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Mixed reality fallacy

Actually, by instinct I’d much prefer to go with “Mixed Reality Bollocks” …to use a British English term that was in widespread use in my now distant youth. You can substitute the word “Horlicks” if you’re of a tender disposition.

The term “Mixed Reality” either hyphenated or unhyphenated has been grating on me increasingly over the last few years. It’s misleading, ill-thought-through and appears to actually embody a discrete logical fallacy.

Let’s hit that logical fallacy first, because that’s at the core of it.

The term “Mixed reality” implies that there is such a thing as “Unmixed reality”. Since there really isn’t any such thing as unmixed reality, being that reality – as we know it – is made up of numerous overlapping subjective and objective layers, then the idea of “mixed reality” is essentially meaningless.

There’s probably already a logical fallacy that covers trying to assert the existence of a thing by incorrectly implying the existence of its opposite. If you happen to know the name of that one, write in. I’m sure there must be one, because it’s so awfully darn commonly used in marketing, media and product packaging. [* This blog post was typed, not carved onto sheets of gelatine, and contains no added sodium]

The notion of unmixed reality – either related to virtual environments or not – is really quite specious, when you think about it. What you actually have in a ‘mixed reality’ scenario, is a relationship between multiple things happening in different media. Therefore you’d really be calling it ‘cross media’, ‘mixed media’ or – dare I even suggest – ‘multimedia’.

Multimedia: usually recorded and played, displayed or accessed by information content processing devices, such as computerized and electronic devices, but can also be part of a live performance. Multimedia includes a combination of text, audio, still images, animation, video, and interactivity content forms.

So, if what we describe as mixed-reality is actually multimedia – and it pretty demonstratively is (unless there’s no audio, in which case those of an artistic bent usually prefer the term cross media) – why the heck do we even need the term mixed-reality at all? It misleads and obscures the essence, and seems to have no purpose of its own.

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