#370: Snapchat as an AR Company: A Look at the Experiential Age & Generation Z

duyguTechcrunch reports that Snapchat just raised another $1.8 billion in a Series F round, and Snapchat could end up being a major player within augmented reality hardware market. Snapchat is probably considered a bit of a dark horse by most people when compared to other major AR players including Microsoft, Meta, Daqri, or Magic Leap. But Snapchat has captured the attention of Generation Z through the use of augmented reality filters for selfies and vlogs.

It was also reported recently that Snapchat is building Google Glass-like smart glasses, which seems likely considering Snapchat acquired Vergence Labs’ Epiphany Eyeware in 2014. The Epiphany Eyeware glasses were described at the time as a more stylish competitor to Google Glass.

On my trip to Google I/O, I met Duygu Daniels, who is an augmented reality UI/UX designer who is an enthusiastic Snapchat user and evangelist to her Millennial friends. Duygu is very interested in studying the behavior of Generation Z and how they’re using Snapchat, Snapchat’s connection to augmented reality, and how it’s cultivating radical authenticity and ushering us into The Experiential Age.


Mike Wadhera recently pointed out Snapchat as being an example of a new paradigm of Experiential Age applications in his article titled, “The Information Age is over; welcome to the Experience Age.” He cites a video by Snapchat co-founder Evan Spiegel where he talks about how desktop computers have created a mindset of accumulation of information, whereas mobile computing empowers users to have instant expression. With Snapchat, identity is constructed from being in the moment rather than accumulating actions from the past like Facebook or Twitter. Stories in Snapchat are told in chronological order and last only 24 hours, whereas other social media is reverse chronological order and lives on forever. Rather than taking photos of things worth remembering for a long time, Generation Z uses annotated photos as a more immediate and ephemeral form of symbolic communication.

After reading Wadhera’s article, I started digesting what it meant for the VR community to be moving from the Information Age to the Experiential Age through an essay about the future of privacy in the Experiential Age. I then started using Snapchat a few days later, and tracking my insights both through Snapchat videoblogs, as well as reflections and discoveries on Twitter.

This podcast with Duygu helped to crystalize a lot of my thinking about Snapchat, but it also helped change and shape my usage of Snapchat.

Here’s a number of articles that I found particularly insightful in my process of learning about Snapchat:

Here’s my first day of Snapchat coverage from Google I/O

You can follow me on Snapchat @kentbye.

Subscribe on iTunes

Donate to the Voices of VR Podcast Patreon

Music: Fatality & Summer Trip

Rough Transcript

[00:00:05.412] Kent Bye: The Voices of VR Podcast. My name is Kent Bye, and welcome to the Voices of VR podcast. Today I talk to Doigua Daniels, who is a augmented reality developer, as well as an avid user of Snapchat. A couple of weeks ago, there was an article in Tuck Crunch about how the information age is over. Welcome to the experience age. And so in this article, the author Mike Udera was saying that essentially we are moving from aggregating data streams of information like Facebook and Twitter and moving into having more authentic experiences and being in the moment. So experiences like Snapchat and I would say as well as virtual reality and augmented reality are moving towards this experience age. And so I think that Snapchat is a really interesting example of an application that really represents this huge paradigm shift and really starts to bring out the generation gaps between the users that are primarily using these applications. namely the Z generation and starting into the Millennials. But people from my generation, the X generation and older, kind of see Snapchat as something that is just utterly confusing and we don't just really get it. So in this podcast today, I talked to Doig Goua, who is a member of the Millennial generation, but has been studying the Z generation and how they're using Snapchat. So this is kind of like a cross-generational discussion about the experiential age and how Snapchat is fitting into it, as well as how Snapchat is kind of like an augmented reality company, where they're creating these different filtered avatars that people are including within their pictures and videos. But Snapchat has also acquired a company called Virgin Slabs, which did Epiphany Eyewear, which was essentially like a Google Glass competitor. We can expect to see at some point Snapchat moving more into the augmented reality field and perhaps be a huge player with the audience that they've been able to cultivate. It was reported today in TechCrunch that Snapchat just actually raised another $1.8 billion, so they've raised a total of about $2.65 billion so far. And so Snapchat has really captured the attention of the Z generation and is growing exponentially. And so I'd expect to see Snapchat to be a really big augmented reality player. So we kind of talk about Snapchat, what it is, how it works, and some of the different cultural ways that people are using this application on today's episode of the Voices of VR podcast. But first, a quick word from our sponsor. Today's episode is brought to you by the Virtual World Society. The Virtual World Society wants to use VR to change the world. So they are interested in bridging the gap between communities in need with researchers, with creative communities, as well with community of providers who could help deliver these VR experiences to the communities. If you're interested in getting more involved in virtual reality and want to help make a difference in the world, then sign up at virtualworldsociety.org and start to get more involved. Check out the Virtual World Society booth at the Augmented World Expo, June 1st and 2nd. So this interview happened on Wednesday, May 18th, right after the first day of Google I.O., and I had gone to San Francisco without making any plans as to where I was going to be staying and put out a call on Twitter to see who might be able to let me crash on their couch for that night. Doigua reached out to me on Twitter and said that I could stay with her and her partner on Stanford campus. And so I met up with Doigua and we just started talking about Snapchat. And she's quite an enthusiastic evangelist for the platform. And I had dove in headfirst and using it for about five days and reading all sorts of articles about it. So it's a good chance to kind of share my early preliminary first impression thoughts as well as dive a little bit deeper into what's happening with the larger cultural trends. So with that, let's go ahead and dive right in.

[00:04:03.687] Duygu Daniels: Yeah, so I'm Duygu Daniels, and I'm currently designing Stanford University's Cantor Arts Center's first museum AR app. It's a great team of folks kind of bringing AR into a particular exhibition space. And before that, I was also working on another sort of user-generated content AR application that was really fun. It was like a AR social network. You can add like text and gifs and all sorts of cool stuff for your friends to see as secret messages on top of objects. So the ARs pop up based on what you scan.

[00:04:41.462] Kent Bye: So you described it to me just a moment ago as kind of like the Snapchat of AR.

[00:04:45.463] Duygu Daniels: Well, it's for the same generation. It's for the sort of generation that likes to really share things very quickly and doesn't want it necessarily out there for the public to see.

