Contrary to popular belief, the concept of virtual worlds significantly predates the advent of computers. The Roman naturalist, Pliny the Elder, expressed an interest in perceptual illusion. In the twentieth century, the cinematographer Morton Heilig explored the creation of what became called the Sensorama. This was a theatre experience designed to stimulate the senses of the audience.
Vision, sound, balance, smell, even touch (via wind), was intended to draw them into the productions.
Early virtual worlds
Among the earliest virtual worlds implemented by computers were virtual reality simulators, such as the work of Ivan Sutherland. Typically, these devices are characterized by bulky headsets and other types of sensory input simulation. Contemporary virtual worlds, in particular the multi-user online environments, emerged independently of this research.
These were, on the whole, driven by the gaming industry but draw on similar inspiration. While classic sensory-imitating virtual reality relies on tricking the perceptual system into experiencing an immersive environment, virtual worlds typically rely on mentally and emotionally engaging content which gives rise to an immersive experience.
The impact of technology today
Nowadays, certainly in the developed world, it’s fairly accurate to say that computers and technology in some form impacts our lives every day. Even if you have resisted buying a smartphone, a laptop or a tablet, it is virtually impossible to escape the world of technology. Every time you buy something, even if you use cash, a computer will get in on the act to account for the money received. Another computer will work out what has been sold and adjust a stock level somewhere and more computers will then calculate all the profits at the end of the day. And this is just taking a very basic example.
I could say look around you and see if technology is impacting on your life right now. But of course it is because you are reading this post. Even if someone printed it off for you, at some point a computer was involved!
How we use technology
Our business at Recordings 4 Schools is very highly led by technology. The vast majority of our marketing is done online. This blog post for example, is all part of our ongoing marketing strategy to build our business reputation in essentially the virtual world. Our hope is that the virtual post will then turn into a more traditional face to face meeting when we come and record in your school.
When we record it is very much a real experience. You will get to meet me when I turn up at your school with lots of microphones for example. But nevertheless the actual recording bit is all done digitally and we record ‘virtual sound’. The microphones take the real voices of your pupils and essentially turn it into digital dots which then come out the other end as a recording of the fantastic singing in your school. We cannot escape this. There is no other way to record other than to use technology.
After we have been to your school and recorded on location, we then take the digital data back to our studios and prepare the files to be transferred onto a physical CD. At this point we are still dealing entirely with digital data. The CDs are made by creating a digital file which is then read by another computer which translates this into a series of audio files which are copied onto the disc.
Providing physical product
After all of this technology has combined successfully to produce, print and package your CDs, you are left with a physical product which can be handed out to your pupils and sold to parents and grandparents. Yes ok, ultimately a CD contains digital data. But in a world where so much information is held ‘in the cloud’ or some other virtual world, our business is about providing a physical product which you can see and touch. Our hope is the CDs we are recording in schools today will be kept by your pupils for many years not only as a record of their time in your school but something which cannot be deleted, or otherwise lost in the virtual world we now inhabit.