Frode Hegland: [00:02:05] Hey, Mark.
Mark Anderson: [00:02:09] Hi, sorry, my clock’s running slow, so a bit late, I’m just going to get a cup of coffee in a second, but I’m here and anyway, we’re the good thing is we’re also sorted out the Oculus thing. Sounds good.
Rafael Nepô: [00:02:26] Yeah. So adamantly backing just
Frode Hegland: [00:02:32] Yeah, sorry. No, no, no, not nothing.
Rafael Nepô: [00:02:35] Go ahead.
Brandel Zachernuk : [00:02:36] I’ll be back on.
Peter Wasilko: [00:02:38] Good morning. Just get in from digging out. It was only a dusting this.
Frode Hegland: [00:02:43] Hello.
Rafael Nepô: [00:02:46] Recording. Hey, gentlemen. Hello, hello.
Frode Hegland: [00:02:54] Hello, Rafael. Have you got your books yet?
Peter Wasilko: [00:02:59] Yes, they have arrived in my my brother’s house, thank you so much and sorry for the trouble of keeping them company.
Frode Hegland: [00:03:07] So they’re only that far, huh?
Rafael Nepô: [00:03:10] Yeah. So far, they don’t. They’re going to stay in Spain, probably, I mean, in Switzerland for a while.
Frode Hegland: [00:03:17] Yeah, that’s fine. Um, hi, Brenda, and I haven’t seen you in a while. Have you been? I saw you on Friday, but that was so busy
Brandel Zachernuk : [00:03:25] And that piece and
Peter Wasilko: [00:03:27] Make a billion dollars
Brandel Zachernuk : [00:03:29] Is a lot. Well, I know that
Rafael Nepô: [00:03:32] You know
Frode Hegland: [00:03:33] Who’s talking.
Rafael Nepô: [00:03:34] It’s very wonderful. This is. Oh, sorry.
Frode Hegland: [00:03:38] Oh, right. That was really confusing.
Peter Wasilko: [00:03:41] Didn’t sound like, how do we make a million dollars?
Rafael Nepô: [00:03:44] I’m also curious. I’m doing well. It’s good to see everybody.
Frode Hegland: [00:03:48] By the way, Peter to make a billion dollars is easy. You just start with two.
Peter Wasilko: [00:03:57] Two billion, that is right.
Frode Hegland: [00:03:59] Two billion not. Sorry, Brendan, you’re about to update and you know, there was that thing. You’re saying you’re doing well.
Rafael Nepô: [00:04:06] It’s all good. Yeah, I’m doing well. I’m sorry. I have not been around. I also owe Mark an email. I owe many people emails. I’m going to cut back up to life. But yeah, doing well and a Friday chat was awesome. Lovely. Barbara could join us and share so much insight.
Frode Hegland: [00:04:25] Yeah, that was. It was. It was nice. It was like a focused annual symposium. Kind of. That’s that’s what it felt like to me. So we have Dave Maillard here and now that I’ve handed in my thesis that’s safe is my main advisor is actually number three in the list of three, but he is quite clearly the one who actually advises the other two were excellent, but for entirely different reasons. So I’m hoping Alan will join us in a minute. Adam cannot due to things, and Brandel will hopefully be here, usually enters a bit late, which is fine. But for the record, and these other guys can listen to it later. So don’t waste time. I did say in Twitter chat that we were not going to go over 15 minutes of this kind of stuff that is OK. Brandon, I’ll be talking mainly to you because, you know, the least of this kind of background stuff. So for all of you, it’s for clarification. I have fallen head over heels into this situation. Oh my goodness. If we don’t sort out VR, we’re screwed as a species. I think it’s that big a deal with you. I’m with friends. I can be honest, and I don’t have to be too careful with my language. What I mean by that and what Marc and Dave and I talked about this morning that I think it’s really, really important.
Frode Hegland: [00:05:48] When we had the PC happened, Microsoft Word and the early word processors defined what we expect from a word processor. Once it’s in the public’s mind, it is defined that the thing that it is is what it is. It becomes self-reinforcing. So now with VR, I expect Apple to announce a headset in a year, roughly release a bit later, roughly. So therefore, I think it is beholden to us as a community and again big language to become the TED Nelson and multiplied by Doug Engelbart, multiplied by Jaron Lanier of this to produce something in writing, you know, hyperbole but rooted in reality. Also, demos and maybe most importantly, infrastructures, so that the people who get inspired when they get these. And by the way, the reason I think Apple is going to be a big deal is because they’re very good at the consumer experience. Oculus is fantastic. There are so many niggles. Yes, the Apple one will be expensive at first. Yes, the resolution will be high and all that, but they will get rid of the niggles. That’s going to be huge. So that is why I think we have one year to produce a work thing that others can be inspired by. If it’s a commercial product, great. If not, doesn’t matter, provided it’s clearly and loudly screaming. So Dave Millard has suggested that what we have here is a network I called a thing on the web lab, and maybe we keep that name or not.
Frode Hegland: [00:07:19] But in order to get research partners, we need to be the ones who help them get stuff into the world. I think we’re relatively well positioned to that if you continue to grow our top level network. So again, big words. I think we should aspire to be the MIT Media Lab of VR plus traditional workflows. I have added a sentence to our website, The Lab, it says our work is centered around hypertext and ECS are integrated with traditional devices for flexible workflows and powerful interactions. So the reason for this long speech is it is crucial that Adam keeps doing demos. It is crucial that Brandel does the same. But we must also work on getting information in and out. The reason I think TED didn’t get to be where in the world he should be is TED, and I love him to bits didn’t want information to go in and out of his world. Similarly, with Doug, towards the end, we cannot afford that, so that is why I want to have either, Oh, Adam is there. I’ll only recap the last minute, don’t worry, guys, I’m not going to do the whole thing because Saddam is rushing out the door anyway. Connecting to audio. Still connecting to audio,
Mark Anderson: [00:08:51] There’s no sign of black box.
Frode Hegland: [00:08:54] All right, Adam, are you here?
Brandel Zachernuk : [00:08:58] Yep, but muted.
Peter Wasilko: [00:09:01] I’m going by,
Brandel Zachernuk : [00:09:02] Yeah, remotely here.
Peter Wasilko: [00:09:04] I have to watch kids.
Frode Hegland: [00:09:06] No, that’s fine.
Rafael Nepô: [00:09:07] I will. I will
Peter Wasilko: [00:09:08] Listen in. I will listen in and maybe I can say something
Brandel Zachernuk : [00:09:14] Short if you ask something to a group, but
Frode Hegland: [00:09:18] Ok. Please. Later on, listen to the intro. So I don’t waste too much time. But this is the first initial 15 minutes that I asked for. Talk about kind of what we’re doing and I’ve mentioned because Brendan is here. He hasn’t been here for a while. I had a discussion with Dave Millard, my former advisor, who was just brilliant and has a very deep perspective on this. This morning, he jokingly said that what we’re talking about, if we do such things as taking the citation timeline that you and Mark worked on into VR, for instance, it’s spatial, hypertext and VR. I think that’s very, very interesting. But what I’ve said to the group and what I feel very, very strongly is that and this I’ll read you the sentence from the website, which we can edit together, but it is there now. Our work is centered around hypertext and are integrated with traditional devices for flexible workflows and powerful interactions. We’re not in any way throwing away normal traditional screens. That is not what I’m saying. And I know, Adam, you’re a bit concerned about my kind of language compared to how you talk. But what I am saying is that the demos that you’re working on that Brandel is working on is fantastic.
Frode Hegland: [00:10:29] We should support you, and we should also work on ways to get data in and out of this VR environment. I, of course, think that visual matter should be a way to do it. But the more that I’m trying to learn about web VR and so on, there are other ways too. So finally, just to update you, Adam, what we need to do is I repeat myself big language, but try to become the MIT Media Lab of VR work, not VR. Many companies with lots of money are doing that, but there aren’t that many that seem to be interested in the knowledge work aspect. It’s mostly about meetings and social things. And then you go in and look at a model of a molecule and all of that stuff, and they’ve started asking really good questions already about what that will be. So if we work at it from an academic point of view, a demo point of view on an infrastructure point of view, I think we may have a very powerful platform to go out and spread our word, get funding and do more work. And I said all that in 10 minutes comments, please.
Peter Wasilko: [00:11:39] Now, Brandel is coming in.
Frode Hegland: [00:11:44] Ok, well, OK. Brandel, you came in at the end of my long speech, but you and I have been doing a bit of email. So what I told the group is we have one year to convince the world that VR work is an important and powerful thing, not just sitting around a conference table and flying fighting dragons, which you and I agree on. The model that I think we should pursue is to be like the MIT Media Lab, but only for VR work. We should do continue you and Adam doing demos like crazy. We should also work on the infrastructure of getting work in and out of VR environments for visual media and other means. My good friend Dave Millard, formerly colleague and sense of being my advisor from last year, is also here today looking at how we can address this from an academic point of view. And he said What we need to do is be a virtual network spreading the word, and that’s how other academics may want to come in and help fund this stuff. You.
Brandel Zachernuk : [00:12:41] Oh, yeah, I’m not sure if the sort of shared what I the sentiment that I was sort of supplied to him towards this end, but my sense is that most people do not really understand that VR has utility until they actually get to see it in a real context. And I totally understand that. I think that given the sort of the center of maps of where people work within VR, that the sense is it’s primarily for entertainment, be it in a gaming context or a passive media consumption. And that for the most part, technology is understood to be for those things to an extent that that the the fact that Apple was made Apple by way of physical Microsoft has made Microsoft by way of mass docs is kind of overlooked at this point. The fact that utility is boring also means that it’s much less visible. And so it’s a real uphill battle. It’s a challenge even from within the technology companies to remind people that the reason why we all have computers in our homes is not because of battlefield, and it’s not because of all of the amazing entertainment applications, but because they have had transformative impact on our everyday lives in the form of expression and information processing. So, yeah, I’m really glad that that is understood because otherwise these things just fall on deaf ears. People say, I think that you have been sucked in on the hype train, and I don’t think that’s the case. I think that it does have the ability to change the way people do stuff, and it’s necessary to kind of pull all of the exciting pieces out of virtual reality, essentially to make sure that that happens. So thanks.
Frode Hegland: [00:14:42] So today is the birthday of Macintosh. I think we should set a date. Maybe 9th of December, Doug’s anniversary to say that’s when we will have a demo and I humbly suggest the most obvious demo we could possibly think of making. And that is, think of it now. Knowledge navigator level superficial me talking right? But imagine someone sits down at the desk, has a 2-D document. They do the thing, and now they have access to the hypertext citation database and VR space. So they’re reading this document, so TED Nelson, like you can from wherever there’s a citation, there is a line to the source. But that whole data set is there in space that can be manipulated in different ways. And then once they’re done doing their work, they can leave that environment, but the virtual components are still maintained for them. So when they go back in or share them with someone else, it hasn’t just been a one off sculpture with. Something along those lines. Doesn’t that seem to be what this community is centered around? For the sake of the transcript, the silence is thunderous,
Rafael Nepô: [00:16:05] I’ll say, yes, it does seem like that. Thank you for bringing me up to speed to. I appreciate the. I’ve been following along with most of the recordings and the series of messages that have been exchanged. So getting the drift that we want to hone our focus. And I’m very happy to play any role I can in that. As a touch of background I have before I jumped into the world of research, I led a product design development team. So a lot of the organization and facilitation around software projects is kind of right in my wheelhouse, so in any way that I can help drive the demo forward. I’d love to be a part.
Frode Hegland: [00:16:51] Ok, Brendan, you may have to be the boss of that taking ownership, maybe from the product design consumer side. Also, do you currently have an Oculus or do you need persuasion?
Rafael Nepô: [00:17:05] I would need a touch of persuasion, but it’s not I’m relatively easy to persuade, so I would need to make that purchase. But yes,
Frode Hegland: [00:17:13] Because both Dave and Mark are recent optimists, they have ordered them, so they virtually have their virtual reality headsets.
Rafael Nepô: [00:17:22] We don’t need media accounts anymore, right? Like you don’t need a Facebook to sign into Oculus. That was the thing that held me back for the longest time.
