The Virtual World

Bruce Damer
Digital Space Commons
The Virtual World: A 21st Century Medium for: I. CyberSpace, II. StreetSpace, III. OuterSpace, and IV. BioSpace
Presented in the Embryo Physics Course, March 5, 2009


The rise of the digital age in the last quarter of the 20th Century birthed a new medium for the 21st: the virtual world. Human presence in digital spaces evolved first from a single spot on the screen of the PDP-1 computer in the 1962 game Spacewar  through a series of graphical and textual worlds of the 1970s (Maze War, Videoplace, MUDS and other online environments), the 1980s (Habitat, Virtual Reality), the 1990s (avatar worlds, early Internet games and identities) and the 2000s where millions of users have presence in multiple overlapping virtual worlds (MMOs, social virtual worlds, social networks, wireless communities).

Virtual worlds pioneer Bruce Damer will present a forty year overview of the virtual world as an emerging medium of human presence and then project forward another few decades with his best guess at how this presence will extend from inside CyberSpace out to StreetSpace, into OuterSpace and finally, up to BioSpace. He will illustrate this vision with his and others’ work in online virtual environments, wearable sensored computing tied to online identity, the simulation of living systems, evolution and the quest for the origin of life, and the use of virtual worlds to design new NASA missions throughout the solar system.



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