Why the Virtual Reality Vision of the 90s Failed

Welcome to Reading List, a collection of cool tech and science reads from around the web.


You'll find nothing about football and/or football commercials here. Think of it as a safe haven from all the Grid Iron madness, so take some time and enjoy amazing long form and analysis from our friends at Motherboard, The Atlantic, Medium, and Kill Screen. You'll be glad you did...unless you really like Katy Perry, then maybe not.

Hipster Runoff was a music blog that captivated audiences and critics since its inception in 2007. Until recently, the creative powerhouse behind Hipster Runoff remained a complete secret, but after selling off the blog, the author bares all to Motherboard (via Gchat) as the story takes a closer look at what made Hipster Runoff such a memorable corner of the internet. [Motherboard]

A daughter deals with the death of her "old school techie" father and how it can be difficult to execute a will in the digital age. The writer narrates as she travels through a labyrinth of old online accounts, broken laptops, and automated fire alarm systems in order to digitally lay her father to rest. [Medium]

Carl Sagan once said that you have to know the past to understand the present. In technology, that may seem impossible—things are usually following the steady march of progress after all—but the modern day battle for Net Neutrality isn't the first of its kind. In fact, it has a lot in common with the 1940s and radio freedom. [The Atlantic]

Virtual reality is everywhere, and if the explosion of VR films and games is an indicator, it's here to stay, but it's not the first time VR has tried to enter the mainstream. Kill Screen looks into virtual reality's short-lived life in the 90s and where the tech went wrong. [Kill Screen]

GIF from ABC Primetime Report (1991)




I find it annoying that so many arguments for the inevitable second failure of VR involve "how ridiculous you look wearing <blank>." Does anyone really have time to feel self-conscious about having an Oculus Rift strapped to their head when they have an Oculus Rift strapped to their head? Meanwhile, anyone in the vicinity who might be thinking "that guy looks ridiculous" is likely just impatiently waiting for his or her turn. The whole point of this technology is that it is dissociative. With effective VR (and I've experienced it, being lucky enough to currently own a Rift) you very quickly lose your interest in and perception of your actual surroundings — it doesn't even occur to you to be embarrassed that you're wearing the equipment.