Rhizome Today: A Conversation about HoloLens


This is Rhizome Today for Wednesday, January 23, 2015. This post will be deleted on January 25. One Rhizome Today format is a conversation between two peers. 
Zachary Kaplan: Hey Dragan.

Dragan Espenschied: Zach, how do you like your new computer?

ZK: It's quite fast. A 2012 iMac.
ZK: It's also landscape, which I prefer to square. But, anyway, I wanted to ask you about Hololens.
ZK: Sorry, HoloLens.

DE: Have you talked to your dad recently?
ZK: I liked your tweet

ZK: Is HoloLens dad tech?

DE: Apparently. Do your parents ask you for computer help sometimes?

ZK: From time to time. 
DE: I think Holo Lens offers computer-illiterate parents a chance of giving back.

ZK: How do you mean?

DE: Look, I think he often asked his daughter how to save a file to SkyDrive or how to join a Facebook group.

DE: And she rolled her eyes and walked him through it each time.

ZK: (By the way, the dad in that is not a dad, and is not actually gray. That is the fakest dad I've ever seen.)
DE: But then she went to study experience design in Harvard and the sink broke!


DE: In the dorm.

ZK: And her dad, who is 28, and wears a gray wig...

DE: And then, thanks to technology, dad could tell her how to put the ends of the syphon together.

DE: Well the label says "Dad" so he must be her dad

ZK: All while she's wearing this kind of slimmed Oculus Rift

DE: Yes. You see, technology is all around us, it is part of our lives.

ZK: I'm just going to leave this right here: http://www.thebaffler.com/salvos/dads-tech
DE: I think this new dad-technology will show all the smug daughters their place.

ZK: Finally, a technology to dad-splain!

DE: "Well you can get this goggles to work, but you can't fix the sink or change a tire!"

ZK: And you say it directly into your daughter's eyes so she can't ignore you!

DE: The Holo Lens has a super-kinect built in so you can cover the dad with something like a cardboard

DE: Of course the great thing about this device is that you don't need any hacking skills to hack it. If you've got enough of dad for today, just walk to another room, since he will stay attached to the bathroom wall, or hold something in front of him.
DE: It is another instance of losing power over computers and only being able to modify the actual world, like in http://contemporary-home-computing.org/RUE/
ZK: Can you synopsize?
DE: Users do not have power over their computers anymore, since the software has become inaccessible as interfaces get more and more "natural".
ZK: There is no beyond default, that is
DE: So this device can have dad help you fix your sink, but it cannot help you set up the Holo Lens
DE: Ironically, you could help dad joining a facebook group or saving a file to SkyDrive if he'd wear the Holo Lens and look at his laptop screen.
DE: the most weird thing about this "natural experience" ideology is that it takes totally artificial, culturally loaded gestures and declares them better than other completely artificial, culturally loaded gestures.
ZK: One thing the ads really stress is Minecraft, a recent acquisition for MSFT, and I know you're a fan. Here the use-case seems pretty one-to-one w/r/t the company's cash-cow xbox #gamergate-people things. 

ZK: (This is really going to push the #gamergate argument to new heights!)
DE: Yeah all the jerks on Xbox live could be in your living room!
DE: I think though that Minecraft is a great example of making use of low accuracy (I did some tacky VR block modelers in the 1990s myself). For entertainment this will we great. (BTW: If you want really cool augmented games as of today, I suggest you get a Nintendo 3DS and play Face Raiders. They had this since 2011.)
DE: (You can take a picture of your dad and shoot him. Full auto-stereoscopic augmented reality in a toy!)
ZK: But, okay, is this what's NEXT? Because it seems like the MOVE rn is from the hand/slate/monitor/desk to, well, eyes (HoloLens/Oculus) or voice (Amazon Alexa, which, honestly, might not exist anymore, and may have only existed for the sake of one ad ¯\_(ツ)_/¯)

ZK: or is this next in the sense that VR has always been NEXT. It was NEXT when I was a kid, and went to Navy Pier to the arcade to play like a Lawnmower Man-style VR game.
ZK: That is, do you actually see any promise in things like this as a beyond the way we currently interact with computers? Black Mirror, I don't know if you've seen it, but most of its futures rely on screens still, and not VR.
DE: Of course I torrented all of Black Mirror.

ZK: (Sorry, I should note that my sister works for Microsoft, but in a completely separate division. DISCLOSURE)

DE: The thing people forget about VR is that it is extremely un-precise. You can only do very rough things in VR, like making the motorcycles tank larger in 3 inch increments

ZK: Because you're using broad gesture?
DE: You already have a lot of loss of precision and input exactness on touch screens since the pixels are much smaller than a finger. The mouse pointer is exactly one pixel.
ZK: You have to believe this thing will come with a stylus. This is not real for instance, and so weird: 

DE: But apparently you still have to make a sketch on a napkin, even with the Holo Lens
DE: even in the future!
DE: And the geometric primitives are still the same rough ones that were available in the 1990s on SGI
ZK: You're Rhizome's Digital Conservator, right? So one thing I wanted to ask you How do you see the arc of this NEXT in technology. Is it just perennial vaporware? Are we being too cynical?

DE: I don't like the invisible computer. But there is a lot of effort put into making computers invisible.

DE: The narrative has been there since a long time, but to quote the best part from the Wired article that describes this Holo Lens:
I love voice controls, and I talk to Siri all the time. But half the time, she doesn’t give me a good answer and I have to pull up my keyboard to find what I’m looking for more quickly.
DE: Still, this writer loves to talk to Siri. Just because of the experience.
DE: So this is going to win.

ZK: The feeling of the future?

DE: Probably. There has been a history of selling products that do not yet work, but sell a future.

ZK: Yes, that's why I liked my iMac. It Just Works.

DE: But your iMac is not the future. It stands in front of you and doesn't make smart decisions by itself! 

DE: you can't crumble your files and throw then into a holographic waste basket! 

ZK: So true. I think I'll go to Best Buy today and buy a HoloLens. Thanks for the rec.

DE: If you ever need help, just ping me.

DE: I'm dad666 on skype.