This is a brainstorm session on how to design and launch a Virtual Turing Church. As usual I am sending this post to several mailing lists, Facebook pages and discussion groups, but I would appreciate it of you could comment on the Turing Church website (commenting is much easier now) to have all inputs in the same place.
One of the three Turing Church projects that I announced last week, and the most ambitious, is:
A virtual gathering place and services/talks program using advanced virtual reality and videoconferencing systems. I tried to launch similar projects in the past (see Turing Church Talks and Turing Church Workshops), but previous attempts were not very successful. Perhaps the technologies used were not yet robust or user-friendly enough?
[ADDED: I am afraid the “business-like” 3D videoconferencing platforms that I tend to prefer are not appealing enough to this audience, because they lack game-like, playful, hedonistic and virtual-identity-affirming aspects]
A related consideration is that the really new thing brought by the Internet has been powerful asynchronous communication, so perhaps insisting on synchronous communication feels like going back, sort of. In fact, a problem in organizing online gatherings is choosing a date/time suitable for participants in different timezones. Another problem is that many participants pay attention only at the last moment, to realize that they didn’t read the instructions and don’t know what to do to participate.
However, I will try again, perhaps with new technologies and ideas. Of course, I will be delighted if others want to collaborate, doing this well requires too much time and effort for one person.
I agree with the many business and technology experts who are betting on a renaissance of Virtual Reality (VR) powered by immersive interfaces like the Facebook Rift (aka Oculus Rift) and next-generation VR software platforms like Philip Rosedale’s High Fidelity (currently in closed alpha).
Our convictions are not widely popular yet, but only shared by a geographically dispersed crowd, so that virtual community-building is the only viable option at the moment. I imagine weekly or even daily gathering, services and talks about technology, life, the universe and everything, inspired by the Cosmist spirit brilliantly summarized by R.U. Sirius in his last book.
I think in a couple of years there will be a solid and disruptive Metaverse based on something like High Fidelity – which might be owned by Second Life or Facebook at that moment – able to provide user-friendly and fully immersive VR experiences, and an ideal platform for the Virtual Turing Church.
As usual, the problem is how to get from here to there. Perhaps we should start with an intermediate step to re-build and strengthen the Cosmist community in good-old Second Life or OpenSim or one of the current metaverses, with future migration in mind?
Comments and ideas (especially new ideas) welcome!