short excerpt from ORF Documentary about the VR-Symposium at Ars Electronica 1990 with a statement from Bruce Sterling
more info at aec.at
To what extent does a society allow its technology to
develop freely? How does it react to the possibilities
and potentials "Cyberspace" could open to it?
For the future, Sterling expects two rivalling "camps"
- a technophile-utopian camp and a capitalist-pragmatic
camp the philosophies of which may be described as
"fast, cheap and out of control" on the one hand
and as "land development plan for hyper-real estate"
on the other hand.
THE FUTURE OF CYBERSPACE: WILD FRONTIER VS. HYPERREAL ESTATE
"Cyberspace" today is a foggy concept, further muddled by attempts to copyright or trademark the term itself. "Cyberspace" in its broadest sense is a useful term to denote a raw technical frontier up for grabs - though the "frontier" metaphor must be qualified. Cyberspace is not some unexplored natural region, but an utterly unnatural space boiling out from nothingness: a gigantic badland of mirrors which replicate the pioneers' own inner mentalities. As "cyberspace" is settled and developed, the successful territories within it will take on the status of states-of-media. Following the growing clusters of population, money, and power, we can imagine "scientific visualization" as an early and fertile territory, accompanied perhaps by three-dimensional computer-aided design, artificial reality games, the various sub-provinces of telepresence, and 3-D hypermedia, and groupware.
That is to say: we might forecast such developments, if we examined the strictly technical potential inherent in the "cyberspace" medium. To assume, however, that cyberspace will fulfill its basic technological potential is naive. It is not in the nature of a capitalist society to carry its media to ultimate forms; instead they are optimized for profit, while containing or subverting attempts at revolutionary breakthrough. As Marvin Minsky once wisely said:
"Imagine if television were actually good. It would mean the end of everything we know."
A working Gibsonian cyberspace would also mean the end of everything we know. Attempts to end everything we know, while not rare - Cambodia and Iran come to mind - have rarely ended well.
The future of cyberspace today is in the hands of two rival camps, which might be roughly described as technophilic / utopian and capitalist / pragmatarian. Their philosophies can be summarized respectively as "Fast Cheap and Out of Control," and "Planned Development of Hyperreal Estate." To continue the frontier metaphor, the utopians might be compared to squatters, mountain men, and trappers - or perhaps hapless tribes of aborigines. The rival camp, which conceives of itself as "civilization," is in basic control of formal land grants, the legislatures, the army and the railroads.