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51. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 10 > Issue: 2
Raphael Sassower, Stephen Cutcliffe Chapter 25: Postmodernism and the Social Construction of Technology
52. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 10 > Issue: 2
Deborah Johnson Chapter 20: Ethics in Engineering and Computing Technology
53. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 10 > Issue: 3
Edward Relph Spirit of Place and Sense of Place in Virtual Realities
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About forty years ago, when print media were still in their ascendancy, Marshall McLuhan argued that all media are extensions of the senses and that the rational view of the world associated with print is being replaced by a world-view associated with electronic media that stresses feelings and emotions (McLuhan, 1964). In 2003 researchers from the School of Information Management Sciences at Berkeley estimated that five exabytes (five billion gigabytes) of information had been generated in the previous year, equivalent to 37,000 times the holdings of the Library of Congress and that 92.00% of this was on magnetic media, mostly hard disks, while only 0.01% was in print (http://www.sims.berkeley.edu, 2003). This SIMS estimate could be wrong by several orders of magnitude and it would still be clear that the era of the printed word is waning rapidly. We are well-advised to pay attention to McLuhan’s suggestionthat electronic media change how we think and how we feel.Sense of place and virtual reality are both inextricably caught up in this cultural-technological upheaval. I have written about the concept of ‘place’ from a phenomenological perspective for many years and have achieved a reasonable understanding of its subtleties, but I have a limited knowledge of digital virtual reality and its technical attributes. Nevertheless, it seems to me that a mutual interaction is at work between what might be called ‘real’ place and virtual places, that digital virtual reality shares characteristics with other electronic media and that our experiences of real places are being changed those same media. This essay explores these issues particularlyfrom the perspective of the distinction between spirit of place and sense of place.
54. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 10 > Issue: 3
Jeffrey Jacobson, Lynn Holden Virtual Heritage: Living in the Past
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Virtual Heritage (VH) is the use of electronic media to recreate or interpret culture and cultural artifacts as they are today or as they might have been in the past (Moltenbrey, 2001; Roehl, 1997). By definition, VH applications employ some kind of three dimensional representation; the means used to display it range from still photos to immersive Virtual Reality. Virtual Heritage is a very active area of research and development in both the academic and the commercial realms. (Roehl, 1997; Mitchell and Economou, 2000; Addison, 2000; Stone and Ojika, 2002; Champion, 2004b; Champion and Sekiguichi, 2004; Levy, 2004). Most VH applications are intended forsome kind of educational use. While the main activity of virtual heritage is to create ancient artifacts, the real goal is to understand ancient cultures.Most VH applications are architectural reconstructions, centered on a reconstructed building or monument. However, in the same way that archaeologists and historians study the artifacts because they are the primary cultural evidence we have, VH uses architecture as a frame for recreating ancient cultures. The larger goal of VH is to recreate ancient cultures, not as dead simulations, but as living museums where students/users can enter and understand a culture that is different from their own. The closest analog is the real-world living museums, where actors in period dress occupy a life-size historical setting and interact with the visitors. Ultimately, we would like to see the users themselves creating activities in the virtual space as a way of exploring different cultural viewpoints. For example, students who know about the Virtual Egyptian Temple (Jacobson and Holden, 2005) and the supporting material may attempt to recreate activities there. In doing so, they would learn about what is and is not possible in the architectural and cultural space.In this paper we will begin by reviewing the issues and tradeoffs around building the architectural models for VH applications. These models are crucial in themselves and many of the issues involved in designing and creating them also apply to the dynamic and interactive aspects of VR. Then, we will touch on issues of how to bring culture to life in VR, the strengths and limitations for VR technology for VH applications. Finally, we will present the Virtual Egyptian Temple, our current project, as a working example.
55. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 10 > Issue: 3
Richard Bartle Presence and Flow: Ill-Fitting Clothes for Virtual Worlds
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Virtual worlds are a class of computer game in which large numbers of players access a shared environment simultaneously to have fun. What “having fun” means, however, is not obvious. Players talk about immersion, which suggests to some commentators that their fun may derive from the well-known psychological concepts of presence and flow. However, although these states of mind are indeed important factors in immersion, they do not capture what players themselves understand by the term. To describe fully what players are experiencing requires an examination of identity exploration – an exploration which strongly echoes the structure of ancient myth.
56. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 10 > Issue: 3
Richard Coyne Thinking through Virtual Reality: Place, Non-Place and Situated Cognition
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Critics and researchers apply various criteria to evaluate the efficacy of VR, including the conformity of VR environments to the character of place. I wish to add a further test: do VR environments enable thought? The paper thus applies to VR the controversial proposition advanced by Clark and others that thinking, i.e. human cognitive processes, are situated and spatial. As a further term in this mix I introduce the concept of non-place, as elucidated by Augé and propose that non-places can be characterized as unthinking spaces, i.e. spaces that provide little assistance to the thought processes of their occupants. Perhaps non-places only offer thepossibilities afforded by a kind of cognitively impoverished instrumentalism. The conclusion from these propositions is that it is instructive to couch the problematics of VR environments in terms of non-places that do not easily accommodate thought, or thoughtful interaction, were it not that thought thrives on transitions, thresholds and boundary conditions between the strange and the familiar.
57. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 10 > Issue: 3
Erik Champion When Windmills Turn Into Giants: The Conundrum of Virtual Places
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While many papers may claim that virtual environments have much to gain from architectural and urban planning theory, few seem to specify in any verifiable or falsifiable way, how notions of place and interaction are best combined and developed for specific needs. The following is an attempt to summarize a theory of place for virtual environments and explain both the shortcomings and the advantages of this theory.
58. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 11 > Issue: 1
Bernadette Bensuade-Vincent, Xavier Guchet Nanomachine: One Word For Three Different Paradigms
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Scientists and engineers who extensively use the term “nanomachine” are not always aware of the philosophical implications of this term. The purpose of this paper is to clarify the concept of nanomachine through a distinction between three major paradigms of machine. After a brief presentation of two well-known paradigms - Cartesian mechanistic machines and Von Neumann’s complex and uncontrolled machines – we will argue that Drexler’s model was mainly Cartesian. But what about the model of his critics? We propose a third model - Gilbert Simondon’s notion of concrete machines – which seems more appropriate to understand nanomachines than the notion of “soft machines”. Finally we review a few strategies currently used to design nanomachines, in an effort to determine which paradigm they belong to.
59. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 11 > Issue: 1
Peter Krebs Virtual Models and Simulations: A Different Kind of Science?
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The personal computer has become the primary research tool in many scientific and engineering disciplines. The role of the computer has been extended to be an experimental and modelling tool both for convenience and sometimes necessity. In this paper some of the relationships between real models and virtual models, i.e. models that exist only as programs and data structures, areexplored. It is argued that the shift from experimenting with real objects to experimentation with computer models and simulations may also require a new approach for evaluating scientific theories derived from these models. Accepting the additional sets of assumptions that are associated with computer models and simulations requires ‘leaps of faith’, which we may not want to make in order to preserve scientific rigor. There are problems in providing acceptable arguments and explanations as to why a particular computer model or simulation should be judged scientifically sound, plausible, or even probable. These problems not only emerge from models that are particularly complex, but also in models that suffer from being too simplistic.
60. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 11 > Issue: 1
Joseph C. Pitt, Pieter E. Vermaas, Peter-Paul Verbeek Editorial Statement