Sunday, March 29, 2009


Article on editing one's own augmented reality.

First, on augmented reality itself, I have mixed feelings. While it would be nice to have encyclopedic recall of major landmarks, maps, events, and so on, I'm leery. First of all, because such content would likely be generated one of two ways: it would be developed and published by already established content providers, in which case the subjective nature of such content would lead one to question and think critically of the motivations, accuracy, and reality shadings of such content. Or the content would be developed 'wikipedia' style, by the collected writing and editing of large numbers of self-selecting people. In which case the danger of non-factual information, urban legends, rumors, and irrelevant trivia becomes substatially greater. If I were trying to navigate downtown LA, for instance, I would feel no need to to have my augmented reality system point out everywhere the current manufactured starlet performed some act of questionable taste.

On the other hand, if given the ability to self-edit and self-generate the content, I would find this form of augmented reality much more useful. It would allow me to finally overcome the "service industry effect" and remember people's names. The ability to add directional signs and notations of my own on buildings, notes on people who I've met but can't quite recall, and so on is something I could find useful.

However, such self-editing comes to the subject of the article linked to above: the ability to edit oneselve's reality and the affect that such has on the ability to think and reason critically. Such is not only a concern of augmented reality. The ability to censor our inputs is a dangerous one when not used critically and with great discretion. It is too easy, especially given the glut of information of our current Information Age, to disregard any information that does not fit in with our prejudices and preconceptions.

This is dangerous. Proper critical information input requires deviant data from time to time. One cannot learn anything new when one hears only what one already believes. This is the path that leads to groupthink, doublethink, and poor decisions and information management. I believe that it is vital for every thinking person to experience some form of cognative dissonance at least once a day, and to read, see, or hear something that offends them at least once a week. The ability to make each other angry is a precious gift we're losing by the day, so the next time someone says something that shocks you and makes you think about the world in a whole new way, thank them!

Googlebombing for a cause: 

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