>START > explore a world of flickering signifiers 


A consensual hallucination experienced daily
by billions of legitimate operators,
in every nation, by children being taught
mathematical concepts….
A graphic representation of data abstracted
from the banks of every computer in the human system. Unthinkable complexity.
Lines of light ranged in the non-space of the mind,
clusters and constellations of data.

Quote from William Gibson's 1984 novel NEUROMANCER (p. 51)


“To enter the virtual environment itself is like being able to walk through one’s TV or computer, through the vanishing point or vortex and into a three-dimensional field of symbols”

Quote from " Virtualities: Television, Media Art, and Cyberculture" by Margaret Morse (p. 181)

  • Is a virtual world a "three-dimensional field of symbols"?
  • Do these symbols mirror the 'real world' as we know it?
  • If so, does their meaning change in this virtual context?
  • Does our experience of time and space change when it takes place in "non-space of the mind"?
  • Is a virtual world political?
  • Is a virtual body or avatar a social construct?

In DATA TRAVELER you will take a critical look at the construction of virtual space, your place within it and its emerging status as parallel reality in which many choose to have a 'second life'. You will explore four destinations within Activeworlds, one of many 3D virtual reality platforms available online.

The DATA TRAVELER menu bar will help you navigate to each of these destinations:

>start >aw gate



>blupearl >blog

Each section has a different theme. You can choose to take the entire walk, or take it a section at a time.

This is a very important part of this virtual tour. Here you can share YOUR experiences and opinions on virtual space and enter into discussion with others!

I hope you enjoy the walk!

Downloading the interface
Enter a name and your email address
in the login window. Click OK.


Activeworlds is designed to run on PC (Windows or Linux). To run the plug-in on Mac, use the Parellels emulation system.


In order to be able to visit the various virtualities of Active Worlds, you will need to install the Activeworlds plug-in on your computer.

Download the plug-in by clicking on ActiveWorlds Browser 4.2 and selecting ‘run’ from the pop-up menu. An installation window will appear. Follow instructions.

When the installation is complete, press the START button from the Active Worlds Installation window that appears on your screen. Follow instructions regarding connection speed.

In the Welcome to Active Worlds pop-up windowenter a name of your choice and your email address. This will give you the ‘temporary tourist visa’ required to access Activeworlds. Click OK.

In the context of this walk we will continue as tourists and take on the default avatars for each world we visit.

The AW plug-in window: object tags indicate that virtual objects are loading.
A window documenting the chats taking place between avatars is located at the bottom of the AW plug-in window.


Every user accessing Activeworlds on a ‘tourist visa’ arrives at the same coordinates of the Active Worlds Gateway: 7S 0W facing N.

Your initial view will likely consist of many white or grey structures onto which ‘lifelike’ textures gradually appear. You will also see tags displaying an hourglass icon. These tags indicate the locations of virtual objects in the process of loading. Loading speed varies. It depends on your internet connection.

Before you get going on the walking tour – take a moment to explore the AW plug-in window.


One of the main features attracting visitors to virtual realities is the ability to chat with other users. The white window at the bottom of the AW plug-in window displays all the chatting going on between avatars, as well as many 'default' messages delivered upon login to a different world. The AW gate will display messages by an 'immigration officer' making you aware of all the advantages to becoming a paying citizen.

For the purposes of this walk, please close this window by clicking the X in its upper right corner.

Read on to learn more about navigation, or choose to


Return to
AW gate
Return to
Jump to
next teleport


The icons on the menu bar give you a variety of instant options related to navigating and viewing the virtual space. Hover your mouse over each icon to see which controls are accessed.

The virtual experience is often ‘enhanced’ with sound bytes. Turning up the volume on your computer will allow you to experience this extra dimension.

The landscape only loads when you are within a certain range of a virtual location. You can control your viewing range by accessing the Visibility tab at the top of the Active Worlds plug-in window. Its default setting is ’float’ – but you can choose to ‘see’ as far as ‘200 meters.’

You can always find out where you are by looking at the very top title bar of the AW window. It will list the name of the world you are in, the coordinates and which direction your avatar is facing.

Every destination in this virtual tour is identified with the name of the 'World' and its virtual coordinates. If you get lost in this virtual maze- you can use the 'teleport' function to pick up your walk at a previous point.

Here are your choices:

  • Select  >Teleport from the top of the AW plug-in window. Enter the name of the world and its virtual coordinates in the pop-up window. Press enter.
  • Use the arrow buttons or home button located at the top of the AW plug-in window.

Take a moment to ‘tune in’ to your virtual body.
For a video animation on how to move around, click here.

For a full write-up on how to move and fly in Activeworlds – click on the ‘help’ button floating in front of the AW Gateway Visitor Center or click here.


Many terms in this virtual walk link to Wikipedia.org or, in the case of publications, to Amazon.com. I do not claim the academic rigor or factual accuracy of every entry in Wikipedia, nor do I intend to endorse Amazon.com as prime destination for internet purchases. In fact, I have some reservations about further reinforcing the power of such "internet empires." I chose to use these websites because heavy web traffic 'forces' the content to be relatively current, and provides those 'bytes' of information that can help you jumpstart your own research.

For more info on Activeworlds, click here.

Activeworlds is one of many 3D virtual reality platforms available to the internet community.

To view a chart comparing features of various 3D virtual reality platforms, click here.


Activeworlds will invite you to become a (paying) citizen at every turn.
Tourists have limited access and privileges in AW domains.

>To read about the differences between tourists, citizens or world owners, click here
>To find out which worlds are 'tourist enabled', click here

>start >aw gate



>blupearl >blog
>start >aw gate



>blupearl >blog