The Courtship of Physical & Virtual

Today, I went to an event by the founders of PSFK, called likemind. It was a "coffee meetup" to be held today, June 19, 2009, in over 40+ countries. I only knew about it, because of my virtual self. My virtual self was introduced to another virtual person a while ago. As those relationships grew, I was invited to this event. A realization. In effect, I was realizing all those online conversations and relationships into a morning coffee meeting.

Interestingly enough, as the coffee was poured, the conversation turned from.. so its nice to see you in reality.. to why we were there. We were like minded. The idea that we actually met through our virtual selves dissolved as the meeting went on, and re-evolved post meeting. Meaning, just as quickly as we realized our virtual relationships in the likemind coffee meetup, they returned to the virtual form. Linked-in invitations and emails were sent and received in the hours post meetup. The new people I met in reality, were now my virtual friends too. I think that this is a macro-level product of the blurring between the virtual and real worlds. This is a great social example of what is happening on a grand scale. Meetup by Scott Heiferman (ever-energetic) is a great example of this. Here, people find topics of interest and schedule a time and place to gather. They begin and continue their conversations through the online site, while injecting real meetup experiences as content generators. On a micro level there are technologies which are also blurring this line:

"Engineers at Duke University are developing a new way to enter information into mobile devices. Rather than typing on a keyboard, they have created a way to “air-write” short notes. Using a phone’s built-in accelerometer, their application registers a user’s mid-air writing and translates the gestures into text on screen. There are still details to be worked out so the application functions smoothly, but it’s at the very least an interesting concept."

Interesting concept. The interaction between the physical and the virtual is ever more blurred, and technologies like this are exemplifying this on a micro level. As we further bring ourselves to a co-mingling of the two worlds, we are presented with new ways of representation. We begin entering a world where ourselves in reality are constructed by ourselves in virtual-ity. Where do we begin to define the rules for engagement? With the construction of virtual selves (constructed through real interfaces, or virtual interfaces), we explore the notion of virtual relationships and what happens when they become "real" relationships. When they realize.

Another awesome mingling of virtual and real experiences, by MIT geeks.

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