We call it virtual and it's already part of our daily life! But what is it?
Something that exists in effect or essence, but not in fact or reality, according to the exact meaning of the word. But is this definition still and always right? I guess my short answer is yes and no!
Yes, because there is a version of it that is covered by the official meaning. I call this instance paleo-virtual (ancient, old virtual).
No, because during the last few decades in particular we have invented a new version that has literally broken out of the old semantic container. I would call this, neo-virtual (new, recent virtual).
I think it's time to provide a new definition: The neo-virtual (the one I am going to focus on) should be defined as something that exists in effect or essence as well as in fact or reality! Paleo-virtual + Neo-virtual: The resulting notion is therefore an oxymoron, self-contradictory expression, right to reveal the paradox behind it.
The neo-virtual is about a "neo-reality" we need to factor in whenever we speak of the real world: Reality and Neoreality!
Let's find out what we are talking about...
First we invented "simulation." The latter goes hand in hand with "model" to the extent to become interchangeable with the act of "modelling" in certain circumstances... According to Wikipedia: "Simulation is the imitation of the operation of a real-world process or system over time. The act of simulating something first requires that a model be developed; this model represents the key characteristics or behaviors/functions of the selected physical or abstract system or process." How do we actually distinguish between "simulation" and "model"? Again Wikipedia: "The model represents the system itself, whereas the simulation represents the operation of the system over time." What is the practical use of simulation and modelling (S&M)? To gain "information about how something will behave without actually testing it in real life." (cfr. Wikipedia) The ultimate goal of S&M is inherent to itself. Moreover, simulation doesn't replace any part of the real world. It's rather a projection, a sophisticated "What If" scenario. Nothing more, nothing less!
Then we invented "virtualization."