How do we say what we mean?

Post-it Notes.

I find neon coloured notes a fascinating medium for communication. They are bright and can stick to anything, as they are intended as attention markers. In our world of constant transmission of information from all types of sources: electronic, paper, spoken, etc. it is hard to make out where to look. And post-it notes make it easy to know where the attention should be.

In books and textbooks notes allow us to point out and bookmark the most important facts, or the ones that are the hardest to remember, or the ones that were missed in the text, but said in class or found out somewhere else. They encourage more engagement with the original media by allowing us to add more to it, something that came from outside the original. They encourage putting thoughts in words and sticking them to the right places. A very useful media indeed.

However, they are also anonymous and small. There is no conversation between many members of a culture that can happen on a post-is note. Post-it notes keep it simple but that doesn’t allow for too much interaction between people. They are a one-sided medium that allows for engagement with future and past self, but not so much with others.

This has a power in our culture. The anonymity is something that for the most part has gone away, forbidden by culture because it allows for giving up responsibility. There is a reason our society has decided to put an author underneath all ideas, opinions, and thoughts – be it plagiarism, honesty, credits, accountability. Post-it notes can go against this they allow for skipping these virtues. On the one hand, there must be ways to not follow the herd and having this medium of adding information in such an obvious and concise matter is a good option. On the other, it can evoke the worst parts of humanity with it. Hate-speech, treats, false comments, distractions are vices that society struggles with and post-it notes can facilitate them.

This is an example of how post-it notes can be used to do bad.

VR.

Virtual reality is an amazing new media. Amazing because it is so new, a completely immersive way to communicate ideas that has never been seen before. And thus has both good and bad implications.

For the most part right now it permits a one way communication – from creator to audience. I believe that in the future with things like PhotonNetwork and other assets for communication (be it facebook, chat interface, some twitter sort, being able to change the environment) people would be able to leave their mark and use it as a multi-communication channel. Because it is so realistic it will multiply the effects of both virtues and vices. Beautiful, useful creations will be more easily sharable and so will be spreading around mean and awful things.

It encourages thinking about reality as a very personal thing that can be manipulated. I think that this is a perspective that people should adopt, because it will help them understand it and employ it. Additionally, having something that seems real but is not will allow for more experimentation and less consequences, which can serve to release tension in people and teach them how to act in the real world. I think that culturally it can serve to create a very clear action-result relationship, without damaging individuals. This is the good way it can go.

And there is a bad one which is the exact opposite. People will lose the connection between action and result, and thus lose the value that it has. It will seem as if anything that you do is okey to be done because consequences are unforeseeable, unlike in the VR world. But this seems to be happening now anyhow, so VR has the potential to induce the distinction, so I have hopes it will be good.

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