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July 17, 2007

Jaron Lanier

While reading Interface Culture - How new technology transforms the way we create and communicate. by Steven Johnson [Johnson, 1997], I came across the name Jaron Lanier. It was vaguely familiar to me - he had something to do with Virtual Reality, but that's about all that I knew.

It turns out he is a musician (plays saxophone among other instruments), a computer scientist, a composer active in the field of new music, and he is a writer on issues relating to contemporary culture. These are many of the same activities I'm involved with and, since it isn't a very common combination, I was pleaseantly surprised. It is always good to know you are not alone!

I don't know much about his music, I haven't heard any of it, but from the Johnson's book referenced above, and from his site (www.jaronlanier.com), I've starting to think I should definitely get one or two of his books. Here's what he writes about his pre-1999 site:

You'll note these pages are not fancy. I'm waiting until everyone has amenities like Shockwave, Java, and VRML before I use them. The point of the web is to get rid of barriers to access. Pretty is good, but it is less important than connection. (I get hilarious flame mail about this- but truly, there are a lot of people in the world with poor connections and older machines.)
I sympathise with this. Giving connection precedence over prettiness is a very important statement that has bearing way beyond the context of the Internet. Though both of these are problematic terms I believe it is still a vlaid statement in its simplicity. I would argue that the aesthetics of an object (in the widest sense of the word) may only be validated in the reflection upon this object. IOW it is not an inherent property of the object. Hence, connection is a prerequisite of prettiness.

Posted by henrikfr at 09:56 PM | Comments (0)