The Power of Imagination: A Positive Flywheel of Popular Culture, Technology and Reality
Popular culture, technology and reality are parts of the storytelling flywheel that reinforce each other. And thankfully, in an upward spiral.
Essentially, if you can imagine it, you can create it.
As more and more futuristic works appear in popular culture, practitioners enjoy inspired visions to create better technology for the masses. As technology shifts, creatives can then craft more immersive experiences for the masses, which shifts reality, and then impacts popular culture, technology and reality all over.
To get a glimpse into the future, let’s go back to the past. The roots of the Metaverse can be found as far back as the 1950s, with early depictions of virtual worlds appearing in popular culture, science fiction novels and films.
These early depictions of virtual reality often served as commentary on the rapidly-evolving technological landscape of the time, and explored the potential consequences of our increasing reliance on technology and virtual spaces.
✔ One of the earliest and most famous examples of virtual reality in science fiction is the novel “Dawn of the Virtual Universe” by Jason Swift, published in 1952. This novel anticipates many of the key features of the modern Metaverse, including the ability to create and explore fully-realized virtual worlds, and the potential for real-time, synchronous experiences.
✔ One of the most influential examples of this is the 1982 novel “Neuromancer” by William Gibson, which introduced the concept of the “cyberspace” – a virtual world where people can connect and interact with each other and with digital content. The novel was hugely influential, and helped to popularize the concept of virtual reality in popular culture.
✔ “Snow Crash” is a science fiction novel by Neal Stephenson that was published in 1992. The novel is set in a dystopian future where the world is ruled by corporations and people can enter the Metaverse, a virtual world where they can interact with others and experience new realities. The main character, Hiro, is a hacker and courier who becomes embroiled in a plot to use the Metaverse to spread a virus that can infect people’s brains and control their thoughts.
✔The film “The Matrix” (1999), which explores the concept of a simulated reality created by sentient machines.
✔Mamoru Hosoda’s “Summer Wars” (2009) is a Japanese animated science fiction film. The plot revolves around Kenji Koiso, a young math prodigy who is recruited to help solve a mathematical formula that has the potential to destroy the virtual world of OZ, a vast and complex digital universe. Kenji becomes involved with a large extended family along the way and learns the value of family and personal connections. The film delves into issues such as love, family, and the impact of technology on society.
✔The novel “Ready Player One” (2011) by Ernest Cline, which depicts a virtual world called the “OASIS” that serves as a refuge for humanity in a dystopian future.
✔The movie “Belle” (2021), also by Mamoru Hosoda (2021), features Suzu, a shy high school student from a small village. She’s been a shadow of herself for years. When she enters “U,” a massive virtual world, she transforms into Belle, a globally adored singer. The film delves into themes such as parasocial relationships, online communities, and how humans can explore and experiment with various aspects of themselves.
Popular culture will continue to influence our thinking about the potential of this exciting and rapidly-evolving space. And now, with the magical cauldron of AR/ VR/ MR/ XR, we can finally bring imagined worlds closer to reality.
We are currently more than ten years from the predicted plateau, by the way.
Given over 100+ talks globally at huge web3.0 and metaverse conferences; researched into 1000+ data points on immersive experiences and ways to storytell via AR/ VR/ XR/ MR. Love sunrises, sunsets, illuminations, dreamy ferris wheels, and pretty skies. Intensely curious about parasocial relationships and virtual humans.