Brandel Zachernuk : [00:17:31] That’s the claim, I don’t know whether it’s actually been executed yet.
Peter Wasilko: [00:17:35] I was talking to someone who said that that’s not actually true yet.
Mark Anderson: [00:17:39] I mean, I can attest that. Sorry, Peter, go ahead.
Peter Wasilko: [00:17:45] Ok, I was talking to a friend who got one and she told me that she still had to have the account, even though they said down the road, you won’t need it, but at the moment it’s a brick unless you have one. And also, I read a couple of spots. Some people were having trouble trying to set up accounts just for use on the Oculus alone because there’s some security bots on the Facebook and that considered a Facebook account with nothing in it other than a person’s name to be highly suspicious and shut them down. So whether presumably they will leviathan that part of it out? But there are still issues. And personally, I’m going to hold out for the Niguel free version from Apple with the higher resolution because I am highly susceptible to SIM sickness. And I think Apple’s higher resolution would probably cure that issue for me. So rather than jump in now, I’ll resist the urge and focus on the interaction of the 2D world with the 3D world. I put a couple of ideas in the side that we should have a person in 2D, have some affordances, provide a desktop client. They would let them interact with the 3D world. So imagine three 2D views the top down a side in the frontal being able to drag things around. Fraction and that would cause a 3D action as if I was actually in the 3D world, able to manipulate it in 3D. And I should be able maybe a palette of virtual screens and be able to drag something from the 2D world onto a virtual screen and then have that particular virtual screen in the 3D world. Get the drop data from my object. And also one other point. It’s one other significant birthday today. I just turned 56. So obviously, Steve was holding out on the Macintosh to celebrate my birthday when he released it.
Frode Hegland: [00:19:24] Happy birthday, Peter. That’s really cool to know. Birthday. Thank you. Thank you. Photo Yeah. Yeah, sure, they’ve.
Rafael Nepô: [00:19:33] I other than to say happy birthday to Peter. Yeah, so I was just going to say I there was a there’s a famous keynote that was given in the hypertext community back in. I think it might even be 90. So over 30 years ago, it was Frank Hallas, any. He talked about a number of problems that Hypertext sort of needed to overcome. And one of them was called the tyranny of the link, right? So the tyranny of the link is the nineteen eighties hypertext systems and a whole bunch of different structures that they could use. So Trail’s most famous notion is Macs, but also things like virtual documents and those kind of things. Hypertext systems that were being developed at the time seem to have grabbed all of the link and everyone did anything with the link, right? So the tyranny of the link was saying, How can we kind of how can we escape, escape this and do more with it? And I kind of think what we have with with with VR is the tyranny of the screen or the tyranny of the window, right? So we talked about this a bit earlier, earlier on as well. So the earlier, you know, the hypertext systems of the late 80s and 90s were windowing systems. If you follow link, it would often appear in a new window, right? And you have a montage of different things on screen at once. And what the web browser did is it killed that dead, right? To the extent to which, you know, pop ups are now are now considered an annoyance, not a feature. And that’s because you have such literary green or even if you have multiple screens that actually sticking within one space has lots of useful affordances in terms of the kind of human interaction, right? You go into a VR space, the temptation to say what we have here, there’s no no limit on the number of screens we can have, right? We can have as many screens as you like because we’re only windows as you like.
Rafael Nepô: [00:21:20] Whereas what we should be thinking is there’s no reason to have a screen. There’s no reason to have a window, right? They’re entirely arbitrary constructs. And they might well be useful for certain tasks, but for other tasks, they might not. And I think it’s playing around with those ideas. And I have a suspicion that what people will do when they think about VR and work is they will jump straight to the 3D space actions that people need to do. So architects who want to visualize their their work, right? I think you even use the example of, you know, a fancy 3D model of a molecule that you could see in front of you. And we’re not thinking about the affordances of of of normal knowledge work in that space where you can just destroy those kind of constructs and you can do something completely different. And that’s what I think we should be trying to explore and trying to ask ourselves, You know what? What are the new paradigms for interacting with content when you get rid of all of those established ideas? And you go back to these ideas of saying, Well, actually, maybe montage isn’t so bad when you have unlimited space, right? Well, almost unlimited space around you, I guess. And thinking about what are the interactions we can do with that? What are the visualizations we can do with that? That’s what I’d be really keen to to to see us play with.
Frode Hegland: [00:22:37] I think you’ve come to the right place. Mark, go on, but I just wanted to say everyone, if you haven’t already read this book, it’s kind of prehistory. And you know, there is some good insights about VR. Of course there is. But more than that, it’s the poetry of being part of doing this stuff. It’s amazing. I’m just chewing this book to pieces, right? Mark, please go ahead.
Mark Anderson: [00:23:03] I set my hand up was actually just to say that I can attest having just purchased an Oculus today and I downloaded the software and before I could stop it, it had found my Facebook account. So thanks already to go. So I think I think it’s probably feeling its way there. I’m not unduly worried. I don’t know. I’ve certainly since I stopped the PhD. I mean, I don’t use Facebook at all. I’d only had it while I was at the uni because that’s how the group stayed in touch. And so I’m not that worried about what it’s going to find, but it does seem at the moment to if it can get its grubby little fingers on a Facebook account, it’ll want one. And it’s interesting to hear actually the difficulty making a sort of hidden one because the first thing I did was I made. I started by making a Facebook account that basically showed absolutely nothing. Whereupon I had a flood of requests saying ladies in Eastern Europe wanted and to get in touch with me until I gave it some real people. And it’s not a slacking off a bit, so know there are clearly few issues around their algorithms. The other thing? So that’s that. But I would say I’ve just put in the sidebar, I did a summary. It was actually one thing I made up for the thesis. But had I had about three levels, at least seven issues, things the PDF I put in the sidebar is sort of how they sort of I figure they kind of meshed together and I won’t do it while I’m trying to listen to people. But if anyone wants to know where the papers are, that sort of lead to that. I’m very happy to dig those most in the ACM. Except, funnily enough, the keynote that Dave mentioned, which was never recorded, but I did manage to find through the librarian at Texas A&M. So I’m trying to get it, still trying to get it inserted into the record. Brandel.
Brandel Zachernuk : [00:24:54] That would be amazing, I yeah. So I just saw the beginning sort of references to less talk, and I would like to be able to get something closer to a source of truth via the transcript or a video of people had the wherewithal to get it down into hard copy back in 91. I would agree that with David Millard sentiment. Another thing that I would suggest that it’s an important aspect of it. Beyond the tyranny of the screen and personally, the almost the more important part is the tyranny of the input. The fact that if you look at what the what the human body thinks of its hands, it’s a great deal and that it’s absolutely essential that we give people something that is a little bit more immersive in terms of our capacity for manipulation and to the end of waiting for various companies to release things. There are other things you can do in the meantime as well. One thing that that a lot of people have gotten a lot of mileage out of is buying a high-powered PC and and a HTC Vive or or if they have the cash for it, a vario headset.
Brandel Zachernuk : [00:26:13] Those are. Those are really amazing because they just have essentially the best, the best displays that you can you can kind of put together these days and which is really useful as well as leap motion devices like motions are a little infrared based sensor that you can use for hand tracking. And I believe I’ve linked before with the the hand trap. Yeah, the contract text editing system that I’ve kind of produced in the past. But to that end, I’m not sure if I believe produce in all of my my examples of VR stuff before, but I would implore anybody to to who’s committed enough to this to take a look at my word processor from Twenty Seventeen, my Wikipedia browser viewer from 2019, the text editing stuff that I did not own virtual reality, but with the with the Leap Motion as an input device from around the same time, because I think that they are very useful kind of latency to what’s going on. Multiply the length and if anybody has seen them, then feel free to trash talking.
Rafael Nepô: [00:27:34] Ok, I’ve seen all those, but links very welcome.
Frode Hegland: [00:27:39] Yeah. Also for our website, Brandel, if you could put in some of your resources, that would be really, really good with the tags. So we have something there. So Peter, on a couple of points, number one, of course, there will always be a better thing coming out soon. I’m treating my Oculus as a disposable item. I know it sounds horrible because it’s expensive and it’s good tech, but it is. I don’t I’m not going to put anything personal in there. So Facebook to me for this particular device is always saying Facebook is a public place anyway. Once Apple or somebody does something better, it’s a matter of selling this to someone who wants to use it for gaming. So I’m not exactly going to throw it in the bin. But the point is, from my perspective, it’s a research device. It’s not a it’s not a full personal thing. Also, the quality now is very good in terms of the frame rates, and it doesn’t have what it used to be. So that’s one thing. But also, Peter, while I’m talking to you, would you be interested in helping? And this is a passion of mine, of course. Helping develop something along the lines of here is a PDF with Bjrn. You put it into a web page or something when you are then in a VR environment, viewing that page where there is a button that says View and VR, which can happen now. What it actually does is pass that PDF for visual matter and gives the visual matter maybe the whole document that would be ideal, but at least the visual media to the VR component so that all your references and all your glossary, at least that is there. Sorry, did I break up completely or mostly?
Peter Wasilko: [00:29:25] Yeah, you broke my I for the last little bit that you were saying.
Frode Hegland: [00:29:28] The last little bit was that that this thing plug in or whatever passes the PDF to extract the visual matter. The visual meter is then hand it off to the VR component. So whoever be at Brandel or Adam or whoever in the group makes the 3D thing can use that data. And then importantly, and this is a big dream second step when they’re done, that you can then write a new appendix. To that PDF that has all the new spatial data to it so that it is not lost forever, is that the kind of thing Peter you might be able to help with? Because if you can help with that? Actually, just answer the question first. Sorry.
Peter Wasilko: [00:30:14] Certainly, programming and plumbing things are my forte.
Frode Hegland: [00:30:17] So I’ll try to just put it plainly. I’ll try to get you some money for an Oculus than somehow so that you can do it without risk. How’s that? Because that’s really a valuable
Peter Wasilko: [00:30:32] Account, though, I still don’t want to deal with Facebook accounts, so I’ll just hold off and pass on the Oculus step and working going to until Apple comes up with its real high resolution niggle free device.
Frode Hegland: [00:30:44] Fair enough. Ok, we’ll keep that in, we’ll keep keep that in our minds. But in terms of now that we have Brendan here today in terms of a product and I think product sounds better than a demo, whether it’s going to be for sale or not. What do you guys think of the idea that the main thing will be working with is the amazing data set of hypertext conferences? Isn’t that the opportunity for that really incredible? Oh, definitely. Brandel, what do you think of that? Pretty cool, right?
Brandel Zachernuk : [00:31:24] I’m sorry, we’re just dropping all of this in terms of making use of hypertext as a like making a hypertext about hypertext the subject matter. Yeah, absolutely. It’s I think
Frode Hegland: [00:31:38] That also specifically good. Just so I don’t confuse specifically, Mark has cleaned up all the conference papers from Hypertext ACM Hypertext so that it can be going into VR in a really clean way where everything connects properly. That may be one of the first visualizations we we should work on. What do you think? I’m not sure if that’s what you thought I meant.
Brandel Zachernuk : [00:32:09] Yeah, that does. I mean, it’s very good to have clean data to work with. One thing that I am aware of is that the the boring, the boring or the application domain for most technology, the better it’s like. So actually helping the the the people understand how to offer the most basic of their emails is a service for humanity far greater than being able to do, say eDiscovery for four lawyers going through a corpus of legal references, despite the fact that there is a significant market for both, the boring one is the is the better one for people. So it is very useful to have a very clean data set. I’m absolutely happy to have that as a as a source, but I would also say that the more baroque or arcane the the application domain, the harder it is for people to identify with the way that that has any impact on the price of bread, essentially.
Frode Hegland: [00:33:21] Ok, so, Mark, go ahead, but for everyone to please think, please think about what you think the let’s call it a demo, our thing should be what would have the most impact if everybody has thoughts on that would be phenomenal. But yeah, mark.
