Envisioning Cyberspace: Designing 3D Electronic Spaces
Copyright © 2000-2008 Isabel Pedersen
Peter Anders' Envisioning Cyberspace: Designing 3D Electronic Spaces posits an argument for grafting architectural metaphors upon embodiments of cyberspace. Anders defines cyberspace as "the emulation of space in electronic environments, particularly those of networked computing" (3). In this definition, he includes internet experiences, virtual reality, multi-user domains, computer games, applications, and augmented reality. Moreover, he argues for "anthropic cyberspace," because he says that manipulation of space is innate to humans:
Spatial, anthropic cyberspace links to a pre-linguistic knowledge of the world -- a knowledge crucial to our navigation, operation, and communication. We understand spatial representation regardless of its cultural origin. Spatial thought -- a shared, human trait -- underlies the images of objects and spaces from all cultures. (10)
According to Anders, spatial thought is a shared human trait despite cultural difference. He writes, "we think in space" (9). Consequently, he argues that we should design virtual mobility in the same way that we design human movement within real architectural spaces. He writes that architecture, as an art form, "comes closest to addressing our purposeful use of space -- our bodily understanding of containment, restraint and definition" (107). The bodies of humans are purposeful containers so humans structure containment in other spaces as a result.
Anders also writes that architectural metaphor leads to self-discovery and self-determination of the interface:
Works of architecture, and its allied disciplines, urban planning, and interior design, differ from those of the narrative arts because they contain options for users to create their own narratives. How I move through a city is only one path among many, and so my experience will be unique. (107)
If an architect builds a place for people, people are free to use it in unique ways. Thus, Anders argues that architectural metaphor in cyberspace gives users agency because it allows them to forge multiple narratives.