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Review: Ecology of Virtual Realities

Abstract: The book’s introductory chapter justifies its overall theoretical, ecological framework, its scientific and cultural assumptions, and the range of the philosophical, interdisciplinary, and particular issues arising in the context of the ecology of virtual realities. The second chapter outlines a complementary perspective on virtual reality, disclosed by the philosophy of information, the proper categorical structures and relations to which the complex dynamics of virtual reality boils down. Chapter 3 extensively deals with the architecture and the design of virtual reality, the augmented reality, cyberspace, and the prospects for its future. Chapter 4 examines the auto/regulation of the virtual public sphere, considered as a digital ecosystem. The fifth and final chapter introduces us into the machinery underlying the phantasmagorical logic of virtual financial markets.

Keywords: Ecology of virtual realities, Philosophy of information, binary approach, symbolic representations, architecture and design of virtual reality, augmented reality, cyberspace, virtual public sphere, digital ecosystem, deliberative democracy, transubstantiation and virtualization of primordial economic realities, financial derivatives, leverage, Baudrillard simulacra, crypto-currencies

Gungov, Alexander, Alexander Lazarov, Plamen Makariev, Silvia Mineva and Olya Harizanova. Ecology of Virtual Realities. 2015. Projectoria, Sofia. 154 pages. ISBN: 978-619-156-117-9, (PDF), 978-619-156-118-6 (ePub), 978-619-156-119-3 (mobi)

The attitude of mass consciousness to virtuality to date is quite polarized. On the one hand, there are those who tend to ascribe a fully-fledged ontological status to the virtual environment, if not more sustainable than that of the objective reality. This tendency of mass consciousness is also considered by the authors of the book—e.g. A. Gungov notes that one of the forms of today’s virtual money, the minacoin, enjoys in the web market a higher confidence than real currencies. On the other hand, virtual reality is often underestimated and denigrated—as an illustration I would cite an eloquent comment from an anonymous forum author, who wrote that for him Internet is like a hammer: if he needs it, he uses it; otherwise, it stays in the drawer and he may not think of it for months.

Yet, it seems the most established popular illusion about virtual reality (VR) is that it is a parallel, imaginary reality. However, if we decide to look at the imaginary cyberspace as something that has acquired its own existential status, out and with no reference to the current physical and social reality, we will have to sooner or later admit that we are actually caught in a stunted or degenerate “magic” world, that of Don Quixote’s battle with the windmills, or to date—in the world of the nerds[1] and the trolls—that also has not escaped the attention of the authors of this original and representative survey.

Virtual reality is neither a fashionable information tool and does not end even with its highest instrumental, i.e. software applications, nor is it some imaginary parallel world. Rather, with the emergence and development of information society, it became possible in practice to delete the border between the imaginary (virtual in the classical sense) and the actual. Computer images have entered in the field of natural, physical, and sensory objectiveness and even it has become possible to cause real, physical operations only with the power of mind. There, to such a complex, controversial and even more challenging with the unknown and the irrational about it, environment, the authors of this monograph, concise as a volume, but the more intense, synthetic and large-scale as a prospect, have set off…

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