Mark Anderson: [00:33:37] I was just reflecting on what Brandel said, I thought I wonder if possibly the tinderbox community, it might be able to rummage up basically a reasonably baroque set of data that, if necessary, we could polarize it in terms of identifiable. Is probably once on this messy enough to be real, but obviously not with such fidelity that somebody basically hanging their actual washing out to dry because there are all sorts of privacy issues. But I’m quite with Brandel. I mean, the flip side of it was with the the the whole concept of the citation database thing was was simply to have something clean enough that one could play with citation relationships without as as adamant, committed, otherwise tripping over lots of broken stuff. So unless you can concentrate on the on the visualization of it, want a better word without worrying about where the holes were? It’s also interesting in my mind in that it could certainly be massively expanded. So, for instance, other other elements in there, such as where people work, it broadly would require an element of effort by people competent at working with data, i.e. by which I mean, and I know this is lots of people when faced with the messy stuff, just push it to one side. It needs people with us who just happy to push through that, fill in the bits and put careful warnings around the bit that can’t be completed.
Mark Anderson: [00:35:01] So there will be bits you probably couldn’t complete. So we we could also extend that. One of things that came up this morning was just the idea that off that off that set, we could do some visualizations of links. And although although the subject matter might be academic, I could see lots of people in a more business or government sphere could begin to say, OK, what we’re really talking about is sort of knowledge, knowledge, knowledge, maps, and I think there are enough people who be able to given given the kick start of something like that. And I think my my experience from past work and stuff is that most of the time the number of people in the room who can abstract that much on their own just from a verbal description is quite low, though once you have an object to show people, it doesn’t necessarily need to immediate. It doesn’t have to match their needs as much as one might think. It’s really just to get them over the abstraction hurdle. So. Oh right. So the thing that I’m thinking about now might look like that, you know, my data could could look like that. And then that’s a point where normally they turn around or shut up there.
Frode Hegland: [00:36:13] So I say Adam Brandel, Adam Vernon typing here. Personally, I’m the I’m most interested in the embodiment aspect, input sensing and native 3D tech stocks exploring that. So perhaps what word processor X are is I, you know, we all agree with that. But I would like to add that the first of all, I really see the core user of this being somebody doing research. You know, whether an academic or in business or whatever, but that is the the work thing. But I also think it is absolutely completely crucial to be able to bring in web pages and documents because otherwise we’re doing the TED Nelson thing of, you know, build it here or otherwise. It doesn’t matter. We need to have an environment where you have a normal web browser. You find data on there for whatever you can somehow put it up do web search. You have a whole wall of web results, but they’re shown in a way that you find interesting, et cetera, so that that connection with the real world and doing things completely native is interesting, right? Thinker over researcher for Adam, he says. Ok, I think that’s a bit what’s the word lofty? I agree with you. But if we’re going to have a market and please tell me everyone what you think, then the job of doing some kind of research may be more relatable. I’m not sure.
Mark Anderson: [00:37:47] I think probably getting sort of, in a sense, external support or even funding is probably true in that sense, but I don’t think it’s antithetical to the sort of thing Annan’s mentioning. These will be needed in this space and indeed a really interesting meta problem here is, well, what is the document, what you know, we basically have faux false paper documents on screen know that’s so
Peter Wasilko: [00:38:11] Much and all this time. And that should. I mean,
Frode Hegland: [00:38:14] That’s not what I mean. All I mean is that if we’re asking people to go into this space. And they have to make new knowledge only that’s just not good enough, they have to be able to draw on what the world currently considers to be documents. That’s all I mean, it doesn’t mean I should state.
Mark Anderson: [00:38:31] Yeah, absolutely.
Frode Hegland: [00:38:35] Brenda and Mr. Product Manager, what do you think?
Rafael Nepô: [00:38:40] I always like the approach of niching down as as an entry point as much as possible. So while I see the kind of vision of this being in the hands of anyone who is trying to do thinking work knowledge work, it’s probably best to find an angle towards what sort of knowledge work they’re doing. So if it is research, what sort of research can this enable most? That’s kind of the angle that I’m thinking of. So I don’t know. Does that trigger any any thoughts around a potential demo product for researchers or thinkers?
Frode Hegland: [00:39:20] Well, today, being the birthday of my, I saw the ads for the Macintosh office, which is all about connecting and printing and all of that stuff. And I was really shocked because I have a very romanticized view of early Macintosh that they were very salesy. They were very, you know, if you get a printer, you can share it on the network and you can save money and look, it looks pretty. So, you know, we hear we’re all about thinking and lofty goals and all of that stuff. Is there anything we can just show that as you go into this space, you do a bit of work. You’re so much more productive and look what’s at the end of it?
Mark Anderson: [00:39:57] I just get back to the fact that whatever we do is getting something that gets over this sort of it’s too abstracted hurdle for people to understand it. Most people won’t have deep much experience if any of the virtual space. And going back to what Brandel said earlier and you know that also their perception coming to it fresh is probably more towards entertainment and things for all sorts of good reasons. But but but again, we need to see it that way. So we need to we need to be able to show people something that is understandable to them that allows them to say, Oh, right, I don’t just have to go here and play games doesn’t mean I can’t, but I can actually do. I can actually do other meaningful things within it. So there’s a challenge there of just having something that’s Real-World enough without being so gnarly that we’ve given ourselves an intractable problem just to be able to sort of make it make it viewable in any in any way and around the sides of it. Interesting things like being able to, you know, the inputs and outputs associated with the fact that what Adam was mentioning in terms of, you know, if you need to do word processing of things.
Frode Hegland: [00:41:03] I’m not sure if I agree with you because of the interesting issue that before Facebook, people were much less computer literate. One thing Facebook did, it taught people things like tagging pictures because people did it for fun. And the fact that Oculus now is primarily a gaming machine works in our favor. Because gamers are the ones who are interested in learning the keyboard shortcuts and Eq., they want to get in to really manipulate their world. So I think that if we managed to do a thing where you have a person going into the space, things are flying around and all of that stuff and that’s like, Wow, an amazing work product, let’s say. Even if the people didn’t understand the process, I think because the target audience are people already have the headset, they’ll be like, What the heck happened there? That was powerful. I need to figure out what it is. That may also be a way.
Brandel Zachernuk : [00:41:56] Yeah. So another challenge, which is slightly neither here nor there, but it does sort of have an impact on making use of existing and existing copies of documents and things like that or trying to make use of familiar metaphors and stuff. Is that as well as being sort of the first opportunity to break out of the tyranny of tyranny? But is that the sacrifices that virtual reality has made and will continue to make for the foreseeable future is that in terms of being able to to actually. I allow people to complete tasks within those sort of traditional mechanisms. Having a small, very high pixel density despite having a relatively limited but incredibly fine, fine grained input of the very, very excellent wrist muscles that we make use of four mousing. Virtual reality is vastly worse. It’s just really bad at making screens and making light making making use of those fine motor controls. And so one of the one of the other challenges that virtual reality of the medium has spatial computing until we get inputs that actually use radar rather than optical head mounted tracking system stuff like that is that any attempt to do anything that is representative of those previous charities is going to fall flat on its face because it’s just it doesn’t you don’t have the ability to create the pixel pitch, you know, the number of the number of pixels per minute out here that are anywhere close to an order of magnitude that you can get in a headset. So it’s it also requires being sort of. Considerate of of what you are losing and and essentially accepting and admitting that sort of visibly within the context of how to complete a task. And that’s that’s, you know, I think one of the things that trips a lot of people up is that they think, Oh, you’ll be able to put screens everywhere, you’ll be able to kind of pick up a mouse without having to carry it around with you. But neither of those things is true. It’s terrible for that, and nobody has line of sight to to make it any less.
Frode Hegland: [00:44:19] That is really, really important. There is a game. I forget what it is one of those military shoot em ups that I got, and I have some issues with the game, but the handgun? You know, after a little bit of practice like this and, you know, I was in the army, so I do know how these things, you know, feel I can just even without lifting the gun now, I can shoot things far away because of the way it is mapped. So in one area, you have much greater fidelity than what we have. But yes, the whole clicking on a specific menu thing is absolutely as you’re saying and trying to to fake. I mean, don’t forget what is it called skeuomorphism or whatever where we try to? For a while with a Mac, it had to look like a real desktop that failed. It’s going to be the same note. To put a laptop into VR is going to be a complete failure. Dave, any final words before you duck?
Rafael Nepô: [00:45:18] Fries, yes. Sorry to interrupt you. No, no. Well, only one other thing that came up in our conversation this morning that might be interesting is to think about the the stages of when things will happen and when things will be bothered by things, but when people will be bothered by certain features in VR. So it seems to me that the visualization is that is the immediate, low hanging fruit. Right? And I think I Brandel you mentioned that you’ve done a a Wikipedia visualization and that came up this morning. It was like, that’s the obvious thing. Like if you if you wanted to to to get people’s attention immediately, then you take a big type of media resource Wikipedia and you demonstrate how it can be praised and visualized differently in VR. Right. But that’s like the immediate thing. And I imagine that that’s probably what a lot of companies will go to these headsets and marketed as consumer devices. So I think reading will be one of the key things that people will do first. And I think the later things that we might want to think about, that’s what we’re doing, the knowledge, work stuff. So that’s the hypertext spatial hypertext systems and virtual reality. That’s where you get to the hybrid stuff. So how do you transition in and out of virtual reality? How do you deal with tangible interfaces? All of that, that’s further down the road. Right? So I think one of the key questions for us as a group is should we be concentrating on the immediate stuff, right? Which is also where a lot of the companies interest will be elsewhere. So in a sense, there’s a lot of people competing to do that stuff already. Or do you think about the longer term stuff? I think that’s that’s the that’s the key. Interesting question. Right? Are we are we trying to set an agenda for 10 years or two years, right? That’s kind of that’s kind of the key for me. Thanks, Dave. I have to run, but I’ll get with you, and I’ll I’ll try and join you on Friday. Thanks, all. Hi.
Frode Hegland: [00:47:17] Hi, Peter. Thanks for being so patient. I’ve seen your heart and sorry.
Peter Wasilko: [00:47:22] No problem. I think we could get a lot of mileage out of exploring textural interfaces to the 3D manipulations, I put in a link to Shirt Lou, which was a famous A.I. program using text to manipulate a simulated blank world inside of a computer. And when we want to use visual data, we don’t want visual meta to be loaded down with object geometry and 3D coordinates so much as abstractions that are close to what the end user would have in mind. I don’t care about the exact position of the simulated laptop on the table. What matters to me is that laptop one is on top of the table or on the center of the table or on side of the table and expressions like that, which we could then pass and let the computer figure out how that relates to building a 3D model in the world. Then the computer could send that model data in the very terse form of the textual description over the network and in your local machine. On the client side could figure out, OK, when we say in front of a person, what that means is find the point on the table. That’s the closest to the center of that person’s avatar, then project from that in the width of the object, plus a small buffer and represent the object at that location. Rotated such that its normal would be facing the person that we said to put it in front of them. And again, you don’t need all of that work to be part of the jimeta or that you need is the very high level idea of I’m putting the laptop in front of frode on the table. So it’s facing. So what we could do work on that, and again, that brings us back into the tech side, and I don’t think that other VR players are going to be thinking in those terms they’re going to be obsessed about games and 3-D interactions. But if we could work on the language and how we can leverage text to manipulate the 3-D world, I think that would be the strongest avenue for us to pursue.
Frode Hegland: [00:49:20] I think that’s definitely interesting, and there will be an implementation we can see how is it actually harder or easier to be abstract rather than quite literal? But Brandel, I’m going to put you on the spot. I have a really specific question that’s been bugging me for a while and you probably the most experienced person I could ever imagine asking that is this thing that I’m dreaming about. I have a PDF with visual metaphor. I somehow put it into my web thing. You write stuff. If I view that page with my goggles on, I can click a taken to be. And what gives is the visual matter and maybe the document is that a huge medium or what size project to make experiments to see if it could happen?
Brandel Zachernuk : [00:50:11] And, well, sort of judging from the from the I haven’t tried to use the visual metaphor in any measure at this point, but I my suspicion is that it’s clean enough that it would be possible to kind of render into places. So I think that that would be pretty practical. I don’t know if you saw my can render fairly large.
