I recently started work on a novel, on the theme of Virtual Reality. I think VR is the most promising consumer technology around right now. Products like the Facebook-owned Oculus Rift, Sony’s Project Morpheus and Samsung’s Gear VR are all early stage (Oculus hasn’t even released a version 1.0 for consumers). But VR is poised to change the world.
My first book, Trackers, was nonfiction. It was about self-tracking, which in my view has been one of the most interesting consumer technologies of the past five or so years. Why? Because it has fundamentally changed the way we manage our health. And now the Apple Watch is about to make self-tracking mainstream.
Virtual Reality seems to be at a similar point that self-tracking was in 2007, or what became Web 2.0 (and led to YouTube, Facebook et al) in 2003. It’s at that point where the technology is a couple of years away from being complete, but the potential impact is huge.
Because VR is a work in progress, I decided the best way to explore this technology was to write a work of fiction. So that’s what I’m attempting. My role models in this endeavor are some of my favorite novelists: J G Ballard, William Gibson and Tom Wolfe.
I should mention that in 2014 I started a second nonfiction book, on the topic of Douglas Engelbart and The Mother Of All Demos. But I’ve put that project on hold, as I couldn’t find a way to make it a compelling Laura Hillenbrand-esque narrative. The trouble with writing nonfiction about technology is that there is usually very little action or excitement in the narrative. The solution, at least for me at this time, is to make up my own action and excitement! In other words, write fiction instead.
Even though I’m now writing a novel, my goal is the same as it’s always been: to explore technology. That’s been my modus operandi as a writer since the founding of ReadWriteWeb in 2003.
If you’d like to follow or help me in my new writing adventure, I’ll be active most days on Twitter.