Ecology of Virtual Reality
About the collection of articles
The study of reality has been one of the traditional topics of scientific knowledge since antiquity: Aristotle, Eleatics and Megarics discussed the continuous motion of reality and provided us with the first attempts of its fragmentation, the need to understand and rationalize it, as well as manage its motions. To explore reality from such a perspective is to pose key questions as what is true and false, real and ideal, possible and actual, etc. So the tradition created in antiquity acquires a new direction and dimension in the modern world. Nowadays, in the age of high technology, global information systems and cross-cultural communications, the study of reality tackles the possibilities of mixing the continuous movement of the real with the discrete and manageable “movement” of technology. Therefore the study of the real today and of the accompanying virtual, implies a pluralist cognitive paradigm achievable through interdisciplinary approaches for learning, understanding and modelling of reality according to its primordial plurality, dynamism and continuity.
How relevant is the term “ecosystem” to the description and understanding of the global virtual systems forming parallel realities?
Can virtual computer-based environments be considered as a new “ecosystem”?
What are the key effects of the active virtual systems and how do they affect the ongoing transformations in the world inhabited by humans?
How does the relation “virtual-metaphysical” appear in terms of the philosophy of information?
What prospects and challenges are human societies, human behaviour, the development of knowledge and education through co-evolution of technology facing today?
What is virtual publicity as a digital ecosystem?
What is the paradigm of modern software engineering and software agents?
How is the ideal dimension of money transformed into the abstract substance of electronic money?
These are some of the many questions that provoked the texts in this collection entitled “Ecology of virtual realities.” Its themes and content present research work carried out by a team of faculty professors and doctoral students majoring in Philosophy and Library and Information Science at the Faculty of Philosophy at Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski”. The team accomplished a project with the same title, supported financially in 2014 from the University “Scientific Research” Fund. The project was planned for a period of a year, but was in fact realized in the period May – December 2014.
In the short time available to the team, we collected, systematized and discussed information of various kinds and volume: empirical data, methodologies and conceptions; research results of other teams on the factors influencing the dynamics of development and the diversity of virtual environments. The description, analysis and evaluation of the information determined the diverse content of the articles in this collection, each focusing on a characteristic phenomenon of the virtual. As a result, the reader has the rare opportunity to acquaint in a single edition with both the evolution and co-evolution of modern technologies as well as with their intellectual ethics, the particularities of the digitalized version of publicity, including electronic money existing in parallel with its prototypes from modern and pre-modern times, but “plastic” enough to become their real alternative.
By means of its design and methodology, this project is a continuation of a series of related research studies, successfully implemented in the period 2009-2012 by university professors, undergraduate students and doctoral students in the Faculty of Philosophy: Topology of virtual academic discourse, Philosophical dialogue in a global communication environment, Philosophical aspects and problems of virtual culture and education through interactive forms and methods and Virtual philosophical laboratory. At the same time, the topic of this collection tackles an unexplored area: examining and rationalizing of global virtual systems, forming parallel realities and a new ecosystem. The aim is to outline a new approach to the understanding of virtual environments, based on information and communication technologies and the Internet, to add a new “lane” in the global avenue of interdisciplinary research on virtuality and related media, technology and culture.