On the Horizon | GSW and Social Interaction

When we scheduled this third post about the power of social interaction in the Geospatial Web for our On The Horizon Series, we didn’t expect the Apple Vision Pro announcement to be the week before. Nothing could have more effectively punctuated the need for this post than the global response to the device.

It didn’t take long for Apple’s vision to be compared to Meta’s vision of the future, and both were found to be “sad and lonely.”

When Apple Vision Pro was announced, I wrote that “Apple wants to kill your TV with Apple Vision Pro” on LinkedIn. Whether you agree with my analysis or not, the comments were particularly interesting because they spoke to the power of watching TV together:

  • If someone wants to watch with their spouse or roommate which is a pretty common occurrence, they would need 2 sets of VR goggles vs. 1 TV.
  • 10 people can watch a TV in my living room. That’s $35K on Apple devices. Non-trivial difference

To which I replied:

  • I think Apple has done the research and the number of people watching alone is higher than you may be thinking.

To which another commenter noted:

  • Sad but true.

While I predict Apple will be successful in killing your TV and people will ultimately get together in the future to watch movies and sports on the Apple Vision Pro (by each bringing their own device), none of this will lead to meaningful engagement beyond the walls of your home or office.

And that’s where the Geospatial Web (GSW) enters the story. By definition, the GSW is designed to be human-centered technology, more interested in the in-person experience of connecting with others than the tech for its utilitarian or entertainment value.

By revealing content based on time and location, the GSW nurtures FOMO (fear of missing out) for the real and physical experience of attending and sharing a moment. For the GSW, being alone together is also not enough. The point is not to sit next to each other with headsets cut off from our peers; it is to get out there, meet people, put your device down, and enjoy the complete live experience. 

To maximize the potential for shared experiences, society has to invest heavily in rebuilding the social habits that have been so powerfully digitized. Liking, commenting, friending, and tagging all have real-life equivalents: reacting positively to someone, sharing a new perspective in a conversation, inviting someone to coffee, and mentioning that someone has unique knowledge or expertise in a domain all serve the same purposes.

How will we ladder back to social comfort and connection when loneliness, social anxiety, depression, and the pilot light of aloofness burns in our daily lives?

We believe the answer is through mixed reality. The hybridization of the digital and physical in the GSW provides a mechanism we are accustomed to (i.e. social media) delivered in a medium that is inherently human-centered. Each interaction with the medium is more than digital, it is local. It invites reactions from others nearby who are presently with you. It creates possibilities for groups to be organically born, for entire sections in a stadium to work together on a challenge, and for making live events pro-connection and more meaningful.

We believe the GSW is the most important shift to live events since the introduction of the video board. And yes, we chose the word “important” carefully because live events bring us together, but humanity needs a new medium that compels us toward each other. 

The GSW exists because in-person matters and the power of that is immediately obvious when you read what people are most afraid of with the rise of the Apple Vision Pro and Meta Quest.

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