Many years ago my brother bought me a book called Virtual Reality, by Howard Rheingold. Over the course of a summer holiday I read through this book and my mind was genuinely expanded. Like many at the time I thought of VR as headsets, strange black gloves and the future. But the book told a more interesting story than that, it covered medical imaging, Spitting Image puppets and Myron Krueger’s digital Dionysian caves. I particularly liked the part about Krueger’s work and I distinctly remember my friends mocking me whenever I mentioned him, presumably I mentioned him a lot, and liked to pretend I was talking about Freddy Krueger; philistines. We didn’t have the internet in those days, so I couldn’t point them to awesome videos like this.
For many years the ideas that were in that book floated around my head; I think they still inform my thinking to this day, and when I get to work on Microsoft’s Kinect I will surely be aware of how much we’re doing was actually done first twenty or thirty years ago, in research labs around the world.
Since reading the book I have occasionally looked up Mr Rheingold on the web, and read the odd bit about him, every now and then. However, it was when I started to use Twitter seriously that I realised I could follow him, and absorb a river of interesting stuff on a daily basis. Although HR wasn’t the first person I followed on Twitter, he is probably the most significant; many of the most interesting folk I follow on Twitter have come to my attention via a Rheingoldian re-tweet.
But today the knowledge came full circle and I was able to give back. For today Howard was searching for an appropriate adhesive to hold decoupage to his shoes, and I was able to get in there quick with suggestion of PVA glue. Before I knew it he’d ordered some on the interwebs. I hope it does the job because I have become ridiculously excited and proud at the prospect of being part of the evolution of Howard’s famous painted shoes.
Just another ambition I didn’t know I had…