Editorial: “Behold the Field…”

Note: This is a personal blogpost, one that I have written and rewritten a couple of times, and to which I have added and removed several paragraphs, trying to find the right words to express how I feel. I may still have missed the mark, and for that I will apologize up front.

I am still feeling upset and angry about certain situations, and I take this as a sign that I should take some time off over the Christmas holidays, recharge my batteries, and come back with a refreshed perspective. So don’t be too surprised if I do announce a break from this blog soon.

I will be the first to admit that sometimes, I do not have the best overall temperament, the best combination of personality characteristics, to be a social VR/virtual worlds blogger. I lead with my heart instead of my head, and while this passion ignites what I write about and how I write it, it can also get me into trouble, time and again.

Longtime readers of my blog can see this happen in certain blogposts where, indeed, “the field in which I grow my f*cks is barren”. At times my anger about a situation which I see as unfair has led to almost a scorched-earth response, where a less emotional writer would have backed down. Yes, I do get triggered. Yes, I do get upset. Yes, I do lash out.

I am mindful of at least two situations in the past couple of months were I became emotional over something, and responded by blogging about it. The first was reporting on the layoffs among the Sansar team at Linden Lab, something which brought me into conflict with a number of people who felt that I should have kept that news secret, and frankly which has probably put strain on some formerly good working relationships.

Would I have done anything differently then, knowing what I know now? No. I am hard-wired to respond with outrage to outrageous circumstances. It is what makes me human. It is what makes me, me. If you were looking for a dispassionate, clinical response to the pain and turmoil of a mass layoff, I’m sorry, but you won’t find it on this blog. Heart first, head second.

And the second situation led to this particular sarcastic, angry blogpost.

I am old enough to recognize that the things that irritate me most about other people are the very things that irritate me about myself. I am too quick to take offense at perceived slights, and I sometimes strike back in harsh criticism, sarcasm, or anger. I realize that this is a personal failing, one which I will continue to work on. And I am sorry.

I grew up in a family where I quickly learned that to become angry was to put yourself in danger of physical punishment. So as a result, I spent most of my younger adulthood repressing my legitimate anger, often having it turn into crippling depression as a result, which hindered my life and career more than if I had simply expressed the anger appropriately, at the right targets, at the right time. It is only through years of hard work and therapy that I have been able to acknowledge and express my own anger, and in some cases, the pendulum may have swung a little too far in the other direction.

Being a blogger means finding your authentic voice, and I think I have found mine here. But it also puts you into situations where you realize that you are not always as prepared, as cool and calm and collected, as you would like to think you are. So every so often you need to pause and reflect, and make adjustments as necessary. Now is one of those times.

My first, learned-in-childhood response to incidents such as I have described here is to suppress my anger, which is wrong. My second, more recently-learned response, is to lash out in anger as my father did, which is also wrong. What I need to learn how to do is ride out my first and second gut responses, and opt for a third one: a measured response which is still passionate but not overemotional, taking into account that there can be multiple perspectives to any situation, some of which might not be obvious to me at first (or even second) glance.

Life is a process, where you are usually presented the same lesson to learn, over and over again in different guises, until you finally learn it, and then the next lesson presents itself. So I can look at my responses to recent events which made me angry, and see them as learning opportunities.

Once again, please accept my apologies.

UPDATED! Guest Editorial by Theanine: High Fidelity—What Went Wrong?

I was planning to write up a detailed post-mortem blogpost about High Fidelity, when my friend Theanine wrote an excellent article on the same topic, and posted it to his Medium account today. Theanine wrote a well-argued, thoughtful essay, which is far, far better than anything I could have written myself, informed by his many years of working on the platform as a content creator, with his background as a game developer and a game artist.

Theanine very kindly gave me his permission to repost his work here as a guest editorial, along with his pictures.

Please note that Theanine has asked me to remove his guest editorial from here, and refer people to his original write-up on Medium. Thanks!

Project Athena: A Brief Introduction

Project Athena is one of the three known forks of the High Fidelity open-source software code that hope to carry on where HiFi left off, since High Fidelity is essentially shutting down operations as of January 15th, 2020.

The platform will feature:

  • Open-source code (Apache 2.0)
  • Decentralized servers: you host your own world the same way you do a website
  • Desktop and VR support: you do not need a VR headset to participate
  • In-world building and scripting using Javascript
  • 3D spatial audio

According to Kalila, the Project Lead:

We are a group of exclusively volunteers looking to continue the goal of the metaverse. There are about 5 actively working, 5 around and about and advising, and then 10 more that are around for help or advice where needed. In the team and group, yes, there are ex-HiFi employees and contractors who are passionate and want to continue working on this shared dream.

The Athena Project already has a GitHub and a Discord server set up.

Bigscreen Partners With Paramount Pictures to Offer Movies in Social VR

Variety reports on a new partnership between social VR platform Bigscreen and Paramount Pictures:

San Francisco-based virtual reality startup Bigscreen has teamed up with Paramount Pictures to bring the theater experience to VR headsets: Bigscreen will begin showing classic Paramount movies like Interstellar and Star Trek in a virtual movie theater, where users can watch the films together with friends.

Much like a traditional theater, Bigscreen won’t overwhelm users with on-demand choices. Instead, the company will show only 4 movies every week, with showings starting every 30 minutes. Viewers can personalize their avatars, hang out in the lobby together, and even voice chat with each other.

According to Variety, movies will cost US$4-5 each.

Now, one issue that comes up with this new service is that most VR headsets can become uncomfortable to wear for the two hours (or longer) it takes to watch an entire movie. I have gradually built up my own tolerance for VR headsets and I can wear them for over two hours, but many newcomers to VR will find sitting through a whole film intolerable. The Oculus Quest headset in particular is a bit front-heavy, I find, which also affects how long you can wear it comfortably.

Don’t get me wrong, I think the Bigscreen-Paramount partnership is a good idea, but it might take until the second generation of VR hardware arrives for it to fully bear fruit.