The reality of our virtual world
National Institute for Technology in Liberal Education (NITLE) fellow Dr. Bryan Alexander delivered the lecture “Storytelling, Gaming, and the WorldBoard: The New Digital World” for the third annual Donaghey Scholars Program Speakers Series, Sept. 29, co-sponsored by UALR College of Engineering and Information Technology.
Alexander started the lecture with a quote from Mark Weiser, “The most profound technologies are those that disappear.” Alexander explained that technologies such as the telegraph, radio and WiFi weave themselves into daily life so that society takes the technology for granted.
Alexander pointed out that these markers in history are becoming more frequent. The Japanese, for example, are writing and reading novels on cell phones and book publishers have had to shorten the lines in books to correspond to the line length on a cell phone or the books will not sell, according to Alexander.
The arch of society is such that people continuously find ways to interact more closely and todays technologies are assisting, Alexander said. Storytelling is changing. Through social media like Facebook a person tells a story about themselves and learn other people’s stories as well. People are posting preexisting stories that are told by dates on letters, journals and newspapers such as “Dracula” by the dates in the novel and the story changes as gaps in time become more obvious because the reader is experiencing the gap, Alexander said.
“Games tell stories and we can use them to change people,” Alexander said. There is a serious games movement that is creating games dealing with global warming, homeland security, and a virtual world platform. The game “Peacemaker” (experimented for use in universities) allows the player to take the roll of the Israeli prime minister and the Palestinian authority and react to real-time news to create peace. For more information go to peacemakergame.com. The size of the gaming industry is now comparable to the size of the music industry, according to Alexander.
Through technologies such as “Google Goggles” that allows a person to point a cell phone at an object or land mark and it tries to tell you what it is and translator technology point a phone at a sign in a foreign land and it translates it people are better able to interact with the world. In Europe you can point your phone at a piece of property and learn the real estate value, said Alexander.
For more information about “the reality of our virtual world” read Alexander’s book “The New Digital Storytelling: Creating Narratives with New Media” or go to http://nitle.org. Check University Television’s broadcast schedule at ualr.edu/tv for Dr. Bryan Alexander’s Lecture (Comcast channel 61 or AT&T U-Verse channel 99).