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Dawn of the New Everything: Encounters with Reality and Virtual Reality

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  844 ratings  ·  116 reviews
The father of virtual reality explains its dazzling possibilities by reflecting on his own lifelong relationship with technology.

Bridging the gap between tech mania and the experience of being inside the human body, Jaron Lanier has written a three-pronged adventure into "virtual reality," by exposing its ability to illuminate and amplify our understanding of our species.
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published November 28th 2017 by Henry Holt and Co.
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Virtual Reality as Life Therapy

I admit it: I was wrong. After reading Jaron Lanier’s Ten Arguments, I dismissed him as a half-literate techno-traitor peddling some personal resentment about a mis-spent life in technology; but I couldn’t have been more wrong. Steered by another GR reader, I ran smack into Dawn of the New Everything and immediately began groveling. Lanier is not only someone of integrity, he is the kind of person who is worthwhile aspiring to in the very specific sense that he has
The ideas in this book are so refreshing, thrilling, amusing, enlightening, and sad that they had me eagerly looking forward to another session with it whenever I got a chance. I found myself fearing what was to come as I read the final chapters. If I say I wish it had turned out differently, it wouldn’t make much difference. I am just so relieved & reassured that such people exist. We share a sensibility. I suppose such people forever be shunted aside by more talky types, louder but not more ca ...more
Tonstant Weader
Dec 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
To many people, Jaron Lanier is the father of virtual reality. He coined the term in its contemporary usage though points to an older, literary use. Lanier is a credit-sharer, not a credit-grabber, so this memoir of his childhood, early work and years at VPL Research, Inc. is full of sharing the credit with mentors and collaborators. Lanier, though, is not your typical Silicon Valley entrepreneur/coder/inventor.

First and foremost, Lanier is a humanist. Much of that may come from his unconvention
Apr 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ux-books
Excellent. Lanier's one of the smartest people on the planet, and he has one of the biggest hearts on the planet. He understands technology and the culture and history of Silicon Valley more fully than almost everyone in Silicon Valley yet his imagination and intellect breaks completely free from the Silicon Valley bubble.

His storytelling here is warm, caring, human and accessible but still he stretches my brain almost to the breaking point. This book is a solid workout for the heart and the mi
Kent Winward
Jul 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Lanier's memoir-ish recounting of the creation of virtual reality technology and his philosophical musings on technology and how it impacts actual reality was well worth the read. I had numerous "of course" moments at the cross-cultural intersections of technology and society at large, i.e. technology and Silicon Valley intersecting with the psychedelic movement. ...more
Carl Waluconis
Jul 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: technology in the world now and future.
Shelves: non-fiction
Keeping up with technology has become an impossible task for me. I have always been attracted to virtual reality, but couldn't always find the right places to look for information. Jaron Lanier has supplied it with this book. He has been a Silicon Valley stalwart since the early days, and steady proponent and creative force in the development of virtual reality. The great news is here is a tech guy who can write engaging prose about his life as well as technology. He makes technical material cle ...more
Blake Williford
Mar 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I thoroughly enjoyed this read. Having already read Lanier's other two books You Are Not a Gadget and Who Owns the Future, I'm very familiar with his humanist views on technology and the questionable ethics of how technology is being implemented in our current age - But Lanier is also the pioneer of Virtual Reality and in this book he reveals his incredible and bizarre life story. From raising goats and living in a geodesic dome of his own design in rural New Mexico, to making his way to a young ...more
Feb 25, 2018 rated it liked it
There are moments of wonderful insight in here, but way too few to justify a meandering memoir. I really enjoyed Lanier's interview on Ezra Klein's podcast and bought this book to hear more of that conversation, but the podcast was basically where all the good stuff was. It was fascinating to hear about the culture of silicon valley and Lanier's experiences in AI, but I just don't care enough about him or his life to have made this book worthwhile. ...more
Colin Ellard
Jul 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Fascinating account of the history of VR from one of its founders intermingled with autobiography and philosophical musings about technology and humanity. I enjoyed every word. Don't ignore the appendices. They're also worth the time. ...more
Sam Tornio
May 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A little bit of every sort of book in here.
Jim Nail
Oct 25, 2017 rated it liked it
I really don’t know how to review this book, it is so completely removed from the life I have lived. But I read every word of it, understood some of it, and learned a lot about the world as it is and where it is going. If, like me, you are a boomer who followed the hippie dream and paid no attention to the technical revolution going on at the same time, you might benefit from reading Jaron Lanier. He links the two dreams of the 60s with a passionate humanism that guides his innovative work and t ...more
Mar 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: phd-studies
A comprehensive explanation of the evolution of virtual reality and its related technologies, there are a few dozen attempts to define what it is Lanier has developed and promoted most of his life. More surprising to find so much autobiographical details from childhood onwards. An unconventional life made slightly suspect by his habit of being an unreliable narrator, yet fitting for some so immersed in illusion.
Jan 18, 2018 rated it liked it
Informative Read. Usually not my cup of tea - but I do believe if you are interested in Virtual Reality - then this is the book for you.
Sep 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Usually when a man credited with coining a technical term, expounds about his creation, the outcome is inevitably anticipated to be dense, it not downright esoteric – expect for a segment of the populace that terms itself fraternity. Unless such a man goes by the name of Jaron Lanier that is. The author of the best-seller “You Are Not a Gadget”, and “Who Owns The Future”, in his latest book, “The Dawn Of the New Everything”, gives a vantage techno-spiritual overview of the concept of virtual rea ...more
Alexander Fitzgerald
Nov 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a strange book. Most likely that is because Jaron Lanier has the money to do whatever the hell wants, and that's exactly what he does.

