It’s Tuesday, October 25, 2022 in Portland, Oregon and autumn has definitely arrived.
Forecast 10 day highs are in the mid 50s, not breaking over 60. It’s forecast to rain EVERY DAY, thank god.
I saw a tweet the other day that working-in-VR was super boring. I can’t find it, because it was on Twitter and I didn’t bookmark it, but the essence of it was: forget all these whiteboards and everything, I want a giant cat that does [insert thing] in the corner.
I mean, what if VR made things more fun given that you’re not confined to the ridiculously boring physical environment of an office space?
Sure, offices are configured the way they are for a reason (and of course it’s not always because that’s how offices might be best for people, and instead how they’re best for managers), but they don’t have to be the exact way they are. That’s a serious failure of imagination!
I realize that a non-traditional office space that doesn’t recreate a 2022 Steelcase/Herman Miller furnished workspace or Custom Long Tables To Collaborate Around in a Doughnut Spaceship might be intimidating to a bunch of people, but sure, that’s Professional VR.
No, I’m interested in Weird Software Defined VR Workspaces – let’s put aside the notion that augmented reality is a lot more accessible and useful right now – and what they might be like. I would like them to be funny. I realize this is because it is not really okay to be funny at work. Or to have fun at work.
Or, in an even more tired way, where’s the surprise and delight in working-in-VR? Isn’t surprise and delight something designers are into these days?
Here’s a bad example: what if dealing with Jira tickets in VR were fun? What’s the equivalent of a silly Slack bot in the corner of the room? Why do you have to look like a person?
There’s a bunch of inefficiencies of course. The Minority Report/Iron Man swiping-in-the-air-punching-literally-buttons interface can get really tiring really quickly. Maybe this is all just a conspiracy to develop upper body strength. Having to grab a ticket and throw it into a waste basket and get points as to whether you got in or not is not very efficient. Hell, working with Jira in VR as a reproduced interface as opposed to a native-VR-interface or designing for VR-first is always going to be sucky.
It was ever this way that first new things copy the old thing to make them accessible. I just want to also see the things that are the cambrian explosion of stuff we can do now, rather than the inexorable Optimization Of Things and Professional Business Environment.
We used to talk (ha) a long time ago (double ha) about having work meetings in World of Warcraft Online and I think back in the mid 2000s I might have actually done this. It was more silly than anything else, more like a conference call where we could jump up and down and dance.
I had a wander around some Horizon Worlds spaces and I’m not surprised people aren’t using it. It’s janky. It’s low-rez, it’s cartoony, but not even cartoony in a fun way. The spatialized audio (walking past a group in a welcome area) was neat, but was also choppy, and I’m sitting on the end of a 5GHz wireless connection off the back of gigabit fiber. That’s not great!
So far, none of this is demonstrably better. And here I am, sat at my desk, very conscious that I’m separated off from my immediate environment. My office in the guest room is already walled off, and now I’m even more isolated. Plus, you know, I don’t have many friends in there (at all, synchronously?) and I’m not super excited about meeting strangers.
The conversation that I did overhear by the way? The snippets I heard were about people wanting it to be better already. That’s telling. I am not entirely sure that for multi-user spaces we’re not in a significantly better place than we were 10, 15 years ago, only with the whole head-mounted hardware.
But again, moving around – with thumbsticks – feels jankier than moving through a videogame 3D environment. It’s not as smooth. The controls don’t have the right feel. It’s all so low-rez and not even minimally viable.
Oh, and that’s before I get to the dumb thing where the onboarding I went through included picking up a pop gun and loading a ball into it which I could not do. I gave up.
Caught my attention because: FUN. I WANT SOME FUN. DEAR GOD THE WORLD IS BURNING OUTSIDE CAN WE NOT JUST HAVE SOME FUN. IT’S LITERAL ESCAPISM.
Via Ars Technica1, a couple of legislators in New Jersey are unhappy about having to pay a subscription fee for heated seats in their car2, to the extent that they’ve introduced legislation. It’s legislation, so always worth a read in terms of trying to figure out how successful it will be at achieving its intent, as well as that old question of “can you describe the thing already other than you know it when you see it”.
Caught my attention because: software-defined-stuff lets you squeeze more and more out of your business model, so this is more a symptom of relentless capitalism. I mean, shareholder value is increasing, I guess, but at the same time shareholders are getting pissed. Turns out they’re the same people, more or less!
All of this is in reaction to Russell Davies’ note3 about Mr. Beast having a 6-person team just working on YouTube thumbnails4. Even more incredibly, thumbnails are planned before the video is filmed. (Or is that before the video is produced?)
Caught my attention because: look how much is involved in not just competing but performing at this level of content [sic]. If Mr. Beast didn’t do this, would they fall behind because someone else would? How did they discover that thumbnails were so important? Did YouTube tell them? And then, more cynically, is this… useful, given the enormous to-do list that we’ve got on this planet?
Okay, that’s it for today.
It’s been a few days since I blew away my domain and guess what: Twitter’s still not letting me post to either danhon.com or newsletter.danhon.com, and that’s even with me reporting false positives to a bunch of malware vendors. So, who knows. At this point I’m worried I need to pick a brand new domain, which is just an enormous faff.
How are you doing?
Car feature subscriptions should be illegal, New Jersey legislators say, Jonathan M. Gitlin, Ars Technica, 21 October, 2022 ↩
I… can’t find the bill name or title? Synopsis: Prohibits motor vehicle manufacturer or dealer from requiring subscription for certain motor vehicle features., introduced September 22, 2022, Assembly No. 4519, State of New Jersey 220th Legislature, sponsored by Assemblyman PAUL D. MORIARTY and Assemblyman JOE DANIELSEN. ↩
a 6 person thumbnail team, Russell Davies, October 23, 2022 ↩
At VidSummit today, @MrBeast told @ColinandSamir that his six-person thumbnail team makes around 20 different versions per video. They plan what the thumbnail will be BEFORE they film the video. He also sends versions to close friends to measure which one to use #VidSummit2022, Amanda Perelli, Twitter, 28 September, 2022 ↩