There are currently at least 18 projects operating in this space.
- The majority (maybe all?) of them are browser-based (probably because it's easy to throw something together with all the JS webrtc example projects out there).
- Most of them seem to be trying to sell to enterprises or conference organizers.
- I suspect that most of them are ghost towns.
- None of them that I've seen actually try to originate events- i.e. the only way you would use them is if you try to organize an event or are invited to one through a different channel.
- Most of them are top-down, although there are a few 3d ones.
I still think that there's a lot of potential for someone to come in and take over this whole space with a product more polished than is possible in the browser, and with a social element that can drive usage of the platform (similar to Clubhouse). I suspect that the winning team will come from the ranks of game developers, not webdevs who cracked open a webrtc tutorial one weekend. For now though, it's probably best to sit back and let the majority of the 18 existing teams burn through their funding.
Same here. I spent a panicked month and a half on full-time pre-production for a competing product in this space, as an unfortunate alternative to seeking a job at the time.
>There are currently at least 18 projects operating in this space.
https://theonline.town/ is missing from your list. There's probably half a dozen more I could add if my notes from the time were properly organized.
Please don't feel bad of course: we've reached a point where full quantification of all non-stealth competitors in a busy space is very difficult, if not impossible. Indeed, your list has projects I was previously unaware of.
>I think it's still a space with a lot of potential, but there are now a huge number of competitors.
The number of competitors was staggering. It felt like a veritable gold rush: almost every single novel design concept I came up with was eventually independently thought of, but nobody ever wove each together into something truly cohesive. Heck, even the name was jokingly thought of by some random person on Twitter months later.
>I still think that there's a lot of potential for someone to come in and take over this whole space with a product more polished than is possible in the browser,
I don't think the browser as a platform is an issue; it's extremely capable. There's just a huge amount of apathy and entrenchment in that space now, and the usual rules pertaining to software moats apply just the same. It'd have to be something really special to unseat Zoom and all its clones at this point.
>I suspect that the winning team will come from the ranks of game developers, not webdevs who cracked open a webrtc tutorial one weekend
Having watched endless projects borne of weekend WebRTC tutorials spring up during that time period, I cannot agree more.
An aside, I think these projects are awesome, this one included, and I really enjoyed those social games then. Will be following how this develops closely.
I hope it will be two teams. The first will be the devs who build a free SDK to make building such things really easy. Think mediasoup but w/ all the rooms, permissions, servers, state management, etc easy to build with via API. The second team will garner adoption by putting in the effort into putting those pieces together and running/moderating the thing.
There already is a popular platform that fits what you are describing: VRChat.
- parties/social events as focus
- 3d, but not trying to cater for corporate markets
- not a town at all
as you obviously spent some time thinking about this topic I'd really appreciate some feedback: https://laptopsinspace.de
While I'm not OP, I remember seeing this project at the end of April in Three.js Discord. It's neat to see where it's gone since. Bravo! :)
If anyone has attended a conference recently using one of these platforms I'd love to hear how it went.
Yeah, like VRChat
The 18 apps may have similar elements but are approaching this very differently.
You can play with everything - backgrounds, gifs, stickers. You can recreate a bar lounge, classroom, office, 80s party and more.
It also has spatial audio - just move closer to talk to people, like you do IRL.
Demo video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4zwXL7ZJra4
You can sign up here: https://reslash.co
I would love to get your feedback on it :)
The only issue for me is the pricing. The free tier is great for getting your feet wet but the $99 is too expensive for me to consider since I would only be hanging out with a few friends. For me, the ideal would be something in the $15-$30 range and would increase the call limit to 3-4 hours. I don't need unlimited meetings or more than 10 people. Best of luck!
Unfortunately, free tier is not enough, but $99 for that is a bit too much.
I cant try it out right now. Does it have a limit to how many people can occupy a space? can you control how far your voice projects?
I am thinking of something like a work christmas party where everyone breaks into groups and then walks away and tries another group for a bit and talks to different people. Then someone gets everyones attention and talks loudly or into a microphone for a bit, then it goes back to normal.
