Thursday, January 20, 2011

Never mind jetpacks where the hell is cyberspace?

I am currently reading Cory Doctor's "FTW" a novel which explores the economic and social consequences of the gold farming industry that has sprung up around massively multiplayer online games. Doctorow knows his subject but even so the novel seems strangely out of date. He describes a near future world where just about every teenager is plugged into an online game and where the economies of major titles exceed that of many countries. I vaguely remember headlines like that from about five years ago but it seems strangely out of date now. Despite rising numbers of players the importance of mmorpgs as a phenomenon seems to have shrunk. No one compares mmorpg economies to countries any more. Stories about Second Life  are no longer a regular feature in the main stream newspapers.  Perhaps most tellingly teenagers are not abdicating en masse from the real world to take up residence in the online world of their choice. No one really seems to believe any more that these virtual worlds are the harbingers of a William Gibsonesque Cyberspace.  Mmorpgs  are now seen as just another form of entertainment, nothing more, nothing less.

Yes we have the internet and that internet continues to amaze and surprise us with undreamed of possibilities  for new forms of interaction and communication but nowadays it is all about using the net as an adjunct to the real world rather than an alternative to it. Facebook for example does not supplant the real world but augments it with new forms of communication. Instead of "virtual reality" we have "augmented reality" with tools like Layar and Google goggles giving us new ways to find information about the same old fashioned real world.

By the way if you really really still want a Jetpack you can buy one here: because hey, this is the future after all.


Anonymous said...

The guy, Glenn Martin, fronting Martin JetPack has a reputation for being dodgy, ie: great at spending investors money and bullshitting about whatever he thinks will sucker the next investor in. The specs page is telling in this respect, it is all in imperial measurements while NZ is metric. The jetpack will be metric built.

For that matter I suspect it never will perform to spec either - 63mph, for example, is pretty unlikely given the method of tilting the pack (and pilot) for forward thrust. And by extension so is the 31.5 mile range. Maybe that's with a back wind. :P After all, shouldn't the speed be in knots to indicate air speed?


mbp said...

Hi Solbright, pity to hear that. The video does look pretty convincing though although I guess it is really a mini helicopter rather than a jetpack.