Frode Hegland: [00:50:40] Sorry, I saw your Gutenberg, which was a bit shocking. The book?
Brandel Zachernuk : [00:50:46] Oh, yes, yeah, so Gutenberg was interesting in that it wasn’t actually only one, only two only four pages exist at the time. I’m sort of recycling those in terms of what I would build it with. It has more to do with the understanding media VR representation where I take all of macaroon and then I render it chapter by chapter into a series of of sort of one and a half meter wide paragraphs that you have the ability to kind of alternate and things. So the issue would be. What do things look like and where do they go in because visual media doesn’t provide particular explicit hinting as to appearance than you’d, what I would do is render that into an HTML document. So finding appropriate CSS based formatting and then producing and then taking that and determining appropriate positions for it. So there are hints about where in a document those things lie, or if there’s a sort of a linear system or where you want to be able to kind of distribute things and then figure out based on the relative density of them, you know, whether you need to stretch or not, that can affect. So, so yeah, like those are all those are all possible. I’ve worked. I have at this point, I haven’t worked exclusively in the browser I’ve ever used on other platforms and applications. But my my preference is still very, very strong for making use of web as the basis for all of those things. So to the extent that a PDF is something that can be done within web, you know, it can be done in Chrome, I think. But I haven’t written an application in VR from scratch because I think it’s a waste of time.
Frode Hegland: [00:52:38] Because, you know, looking at the workflow, I have these images of of Doug and TED banging in my head constantly, it has to be able to consume stuff. Visual matter is nice. Of course I like it, but we have to look at how we can take an ordinary PDF as well. And try to extract, but that’s a matter of first of all. Ok, so what you’re saying is, do you like HTML? So if there can be a converter into HTML, that solves a lot of problems for you, for you, right? I also saw that Adam was talking earlier about how it looks like hypertext. Sorry, ACM is moving towards HTML, which is a good thing.
Brandel Zachernuk : [00:53:15] Hmm. Yeah, and some of the worst transgressions of things like OCR scanning can now be slightly undone by a slightly more opinionated rendering of optical character recognition, all things. I was playing with and I should polish up a little bit more. The ability to use a web based in browser OCR of a window feed was doing it for the intention of being able to get the the timing of speakers within this very sort of chat. But what that means is that you have the ability potentially to take anything that isn’t properly formatted because the other thing is, as you know, PDF can be really terrible in terms of which, which pieces of text sequentially follow other things. If something as multi column, it’s not always a guarantee that that a scanning system has determined that and annotation side notes and things like that can come through in the main corpus. So the structure of that document hasn’t necessarily been preserved, even though it’s sort of staring you in the face. So to that end, even if there is an immediate rich text representation, having the ability to read OCR things and potentially re OCR things with the benefit of some user intervention, a human in the loop means that you can probably get a lot further a lot more easily than trying to build just a singularly intelligent algorithm for doing all of that work.
Frode Hegland: [00:54:53] Yeah, like live text, of course, is doing a fantastic job. That’s really good, so Adam’s notion of I think, rather than just a researcher kind of brings me back to the Knowledge Navigator inspirational video or whatever we might call it. I could imagine something very, very similar, but instead of chatting to an A.I., we have moving things around in space for this. And also, for the long term, the marriage of AR and VR will be amazing when I can really augment what’s in your space, but that is, of course, completely massive discussion. Jaron Lanier, one of the things he writes the transformative thing about VR. It’s not to change the environment, but to change yourself. So at some point we will go into that as well. But. So, I mean, if I understand correctly, Brandel, you want to wake the world up to the transformative potential of working in a richly interactive environment, meaning visual in all kinds of ways, right? And I think that’s something shared by all of us. And I’m thinking specifically, Adam and Brandel, OK, Brandel, let’s say that we suddenly had all the money in the world and all of that, all the technology. Let’s say we still had a year and let’s say we had a presentation we’re going to do on a stage where everybody had their headsets on what kind of things? What would you like to show? What problems would you like to have sold to show? Um.
Brandel Zachernuk : [00:56:41] Writ large, what I want to do is sort of prove that computing doesn’t have to be so centrally impoverishing that that we can do things like walk around, we can talk to each other, we can talk to systems and have those have the same digital relevance, the same rich, intertwined business that they have as a consequence of kind of shackling ourselves to a computer chair and staring at a screen without moving our head. Neither left nor right. I think that the the the dire cost that we’ve paid for those of us who have done computing for as long as we have to get to the level of skill that we have is is laudable. It’s really lovely that people can learn how to use these things. But I think it’s done a tremendous harm to be to be locked in this configuration in this relationship. It’s really funny to see Bill Buxton, researcher, his videos of because the mouse was invented by English and Engelbart in the sixties, as well as a telephone can actually in Germany. They they just took a rollerball and turned it upside down and didn’t consider it particularly important as James. But, you know, it didn’t really get much in the way of academic attention until the early 80s.
Brandel Zachernuk : [00:58:12] And Pakistan was one of the first people who identified it as interesting and did formal studies outside of the institutions where it was actually invented. And he had really clear warnings about it that the ergonomics of it and the kinds of motions people were likely to undertake were really harmful to our bodies and our joints. And I think as a musician, he was acutely aware of the harm that can be done, the terrible things that happen to violate the spine of a violinist and things like that. So, so in general, it’s that message for me. It’s that that computing, we can make computing work for us and for computers, and we can leverage the best of both in terms of really specific things to do. Again, I just think that if you look at sort of a mass time allocation study, essentially what it is that most people do with computers most of the time. If you can make a dent in that, a few of those and that is the most compelling thing to have happen. So, you know, as I live with in my My 2017 video that it’s it’s patently obvious that architectural visualization, things like tele surgery training. And I can’t remember what the third one was at this point, but maybe just 3-D sculpting and modeling those things are really valuable things for computing to be able to improve.
Brandel Zachernuk : [00:59:42] And they have they continue to. But most of us use word and excel. We use email and and that’s what we get paid for is is glorified data entry, those kinds of things. And so if we can legitimately improve that experience, if we can, if we can make a clear and unambiguous sort of benefits flow into those domains, then we have the ability to let other people kind of find the more specialized things and recognize that there is an entire trajectory to lead this sort of platform into that that confers more specialized benefits from more specialized inspection into the the fundamental changes that the medium affords. And yeah, so it’s that’s why I think it’s the simple stuff for me. And it’s also because I just don’t have any confidence that even the people working on it today are aware of where those benefits begin. And what are the pieces of the the sort of compact the agreement that we have with the computer that need to be thrown out the window in order to derive those greatest benefits? So that was lots
Frode Hegland: [01:01:06] That was long and brilliant. Marc, short and brilliant.
Mark Anderson: [01:01:09] Please let me go first because I’ve been speaking already, so my point was elliptical, so I’ll let him speak first.
Rafael Nepô: [01:01:19] Thanks. This ties in with what Brandel just said, and I guess I need a touch of clarification from you on something you said earlier. You alluded to the idea that the most boring or like rote type tasks or experiences are the ones that you should start with in a demo. Can you elaborate on that? A touch? Is it? I think it ties in with what a product that we could build might be.
Brandel Zachernuk : [01:01:43] Yeah. So, so one of the things that was the most exciting for me with Engelbart demo is that he led with the shopping list. He led with the ability to specialize and structured data in a way that was relatable to something that absolutely everybody does, or everybody sort of has an impact on, which is things like shopping that flows into inventory management or logistics of any kind. But it was a really beautifully mundane kind of example of that. I really like fosters the future of day and and I think that it’s a really important sort of call to action from the world of technology and technologists who can end up pretty full of themselves and convinced that something that is. Is, you know, fairly arcane and specific in terms of its scope is really important and central. One of the other reasons for that is because I think a lot of the time once we become embroiled in a technology. Complex is that we we lose sight of which aspects of what we are doing are implementation details that are premised on more fundamental values of the way the what should be done in the first place.
Brandel Zachernuk : [01:03:16] And to that end, my wife and I have been trying to work on on thinking of working on a book for about. What communication is, what did the digitally mediated communication might entail? And just the realization that so much of what we do is just has all of these assumptions baked into it that sort of preclude a number of possibilities from from being relevant because if you, you know, it’s just like the more specific and opinionated your your thing is the more limited and tied down. It means the parts of that sort of domain you have to play with. Or if you have to make a word plug in, then there’s just such a an innumerable number of constraints that are already set implicitly by that. And so, yeah, I think that going for the more basic and boring stuff also provides a basis upon which to to really reevaluate the way in which some of those more specific domains might actually be. Meaning you had to to look at it in certain ways. It’s also a way to be the freshest.
Rafael Nepô: [01:04:45] Yeah, yeah, that’s that’s helpful and kind of tying in with what you had set around what you were doing with like the chat log during our meetings, I’m going to come back to an idea. Guys feel free to shoot this down or direct it elsewhere, but. You alluded to this idea that if we did a math study of how people spend their time where they’re committed to in terms of computing, one thing that would surely show up on the list is this. And I touched on this a few times, but it’s the idea of like our meetings, our time in front of a screen, the tracking of the experience, the tracking of the conversations, the threads, the trails that go on are really just kind of lost out. It’s like this subtracted out piece. If you go and look back at a video later or if you’re recounting in your own head trying to retrieve what happened. Perhaps that’s a nice entry point to visualize trails within a meeting of conversations that could be done through OCR, as you alluded to, or even just through kind of the chat logs and anything that we would then have to tie. Like a few of our messages, like Peter’s note on Kathy Marshall, there’s a few responses there. So those would kind of carry in through this, which there’s a lot of visualization background on that 2D, but nothing that I’ve actually seen in the VR sense. So admittedly, I’m kind of a novice in that area, but that’s a general thought that comes to mind something of the idea of a demo as meeting trails.
Brandel Zachernuk : [01:06:24] Yeah, yeah, I like that.
Frode Hegland: [01:06:32] Well, Mark is still thinking, OK, I’ll jump in then. No, no,
Mark Anderson: [01:06:35] No, I’m going to say the benign findings are comforting in this is, is it? It keeps reinforcing to me the fact that, well, the strands nicely pulling together. So one of the things is in terms of freeing ourselves to use this sort of new environment. It’s it’s not so much, it’s as much. What do we not want to bring as what do we need to bring? So, for instance, we probably don’t need to be making pieces of paper facsimile thereof in digital space, but we do need some things like Pete listening to earlier. We need to know that there’s a thing and this thing has a relationship to something else on a totally different level to actually the the fine ones and zeroes about whether it’s a green block or a red block. And I find that those those effectively, to me seem like parallel strands going sort of into this because they’re needed for very different things. And so your visual matter is another strand that on the face of it has nothing to do with this because where where is visualized and why? But in a sense, it’s a data payload that’s only unlocked when you get to the far end, but you still going to have to have a link through it. And we’re like also the idea of thinking back to Randall’s point about the link sorry, the using a sort of web context because, OK, we get lots of lots of sort of, you know, full starts coming along with it.
Mark Anderson: [01:07:58] But, you know, humanity in one form or another is hammered on the web fairly hard. You know, it’s not ideal in all things, but there are a lot of influences that come with it. So people have sort of started thinking about effectively, you know, the permanence of links and dealing with link rot and this sort of thing. So avoiding having to avoiding having to reinvent that, especially as we bridge into a whole new environment seems to me like a really good start. So it does mean something better can’t follow. In the same way as Brandel was saying, we haven’t really looked at visual matter, but what you’ll find inside is some Big Tech Y because it was the best fit at the time. And none of us doing it think that’s necessarily what it will be in 10 years time if we’re still using visual metaphor or not something better. It’s it’s just this bridging thing, making sure we don’t take too much unnecessary formalism with us that then gets in the way of what we’re trying to do.
