The Language of Virtual Reality (La Idioma de Realidad Virtual)
With the emergence of network technologies, the connective tissue of humanity achieved a global reach whereby far flung citizens of the world could express their values and ideas along with more concrete artifacts of culture, such as language. When connecting with others and participating in this exchange, we experience shifts in world view; our schema of the real cyclically corrects and updates, improving our ability to engage with the it. From radical increases in connectivity come ideas like transnationalism, where values that were once bound by geography are dispersed and netizens come to identify more with their sub-Reddit than the nation of their birth. The supposed political divide is emblematic of this trend.
A further symptom was my morning spent practicing Spanish in preferred social VR platform, Altspace VR. Every few weeks, the Spanish Practice group has been appearing in the event feed and it was the first time I had an opening in the schedule to attend. When I beamed into the space, only Community Manager Eliza (Spanish Name) was there to greet me and we had a few minutes exchange about nosotras escuelas meanwhile both complaining of our poor Spanish. The normal leader Carlos (Spanish name) of the study group was caught in traffic, so she was filling in for a few moments.
In time, avatars filtered into the room and we self-organized into a conversation circle where we asked each other about our hermanos and motivacion de practicar. We talked about our parts of world and our jobs. One of our group was named Lil’Hotdog — hats off to such a name. Being more of an entertainment space, it’s nice to see Altspace testing the waters of education and cultural exchange. They had a map showing where each of us is from (Oregon, California and Turkey, respectively) and there was even smartscreen to aid us in our instruction.
As the virtual universe expands, it’s easy to imagine the construction of an educational infrastructure. The more people and platforms that work to expand skills in knowledge through the virtual medium, the more formal the structures to educate us will be. In platforms like Second Life, this already an old story with regularly held language classes and destinations like the University of South Florida. Many companies also hold virtual training sessions for their employees. The results may be disputed, but fun and pajamas have a value all their own. If we have the requisite technology to read and write a blog, there’s little to prevent us from learning a new language through the tools of VR culture.
For now, Cospaces is using VR as an educational tool within the traditional four walls of a classroom. As a technologically progressive company, they are seeking out and implementing opportunities to learn and create. To my eyes, this is a holistic approach to a future life that will likely feature greater technological integration. Already, students of language are building dioramas that display and label objects and actions, making use of our superior spatial memories. Scripting will also be available soon so, more than producing dioramas and infographics, the animations of Cospaces will come to life. If interested, head to Cospaces now and join early access.
In summation, I’d encourage everyone to engage with the virtual world to learn about virtual culture and acquire that language of choice. Prepare for the coming transnationalist movement by joining or starting your own digital utopia. The human resources of learning about a different way of living and speaking are out there and waiting. Or if you already speak your preferred language, then teach it to someone else. But don’t be ethnocentric. Boo, ethnocentrism!