Apr 23, 2014


Internet Oddities and Curiosities Abound


This is probably going to be a slower post than normal, so for those of you that are accustomed to the full length novels usually appearing here, you may be a bit disappointed.




Today’s post is about context and the interpretation of what gets said/written. In these posts, a lot of the time I talk about the cyclical nature of the virtual worlds industry, and the historical narrative – pointing out that it is quite apparent that it keeps repeating. When we revisit those old paradigms, it drastically increases the odds of following in the same footsteps and same results.


Now, that’s not really a doom and gloom prediction. It’s just a very obvious observation akin to “Those who do not know their history are doomed to repeat it”. It comes with a caveat, and a context which regularly gets overlooked whenever I say it -


Yes, this is a true statement. Yes, if these circumstances persist it will garner similar results. No, that’s not the only option.


When I wrote on this topic recently, I had a lot of people get as far as the first two points and declare I was spelling doom and gloom for the VR industry. Unfortunately, I’ve also had the misfortune of having a lot of contention and misguided flaming my way as well – some people are inordinately angry and on a personal attack for my stating the blatantly obvious. Which I suppose was covered in the point of Cognitive Dissonance to begin with.



But it’s disheartening to read/hear nonetheless.


It is likely to follow in those footsteps until somebody does something entirely different and evolves the narrative into something new. So there is a way out of that cycle if we choose to explore it, but because of the situation at hand and knowing that current players in the industry have nothing to gain from doing so (it’ll hurt the bottom line – after all, they have a vested interest in what they are selling), it’s going to take a fresh pair of eyes and out of the box thinking to advance things.


At the end of the day, I find it curious how what I write versus what is read end up being very different things. It is an oddity to read in social media posts how other people find sub-text to what is being said or read into it meanings that aren’t implicitly stated.


I believe that says a lot more about the reader than me as the writer.



Eyephone-VPL-1989 The VPL Virtual Reality rig looks incredibly similar to Oculus VR today.


This isn’t an uncommon occurrence, either... it seems quite prevalent in pretty much anything that I write. Whether that is an email, a short story, social media post, or this blog. There was a time long ago that I refrained from writing at all, and rarely would converse with people simply because of this point.


Things that are statement of fact or direct observation get weighted with a personal bias from the reader, interpreting what they want to read out of it versus what is simply stated.


This blog (believe it or not) is even the result of my business partner years ago making it mandatory for me to document what was going on in the virtual world that the company was paying for. Over the years, it outgrew that context as I had left VR5 Online as the CTO, and went on to loosely collaborate in a team for Andromeda3D (Andromeda Media Universe) as a think tank for synthetic environment technology.


While Andromeda Media Universe still loosely exists as a think tank among friends in the industry, it has mainly become a centralized point of writing what’s going on in my head and my take on the industry as a whole.


In a way, this is therapeutic as a space where I can just let out the raw thoughts on the page – no filters or beating around the bush. Some people yell at the television when their team is screwing up, and I express that sentiment here in this blog when my team (synthetic environments) is making a dumb play.


Of course there are plenty of other lateral topics that I write about as well – Binaural audio and ASMR being one of them, mainly because that whole subtopic fascinates me in (and out of) context to virtual worlds.


Botgirl (Dave Elfanbaum) offers a wonderfully grounded perspective on the virtual reality industry in a recent article for ComputerWorld, entitled The Imminent Age of Virtual Reality is an Illusion. I think the take away from the VWBPE panel was simply the idea that if we want to make any headway for this industry, we need to get our head out of the clouds and our feet firmly back on solid ground again.


If anything, the article above offers a very sober insight; but is it a total doom and gloom scenario? Not at all... it’s just a reality check for virtual reality. I’d definitely recommend the read if you have a few minutes.


At the end of the day, what I’m getting at is simply this:


If you’re going to read into it, then take the notion that I’m still positive. I may point out the screw-ups or the things that probably aren’t going to work out the way people hope for, but the flip side is that I’m eliminating the things that haven’t worked before and hoping that people will start to have the discussion about what will work instead – not repeat the things or come in with a vested interest and bias for what they already have, or will have in their own involvements.


We all think that the things we use are the greatest things since sliced bread. We’re enamored by the technology hype, and buy into it when it suits us. We evangelize things we’ve become accustomed to, or depend on.


That’s just the nature of context when we look at it with a fresh perspective.


If you’re a machinima maker, you obviously have a vested interested in saying that virtual worlds television is the future. If you produce such a show evangelizing virtual worlds, you have a vested interest in continuing that. Those cases are numerous and the context is as varied as the many things you can do in a virtual world like Second Life.


Those contexts and personal biases exist for pretty much anything, really... if you’re dependent on being a Social Media consultant, the last thing you’ll ever really admit to is that the methodologies might be wrong, even if you’re staring at a mountain of evidence. If you’re the head of a virtual environment in OSgrid or whatnot, or you are known for being a business type authority about them, you’ve got a clear agenda out of self-preservation. If two billion dollars rests on your virtual reality headset being the future... you’ll never have anything but positive things to say about it, and even in the light of clearly disadvantageous things you’ll find a way to soften the blow and assure the public it’s not a big deal.


In context to just this blog, or the things that I write in general, I am beginning to remember why I spent so much time avoiding that public discussion in general.


A lot of it gets taken far out of context, and people even take what they’ve read into it personally. That just leads to a mountain of headaches and animosity when none was implied to begin with. Then, of course, things just escalate because of that cognitive dissonance issue.


My personal agenda is just raw train of thought and analysis. Sometimes people do great things, and I applaud them... a lot of times people do boneheaded things and I point that out too. I’m an equal opportunity writer and analyst.


So I’ll end the post on that note... and add only that it’s probably better if I revisit my introversion going forward, until maybe the people that I interact with get a grip and see all of the context before jumping to conclusions about what I really mean :)


I’ll be around – you can bet your bottom dollar. Just may not be as talkative these days ;)







  1. Will, Will pick oop tha' musket, Come on, just to please me. You know they say that the truth often hurts. Most of the time the pain is unbearable. So let battle commence.

    1. I didn't say I wouldn't write or talk at all, Joe :) Gonna slow it down a bit though.

  2. Will and Botgirl probably don't think of themselves as "Artists". But they do the thankless job of staring into the inferno that is "reality" and give us the plain, brutal truth....just like real artists do.

    And like real artist, you will constantly be at odds with those and their simplistic, obvious agendas. Their lack of hindsight, as they grovel in their 'hand-to-mouth- mentality, is what brings ruin to most endeavors.

    I've learned that your best approach is to simply laugh off the cluck comments and to stick with the passion and truth you feel deep inside. Both Will and Botgirl can't help but stare into the inferno, and they are brave enough to be burned by it so that others don't fall in.

    I applaud them, (as do others) if that means anything.

    1. Thank-you, Cecil :)

      It's not so much the contention that gets me, because there will always be that no mater what. I've made some friends and I've lost them over the years depending on whether or not they bought into the kool-aid and I'm contradicting them, so it's expected (trial by fire). The reason I'm slowing down a bit for awhile on the writing is more along the lines of the cyclical nature of the VR industry and I find myself repeating topics a lot over the years with similar results.

      There is also the added caveat that I'm currently tied up in some tech projects that are demanding more of my attention these days, and I have to prioritize.

      What I think I'll likely do is write a bit on other technologies or ideas for awhile as they catch my attention and focus less on the hardcore VR agenda. So don't be surprised if the blog goes a little to the left for a bit :)