[00:04:56.295] Kent Bye: Yeah, so over the last five or six days, I've just started my Snapchat account. I've been experimenting with it. And I have to say, when I first opened it, it was utterly confusing, like complete paradigm shift. And I've done a lot of different reading and thinking about it. But for you, like, how do you describe Snapchat to people who are older than you?

[00:05:16.957] Duygu Daniels: Well, I mean not a lot of people that are sort of above the millennial generation are not quite interested in it yet. You know, it's like slowly happening and I think we're kind of not, especially Generation Z, I'm a millennial, we're not advertising it a lot because what makes Snapchat fun is the fact that it's very personal and it's between you and a few close friends. That's how it feels at least. Slowly it's growing, of course, like there's lots of celebrities or investors and entrepreneurs who are like snapping every day, sharing lots of stories, but it still has that like sort of genuine feel to it still. And I mean, Snapchat makes it pretty clear by how they are with social, that they're not in a rush to grow outside of their target audience.

[00:06:04.656] Kent Bye: Yeah, so from my perspective of, you know, virtual reality and why Snapchat is interesting to talk about at all is that there is this article in TechCrunch the other day by Mike Udera. The title was essentially, The Information Age is Over. Welcome to the Experiential Age. And this is a great article that I think that was really juxtaposing social media websites like Facebook and Twitter, where you're really aggregating a lot of abstracted information as an expression of your identity. Contrasted to Snapchat, which is essentially like getting rid of all those abstractions, just you open up the app, the camera is right there, and you're asked to engage. Rather than opening up the app and seeing a data flow of information from other people, the onus is on you. And it's like, almost like looking in a mirror. And when you look in a mirror, you start to kind of act a little bit like a monkey.

[00:06:53.188] Duygu Daniels: That's so true, that's so true. And Snapchat, I think, defines themselves as a camera company more so than anything else. And the reason why, going back to your question about the interface and navigating it, it's very confusing for first-time users. I'm curious to find out if they're doing that on purpose, but the scroll left and scroll right navigation, I think it's if it's not causing any technical issues on their end it's genius, it just makes the whole experience very camera centric, you just can't avoid the camera and you can't avoid creating content and you see yourself right and not only that it doesn't flip the photo of yourself when you take it so your photo is what you see of yourself because when you especially for women when you flip the we're like we like to take selfies right I mean men do too but it kind of creates a better aesthetically pleasing image at the end when it doesn't flip or there's filters for instance that you know help clear your skin and whatnot or make your eyes bigger I mean they're controversial of course but I see people using it all the time

[00:07:56.939] Kent Bye: That's really interesting. I didn't understand why they were doing that, but that really makes sense. Because when you look into a mirror, you're seeing a mirror image of yourself. And yet, when Snapchat does this, if you ever have any text or anything, it's backwards. I was like, why don't they flip that around? But that makes total sense that you're more familiar with seeing your mirror image of yourself. But other people actually see the opposite image of yourself.

[00:08:17.552] Duygu Daniels: Yeah, there used to be apps just for that. I have a 17-year-old sister, and I remember her three years ago just downloading cameras so that she doesn't have to fill up the photograph.

[00:08:27.877] Kent Bye: So I want to get back to this whole experiential age and transition here because I feel like that we're going through this huge paradigm shift and there's a lot of different things that are kind of leading us into actually going from this stage where you're trying to kind of reduce things to emojis and GIFs and we're kind of like on this way towards these different image macros to try to encompass more emotion and expression but yet with Snapchat it feels like it's just raw and primal and more about expressing yourself being totally authentic and being in the moment and not so much about trying to communicate ideas, but actually trying to just express some sort of visceral emotion.

[00:09:07.707] Duygu Daniels: Yeah, I encourage anyone who is curious about this just to read up on Generation Z studies. The way they consume content, the way they express themselves is very, very different than how we millennials kind of live on the internet. And when you look at how Generation Z is acting, they're cynical. They're more cynical than we are. And they're not very interested in curating their online presence. They didn't grow up tweaking their Facebook profiles or changing their Twitter bios. there's this app you can basically follow people's twitter bio updates and you get like a weekly email of people's bios changing and you can see like all like the millennials like fine-tuning their bios every week just a little bit and I get a kick out of looking at it I'm not judging, but it's fun to just kind of see if people change their jobs or what are some of the changes that they're making. But that just culture doesn't really exist for Generation Z. My sister was just on WhatsApp sending me images of her friend's WhatsApp profile photos. And she was like, thanks, Snapchat. Thanks to you, all of my friend's profile images on WhatsApp are filtered Snapchat images. Yeah. And she's sharing this with me because she knows how much I enjoy Snapchat. So it's a movement. I mean, it's a movement, but it's a movement that's bringing out the authentic self of people. We can argue, of course, if that's going to change or not as the pressure rises, because I'm already noticing like 12 or 13 year olds I follow who are family members. kind of changing as their lists of friends are growing. So I'm curious to see how Snapchat is going to address that. But on their one-on-ones, I'm sure they're sending snaps directly to their friends. That's something we don't see. So there's two ways of using Snapchat, right? You can easily send an image or a video to a friend directly, or a few friends directly, or You can publish on your story and your story is essentially like everyone who follows you. Everyone, see I said follow, it's like everyone who's your friend on Snapchat can see it, right? So we don't know what's going on in the one-on-ones, but I'm sure it's very, very active.

[00:11:26.580] Kent Bye: Yeah. So that was one thing for, you know, someone like myself from the information age, kind of growing up with desktop computers where I'm used to kind of saving and storing information and creating a digital profile of Twitter pages and Facebook, which in some ways was an expression of my identity of all these things that express my values in some ways. And yet in Snapchat, things just like disappear after a day. If it's a story, even if that, if it's sometimes if you send a direct snap, it could only last for one to 10 seconds. And so. I had this experience of just like getting a snap from my partner and I just like accidentally hit the button I couldn't hear it and then I didn't see it and it just disappeared and was gone that was it I was like I was like wow you really have to totally be present to receive it give your full attention and get it otherwise it's gone

[00:12:16.587] Duygu Daniels: Yep, and they have a replay option. You can replay once. I don't remember if they changed this. I think they might have, but they tested out for additional replays, charging money. You can buy it for a dollar or two, I think, to be able to replay it. I don't know if that's still there, but they're definitely experimenting.

