The Artist Date is a dream-child of Julia Cameron, helping readers learn how to become a better writer. We’ve discussed her book, The Artist’s Way, and highly recommend both the book and the weekly date. An Artist Date can be life-changing. It can open your creativity like nothing else. How will a visit to a technology expo inspire our storytelling?
Walking into Otronicon 2014 at the Orlando Science Center is like walking into the biggest, baddest techno arcade of all time. It’s hard to know where to look first as I hear the video game sounds going off in various directions. I arrive first at a 3-D visualization demo where I don’t have to wear those lame glasses—it looks like I can reach out and pet a virtual baby dragon.
Little kids crowd to the front of the demonstration. They try to grab the baby dragon, but he is nothing but a collection of light rays and disappears between child fingers. They laugh or look puzzled by this trick. The adults are talking processing time and rendering packages. I’m paying attention to both: the adult techno-babble and the childlike delight of kids trying to catch the holographic dragon.
Strolling past booths and displays, I pass more flight simulators and virtual worlds, and I stop to watch demonstrations of next-generation technologies on display. A company called Ekso Bionics demonstrates a robotic exoskeleton. Their ambassador, Sarah Anderson, demonstrates how the exoskeleton augments human strength, endurance and mobility. In Sarah’s case, the mobility is key. She is paraplegic. I watch for a long time as she walks across the space and turns this way and that, using robotic legs and crutches to hold her upright and help her move. The movements are not beautifully fluid (yet), but they do allow for graduation from a wheelchair to walking. The uses for this sort of technology are endless.
As I continue weaving through the aisles, I start thinking about how the first storytellers left little for us except their primitive and haunting cave paintings. After that, the tradition shifted to oral rhyming tales, some of which managed to be written down. Next books showed up in their various forms, and readers received them. Eventually electronic books arrived, and we could carry a library with us wherever we go.
At a place like Otronicon 2014, I’m seeing how art, technology and science form the basis of video gaming and simulation environments. The reader, now player, has become a character that influences the outcome of the tale.
I can tell from awed reactions all around me from kids and adults alike, this feels so new, so mind-blowing; yet, for many, myself included, technology has already become part of our mythology and storytelling. In the future, it’s only going to expand.
Take Sarah, for example, and what’s possible today with this exoskeleton. Instead of being confined to a wheelchair, she’s moving herself around, upright. And this is just the beginning. With technology, she’s writing her own future, as her story—like all our stories—moves from the two-dimensional page to the three-dimensional virtual world.
Photo by Viernest. Creative Commons license via Flickr. Post by Kathryn Neel.
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Maureen Doallas says
I love the children’s reactions best. That’s where the magic is.
There are many thrilling things being done with technology. Check out the MIT Media Lab, for example.
Kathryn Neel says
The MIT New Media Lab use to be one of my favorite hangouts when I lived in Massachusetts. Now I hangout with the same sort of people at FamiLAB … engineers, programmers, scientists, oh my!
Kathryn Neel says
Basically over-sized children with car keys, credit cards and cool toys.
Marcy Terwilliger says
Maureen Doallas, I so agree with you about watching those sweet children. The excitement explodes from their eyes, some stand there in a trance, they are soaking this all up. Watching my last two little ones give up their Peter Pan shadows and toys is hard. They walk in our home with devices in their hands and ask for my laptop.