Two years ago, I quit my day job as a venture capitalist. Meeting entrepreneurs on a day-to-day basis ignited my drive to become a maker, myself. Since then, I’ve started an Airbnb empire, designed an app, built a few websites, and gave a Tedx talk about the process.
When I put it on paper, it sounds like I’ve done a lot. The truth is, I just have no focus. Great, I’m a maker now, but what do i truly want to make? I believe I’ve started to figure it out.
I’ve decided to focus all of my energy into VR and 3D.
Reason 1: The ‘true calling’ factor.
In the past I’ve had trouble committing to any project. My half-finished iOS apps, chatbots, and DJ-able Nintendo Power Glove can vouch for that. 3D and VR have been different. I’m absolutely fascinated with the ability to click and code-up an entire universe from my bedroom. It’s addicting, beautiful, and I can’t get enough of it.
It’s exhilarating to see your own code come to life:
(better w/ 🎧)
I made my first 3d (mini) game 💁 🔸 pic.twitter.com/pSWRHH4vBE
— Shoin Wolfe (@shoinwolfe) July 30, 2016
Reason 2: It’s the future, not a fad.
Every year, information technology evolves into increasingly immersive experiences. Look at Facebook. At first, we shared blocks of texts. Then, we began sharing pictures and emojis. Soon videos began to fill up everybody’s feeds. Now, draggable 3D images are shared, and Facebook even bought the Oculus Rift company in hopes of letting users share experiences of even higher complexity.
And this trend, it’s bigger than the evolution of your SNS feed. This is the entirety of how we are beginning to interface with information technology. Think of the last century’s most endeared pieces of technology: the telephone and the television. Over time, phones and TVs have come physically closer and closer to us: First the house, then the car, to the hand, to the pocket, and soon, with VR goggles, the head. We clearly can’t wait to shove our devices into our face. This trend will continue, as there’s already existing plans to create contact lens displays. And at every step of this future, it’s hard to see HTML and CSS taking part in it. Hence, I’m better off becoming an expert in 3D coding and 3D front-end rather than riding the late train to generic webpage creation. I’d rather be part of that transformation, than merely stand on the sidelines.
Reason 3: ‘We are as gods now’
“We are as gods, we might as well get good at it.” – Steward Brand
Steward Brand said that 40 years ago, referring to the effect man has on Global Warming. Now this is coming true in a literal sense, as we create entire worlds made of bits and bytes.
We’re increasingly living in a hybrid reality of the real and virtual.
Right now we can access the digital world in screens, but with virtual reality, augmented reality, mixed reality, and projection mapping, the line between what is ‘real’ and what isn’t is blurring. It’s simply getting harder to differentiate between digital material and physical material, and most importantly, it’s starting to not matter what matter is composed of.
But what happens then? Well as Terence McKenna would say, “we are entering universes of our own construction.”
We actually already live in the construct of our personal reality. That’s what earphones do. They disengage you with the existing aural data (sound), and replace it with data that you want to hear. You’ve customized the reality of what you hear. In this sense, VR is nothing new, its just customizing visual data. As we use earphones to construct our own aural reality, we will soon go into constructions of our own visual realities. How could I not possibly take part in this?
Reason 4: It’s an artistic form of entrepreneurship
I have a weird hang-up about startups.
If the product is a copy of what someone else has done in another part of the world, it’s distasteful to me. Most of the startups here in Tokyo are Japanese clones of Silicon Valley products. Ugh.
I also believe that a product is only truly yours if you (mostly) made it with your own hands.
I know, it’s a weird hang-up. It’s a personal bias. While being a VC, I saw how useless the business guy always was in the product-making process. How early they’d go home compared to the designers and engineers. When I’d participate in hackathons, I saw the hipsters and hackers work-work-work through the weekend, all for the hustler to present it to the judges in the end as if it were their own creation. I didn’t want to be like that so I learned how to design, code, and analyze data. That’s when I realized that in this era of abundant educational resources, there is no reason that you can’t learn to code and design, other than laziness.
So in my eyes, if you want to make a startup, you can’t plagiarize and you have to make it on your own. I guess my mind treats startups similar to an art form.
3D and VR are nothing, if not art. It’s a creative endeavor that fits my ridiculous startup-ethics venn diagram.
Reason 5: Direct access to goosebumps
I skied in VR the other day. I put on the device, and rode a machine that simulated the way I’d turn on normal skis. I felt like I was actually sliding down a mountain. Within two minutes of playing, I actually got into flow the same way you do when you ski.
Finally, VR Arcade day at Odaiba! First up skiing. Surprisingly great feedback, and puts you into flow quickly pic.twitter.com/UNhnbh8xzl
— Shoin Wolfe (@shoinwolfe) July 26, 2016
When you have control the data feed for someone’s eyes, ears, and movement, you can trick their brain into believing that the experience they are having is real and personal. I would argue that, in VR, the willing suspension of disbelief is almost not a choice.
That means any emotion that you want the audience to have is amplified compared to other traditional mediums.
Soon, Shoin.wf might be a domain you experience, rather than read. You might come to my VR blog to experience sheer cognitive ecstasy, or traumatizing fear.
As a creator, what better way is there to get a message across?
Reason 6: Discipline
I’ve come to terms with the fact that you can’t do everything. Everybody wants to do everything, because everybody is good at a lot of things. Those who truly master their craft are the ones that said “no” to, not only opportunities that would distract them, but to their own wandering minds and ambitions as well.
Goodbye chatbots and random dev work from friends, I’m locking down and focusing on VR and 3D. I’ll still run my Airbnb business though, as its highly automated and it keeps me fed.
VR and 3D suits me well, and I believe it’s the future.
At first I’ll be using Unity3D to teach myself the basics of 3D game design. VR will come after that, as if I can make a 3D game I can just export it into VR. But more importantly, I don’t have a VR rig, as there’s currently no VR device compatible to the low specs of the Mac.
Here’s to the start of a (hopefully) long journey of creating beautiful worlds and goosebumps. 🎉
I'm on Twitter @shoinwolfe if you ever want to talk.