[00:12:35.098] Kent Bye: Oh, wow. That's really, oh, wow. But the thing is, I think that we're used to, I think from the information age of my generation, we're used to having big, long email chats and text messages. And to me, to have even text messages and chatting in Snapchat, this phenomena where I was texting with another VR friend and she's like, hey, look, our previous conversation is gone. And I was like, oh my God, wow. So even the chats are disappearing. And then I had this experience where I kind of put the phone down, I came back and I looked at her message and I was like, oh my God, I don't even remember what I said last. I think that, in some ways, our digital communications, like texting, has created this dependence on our digital memories of being able to look back. And I think that, in some ways, Snapchat is cultivating us to really be in the moment, be in the now, really pay attention, and actually improve our memories, because you've got to listen to it, otherwise it's gone.

[00:13:35.272] Duygu Daniels: Well, you know, power users have a way around that though. So when you tap on the text, it saves it for you. And the other person gets a notification that you've saved it. Same thing with screenshots, right? So again, Generation Z knows how to navigate their phones. They're really fast. They take screenshots immediately. You know, so before they even think about it, they know how to navigate their way through. So, you know, if they can't look at it now, they kind of save the text. and stuff like that. And when it comes to filters, that's a whole other amazing, you know, a whole new world.

[00:14:11.974] Kent Bye: Are you a fan of the filters or not?

[00:14:13.801] Duygu Daniels: I'm a yeah I'm a big fan I mean it's working now you see the filtered photos on Instagram on Facebook it's spreading even though basically Snapchat has like zero shareability to outside networks besides if you save it and you publish it somewhere else and people are doing it and again the filters are great I mean they're let's say like the doggy filter that's really famous for instance What we don't really see, what I kind of notice is that, you know, again in that filter too, that there's like, it clears your skin. So your under eyes are like better. So even if it's a puppy, but there's also like a beautification that comes along with it. Again, controversial, but it's working. I'm seeing it everywhere. And when I was working on the AR app, the user generated AR app before, when filters first came out, I was like, this is it. This is going to be Snapchat segue to AR. And I'm not sure about VR because they're going to continue as a camera company. But this is it. This is AR is coming to mobile this way to the masses. And I was kind of like high fiving everyone saying this is going to be great for us because they're getting people used to using AR. And same thing happened with Masquerade. I think that's what their name was who Facebook bought a while ago. Same concept of filters. And it's great for the AR industry.

[00:15:38.150] Kent Bye: That's a really interesting and awesome point that I hadn't thought about at how filters are really kind of like a digital avatar that you're putting on and kind of expressing your identity in a way that goes beyond what your physical appearance is, which in AR is going to be a thing as well as in virtual reality as you start to pick your different digital avatar to express your identity. And so You know, there's a kind of a paradox or contradiction that I see that in these filters, though, because on one hand, you have this drive towards radical authenticity that is being called forth in Snapchat. But yet, these filters seem like the polar opposite of being authentic and kind of taking you to this place of like kind of hiding who you are.

[00:16:20.569] Duygu Daniels: yeah but isn't doesn't makeup do the same thing or doesn't like i don't know going to the spa to kind of open up your pores and get a facial or something like that so it's it just feeds into the same instincts and same desires that we have so i mean it is controversial but at the same time i mean i do put on makeup for work. I mean, I go to, I mean, not a lot of women do, but you know, it's kind of, you know, Snapchat helps you if you don't have makeup on that day. You know, one of those filters really saves you because you can still kind of like, you know, put yourself out there. And again, it's not very much towards forcing you to be really but it kind of gives you the option. So you can be raw and you can also have a filter. So it kind of, there's many facets of a person and I think it caters to those different facets.

[00:17:13.871] Kent Bye: What type of genres or styles do you see? Cause I know that, you know, I've seen just either like first person video blogging, some people are, you know, just telling stories or from your perspective, what type, how do you kind of break down the different categories for how you see people using Snapchat?

[00:17:29.359] Duygu Daniels: Yeah, so there's SnapStorms, first of all, right? It's happening, like there's a famous VC that's SnapStorming, and entrepreneurs that are SnapStorming, and I love those.

[00:17:39.146] Kent Bye: Wait, what's a SnapStorm?

[00:17:40.948] Duygu Daniels: So a SnapStorm is basically Snapchats back-to-back on a particular topic in your MyStory. So let's say it's the VC's talking about how to form a board, he goes into details about how to form a board and kind of teaches you It's great because it's raw and it's happening really quickly and they talk fast because they have only a limited amount of time and you know like you kind of get to the information really quickly. I love that. I found it really beneficial. Mark Suster, he does a lot of amazing SnapStorms. And another one that I like is like for instance you can submit your snaps to stories of the day. Let's say I live on Stanford campus and basically like I saw a campus story in the campus story there was a snap of like two kids doing something funny and then the second snap in the same snap story was another friend snapping them of doing their snap story saying look at all the stuff we have to do just to be able to get on the campus story. I don't know if this makes sense.

[00:18:48.050] Kent Bye: Well, so just, I've used Snapchat a little bit, but I think a number of people have probably just got really lost there, but I think that, you know, just to kind of unpack that a little bit, so first of all, I've been doing Snaps and a little bit of Snapstorming, a little bit of just trying to tell the story of my day and trying to take a little, and basically you have 10 seconds. Snapchat comes up, you push the button, you can either take a photo or you can hold it down for like 10 seconds and it starts to record you, and so, I found that because, you know, every day I'm like interviewing and I'm creating these intros and outros, I'm speaking, you know, all the time. And I've found that Snapchat's actually really forcing me to speak in soundbites that are much more clear and different and to be able to get a complete thought out, but not make it too abstract, but really make it real.

[00:19:34.745] Duygu Daniels: Exactly and you know that's why you see vine-like videos, you see like Twitter, you see longer posts by kind of you know stitching them together and some of the other stuff is along the lines of you know people kind of expressing their creativity. I mean there's of course ridiculous things as well but it's fun to do like I did like a short story once on Snapchat and like a short movie so I like covered the camera so that the background was fully black. I gave the title of the story and then the story was just like a slow motion of like a piece of paper going flying through the room and then you know I did the same like the ending was the end with my thumb in the background so that I can make the background a mono color and I wrote the end so it's like really ridiculous goofy expressionism is very much promoted, encouraged, and I've gotten such, I mean if we have to talk about ROI, when I post something, I would say my response rate is 70%. The response I get from people is like up to 60, 70% from my friends.

[00:20:45.262] Kent Bye: So are you directly posting this as a story or directly to them?

