Virtual technology has emerged as one of the cutting edge technologies of the 21st century. In conjunction with nanotechnology, bi technology, and cellular chemistry, the virtual world is all set to dictate the terms of the market in the century that started almost two decades ago.
One of the basic principles that connect all these worlds is the basic conception of matter. Scientists had thought that they had discovered the basic secret of matter in the 1920s. Again they thought the same in the last decade of the 20th century. And some years back, the 21st century itself has had to go back to the basics and rewrite these basic principles.
In the early 20th century, the perception was that matter was solid. However, many properties of matter could not be explained if matter was considered to be solid. So it was suggested and later proved that matter was wavy in nature. But this was also not an answer to many basic questions.
So now, after nearly two decades into the 21st century, the position is that matter can be both solid as well as wavy. Depending upon the nature of the environment, matter can exhibit the properties of both wavy particles as well as that of solid particles.
It was also thought that the dual nature of matter itself could herald the unification of various sciences. But since there was no way of understanding of the techniques of the transformation from one state to the other, the matter of unifying the various physical and biological sciences still remains a distant dream.
It is against this background that the question of social checks and balances in the virtual world comes up. In any system, there will be different sets of people involved. It’s not just Lights, Camera, Action! The dynamics of the system dictates that there will be some push and pull between the various groups. It is these processes that dictate the possibility of checks and balances.
In reality, the checks and balances operate at a group level. In the virtual world also the same set of checks and balances are in operation. Checks and balances are two sets of processes. Checks are there to keep the process of development on the move while the process of balancing will result in the proportion in relation to various groups will remain unaltered.
It is analogous to the set of checks and balances that operates in the world of democratic governments. The three pillars of democracy – the legislature, the executive and the judiciary exists and functions within a set of checks and balances. Each section can operate to its fullest efficiency only because of these sets of checks and balances.
There is a science of virtual world that deals with how the virtual world operates and how it differs from the real world. A set of terms and jargon has also developed in connection with this science.
According to this science, the virtual world is based on the real world and has existence only in the world of ether or the cyber world. Because of the evanescent nature of these worlds, the existence of signs and symbols and the nature of the relationship between the signified and the signifiers in the virtual world is an exciting world in itself and this may be combined with, for example, digital music that’s available at your local library.
Various sciences like linguistics and sociology have contributed to the study of virtual worlds. One of the major contributions by linguistics to the study of the nature of the virtual world is the determination of the characteristics of the relationship between various signified and the signifiers.
Actually, the study of signs and symbols forms a specialized branch of linguistics, which is basically the study of language systems. The specialized branch of linguistics that deals with signs and symbols is called semiotics.
In semiotics, the basic unit of study is a ‘sememe’. A sememe is the least unit that signifies something. The thing which is signified is known as the signified and the sign that stands for the signified is known as the signifier. There are three levels of signifiers, based upon the relationship between the signifier and the signified. These are the icons, the indices, and the symbols.
In accordance with these principles, the signifiers in the virtual world are always indicial in nature. That means the relation between the signified and the signifier in the virtual world is a matter of convention alone. Just look at this post on the connections between music and science. This is the case in the real world also.
But the difference between the virtual and real worlds is that the relationship is decided by nature in the real world and there is a limit to the kind of alterations that can be made here. At the same time, in a virtual world, the relationships can be altered according to the requirements by the teams running the virtual worlds. However such interventions are subject to certain forms, norms, conventions, and regulations.
The famous novels by Creighton basically deal with the virtual worlds. One of them deals with the technology of space and time travel. Here the basic theory is that various universes, those that have disappeared in the distant past and those that are yet to come exist side by side. These are virtual worlds and a set of complex rules are necessary to see that the natural principles are not violated by these rules.