But over the last year we’ve started to see some really interesting experiences. I mentioned in my article, the environments created for Roguelike Celebration and LIKELIKE the events were in a way borrowed from the games. And then there’s an experiment around what we’re doing right now: the proximity chat, which allows you to talk to people who are nearby. [in a virtual world]. I mean, there are dozens of them now, like this kind of spatial audio has been around for at least 15 years with Second life, but all of these platforms are now sort of using this idea to help develop a community, because with Zoom only one person can really speak at a time, right? And you can’t see that just yet, but it’s worth mentioning that Skittish supports an emerging standard for streaming payments to creators on the web.
So I started working on a platform that would bring these things together, partly because I wanted to organize events myself again, but also for other event planners to use … and I wanted to create something with social interaction in mind, it just didn’t feel like a reunion. It’s very clear from the moment you walk in, it’s not a Zoom call, it’s not “work”, it’s … I don’t know what it is, but it is is the opposite of work.
WIRED: What is the strangest or most difficult experience you have had during this time of all-virtual events, the thing that got you thinking, OK we have to understand this? I can think of a few examples myself, where I tried taking meetings in a VR headset, and I actually think that’s cool, but it will take me an extra 30 minutes before the meeting to prepare for the meeting. meeting. Or, just the other day, I was thinking back to recent hardware events from Amazon, and I thought, OK, I covered it in 2017, 2018, 2019 … and forgot they had an event in 2020, because everything was virtual, it just wasn’t stored in my brain the same way. Because I was not physically in Seattle.
Baio: Yeah. I mentioned some of the events where I think they did a good job. But most of the ones I checked, I can’t even say I assisted, you know what I mean? As they call it an event, and there may be tickets, and there are attendees, but when you experience it, it doesn’t look like an event at all. I don’t feel like watching a long YouTube video anymore. And there’s this existential thing where I think Is it even an event? Sometimes they’re not even alive; they pre-recorded the conference. So you were literally watching pre-recorded videos being broadcast at one point. In this case, it’s like watching a TV event. I mean, if you watch the Oscars I guess it’s an event, but I certainly don’t feel like I attended the Oscars when I watch them on TV.
WIRED: After all the software conferences last year, I took a step back and talked to people, mostly developers or techs, about what worked for them and what didn’t. Some of them highlighted the benefits of everything happening online, in that the barriers are lowered – people don’t have to pay to attend. And there are real benefits for members of the accessibility community. But some people have also said that it is marginalized communities that could also benefit the most from in-person networking or meeting with peers, and this has been really hit hard during the pandemic. What do you think about this?
Baio: I think, you know, how at XOXO 80 percent of the attendees were from out of state, not to mention a lot of international attendees. And I think about the amount of friction that goes with taking time off work, booking a flight, booking a hotel. It is very expensive, and the people who are able to do it are often very privileged or in a privileged position to work for a company that is willing to pay these expenses. There is no doubt that many people are out of reach.