Karl Krantz is one of the co-founders of the Silicon Valley Virtual Reality Meet-up and conference, and he’s been strategically moving towards a full-time career within virtual reality for over 15 years. It started for him with exploring imaginal virtual worlds through Dungeons and Dragons, and he’s been trying to manifest those worlds through the medium of VR ever since.

karl-almost-smile-269x200He talks about the collaborative nature of this new consumer VR movement as a part of the current Internet culture, and sees that as a key component as to why VR is being more successful now than in the previous VR hype peak in the early 90s. The technology wasn’t also there, but the culture of openly sharing knowledge has been a key to the momentum that VR is seeing — starting with the collaborative funding of the Oculus Rift.

He talks about the differences between Old VR and New VR, and how the consumer VR movement has a different quality of energy and vitality that seems to be lacking in the legacy VR populations. SVVR is definitely more focused on cultivating and supporting this new, consumer VR movement while incorporating the wisdom and lessons from “Old VR.”

Karl then discusses some the lessons that the VR community can learn from Second Life, including how we treat identity and governance in virtual worlds. He also is optimistic about High Fidelity’s approach and questions whether or not Second Life will have to restart from scratch. Again, this interview was conducted a few days before Second Life announced that they were indeed starting from scratch and rebuilding they system from the ground up to have a stronger foundation for integrating with a lot of the innovations of this consumer VR revolution.

Finally, he talks about what he sees as an exciting next couple of decades as VR develops. He sees VR as being potentially more important than the written language, and allowing people to do nearly anything and be any one. There are good and bad manifestations of VR, but that in the end it’ll prove to be less abstract than the written language and eventually be no higher level than VR and that it be the “Final Platform” as Michael Abrash called it.

Reddit discussion here.

0:00 – Intro. Silicon Valley Virtual Reality Meet-up and conference. SVVR created a year ago b/c consumer VR was a thing, and wanted to cultivate community to share learnings. Want to foster an diverse ecosystem
1:13 – Strong of collaboration this time around to foster a movement. Tech wasn’t there the first time around. People were competitive before and didn’t share their learnings. There’s an Internet sharing culture, and collaborative nature of crowd-sourcing.
2:43 – Passion of VR. Intrinsically motivation
3:18 – Strategic decisions to be involved in VR. First got involved into virtual worlds via Dungeons and Dragons. Entranced with potential of virtual worlds. Got into sci-fi and cyberpunk, and Jaron Lanier was a big influence as well. Got involved in telepresence professionally. User of Second Life. Always planned to get back into VR. Was going to join the local VR meet-up in Silicon Valley, and was shocked that he needed to create it with Cymatic Bruce
6:36 – Stealth start-ups that are in attendance. Ones that they know of like Sixense Entertainment. Jaunt was in attendance for a long time, and couldn’t talk about what they were doing for a long time.
8:12 – How many people at each event. 100 people. Decide to do bigger monthly events? Or stay small.
8:45 – Balance of new people and experienced people at user groups. Hard to get too technical in that environment. Start conversations. Quickly explain what they’re doing and talk more tech details offline. Get to try it out.
10:25 – What SVVRCon meant and what was accomplished. Perfect size and energy was amazing. Great sense of community and enthusiastic vibe. Can they scale that to a full conference? Yes. The more diversity, the better.
11:51 – Split between Old VR and New VR. SVVRCon is the essence of New VR and the consumer space. Future focus on consumer and New VR energy. Lots to learn from legacy VR pioneers. It’s not affordable and accessible. VR is now affordable, and that’s a success milestone. R&D demos can be interesting, but not as relevant if people can’t take it home. Take VR home and hack it. Different worldview between old and new VR. SVVR is skewed towards New VR
15:18 – Consumer VR. Second Life is kind of bridge between old and new VR. Spent a lot of time in Second Life. It’s a magical place. Open metaverse that’s more open than a game. Lots of garbage content, but also a lot of beautiful creations. Thriving economy. Second Life was always designed with VR in mind. They’ve pioneered so many things. What do people do in Second Life? They do what they’ll do in VR. Hang out in night clubs. Build a house. Have a boat. They’re in the best advantage of VR. There a ton of communities. Requires some fundamental changes to make the jump to VR. Can’t do that in an incremental way. Second Life may need to restart
19:21 – High Fidelity and open protocol approach. Provide services around an open protocol. Allows to have speciality companies like Mixamo for avatar creation.
20:25 – Why Second Lifers need to be involved with VR now more than over. Privacy. Identity and Governance. Cut to the core of the framework of a society. Agree with High Fidelity’s direction. Choose to reveal your identity when you want. As an owner of a space you can choose whether you want anonymous or authenticated. Early days of Second Life, they talked about being a citizen of a new world. Need a say in governance, and if you don’t have a say, then you’re not going to have a say. Need representation and governance to feel welcomed. Successful ones will have a say.
23:52 – Next steps for getting involved with VR. VR launchpad to switch between VR demos without getting out of VR. Intrigued with how do you find and sample VR experiences and virtual world locations. Hard to find and navigate these VR locations.
25:25 – Kite & Lightning’s portal into one reality into another reality. Taste test environments to feel what’s it like to be inside of it.
26:45 – Potential for VR. VR will be a serious step in the development of mankind. More important than the written language. Less abstract than written language and a new medium. No higher level than VR. Can do anything and be anyone. Good and Bad. It’ll be interesting next couple decades
28:20 – As significant as the Gutenberg Press to contain and share human experiences. VR encapsulates all experiences. VR as the final platform.
29:10 – Include neural implants as the final platform. Direct put images into your optic nerve with a screen.

Theme music: “Fatality” by Tigoolio

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