[00:20:48.713] Duygu Daniels: story so if i post it as a story and if it's like funny especially one time for instance i when the rabbits filter came out for the first time i posted a snap like three of them back to back about like you know me just really seriously talking about snapchat and like really praising snapchat but with a bunny filter on so it was kind of funny you know i'm like talking about i don't understand how anybody would not be able to use snapchat but i have like you know, whiskers and teeth and like, you know, bunny ears on me. So the amount of responses I got, whether photo responses, like snap responses within Snapchat and even through text I got responses. I mean, it was incredible. I don't remember the last, okay, I do remember the last time I had that type of ROI on social network among my friends. It was when Facebook first came out. and we were living on campus and you know people would just post on my wall saying like I'm coming like there in 15 minutes you know that kind of type of stuff. So it's really exciting to see my friends actually responding quicker than they respond to texts or Facebook posts.

[00:21:56.080] Kent Bye: That's really interesting. Well, being in my generation and people that I know, they don't, I'm not getting that levels of engagement because I think there's a bit of a generation gap for the people. And also the people from my generation just don't know how to use it like people from your generation. And so, so when I'm looking at Snapchat, I'm noticing these different things and way it's designed. So for example, you look at Twitter and the thing that you see is like you have your number of follower accounts, but you also have like how many people are favoriting and how many people are we treating and you have these kind of like passive numbers that don't really drive direct engagement of like replying and actually interacting and having a conversation. But yet in Snapchat, I don't even know how many people are following me. I have just, like they don't tell you how much, how many people are, or actually in their parlance, it's like how many are my friends. because they don't show me who's actually my friends and who's staying and who's going. The only thing that I can see is like two numbers. One is like the number of views my stories are getting, but also this kind of like this gamified number of my overall engagement that is somehow being calculated. But it feels like it's really driving from your generation, the millennials, like their feedback that they're getting is actual engagement for putting stuff out, they're getting engagement back.

[00:23:09.329] Duygu Daniels: Yeah, except, you know, it's not quite meant for us either. It is primarily for Generation Z. So the millennials, my friends, they're on it because I freaking recruited them on it. Like, for the last year I've seen my friends actually joining. Before, when I first joined, it was me, my, you know, then 15 year old sister, her friends, and a few like 12, 13 year olds. It was just us. I just, Got it pretty early on because an app that I designed about five years ago had the same scroll left and right navigation before anybody else had it. So I love that swipe left and right. I just fell in love with it really quickly and then I saw the value of it quite quickly as well. But then I of course came the awful period of having to convert your friends to come to Snapchat. Some happened naturally, but then others came willingly and others came unwillingly. But there's a lot of us on it now as millennials.

[00:24:03.180] Kent Bye: Oh, that's interesting. So yeah, there was a pretty great article by a BuzzFeed author who was around 28 or 29 who had like a 12-year-old sister and, you know, had her teach him how to use Snapchat. And there was a like kind of like this paradigm shifting mind meld of just, you know, her responding to like 40 different snaps within like a minute or something crazy like that. So, you know, when I went back for Thanksgiving, I have a cousin, and they have, you know, a number of different children who are in that Gen Z generation, and they were doing these VR experiences that they were seeing for the first time, and they all had their Snapchats out. And I just felt that that was, like, so weird at the moment, because I was like, wow, don't you want to save this? Like, don't you want to, like, keep this memory?

[00:24:48.687] Duygu Daniels: You can still keep it, you can save what you've created, so you create the stories or however you want at the end of the day, because it expires in 24 hours. So you have 24 hours to decide whether you want to keep it or not, which is great because you keep the ones that you really want.

[00:25:06.136] Kent Bye: There's this kind of culture and ethic of being disposable and dealing with impermanence and not holding on to things that you don't need, but do you find yourself actually saving a lot?

[00:25:16.580] Duygu Daniels: Yeah yeah of course I save especially like for instance Thanksgiving or family occasions or when I'm with friends and if I like it if I enjoy what I've created I know I want to go back to it I press that save button knowing that I'm probably not going to look at it again because it's going to kind of go into the abyss and like of photographs and videos that I have but it's a good feeling to know that you can save it yeah and I'm curious. I have a feeling that Snapchat is going to do something related to this at some point. I don't know what it's going to be, but I'm sure they're cooking up something.

[00:25:50.548] Kent Bye: Do you feel like the Generation Z is saving anything or do you feel like they're just letting everything just disappear?

[00:25:56.212] Duygu Daniels: So the ultimate compliment is a screenshot. So if you take a screenshot, you want to let the other person know that you're saving this. So that's one way of kind of saving and the other type of saving is you know just saving it to your phone and yeah I think so depending it's all about like you've taken a nice selfie with your you know boyfriend girlfriend I'm sure they're saving it. And I also want to say though, think of Snapchat. If Snapchat is primarily for sort of the younger right now high school, early college audience, they are at a time in their lives when they're like peak friend mode, right? So to them it's very important to be in constant communication with their friends. Whereas like the older millennials and your generation, you're not at that time. You like your privacy. At this age you like to be a little bit more private. You like to be a little bit more in your within your own circle of friends. So I'm not sure if it's just a technical thing. The snapchat crowd now is going to grow out of this phase themselves. So the question is how and i don't think it's going to be it might be in mobile but we're definitely going to see it in different platforms especially vr how will the next company be able to cater to the next generation that comes after gen z who is going to have even different expectations and at that point again human nature is the same so depending whatever the medium is if you cater to human needs and desires someone's gonna be the snapchat of the next generation

[00:27:30.545] Kent Bye: Well, what I see is that we're in this huge shift from the information age to the experiential age. And some of that is instead of doing these text conversations, it may end up being on the emotional level, having communication that's through images. But if you're doing strictly like logistical abstracted information of coordinating stuff, then maybe texting is going to be more useful. But I kind of see this like use of emoji that we have now is sort of like an artifact of of people trying to be more expressive in the information age, but yet, I don't know if Gen Z people are actually even using emojis, because with Snapchat, you're just going directly to the raw emotion of the moment.

[00:28:09.242] Duygu Daniels: But emojis help kind of augment that raw emotion, right? Now they introduced something where you can, if you tap and hold an emoji at a certain place on your snap video, it fixes itself there and moves along with the video. So you can cover somebody's face with a frog and say, oh, here's that boy, you know, and like, send it to your friends. So I mean it's all about again taking that raw experience but also creating on top of it and giving tools for creative expression.

