May. 3rd, 2013

goldkin: i has book (Default)
Earlier, I tweeted this at an old acquaintance of mine from Second Life, qDot:

@qDot VR in a nutshell: all this extra bandwidth by adding a dimension, and we still haven't figured out how to make it useful beyond porn.

@qDot The translation of the literal to the spacial is still a work in progress. That design problem is still surprisingly underexplored.



Let's unpack what's going on here. qDot and I are both big VR enthusiasts, for entirely different reasons. He's a hardware sort of guy, whereas I spend almost all of my time in software. What I'm saying here is that the spatial design that makes virtual reality actually work is missing from many designs, and that this design space seems, largely, underexplored.

This seems strange to me. The human mind is very good at spatial perception and spatial memory. So much so, that a common strategy of memorizing long strings of digits is to construct a memory palace that spatially organizes specific sets of digits into mnemonic objects or concepts.

It seems equally strange, then, that our common devices continue to use such a flat design. Even as I sit here typing this, I'm using a display model that's nothing more than an extension of the Xerox PARC GUI. Screen rendering is flat and fixed-axis, with the horizontal and vertical corresponding to the boundaries of my monitor. The third axis, depth, is entirely flat, constrained to compositing windows on top of one another in priority order. Depth of field is removed almost entirely.

It's a nice, clean, accessible design that misses out on much of what the brain has to offer in terms of processing power. So, what I really said to qDot above was:

"I think we (as a species) can do this VR thing much better, if we focus on the right spatial design problems."


How, then, does one make existing technologies make sense spatially? The games industry certainly solved it for themselves: look at the jump, for example, between
Super Metroid and Metroid Prime.

This is less of a doing and more of an undoing, however. In those older 2D platformers, we were trained to the 2D abstraction. All the newer 3D games needed was to undo the flatland perspective, while retaining (and in many cases, forward-porting) all of the concepts, art, and lessons learned along the way.

I believe that this is so with the state of computing UI, as well. All we need to do is undo the flatland abstraction, while porting what we've learned along the way. I openly have no idea what form that will take, but I believe, from simple analogy and many, many experiments, that it's entirely practical.


It shouldn't surprise anyone, then, that I'm extremely excited about Google Glass, and to a lesser extent, the Oculus Rift. The primary source of my excitement is in how they change the UI model: from a flatland perspective into an overlay of reality.

This imparts in me a sort of visceral zen that I experienced, to a lesser degree, in Second Life. Even with its clumsy interface, terrible lag, and laundry list of other problems, Second Life provided for me one of the most compelling environments that I could tinker within. The sole reason: it offered me a 3D world that I could constantly alter, allowing me to bring my full mental resources to bear.

I haven't experienced quite this same feeling since then, beyond rare real life operations, working in a CAD tool like Blender, or playing the occasional 3D videogame. I miss it. But, I feel the return of this model is rapidly approaching, and it fills me with joy that others might get to finally experience this.

It seems trite of me, but I believe this small change in UI may profoundly impact how we see the world and see ourselves. That is, provided developers spend the time learning how to express their user interfaces, designs, and concepts in spatially-oriented, idiomatic ways.

Which is why I'm a software sort of dragon. I like abstraction. I enjoy playing around in the virtual ether and sharing my creations. And I just think (nay, hope) that this will let me express myself in ways that I feel are more like me.
goldkin: i has book (goldkin bookly)
Every so often, when I hit my darker moods on social media, you'll see something like this:

@Goldkin: I really wish my mind would stop feeling enshamed and self-deprecatory for my prior, years-past mistakes. It would do me lots of good.

‏@Goldkin: I fear the eternal albatross-around-the-neck. The result: I hide most information about myself, am ponderous to reply, and am less engaging.

@Goldkin: I think there's something to be said about safe harbors for promiscuous online sharing. The likes of what happens on Facebook terrifies me.

@Goldkin: ... insofar as it should be socially acceptable to share one's self without fear that it'll become a static data point. I'd like to do that.

‏@Goldkin: I see those assumptions of immutability as giving rise to resentment and bigotry, and I just feel it's too narrow a space to live within.



What this displays is a fundamental insecurity of mine that shapes many of my actions. I am extremely fretful of how my previous actions color how people see me, even if they may have no reflection on my future performance or behavior.

This is, for the most part, a product of my heritage. I grew up within a highly conservative, and for the most part judgmental, family. This same family has been known to take its facts primarily as immutable and at face value. Without wishing to do so, I internalized this view as a representation of how others would see me... and began to deeply fear resentment and bigotry as a result.

This makes me a security professional, because I've become really good at hiding and obscuring information. But this comes at a severe social cost: I don't feel comfortable sharing the details of my private life as often as I'd like to. I feel as if I am far less engaging in conversation with the people that I enjoy being around, because I fear creating poor quality, insurmountable, and immutable data. This fear actually causes me to realize exactly what I otherwise wish to avoid, because it affects my logical centers, my abilities to process information, and my abilities to speak eloquently, due to the applied, slow filter of withholding dangerous information.

This filter makes some sense to maintain, however. Almost daily, we're reminded of some "schmuck" that was too promiscuous on Facebook, Twitter, or other forms of social media. They'll have said something socially hazardous, or they'll have revealed some personal detail, that costs them a lot of credibility. And this galvanizes my fears, because I am afraid of precisely what people would think of me if I shared more of who I am.

I guess what I'm saying is, I'd like to be more open in general. This is very difficult for me, because the past few decades have taught me to be a master of protecting information. Information, I add, that I'd like people I do trust and care about to know and be able to share.

Basically, I'd like to be less envious of the people I know whom I do believe have healthy modes of communication. I'd like to transmute this into action that makes me feel supported and connected by those I care about... which is already difficult for me, given my introverted tendencies. I certainly don't aspire to be an extrovert, but for those small few I communicate with regularly, I'd like to feel as if I'm providing the best communication I can offer.


In a way, this post is sort of a form of social advertising. There's a lot that I keep trapped under the hood, and frankly, I'd like much of it to be less of a tightly-guarded secret. Because, for most of it -- my draconity and spiritual identity, my aspirations, my loves and crushes for others, my carnal desires, and my general zeal for life -- there's actually nothing to be ashamed of. It's frustrating for me to take such a Victorian stance about myself, when the specific predators I'm afraid of are no longer present. Furthermore, I find it highly cathartic to be able to get more of what makes me myself out there for inspection.

But, perhaps most importantly, being more open would alleviate the specific isolation that I've suffered from these past several decades. I certainly wouldn't like to share everything, due to the intersection of healthy secret-keeping and tl;dr. But, just being able to share more, and to establish a sort of safe clearing house for who and what I am, would do me a lot of good.

I'm not yet sure what form that will take. But, the thought of it greatly appeals to me.

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