Frode Hegland: [01:08:53] Yeah, absolutely, there’s a lot of interesting threads kind of collapsing here, and one of them is that when I put on my little headset, the feeling that I get is I am now in my own knowledge space. I think that’s a really important thing. So I’m very, very glad that we’re being dragged up, not down, but up to the mundane. For instance, an actual To-Do list is useful. And you know, I’m trying to not go towards what you were saying, Brendan, about meeting rooms and stuff because I think there’s a lot of money in that. There’s a lot of work happening. Microsoft and Metta are really investing in that. But then I have to say I’m a complete hypocrite because I do think that Rome and Obsidian and this knowledge building space type things, that is probably where we should go because my deepest dream so far is going to this virtual space. And there are things all over the place, and these things are my knowledge. One of them is the To-Do list. There’s a calendar over there and then I have my references here. But with the dynamic environment of VR, I can reorder it into timeline. If I needed to, I can do whatever I want, but it is actually the bits of my knowledge. So you know it it’s I’m not talking necessarily about building a knowledge graph. The term that I thought of this weekend is Constellation and Knowledge Constellation, so that you don’t feel you have to have it in a specific shape. You put it in the shape when you need it. You know, if you look at that classic Apple commercial, you know, companies, you know, computers have to work the way we work.
Frode Hegland: [01:10:35] In this sense, cognitively in this sense, right, if you want to start with it to do list, if you want to start with that absolutely fine, if you want it to be skeuomorphic and look like an actual book or something on the wall. Absolutely fine. But this if and now to go into game terms like I learned from the designer of crisis, if the items in the environment know what they are. Then computationally and attractively, we can move them about right. So that’s why I’m liking the whole. Let’s be as mundane as possible, something every day is possible so that, you know, first thing you do in the morning you put this on, you don’t put it on when you’re offering a document, which is my pleasure. But that’s a bit specialist. How many people write books, right? Or big reports, not everybody. No, I don’t I don’t mean do whatever I want. Mark, what I mean is certainly, you know, we dream, just dream together. We have look at look behind you, mark, because you have the most colorful background right now. You have all these knowledge objects. Ideally, you would want them in the space, right? Because the thing that surprised me of putting on the headset for the first time recently rather than a long time ago, it’s both intimate and large in their. You know, I used to sit in a Japanese house, which is massive. But it’s still cozy. So this whole thing, we talk often about this there and that maybe we should try to do that. I don’t know how does that jive with people? Oh, their hands up, OK? Hands over to Peter.
Peter Wasilko: [01:12:15] Ok, I put a link to Graham Nelson narrowcasting. Talk in the sidebar and one of his slides going by partway through is a picture of the cockpit of a Boeing 747, showing all the tremendous complexity, and he speculates underneath that slide about how it would be nice if we could have progressive discovery of that complexity in detail in a virtual space. So imagine if you first entered your simulated cockpit and all you had was the control yoke on the throttle. And then after a while, he said flaps might appear with controls. And when to do something like that, also, we can think about really abstract things that don’t translate to the real world. And a few years back, I was doing some speculation about what kind of a system we could have to allow children to discover programming naturally. I started thinking, Well, what if you had, say, a wand metaphor where each one to object would actually be conceptually a stack? And if you touch the wand to an object, what you would be doing is pushing the identifier representing that object onto the top of the stack. So you could press a bunch of things. And effectively you could have like a three dimensional real world force with multiple stacks in terms of wands, so you could touch a bunch of items. You could also have some other objects that would represent control operations. And then if you touch the one to the control operation, the data would get pulled off of that stack. It would do its thing and push the result back onto the tip of the one. So the wand would be allowing the wand would serve as your environment and allow you to move data. And that’s completely unlike anything that we have in the real world, although, of course, in the real world with the right. Equipment, you could replicate that physically, but it would be much easier to do in VR because it wouldn’t have to worry about actually putting in little Bluetooth transponders and everything to be able to pick up and read identifiers. So that’s a completely abstract way, something that would work in that kind of space.
Frode Hegland: [01:14:16] Very much worth thinking about, yeah. Pictures, videos. Absolutely. I agree with both sides. I mean, there Brandel is provocations are still brilliant.
Brandel Zachernuk : [01:14:33] Yeah, I find the thing for me was actually, do you know anything about Bret Victor’s dad product? Because there is a president one, it’s very, very early Apple employee you met, you met Viktor or is that
Frode Hegland: [01:14:49] No operates only once?
Brandel Zachernuk : [01:14:52] Right? Because there’s somebody who by the name of Viktor, who was very early Apple employee and was also a time share with Doug. And and so I’m very curious as to to to to Brett’s actual literal pedigree in the sense of what kinds of conversations he’s been party to throughout his life and what likely impact that that will have on the way he does his thinking. But you know, for the most part, like I love, I love some of the sort of interventions that he plays with. What I wish is that he was committed a little bit more to implementation of things because I believe the details matter. And yeah, to the point of things like of teleconferencing to you’re mentioning earlier, Brendan, there’s something that I thought was really fascinating is I don’t know if you’ve heard of a guy, Phil Libin, who makes an application called and he, which is a video chat. It’s actually just a video camera, but it lets you perform your slides so that I’d have my points up here and I can kind of point to them whether whether person’s style. And it’s and it’s I think it’s brilliant. I think it’s genius. And I know if I was in charge of acquiring things, then I would buy that because not just the product, but the company in order to make sure that that thinking is integrated into into the future. But what I was shocked by, and he also started the company called Evernote, where he started Evernote. And so he has a pretty good understanding and appreciation for the way in which the way you manipulate the domain of a Typekit to make it make sense has a has a great deal of impact on how well you can understand things, as well as the bottom line of a company that sort of sets itself itself out to do those things.
Brandel Zachernuk : [01:16:39] What I was surprised by is that he has no truck or interest in virtual reality whatsoever beyond this kind of flash in the pan entertainment package. And I understand this motivation, but he’s actually on record in the podcast about it. And to that end, I think he sees no value in what might be avoided as a consequence of being in VR for teleconferencing. And that’s sort of why I sort of I’m so polemic about how much of a challenge there is in convincing people who have been the beneficiaries technology up to this point of what is wrong with that technology because people say these tiny, horrible, impoverishing windows are good enough and they don’t understand what channels of information aren’t being conveyed. They don’t understand, you know, the fact that so many people and this isn’t a slight against people who have their cameras off, but don’t don’t seem to grasp what they don’t get as a consequence of not having cameras on and that many people with cameras on don’t leverage those channels, either by looking at the chat window at the video windows or by taking the opportunity to perform and emote in them the way that it’s possible to as a consequence of the time we spend seeing human beings. Sorry, go ahead.
Frode Hegland: [01:17:56] Just on that point, I see you have your hand up, but it should also be equally possible to not do that. There are several, you know, we have a lot of us face time video on here, and I don’t use it very often because when I’m talking to someone, it’s actually really nice to be voice only. So within a VR environment, yes, I want to be present, but I’d also like my avatar to just be on a bit of a loop while I’m pacing the room and thinking and listening, rather than being seen to like. Often when I talk to you guys, my eyes are above the screen because I’m looking at my bookshelf as something in the distance. You know, I don’t want that to be seen as being not engaged. But anyway, I think your main point, Brandel, is that the level of engagement is a really important aspect and there are different, depending on different contexts.
Brandel Zachernuk : [01:18:44] Right. Yeah, I would also say, though, that even in the context where you are sort of partially engaged, that’s a channel of information that computer systems, as they’re currently engineered, are very poorly sort of set up to to leverage. And, you know, in real life, when we’re talking to each other, there’s it’s very fairly rarely the case that multiple people are staring directly into each other’s eyes as part by way of conversation. What we mostly do is co-exist and perform in ways that are sort of related to the presence of other people within a space, but they’re not relating to those people as directly as we are sort of obliged to do in the context where we only have these cameras. It’s kind of equivalent to people all standing in a circle and staring into the middle. And you know, that’s not very organic until I understand why people don’t like it. But what it means is that we’re very poorly attuned to what kind of benefits there might be from, from simply being co-located in a way where we can discern aspects of intent from people’s bodily motions that aren’t related specifically to performing to one another. And so, so so yeah. I think that while there may be some capacity for Autopilot, I think it would be all the better to be able to see what it is that people really are doing and having those things be more more fluidly sort of representative of the continuum of engagement and and directness of those interactions. Yeah, that’s right.
Frode Hegland: [01:20:18] Yeah, I see that. Peter, do you have a quick point because I have something to ask Brendan before he leaves as well?
Peter Wasilko: [01:20:25] Yes, I think that the notion of channels is something that we should add to visual matter, that I can see parallel temporal streams and you might only be interested in one. And one of them could be a very compact encoding of what someone’s avatar or their body with an eye or watching the actual video feed is doing at a high level. Leaning back, looking away looks agitated. Things like that. You can have a little palette. If you weren’t actually there to make your avatar, do those things, and that could be one stream and that would have timestamps interleaved with other things so we can have a citation stream. We can have the actual conversation stream, we can have a display document stream and we can have the Avatar reaction stream and interleave those individual matters so that you can filter them out. Look at one and then find out, you know, when someone puts up a reference to a book. What are the other avatars in the room doing reaction wise? So you could figure out that this book must be an important book because everyone suddenly perked up and showed interest at the time this particular reference dropped into the chat window. It’s sort of a crazy thought there.
Frode Hegland: [01:21:34] I think that’s, yeah, very, very good, I mean, yes, that that makes complete sense, that you basically choose what you need highlighted for four different contexts. But I just wanted to ask the question to the group, particularly you, Brandon says. You have to go now when what? What compelled you to put on an Oculus? Let’s just talk about that one. The first thing when you sit down to work in the morning. What tasks? I guess checking messages would be one. Of course, meetings are one, and I agree with you, Brandon, it’s important to track meetings. But but what are the kinds of things?
Rafael Nepô: [01:22:15] Uh, with the caveat that it’s hard to answer that question without the affordances of what exists today, I’ll dream. I I see VR as a great tool for spatial. Thinking it’s and that’s simple and high level, but anything that I do within that context would be beneficial. So from the lens of a researcher, when I am diving through Kathy Marshall’s papers, for instance, and trying to tie them to something else around how a virtual notebook should be structured so that we can gain insight from it. The most useful time that I have is when I can kind of visualize how things might connect, so so that would be a task that I would pop on a headset for if a tool existed to kind of aid me in my research in that way. Beyond that. I don’t know, I’ll leave it there. That is the most immediate thought that comes to mind, and I’m sure there are other things, but that is like the strongest point which as as you kind of know from my background, this is my world of work right now. So that would be it.
Frode Hegland: [01:23:31] Ok, so the whole connecting things is obviously very, very what is the. If Marshall McLuhan was there, he would have very interesting discussions of what is really VR and what is fake in VR. One of the things has to be the connection thing because you have so many more like moving ahead and all of that stuff, you can see connections much, much better. Should we maybe think going back a little bit that it is maybe a research place rather than a more mundane place just bouncing back and forth, guys to see, do we put your headset on when we want to concentrate to work or when we just getting into general? What are we doing now? Mode?
Mark Anderson: [01:24:17] I think it’s a bit of both. I mean, it’s interesting hearing Brandel talk is, you know, had an epiphany as you’re speaking. He got the thing I do is basically what I do mentally at the moment in that I’ve abstracted my use of sort of spatial hypertext maps and tinder box into my mind where I sort of use the formalism of what I do on screen. But I’m a slow typist, so I just do it in my head because the bandwidth is better. But actually, you know, the brain isn’t. The fidelity is not all I wish. So actually being able to do that decomposition and recomposition of things, which is just insanely hard to do with this sort of stuff. Well, I end up with lots of sketches all over, but it’s and I’m a very I also have a very bad hand, so that doesn’t help. So this ability to is when you want to step out of something, so it’s less to do with writing or something or working on a picture, it’s more to do with. It’s the sorting and interconnections, and it’s probably you want to open them up, sort of reconnect things and then almost put it away again because you’ve done you’ve done the bit that you can’t do in these other. There’s other things. I mean, I could imagine going through my email in VR, but I think it would be as equally awful experiences in real life.
