I think one of the greatest investments you can make in modern time is anything to do with technology. It feels that every single year we keep getting introduced to newer crazier tech. Tesla is literally out here making cars drive themselves, we just put another rover on Mars, and I can use Alexa to turn on lights in my room, the future is here! These are positive changes in society, I'll tell you why newer technology even more valuable than ever before.
Alright now that I set you up with a great teaser, it's time to give some backstory.
So, researchers have been studying this concept known as Symbolic Interaction Theory (SIT) for many years, but it hasn't been until recently where they discovered how new technologies can help explain/enhance concepts to take them to the next level. SIT, originally created by philosopher George Herbert Mead (he had a great mustache) in the earlier 20th century, looks at how everyday social interactions make up society. In other words, he explained that individuals communicate together using symbols and context that define the overall interaction.
After this revolutionary discovery, researchers had a freakin' field day. A lot of studies about influence, shared meaning, and perception have been done as a result of SIT, but now thanks to that good ol technology, SIT is getting revamped in a pretty awesome way.
Researcher DJ Gunkel took some time away from spinning records and started looking at social interactions through online video games using avatars. To his amazement, he noticed that despite all the interactions taking place online, they mimicked how real-life interaction would take place. Pretty standard stuff, right? Wrong. This is huge for the field of SIT and it impacts each one of us, yes especially you.
My dude Gbola Olasina did a study demonstrating why this information is important.
He realized as technologies become more realistic, virtual worlds can be used to study how interaction happens in the real world. Instead of putting together major research studies that are expensive and time-consuming, researchers can now use simulations to get almost identical results. Results can be applied to an insane amount of possibilities. Teachers in a classroom practicing new methods? Easy. A business implementing new employee protocols? Cake. Why suburban moms feel the need to speak to a manager? You bet!
It's like that time Neo learned how to fight in the Matrix except we're using it for productive reasons.
What kind of technologies help with this you ask? Well, have you heard of HTC's Vive Virtual Reality console? The research possibilities are genuinely limitless.
Let me fill you in with an example. My roommate Austen is currently a research engineer for a company I don't know if I'm allowed to say or "cidkiiats" for short. In one of his recent projects, he created an entire store showing off brand new items his company had to offer, all in Virtual Reality. As people joined in and visited the store using their Vive, "cidkiiats" was able to watch their consumers interact with one another and talk about which products they were most excited for in real time.
They were able to track interaction and gather data about their consumers from remote locations! Georgey Mead would be foaming at the mouth with these types of possibilities ladies and gents.
It's interesting to think about the fact that a theory that was created over a century ago is getting reused thanks to a changing world. The potential is unmatched, we'll understand interactions and how they naturally occur all through some video games or simulations. This is what it's all about ladies and gents, the future is only going to get smarter.
It's ironic that all my "wasted" time on video games could potentially become valuable data for researchers.