Mixed Reality [MR] is a term I’ve come across this summer when I was looking on Google for the representation of the SL life music scene on other internet media than Second Life. A big number of hits was displayed, among MySpace and alike music sharing accounts, static webpages, YouTube and alike video media of course there were blogs.
One entry in one blog that obviously no longer exists, as its URL was broken today, entiteled Mixed Reality caught my attention. Its author whom, as I found out after reading, I had met inworld before [‘inworld’ means within the Second Life online environment, connected to Linden Lab internet servers via Linden Lab software (the client) that is installed on my PC–just in case there one day someone happens to read this who knows even less about information and computer technics than me–like my mom, or so .-]
The article was a reflection about the author’s perception of an event he had been to in SL: a life music simulcast. Simulcasts are events that take place synchronously both in RL and SL–means both offline and online simultaniously. Simulcasts to a certain degree are comparable with life shows on the radio or on television or any other one directional transmission of an event simultaniously to other physical places with all its implications, but simulcasting into an interactive environment, as the Second Life Grid is, of course points to characteristical differences there being as well, between conventional life shows transmitted via conventional (onedirectional) media and simulcasts being broadcasted into SL, where the musicians playing are represented by animated avatars moving on a stage and an additional audience being present communicating with each other _and_ the artists by text via chatline or Instant Messaging [IM] or talking to each other on private voice channels, either in dialogs or conferences, comparable to Instant Messaging: Instant Voicing. Howsoever–‘simulcasting’ requires an own entry.
The organizers of the simulcast the author of that blog entry entiteled Mixed Reality had been to had tried something new that night. In the back of the stage in the venue they had designed in a SL sim the RL event was streamed into, they had installed a video media screen on which a life video stream of the event was displayed for those who have quicktime installed on their computers. So obviousy you had the artists avatar in whatever-instrument-they-play-pose moving on the stage, and above them on a screen a video running that shows the RL person playing on the RL stage. [Wish I had been there–actually!! Reminds me to overurgently install quicktime on my computer.]
Mixed Reality is a term that in its origins seems to draw back on Paul Milgram used within Milgram’s concept of a Virtuality Continuum.
“Mixed Reality (…) (also referred to as augmented reality or augmented virtuality) refers to the merging of real and virtual worlds to produce new environments and visualisations where physical and digital objects co-exist and interact in real time. A mix of reality, augmented reality, augmented virtuality and virtual reality (…)”, reads wikipedia on Dec 1st, 2007.
“The conventionally held view of a Virtual Reality (VR) environment is one in which the participant-observer is totally immersed in, and able to interact with, a completely synthetic world. Such a world may mimic the properties of some real-world environments, either existing or fictional; however, it can also exceed the bounds of physical reality by creating a world in which the physical laws ordinarily governing space, time, mechanics, material properties, etc. no longer hold. What may be overlooked in this view, however, is that the VR label is also frequently used in association with a variety of other environments, to which total immersion and complete synthesis do not necessarily pertain, but which fall somewhere along a virtuality continuum. In this paper we focus on a particular subclass of VR related technologies that involve the merging of real and virtual worlds, which we refer to generically as Mixed Reality (MR),” quotes wikipedia Paul Milgram and Fumio Kishino from Virtuality Continuum.
Said blog author reflected in said blog entry about how his inworld illusion was spoiled by the video screen installed. He described how the animations of the artist’s SL avatar in comparison to the real person’s representation on the screen within his screen suddenly appeared angled–expressing an alienation from the (visual?) inworld representation of the RL artist. I have made a comparable experience some months ago when voice chat was about to conquer the grid. A friend of mine had a house warming party in his tree in the sky. The SL voice chat feature was just new in a required update shortly before and (almost) everybody I knew was keen of having themselves be heard to their friends. It increased the exchange of information possible with a given sequence of time massively and I enjoy to hear certain people’s voices. Often enough its surprising. Sometimes its not surprising at all. And some dont use voice at all–for several reasons. On this party howsoever, everyone was on voice. You could hear them lighting their cigarettes, the clicking of the keyboard when typing into the chat line, their background noises, or – silences, and I just couldnt help being totally spoiled the illusion of a dancing crowd. [Well I turned off voice then.]
In other regards than the above, Mixed Reality representations in Second Life among individuals serve as means of authentification–are means of communication. The information that is transmitted deals with identity. There howsoever are many different ways people in SL deal with their RL identity–from sharing RL names and pictures up to avoiding any mixing of the identities and keeping them separate as much as possible, programmatically. […]
What I find remarkable about the concept of Mixed reality which does not signify a binary “either/or” status quo, namely either 0 or 1, or “only one boss reality possible at one point of time” is its dynamic approach. Where and however on Milgram’s diagram you apply your concept of boss reality, it signifies theres ongoing motion as it defines two additional variables pointing at that theres something in between 0 and 1: Augmented Reality and Augmented Virtuality. This indicates not more nor less than that individual perception of reality is something that functions in a fluent kind of movement, rather than in a switch on/off mode, which I seemingly until today am just too dorky to apply. [Apparently I dont need a proof whether cyberspace is stable or not, which is well argued here anyways and allways worth a reread.]