In any case, good luck, it sounds great, I cant wait to try it.
We've not given flexibility on the spatial audio radius yet. It could be interesting!
I just had a quick tour with you guys. Amazing tool.
But at first I signed in as a guest, but now I want to sign up with the same email address but it says "Error occured: The email address is already in use by another account.".
And I see no "Forgot password" link.
EDIT: user email is now in my bio.
What is the tech stack behind the product? Do you use WebRTC? Something home-build.
Edit: I now see their producthunt page. It didn't pop up while searching /shrug
I like the idea of moving around to decide who you talk to; it is the premise behind jitsi-powered Work Adventure http://workadventu.re
Spatialization gives you little, as it's still impossible to listen to multiple conversations at once, and discovering the mapping of location-to-topic is a problem. If you're setting up specific locations for specific topics in advance, what I want to know is who is there and how active they are, not where on a 2D canvas the admin has chosen to position it.
In real life spaces, we often decide to switch to a different conversation from hearing a snippet or zoning in to what's going on around you when you're bored of the current talk. In this system, I feel like it would be rude to bring yourself over to a group and then leave again when you decide you're not interested in the conversation. Perhaps being able to mouse over a location to here the audio would be good. I don't think there's much expectation of privacy in a space like this anyway.
I think this spacial arrangement would generally make such social dilemmas easier to handle. For instance, I think it would be more awkward to abruptly leave a room during a conversation than to just sidle away. Leaving slowly could implicitly invite others to follow.
The internet has forced us to create a bunch of new social protocols and norms. Why not design our tools to fit with our existing ones?
IRL I can change my focus on someone further away without moving at all. Only if Im really interested in that other conversation I will start moving.
A pre-listen feature on mouse over would be awesome.
While I'm still fascinated by the technical aspects imho theres still a lot of room for improvement in the implementation. But its great that there are so many projects tackling this problem and improving online get-togethers
Getting a 404 - "Could not load map."
I'm not sure GIFs are the answer, but I think that's what the attempt is.
There is no "background" you are surrounded by 3 dimensional space with a variety of objects you can point at or manipulate. Given that you can't share a 3 dimensional space gifs and stickers give you a way to communicate things that require more than 2 dimensions to express.
I dunno. I haven't tried it. For me, when I'm in a social situation (virtual or in person), I'm there for the people and want to focus on them, not some animated emoji. I can do those on my own.
Is there an interest in having an HN space? ... And how is that done fairly with a limit of 100 people?
man I loved The Palace. I wrote a ton of IPTSCRAE as a youth for it -- both server side and client side.
The Palace quickly taught one why it was a bad idea to allow clients to draw programmatically. Many a rooms ruined by script kiddies that got taught how to ruin every bodies day with an array of seizure inducing redraws.
That said : Man, we're moving backwards in a lot of ways on software. The Palace didn't have rich media embedding and webcams, sure -- but the server software was free for anyone to run , with many large broadcasting groups hosting many hundreds of people at once.
I understand the need for a marketing plan and idea -- but it feels weird when a brand new pay offering can handle less traffic for more money than a solution from the 90s.
So much time spent there. And on Comic Chat.
Also reminds me of Well of Souls by Synthetic Reality with all of the avatars floating around and the randomly-styled images that pop up. I dig it.
Did you have a favorite Palace server you logged into regularly back in the day?
It's designed for organizations that use Google Workplace and allows you to see all the calls that are happening across your organization on a map and spontaneously drop in on calls.
The idea is to bring back some of the Geospatial awareness of being co-located.
All feedback welcome.
I saw other people could easily publish content to the board and I think that part is a step forward. I could have clicked chess/gif and posted something but exited there.
When I join, I'd like a clear "you are here" with my own face looking back at me.
Similarly, you have "Unlimited meeting minutes" listed and crossed out on free, but you don't even offer that on the paid plan, only a 240min max. You probably shouldn't tease unlimited meeting minutes like that.
