I entered into virtual reality at the tender age of 12... Or maybe it was 11. In any case, I was a tween before we knew what a tween was. In fact, I actually remember the 300 baud rate and what a great guy I thought my Dad was when he stepped me straight up to a 1200 baud, skipping the 6. That's kind of like going from one of those elementary age cell phones that will only dial your parents straight to the new i-phone with unlimited usage requirements.
Anyway, by the time I turned 13 I was hanging out in a virtual bar, with a virtual bartender (known as Beartender, or, Kevin in RL) struggling over how to spell "heels" so as to not look like a 13 year old in an adult virtual space. Now I just know SOMEONE is protesting saying "It's not possible! At 300 baud you were..." and they're right. We were hanging out on a BBS - aka Bulletin Board System. Think pre telnet and pre packet radio connection.
So we hung out, the lot of us. I made a lot of friends early and of course, was part of the original development of some of the emoticons. For instance, :----->* meant blowing a kiss. Betcha didn't know THAT one.
Our little minds spun. I remember the day I had this great idea. We could one day create a world where you could create little cartoon people to make them look like you (or anyone else or anything you wanted), and we could all meet in a real virtual bar. Wouldn't that be cool? Oh and it would sell virtual beer. Ooo and what else could we sell? We could create a whole world of this stuff! How neat! Imagine the economic models you could play with... not to mention the games you could play against people from all over, like you know, Bobby from over three blocks. It wasn't long before a bunch of us were chit chatting about what the virtual future would look like, and of course, what technologies were coming along that might lead us there one day.
So after a long hiatus involving a little mistake with the Milnet and a computer that reminded me certain things were off limits (thank you Global Thermal Nuclear War), I re-entered the VR in college, post Al Gore's invention of the Internet. While I still don't get gopher, I can now navigate my way around most settings and programs.
Having been in SL now for well over a year, I find it interesting to look back and think on what we imagine it to be. We weren't too far off. We also never dreamed all of this.
It was not too long ago that Google, or Yahoo, or Sony or SOMEONE was discussing the integration of an X-Box (or like gaming cube) to SL. Then someone mentioned the other day the effort to integrate Warcraft and other VR systems so that you could TP from one SL sim (say, while surfing) to a portal in Warcraft (or other VR entity). This is a little exciting to me because we have come from 300 baud rate to integrating VRs from all over the world, probably under one code which is as close to digital nirvana as one can get.
So here is your future: You'll conduct a round in Warcraft, TP over to a SL beach sim where you can decompress from a hard day, order a pizza through a virtual kiosk HUD that will be delivered straight to your RL front door which is opened by remote, but paid through your Linden account, and check your' child's homework completion status all from your desktop. And to think, it all started at least for me, at 300 baud.