“I think that done properly, collaboration will come to be understood not just as an application or an app that you boot up for those five minutes when you need to use it, but a fundamental property of computation itself.” — John Underkoffler
John Underkoffler, CEO of Oblong Industries, has developed a new way to share ideas online with the Mezzanine platform, Oblong’s flagship product suite that is effectively the world’s first multi-user computer. Mezzanine allows for multi-content, multi-stream, and multi-user experiences, or as John likes to describe it, “getting visual ideas out of people’s individual devices and onto a screen where everyone can see them.”
Currently, Mezzanine is built for enterprise-level companies, but Oblong is not stopping there. They’ve developed a virtual version of Mezzanine called Rumpus built specifically for remote teams all over the world to collaborate on work projects more effectively. Communication is no longer an issue with Mezzanine and Rumpus, where your ideas are easily shared visually and not limited to the written word.
“Cognitive empathy is what Mezzanine and Rumpus is really trying to get at,” says John.
As Chad points out in the episode, “how many relationships have we lost because of flawed communication?” Language has its limitations. Mezzanine and Rumpus are making it easy to visually share ideas in real-time with multiple users. What could be possible for humanity if we all understood each other better?
Many of John’s ideas were brought to life in the film, Minority Report, where he helped craft a vision for what technology would look like in 2054. The movie showed “how powerful UI itself can be,” says John. “UI as an extension of human cognition and human teamwork.”
On this episode, Chad and John discuss his upbringing from learning to code to his experience in K-12 education, what cultural and economic factors are affecting innovation today, and John’s thoughts on how technology can propel humanity forward.
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