Midnight Thoughts on Seattle’s VR Community

Eva Hoerth just posted on Facebook that the first Seattle VR hackathon drew 30 participants, and this one, the fourth, has drawn 180. Everyone here seems to have a conversion story about the first time they tried VR and decided to become part of this. Everybody is excited to have discovered this world-building technology.

Human beings invent things and discover things. It’s rare that an invention is itself a source of discovery. I’ve been trying to imagine what it must have felt like when the first people figured out that you could preserve speech by making little markings on a clay tablet. Or what the first people who saw a Gutenberg press in action must have thought. Or the moment Guglielmo Marconi, inventor of the radio, realized that sound could be transmitted via invisible signals through space. Or Philo Farnsworth, father of television, staring at furrows in a field and imagining how television could work.

Anyone at this event could turn out to be an inventor who belongs in the company of those media visionaries. Anyone here could go on to create the next billion dollar company. While we tend to lionize the lone inventor, it’s never the case that inventions are born in solitude. Breakthroughs happen when brilliant minds cross paths. This weekend makes it easier for that to happen.