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Old Yesterday, 12:47   #101
Purple Heron
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Join Date: Jul 2017
Posts: 62
@ fugi and Jos
Yes, I think it is different. Because I forgot (my husband reminded me later) that he had asked the girl, "Where does it live?" to which she had replied, "On the internet". So yes, I think there is a real disconnect, or a blurring of the lines between reality and virtual reality. I don't think she would have said that the beetle lived in a book where she happened to see its picture. I think that a lot of people, especially younger people, view the internet as a kind of alternative reality. Obviously it's a wonderful thing to see photos and films of creatures one may oneself never encounter in real life. But we do have to remember that they are not the creature itself, and that to encounter the real one is always a singular experience. You look at a bird or an insect, and it looks back at you. It reacts to you--with fear or curiosity or whatever--and you to it.

Computer programmers are developing all sorts of virtual reality applications. Imagine one for birdwatching. You could, say, program a visit to see the birds of Irian Jaya, perhaps specifying different birds you want to see, perhaps even specifying a level of difficulty to make the experience more challenging and realistic. So you "go" there and "spot" birds using a virtual scope or virtual binoculars--imagine a really good program, with accurate shapes and birdcalls and colors and movements and behavior. It might be quite fun--but is it the same as really going, as a real experience? Most of the birdwatching I do seems to involve a lot of trekking around, waiting, getting very hot or cold, insect bites, disappointments, unexpected rewards, wishing I'd had a moment longer, a bigger lens, better light.

Maybe I'm just getting old, but I am very suspicious of technology that allows you to think you have experienced things without making any actual effort. When you watch a film, look at a photograph, use a program written by someone else, you are seeing the world through someone else's eyes. These can be valuable tools, but should not be mistaken for actual experiences. I think that line is blurring, and it concerns me.

@ Henning I will myself be most interested in finding out the results of studies they do--and I really do hope they follow through on this. If/when I learn anything, I will be glad to share that, however those studies turn out.
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