[00:28:41.687] Kent Bye: That's interesting. So kind of like using it as a symbolic language that they're just they're not using text per se but they're using like these symbols to be able to communicate and they may have their own meanings for what those mean to within their peer group.

[00:28:54.006] Duygu Daniels: Yeah, they're not processing emojis and images and videos and text like we do. They don't think of it as like, oh this is a text, oh this is a photograph, this is a video. That's our perspective. Their perspective is it's all a means to an end. Whatever's there, it's there. They remember it being there, especially the sort of younger Gen Zs. They don't remember anything else, right? So to them, everything is a means to an end. So they can focus on what they're creating rather than us millennials who are obsessed with the tools. Like, oh, look at this. We can do with that. Or you take that and plug it in here. And we always think about concepts and how to use these tools or make the tools, whereas Gen Z is all about the content itself. their own selves just being out there the way they want themselves to be out there. And everything else is basically a means to an end.

[00:29:46.735] Kent Bye: Yeah, it's been this really interesting process for me, because I kind of always thought that Twitter was my dominant social media. And I've just been finding that there's been a level of my own personality and level of expressing myself that has been unleashed through the Snapchat. And when I watch it, I was like, actually, that's a lot closer to who I am, rather than this data transmission that I seem to be doing on Twitter, which is very efficient and very high signal to noise, but yet Yeah, curated, but it's not, I don't see it's like a full expression of me, whereas Snapchat seems to be a little bit closer to that.

[00:30:24.460] Duygu Daniels: So how long does it take you to write a tweet?

[00:30:27.041] Kent Bye: For me, oh wow, I like to craft and recraft and get down to 140 characters and to, you know, for me, I tend to try to fill up as many of the characters as I can and communicate as much information density as I can and I maybe tweet sometimes, you know, Once or twice maybe up to five to ten at a conference. I'll do a lot more, but you know for me I'm I do a lot of audio editing so when I'm listening to a lecture or something I'm able to listen to what they're saying and kind of Extrapolate two or three different sound bites and to aggregate it into a single tweet so when I was live tweeting today at Google I oh there was some tweets that I was sitting there working on for five or ten minutes to really kind of construct a story out of you know this announcement of Google's assistant. So it kind of depends, but for me, I do kind of work it and rework it. And it's not something that I just put out there, but Snapchat, you basically stick it up in front of your face. You've got 10 seconds and you either keep it or do it over, which I've been doing Snapchats over and over and over until I get it. But I'm sure at some point I'll just like sort of get to the point of like being able to just create it and move on.

[00:31:36.645] Duygu Daniels: self-love it's very like what we're hopefully going to slowly accept ourselves for who we are on the internet or on the mobile internet and we're just going to be okay with how we're presenting it i mean you're great at podcasts right you're great at what you're doing right now so you know that's just what's going to happen we're just going to get hopefully as millennials and as the previous generations just better at kind of putting ourselves out there maybe use a filter or two but Yeah I mean I feel like our true characters have been suppressed through the sort of hyper curated Instagram feeds where it's just looking beautiful is just you just have to do it. You have to have an extreme stance. You got to either be super beautiful in your photo whether it's like a sunset or you're a photo of yourself or your beloved or you have to be funny. you have to kind of share something you know that's going to make people laugh and you know if you again study generation z you realize that you know if they don't get a certain amount of likes in the first 10 minutes they delete the instagram they have habits of creating occasion-based instagram accounts they have habits of deleting their previous instagram posts and just keeping like six photographs of their top-liked photos. So they're using Instagram in almost like a Pinterest way sometimes, where they're curating constantly. And Facebook, I mean, we don't need to even go there. I really like Facebook. I'm a big fan of the groups right now. I'm in so many different groups and I find a lot of benefit from it. it's not my authentic self. I'm a goofy person. I love like you know cracking jokes and making fun of my friends and making fun of myself and the only place that I can really do that right now is Snapchat.

[00:33:23.758] Kent Bye: Yeah, I find that part of myself coming out a lot more, and it's surprising, and I think it's changing. I'm at Google I.O., and I'm doing tweets, I'm doing Snapchats, I'm doing podcasts, I'm doing roundups, so I'm intro and outro, and all of it is feeding into each other, where the more that I'm, Snapchat in some ways is forcing me to say what I have to say in 10 seconds and get it out. boil it down to the essence and try to be real and authentic. And by doing that, it's doing something by actually changing the way that I'm thinking and processing information. You know, all of it is also, you know, Twitter and different conversations and, you know, just kind of the whole thing. But in particular, I think that I can notice a difference in just the way that I'm speaking and thinking after every day doing five or six different Snapchats to try to tell a story of the day. and tell a different story. It's less about the story of a information transmission. It's more of like, okay, this is what I'm feeling right now. This is what I am actually remembering. And this is what I'm experiencing. And when I look back on this day, I'm going to see this arc of this progression of what I was feeling rather than sort of like this information transmission that tends to come out on these other mediums.

[00:34:35.068] Duygu Daniels: Exactly, exactly. That's a great way of summarizing it. And we haven't even really talked about the other content within Snapchat. You know, there's the camera that you're, you know, kind of creating, you know, entertaining content for your friends, but then there's also the stories, and there's the media publications that are working with Snapchat, where you can kind of scroll through the day's news. i mean i would love to like ask my friends like when was the last time they picked up a cosmo when was the last time they watched a food network when was the last time they were on the daily mail do they have time are they able to actually pick up a magazine and or go to certain other websites or blogs that we really want to visit but just there's no time but it's very interesting that all of that is in bite-sized super digestible pieces in snapchat now so we got to think of like the average consumer right like not just people in our friend circles not people who are very much in tech and not the sort of dreamy world that we live in as people in tech but when you think outside of that for instance like people have a certain amount of gossip fix that they need every day. And, you know, there's just anything related to our sort of primal needs and wants and desires. I feel like there's something to feed that for you in Snapchat, which is interesting. And I'm curious if there's going to build out anything else related to that.

[00:36:08.049] Kent Bye: Yeah, I think that's probably one of those moments that, you know, someone from my generation that I open up this news feed and I look at these different things and I have this feeling of like, oh my God. this is not for me. It makes me feel really old. Why? It makes me feel like this is not made for me. This is made for another generation.

