Thursday, September 08, 2016
1. Steve Jobs likened the personal computer as a "bicycle for the mind". I think of VR as a bicycle too. Though for the heart.
2. Is VR an empathy machine ? In of itself, no. But when designed to do so - yes, and quite strikingly, and more profoundly then any current medium in existence.
3. Its effect will only grow stronger and more profound the better the technology gets. And - most importantly - we figure out how to tell compelling stories within it.
4. It's noteworthy, and extraordinary, that there already exists this intense desire, by many, to deeply move people to make the world a better place with VR. Empathy / social good was not something discussed at the birth of radio, cinema or TV, until much later. This is a positive sign of the times.
5. Good VR hacks your senses. That's its aim. It uses sophisticated tech to do that. From stereoscopic images, to binaural and directional sound. So it's not just novelty. It consistently transports people unlike any medium. There is biological data that proves its unique effects on us and I believe this effect will only get deeper until we will not easily be able to distinguish between the real and virtual and, eventually, between even our dreams and memories. It's the blurring of these lines that will shift what meaning we derive from these different states of consciousness.
6. It's striking that VR and empathy are talked about together. A little over a year ago it was gaming and porn. And suddenly, given the amazing efforts of many, it's impossible not to associate this burgeoning new medium as something that holds a greater promise.
7. I don't think this should be taken for granted. The values and norms of the pioneers of any medium have always shaped things to come. The hacker, whole earth catalog, hippie new age-ness of the Internet has a lot to do with how our world is now (for better and for worse. I would never in a million years have thought that when I was at Burning Man in 2000, that it would be a billionaire hangout one day).
8. Similarly, this intense desire to see technology serve humanity and see VR as something more then just commercialism and escapism will profoundly effect many people's relation with something so consciousness shifting.
9. There are naysayers (there will always be) who say VR is a novelty. That its effects will wear off with repeated use and habituation. Or that its ability for empathy is no greater then a book, painting or other forms of media. They cringe or are reluctant to call it "the last medium" or privilege its status as being greater at eliciting empathy then all what came before it.
10. It's important to be skeptical. But also important to be objective and realize that there is something profound and unique about VR. It's certainly not a passing fad. It will profoundly shift what it means to be conscious, alive and human.
Tuesday, August 16, 2016
1977 Born in Manhattan at Mount Sinai hospital to immigrant parents from the Punjab region of India. First person in his family born in America.
1978 Moved back to India after his father finishes his studies at NYU in engineering and launches the Roosevelt trolley, a project in which he was lead engineer.
1981 Lives in Israel with his father who is working on projects for the government. Visits Jerusalem with his mother and has his first memories at the wailing wall.
1982 Moves back to New York City, to the borough of Queens, as his father suffers from poor health and needs urgent medical treatment only available in the US.
1982 - 1990 Accompanies his father often in his entrepreneurial work in Greenwich Village. Meets Warhol, Basquiat and Keith Herring and others from the downtown scene at his father's many candy shops.
1987 Father buys him first computer, an Apple Macintosh, a rather unorthodox choice but mostly given his father's admiration for Steve Jobs, and also because of his leaning to not have his son be an engineer like him. His father wanted his son to be a statesmen like Nehru.
1991 Family moves to New Jersey following continued trouble he has with local gangs. The final straw is a dislocation of his jaw which leads to a nervous tick he has with him for the remainder of his days.
1994 Contracts though survives a severe form of Malaria in India. Considered a seminal moment of visions and notable changes to his personality. "I became Jim Morrison".
1995 Graduates from High School in the bottom 30 percentile of his class though scores in the top 99 percentile in his SATs, which garners him a full scholarship to NYU. Though he is an uneven and rebellious student he shows flashes of brilliance in the physical sciences and history. Is exposed to and falls in love with British and world literature. Reads Camus' the stranger in one sitting. Is equally moved by William Blake and Herman Hesse.
1997 Though he is a stellar university student, he has deep existential crisis and starts questioning the meaning of life and everything around him. His father's health begins to deteriorate leading him to briefly drop out of college to find spiritual strength in the Himalayas. Encounters the work Nicolás Roerich, a Russian painter who lived in India, and is moved by his philosophy of unifying religion, art and science.
1998 His father dies on New Year's Day unexpectedly after a routine surgery though his health has been in rapid decline. He moves back home to Queens with his mother and is crestfallen yet is consoled by rediscovering Camus, reading Dostoevsky and listening to Radiohead's OK computer. He also befriends George Kakoulides with whom he would share many adventures, triumphs and failures.
1999 Graduates Magna Cum Laude with honors in philosophy and biochemistry. Delays entry into medical school to do a public health project with Unicef in Namibia. Encounters "Adbusters" and travels to Seattle to protest the WTO. Is so deeply moved by this that he joins the anarchist counter culture no global movement and travels the country hitch-hiking. Joins Food Not Bombs. Starts dumpster diving. Reads politics and history extensively, and is particularly moved by "the people's history of the United States.