What can you tell us about security and privacy? Can you create locked rooms? Zoom had a lot of problems with this in the beginning.
I'd be interested in a top-down 2D space (like a million games, but just for example: Among Us) with spatial audio. That'd be pretty interesting.
Judging by what my kids like to play, I could see a place in the market for a 2D virtual world with this kind of feature. Create your own spaces, "decorate" them, plus spatial audio. That sounds like a winning combo.
Could throw a party on this with my friends.
Edit: I communicate with my friends IRL primarily through text so having to use audio only is definitely a detractor for me.
I've been using here.fm for several months and it is awesome. I'd highly recommend you check here.fm out before supporting a company that rips off other people's work.
Btw, the real OG of this space is New Hive. It has been an inspiration of many such products.
I could hear the videos, though.
Everything is becoming increasingly infantile. Everything has to be fun and cool. I'm wondering where is this trend coming from. Is this some sort of a social response to how terrible and bleak reality seems to be? Or maybe it's because we actually treat majority of people like little children. If one looks how the current enterprises work, the person within them have very limited decision making power and access to information. In a way that reminds me of a quote from interview with Erich Fromm: "It is true that one has to think first and then to act -but it's also true that if one has no possibility of acting, one's thinking kind of becomes empty and stupid.".
Any other ideas? Or maybe it's actually not happening at all, and it's only me who's not getting it.
PS: OP, I don't mean that as criticism of your product, I think it correctly identifies and addresses the need. It's the why is it even a need part I'm curious about.
Then sometime in the mid 2000s everything online became sanitized and corporate.
I'm not saying everything has to be boring and same everywhere, I'd like to see the world that's actually quite the opposite, that's diverse and where people are pushing the boundaries of expression. Where I see infantilisation happening is where things with very low information ratio (and usually something evoking one of the basic emotions with high valence and high arousal) are described as fun and cool.
I think OP's product is sitting somewhere on that border, but their marketing angle is definitely pushing it towards the infantility. Just look at the title of this very post, but I guess it worked, in the end we've all clicked on the comments and are here.. :)
I really dug this Reslash concept after seeing that grainy image of a classroom used as a background. It's something you just slap on because you're about to teach, but it isn't a painfully constructed "Knowledge Session" with a stock image-riddled Powerpoint deck.
Personally, I think it's been downhill since someone decided we needed ui/ux designers instead of sleep deprived developers who assumed it was always the (l)users fault for not being able to figure out how to use things. Sure, it has made things easier to use for the masses, but I don't care about the masses.
The "masses" are real people too, with feelings. We should care about them. Also, they include our family and, hopefully, friends.
But yeah, I know it's basically a necessity now, and I understand that services need to cater to as many people as possible. I just wanted to be a cranky old nerd for a bit :-)
With that said, I do agree with GP with regards to things outside of the web: products have a lot more franchise placements (e.g. disney-themed shampoos), and school for my kids have a lot more of an artsy/hippie feel than I remember my dry seats-facing-forward education some 30 years ago. Gaming among adults is far more socially accepted than 30 years ago - you wouldn't even bat an eyelid at an old lady playing candy crush in the bus these days. Etc.
I suspect an increase in middle class disposable income might have something to do with this. Look, for example, at how culture progressed over the decades in Japan. Nowadays, you have grown adults who are into moe stuff, along all sort of "infantile" subcultures (by western standards).
But that process will always look like people saying "this isn't my fault" and focussing on "something they can't change [by themselves]".
Anyhow, not saying your intuition are wrong (there are degrees I agree with), but just noting it has some fuzzy edges that point toward some weird truisms
My analysis: A focus on "challenge" is the framing someone takes when they're more enamoured with the infinitely wide possibility space around any system (* raises hand * guilty), while "solutions/actions" tend to be valourized when someone is more interested in the point of collapse of the possibility space, where possibilities condense into reality.