The father of virtual reality writes an autobiography. That's the best way to explain this book. Along the way, he teaches you a great deal about (wait for it) virtual reality.

The extremely clever part of the book is that Jaron Lanier examines how each person examines reality in a different way. He communicates this by telling his life story in the way he
Fraser Kinnear
Well, I learned a lot about VR (e.g., why we'll never have floating holograms, VR programming concerns like latency, and the pros and cons of various interfaces). Lanier has a pretty rosy perspective of how the tech will develop, and why our experience with VR will be much more creative and positive than the existing opinion about video games and social media. Much of this book is memiors from a wild, alternative Bay-Area lifestyle. For better or for worse, there is a ton of name dropping (why e ...more
Murilo Queiroz
Sep 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
I'm old enough to remember the "first wave" of Virtual Reality, so the historical / autobiographical chapters of this book are very interesting to me. And Jaron Lanier ideas are always thought-provoking and out-of-the-box: you are not going to find the usual hype about VR/AR/MR here, but comments more philosophical, subtle and humane. Just like in You Are Not a Gadget, it's hard to agree with the author on everything, but the discussion is very rich anyway. ...more
Teo 2050


Lanier J (2017) (14:28) Dawn of the New Everything - Encounters with Reality and Virtual Reality


Preface: Virtual Reality’s Moment

• What Is It?
• What Can a Book Do That VR Can’t, at Least as Yet?
• How to Read This Book
• Meeting My Younger Self

01. 1960s: Terrors of Eden
• Border
• Window
• Trifecta
• Mood
• Spun
• Beyond Recall
• Sound
• Outlasting Cruelty
• First Experiment
• Burned

02. Rescue Spacecraft
• Landed
• Where in the Universe?
• Whenc
Stephanie Sun
Aug 02, 2018 rated it liked it
4/5 geodesic domes.
Robert Craven
Dec 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A wonderful and insightful biography by one of the founders of Virtual Reality. It is raw, honest and very well written.
Excellent appendices and never descends into geek jargon. well worth the investment.
Corrie Campbell
I chose to read this book on the recommendation of Ezra Klein from Vox after listening to his podcast. That's the last time I do that. To be fair, the book was interesting and okay, but a bit tedious and long. I appreciated the biographical parts of Jaron Lanier's book because his story is infinitely more interesting than the history of virtual reality. Sadly, you really can't separate the two as he is really a type of founding father to virtual reality in Silicon Valley.

Nonetheless, if you are
Carol Ann
Jul 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Wow--SO MUCH to think about. This was an amazing book. Lanier was like a friend visiting over a cup of coffee--or a bowl of noodles. Loved this.
Sam Motes
Jul 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
An interesting look at VR by a VR pioneer as was expected but also a look into the human condition over the last few decades. The vision of what VR was going to be and what it will be some day is an amazing vision of what can be one day. It was interesting to hear his early days stomping around NMSU and the Oregon mounts. Brought up some good memories of my own around there.
R.J. Gilmour
Mar 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Lanier's book is an autobiography that looks at his life and career, but as the father of VR it also is an explanation about how VR developed. It is a look at a fascinating individual and how his unique way of seeing the world informed the technology that he helped develop.

"New York City amplified you right back at yourself, a giant parabolic mirror. As your walked down the street you made eye contact and exchanged subconscious signals with thousands of people. You dove into the densest hub of
Justin Martin
Jan 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
If there's such a thing as a gentle, nuanced siren - an electric light show that knocks on your door wanting to sit down for tea - this is that book. Lanier uses both a soft light and a hard light to revisit his time in Silicon Valley pioneering virtual reality, and really walked me through how his successes, failures, and needs in his childhood paved the way for the best and worst decisions of his VR demigodhood.

I can't think of a nonfiction book that has given me more to think about - called
Tony Canas
Jun 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
A very different book from what I expected. I expected a look at the future of virtual reality. I got a heartfelt and moving story of a life lived in the computer science industry of the late 20th and early 21st century. I really enjoyed the book, but in a very different way than I expected.
Feb 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Solid four stars, though I do think I wavered in my rating of the book as I progressed through it. The beginning was kind of interesting, though it kind of slowed down a bit. I then enjoyed reading about the early days of Silicon Valley. I didn't really too much like the sections on VR, strangely enough, but I loved two of the three appendices. Phenotropic (typic?) programming and the duel of the two modern demigods of technology and economics, which are basically choices we've made with how we ...more
Jun 06, 2018 rated it liked it
I personally like Jaron Lanier for his humanistic spirit in the world of technology. His previous books "Who owns the future" and "You are not a gadget" were more intriguing and engaging to read. Dawn of the new everything is an interesting perspective on VR and what possibilities it might involve, and the directions in which it probably should go. In this sense, he somewhat mocks AI, and the "techie" culture for blindly dumbing us down, so that AI seems intelligent. VR in his opinion would allo ...more
Jun 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
There's a lot here. From history to the life-lived picture of a genius to computer science lecture to critique of AI futures to what's wrong with the web as is.

At its worst it's a seven course meal of 96 ounce steaks.

And I still find myself grappling with the notion I walked away with during part of it that "abstract things aren't real". Not sure I agree. And yet this guy is an expert on realities. Maybe it's nomenclature.

You don't have to agree with the ocean but it's still epic.
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Jaron Lanier is a computer scientist, composer, visual artist, and author.
In the sciences:

Jaron Lanier scientific interests include biomimetic information architectures, user interfaces, heterogeneous scientific simulations, advanced information systems for medicine, and computational approaches to the fundamentals of physics. He collaborates with a wide range of scientists in fields related to t

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