One of the main reasons I find myself emersed in new media today is due to my love of cyberpunk as a kid. The idea of a full virtual reality that we could plug into was just completely enthralling to me at the time.
However, though I was a very early internet adopter and user I never got excited by things like SecondLife or There.com largely because they just seemed like toy – there is nothing that one needs to do in SL and most of the possible activities are pretty much things I do in my real life. That’s all fine as a temporary escape but it doesn’t emerse one in a useful alternative world.
It is still quicker and easier to navigate the 2D web via links and scrollbars than it is to wander a Virtual town looking for the “library.”
As a social alternative there is some real potential in these virtual worlds but the idea i had as a kid that we would be living part of our lives inside the machine seems silly to me now.
However, the notion of a “filter” that puts the web over the real world, like explored in Gibson’s last book, Spook Country, is potentially REALLY exciting.