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

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  523 ratings  ·  75 reviews
Named one of the best books of 2017 by The Economist, The Wall Street Journal, & Vox

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, Dawn of the New Everything is a look at what it means to be human at a m
Paperback, 368 pages
Published November 6th 2018 by Picador USA (first published November 28th 2017)
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3.85  · 
Rating details
 ·  523 ratings  ·  75 reviews

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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 mor ...more
Tonstant Weader
Dec 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Kent Winward
Jul 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Blake Williford
Mar 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Sam Tornio
May 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A little bit of every sort of book in here.
Carl Waluconis
Jul 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jim Nail
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
Colin Ellard
Jul 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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.
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
Khalil James
A sober voice in frantic times, Jaron Lanier has led an interesting life and has lots to say. The way he describes the possibilities of VR is stirring. He gives dozens of definitions of VR; two of my favorites are:
12 - "VR is technology of noticing experience itself."
19 - "Instrumentation to explore motor cortex intelligence" (in it we can become cephalopods!)

Sober because he reminds the reader that "VR is part of a wonderful universe; neither a means of removal from it, nor a fantasy getting he
Teo 2050
<8.5h @ 1.75x. Contents:
(view spoiler)
Stephanie Sun
4/5 geodesic domes.
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  ·  review of another edition
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.
Antonio Gallo
Che cos’è la realtà? La risposta presuppone la conoscenza dei “luoghi”, reali e virtuali, nei quali ogni giorno viviamo e che crediamo di conoscere abbastanza. Purtroppo, ahimè, alla fine, ci accorgiamo che quella che abbiamo vissuto, non è quella realtà che abbiamo pensato. Infatti, nessuno è venuto a dirci, almeno finora, cosa c’è “oltre” di essa. Il “dopo”, per intenderci. Per non parlare poi del “prima”.

Se le cose stanno così, parlare di “realtà virtuale” potrebbe sembrare una provocazione,
Sam Motes
Jul 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Mar 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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.
Adam Vaughn
Apr 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think this is a book that will grow on me as I continue to digest the thoughts shared by Mr. Lanier. This book was not what I expected. It is partially autobiographical, partially historical, and partially about the future of technology, VR, social media, and our society. There is a lot to digest here. I was not expecting the stories from Mr. Lanier's past so that took me awhile to overcome, but once I did, Mr. Lanier weaves a wonderful story about how we got to where we are today in VR, cultu ...more
May 13, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jaron's life, AR/VR/MR, Silicon Valley, The 80s and 90s American tech scene, running a startup, what it means to be human, artificial intelligence, French spies, Japanese criminals and a dozen more themes make up the content of this narrative. Jaron constantly shifts from one topic to another, without a logical flow, making it hard to take in the plethora of information presented here. This book is definitely not for someone who is virtually uninitiated.
For the initiated though, this is a humbli
May 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
Dawn of the New Everything is a mash-up of part-Jaron Lanier memoir, part-history of VR and more specifically VPL, the first VR start-up. Immensely readable, even if you have no interest in the origins of or concepts underpinning VR, especially because Lanier comes across as an approachable, hopeless romantic who genuinely is trying to understand and improve the world. Lanier is commonly seen as a techno-pessimist, whereas this book clarifies a true faith in technology as unifier, but admits tha ...more
I suspect this will be a fun read for some - it was at times a very intriguing auto-biography of Lanier, but I gave up on it about half way through (too repetitive among other reasons). A somewhat distorted summary of the first half of the book:
- Lanier lost his mother at young age and has never fully recovered
- L is a very imaginative, sensitive, gifted person - art, music, math
- a name-dropper and disappointed that not everyone appreciates his talents
- returns to New Mex. when unable to feel a
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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