Both are the right and wrong tools at the same time imho. Too much of either is dysfunctional. I'm certainly dysfunctional in some situations with my predispositions, but superhuman in others. I assume there are also some places where you feel maladapted (though perhaps your neurotype doesn't translate this into uncertainty of your values, as mind does).
Honestly, I feel much of the work of a holding societies together is sorting out ways to allow these two types to work together, and reciprocate value between their styles. It's a tension that exists in all systems at all levels of organizing matter (eg. brains navigated this with lateralization into hemispheres), and society isn't special.
We're both wrong and right, and just need to at least see that as true, and maybe not try to claim too much authority for our own camp. (Maybe ubiquitous social welfare IS claiming too much authority.)
Anyhow, thanks. I appreciate your perspective, and it humbles mine.
Also, it is useful to talk about systemic problems that are much larger than what any individual can fix just by being extra diligent.
I see your point though, that something being nobody's fault can be just as damaging as spending an egregious amount of time trying to assign blame (the traditional way of things). My opinion is that responsibility, and being able to take some flak for when that ownership goes awry, should be conditioned like exercise. Taking none is like never exercising, and it's very unhealthy. Throwing 1000 pounds of weight on someone suddenly because of a pathological need for the group to have a scapegoat doesn't make that person better, though. It just crushes them and it's a net loss for the group. That weight and stress should be shared. We need to cultivate the real maturity to take and give some blame constructively, and recognize all extenuating factors, so that people neither get infantilized and helpless nor simply squashed because of a systemic problem that the group just doesn't want to address.
Its a top down theory/solution to what critics would argue is a bottom up problem. Individuals must be responsible for what they say, how they regulate their emotional state, and how their experiences and cognitive distortions skew their thinking. CT/CRT, by my understanding, argues against this. Thus it seems reasonable to say it leads to a lack of accountability if you define accountability as a responsibility for ones actions and beliefs.
I’ve read a small bit on CT/CRT, intersectionality, and the modern culture of safetyism. Primarily from Haidt who has more peer reviewed sources on things than anyone could ever want.
I find CT/CRT to be compelling to a degree, but it brings along with it too much baggage in my opinion. You’re likely not going to find or be given a specific source of data that says CRT leads to lack of accountability (however you would measure that), its an assumption made by the previous poster. You don’t need one either to have a discussion, so don’t fall back on the lack of academic evidence as an argument in itself.
This is probably not an answer to what you've asked. I just wanted to tell you about how motivations behind building this.
Certainly at conventions with 'presentations' many people sit near each other to discuss what's being said (or talk past the parts not relevant to them) in real-time. Orchestras still have conductors (strictly interpreting fixed works) but I think most people would rather be in a band (for the creative interactivity) and rather listen to a band.
The funny thing about that, much like when we were that age, those platforms and things the young folks think are cool were made by people who are the age of millenials or older for the most part.
I dunno, when I was younger a lot of the music and stuff I thought was cool was being made by people who were around the same age I am now.
Not too sure what my point is really, your comment just made me think of this. People around that age start lamenting their lack of cool, but are responsible for many of the things people younger than them find cool...something like that I suppose.
> Now the sound of music comes in silver pills
> Engineered to suit you, building cheaper thrills
> The music of rebellion makes you wanna rage
> But it's made by millionaires who are nearly twice your age
I can't vouch for these specific stats, but I've come across multiple articles over the years that support this. Here's at least some data I found:
Anecdotally, tons of clubs have closed in since the 90's with no replacement where I lived (Toronto and North Netherlands). Everything at least in my circles suggests that drugs, drinking, partying is all happening less now compared to the previous generations.
Ymmv depending on where you are from though.
Not very broadly, even among “the kids” (who, then and now, are far from monolithic.) She was more seen as a trainwreck that was in cool circles, not as a cool trainwreck.
> Kids look up to Elon Musk
Yeah, kids looked up to successful business and tech figures in the 1990s, and there are trainwreck entertainment industry celebs today, too.
It's not the case that Musk is idolized by a similar segment of the youth as would have idolized Love in the 1990s.
