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Evolution Through Storytelling with John Underkoffler

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John Welcome back to the show. Great to be back. Thanks tolerating me a second time always always we first connected back in. I think last summer we were talking earlier where we started recording. We did. Time's flown. Time has flown. It's unbelievable how much has happened. The listeners of course can't tell but I do think that you've developed some facial hair in the interesting month I have in the wilderness figuratively and literally and so the facial hair is hopefully going to protect me. Well I approved for what little or zero that that's worth. I hope the rest of your family does. Yes yes they do will. Thanks so much for joining us. I know there's been a lot in your playing you've been at the top of the list was the reverse merger you're discussing on the phone that's right so we in. October first facts oblong and a Denver based publicly traded company called glow point executed a merger. And so up until that time. Of course oblong had been privately held fairly standard bencher backed organization from the fiscal and organizational point of view. But there was one last bit of growing up in some sense that we needed to do. And that has been achieved through this merger which overall I think is proving to be a successful one but of course only time will tell and justice justice Monday in fact the ticker symbol changed to G. So that's you know that's exciting if nothing else. It's something my mom can look at dollar. Ob LG. I love it and this is very exciting. I'm sure for the future of the company because as you mentioned this is going to allow you to focus on some things that are in your core wheelhouse right core skill set so you tell us a little bit about that and maybe for folks that are listening in for the first time. They didn't catch the first interview. What is oblong? And what the hell are you up to write our story to date last last week? Since last year on so oblong industries. Now simply oblong INC is a is a technology company that I started in two thousand six two thousand four really two thousand sixteen incorporated as Oblong really to put into commercial and real world practice a set of ideas instead of I think fundamental ideas that I've been chasing since the late early late eighties early nineties around the idea of user interface as an understudied under acknowledge but absolutely primal and critical bits of the technological and digital experience. One that again as suggested you know hasn't seen nearly enough development hasn't seen nearly enough innovation and that from my point of view And into this later actually represents further stagnation in the field of you. I represents a kind of existential threat to humankind. I know that sounds very grand. But we'll talk about that anyway. I pursued that at MIT at the media lab through the number of degrees in a number of years that displeased my parents greatly. And then I pulled that set of ideas into the film minority report which was just a tremendous opportunity to place the ideas that I thought were most important kind of in front of a a very large number of human is to kind of implicitly. Asked the question. What do you think about a future? Where computation doesn't necessarily mean a mouse and keyboard. And I guess the third step was that partly in response to the two very enthusiastic both public and corporate reception of those ideas as depicted in the film. I started to oblong to turn them into reality today. Oblong principal activities are are to really on the product side. We make a thing called. Mezzanine is a product family of in room and remote collaboration tools. It is a collaboration tool that that word is kind of debauched pointed it is one of those words it so so much. Use that. It's kind of lost a lot of being but mezzanine and oblong means collaboration the way I made it which is real collaboration. Like what would you do in the real world if you had to work with a bunch of other people? And that's what Nixon got so it's much more about the content of documents. The applications the data getting that up on a lot of screens in addition to the faces. Which is what everyone else means by leveraging phases invoices only essentially and. Maybe it singled out as he says no really. The value of the work resides in a stuff the data the APPs the applications the documents images whatever and more than one at the same time. So it's not enough just to see you know the powerpoint heaven help us. Let's not see that at all. Ideally if we're working what we WANNA see spreadsheet but not just alone we want to see the spreadsheet next to the project plan next to the CAD model next to the you know the social media streaming analysis of all of the bits and pieces that make up the kind of high mind of the work process if you will. That's mezzanine today it's deployed. There's one thousand deployments literally on six continents. We haven't gone down and Arcada yet but maybe someday the rest ice shelf. It hasn't completely dried up and fallen off. We'll see one McMurdo station. Probably has a few people in it and then the other side of the House is both the call g speak. That is kind of the minority report operating system effectively and a set of incredibly talented designers and engineers who can build custom solutions usually around data navigation and kind of joint collaborative understanding of massive problems spaces for domain specific applications verse particularly customers. Who want to go really deep with this idea of you. I think it's so fascinating about this is. This is moving us to a place where we're going to be able to show each other what we mean instead of using. Just small mouth noises. It's going to move us to a place of communication where it's collaborative in a sense of we're going to be able to communicate for perhaps the first time because we think that we're communicating now but everyone's internal dictionary doesn't necessarily match up to our own people define words different ways things like that so this takes us to around beyond taxed beyond just pictures. Ensue combining them together so almost like a more perfect logos right. I love that infects with your permission. We put it into practice over on the PR side of the House immediately billboard. It's great stuff. Yeah but I think you're exactly right. I mean it's not that language is underpowered. It's tremendously efficacious in. Its wired into some of the deepest but more recently developed parts of our brain. But there's another whole side. That's spatial pictorial diagram. Matic almost and I love your show because that's really what it is so the act of collaborative seeing having everyone's sitting room or in a bunch of connected rooms and see exactly the same thing at the same time the same way with the other side of this of the C- Sees to show and in some sense. I think by by starting oblong by by creating mezzanine kind of compensating for the fact that although I can write although I have literacy in the literal version literal sense of that word. I'm illiterate when it comes to dry. My son is a phenomenal artist. And his magic for me to watch what he can express just outfit out the the business end of a silas. But I can't do that in I think in a way This is for me. Mezzanine and related technologies are like a brain projector away to to get out the ideas that I have in my mind. That are not desks. Not Mind everyone's line best described by language so I really dig your analysis there and I think it's something that you lose to it earlier. Existential threats are not going to be solved until we can translate the visions that we have for solutions because Thera so much more nuanced and sophisticated than just our small mouth voices would allude to. They are almost certain people in certain artists have been said to see an entire song or see a completed film. And it's you know we don't have the mind brain interfaces yet but I feel like this is a very strong step towards being able to starting to collaborate on these existential challenges right and that's a it's giving everyone kind of you know. Augmented communication tools to get on the same page and we all have weaknesses right so this is a way to start bridging the gap. So it's exactly right. I think the time is now right. I mean the the set of challenges both in a perilous and mortal and exciting and opportunistic that confronted in the twentieth century are existed a scale and a sculpted is unprecedented. Human history. Like this just more complicated stuff. We got US solve and that we should be solving and we're not going to do it of the sort of lone isolated genius is one that I think we can. I would love to get rid of here in. This century doesn't individuals are capable of doing great things individually but not again at the scale and the scope that the world's biggest problems need

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