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 By mgib   Our universe, we use to call Virtual Reality (VR) offers a new surrounding for communication and interaction comparing to Real Life (RL).

 <digression>  I use here the conventional terms though the words are inappropriate. Still real people behind the computer. VR is part of life, and RL can be as much virtual. VR is part of RL, and what I’ll call RL means our life but the new VR part. At the beginning of the telephone, one could have called it VR. You really speak with someone, but this someone is only virtually with you. Not close like before the telephone.</digression>

  Because VR offers new features and lacks of some from the RL to communicate and interact between us, we have to reinvent or adapt rules, habits, behaviours, conventions, etiquette etc… What I will call hereafter Protocols so the reader understand the temporary precise sense I’ll give to this word.  

 Defining new Protocols is certainly an interesting part of VR. A challenge, an adventure for those who want to explore new areas in communication and interaction. But to not reinvent the wheel, we mostly adapt Protocols from RL. What I call translation of Protocols. A Protocol is made of its essence, its spirit. The “why” and “for what”.  Then practical details for application. The translation is only to change practical details so they are applicable in the new environment, keeping the spirit. Most of the time the Protocol keeps its name from RL, even if it doesn’t fit in VR. So people understand which spirit they refer to. But some people are confused and refer to not only the spirit but also the RL application when in VR. We still say people speak together, when in fact they write, or better type to each other. But the spirit is still there, dialogue through typing like speaking in RL.

 The range of what we need to define has limits though. One extreme is situations with no proper equivalent in RL. We have to invent totally a new Protocol. Cases are rare. Maybe because we are too much used to communicate and interact like in RL. Most cases have their RL equivalent. Bots could be an area where we need new Protocols.  We have bots in RL but they interact with us in an environment made for humans. Would my alarm clock wake me up because I forgot to turn it off, I can still throw it against the wall until it falls apart. Stupid, expensive, but the human has still the power. In VR, we ARE in the environment of the bot. Computers, programs, and bytes. Bots have the power. Maybe our dear Doctors Frankenstein so skilled to develop them could spare a bit of their precious time to think of ethics and Protocols. Just a thought.

 The other extreme is situations where no translation is needed. The RL Protocol fits as is. Not many cases too, so much VR offers a different environment. Though, it’s incredible to see so many untouched RL Protocols in VR which obviously don’t fit and would need a translation. How come? Maybe laziness. More probably people who don’t understand the spirit behind the application. They just apply without knowing what it means. But also many people need these untouched RL Protocols to feel safe and comfortable. Without them they are lost. Curious for explorers.

 Some examples of translation are interesting to analyse. The hungers strike from The Lady for example. Nothing to do with hunger. The name is kept to understand the spirit. Inflicting a constraint to yourself in a continuous process as a protest until some demand is satisfied. Done with some sense of humour. No hunger really, but the constraint to let the computer open, maybe unavailable for some other tasks. At least not able to go around in AW. She had to face the usual problem of strikes. You never get all you ask, when to stop or go on? The reaction of others is interesting too. Later The Lady will be able to look back at it and see what can be said about this experience. Maybe in AWWoS?

  “Shouting” is interesting too. A first good translation made long ago on the net. No sounds, but caps enforce the attention of the eye like shouting in RL the attention of the ear. Like big fonts on the front page of newspapers. So why not referring to any writing equivalent? Because their is no dialogue with a newspaper. In the spirit, shouting is the good equivalent and needs to be translated.
 Now in AW we have grey font for tourists, and bold for the “boldies”. Guess what? Many still complain about caps from tourists, saying you shouldn’t shout. But grey font is like whispering. Difficult to follow. Caps in grey are about as riveting as bold. They don’t shout more than the boldies. When you point it out, some understand, and don’t insist. Many don’t and blindly follow the rule they have been taught. I even found once someone not only refusing to admit it but giving me URLs of places defining the Netiquette proving he was right. Caps is shouting nothing else, full point. A cultured idiot. 

 I let you analyse other cases. There are plenty of cases of good and bad translations. You’ll find a lot about Protocols related to power. The most interesting is those who, to satisfy their ego, cumulate VR and RL power in the same context. Very confusing. Useful too when the confusion helps to justify one power with the other. But they are the first to be confused and most of the time they stumble. Names of protocols are the same, translations different. No wonder most of the time one power goes involuntarily against the other, and we see them stepping back and forward again. Dual personality. And when they pretend ejecting in VR isn’t like shooting in RL, they still think compliments in VR are as valuable as RL.  Curious how values would be weakened in one case and not in the other. They didn’t get the spirit. Or maybe they did, but power and its Protocols are too addictive.

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