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Hey, look out your window. No, not the one on your computer. The one embedded in your wall. No, not your wall in VirtualReality, the one on the other side of your goggles.

Yeah, that's what we call the RealWorld. It's a fun place. Hardest role playing game of them all.

Kind of twisted. Everyone needs a digital watch there.

Also known as the BigBlueRoom. Great resolution, but the framerate could be better.

One problem with the concept of the RealWorld is that it contributes to thinking that there is some other place, not the RealWorld. One of two things then happens:

The non-RealWorld thing gets denigrated. "That won't work in the RealWorld." Often, academia or politics are distinguished as being not the RealWorld. This suggests that the only thing that is really real is dog-eat-dog business, and that other pursuits can be quietly tolerated, but are basically irrelevant to the RealWorld and what is really important.

The other possibility is that someone says "this isn't the RealWorld" as a way of claiming that whatever standards of social behavior apply in the RealWorld don't apply where they are. People do awful things all the time on IRC, and justify themselves by saying it isn't real. The same problem happens on parts of UseNet.

Indeed, both of these problems, while seemingly opposite, are the same issue: claiming that the standards of the RealWorld are somehow better and superior or more realistic or whatever, than in whatever supposedly non-RealWorld place one is in.

Obviously this is all dreck. There is only one RealWorld, and you're in it--whether in a wiki, UseNet, IRC, academia, politics, or anywhere else.

"This isn't the RealWorld?" Already two humans in a virtual reality bring one of the most important aspects of human RealWorld behaviour into the virtual environment: Ethics. Introducing a concept like ethics/moral automatically reduces the degree of freedom the virtual environment exhibits.

Obviously this isn't one RealWorld. Who would consider a VirtualReality IN a computer-game as part of the RealWorld? While player and hardware/software do have physical representations in the RealWorld, the main issue is clearly out of this RealWorld. The same concept applies to dreams, which are also part of the RealWorldAbstraction?.

It might be that people use the term RealWorld when referring to events, situations, or activities that manifest themselves primarily in MeatSpace. CyberSpace and MeatSpace can be considered as distinguishable parts of the RealWorld.

Except that the use of the term itself is harmful, because it encourages people to think that what goes on outside MeatSpace is not real, if the term is reserved for that alone. More dangerous than just making the distinction, one is considered as less legitimate than the other. Names are important. One of the biggest problems with online community is that too many people are stuck in that idea that "it's only online, not real", and thus they feel free to violate standards of behavior they'd never cross in MeatSpace. (UseRealNames helps, but is neither necessary nor sufficient. Continuity of identity and accountability are more important than the particular name used.) If anything, many consider themselves more "real" online than anywhere else simply by virtue of being better writers than speakers, and having access to communities they belong to more fully than the ones geographically closest.

RealWorld automatically conjures up a distinction between the real and not so real, i.e. virtual world.

More common terms are VirtualReality (VR) and RealLife (RL). A composition of both is usually refered to as AugmentedReality (AR).

The basic concept of VirtualReality is based on a closed realm exclusively created for one person from RealLife, who leaves his identity behind to become the so-called avatar in this virtual world, where he usually is empowered in special ways, like creator-capabilities, flying etc.

The most import aspect of a VirtualReality yet is the arbitrariness of one's action. If I do wrong, it does not feedback on me. If I dislike what happened, I just rewind. If I die: New Game (Y/N)?

The RealWorld in contrast, being driven by the principle of causality (there are always cause and effect) strongly restricts our possibilities.

This is only possible if one either hasn't interacted with any other independent actors, or if they too will be "rewound". Is all VR necessarily solipsistic? What then is the MetaVerse?

In economic-speak one speaks of "positive" and "normative" statements, "positive" being analogous to RealWorld. One could more or less equivalently speak of "objective" vs. "subjective" (respectively).

This, of course is why economics is referred to as the Dismal Science.


If someone asked me to give my impression of the RealWorld, I would have tell them:

"Two words: TerraIncognita?."

My orienteering skills are way below average for someone my age, and always have been relative to my age at the time. In the rubrics of unreal world denigration described above, that would probably make me "below average" in a very general sense.

For the last year or so, I have been toying with the idea that maybe I have a right not to be ashamed of this apparent fact. Until then, I was preoccupying my mind and perhaps too many of my other resources with proving to myself and more importantly to others that appearances were misleading concerning this alleged fact. This new unashamedness has a queasy feel to it that is at once quieting and discomforting.

Soneone once suggested in the UseRealNamesDiscussion entry that the appropriate name to use at the MeatballWiki (or any other community that takes itself more seriously than a masquerade ball) would be the same name one would use on one's resume. The practice recommended by that contributor is a courageous one indeed. The technology to do what an SQL geek would call a "table join" is at least as old as the technology of double entree beekeeping, so the consequences of using the same identity in both the public domain and in the RealWorld are profound indeed.


I cannot hear "in real life" used to refer to MeatSpace without cringing, and usually bringing up the point that CyberSpace is, actually, real. Perhaps futile, but an important point to make. -KatWalsh

Kat, I agree with you. Perhaps some day it will be the other way round, only projects and persons that exist online will be considered real. -- HelmutLeitner

No discussion of the phrase "the real world" could possibly be complete without at least some mention of "fantasy worlds" or "imaginary worlds". These are worlds that we know aren't real, but which nonetheless provide substantial value in our lives.

see also SoftSecurityInMeatSpace


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