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CNET Book Club: Jaron Lanier on the future of VR and why we should all quit social media

Episode 5: The VR pioneer shows us just how much we're being manipulated by Facebook.

Scott Stein Editor at Large
I started with CNET reviewing laptops in 2009. Now I explore wearable tech, VR/AR, tablets, gaming and future/emerging trends in our changing world. Other obsessions include magic, immersive theater, puzzles, board games, cooking, improv and the New York Jets. My background includes an MFA in theater which I apply to thinking about immersive experiences of the future.
Expertise VR and AR | Gaming | Metaverse technologies | Wearable tech | Tablets Credentials
  • Nearly 20 years writing about tech, and over a decade reviewing wearable tech, VR, and AR products and apps
Dan Ackerman Editorial Director / Computers and Gaming
Dan Ackerman leads CNET's coverage of computers and gaming hardware. A New York native and former radio DJ, he's also a regular TV talking head and the author of "The Tetris Effect" (Hachette/PublicAffairs), a non-fiction gaming and business history book that has earned rave reviews from the New York Times, Fortune, LA Review of Books, and many other publications. "Upends the standard Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs/Mark Zuckerberg technology-creation myth... the story shines." -- The New York Times
Expertise I've been testing and reviewing computer and gaming hardware for over 20 years, covering every console launch since the Dreamcast and every MacBook...ever. Credentials
  • Author of the award-winning, NY Times-reviewed nonfiction book The Tetris Effect; Longtime consumer technology expert for CBS Mornings
Scott Stein
Dan Ackerman
3 min read

The present is full of virtual reality and augmented reality. But the past was, too. Jaron Lanier has been inventing VR and designing virtual worlds since the 1980s. 

He's the founder of VPL, a legendary company that manufactured VR hardware decades ago -- as featured in the 1992 movie The Lawnmower Man. He helped invent the Nintendo Power Glove. He's a collector of thousands of musical instruments. He was one of the futurists consulted by Steven Spielberg for Minority Report. He was one of the writers for one of the best magazines of the early 90s, Mondo 2000 (which has been reborn online recently). He's one of the first true cyberpunks.

If there was ever a perfect fit for CNET Book Club, Lanier is it.


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Lanier's also an intense critic of technology and social media. He's written two great books over the last year: Dawn of the New Everything is a surprisingly personal history of where virtual reality came from and how he founded his company. It's full of fascinating reflections on where VR and AR is heading next.

Lori Grunin/CNET

His newest book, Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now, is a manifesto for life in a social media-dominated world, and a spin-off of Dawn of the New Everything. It was written to address growing concerns over Facebook, the personal data we increasingly share online, and whether or not social media is making us all miserable. (Spoiler: It is.) Reading it feels inspiring and concerning. It's a perfect little handbook for the weird world of behavioral manipulation we've all fallen into.

Lanier doesn't have any social media accounts, and says he's happier for it. 

Watch or listen to our conversation as we discuss our own online lives, virtual reality's current state of affairs, where AR might be going, plus immersive theater and lots more. Let us know your thoughts in the comments, and thanks for following.

About CNET Book Club

The Book Club is hosted by a pair of self-proclaimed book experts: Dan Ackerman, author of the nonfiction video game history book The Tetris Effect; and Scott Stein, a playwright and screenwriter. We'll be announcing our next Book Club selection soon, so send us your suggestions and keep an eye out for updates on Twitter at @danackerman and @jetscott.

Previous episodes

Disclaimer: CNET may get a share of revenue from the sale of the books featured below.   

Find Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now at: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Google Play
Find Dawn of the New Everything at: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Google Play

Subscribe to CNET Book Club: CNET RSS | iTunes | FeedBurner | Google Play | TuneIn | Stitcher

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