Down the virtual rabbit hole

Remediation of interface leads to virtual experience

from Hypergrid Business

This week’s readings introduced us to the concept of mapping, and while I found the readings really interesting, I decided to go back a little further to chase my rabbit this week. In last week’s box logic notes, I started looking at remediation of interface and why we do it.

In my search last week, I found myself hopping over to chapter 16, “The Virtual Self,” in Bolter and Grusin’s Remediation: Understanding New Media where I started to explore the empathetic motivations of assuming other’s points of view in virtual reality.

While I don’t think the topic of virtual reality is quite where I’m going to end up in my Box Logic Project, I did decide to take a closer look at a text referenced in Bolter and Grusin: Meredith Bricken’s “Virtual Worlds: No Interface to Design.”

“Assuming multiple perspectives is a powerful capacity: only after young children are developmentally ready to understand that each person sees from a different perspective can they learn to relate to others in an empathetic way” (Bricken qtd in Bolter and Grusin 245).

Initially, the quote Bolter and Grusin pulled from Bricken’s article and the title of the article struck me as something that might connect to where I think I want to go with my Box Logic Project: understanding why we remediate interface and how this information can help me choose appropriate interfaces to more fully engage students in the high school classroom.

Ultimately, this rabbit hole didn’t quite lead me to my hoped-for destination, but I did glean some interesting insights in my journey.

“Cyberspace technology couples the functions of the computer with human capabilities. This requires that we tailor the technology to people, and refine the fit to individuals. We then have customized interaction with personalized forms of information that can amplify our individual intelligence and broaden our experience”  (Bricken 1).

While Bricken is specifically writing about virtual reality in this quote, this idea can be extended to the adaptation of any interface. Truly, what I hope to discover in my research for my Box Logic Project is how to determine what sorts of interfaces will help “amplify” the experiences of my students in the classroom. If virtual experiences are truly our attempts to connect and empathize with other individuals and gain understandings of them, the world, and ourselves, what are the best ways for students to interface?

“The task of designing a virtual world, then, does not rest on helping people interpret what the machine is doing, but on determining the most natural and satisfying behaviors for particular participants, and providing tools that augment natural abilities” (Bricken 3).

I love this idea of “providing tools that augment natural abilities.” In K-12 education, we often talk about getting away from “technology for the sake of technology” and this speaks to that idea. What is the best way to engage with new media and new technologies to enhance learning? Or… is there true value in engaging with technology just for the sake of engaging in technology? I don’t know; perhaps I need to think about that question, too.

“People really do seem to find virtual worlds easy to figure out. However, a closer look at the design criteria for these particular models is important. All virtual worlds are not equally learnable. How quickly and accurately we build a cognitive model of the environment is influenced by the environment’s design. For example, when a virtual world seems familiar to us from some real-world experience, we may accommodate to it more quickly” (Bricken 10).

And this quote speaks to the cultural aspect of accessibility. In an earlier blog, I referenced the idea that there is not one interface that is inherently “better” or more accessible, but rather that our previous experiences color and affect how we interact with new interfaces. This is something to keep in mind as I begin to think about narrowing down my topic a bit.

For further thought…

So, in this blog post, I think I’m bringing myself back to the idea of mapping (even though I said I wasn’t going there). I know I need to start narrowing down my topic even further, perhaps thinking about a specific task or skill-set within the classroom when exploring the effectiveness of certain types of interface (small group discussion, composition, etc.) And it may be that mapping the players or “actors” within certain interfaces will help me to start to see the ease and accessibility that students can move within these spaces….

Works Cited

Bricken, Meredith. “Virtual worlds: no interface to design.” (1991).

Bolter, Jay David, and Richard Grusin. “The Virtual Self.” Remediation: Understanding new media. Cambridge, MA: MIT P, 2003. 242-54.

Future of Virtual Reality. Digital image. Hypergrid Business. 26 Dec. 2018. 24 Mar. 2019 <;.

Published by amhudak

a life-long learner trying something new

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1 Comment

  1. I wonder how often the act of writing helps us to create an alternative self that we can distance our present self from in order to understand something otherwise too close. Wait. What? OK, I’m thinking of the act of reflection as a kind of catharsis. And in that purging or externalization through composition do we develop empathy for the self too?


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