Besides that, I spent plenty of Friday evenings staying up until 4 AM playing The Sims (the original game). It’s not like high school kids really have a choice on what they’re doing a lot of times - they don’t have complete freedom of movement.
It will allow the tech/product to evolve and soon also fit your usecase. Because most likely thats where the real money is.
Just check this out:
This also doesn't just apply to work, many people my age (32) are super into cartoons and Disneyland, but the concept of going to Disneyland without a child in your 30s seems... weird to me. It is probably good that people feel comfortable to be sort of weird though versus the stoic version of adulthood in the past.
But I don't know why the marketing needs to be so "fun". I hated all the "fun" slack brought to my life... and slowed down good communication dramatically.
Especially the last 9 months. Normally one would talk with coworkers in the office, over a coffee, before a meeting etc. Remote meetings I find are strictly business.
Where we disagree is the point that I don't think that gifs are helping you to know who your coworkers are. And more importantly I think it is not helping anyone to better understand themselves, which is one of the values of having conversations with people in the first place - that's kinda what philosophy schools were for. Gifs seem to serve some sort of emotional regulation function, but I've never investigated more deeply into that.
Now, I'm not trying to make a point here that you should only have serious conversations all the time, and definitely see the humour value of well timed gif, but I've found out that in general the trend is to shallow out the discussions and keep them within very narrow window of discourse.
In the office, I can find something to do at my desk alone or I can chat up some coworkers over coffee and the like.
Remote, the options are endless and I can chat up my family and friends. I can do chores like dishes or laundry so they're not all waiting for me after work. I can go for a walk without being that guy who takes too many walks. Truly anything so long as the time allocation and availability to plug back in are appropriate.
For me, this is why I prefer remote meetings be strictly business, and changing that isn't particularly compelling. My coworkers are cool, but prioritizing them over the rest of my life makes no sense to me so long as the value I bring to the company remains just as strong.
Also, the fact that someone enjoys their job doesn't mean the experience can't be improved.
* US has been suffering from its postwar boom period hangover for over 40 years now. The job market isn't like it was due to other emerging economies now having their boom periods. All those dreams and aspirations that millennials were promised (You can be whatever you want! Follow your passion and the work will follow) were shattered and turned out to be contemptible lies perpetuated by the secondary education system and the job market as a whole. As a result, a whole generation is saddled with debt, and are delaying milestones of life progression (buying a house, having kids), indefinitely for many.
* The rise of the Internet and the millennials being at its forefront has opened up massive new markets in the entertainment section, most notably Disney. They own most entertainment IPs, and know that millennials want to relive their childhoods so they sell it back to them. Comic book movies aren't just a fad like 80s actions movies were; they're here to stay. And Disney wants adults to keep being obsessed with what are essentially children's movies. All the social media companies want you on their product all the time using it and sharing everything you can (especially the juicy controversial stuff that is polarizing the country, oh boy do they love those articles).
It’s okay to let people build, deliver, and market things that you don’t need/want. People are allowed to like things that you yourself do not like.
Reading the other replies to this comment I feel I am about to be downvoted to hell lol
At the core of the problem, We've probably lost a lot of good UI designers in position of decision from last generation. This reflects on what is considered the "correct" way to make software UI nowadays. Note that blink unicorns are not necessary for a interface to be childish. Oversized buttons, lack of power features and the constant need to "reinvent" is a frenzy that gets some folks mad too.
Particularly about the tool, I think this has some cool features that gets wanned by the backgrounds choice on the video pitch.
Maybe it's the still-living-at-your-parents-at-25 economy... Maybe it's also because the 20, 30-somethings have been raised by more and more helicopter parents and schools giving out participation medals, i.e. too coddled.
This comes across as some kind of conservative boomer complaining about "kids these days", with their avocado toast, who aren't willing to work as hard as their grandfathers were in a world that's vastly different from the one they grew up in.
