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This book was extremely informative and simultaneously easy to follow. Each case study in VR is explicated with precision and unbiased enthusiasm for the medium. The second half tends to get a bit dry at moments, not helped by the audiobook narrator's often monotonous reading, but the contents of this rich and varied history of academic research in VR is too important to neglect, for VR enthusiasts, developers and persons with an interest in human psychology especially as it relates to and evolves alongside ever advancing tech.
Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?
Yes. If you seen Dr Morris Massey’s compelling video series (What You Are Is Where You Were When) you’ll recall he explains how our values & behaviors are formed early yet can be influenced by significant emotional events throughout our lives.
Achieving a sense of presence with cinematic a/v in VR can create such events and experiences. Simulations or Stories in VR can be made to evoke empathy, promote tolerance, encourage saving the planet (conserve energy, go veggie, civil/animal rights, etc), manage physical or emotional pain (911, ptsd), improve performance (in sports, business or social settings) or offer telepresence.
But we should also consider the negative impact when prior media (including social) have been abused for provocation, propaganda, and pure profit. Film, Broadcast radio, tv, video games, social media all have their dark sides. Though VR porn and graphic violence will sell well, the impact of such choices on our brains and our social interaction should be cause for concern. The Milgram Experiment showed a percentage of the population too willing to obey may have latent sadism. VR has the potential to summon our demons more readily then prior media.
So the author advocates focusing this new medium to empower our better angels to solve our existential problems faced by earthlings. To use it to better connect with one another rather than isolate ourselves. Who can argue with trying to make VR a force for good. A goal shared by the grandfather of VR, Tom Furness, and the Virtual World Society.
What could Jeremy Bailenson have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?
Jeremy should have narrated the book himself. And, think beyond a book ... consider porting the content to interview format with Kent Bye of Voices of VR Podcast and on YouTube so we can watch the interview. Why not show us the Lab? And clips of past experiments and subjects?
Would you be willing to try another one of Jeffrey Kafer’s performances?
Nahhh. Maybe he is better at fiction? I found it a bit monotone, but maybe that’s just me. Sorry Jeffrey.
Could you see Experience on Demand being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?
Maybe Google/MS/FB/Amazon could commission Jeremy Bailenson, Jaron Lanier, Robert Scoble and others, to make a VR documentary on the potential of extended reality use cases in the Enterprise, Healthcare, Entertainment, etc. especially with WebXR combined with AI, IoT, and other emerging tech in the post phone era with 5G and ambient computing. I’m thinking of something far better and more important and insightful than stilted panel discussions from various annual VR events.
Any additional comments?
Thank you to Jeremy Bailenson for a generation excellent work into VR possibilities.
Proving a hypothesis with statistical validity often requires long, hard, expensive work.
Though creativity is required in designing the experiment, executing sometimes involves drudgery. Let’s have more Books, Podcasts, Documentaries, Films, YouTube’s about experiments and use cases exploring Extended Reality and it’s potential impact on society.
Let’s commit to high-end experiences rather than making a quick buck on crummy devices with deleterious long-term effects on our neurological system which has evolved over millions of years. We can’t afford blurring fantasy with reality in cases where our physical or mental safety or well being may be compromised as individuals or communities.