By Matt Cooney
There are some books you simply know will be recognized, in time, as classics. Not in the “Tale of Two Cities,” sense – as literature, per se – but as well-told stories that shed real insight on a particular person, place, thing, or time. For example, if you are interested in the exploding field of virtual reality, or “VR,” as it’s commonly known, and want a better understanding of what it is and how it works, grab a copy of Ernest Cline’s “Ready Player One”. After reading it you’ll have a better sense of what the technology can do and how we’ll interact with it (not to mention a great beach read to recommend to your friends).
In the story the teenage protagonist embarks on an unprecedented epic quest to take control of the common platform in which users of virtual technology interact, called OASIS. This is the environment in which individuals, corporations, and organizations have their virtual iteration, and where, 25 years in the future, people spend most of their time. Like most teenagers, the hero of “Ready Player One” spends most of his time – when not socializing; in school.
There’s a tipping point when every impactful technology goes from “emerging” to “mainstream.” Whether it’s electricity, automobiles, personal computing, smart phones, social media, or the cloud, and whether determined by cost savings, increased efficiency and productivity, mass adoption, or a combination of all three factors, it’s relatively easy to recognize the new “normal” when the standard is adopted. If you’re not among the majority and/or utilizing the new standard, you’re at a disadvantage. In Ready Player One, the tipping point for the mass adoption of VR technology comes when the classroom migrated into Oasis and education went entirely online.