Monday Musings: Contributing to the Community

Welcome to Monday Musings! These are are shorter-form, note-like blog posts that I share that may or may not be related to VR/AR, but that I want to share some quick thoughts on, get some extra insight on, or share out quickly.

In the spirit of the 26th Silicon Valley Virtual Reality meetup last week, I wanted to talk a little bit more in detail about some ways to get involved with the VR community. As an industry, we’re at a really crucial time where we’re in the process of defining how the community will grow over the next few years, and I think that now is as good of a time as ever to talk about how to make sure that it’s growing in a positive way.

How does a community grow in positive ways? I’d say that overall, the virtual reality community is doing a pretty good job. I’m often approached with questions about how to get started as developers in the field, but an often-overlooked part of success at this stage is getting out there and helping grow local communities around VR. There are both technical and community-oriented challenges to approach when getting involved with VR.

So how does one contribute to the community? Here’s my advice on getting integrated into the industry:

  • Join a local meetup group. Meetup.com has been instrumental in organizing for the VR communities, and many cities have their own specialized groups for virtual reality enthusiasts. These are great opportunities to meet with other developers, do demos, and see what’s going on in the world before it hits widely. You also get a chance to try a variety of new devices and see different approaches to some of the technical aspects of things, which is a great thing for a new developer to get exposed to.
  • If your local city doesn’t have a VR meetup, consider starting one! Generalized VR meetups will be larger than specialized ones, so keep that in mind when you look to start planning. At a minimum, a meetup group is just a group of people with similar interests, so don’t feel pressured to try and put together a 400+ person event right from the start – just look for a few local people who are also interested in technology to chat with!
  • Pay attention to upcoming virtual reality events to see which ones are live streaming. SVVR will occasionally live stream their events, and many of the major conferences will stream keynotes and smaller sessions. If you can’t join an in-person event, these can be a good way to stay involved with the industry and stay up to date.
  • Share (to the extent that you feel comfortable, of course) some of the things that you’re doing back to the community. Come up with a cool way to render text really nicely? Throw a quick blurb about it up on a blog and share it out. Spend the weekend working on your first “hello world” VR experience? Tell people! At this stage, everyone is an evangelist for the technology, and sharing out as much as you can with the rest of the world helps make content more accessible and complete.
  • Get on Twitter and search ‘Virtual Reality’, ‘VR’, ‘Augmented Reality’, etc. and follow a bunch of people in the industry. Twitter is an awesome tool for getting in touch with individuals and companies in the space, reading constant news updates, and falling down a huge rabbit hole of communicating across the globe about your favorite topic – immersive tech!

Despite the individual nature of a headset, virtual reality isn’t a technology that exists well in a bubble. If you’re learning, you’ll learn much faster with people on hand who can answer questions. If you’re building, you need to be testing with a large group of people. It is truly amazing that we are at a point in history where we have such quick access to experts all over the world – take advantage of that!

 

 

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