2000 Returns from Namibia and joins Ralph Nader's Green Party and works on the presidential campaign. Moves to Southern California for the first time to develop skills as a community organizer and also begins to take acting courses. Communes with the redwood forest. Cries that people put a dollar value on thousand year old trees.
2001 Returns to New York to attend medical school, only to drop out shortly after 9/11, where is mother was trapped near the twin towers for hours, and an event that profoundly shaped his life and made him think : "I'm not crazy".
2002 Moves to South America to learn Spanish and explore Colombia, a country he falls in love with through the literature of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the original "Gabo".
2003 Begins teaching meditation and yoga throughout South America. Experiments heavily with the occult and Native American rituals like San Pedro, Peyote and Ayauascha.
2004 Returns home to New York to be with his mother, also a rescue worker on 9/11, who retires from 25 years of service for the city of New York. Starts working in the inner city as philosophy teacher. Helps his mother move back to India and reclaim ancestral property.
2005 Returns to Colombia, though this time to work as a human rights activist, advocating for non-violent leaders and communities through physical accompaniment in rebel and paramilitary territories.
2006 Meets Fidel Castro and is an official guest of the Cuban government as an international observer for the rebel peace negotiations in Havana. Takes two weeks alone, hitchhikes and meanders with locals all over the island to understand the truth of the revolution. Has a vision in Santiago de Cuba of Shoshun, the goddess of love.
2007 Is awarded a fellowship to study international relations and economics at Johns Hopkins University. Moves to Italy to begin his first year in Europe. Learns Italian and begins a serious relationship with a woman from Naples, lasting almost five years.
2008 graduates with distinction in International Economics from Johns Hopkins University. Moves to India to do development work in his ancestral land, and ends up reclaiming his old family property, allowing his mother to buy her own home in the the neighborhood of his childhood and become independent financially in her old age.
2009 Moves to rural Zambia to work on youth programs with his girlfriend. The relationship breaks down and he ends up for months alone in a big house, with a vegetable garden and two dogs. The solitude and heartbreak is immeasurable.
2010 Moves to Haiti to take a full time post with the United Nations Peacekeeping Mission in Port Au Prince. Survives the earthquake, though loses many friends and colleagues, and takes an active leadership role as part of rescue efforts. Resigns from his post at Unicef a year later out of protest after the cholera epidemic, when he sees an unbelievable amount of ineptitude and lack of accountability in the response. Feels vindicated months later by a plethora of evidence that the cholera was brought in by UN peacekeepers and that lack of proper sanitation management lead to its outbreak.
2011 Appointed by the Office of the Secretary General of the United Nations Secretariat in New York as a Senior Policy Advisor. Plays an instrumental role in setting the Secretary-General's development agenda focusing on gender equality, education and public health.
2012 His son, Julian, is born in Paris.
2013 Travels to Amazon rainforest to make "Keep the Oil in the ground", a viral video sensation with two million views in one month. Raises significant funds and the online petition results in the government of Ecuador's apology the Sarayaku community featured. This film is endorsed by many prominent Hollywood celebrities and is the film Chris Milk watches before being convinced to handover his proprietary VR camera and ask Gabo to join his inaugural roster of pioneer creators in Virtual Reality.
2014 Directs and shoots the first-ever documentary in Virtual Reality in a Syrian refugee camp. Clouds Over Sidra goes on to win numerous awards and acclaim. Considered to be a revolution in VR filmmaking and kickstarts a whole new genre of documentary filmmaking emulated by many including the New York Times, which cites its influence on their VR work.
2015 Founds the UN's first ever VR lab, UNVR.org. Directs and produces an array of award winning content that cements his role as a pioneer documentary filmmaker in VR. His films begin doubling donations for on the streets fundraisers for Unicef and is used by the Secretary-General to raise billions of dollars and advocate for refugees, survivors of Ebola and Palestinians in Gaza.
2016 Separates from the mother of his child and begins anew. Splits his time between Europe, New York and California.
2016 Appointed the UN's first ever Creative Director role, leading a UNVR team and building a global brand. Launches the UN's first ever distribution platform for VR with its own app.
+1 (917) 770-1097
@gaboarora | www.unvr.org
Noteworthy GaboWorld Posts
- The Great NRI Novella
- American Girl
- I Dream Of Queens
- Greenwich Village original
- Film Review: Shoot the Piano Player
- I am American (Obama)
- Kashmir, India's Albatross
- Film Review: Ingmar Bergman
- Mayawati: Low caste Queen
- Passion Vs. Clockwork
- Heart of Darkness
- Italian Professors
- Break on Through
- Love, come back
- Albert Camus in Queens
- The Passions of Civilization
- Mumbai Terror
- Haiti Earthquake