[00:36:32.117] Duygu Daniels: If they had the navigation bar in the bottom, like we're used to, can you imagine feeling any different? Do you think

[00:36:39.462] Kent Bye: So here's the thing, like, okay, I know, I think it's, this is the thing, like, and I think this is kind of playing out in different aspects of our cultures. Right now, you have a certain part of people in the information age that look primarily to reading the news and reading articles, right? And that's how they get their information. It's a very distilled way of transmitting information and knowledge. Video is not necessarily so great about transmitting data and facts and information and knowledge in the same way that news written text is, right? So I tend to come from that bias of getting a lot of efficiency of like having Twitter lists and being able to very quickly see the news of the day and being able to track something as complex and vast as virtual reality. Whereas within this sort of new paradigm of the experiential age, it's very much of like this kind of very snappy, bite-sized, you know, kind of whole, it's an experience of the information rather than a transmission of data.

[00:37:33.455] Duygu Daniels: That's true. I mean, we still have a need for that because we're in business. I mean, these are tools that help us connect to each other. But when we were in college and if we had Snapchat, we would be using it the same way they did. Again, it's, I think, about the time in your life and what you need But also, I think there's also a need for any generation that when you want to send a quick photograph, I feel like Snapchat is the best way to do that rather than, you know, send it through WhatsApp or Line or WeChat. You know, it's so much easier to just snap something and send it that way to your friends and family.

[00:38:10.816] Kent Bye: Well, you know, you know, Marshall McLuhan talks about like any new communication medium is sort of like a new extension of our central nervous system. And so, so I see things like Twitter and Facebook come from a time when desktop computing was basically the major source for how people were interfacing with the internet, right? They're at a desktop with a keyboard and a screen and they're typing in information. And that's how you type in text for Facebook and Twitter, right? And then you move into phone era where, you know, iPhone came out in 2007. So then we have people who are kind of translating those same paradigms that they used on the previous medium and they're kind of Translating that into the mobile, but yet the mobile kind of it can still work like that But yet snapchat is something that's just like totally mobile first. I mean you can't even look at snapchat on a desktop They don't even like they're like nope. This is this doesn't even work on a desktop so they're like you have to use it on your phone and so and Snapchat is starting to be this communication medium that is mobile first, and the user interface is so baffling and confusing, and having some people who are UI experts say it's unusable, but yet they don't know how to use it in the way that the millennials and the power users of the Generation Z are using it, which is, like you said, this swiping and snapping and just very quick. For them, it's very usable and very intuitive, but yet, I see it as new paradigm shift that, you know, again, goes back to these information age to experiential age and what is ultimately leading us into augmented and virtual reality. Because I think this is sort of like, to me, this trajectory towards experiences rather than information. So trying to reflect the full breadth and complexity of the human experience rather than just some sort of abstracted representation of ourselves.

[00:40:03.505] Duygu Daniels: Exactly, I mean if we believe in the quote, in the future interfaces will fade, that means that we'll have at that point every single different way of communicating as an option. So, so far We've primarily have had curated self-expression platforms on the internet. But now we're being presented this a little bit more like in the moment authentic network. But it's not an either or, it's an and. So I feel like there's going to be a need for every network that's out there right now. And even if the interfaces fade and these networks shape shift, there's still going to be times where you're going to want to curate things, whether about yourself or about your favorite furniture, or there's going to be applications and experiences where you can just be yourself.

[00:40:57.391] Kent Bye: And so how has Snapchat changed you?

[00:40:58.911] Duygu Daniels: Oh, it has changed me. You know what's interesting? I think, I mean, going back to self-love, it's very, very, very interesting how I can tell who of my friends are more at peace with themselves on Snapchat. than any other platform as well because I can see like my friends who are really their authentic selves without you know worrying too much about how they're presenting themselves to the world you know I really feed off of their confidence and them just being themselves one of my favorite quotes is that you know authenticity is service you're actually doing people service when you're being your true authentic self and when I see people being their true authentic self on snapchat it just makes me feel so good because it inspires me it inspires me to be a little bit more like Okay, I'm just gonna put myself out there for my friends. I'm not even putting myself out there for the whole world to see. I don't have tens of thousands of followers, but even for my group of friends, I've realized I've turned into this hyper-curated person where, oh, I have to have a pimple today. I have whatever, my under eye, so I can't do this, or I can't do that, or I'm not feeling a certain way. you know, I'm learning thanks to this platform. I'm sure I'm not being paid by Snapchat, like this is ridiculous how much I like them. It's like really almost like borderline crazy fandom. But yeah, it's teaching me to be my sort of authentic self a little bit more.

[00:42:40.073] Kent Bye: Well, I think, you know, we live in a world that is filled with so much kind of like marketing, public relations, bullshit, frankly, just a lot of non-authenticity. And, you know, it's amplified by doing things like just trying to curate these abstractions of ourselves. And I think that what I see and the reason why I've taken to just diving headfirst into Snapchat. to just really start experimenting with it because I've found that same thing and my very first snaps that I've been kind of like just snapping and downloading. Yeah. Well, I, I started, yeah. How was your hello? Well, I, I watched a lot, you know, I read this article on ink magazine by the 25 snap chatters that you're supposed to watch. And I watched them and I hated most of them because, because it just felt like they weren't being real, that they were just sort of like not actually present. And then, so some of my first snaps were just like really tapping into the fear that I was going through at that moment, you know? And when I did that, it actually kind of set the course of my day where instead of just kind of like ignoring it, like I was really trying to like, just boil down the essence of feeling how scared I felt in that moment. And because of that, it kind of like changed what I was planning on doing that day. And so I just felt this like feedback loop cycle that the more that I was like really tuning into what I was feeling, the more I was able to kind of get into my natural flow of the day.

[00:44:05.309] Duygu Daniels: That is very fascinating. Do you remember what were some of the cues that you noticed that made you feel like those snappers were being not their true selves?

[00:44:16.672] Kent Bye: So I think eye contact, actually. So if they're not actually looking at the camera. And I've done some of this work with a guy named Adam Gainsbourg, and he has this theory that you've got these different levels of emotion. And it starts with grief, and then fear, then moves up to excitement and happiness. But yet, some people were projecting this happiness without feeling like they had really been present with their underlying feelings that they were going through. And so they were just kind of bypassing it, just like the spiritual bypass of projecting this image of how excited and happy they were, but I couldn't tell that they were actually excited or happy.

