March 25, 2021No Comments

Lessons Learned from 1 Year Working with Virtual Reality

Virtual Reality is still in the early adopter phase; so when most people use it they don't see it's raw potential. After holding dozens of events, even interviewing one of the most important tech CEOs of the modern age- we have seen what will make VR more powerful than a Zoom call could ever be...


Last Thursday on The Vance Crowe Podcast, we published our first interview recorded in virtual reality, set in our own custom environment. We interviewed Jim Rutt. Jim was the CEO of Network Solutions during their fifteen billion dollar acquisition, a former chairman of the Santa Fe Institute, and current head of a movement called GameB. With that interview live and us now at a peak in our exploration of the virtual reality space, we have the opportunity to talk about some things we've learned so far. We explore virtual reality as part of the work we do surrounding the podcast. We host our monthly book club in VR, office hours with Vance and meet-ups between listeners and even past guests.

About a year ago when colliding with others in physical spaces became drastically more scarce, we started exploring ways to connect virtually. Like many others we were quick to hop to Zoom to connect with our audience and Articulate Ventures Network, but this medium lacked the spontaneity that comes from break off interactions in it's pass the mic for audio format. We eventually found, and in Vance's case, rediscovered, VR. Having already had a headset and messed with a few apps solo, Vance was adept with the technology. It was when we were invited to coordinate a custom experience in VR and I too got a headset that we were blown away by the social difference between connecting over VR and video/voice chat.


Physical Space

The initial reaction to the idea of connecting with another person in a virtual space using an animated character might be that it's more novel than genuine. This is 100% the opposite. If you jump inside VR to connect with someone socially via an app like Mozilla's Hubs, work with them over a productivity app like ImmersedVR or anything in-between, you will surprise yourself by how quickly your suspension of disbelief lets you see your peer through their animated character.

Observing hand gestures, body language in head and torso movement and perhaps especially the subconscious instinct to follow personal space norms all build the sense of immersion gained through connecting with someone through the medium that- even though you can see someone from a flat bubble, just isn't replicated over zoom.


Audio Proprioception

Audio proprioception is one of the most amazing things about connecting with others in VR. Because the format on Zoom and other video platforms is pass the mic to talk, there is no need to break volume to add a layer of depth, you simply watch and listen to the person speaking at full volume.

In VR, advanced meeting environments alter the volume of others in the space at a rate relative to how close you are to them physically. This is one of the main reason that we've built our AVN Underground Bar over Mozilla Hubs. Audio proprioception in our bar lets us hold a meeting with 10, 15 and often over 20 guests and attention of the group can be focused on more than one speaker.

The layer of depth added by connecting one on one with friends and small groups in VR is one important reason to take note of audio proprioception. It is another dynamic entirely to observe and take part in small breakout groups throughout the space. The ambient noise of others communicating paired with the local conversation with a handful amongst a large group creates a dynamic that is not far off from similar engagements in the real world.


Architecture and other Important Nuances

Many people building in VR think by default to build large, open spaces. We've learned that in order to cultivate conversations more like a group in the real world, it's better to build a smaller, somewhat tighter space to squeeze people together.

Vance and Jim talk about this idea and more nuances to think about when building in VR in this clip from their full interview —


Are you looking to explore VR but don't know where to start?

Individual —

Consider joining the Articulate Ventures Network. We hold regular events in VR as well as 'VR filed trips' where we set aside a block of time to discover something new together.

Corporation —

We build custom experiences to show thought leaders in a company the value of Virtual Reality. The format is a 1 hour Zoom meeting followed by an immersed experience for up to 7 internal team members.

December 2, 2020No Comments

Endurance or Sacrifice?

Mike Compston is a retired rancher in his 70's living in Nevada. In their full interview, Vance and Mike talk about how values are created and handed down, regrets he has from his life, the value of the Articulate Ventures Network, and what he thinks happens when you die.

In the below clip, they also touch on a dichotomy between 2 ideas that have been circulating in the network opposite each other, and are worth a deeper look into. There's the Three Quarter's End Concept which suggests an act of endurance is what you need to carry through a difficult situation, and there is also the Cain Sacrifice, in which you ask yourself, "What sacrifice am I not making to achieve my ultimate goals."

The Three Quarters End Concept

This idea comes from an interview Vance did with running coach Mark Spewak. In it, Mark explains this premise that can be applied at the micro or macro level in the things that we do. Looking at the micro first, Mark goes on to connect the concept to his native field of Running. The first quarter of the race comes with relative ease, the second quarter is when you start to hit something of a stride, but it's the third quarter where he sees runners struggle the most.

The reason in the micro example is that as a runner, you're far enough in that it's no longer easy, but you're equally far enough from the finish that the end isn't yet in sight. Mark goes on to note that this mental limbo is what causes many runners to 'check out' in the third quarter and start taking it easy either continuing that lull off effort until the home stretch burst of energy or worse off, riding it out until the finish.

Taking this concept then and thinking of it in the macro, I think that Vance did a great job of summing it up in this clip from full interview. Vance breaks reaching this junction simply into three steps:

  1. The euphoria of trying something new.
  2. The excitement of making it happen and seeing results.
  3. The long march down to the valley of disillusionment.

