Dear reader, what you are about to experience in the world of coworking adventures is (as will soon be made evident) a work of fiction. Any resemblance to pre-existing people or technologies, real or imagined, can be chalked up to a failure of imagination on the author’s part. Sorry about that.
Harold Reiner’s workspace at The Lodge Coworking Community was theoretically intended to house only one coworker, but if he grabbed another chair it would be a simple matter to seat an extra person. Four walls—standard walls, sans-screen—held up the desk at which Harold sat. A single screen, roughly as wide as Harold’s chest and equally tall, protruded from the desk. A physical keyboard and mouse sat across from it, the latter cheerfully painted to resemble a pocket watch. Notepads filled from end to end with ideas and designs for various discarded projects swarmed the rest of the desk. Harold brushed them out of the way, determined to put off organizing them for a while longer. As he placed his coffee down in the newly free space, he snapped his fingers a few inches in front of the screen’s surface. The screen lit up, revealing a computer generated face designed to resemble one Abraham Lincoln.
A muffled sound protruded from a cabinet under the desk. Harold knew from experience that it was saying “Welcome back, Mr. Reiner.” He had forgotten to retrieve his headphones, evidently, and of course he had never bothered to install a lapel speaker. A moment or two of fishing through the cabinet yielded his prize: a pair of black wireless headphones that The Lodge had supplied as a gift upon acquiring a coworking membership. He slipped them on and spoke towards the screen in a clear voice: “I won’t be needing your services at the moment. Just bring up the desktop.”
The face disappeared as the computer’s desktop faded into view. It knew from experience not to bother offering any more help unless Harold directly asked for it, though most users were quite happy to have a personal assistant. Harold Reiner preferred manual input. A slew of icons littered the screen, nearly obscuring the background image (a photo of the Sphinx, digitally altered to add the nose back in). Harold would have to reorganize those files later as well. For now, it sufficed to use his computer’s search function to look directly for his target: a folder marked “The Field, v.0.2.” Within were all his notes and work on the VR project—or at least, all digital ones. Harold could not do all the work on his own, hence the team he asked Dave to collect, but he could at least get a head start.
All virtual reality, or at least all virtual reality before The Field, relied on a pair of goggles and a set of headphones to grant the sensation of being in whatever place or situation the programmers intended. Some had toyed with the concept of using special gloves to grant a sensation of feeling as well, pressing down on the hand when the person attempted to touch something. None of them were capable of what The Field would do, if the project was successful. No goggles or screens would be necessary. The mind would make it real. The Field would, if it worked, send its user into a temporary state of sleep, wherein they would “dream,” so to speak, of whatever the programmer wanted. It would, of course, take more than the programmers and artists who crafted standard VR experiences and devices. The team Harold required included biologists and neurologists as well. It required people who truly understood the brain, the mouth, the eyes, the nose, the ears and the nerve endings which allow mankind to sense. It would require people prepared, mentally and morally, to manipulate human thought in the name of science and progress. That, Harold decided, was a far greater philosophical concern than merely knowing if you are or aren’t in a simulation at any given time.
Dave O’Malley, meanwhile, was having his own problems.
Jacob Rosenberg is our resident blogger and story teller. Become a member of Sprout to experience your own coworking adventures. Start by booking a tour.