sentences in chat rooms. We talk about dreams for the future. We talk about how to make the world better. We tell stories. We commiserate over our faults and share our glories. We give support in emergencies. Sometimes we even tell our deepest feelings.

We feel fine.

Jonathan Harris and Sep Kamvar saw it long before I did.

They captured real people talking, thinking, sharing feelings in real time on the Internet. How much closer to reality can you get than that?

open-we-feel-fine.Jpg

Real people answering back.

Every day I see my friends. We talk. We think. We share our feelings.

I say I live inside their computers.

We are in virtual reality.

Liz Strauss, writes her thoughts and dreams, and tells stories on Successful-Blog.

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  1. By AngryToxicologist posted on March 29, 2007 at 6:29 am
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    Kathy Sierra doesn’t feel fine.

    Discussions about how to change the world don’t involve many moderates, or the elderly, or the poor.

    People are less likely to connect with those in their own neighborhoods. Trends in America show increased feelings of isolation, and fear of people in their neighborhoods, especially among those online more often.

    Not saying this isn’t really good for some people, but there are serious questions about what this is doing to society (especially small society-your neighborhood,…ETC)

  2. By Char posted on March 29, 2007 at 6:29 am
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    Liz – we do live in our computers and it feels just fine to me!

    I have my “real life” friends and we get together for coffee or walks, we talk about our kids and stuff going on in our community, but I need my time with my online friends just as much.

    My online community feeds my brain in a different way. My online community teaches me something new everyday. And my online friends are just as real as the ones I take walks with.

    I did have to use a phone book the other day. It was weird, but I did it.

  3. By Liz Strauss posted on March 29, 2007 at 6:56 am
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    Hi Angry Toxicologist,,
    I think you might not have gone to look at the sociological work called “We Feel Fine.” It records all feelings, not only good ones.

    I in no one intended to discount the horrible feelings caused by the incident you mention. I felt disgusted and sickened myself. But I couldn’t change the name of the project to reflect that incident.

    It’s true. People living longer, staying single longer, and other factors contribute to making this the loneliest time in recent history. I’ve done the research myself.

    I do hope you’ll deeper into what this project is tracking. It’s not about touchy-feely happy good thoughts. It’s about recording what feelings are currenting being set down on the Internet.

    Thank you for giving me your real opinion. I appreciate the respect and I value it greatly.
    Liz

  4. By Liz Strauss posted on March 29, 2007 at 7:00 am
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    Hi Char!
    I learn something new from my online friends every day too. It’s as if the Internet is becoming the adult university that I’ve always wished for when I’ve said, “They should change it so that folks have to wait to got to university until they’re over 40.”

    So many of my online friends have become also offline friends. I feel so lucky in that respect. I also hope to make that true of you officially when I’m out your way for my son’s college graduation in May after SOBCon 07.
    Liz

  5. By AngryToxicologist posted on March 29, 2007 at 7:30 am
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    Liz,
    I did check out We Feel Fine. I neglected to mention that I thought it was great and interesting project.

    To elaborate my point, it seems to me that we are setting up a virtual and seperate reality. One where we can share our feelings, work out problems,…ETC. This is great, no doubt about it. However, our virtual reality doesn’t seem to be engineered to be integrated with our actual reality. It’s so much easier to share and discuss virtually; we can turn off who we want, turn on who we want, and consequently open up with out fear of embarrisment. The barriers are lower but so are the rewards of doing this online. This is speculation, but I think that these lowered barriers make it harder to do all these things in real life, where there are consequences, and we can’t as easily find people who agree with us, where we are challenged in ways we can’t be online, or there are risks of rejection. The rewards are obvious to anyone with a close friend.

    All this is to say, I’d like to see more projects/sites/whatever that feel like they are channeling all this great positive and negative energy into our real lives. Crossing the line into the real makes it less likely to have hateful and extreme speech.
    Your second paragraph mentions interactions that inhabit both worlds, I’d like to see that happen more often, harnessing the obvious attraction and power behind sites like We feel fine.
    Not really angry,
    AngryToxicologist

  6. By Liz Strauss posted on March 29, 2007 at 12:48 pm
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    Hi (Not really angry) AngryToxicologist,
    Okay I understand more now. I think that more of us have to realize that we’re actually in a reality and not just typing before we can start bringing the two together. It’s slowly happening as we meet each other on the phone and in person and as more people come online to see what it’s about.

    I find your spectulation interesting and I think I’ll be back to visit it more than once over the next few days to think about it — how the lowered barriers and the increase in people will make things harder.

    I’d like to get to know you better. :)
    Liz

  7. By Renée posted on March 30, 2007 at 10:26 am
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    Hi Liz!

    I helped a woman in Singapore who’s becoming a healthcare professional.

    I bet this woman would never dream of having the privilege to speak with you on such a intimate level. She sure is one darn lucky woman to have met you online. :)

    Does it make a difference in the way how we connect with people? Online or Offline? Shouldn’t the focus be on the conservation regardless which ever medium we choose to connect.

    Whether or not my online friends will become my offline friends is not that important to me. What matters to me is knowing we will always be friends beyond space. People will always relocate, we may never meet again but we sure can keep the friendship going if we really try. That’s the beauty of Internet.

  8. By Liz Strauss posted on March 30, 2007 at 1:09 pm
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    Hi Renée,
    I’m sorry that I didn’t get here sooner. I sure hope that the woman knows it’s just as much of a privilege for me to talk to her. I’m a darn lucky one too. :)

    I point that the relationships exist because when things are new some folks don’t see them or don’t recognize things for what they are. Then there are folks who are just starting to read blogs but haven’t started to comment. I can bet that some of them don’t quite get what’s going on yet.

    You’re right we all move in and out of each other’s lives like threads through a tapestry. I’m glad you’re a part of mine. :)