#VR: “Walk a Mile in My Shoes” Immersive Journalism + Social Good

 

Perhaps, if you are into pop/rock classics, you’ll remember Joe South’s“Walk A Mile in My Shoes” (also covered by Elvis.) But what does this have to do with #VR? Consider that as you read the lyric.

If I could be you
And you could be me
For just one hour
If we could find a way
To get inside
Each other’s mind, mmm
If you could see you
Through your eyes
Instead of your ego
I believe you’d be
Surprised to see
That you’d been blind, mmm

Walk a mile in my shoes
Walk a mile in my shoes
Hey, before you abuse, criticize and accuse
Walk a mile in my shoes

– Walk a Mile in My Shoes- Joe South 1969 © Sony/ATV Music Publishing, LLC

RYOT

I have mentioned the “empathy factor” inherent in VR in previous posts. In the best of circumstances, empathy motivates people to take action. The more powerful the feelings of empathy the more powerful the response is likely to be. Can VR profoundly touch the heart and be the catalyst for social good?

Thanks to pioneers like Nonny de la Peña of Emblematic and VRSE we are only just beginning to see the power of immersive journalism. RYOT a news network where “Every Story Let’s You Take Action,” presents news stories that give viewers more than an opportunity to be informed. If the story moves you to action the pathway to making a difference is a click away. RYOT has just started to dip their toes in the VR waters. “The Nepal Quake Project” found on VRideo can be viewed via web browser or smart phone without an HMD making it instantly accessible. Narrated by Susan Sarandonthe project uses 360 video to immerse the viewer “in the aftermath of the Nepal earthquake” of April 25th 2015 and then, like at Ryot.org, presents the opportunity to become part of the relief effort.

The VR industry will be sustained by many verticals- all of them with the potential to make a difference- helping combat veterans deal with PTSDsuch as the work being done by USC’s Institute for Creative Technologies,training healthcare workers, giving students experiences that stimulate creativity and innovation as documented by Stanford University’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab and so much more. But, for me immersive journalism and documentary present a rallying point for action on a planet that must increasingly rely on better angels rather than governments. It’s clear that @RYOTnews will continue to realize its vision through VR allowing viewsers the opportunity to “walk a mile” in the shoes of others and be moved to make a difference.