[00:44:55.480] Duygu Daniels: Wow, I think you're on to something. That's very, very interesting. I do believe that we're somehow, I don't know how, but we're really getting better at noticing lack of authenticity. I think we've always felt that, like for instance, if we watch a company who's messed up some way and we listen to the CEO, make an apology, we immediately judge whether we found it authentic or not. But we don't really express if you know, we really have made that judgment or not. So I think slowly for some reason, and this is kind of beyond tech as well, we're becoming a little bit more observant of what's real and what's not. And it's very interesting that you felt that way. And I think I don't know if the younger generation just picks up on it better or if it's just that they're so done with all the bullshit that they have dealt with all their lives because by dealt with I mean they're seeing every type of sort of information flowing from all around the world and they're noticing how messed up the world is so they're at a point where they're kind of like okay we know the world is messed up you know and they kind of move from that space. I don't know if it's because of that that they're picking up on authenticity more or if it's just less acceptable within their peers but it's very interesting things are really really changing for the younger generation. I recommend you check out Cassandra's daily reports. They send you one email a day about trends and they cover a lot of Generation Z related trends and one that I got today was about how Gen Z is a significant percentage of them surveyed really prioritize kindness and just being kind. So there's really interesting new traits in human behavior whether it's empathy, kindness, compassion, these are really becoming their, in the globalized world that we live in, common human values that these kids are, no matter how crazy they might be, they are, you know, more in touch with their hearts, I feel like, and they're kind of prioritizing these Human values more so than maybe us, our parents' generations, we were focused on surviving. I mean, they were at least our parents' generation. Maybe not the boomers before that, but the boomers as well. You know, we were focused on surviving, building careers, creating our social networks, connecting with people. now what are these guys gonna do? I mean all of that is done, what's next? I think maybe what's next is actually really tapping into who they really are, what they're really feeling and dealing with the grief and the fear that's locked in

[00:47:39.166] Kent Bye: Yeah, and really being in the moment and just trying to really drop in and be present. I think in some ways, you know, like if there's a cost of like Snapchat is gonna charge them if they don't pay attention, you know, they may, you know, really create this incentive to really receive and be able to create in their mind a very fast way of parsing visual information. But yeah, I think overall just these different values that are emerging and it gives me hope hearing all that It actually does give me a lot of hope for the future But also just going again and again towards like what is this gonna look for? these are the people who are I'm really curious what they're gonna create in VR because you know the these Gen Z is like the stuff that they're doing, you know, they're kind of coming from this completely new paradigm and of the snapshot mindset, just call it for lack of a better thing that is really so baffling to people who aren't of that generation and they look at it and they are confused or they don't use it because their peers aren't using it or their peers aren't using it in the way that is kind of meant to this, getting to this radical authenticity, which is sort of my initial take of like, that was what I found interesting about it was people who were really authentic and real. And I'm sure those people are out there. That's another thing about Snapchat. It's actually really difficult to discover these people as to like, you know, so I I'm sure they're out there, but they're not on my radar yet. But for this, just all of this to me just seems like it's leading into this new experiential age and AR and VR and what's it going to look like?

[00:49:13.165] Duygu Daniels: Ah, great question. So by the time VR matures a little bit more in the consumer goods space, the Gen Zs will at that point have probably graduated college. They're graduating now as well, but the younger Gen Z will be graduating. And what will it look like? I mean, some of the questions are If they're tapping in into the moment and if they're diving deeper into their feelings, does that mean that their instant responses are going to be faster if something feels good or not? So when will they be able to make that decision about a VR experience? If they're in it, will they have the time to decide and make that judgment or will they get sucked into the game immediately and kind of forget about that judgment until the next time they pick it up. When will they make the decision of whether they want to continue doing being in a VR experience or if it just doesn't feel right for them or good for them because this is a generation that really cares about how they feel and they also care about how they're making other people feel too more so than I feel like a lot of our generations. So what worries me is that you know I really like the idea of being able to you know having the younger generation be able to tap into what they like and what they don't like and how if something makes them feel good or feel bad because that prevents them from making sort of harmful decisions and going into harmful experiences for themselves but because VR It's something you can just like put on and when you're in it, it's really, you know, we're seeing now from studies that time flies in VR. Will they be able to kind of make that decision tap into their hearts, whether something is making them feel good or not? I don't know, but we're going to find out.

[00:51:04.055] Kent Bye: And finally, what do you see as kind of the ultimate potential of virtual reality and what it might be able to enable?

[00:51:11.088] Duygu Daniels: Oh, this is really exciting for me. I feel like we can finally help either my generation, your generation and the previous generations tap into their own hearts better through meditative and mindfulness VR exercises. I've tried a few myself. There's really passionate people working on these projects and it's just incredible. You know, there's a lot of mobile applications for meditation, but do you use any of them?

[00:51:37.214] Kent Bye: Oh, I don't use them. I sort of have other practices that I'm not currently doing, but yeah.

[00:51:44.060] Duygu Daniels: Yeah exactly and I love meditating but I've never used a meditation app on my phone before and I do have them. So finally I feel like there's this whole health and wellness mindfulness meditation group of people waiting to build experiences for VR. Some have discovered it, some haven't discovered it yet but finally we're going to be able to create environments where hopefully it'll be a very immersive very helpful AR VR experience not to mention we can get teachers and pros to the masses this way. The trick there is going to be of course building the habit of actually putting it on for that purpose because there's no pre-existing habit loop but maybe as times are changing and our wellness is becoming the utmost priority for each and every single one of us we'll hopefully find ways to continue to prioritize that and you know put that headset on and like kind of really like get into the mood of of grounding ourselves and practicing these mindfulness exercises or meditations or all the other cool stuff.

[00:52:47.902] Kent Bye: Anything else that's left unsaid that you'd like to say?

[00:52:51.217] Duygu Daniels: I mean, can we talk another hour about Snapchat? But yeah, I can't believe I get to talk about my favorite app like this. It's really incredible. I can't wait to see some of the stuff that you're going to be posting. So I think I'm going to do that now, follow you on Snapchat. Uh-oh, Kent. Sorry.

