Augmented reality and language

Any change in the technology of communication brings about concomitant changes in language. For example, the twentieth century saw the gradual introduction of television as a preferred medium of public discourse. TV has gradually replaced the written word in parts of our culture. And because TV is more constrained by time, language has become streamlined.

Similarly, the rise in popularity of texting and twitter into the culture have now clearly led to a generational shift in vocabulary and language use. But none of this is really new. Examples of the influence of changing technology upon language can be found throughout history.

Perhaps, as I described in my eccescopy posts, we will some day soon be able to augment our communication with each other by digital objects, images and whatever else turns out to be useful, appearing to float in the air between us. I’ve been wondering what sort of effect this would have on language.

For one thing, linguistic gesture may gain in importance. If our everyday gestural communication can be reliably augmented by digital information in useful ways, then general language use might shift away from predominantly verbal, and toward a more balanced mix of verbal and gestural.

It is not clear what impact such a shift would have. For one thing, I suspect it would be bad for blind people and good for deaf people.

2 thoughts on “Augmented reality and language”

  1. Ironically, SixthSense, which is a wonderful project, is exactly the opposite of what I’m talking about.

    SixthSense is a very exciting and innovative approach to the traditional problem of Human/Computer Interaction: Allowing a person to seamlessly interact with a computer.

    I’m talking about an entirely different class of interactions: people communicating directly with other people.

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