Metaversal, part 1

August 13th, 2022

According to Tim Sweeney (founder and CEO of Epic, which makes Fortnite), the “Metaverse” is essentially maintaining your persistent self across different digital places. In one sense this is already our reality.

For example, Google knows who you are, and persistently retains your preferences across different Websites. Amazon does as well, as do other providers of various on-line services.

What Sweeney is referring to is the way that our persistent identity will expand into other realms as more and more people find it convenient to represent themselves as digital avatars. When you walk through a digital “door”, say from an on-line museum to an on-line chat room, you will still be perceived by others as yourself, and you will have the same general capabilities.

This is the way things work in the physical world. When I go to a movie or to a grocery store, or enter a municipal courtroom, people can still identify me as myself, although I my behavior will likely change because each kind of place has its own social conventions.

In all of those cases, I have my smartphone and my wallet in my pocket, and I am easily able to verify that I am still me, with all of my various rights and obligations. The way Sweeney describes it, the “Metaverse” is the extension of that transactional reality into 3D on-line worlds.

Just what this means, in a practical sense, will change over time. More tomorrow.

Post conference post

August 12th, 2022

There are memories here I shall keep
And emotions that run very deep
      But all joy or sorrow
      Must wait till tomorrow
Today I am getting some sleep

Last day of Siggraph

August 11th, 2022

There is something poignant about the last day of a conference. So many people putting in countless hours of incredible effort, for a direct sensory experience that now, in a matter of hours, will vanish forever.

In a way, it is like theater, this idea that we are alive on this planet together for these precious moments, for a shared experience that can never be repeated.

Every year at Siggraph is unique, and each is beautiful in its own way. After several long years of not being able to get together in person for such an experience, it was deeply appreciated.

No Widget Wednesdays

August 10th, 2022

Today I am at the Siggraph conference, and every moment is filled with either one thing or another. So I am just absorbing all of the many sensations.

No widget Wednesdays today. Programming is not really something you can do while you’re at the Siggraph conference.

Next week we will resume to our regularly scheduled weekly program.

Tron parties

August 9th, 2022

Today somebody reminded me that yesterday there was a party in Hollywood to mark the 40th anniversary of Tron. Which is an irony to me, since I worked on it. But couldn’t have gone, being in Vancouver all this week for the Siggraph conference.

And even greater irony is that this evening I am giving a talk to a number of fellow practitioners who were pretty much all around when the original Tron was made back in 1982, and quite a few of whom worked on it. So all of us were destined to miss the 40th anniversary celebration in Hollywood.

It just reminds me of the strange relationship between those of us who make the magic possible, and the folks in Hollywood who make their own brand of magic on top of ours.

The nerds and the cool kids can sometimes hang together. And sometimes they can even make great things together. But they’re never going to hang out at all the same parties.


August 8th, 2022

I love the form of today’s date. There is something beautiful about the sheer evenness of it.

All those eights and twos, one after the other. And the more you look at it, the more patterns you see.

For example, the sum of the first two digits is the square of the sum of the last two digits. Also 88/22 is 4, which is 8/2, as well as being both 2+2 and 2*2.

Today is also the 220th day of the year. Which is pretty awesome.

Location alarm

August 7th, 2022

My phone has a wonderful feature. If you set a time, my phone raises an alarm when that time is reached.

I use this for all sorts of things, including travel, cooking, taking naps, and pretty much everything else where I need to know that a certain thing has to happen at a certain time.

But my phone doesn’t have a feature that raises an alarm when I get to a particular geographic location. I wish it did.

I would use that feature, for example, when taking a train or a bus. Why do I need to keep checking to make sure that I am near my destination, when my phone has a perfectly good GPS, and could do it for me?

I suppose if it were easier to program phone apps that access your current GPS location, I would write my own location alarm.

Whales swimming serenely through the air

August 6th, 2022

I’ve been watching the wonderful Korean drama Extraordinary Attorney Woo. It amazes me how Korean TV manages to avoid pigeonholing content into narrow genres.

In the U.S. most shows can easily be categorized as “comedy” or “drama””. There is little cross-over. Yet the best Korean shows (like this one) manage to be both at the same time, and at a very high level.

Also, there is a recurring visual motif in this show of giant whales swimming serenely through the air. And I really like giant whales swimming serenely through the air.

This wonderful visual is, all by itself, a good enough reason to get those future mixed reality glasses. Don’t you agree?

Day of preparation

August 5th, 2022

Today is the last day before the people in our research lab at NYU fly out to the big ACM/Siggraph conference. This year the conference is in Vancouver, and we will be presenting a big demo.

There are lots of pieces — robots, VR headsets, 6D trackers, computers, cameras, and all sort of other toys. But mostly it’s a set of interconnected software programs, working to support a live demo.

Today everybody is heads down and focused on getting things done. Soon it will be time to pack everything up and taking it all to the airport, and then on to Canada.

Next week is going to be crazy, with a million things going on at the same time. But today, on this final day of preparation, the energy in our lab is quiet and focused.

High wire act

August 4th, 2022

I have realized that the most fun way to do Widget Wednesdays is to actually do them on Wednesdays. I guess I could work in advance, build something up gradually over time, and I’ve tried that.

But it is not nearly as much fun. The thrill of having to write a complete program, get it working, do all the design tweaks, and present it for you to play with, is its own form of very high order recreation.

I’ve been enjoying this high wire act, waiting until the day, and then striking all at once. I realize that the results are less like symphonies and more like haiku. But hey, I like haiku.