2: Reality: Presenting The Richest Of Experiences

For all the wonders of technology, the digital experience still is a poor imitation of reality. In the real world, you bring all five senses; in the digital, touch (texture and temperature, which you sense with your entire body), scent, and taste are utterly absent. Even sight and sound are limited in their range, and considerably less detailed, than they are in reality.

The author refers to real-world experiences: a park in winter, tea in a street cafe in China, lying on a Caribbean beach, visiting an art museum in Europe, or going to a theme park. Even though technology can provide 3D renderings with stereo sound, and is experimenting with tactile sensation, it is still sadly lacking when compared with the breadth and depth of sensation you encounter in the real world.

Quoting economist W. Brian Arthur, technology is "a means to fulfill a human purpose." A device as simple as a shovel enables a person to do more than he can with his body alone, and most technologies follow the same course: they enable us to do the same things we normally do, but in an improved manner that makes us more effective or efficient, generally by amplifying human capabilities.

Digital technology has largely been focused on time and space. We can do things more rapidly, across greater distances. Fundamentally, computer technology enables people to share information with one another. It doesn't make possible anything that couldn't be done in other channels, though it is far faster and more convenient for both sender and receiver - and in that sense that it is wondrous - but the notion that it provides something radically different that was utterly impossible in reality is an exaggeration. We could do these things: it would be clumsy, difficult, and very expensive - but still possible.

(EN: An important point about reality that the author seems to miss, as do many others, is that people exist there and are primarily concerned with that sphere. The vast majority of technologies that succeed have an impact on the real world - and while I would concede that a technology may exist that is wholly virtual and has no benefit in the real world but is still valued and widely used, I can't think of a single example.)