[00:53:15.545] Kent Bye: No, I could see from my own experience with it, you know, the changes. And I think that a lot of like positive, like just the way that it's changed your own sense of self-esteem and with you and also in relation to your friends and, you know, perhaps getting to this vulnerable places or sharing some of your, maybe I feel like in some ways, grief and fear are issues that don't translate well to abstracted text. And so, Something with video or virtual reality I think is part of the reason why in my sort of full breadth of human experience I have a whole realm for death and grief and fear and a lot of that fits into that and I think that moving into the experiential age we're trying to have technologies that fully reflect the full breadth and complexity of the human experience and not something that's sort of like Squashed down and we lose a lot of these nuances Exactly.

[00:54:10.736] Duygu Daniels: Yeah, that's We're going to have options in front of us and the options are going to be a means to an end. And then what we want to do with ourselves, whether it's self-discovery or what we are producing for the world, again, I mean, interfaces and mediums are going to fade, continue to fade. And it's all going to be about what we want to put out there, what we want to create, how we want to heal the world, inspire others, or build entertaining experiences.

[00:54:39.413] Kent Bye: Awesome. Well, thank you so much.

[00:54:41.197] Duygu Daniels: My pleasure, it was so fun to talk about Snapchat.

[00:54:46.228] Kent Bye: So that was Doigua Daniels. She's a augmented reality developer and obviously a very huge enthusiastic user of the application of Snapchat. So a couple of quick takeaways from this interview is that, first of all, that I never really had considered Snapchat as an augmented reality company, but they are totally training a whole generation of people to become comfortable with digital representations of themselves, whether it's real-time video or filtered pictures. I think we're going to see a lot more augmented reality experiences that are coming from snapchat because they did buy virgins labs they do have this epiphany eyewear augmented reality glasses that they will likely be coming out with at some point here within the next year or so i imagine But I think in some ways what Snapchat has been able to do in terms of capturing the attention of the Z generation by creating something that's really designed to be mobile first, like you really can't literally see Snapchat on your desktop computer, you can only really use it on a mobile phone because the user interface is really designed to be optimized for a mobile phone. But not only that, you would never get the type of engagement that they're really trying to go for if you were trying to use it on a desktop because it really is trying to put the camera at the center of the entire user interface to encourage people to participate in recording themselves and expressing their authentic self in that moment. And that's what I've learned from using Snapchat is that It's really about trying to condense things down to the essence of the moment. And if you try to explain it with too many words, you could do a series of snap storms where you're describing an idea. But I found that if I could try to really boil it down to just a 10 second moment, then I'm really having to change and adapt and really tune into what I'm actually experiencing in that moment. And so it's really started to change the way that I pay attention to myself and monitor myself, but also how I'm expressing myself into the world. So at this point there's not a lot of easy ways for people to discover other people on Snapchat. It's really kind of a word of mouth and it's really designed primarily for you to connect to your friends at this point. Perhaps I'll open it up a little bit more in the future but I think it's less about trying to aggregate huge numbers of people following you but trying to create a place where you have to really pay attention because if you don't watch the snap that someone sends you and you're not giving it your full attention then If you don't hear everything, then you're going to lose it and you're going to miss that message forever. So it's actually really calling forth a new level of attention and awareness as we're dealing with technology because with text and Twitter and Facebook, we're kind of got this ambient awareness of paying attention to so many different things and at once and multitasking and looking at it while we're waiting in line for the bus. But I think Snapchat is kind of pushing the culture into a way of actually really paying attention and giving something your full focus. And I think this is another trend that's moving from the information age into the experiential age, is that you're not going to be able to give partial attention to a virtual reality experience. It's going to be quite a commitment to be able to actually launch into the full experience. And you're going to want to not have to have anything that's distracting or bothering you, because you want to be fully present for what's happening in that experience. So I think it's just another symptom and indicator from moving from this information age and this paradigm shift into the experiential age. Now yesterday I just went to this artificial intelligence law and policy public workshop that was sponsored by the White House and the University of Washington and one of the things that I really took away from that is that artificial intelligence neural networks are really being trained through experiences. They're not being programmed by algorithms, by thinking rationally. It's more of sending huge data sets which give this neural network an entire experience. And based upon that experience, then all the different weights and connections within that neural network get formed, and then that neural network can make different decisions or judgments at the end of that. But it's not something that is really constructed by our minds. It's just something that where you are tweaking some of the initial conditions, you're kind of giving technology an experience. And from that experience, it's able to relate to us. But the experience is really cultivated and shepherded by another human being. So we're basically giving technology these experiences. And then the technology is integrating those experiences to be able to perform a very narrow AI function. But at some point, we're going to be having artificial general intelligence, where we're going to have to somehow train common sense and generalized intelligence into these neural networks. And so it's an open problem. We don't know how that is going to work. But if we think about artificial intelligence as an experiential age technology, then we can start to think about, well, what kind of experiences do we need to give the technology in order for them to have this sense of common sense and generalized knowledge. So I think there's still quite a lot of open problems there that are pretty hard. We'll see how that develops. But just to bring it back to Snapchat, I think that Snapchat is kind of a dark horse within these immersive technologies. But yet, if you look at what they're actually doing and the type of attention awareness that they have with the very young audience of the Z generation, then they're really kind of setting themselves up to become a major player within the augmented reality and perhaps virtual reality field. So again, I do think that Snapchat is kind of representing this generation gap that's happening right now. From my impression, Snapchat came onto the scene and was something that people were using for sexting or something that was very disposable in terms of just information that they didn't want. out there on the internet for a long term. But for teenagers, I think it's just more cultivating this sense of like, you don't need to save it, because if you're really present for the moment, then there's no need to go back to it. And it mirrors real life in a lot of ways, our conversations that we have, you can't necessarily go back to a moment of a conversation, And even if you recorded it, it wouldn't be the same as being there in that moment. And so it's really cultivating this sense of really being fully present and aware and in the moment. And it's really priming an entire generation for people for both augmented and virtual reality experiences. And I personally am really curious to see what type of experiences really resonate with this Z generation and how Snapchat is going to play a part of that in the future. So with that, I just wanted to send a quick shout out to Road to VR. They've been very supportive of the voices of VR for the last 170 episodes, publishing my articles within the Road to VR website. So if you are new to the virtual reality community and want to learn more about VR, then go check out roadtovr.com. They have some great analysis and coverage of the news of whatever is happening in the latest within virtual reality. And if you do enjoy this podcast, then please consider following me at Kent Bye on Twitter. And you can follow me on Snapchat as well, at Kent Bye. And I've been doing some different video blogging there, so check that out. And if you would like to become a donor to the podcast, then please consider contributing to patreon.com slash Voices of VR.

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