Friday, May 27, 2016

Calling Our Bluff: VR & Our "New Media" Theories

Unless you've actually strapped on the headgear and experienced it, you don't understand.

VR has arrived. 
Seriously - it's here.

CNET has an interesting take on one of the VR vehicles (Oculus Rift) here: CNET VR Special Edition.

But VR is arriving by other ways, too. I've already begun experiencing (and producing) the new phenomenon for (very nearly) FREE with my own smartphone, the free Google Cardboard and Cardboard Camera apps, and a very comfortable 15 buck headset. Tons of free VR material is even available on YouTube. (Add a cheap Bluetooth controller for a few bucks and you can do even more.)

For under a hundred bucks, there is the Samsung Gear VR headset that Lebron hawks. Gear is powered by Oculus, which is releasing its more expensive premium Rift device (mentioned above.) Microsoft Hololens is also already shipping - and more iterations are following this year.

Like I said - VR has arrived.

We Don't Know &#!@
We theorists like to think we know about "new media." We know about Technologizing the Word, and the Second Gutenberg Shift, and how Old Media Becomes Content for New Media, and how Remediation works in Re-shaping our Brains. We're pretty sure we know it all.

But, strap-on a VR headset, and it becomes clear that we don't. know. $#!@.

We Better Learn Quick
Taking a class on Tigers, or watching a documentary on Tigers, is one thing.
Being tossed in the path of a Tiger is another.
One situation is casual and leisurely.
The other is frantic.

VR has just brought FRANTIC to the new media party.
We gotta learn. Quick.

There are no experts in this field. There is no time (yet) for experts to develop. This is a media shift that is happening at  pace exponentially faster than previous shifts. We need to move, think, improvise, and act before the Tiger eats us and moves on.

Here are some ideas: (What? You got better ideas? Let's hear 'em.)

  1. Read. Quick. I'm not thinking of scholarly journals that take a year or more to get to press or books that take 6 years to get to print. The Tiger will have already eaten us by then. Read now - here's a start
  2. Play. Now. Experiment with the emerging medium and its technologies. Explore, Create. Share. Download the apps. Get a headset. Talk with others. Share Experiences. Have students experience stuff and make stuff with you.
  3. Write. Immediately. Be willing to have this writing be "disposable." Use a blog or a website or a social media vehicle. Editing, revision, peer review and publication can come later. After you've survived the encounter with the Tiger. "Writing" might consist of aggregating, curating, cobbling, collaging, and sharing resources in platforms like ScoopIt!, Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, etc. 
It appears, in glorious, 360-degree 3D realness, that the VR Tiger is in front of us, so let's get busy, shall we?

(Your shared resources, contributions, ideas, etc. will be greatly appreciated. Just leave links, etc. in the comments section.)