Fred Turner

Fred Turner, associate professor of communication at Stanford University, is the author most recently of The Democratic Surround: Multimedia and American Liberalism from World War II to the Psychedelic Sixties, published by the University of Chicago Press. 

 

Recent Articles

The Politics of Virtual Reality

With inexpensive immersive media about to hit the market, we need to ask: How will they affect us? And can they be put to good use?

AP Photo/Eric Risberg
This article appears in the Summer 2015 issue of The American Prospect magazine. Subscribe here . In March 2014, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg paid $2 billion to acquire a tiny, two-year-old Silicon Valley start-up called Oculus. The company has one major product: the Rift, a virtual reality headset the size of a pair of ski goggles. Like all such headsets, the Rift covers the eyes and, with the aid of earphones, generates sounds and images that users perceive as three-dimensional and concrete, as if they were reality. What makes the Rift special is its size. Earlier headsets were as big as brass diving helmets. They had to be worn in special rooms where they could be tethered by heavy cables to banks of computers. The Rift, which is about to enter the mass market, promises to be the equivalent of an individual scuba tank. Wearing it, users should soon be able to swim freely through formerly two-dimensional media in the comfort of their own homes. Readers of a certain age could be...