The classic Hackers Dictionary describes The Big Room as "The extremely large room with the blue ceiling and intensely bright light (during the day) or black ceiling with lots of tiny night-lights (during the night) found outside all computer installations."
When I hear folks rhapsodizing about how immersive their video games or online environments are, I just have to smile. There's something special about reality. Even if you're using a vibrating controller and 3-D goggles and smell-o-vision ... even if you've got an ultra-fast processor and a video board that displays polygons out the wazoo ... even if you paid extra for nano-actuators to punch you in the face when an avatar on the screen hits you ... even if you've jacked in via neural implants and the bits are piped directly into your brain — it's only a simulation, and you know it.
All the philosophical arguments about Cartesian demons and deluded brains in vats can't compare to really seeing mist rising over a meadow at dawn, or really tripping on a tree root and doing a Face Plant. James Boswell's Life of Johnson describes a (real!) moment in August of 1763 with Samuel Johnson:
After we came out of the church, we stood talking for some time together of Bishop Berkeley's ingenious sophistry to prove the nonexistence of matter, and that every thing in the universe is merely ideal. I observed, that though we are satisfied his doctrine is not true, it is impossible to refute it. I never shall forget the alacrity with which Johnson answered, striking his foot with mighty force against a large stone, till he rebounded from it — 'I refute it THUS.'
Ouch! Maybe that's why I like trail running ...
(cf. RockCreekValleyTrail (30 Aug 2004), ...)