Frode Hegland: [01:25:32] It seems to me that it’s also a matter of stewardesses luggage. You know how the rolling luggage was first introduced to stewardesses because they travel and they’re seen, you know, and also with children, you don’t mark it to four year old the product for four year old, you tell them it’s for a six year old. Right. So maybe there is a way to show this high powered knowledge work environment, but not in an alienating way, but in a way that a more normal office worker would say, Oh my gosh, you can do that. I wonder what I can do with my work with such a powerful tool.
Rafael Nepô: [01:26:05] Yeah, I think that’s that’s really the idea that that comes to life here is the fact that Brandel idea of the mundane, like the boring task, if you can show how that’s actually useful in a specific niche again, because you can’t create everything for everyone, especially out of the gate, then. Someone’s eyes can be open to what is possible for them, so. I suppose a question of the group that I would just encourage everyone to think on, and it’s reiterating what I said earlier. What what are we going through on a daily basis that we can tap into to then create a a different representation of that would enable us in other ways? So how Marc just talked about decomposing and composing information that is a very practical situation that you could put within the frame of researcher trying to publish their PhD. And all of a sudden then you have a market of. And specifically go into the world of HCI and hypertext. So then you have like specific people within HCI or computer science, and those researchers are your initial target audience, which are probably going to be more likely to pick up a headset together if they’re more open with tech. And on top of that, they have a practical problem that you represent.
Mark Anderson: [01:27:29] So, yeah, and actually, you know, doing your office work and reading your emails, in a sense, what you are doing is you’re doing recon pacing because you get something that links you to something else that’s probably not present in the thing that you’re reading. And mentally, what you’re doing is you’re you’re sort of making your murder wall of all this. So being able to externalize that, so there is actually quite a common metaphor underneath it. It’s an interesting this morning talking with Dave, and he sort of said, Well, we’re sort of talking about VR spatial hypertext. So I wouldn’t use that term in a in a in a wider context because people wouldn’t know what it means. But I think probably here we probably do. You know, it’s this ability to have a sort of plasticity to art things and not not in the sense of, Oh, I can make a candlestick that I can bend, but more that no, I can take things for which I actually don’t really have a a an object. I would necessarily describe, you know, an eye, an idea, a chapter in a book. You know, things that don’t have a sort of a distinct physical manifestation and being able to interrelate those and create or destroy or just simply record the sort of trails between them is something I think this environment offers.
Frode Hegland: [01:28:47] Yeah, sorry. I’m just being a bit rusty because your brain’s got again. Yeah, of the time. But I did this little poll. Only 20 people replied to it. But this was me finding out what part of what aspect of offer to market, basically. And I actually thought export to academic PDF will be number one, its last. But the key reason for you guys is integrated concept map again and again when I show that people really, really like it. So to have a concept map in VR that integrates a lot of the stuff we’re talking about, they can, then the work product can be in whatever is probably not a bad place to start.
Mark Anderson: [01:29:25] Yeah. And picking up Brandel points in a sense of yes, and it doesn’t want to be a word plug in. The idea is no. What we don’t want to do is cluster this onto something existing and take all the legacy problems with it. It’s more saying now look, you don’t need you don’t need some of the stuff you’re doing that’s really hard to do. You can just do in a different way. That’s what it’s so let go of the past encumbrances. And I think that’s another sort of powerful selling point of it.
Frode Hegland: [01:29:50] So then my last thing to you, Brandon, is can we think of making a shared thinking space?
Rafael Nepô: [01:30:00] Yeah. Yeah, I think that’s the the overall goal you had touched on, you said knowledge, constellation, knowledge, space, I like all of that as a kind of a vision behind the just the concept that we’re working on right now and thinking through all the Iron Man. Indeed, you’re looking like a great Iron Man there. Yeah, I’m absolutely into that thought process, I guess takeaway is what I would want to kind of leave with everyone, as I have talked about is. What would make sense as that initial go, that initial framing, how do you reach down into a specific case that we can really put real effort into, as is often the case in these, you need momentum from just getting something out and getting feedback on that, and that triggers a whole new wave of insight networks, as Dave mentioned and so on. So that would be the takeaway question that I’d ask everyone. And maybe on Friday we can discuss that.
Frode Hegland: [01:31:06] I’ll be back in a minute. See you on Friday, hopefully Brandel. So you guys are
Rafael Nepô: [01:31:10] Great chatting with everyone.
Brandel Zachernuk : [01:31:12] Yeah, thanks for having.
Peter Wasilko: [01:31:14] It big here. Yep.
Mark Anderson: [01:31:19] So I think. I mean, is this interesting, the bit that sort of seems to be staying consistently in frame is effectively. So n dimensional maps. So there are a few things in the knowledge space are playing around with it. I think a number of them are encumbered by the fact that what they’ve mainly done is taken a a graphing tool and glommed it onto some data with good intent. But in fact, sorry, Peter. Go ahead.
Brandel Zachernuk : [01:31:51] Is it? Yeah, I think he’s wonderful.
Peter Wasilko: [01:31:55] Oh, OK, I think a real killer app might be a VR email client. The one thing I have absolutely despise all the email clients that I have, the number of incoming streams of communication just totally overwhelm the user interface. I have this one linear temporal list. I wound up with some smart mailboxes. They’re not adequate to help me. I have subclasses of kinds of correspondence. For instance, I have a whole set of mailing lists that are law related. I have another set of mailing lists, their information retrieval related. I have AI related ones. I have programming related ones for more than one programming language. I have people in each one of those spaces, they overlap. And filtering through that feed is utterly untenable in the essentially linear temporal view that my male package gives me, even when all of you a thread for one correspondent. Again, it’s not able to relate that to related threads that are on the same and similar topics, and I have no way to just see at a broad, high level aerial view what has happened male wise over the last three days. What mailing lists are hot? What areas are clustered with new topics? Just show me which emails out of all that are offering me opportunities to sign up for webinars that I need to attend to a whole nother class of email related to product offers that have time sensitivity to them. Winter Fest is going to end in so many days, and that should like automatically bubble up somehow. So I think a VR email client would be the killer app that people would actually be willing to maybe go out and buy a headset for just because there’s nothing in the two deep space that can manage that level of complexity currently.
Frode Hegland: [01:33:41] I I see what you’re saying, Peter, but I think people use email so much less now, and it’s usually used for more official things. I think most people use WhatsApp or iMessage or whatever.
Mark Anderson: [01:33:55] I’m not sure that’s true. I think they’re just there are there are just different groups of people. The danger is that marketing makes us want to think so. Yes, all the kids doing this, this group of people doing that. But certainly in some of the work spaces, email is still the main working workforce. The other thing I do constantly see is what’s really difficult to do is is to generalize from one zone. There’s a massively different experience between someone who gets 10 emails a day and someone who gets, you know, 1000 a day or more. And although both are email, the volume almost makes the experience completely different. It’s almost like you’re not dealing with the same thing. So instead of, you know, your post arriving and there’s a there’s a there’s a card from Granny and will respond to that. You know, it’s as if you’ve got all the stuff for the for the for the parcel office next door. It’s just been shoved through your letterbox and you’ve now got to deal with it quickly and efficiently and drop nothing behind, which makes, I think, looking at email difficult because there is actually not a clear normative experience. And I’m I’m I totally get that lots of people, especially a younger generation, because they’re more used to mobile devices, are using other systems. And though they don’t look like email, they’re often like email just with some of the rappers. I mean, within their system. If I’m sure if you leave it it off and look down into the data structure underneath your effects, are you looking at something like email? I mean, not. It’s designed to be, but it the fact that maybe you’re getting video messages rather than written text it is is a slight artifice in terms of what’s actually going on underneath.
Frode Hegland: [01:35:43] Hello, Alan.
Peter Wasilko: [01:35:46] Hello. Sounds like an interesting conversation. Apologies for missing so much.
Frode Hegland: [01:35:54] I was trying to change the word the world and the word. So you missed everything. Yeah. We’re looking at a kind of a demo or presentation or product. However, we want to present it to to build, let’s say, in a year to have ready to show in a year and we were going into different avenues of that. It comes down to some kind of a knowledge base, but we don’t want it to be too esoteric. It should be something that you really want to put on your headset to go, and you either want to get go in your headset to focus down onto something to build a knowledge thing or you want to do tasks that you do a lot today. Am I saying it right?
Alan Laidlaw : [01:36:38] Um, just to throw a wrench in that and maybe circle when you were. I just jumped in during the talk about email and I would say that email is still massively used, but uh. Here’s the I don’t know, a take. I read a post by. Dan Mall yesterday and not a post, but just, you know, sort of an update. And he said, my wife is one of this feature on her phone for a while where people have to let you know why they’re calling you. So I decided to sketch it out for fun. Currently, tapping a number from a contact details from a contact was immediately, but maybe there could be a new interim screen before the call starts. It prompts you to add a subject for the call. The dialing screen could confirm what you’re calling about on the receiving end. You could preview the subject the person entered as a way to decide whether or not you want to take the call right now. And it’s it’s a brilliant, you know, it mocks it up, and it’s brilliant and it’s obvious. My first reaction was like, finally, innovation, some innovation in ancient lands, which got me to think that, you know, the old line about the future is here, but it’s not evenly distributed. There’s a wrinkle in that metaphor in that it’s the future is not evenly distributed among technology itself. We tend to have a pattern of disrupting something with a new technology, and then it’s no longer sexy and we completely leave it behind. And it seems like it’s built up a tougher immunity to innovation than anything else. So we we have no innovation in phone calls for no good reason. You know, telecom seems too tough. The same goes for emails. I’ve always wanted to see a little tiny feature in emails where you could highlight something in a long thread and then promote that little highlight for yourself to become the new subject line of the email, right? So that suddenly it feels like you are.
Alan Laidlaw : [01:38:47] You’re seeing the very last thing as it applied to you. And the same could be said for visual media, which I realized was why I was so attracted to it in the first place is that it’s saying, here’s this domain. A PDF. And for whatever reason, we’ve all kind of agreed that it can’t be updated and that is false. And furthermore, it’s a weird blind spot in our Silicon Valley ethos. We think that we have to to disrupt new areas, and that’s where all the opportunity is and all the money. But it’s these older areas that have already been disrupted by technology, and they’ve they’ve they’ve evolved from product into utility. That is actually where we should be putting our focus because the distribution channels are already there, making a huge difference in that would would in those in utility products that have become utilities would immediately. Seems like it would immediate. Obviously, there’s more detail to that. But you could see immediate benefit from small changes in text messages or phone calls or emails. And and and I think why we don’t do that is because there’s no incentive, you know, when you’ve got something new. It’s because it’s being pushed by a company and they own it. You know, iPhone. And once it becomes a commodity or utility level, no one owns it anymore, like PDF. And so the motivation may not be there. But that is really what’s compelling about the future of text to me or visual media specifically. So just wanted to put that out there.
Frode Hegland: [01:40:36] By the way, I appreciate the fact that you’re having a new avatar today.
Alan Laidlaw : [01:40:41] Oh, yeah, it’s because I have the Twillio Zoom. Account and then my own now, and I have to remember to switch between them and it’s.
Frode Hegland: [01:40:52] I’m talking about your face. Oh, my face looks new. Yeah, yeah, I got or something or hair or what is it? You look very different.
Alan Laidlaw : [01:41:02] My dog decided to get to pay my face some extra attention. She’s very old and got confused.
Frode Hegland: [01:41:10] So OK. Anyway, so it’s nothing wrong with our cameras, right? As long as you’re OK. Yeah. Ok, well, I mean, it is really worthwhile having these discussions into big things, and if we had multiple millions, I don’t think we would even dare attack some of these problems. You know, look at how even met up with two weeks ago decided not to do their own meta OS. You know, it’s like, whoa, they’re staying with the Android base or something like that. Yeah, I mean, to me, it seems obvious that one of the things that has to happen is a research work thinking space, but also a shared knowledge space. You know, the video of Edgar, you’ve all seen it right? He’s got this awful design and it moves them and they go, Oh, there’s a physical door in his way, right? It’s so easy to move things in 3D space. It’s absolutely insane. And hand tracking now is really good. It is not perfect, but it is really good. So for us now, one of my dreams is we leave Zoom running for audio. We all put our headsets on and we move stuff about. You know, if Brandel comes in with a link, we can view it on our little web browsers if we want to. We can file it away. We can do a timeline view. We can do all of that stuff. It’s about a shared space that doesn’t look like, you know, metal work room horizons or something. It doesn’t look real. It’s just our thoughts.