It is the decision of the individual to when they reach this valley, put their position into perspective and gather the energy to march forward in their objective.

In the macro, while valid in many cases, this idea starts to get a little murky dependent on the broader goals of the individual which is what leads to our dichotomy of ideas.

The Cain Sacrifice

Back to the above clip with Mike, during the interview, they touch on the perfect place to draw a murky example when talking about marriage. Having been together for ~50 years, Compston is able to talk about the subject from a position of authority. When talking about the sacrifices one sometimes needs to make in a lasting relationship is when Vance brings up idea of the Cain sacrifice as opposed to the three quarters end concept.

The idea in a sentence is that sometimes we need to give up something of value now, in order to obtain a greater return in the future. The Cain title comes from a story in the bible where Cain and Abel are both making their respective sacrifices, yet Abel is receiving dividends for his and Cain, none. God goes so far as to reject Cain's sacrifices because put simply, they aren't of great enough magnitude.

I'd first heard the concept from a Jordan Peterson clip which then came up in discussion with Vance when talking about an opportunity I'd had with WAND that fell short of the results I'd hoped for. The opportunity was a $50,000 grant where we'd made it to the final 40 out of some thousand submissions but didn't manage to seal the deal. In hindsight, this was for the best, even if not directly for WAND. Another member of the network and president of St. Louis Bank, Travis Liebig, had prompted me to ask myself, is $50,000 what's holding the business back? — Because if that's the case, then go out there and get $50,000 through a loan or some other arrangement and if it's not, then keep on keeping on and figure out what needs to be done. This prompted me to make my greater sacrifice in the form of bringing in a new team member to fill my day to day responsibilities and divorcing from WAND my time as the means of promoting its growth. This has allowed WAND to continue to grow at a pace where the team is happy as well as given me the freedom to continue to follow the path set forth by my daemon.

What's the takeaway?

The correct model is subjective to your goals, the desired outcome, and especially how broad the frame of reference you're looking through. When pursuing a direct goal with a direct means for good as the outcome, the play of endurance to follow through via the three quarters end concept may be the right lens for you. If however, you're in a scenario where winning the day doesn't win you the year, it may be worth considering what sacrifice you aren't making to serve the longer term good.


I'm Benjamin Anderson, executive producer for the Vance Crowe Podcast. In this series of articles, I dig deeper into Easter egg ideas from the podcast. Here, I will explore the 'why' behind concepts mentioned on the podcast, where otherwise you may only get the 'what'. I want these deeper dives and info riffs to help us build a tighter relationship between you the listener and us the podcast creators. Please feel free to send me a note, feedback and especially constructive criticism to ben@articulate.ventures.

November 5, 20202 Comments

The Last President Paradox & The Intransigent Minority

I'm Benjamin Anderson, executive producer for the Vance Crowe Podcast. This is the first of an on-going series of articles that reveals the Easter egg ideas from the podcast. Here, I will explore the 'why' behind concepts mentioned on the podcast, otherwise you may only get the 'what'. I want these deeper dives and info riffs to help us build a tighter relationship between you the listener and us the podcast creators. Please feel free to send me a note, feedback and especially constructive criticism to ben@articulate.ventures.


On his recent podcast with Jeremy LaKosh, Vance mentions my Peter Theil Paradox perspective that “(Ben Anderson) believes that Trump will win the election and be the last president under our current system of democracy.” Since this Easter egg directly references a viewpoint I had, I thought it'd be a great candidate to start off this series.

Jeremy LaKosh is a savant historian and host of the Historical Context Podcast. I'm happy to have the opportunity to interact with Jeremy offline through our Articulate Ventures Network, he's a deep thinker who has a knack for exposing truth through primary sources. In the full interview, Vance references this prediction I made in July while discussing a concept pioneered by Nassim Taleb, “Fractal Localism.”

My prediction Trump will win is the less interesting perspective here and grows less definite with each passing hour. At the time of writing this, we're heading into the 2nd evening of counting ballots and results could swing either way. I still think that if he does and maybe even in either scenario, the winner will be the last under our current system because of the power of another buzz phrase Vance mentions with regularity on the podcast — The Intransigent Minority.

The Intransigent Minority in short are the subset of the population who are loud enough in their perspective, that they are able to cause waves of change that effect the majority. Take this as opposed to the other way around which is how we usually expect democracy to work. We've observed for some time now how a subset of the population can steer the national conversation. 

A friend's dad and mentor once told me that 'Those who are the loudest, are often not the majority.' I believe that this same subset would seek to impose radical change in the wake of a Trump victory. Social media has created an outlet where the lay observer may look at the broader conversation and get a skewed view of the facts of a given scenario based on the echo chambers created by these platforms' algorithms in their feed.

The form that I foresee this radical change taking, is an overhaul of the system that instigated it. The least drastic scenario would be the abolition of the electoral college. There were calls to action to do this back in 2016 under similar circumstances albeit less disputable than they are now. The most drastic being a larger overhaul to how we elect and what it means to be a leader in the United States. Like many things I think, I hope I'm wrong. In either case though, I have a cautious optimism that in times of chaos, we are annealed into stronger structures. Hopefully this too is only another opportunity to weather chaos in exchange of a stronger structure.


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