Tim Stevens of CTLab blogs about a new technological trend that may take the world by storm: augmented reality. Augmented reality is the integration of 3-D virtual objects into "a 3-D real environment in real time." Jamais Cascio provides a helpful visual of what this might look like here. AR further represents the melding of the real and virtual worlds, something that has always struck me as far more likely than the dystopian fantasies of The Matrix. Obviously, it's hard to predict what kind of impact such an technology will have on the world. But some basic thoughts.
The increasing trend towards realism in information media increases the power of that media. Martin Luther King famously allowed his marchers to get pummeled by racist police officers and mobs in order to order to show the gross injustice of the South to a mass audience. This had two major effects: it shocked the masses into sympathy, shattered the image of equality the US presented to the world (important during the Cold War), and compelled policy action. Pictures and images of starving victims of famine also compelled action in the humanitarian interventions of the 1990s.
If media is made more immediate, if people can feel more vicarious involvement, the ability of actors to utilize propaganda and persuasion may increase exponentially.