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Grateful Dead in Virtual Reality, Aphantasia, the swimming pools of Iceland and more

In this edition of “What We’re Reading,” members of the Marxent staff share some terrific stories they’ve hit upon this week, starting with a Virtual Reality trip to a Grateful Dead concert …

The Best Thing We Read This Week!

Of all the stories we read this week, “Inside the Grateful Dead’s ‘Truckin’ Virtual Reality Experience,” published by Rolling Stone, best illustrated a potential breakthrough use for Virtual Reality. Nick Kizirnis, Marxent’s Product Management and UX Strategy lead, shared his thoughts: “As a musician and user experience designer, I’m really interested in how Virtual Reality will play a role in how music lovers experience their favorite bands. The idea of a ‘virtual seat’ at a concert, while it seems counter-intuitive to the experience of seeing a band live, is really appealing in an age when concert tickets are high, it’s expensive for bands to tour, and some events are just too far away to travel. The Grateful Dead just released a live version of their timeless hit ‘Truckin’ from their final tour at the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival. While it does put you in the middle of the action, it also moves you around at key points of the song — not exactly what you expect, but maybe fans will appreciate being taken by the hand so they don’t miss anything. There’s a lot of experimenting happening in entertainment right now; I’m going to resist being too critical and go along for the ride.”

Also Worth Your Time …

Nick was a font of high-quality reading material this week. In addition to the Grateful Dead story, Nick enjoyed the Bulldog Reporter’s story on Five Game-Changing Loyalty Marketing Trends in 2016″, which he called, “a great overview of the opportunities in mobile app development, personalization and partnerships to drive customer engagement.” Nick also really liked “Checklist for Planning Usability Studies,” put out by Nielsen Norman Group, which he found a concise and thorough take on a topic that is usually overwhelming.

Here at Marxent, we’re obviously obsessed with all things Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality. So Time’s story, “Why China is Key to the Future of Virtual Reality,” was right in our wheelhouse. In the piece, writer Tim Bajarin recounts his recent trip to the CE China trade show in Shenzhen, where he found Chinese manufacturers moving quickly to develop cheaper and more advanced VR hardware. How long until a VR headset looks like a nothing more than a fancy pair of glasses? You’ll have to read the story to find out …

Also fascinating is “Aphantasia: How It Feels To Be Blind In Your Mind,” published directly to Facebook, and shared by Senior Unity Developer Brian Turner. “A few days ago I read this article by Blake Ross who just realized he has aphantasia, which is the inability to visualize things in your mind,” Brian explains. “The story about Marxent winning an Edison Award made me realize how much VR could help people with it.” Marxent Quality Assurance Analyst Ang Boehmer concurred, saying, “What an absolutely amazing story! I’m sure I’ll be thinking about this all day.”

Marketing Creative Director Joe Johnson was intrigued by Science Magazine’s “Who’s Downloading Pirated Papers? Everyone.” “Humans are constantly trying to find solutions to their problems. If their problem is payment and access, stuff like this happens,” Joe says. “The narrative around technological disruption of industry is a familiar one at this point, and one seriously wonders how the era of intellectual property will respond to it.”

Sometimes an article on an unexpected topic will blow you away when you least expect it. For Sonia Schechter, Marxent’s Executive Director of Marketing, it was an article on, of all things, swimming pools in Iceland. “I read this really amazing article in the New York Times magazine about the swimming pools of Iceland. My one big take away from the article was how important it is to find space to be vulnerable and to be social. It’s easy to get caught up and forget to really stop and breathe and think and just communicate. Oh, and I love swimming and never think of it that way. I always think of it as a really solitary activity, not as an opportunity to connect with other people. So it took something that I know really well and I’ve even been to Iceland a few times and been swimming in a bunch of pools there, but it really recast what the experience of swimming can be. Even when you know something very well, you can still discover new ways of seeing it.”

We Read Books, Too …

Seth Cooper is paging through, “The Hard Thing About Hard Things” by Ben Horowitz.” Seth says the book is, “an entertaining and honest look into all of the crappy hard stuff that happens at a startup, rather than just the big wins and PR type stuff that you hear about. Also some really interesting characters in his story – my favorite being Mark Cranney, head of sales for one of Horowitz’s companies.”

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