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Sean McBeth
696 followers -
aut invenium vium, aut facium
aut invenium vium, aut facium

696 followers
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Sean's posts

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We basically got this together in about a month. +Leslie Birch Richard Gretzinger

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I did a talk on VR a few nights ago. Unfortunately the video quality isn't great, but the audio works well https://youtu.be/Bm3JgV8zPS8

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IDK
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When you order Chinese delivery for yourself and you get two fortune cookies, you just got judged.

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What is Primrose VR vs. what is Primrose LLC? -

I have been building this software project for a little over a year now. I call it Primrose. It’s a framework for building virtual reality experiences in web browsers.

Thus far, it’s been a labor of love. I really enjoy working on VR projects and I look forward to getting my work done every week to be able to get to work on Primrose. It’s almost a form of entertainment for me: I start to get antsy while watching a bad TV show or waiting in traffic, thinking to myself “damn, I could be working on Primrose instead.”

It’s difficult to explain what Primrose is, because it’s a lot of things in one package. The closest analogy is an operating system’s desktop environment. You have your Windows or OS X or Linux computer, and it has all of the applications you see. Where they live, how they look, which ones show up when you do certain things, how different parts behave when you click the mouse or type on the keys. It’s easy to take all of that for granted, because at its best, it is transparent. You don’t notice that there is something going on, the computer just does what you want it to do. But there is yet another program–or series of programs, rather–that manage all of this. It’s called the Window Manager, or sometimes Desktop Environment, if it includes a suite of user-oriented tools like text editors and file browsers as well.

So in that sense, Primrose is a sort of “Desktop Environment”, with the idea that your virtual reality applications should live in the cloud somewhere, should run on any of your devices, and be nearly identical regardless of which device they are running on, all the way from smartphone to desktop PC.

About 6 months ago, I realized VR was what I’ve always wanted to do. It’s a drain I’ve circled around my entire career. I’ve been fascinated with 3D graphics and illusions of depth. In college, I even developed a novel use of optical illusion as a depth cue, though it’s completely out of the scope of this project here. I also realized that Primrose had a lot of value in it, so perhaps I could capture some of that value monetarily.



In other words, I want to make a business out of Primrose. And a couple of friends of mine are now along for the ride. We’re going to step up to the plate and take our three cuts at the ball.

But Primrose is nebulous, ambitious, broadly specified, and open source, and financiers like the exact opposite of all those things. This question, “what is Primrose”, keeps coming up.

In trying to answer it, I realize a few things about myself. It has become a bit of a joke that tech startups are all trying to “change the world”. Usually it’s just a buzz phrase tacked on top of mundane bullshit. Social coupon apps. Micro-optimized, hyper-specialized data storage as a service. Social media for dogs. Silicon Valley has literally 75% of the investors and they want to act like they are superheroes because of it. Having all the money doesn’t make you right. It all eventually boils down to a sort of ponzi scheme for risky projects. Only SV could have developed the “YO!” app and thought it meant anything. And as an East Coast raised guy, who loves the East Coast, who has family here and thinks there are great things going on here, I’m kind of getting tired of a small corner of California dominating the conversation about software development and what success means in its regards.

With Virtual Reality there is real opportunity to rewrite the last 25 to 50 years of human history. We’ve had Windows-Icons-Menus-and-Pointers (WIMP)-based computer operating system interfaces ever since they were invented at Xerox PARC for the Star OS. If you look at this image and can’t see it for yourself, just take my word for it that there is almost nothing–other than color–that these screenshots from 1981 lack compared to contemporary systems. Underpinning all of this is the reliance on the computer monitor and keyboard as the fundamental components of interaction. Even your modern smartphone strays very little from this system.

Computers are here to stay and that means computer interfaces are now a fundamental component of human culture, as much as language and writing. Applications now hold a similar position in our lives as books used to. There is a tendency to treat the tech industry as “other”, as not day-to-day concern for “average” people. But anyone who has sat down to think about the course of progress should be able to figure out the fallacy in that assumption. As technology wields more influence, as it becomes more powerful, it enables those who adopt it to be so much more productive than those who don’t. The two groups become completely incapable of relating to each other. We aren’t just making an entertaining bauble in VR. We are messing with the very fabric of the human condition.

I would like to be the sort of company that takes risks on trying to figure out how to improve humanity through figuring out new ways to interact with computers. I don’t want the sum total of my efforts to be put into merely being a steward of a single product or service. That is a route to a certain sort of safe, easy to explain, extremely limited sort of progress that doesn’t really do anything that changes the face of humanity. In other words, mediocre. Beyond my immediate interest in technology and intriguing problems, I’m not about the particulars of any specific project. I’m about a holistic approach to achieving goals.

I want to become a clearinghouse for developing new ideas, ideas around using the computer to extend the human reach, rather than forcing the human to adapt to and mold around the computer. A machine for starting at problems and ending at solutions. There is the code that I have written to date. It does a thing, more or less. And then there is a vision of what it all means. I hope we don’t confuse the two, just because of the sunk cost of time developing specific features and tools. If moving forward on the mission means scrapping the code I’ve currently written, I want to make it clear that that option is on the table. I am not sentimental towards code. If that means selling Primrose as it currently stands for a “small” buyout that enables us to spend 100%, completely focused time for as long as it takes to realize this goal, that is also on the table. I am not sentimental towards specific collections of code.

Primrose is WebVR and Javascript and the few components I’ve managed to build so far exactly because I’m one programmer, building a thing with competing constraints. I don’t want Javascript. I want apps that run on every computer. Javascript happens to be the way that I know how to do that, because every system has a web browser now. I don’t want GUI components that replicate 2D metaphors. That’s just the only thing I personally know how to build, with the benefit being that it at least maintains parity with currently developed systems. I don’t want to write Javascript code in a VR session. I want to make things–applications and experiences and games and whatever else you want to call them–without having to leave VR. Live-editing Javascript is just the only way I currently know how to do that. I don’t want to do consulting, that’s just the only way I know how to monetize open source software, and I think a developer-centric tool like Primrose demands to be open source or it won’t be taken seriously within the developer community or see serious adoption.

VR should be the last medium. I don’t want my baby boy Sheffield to have to own a 2D display, WIMP-metaphor system if he doesn’t ever want to. It’s not about WebVR or browsers or Javascript or any of the tools involved; tools are the means, never the ends.

It's about people and making an enriching experience.
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3/25/16
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Stereo photos are now a component option in Primrose.
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Lunchtime food coma
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Babies always look like they are dancing to some sort of sick beat.
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