The crux of the article with regards to Simon Pegg seems to be that movies have moved to "spectacle", but when did that happen? And who is going to see those movies? And why?
The world is going to shit; the 1% own most of the world, climate change is destroying our planet, and politicians are more concerned with their own success than the lives of their constituents. Is it any wonder that people these days need more escapism than their grandparents in the "golden age of America", where employees would work hard their whole lives and companies would take care of their employees, where you could work a typical job and still be able to afford a house and a comfortable lifestyle, and where you didn't have to feel bad about hurting someone's feelings by being overtly racist all the time, because you never ran into black people because they weren't allowed to use the same water fountains or bathrooms as you.
This article, in short, is garbage, and should be treated as such.
Professionalism is seen as patronizing - which is a vibe I can mostly get behind, but massively hinders direct, important communication or collaboration. I also see a lot of dishonest but well-intentioned platitudes being thrown around that hides actual feedback.
But I’m ranting! Literally sounding like an old person... should I feel guilty about age-ism??? That’s my young person perspective.
It’s good to not feel totally alone in these things. The kids behind us are wild, in my opinion.
What do you mean by this? The next generation which will follow yours?
We need the transportation. Make it reliable, fast, and non interfering. That’s it. That’s why Zoom rocks. It just works
This is the point actually. If "boring" is your video call vibe, go for it. It's still an expression.
It doesn't even stop with everything being "fun and cool" -- take a look at how dumb social media interaction really is. An infinite stream of stuff that the user just presses "like" or "love" or whatever at, and immediately scrolls / swaps to the next diversion.
Also, you may be surprised to find out that you are allowed to have silly fun as an adult.
In my opinion, the “infantilization” of our workplaces is a huge positive, it’s really a side effect that’s demonstrating that employers are caring less about forcing us to wear fake clothes, fake personalities, and fake formality during our day to day work. Comedy is one of the best coping mechanisms to deal with stress and in that way it helps to be able to slap a GIF over a situation without feeling like the boss man is going to tell me to tone it down.
And sure, maybe there’s no need for this product, but what I can say is that if you build another Zoom/Meet/WebEx you aren’t really making anything new or interesting.
Having an office full of clowns is a great way to get nothing done.
Recently I've seen startup, where you were earning XP points for quickly closing customer support tickets, and earning badges...
A college buddy worked at a place like that. But it wasn't a startup, it was a long-established company.
It was also 1996, and he learned that closing deals on copies of Windows 95 was worth twice as many points as other software, so he focused all his efforts on that so he could do half the work of his "teammates" in his cubicle farm.
At 42, I've felt this is the cause for quite some time. You see it in things like the adult Disney woman. Part of it is playing it safe so as not to offend the conservatives with a nipple, but market forces have been driving movies this direction as well.
Gutting education to dumb down the populace hasn't helped.
 - https://youtu.be/vLIfkiF8NeQ
 - https://www.gq.com/story/the-day-the-movies-died-mark-harris
Yep, a distraction to increasing alienation and atomization under Kapital.
I don't think I've presented the full picture, but you asked where this trend is coming from, and to me this is the only common factor and starting point of investigation.
Ah yes, those socialists and their totally not family friendly media? Really?
> When you're waiting for customer support, you have to hear a fun jingle so you don't get upset.
It's so you know you haven't been disconnected.
> People have to be talked down to like children so they know their place in the wealth hierarchy.
Please don't talk down to people regardless of how wealthy you are. You will always have the best luck by being warm but polite, talking respectfully but honestly.
> It's an ideology, not in the sense of political beliefs, but rather false ideas that ...
Capitalism appears to be pretty real, and it appears to be pretty political. I would not say it "dominates" society since plenty of people seem to be against it in name alone.
"Admit Nothing. Deny Everything. Make Counter-Accusations"
Why am I not surprised to see this kind of instinctive reaction. I don't want to debate your points because that is way out of scope for this thread and I don't want to be chased out.
Moreover, if you can't debate what he wrote in HN, you shouldn't explore his life outside of HN to try to build a strawman.