22, No. 12, Jan. 23, 2003
Book examines ancient Peruvian sites
Sites once occupied by the ancient people who created some of the pre-Columbian
world’s most exquisite art, largest ground drawings, most ingenious
hydraulic engineering and most intense "trophy hunting" of
human heads, are identified and explored in a new book by a UI professor
Helaine Silverman’s "Ancient Nasca Settlement and Society"
(University of Iowa Press) is the first extended study of the ancient
Nasca sites in what today is southern Peru. The book combines field
research with postmodernist theory to illuminate the Nasca people’s
"social construction of space and cultural meaning" through
their manipulation of natural settings and creation of built environments.
Throughout, she challenges current anthropological theories and practices.
"Rather than interpreting settlement patterns solely as reflections
of political decision-making and economic organization, I add a necessary
social dimension to consider the meaning of space across multiple domains
of ancient society," Silverman said.
Silverman, who has devoted 20 years to surveying and studying the Nasca,
is widely regarded as one of the world’s preeminent authorities
on the Nasca.
The new book is meant to be read with "The Nasca" (2002),
which Silverman co-wrote with Donald A. Proulx. In it, the authors explore
many theories regarding the intriguing and immense Nasca lines. Silverman
argues that they were pilgrimage routes that were ritually walked, and
also "arenas of performance."
of Iowa Press
Understanding virtual reality
William Sherman, NCSA senior research programmer, and Alan Craig, NCSA
research programmer, have co-written "Understanding Virtual Reality:
Interface, Application and Design."
The book arrives at a time when the technologies behind virtual reality
have advanced to the point that it is possible to develop and deploy
meaningful, productive virtual reality applications. The goal of this
thorough, accessible exploration is to help you take advantage of this
moment, equipping you with the understanding needed to identify and
prepare for ways VR can be used in your field, whatever that field may
By approaching VR as a communications medium, the authors have created
a resource that will remain relevant even as the underlying technologies
evolve. You get a history of VR, along with a good look at systems currently
in use. However, the focus remains squarely on the application of VR
and the many issues that arise in the application design and implementation,
including hardware requirements, system integration, interaction techniques,
and usability. This book also counters both exaggerated claims for VR
and the view that would reduce it to entertainment, citing dozens of
real-world examples from many different fields and presenting (in a
series of appendices) four in-depth application case studies.