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In Chapter 17: Virtual and Ambient Place, Hinton focuses on the rules for digital environments. This includes an in depth look at how digital places are organically growing and existing. This process of immersion and growth comes from the commitment of the individuals interacting in it, ““We live here!” It was a self-deprecating jest about the amount of time they were spending perfecting their game, but it struck me then—and still does—as a fundamentally true statement” [1]. Hinton explores these digital environments for the interactions people have with them, the emotion impact they take from them, and the tools people create to shape them indicate that they are essentially real. Humans have transitioned into a state where the digital landscape is as cultivated and worked as any real plot of land, and people should expect this kind of thinking to only be on the rise.  

Of Dungeons and Quakes Edit

Virtual reality has already shown examples of just how immersive it can be by the interactivity between its inhabitants. "they were exploring sides of their identity and social life that might have been impossible otherwise" [2]. The results of this time show that they would lack something completely without these platforms. Hinton uses his experiences in the real world Tabletop game Dungeons and Dragons to highlight how time can be swallowed by the immersive worlds humans create. Digitally created landscapes like text-based Multi-User Dungeons, or “MUDs” inspire entire virtual communities that work together on those worlds, constantly updating and shaping them. These places are of great emotional significance to those who create them, as evidenced by the formation of a Constitution on rules of governing after harassment from cyber bully/hacker “Mr . Bungle”. Hilton reminisces on his achievements in digital infrastructure citing his days building maps, spreadsheets and scoreboards for the editable and community inspiring online video game “Quake”. "Some of these experiences are what formed my own foundational ideas about what it means to make information environments" [3]. The effect it had on Hilton alone is enough to show how these environments are not only interactive but speaks to their capacity to teach.  

The Porous Nature of Cyberplaces Edit

Hinton states how the metaphor for “cyberspace” is better explained in terms of “Cyberplaces”. Within the net there are plenty of individual spaces created, the metaphors they use for these programs often look to real world built environment tropes for their language; windows “Room”. These spaces are becoming not only more interactive but more useful as well. "Whereas online environments were once seen as a virtual escape from reality, they're now mostly a supplemental dimension we use to enhance and expand our physical, offline lives" [4]. These environments contain a unique inter-connectivity that makes “digital placemaking” key to managing and optimizing real world interactions with family and business. This place making has always existed within the internet, but with mobile apps it allows more private interactions such as sharing a hug or Kiss on “Avocado”. Hilton uses the diagnostic issues of Healthcare.gov’s creation to show how a failing in a digital place can impact real world people, and places in terms of the Luna Blue Hotel “No Vacancy” error on Expedia. Cyber places are now part of people's infrastructure, and their creation must reflect an awareness of the real places they effect.  

Augmented and Blended Places Edit

Digital environments are still reliant on physical spaces, and more and more there are physical spaces that command and interact with digital environments. Hinton uses his daughters interaction with a digital taxonomy index at the New York natural history museum and scannable shopping at subways to showcase how digital placemakers are using their relation to a physical location to create a different way of thinking. This new way of thinking is not lost on business, who are well aware that their mobile real world interaction can increase their income and consumer interactivity. The mobile world has much to offer in this regard. "the smartphone potentially turns any environment into a richly interactive, semantically layered place" [5]. There is no place safe from possible digital interaction, and soon this concept will evolve further with devices that create digital vision. The Augmented reality created by Google’s glasses and Yelp’s “monocle” show how interactions in the real world can now effect digital environments, and how the way people process information is now forever a more layer and complex action.  

The Map That Makes Itself Edit

Digital environments have the capacity to grow and evolve in various ways. Hinton explores procedural generation, a tactic commonly used in video games that Uses algorithms to produce random or charged content. "procedurally generated games make players rely on perceptual-reactive skills more like those needed for new territories in the real world" [6]. This makes games even more like the real world, and actually develops thinking skills that can be used in it. Other self producing maps, such as Flickr’s Interestingness facet, use raw shares, likes, and edits in place of algorithms. Either way digital environments are shapes that exist constantly in such a state, they are "evolving, unfinished, unpredictable systems" [7]

Metamaps and Compasses Edit

With digital maps being ever expanding, there exists a need to comprehensively navigate them. Hinton uses the interface of “Second Life”, a digital world creating video game, as an apt metaphor to how increasingly the way people navigate their environment relies on information. "we are now navigating our world by the language we put into the stratosphere with digital technology rather than by physical landmarks" [8]. Personal metadata influenced maps work with their larger data fueled counterparts to give people digestible suggestions on how to react. These digital compass lose their effectiveness however when they try to be too specific, and will always attempt to benefit some sort of agenda.  

Analysis Edit

The effects these digital places have on people raises the stakes on the importance of online writing. The internet is a powerful tool that has already united humanity, and has been and will continue creating platforms for addressing the rights and voices of everyone. Because of these implications taking seriously the ability virtual places have is something that is already happening. Social justice minded apps use techniques such as "Blexting" to combat problems in real spaces by communicating through digital ones [9]

Making the ethics and setting up guidelines for virtual places will soon be as important if not more important than real world policing. The days of cyber crime are on the rise, and soon sci-fi concepts such as the mind hacking" of Ghost in the Shell will not be an impossibility with augmented reality becoming mainstream [10]. What Hilton reveals is the importance for solid, well written digital architecture that creates digital spaces that won't collapse as society puts more weight on them.  

ReferencesEdit

  1. Hinton, Andrew, and Peter Morville. Understanding Context: Environment, Language, and Information Architecture. Sebastopol: O'Reilly, 2014. Print. Page 281
  2. Hinton, Andrew, and Peter Morville. Understanding Context: Environment, Language, and Information Architecture. Sebastopol: O'Reilly, 2014. Print. Page 279
  3. Hinton, Andrew, and Peter Morville. Understanding Context: Environment, Language, and Information Architecture. Sebastopol: O'Reilly, 2014. Print. Page 280
  4. Hinton, Andrew, and Peter Morville. Understanding Context: Environment, Language, and Information Architecture. Sebastopol: O'Reilly, 2014. Print. Page 283
  5. Hinton, Andrew, and Peter Morville. Understanding Context: Environment, Language, and Information Architecture. Sebastopol: O'Reilly, 2014. Print. Page 293
  6. Hinton, Andrew, and Peter Morville. Understanding Context: Environment, Language, and Information Architecture. Sebastopol: O'Reilly, 2014. Print. Page 298
  7. Hinton, Andrew, and Peter Morville. Understanding Context: Environment, Language, and Information Architecture. Sebastopol: O'Reilly, 2014. Print. Page 300
  8. Hinton, Andrew, and Peter Morville. Understanding Context: Environment, Language, and Information Architecture. Sebastopol: O'Reilly, 2014. Print. Page 302
  9. https://nextcity.org/daily/entry/detroit-blight-blexting-houses-motor-city-mapping
  10. http://collider.com/ghost-in-the-shell-live-action-adaptation/http://collider.com/ghost-in-the-shell-live-action-adaptation/
 

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