Alan Laidlaw : [01:42:55] Um. He. I am missing the context, obviously jumping in later, but
Frode Hegland: [01:43:05] The context is that the Dave Millard, my former adviser, I’m trying to get him to join us and some kind of a change to the world effort. I feel we have one year to put something out there to the world to really inspire what worked in VR czar can be before the Giants come in and make it blend in. People’s imagination is included. I really feel that strongly and it’s horrible. I think what Brandel has been working on so hard to really show the interactions and what it is to be in 3D is really important. But if we’re going to, I mean, to use massive words, I think we need to try to become MIT Media Lab for VR work with text. All right.
Mark Anderson: [01:43:55] But an extra missing bit to bring it up to speed. That I think was an important thing that Dave raised this morning and reiterated here today, which is, you know, we can either get involved in the the most immediate seeming thing, which is the nature of the visualization. Or we can look a step beyond that because the danger in doing the the stuff that seems most obvious is there are people with, you know, heavier boots and deeper pockets who will trample us to death. And all the work that we may do will probably just be lost in the rush. There are other things that won’t be sexy to these people because, you know, the the immediate applications are not so obvious, the immediate sales. But you know, the thing we’ve just been talking about this afternoon, and it all boils down to this sort of effectively sort of thinking spaces of things where I think we I think we can do all sorts of useful work, even if even if we get no further than just working out what the unknown unknowns are and the known known the known unknowns are, that’s actually a massive job in itself because this environment is so unknown. We know there are some lovely things we can do in it, but we we don’t yet have a good map as to how, how, how we can use that fidelity to its most. And just the complicated issue of, you know, forget getting something off your laptop is getting it out of here into a visual space. So we can imagine this is to say we can imagine, we can imagine this space, this sort of map space and be able to do things. The the problems in this interim space between and and I’m not sure that necessarily our existing data structures and stuff thus far necessarily help unless we want to be dragging a lot of legacy ideas behind whose time has probably passed if we want to be building 3D paper. Fine. But I don’t think there’s actually, you know, the best for the future of text. So anyway, I think that it’s forbidden.
Brandel Zachernuk : [01:45:54] Totally, totally. And one of the one of the points I think that I’ve been trying to get across Iraq is that the application represents a value system. And so every data format equally sort of is implicitly sort of reinforces and supports a specific value system by definition. Essentially, any incumbent data formats are going to be best at representing the things that they care about and considered to be interesting and important. And the point that I was saying about the continuum of engagement and direct interaction is is is representative of the fact that we simply don’t have appropriate or adequate and coatings of the things that are the most important and beneficial about co-present or otherwise embodied spatial reality, spatial computing. Those things don’t exist. They’re not thinkable as a consequence of the way that we work simply with a mouse and keyboard or trackpad. And so the critical point of going back to basics and saying, what are the ways in which our understanding of being a person per state can kind of be brought to bear against what we can either make use of now or imagine can be added as relevant sort of semantic inputs into a digitally mediated system. And that’s that’s why I actually avoid using virtual reality, even the word computers, because they presuppose so much about what it is that you do and what it is that matters. One of the things that was fascinating to an HCI conference I went to many years ago is the way that they sort of asserted that white space within a numerically formatted sort of set of information was never going to be relevant information. I just thought, I think that probably matters. You know how long the spaces are between the lines of stuff, particularly if it’s handwritten. Knowing everything about that gives you an immense amount of context that may or may not be relevant. But but certainly by stripping it out, you’re guaranteeing that it won’t be.
Alan Laidlaw : [01:48:03] Um. So sorry, I was thinking about the. Yeah, I’ve started reading that as well. That is pretty interesting. So so I’m just going to paint a little collage between the VR that book creative selection and what I was talking about as far as the unsexy innovation in ancient lands. What I like about creative selection is the is the ethos of the demo culture. The only thing that matters is the next demo in a sense. But also underneath that is saying what is a small thing that I can change, what is a small inflection point that I can focus on and innovate? And that is the opposite of what is this massive, you know, Xanadu utopia opportunity space. I I would be really interested in finding those small inflection points, whether it’s in. Pdf or or or email or email to V.R. or whatever. I think that there’s more. Rich soil in trying to figure out those small. Uh, interventions then massive, you know? A manifesto for lack of a better word.
Frode Hegland: [01:49:33] Ok. Oh, use the manifesto word, so then I’m allowed to jump in on that. Yep. The thing is, you know, when you watch, I know I’m saying obvious stuff, but for context, when you’re watching an animated movie, every single thing has to be designed. So I’m saying that a context of VR is that we can’t just fix email and VR, there’s so much around it again, stuff, you know? But for context, what I mean is that the thing that scares me is that we cannot just say, let’s meet and meet us workroom or whatever Apple or Google will have equivalent and then take a 3D object out of our virtual laptops and share it in the space. It can’t be done right. That is an absolute insanity to me. So that’s political. That’s where we need manifestos and things like that. But we also do need to do demos this. Clearly, we have to live in this space in different ways. So now we have to decide as a community. What compels us enough other than when we’re tinkering and tinkering is hugely important, what compels us enough when we have our own time to put on our headset? Is it to do thinking, is it to do production, is it to do finding out, is it to do social? Is it to do just deal with our everyday life? That reason to put it on to begin with is something we need to get some sort of a shape on.
Alan Laidlaw : [01:50:56] Sadly, I don’t have a reason to put on the headset. If it were VR and not Oculus or Metaverse or going into this OS, you know, if I could just put on the headset and suddenly be in a space, you know, that would be more compelling. But the truth is is that I also have to go through the software layer this this this walled garden.
Frode Hegland: [01:51:17] Ok, but Alan, here is a really big thing. Have you all seen the movie? Don’t look up. When I started watching it. Ok, so you know, the premise, right? I look at it this way. They happen to have a meteor, which is a really clear thing to see in the sky. If you look up, it’s there, it’s going. We have many issues that we are all here concerned with climate change, et cetera. And we have an incredible tool, the resource. We could think of this as being nuclear power or something that is now about to be unleashed. And the corporate interest will be for the corporate interests. Apple will try to own this base, metal will try to own this space. None of these commercial entities will try to do this to save the world. It’s just not in their corporate interest. It’s about ownership of the whole package for them, all of them. All right. So we have to decide now and this is what’s so important we have to be and this is what I said to the other guys. Earlier, the TED Nelson multiplied by Doug Engelbart to have an amazing demo, a presentation of something that shows that thinking in VR is so compelling. Everybody has to do something else.
Frode Hegland: [01:52:29] And as far as Oculus is concerned, it just happens to be the tool that’s closest to our hands, you know, in the Battle of Stalingrad. Russian soldiers were being sent across the river with no weapons. There was a war on. You were expected to find someone else’s weapon who just got killed. You had less than a minute to live. I feel we’re in a similar situation. The Oculus has got tons of issues, but it’s the only weapon at hand, really. That’s easily shareable, you know, get some feeling for what it is in there and then just sell it to game players once the real stuff comes out. But we have to live there to to understand. I mean, Brandel is light years ahead of all of us in terms of understanding of living in this space. You know, be there a little bit and we got it. We’ve got to find the sweet spot of. This is the thing that I will put on my headset to do, and it’s not Jim, and it’s not meditation and it’s not games, and it’s not just a meeting, it is thinking we can be the MIT Media Lab for virtual reality knowledge work. And I’ll have to reply to a message,
Mark Anderson: [01:53:38] Just quickly say that I sent slightly, we’re going round in circles and I think I think twice, if not three times in today we have actually worked out what people would find interesting and this is actually making sense of stuff. And I can’t understand. I don’t know why we need to go on talking about it. I think we know what it is. And and that’s something we can actually get some traction on and start exploring, you know, because as Brandel shown
Frode Hegland: [01:54:06] Us, I had to reply to that urgent message Can you please repeat what you said? I’m so sorry.
Mark Anderson: [01:54:10] Yeah, I just said and I’ll say it again, but I’ll preface this. I say without without any implied critique at all. But we do seem to be going round in circles, certainly because at least in this talk today, we’ve twice been through the same nexus, the same. What’s interesting and the thing that’s tractable and interesting is is basically since making knowledge construction, construction and deconstruction, your concept constellations, they all fit together. They’re all basically different descriptions of the same thing. So I actually think we do have something and there is there is some discussion as to how you scope it. And I think according to our different sort of approaches to information in our own experiential backgrounds, we might see that differently. But actually, I think the thing that there isn’t, I haven’t sensed the difference of opinion in. There are lots of things that we all find interesting, but something that we all seem to sense that we could do is make sense of things. And the interesting part to me of that is that the one thing that doesn’t involve is having lots of geometric shapes. We don’t. In others, we don’t have to start with things that we have to make the symbols to do that we can almost take anything abstract because what we’re doing is we’re using it as almost, you know, Johnny Mnemonic. It’s your mind expander. You’re turning your mind up to 11. You’re having a space so you can do it in a in a space that actually has some memory. In other words, it’s some persistence, which are human memories, depending on how lucky we are or is is somewhat lacking the fidelity in that area.
Frode Hegland: [01:55:48] I’m embarrassed to agree with you entirely, and I see a Brandel as his hand up. I just want to say, when you get the octopus, please download Nodal and Odel as soon as possible, because it’s such a weird little interaction for some of that Brandel. Please. Sorry?
Brandel Zachernuk : [01:56:05] No, it was very, very useful interjections. And I agree, like the mechanics of actually getting in and seeing what some of these things are like would be extremely valuable. Be really interesting to see if any of cordials work. You know, the Amex’s demo that I’ve linked a number of times is available for manipulation or interaction. If not, I’m sure that I can build a version of it that that that sort of is at least representative of some of those things so that we have the ability to see his videos as well as play with some things that bear some resemblance to the interactions that are implicit within it. One of the things that I wanted to bring up while we because I, well, 20 minutes I’ve got is that the encoding of spaces for significance is something that within computing has been colonized by computers. To the extent that we don’t have many, many times that we do information spaces that aren’t sort of in this tiny rectangle, but one place that that that has had a sort of a history and a pedigree of creating and coding is the military. And so I would be really interested to think about that. So, so one of the things I do as a lead in to why information spaces is important is to talk to people about woodshop and cooking as to places where we have these, these workshops, these environments that are engineered to have positions in space and tools with specific mechanical and sort of visual affordances associated with what you do with them and they reinforce what it is you should be doing with them or for that specific task not being a military person myself, I.
Brandel Zachernuk : [01:57:48] My familiarity is limited, but my expectation is from what I’ve seen, as well as from people like Engelbart. Sort of what he appeared to have gleaned from it is that the military must have encoding sort of put into spaces for purposes. If you look at videos of people on nuclear subs than there are, there are environments that that it occurred to me. It must be the case that there are people who imagine how people need to think about things at certain times in certain places. And so that’s a very important sort of reference to draw from in order to think about what it is that that purely digitally mediated spaces where instruments dials. Reports and reporting structures can be represented without any. But at any sacrifice to the physical reality in terms of making sure that these could be made, it reinforced glass or this needs to be separated by that much in order to make sure life doesn’t catch fire. So, so within within that context, I think the military is an especially interesting and valuable reference, and I’d be very eager for those who served to think about it where they can pull from.
Frode Hegland: [01:59:11] I served as infantry in the Royal Norwegian Army, which was an experience I got arrested at the end. Let’s not talk about that part. But when I discussed this with Doug, one of the things he really liked was the military’s notion of weapon system. The military doesn’t have weapons, they have weapon systems. There’s not a rifle is nothing without the ammunition, the training, the logistics, the carrying and the target and all of that stuff. So that hugely goes towards this thing. The other thing he got a kick out of is the notion of force multipliers. So if you have a guy with binoculars, it doesn’t actually shoot anyone, but he tells you what to shoot. And these go into more sophisticated systems. And in the article that I’m trying to write on VR that I’ve shared, I think with you, Brandel was the tabletop diorama as a kind of a way in to persuade vents of the validity of what we’re doing. So the idea is you first imagined just a physical table that has a bit of Afghanistan. One of my friends, that intelligence for the military in Afghanistan, and he’s given me, he can’t say much, but you know, I’m beginning to learn some of his thinking of how they do intelligence.
