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The Avatar Mirror: Exploring the Parameters of Proprioceptive Adoption in Virtual Environments

With a title like that I’d better use some science to back things up, eh? So what’s this all about then? Short answer, it’s finding out the parameters and boundaries for how “you” a digital “you” can be when working with virtual reality. The rest of this article is the long answer with the sciency stuff.


Proprioception is the psychology term for the sense of self and habitation of the body, how one “owns” and identifies oneself in a physical way. The brain is a wonderfully adaptive organ, and pulling off truly astounding feats in assembling an apparently contiguous reality from its disparate sensory inputs, but it also takes some significant shortcuts in doing so (mostly in the name of efficiency for speed and energy management, since the brain is also the most metabolically expensive matter in the body). This is why optical illusions work – they exploit some of those shortcuts by interfering with the assumptions on which they’re based, inserting errors or otherwise tripping them up. Con men and magicians have been doing this forever, not just to the visual system but the whole collection, and eventually the sciences became formally involved in their own right: specialized regions of the brain were studied frequently through their malfunction or maladaptation, observing how disease or injury (naturally occurring, though there may have been a mad scientist or two along the way; lobotomies came from somewhere…) correlated with behavior. Fortunately more modern techniques allow for neurological exploration without having to crack the skull open all the time. (more…)

Enter the Rift

Where we are…

The 2nd developer iteration (DK2) of Oculus’s Rift technology is amazing, but still not consumer ready.  Most of the reason for that is the software, with the VR & HCI communities still learning how to use the interface in meaningful ways, but the hardware has some of its limitations too.  In any case, it’s not there just yet.

Starting with the hardware side (shorter list), the headset is still too heavy/bulky (though well distributed across the straps), and long-term use (more than a half hour or so) starts to get really toasty.  These things will be worked out tough, and new features will continue to increase the sense of immersion (I can’t wait to see what Oculus puts together with galvanic vestibular stimulation [balance hacking]!).  Increases in resolution would also be nice, but at this point aren’t a hard requirement for making the experience effective. (more…)

Simplified LGAT

Three years ago I wrote a fairly lengthy bit about Large Group Awareness Training (or LGAT) methods and practices, and how they all fit together to form coercive persuasion that should make any informed body run in the opposite direction (which remains my highest traffic article of all time, with nearly 5x the activity of any of the next highest I’ve done).  While the analysis was decent, I think I’ve found a far simpler way of relating the mechanics of how these organizations assert dominance so effectively while trying to literally (actually literally, not that stupid “emphatically figuratively” crap) change people’s minds:

It follows the playbook of the Borderline Personality Disorder “Queen” variant, with just a little “Witch” thrown in: it’s all about control.  I’ve always found it interesting that folks using these practices rely on dominance while selling the contrasting idea of empowerment, but with the idea of BPD thrown in it all makes a lot more sense. (more…)


Hey there folks.

It’s been a while.  And it’s going to be a while.  And that’s OK.

I love writing, and I miss it dearly.  There are things I’m constantly ruminating, connections being made, and generally stuff happening that I’d like to share.  I always have more writing prompts than time to write, and some of them don’t age well (by the time I might be able to say something insightful, that insight is no longer novel).

I’m confident that the evolution of technology and its role in society as an iterative shaper of humanity will come about in ways that are close to what I’ve been doodling in my notebooks for years, except that it’ll be more awesome.  The general theme seems to be that the projected tangent is good, but the specific manifestations will be shaped a little different – the corporate angle on them will continue to be bungled and miss some obvious and amazing opportunities, but then a more independent spaces will bust it wide open and make something that much cooler instead.  It’s 60/40 in favor of the independent innovation scene, so I have high hopes for good things happening.

I’m intentionally foregoing opportunities to share something prescient and timely, and to play in very creative spaces.  I have to admit to myself that, what with the day job and the limitations on energy due to the laws of metabolism and the realities of McArdle’s disease, I finally need to really focus my extracurricular creativity into something narrow lest I continue to be exhausted and risk becoming utterly ineffective.

I’ve known that for a while, and I’ve tried to narrow it down before: scheduling areas of interest by day, limiting the total number of endeavors, etc.  Progressively and iteratively trying to cut things down and ending up dissatisfied with the trade-off.  This, however, has changed – the “satisfaction” side of the scale has tipped to the degree that I think I may have found my calling in physics (largely theoretical, but with a healthy dose of practical).  I think I have something to offer this field that might eventually contribute to additional rungs on the collective ladder of human understanding of the universe, and that speaks to me in profound ways.

So, yeah.  I’m laying a lot aside, and I’m digging in as deep as I can.  I have been for a while, and it looks like it’s got some staying power.  Sorry for the radio silence – but I think this will be worth it.

Peace out.

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