But you saw it, right? Our man won the debates. Come on, it was totally obvious that the other guy simply does not understand what needs to be done. He’s such an imbecile, I just don’t understand anyone could believe such nonsense. As opposed to us– that man will take us into the future, I tell you. And, look, all the papers support us. The people want us. Just ask anyone you know.
Well, I certainly wouldn’t trust them. Not even worth listening to that crap.
Really. I read their web page once, and, man, it just enrages me. How could anyone think that way? Such people defy the plainest common sense. It’s not even worth listening to them. Here, read this book. It clearly shows that we’re right.
But how do you know?
Well. Isn’t it obvious? The arguments actually make sense, that’s the great thing about it. I mean, how many people have you met who didn’t agree? Yeah, okay, so there are some weirdos. Heh. That’s definitely true. Yeah, of course, research it if you want. Just remember that those reports are biased by their ideology. My god, who have you been listening to?
Talk to them?
Okay, but… you just can’t convince a person like that. It’s a waste of time with such people. Really. it’s been studied.
The phrase is due to William Gibson in his novel Spook Country, where artists use WiFi and GPS and VR goggles to create a new kind of art: virtual installations ghosted over the real world. Slip on the glasses and see River Pheonix’s body lying on the sidewalk on LA, or a giant squid hovering over Tokyo. Cyberspace begins to reach out to us, becomes “outside” instead of “inside.”
The thing is, you could do this now with an iPhone.
Here’s the plan: use the GPS to get an approximate fix, down to a few meters. Then look out through the camera to get a shot of the environment. Match this against data from Google Street View to recover precise camera position and orientation — the algorithms already exist. Composite in the ghosts, and display the result on the screen. The iPhone is now a window into cyberspace.
You could use it to visualize reviews tagged to store windows. Watch data packets fly between cell towers. Follow a line on the sidewalk to your destination. Remind yourself of people’s names. Or, of course, for art. Imagine a real-time version of the strangely delightful Death Star over San Francisco.
Of course, there are problems. The iPhone doesn’t have the processing power to do this in real-time, so you’d be limited to snapshots on current hardware, a ghostly camera instead of a camcorder. Google Street View is also copyrighted data, an expensive and proprietary data set (not to mention controversial) and it’s not clear how they’d react to such novel uses. But our phones are becoming ever-more powerful, and open maps are inevitable (either wiki-style, as in OpenStreetMap, or through data mining, as Photo Tourism does with Flickr.) The pieces of a personal cyberworld viewing device already exist, and they’re getting faster and cheaper.
And of course, as soon as they’re fast and cheap enough, we’ll start to get used to the idea of seeing the world through an image-processed lens. We’ll instantly find new things to do with it; the old McLuhan/Gibson/Banks notion of externalized perception and cognition will suddenly become solidly mainstream and consumer.
I am about to run away for the weekend with some friends to play with fire art and motorcycles. There will be no ball games, fireworks, or kegs for me. There will be no Janet Jackson, no proud Amerfican Eagle, no barbecues, and no flags. I just never could connect with the symbols of the American Good Life. We do have propane, admittedly, but we have 800 pounds of it. We’re running a thing we built called 2piR, a sort of interactive magic platform. Standing on it, you can direct huge gouts of flame from 16 nozzles ranged around you in a 50 foot diameter circle. This is what we do for fun. This is our little piece of the future we’re building for ourselves — not the hardware, but the fact that we built it.