Frode Hegland: [02:00:19] But anyway, let’s say it’s a battle battle of Eastern First Gulf War. So you have lots of little vehicles and all that stuff pretty simple. But then you can do all the magical stuff. You know, you can show communications channels, you can have movements in time, and at a certain point, you can get rid of all the visual stuff that represents vehicles and people. And purely have information shapes, running abodes. So to take inspiration from the military, it’s a very good idea because the military has they deal with geography so GPS can be mapped in real world spaces. It deals with time. We have time, as you know, that’s really useful for us. So of course, someone who is well funded should do climate change modelling and VR. There’s just no question about it. So, yeah, you made me go off on one there, Brandel, because we can learn a lot and we can teach them a lot in that area in terms of imagination.
Mark Anderson: [02:01:15] Well, this shouldn’t be going on. I mean, I, you know, as the next watch keeping, you know, I was tactical officer at sea and you locked in a tin box with I. I can’t remember how many things you knew you’d be listening to when one set of headphones, you’re probably listening to four, possibly five circuits at once. I know it sounds impossible, but you sort of get used to it, and there’s a whole thing of dialing in and out and that’s relevant to me. I think people get very excited about. I mean, military spend money because actually at the end of the day, they either win or don’t if they don’t get it right. But that’s that’s not really the important thing that we do in a wider sense can take away from it. And I think also business tends to get very excited because they make it. They think it makes them feel big to do military things. But but the insights that people bring out of it, I think, are really quite interesting. And people do do ask some interesting thoughts. I mean, I sense at the moment that everyone’s rather bet the farm on AI because it just sounds sexy. I think it’s stupid myself. There is some good stuff in there, but it’s not the only way. And and thinking more about more about how we work and how we sent to me is actually much more interesting. And it’s particularly true. Just some of the other days she was on secondment at Harvard, actually got sent to Harvard to sort of sop up information, but it’s really actually actually worse for our Foreign Office.
Mark Anderson: [02:02:39] You’re trying to actually work out how to make sense of stuff. And it sounds so trivial, but it’s just it’s just the problem we’ve just been talking about so amped up in terms of sort of pucker factor where you’ve got a lot of you’ve got a lot of strands that don’t necessarily make sense. They have connections. The problem is, you can’t you either don’t know what the connections are or the the connections are mistyped or a factor we don’t have to deal with. But we could map onto the privacy aspect, you know, do I have the right to know this because they’re often the problem is it’s leaking source because at the end of the day is a human being being put at risk, but you could use the same again if you map it out. So this is like, well, I do, I do I own this. Do I get to play with this or not? Even though I know it’s there and I want it doesn’t mean I can necessarily have it. So I think I mean, where that information is, often often it’s not necessarily out and published because it tends to be published into, you know, what is published. You know, not not to open space, but if I come across anything added to the Bible.
Frode Hegland: [02:03:47] So I have to tell a little brief story about when I was in Singapore at a cyber cafe. And this is many, many years ago flirting with someone only to find out she was sitting next to me. And the cyber cafe thus started a bit of a chat. Someone else in the cyber cafe. They turned out to be fighter pilots from the USS Carl Vinson. So because of this, everybody started talking to each other and the whole cyber and real world was was an interesting thing. I was invited to visit the Carl Vinson, which, you know, when you’re invited by the pilot, everybody is nice to you. It was amazing to walk there and it all felt old and new and all of that. So we went to the command room, whatever it’s called. And I was shocked to find that the way that they model what aircraft is in the air and what aircraft is on deck, and all of that is by wooden models on a table. And the reason for that is twofold, of course, one is amps electromagnetic pulses could cut their computers off, but also it gives the commanders a visceral I’m moving this away. You know, it’s like the reason we have care leavers and aircraft and all of that. But that is also the aircraft carrier that I believe was the first one to have a hypertext system installed for manuals. Yeah, yeah. Right. So it was just that little story of if we are on an aircraft carrier and we’re designing their VR environment, what do we do? Right. It’s some of it’s physical. A lot of it is about non representational things you have to design a space for. But anyway, I think Mark caught it well earlier when we talked. I hate the term, but since making, we really are somehow trying to build sense making spaces, right? I would like Adam to have a big reaction to that, because I think that speaks to his heart. But he may be busy with Oh OK, not too busy. Good. Right. So let’s keep going forward thinking in many different ways of how to do. Oh, thanks for that mark.
Mark Anderson: [02:05:47] Just try and I’ll send Brandel you because you might like I’ll try and find some links on Sorgen. Yeah. It was kind of it was a frame based hypertext system. So text replacement thing. Sorry, back to you, Fred.
Frode Hegland: [02:06:02] No, no, no. That’s it. I’m just trying to close because we’re over time and it’s really wonderful. I’m I’m, you know, overly excited by this stuff. But one aspect we need to do is how to get real world data in and out documents and web pages. The other thing is to how to share this stuff and how to manipulate it. It’s coming along. Coming along right, are thinking is going along Brandel what in terms of the community? I’m going to ask all of you, but starting with you, how do you see your role? How do you want to be listed on the website, if at all?
Rafael Nepô: [02:06:38] Of.
Brandel Zachernuk : [02:06:40] And I think I’m happy to be listed. I. Uh. I’m a prototype, I I think yeah. I like to think that I’m thinking about this, so maybe I think here in a prototype, but yeah, I don’t know that I have any other. I mean, unless you have a specific thing that you’re angling at, then. That seems like it’s descriptive to me.
Frode Hegland: [02:07:11] I think that’s great. But what I would really like if you all write one article about who you are, even if it’s a single line bio. Because what I have to do next, I mean, I’m going to do it in agreement with everybody is. We have to. First of all, at the end of this week, I expect to have a transcript from last week’s Barbora meeting human transcript, which is important. So at the end of the month, Mark and I because Mark now is helping with a lot of the stuff to do with the journal, we’re going to publish the first issue and that means we have a thing. And moving forward what I need to show potential partners and funders with our dream of becoming some sort of a VR media lab is we’re doing we have a great network of influential people who are thinking in this space, we’re producing something of value, which is the journal plus demos, and we’re working on a unique aspect of VR. We’re not just trying to do meeting rooms. So the more you put into the website of a few links and about yourself, all of you, please go ahead. Peter and Adam, do you want to type or say or just think about how you want to be on here? Because also it’s really important that we are all happy. So if somebody is completely unhappy with the whole lab thing, you don’t need to be on it. You can still be on the chats. And if you want to be there in a specific way, you know, we’ll just figure it out, we just as you all said, I think we can’t spend these meetings just talking about who we’re going to be because that’s a waste of time. That’s why we did it first 10 minutes today, right? And the rest of it has to be what to build in how. I guess, Adam and Peter, maybe you also want to be prototypes for protein prototype resin thinkers, something like that.
Peter Wasilko: [02:09:05] Well, I’ll give a title a little thought. Please do something to jump into.
Frode Hegland: [02:09:10] Yeah, no, absolutely. And also happy to report we saw Hamilton again this weekend and it’s invigorating if you haven’t seen it in a while. Watch it. It’s just what we’re talking about. They wrote America into existence. We can write VR work into existence.
Peter Wasilko: [02:09:28] Oh, and have a look at that latest link. I dropped into the chat.
Frode Hegland: [02:09:30] Well, the oh yeah, yeah, yeah. I’m very familiar with that from research, including the article.
Mark Anderson: [02:09:37] Actually pizza, do you? I’m sorry. Do you happen to know one bit of the subtext? Jigsaw I’m still trying to put together is how Hypertext got into wind help. So not not the HTML help, but the original Windows three hub text help. And I think I think it was Owl of Work Limited, which basically commercialized guide and I don’t think went directly, but I think that was the nexus. But it’s one of those things that that gets really commented on. But I always remember, you know, long, long after I sort of come to hypertext, Oh, these are those clicky links in even in Windows three help. And it was it was essentially hypertext system, and it was all it was all in a sort of proprietary and semi binary format. But nonetheless, at the heart of it was was effectively a hypertext your system. But it just seems to be missing from the from the public record somehow.
Peter Wasilko: [02:10:32] Yeah, I don’t recall reading anything about that snippet of history.
Mark Anderson: [02:10:36] Well, oddly, Ian Ritchie, who was part of our was briefly the chairman of my fledgling start up in the 90s by some weird random coincidence, but I’ve tried putting a. He’s obviously not interested in any of us anymore, but because I’ve tried to put the fly over him, but because I took took over public, they decided to commercialise guys initially on the Mac and then the windows. Then they opened a US office because no one would speak to them in those days unless they were in the states. So they opened an office in Seattle of all places. So that puts some sort of in roughly the same place as Microsoft. And I think I think there is a link there somewhere. It’s a story somebody obviously has yet to write because all the stuff about when broadly talks about it from a coding and textual standpoint, rather than actually from the the knowledge and hypertext standpoint,
Peter Wasilko: [02:11:31] My guess would be is probably a chat over beers at a local bar.
Mark Anderson: [02:11:33] Yeah, may well have been. Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah. Sorry about that diversion down the rabbit hole,
Peter Wasilko: [02:11:43] Yeah, because the Wagon Wheel was the source of a lot of informal interactions between different research groups, so I’m sure Seattle had an equivalent.
Frode Hegland: [02:11:51] So on the on the history, that’s important to get down, and I just wanted to read out what Adam said. I want to experiment much more on air to understand more of the medium first like coffee. Yeah, I completely agree. Which is why demos and just playing with software is so absolutely crucial. But it’s good that as we try to build who we are, we also speak loudly outside as we go into our tunnels inside rights.
Mark Anderson: [02:12:15] One thing just briefly in terms of a short range target in case anyone’s got anything is that there will be. I’m pretty certain there will be another version of the Human Workshop at Hypertext Conference this year, which is about July, and I will bet my bottom dollar that the two people that run it would be interested because even if it doesn’t appear to be hypertext, I think one of them works. What it basically one of them works in special hypertext, and the other one is working with collaborative systems using certain knowledge spaces. So this this ought to take the fancy. And I’m just thinking if there’s an opportunity to just put something out and have it in a sense because it will be published, it’ll at least be in the factory, the proceedings of that workshop, if even if it’s not in the formal conference proceedings, but it’s useful. And I’m not thinking so much in a kudo sense, but just actually getting something that we can then link to. I don’t think it’s necessary to design for, but if the within the window when it when sort of the call for papers comes up, there’s anything that we might put towards that, that that might be interesting. And it’s it’s a it’s a sort of mixed. It’s a mixed conference. So it’ll be partly attended. But nodding to where we are now, it’ll also be part virtual, so it wouldn’t be necessary to necessarily have to attend in order to present.
Frode Hegland: [02:13:42] Could you please email relevant links to everybody, Mark? And then we talk a little bit about this on Friday because deadlines make things happen.
Mark Anderson: [02:13:49] Yeah, absolutely. Well, I don’t know for humor, but I’ll
Frode Hegland: [02:13:53] Also a hypertext twenty two as well. I know that that one is there. But if we can say we’re going to do this, that or the other, whether we fail or not doesn’t matter as long as we’re
Brandel Zachernuk : [02:14:01] Making an honest effort.
Mark Anderson: [02:14:02] Well, one thing I’m one thing I’m starting on at the moment is actually is a short paper that may seem tangential, but that’s the fact that it’s quite clear that view specs, specs and what you will don’t really have much backstory. There, if you look, but they’re not really talked about, and they were often seen as just an implementation aspect of technical systems. So the humanist element of it is missing.
Frode Hegland: [02:14:28] We have to we have to finish all of us, but let’s spend a little bit of time on that as well on Friday. Thanks, everybody. Have a good week. Bye for now. All right. Thanks.