Drax Files Radio Hour Ep 42 – Leaping, Bashing The Beeb & 2007 Oldbies

Episode 42 of The Drax Files Radio Hour sees confirmed staunch socialist Draxtor Despres and red under the bed, Jo Yardley, getting their teeth into a number of issues and getting the hump with the BBC, an organisation long accused of being lefties ….

Jo and Drax take umbrage with the beeb over an article in their technology section : Podrift: Is podcasting ripe for virtual reality? Podrift is a technology aimed at taking podcasting into a virtual world setting, however not everyone is convinced by the concept and in the article they quote Todd Cochrane, head of podcasting specialists RawVoice as saying :

adoption into Second Life may be more appropriate

That sounds fair enough but the author of the article, Dougal Shaw writes :

This is something of a damning comparison, as virtual world Second Life has become synonymous with virtual reality’s false dawn. After creating a huge buzz when it was launched in 2003, it has failed to live up to its potential. Other than a hardcore of loyal users, few are giving it a second chance.

Personally I think Dougal Shaw is missing the point by a country mile if he comes to that conclusion and I can understand why Jo and Drax take umbrage with that comment. Second Life is over eleven years old and still around. Second Life has hosted talk shows such as Tonight Live With Paisley Beebe in the past and is perfectly viable as a venue for a podcast already. However I’m not dismissing the potential behind Podrift here, I just find Dougal Shaw’s dismissive comment about Second Life odd.

The show is the usual mix of commentary, fascinating interviews, virtual reality discussion and via the website itself, some very interesting links and clips. The discussion between Jo and Drax about virtual reality gadgets is interesting because they discuss some of the challenges of these peripherals, such as the difficulty of using many different peripherals at the same time and how cumbersome that may become. This is an issue that will have to be tackled because people are not going to be comfortable wearing headsets, VR gloves, grabbing peripherals and trying to communicate. However there’s a long way to go with this sort of technology and how it all fits together will be improved over time.

The interview with Leap Motion CTO David Holz encountered a few technical glitches but Drax manages to salvage some very interesting points. David actually highlights some of the above issues and labels this stage as the first generation of VR. I’m sure there will be plenty of people who will disagree that this is the first generation of VR but his point is that there are currently a lot of peripherals around and at this early stage the current generation of VR is going to be a mixed bag whilst the technology is developed.

Long term David feels the solutions will have to be more mobile friendly and he discusses some extremely interesting technology possibilities. David feels that there won’t be a lot of competition in the market when it all comes together with regards to some aspects of the technologies that develop, he seems to feel that there will be a dominant company whose technology is used in different peripherals. That seems to be where he sees the battleground and this is a likely scenario in many regards as there will be standards required to make devices compatible.

You also get a sense of frustration from the developer perspective that people aren’t willing to embrace new technology, but that has been a frustration that developers have had to endure throughout history. This is an excellent interview and Drax hopes to speak to him again at some point in the future.

The next interview is with Kriss Lehman, who featured in the first ever episode of The Drax Files : World Makers. Kriss is considered an oldbie these days, having joined Second Life in 2007. Oldbies everywhere will be furrowing their brows and shouting “Noob” at someone who rezzed in 2007. The interview with Kriss is interesting because it comes from the perspective of someone who has seven years experience of Second Life and is still very much enamoured with the platform.

The interview also highlights the problem of why guiding new participants in a virtual world to areas they may enjoy is so problematic. The discussion mentions issues such as trying to steer people to certain areas of interest means you may well exclude so much more that people may enjoy too. There are no easy answers here. Some people want to be guided, some people want to be free to do what they want to do and whereas both pathways can co-exist perfectly happily it’s a far less happy marriage when you try and apply a one size fits all solution to these pathways.

The discussion is very interesting and well worth a listen but you may well come away with a feeling of deja vu because some of these ideas have not only been suggested before, they’ve been tried before. For example there’s talk of a scaled down viewer which Drax acknowledges has been tried before. However there is potential in this sort of concept, but as history tells us, it’s extremely difficult to get it right.

This is another excellent episode and if you have a spare hour, well worth a listen.

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