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authors Bricken, M.
year 1994
title Virtual Worlds: No Interface to Design
source Cyberspace - First Steps, M.Benedikt ed, MIT Press
summary In a virtual world, we are inside an environment of pure information that we can see, hear, and touch. The technology itself is invisible, and carefully adapted to human activity so that we can behave naturally in this artificial world. We can create any imaginable environment and we can experience entirely new perspectives and capabilities within it. A virtual world can be informative, useful, and fun; it can also be boring and uncomfortable. The difference is in the design. The platform and the interactive devices we use, the software tools and the purpose of the environment are all elements in the design of virtual worlds. But the most important component in designing comfortable, functional worlds is the person inside them. Cyberspace technology couples the functions of the computer with human capabilities. This requires that we tailor the technology to people, and refine the fit to individuals. We then have customized interaction with personalized forms of information that can amplify our individual intelligence and broaden our experience. Designing virtual worlds is a challenging departure from traditional interface design. In the first section of this chapter I differentiate between paradigms for screen-based interface design and paradigms for creating virtual worlds. The engineer, the designer, and the participant co-create cyberspace. Each role carries its own set of goals and expectations, its own model of the technology's salient features. In the second section of the chapter I address these multiple perspectives, and how they interrelate in the cooperative design process. In conclusion, I consider broader design issues, including control, politics, and emergent phenomena in cyberspace.
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