Elon University

One of 24 Metaverse Summit question-answer sets: Bob Moore shares his thoughts on the networked future

This page contains one of a set of 24 transcripts including remarks made by interview participants at the Metaverse Roadmap Summit at Stanford Research Institute in May 2006. Each person was asked a series of five questions regarding the future; only the most “telling” responses were transferred from the recordings into these transcripts, thus, some of these interviews will include five question-answer sets, some will have four or fewer.

To jump to another interviewee’s set of answers, click on the person’s name below.

Bridget Agabra Randy Farmer Jerry Paffendorf
Betsy Book Guy Garnett Marty Poulin
Corey Bridges Will Harvey Robert Scoble
Iveta Brigis Daniel James John Smart
Jamais Cascio Raph Koster David Smith
Helen Cheng Mike Liebhold Sibley Verbeck
Esther Dyson Julian Lombardi Malcolm Williamson
Doug Engelbart Bob Moore Ethan Zuckerman

  >> Return to Metaverse interviews lead page for links to recordings of these comments

Moore HeadshotBob Moore is a sociologist in the Computing Science Laboratory at PARC and a member of the PlayOn project team. He specializes in the micro-analysis of social interaction and practice in virtual worlds and in real life. In the area of online game research, he examines the mechanics of avatar-mediated interaction as well as shared player practices through screen-capture-video analysis and virtual ethnography. He has conducted video-based ethnographies in a variety of settings including massively multiplayer online games, copy shops, and survey research call centers.

What is your greatest fear for the future of networked technologies? I’m worried that people won’t leave their houses. I’m worried that people will no longer travel and no longer venture out into the real world because they are so engrossed in the virtual world. And I wouldn’t have thought this 15 years ago, but we’re seeing it in other aspects of life. Children today don’t go out and play as much. There’s a perception that it’s more dangerous outside, and at the same time the things that they can do inside in terms of virtual worlds and games are more interesting and compelling. If that continues – if the physical world gets less appealing and the virtual world gets more appealing – I think we can expect to see people spending all of their waking hours there, at least some people.

What is your most fervent hope for the future of networked technologies? I want a kind of a simple thing. I want to be able to have a face-to-face conversation with somebody on the other side of the world that captures the behavioral nuances of a face-to-face conversation. I’ll know it’s not a face-to-face, I know I can’t reach out and hug them, but it will be compelling enough that I’ll feel I’m sitting across the table from them.

What technology will have the greatest impact on our everyday lives the next 10 years? Ubiquitous computing and smart materials. The very materials we make our physical world out of are embedded with sensors and actuators and processors, so we can make them do things. We can program them to know when I’m sitting in a chair when I’ve gotten up out of the chair, the environment knows what I’m doing so, for better or for worse, it can help me out or it can maybe harm me if somebody else is using the data for nefarious purposes. We (will be) used to inanimate objects being smart objects. They might just be sitting there, but they are recording and making a record of my action in that space and my interaction with them.

Looking out more than 10 years, what development will have the greatest impact on society? One would be ways that I could input myself into a virtual world. Currently I use a keyboard, I use a mouse, I might use a gamepad. I want to be freed from all that and be able to express myself using my body in a natural way without lots of wires and things like that. So I’m imagining nanosensors or a variety of technologies where I could project myself into a digital world with no wires attached.

What do you think policymakers should do to ensure a positive future for networked technologies? Figuring out what we’re going to do with digital property rights. In current virtual worlds, users aren’t content just to consume content the major companies produce. They want to produce themselves, and so you have a conflict in all the world. Player content is not allowed, or if it is there’s still a lot of legal questions as to who owns that content, and I think we’re just working that out now. That’s going to be a biggie, because if you spend a lot of time in a world, making things, investing yourself in it, you want some security.

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