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Storyteller Of New Things: Barış Özcan

Barış Özcan, whose videos on art, design and technology receive millions of views on YouTube, shares fun and informative content about almost everything that occupies our minds from new technologies to the metaverse and artificial intelligence. Stating his belief that the easiest way to transition from practice into theory with regards to the metaverse is to experience virtual reality, Özcan answered our questions.

You are one of the most prominent storytellers on YouTube. How did you discover your talent and decide to become a content creator?

Self-discovery is a process. I remember the debates we held at school. Back then, I also focused on how I could tell a story rather than owning the perspective I was defending. This tendency manifested itself in various forms. I realised that I could create stories through designs, presentations, and certain technological tricks on websites. I’ve come to think that videos are the best means to use some of the skills I’ve developed over the years. I decided to start by making personal documentaries and sharing them on digital platforms, mainly YouTube.

What kind of projects are you currently working on besides your YouTube channel and podcast?

Besides storytelling, I engage in entrepreneurship and investment. I have a media agency that operates in New York in Istanbul and helps brands to tell their stories in innovative ways. Last year, we had to work from home due to the pandemic so I went back to making speeches for corporations. I create online presentations for organisations, similar to the live broadcasts on my YouTube channel. I’m also interested in music and short films in my leisure time.

You share easy-to-understand content on your channel that provides wonderful examples and references for people who find it difficult to understand this new world. Can you explain for our readers the starting point of Web 3.0 and the metaverse and its current status?

The starting point of both topics is related to humankind’s desire to connect. Quarter of a century ago, this desire manifested itself in the form of the Internet. In the next 25 years, two-dimensional “internet” will turn into “metaverse” and the transformation that began with Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 will continue with Web 3.0. Today, we all have a digital presence with at least one account on social media; in the future, this presence will be enriched through expansion. I interpret this trend as bringing life and games closer.

Which resources or channels would you recommend for those who would like to understand this world better?

I don’t think people need to rush to understand the metaverse because new devices such as smartphones need to become widespread so that we can actually “use” it. For those who wish to experience this rather than understand it, I would recommend virtual reality equipment. Only then people, regardless of their age or level of knowledge, can begin to get a sense of the potential of this new world in front of them. Of course, a lot is hanging in the air; however, the easiest way to transition from practice into theory with regards to the metaverse is to experience virtual reality.

You have an ability to analyse current trends and their long-term implications. Based on this, what would you like to say about the future of the world and humankind?

I prefer to be optimistic about the future. Innovation and change may have seemed scary at certain points in the history of time; however, fear and pessimism only serve to weaken individuals in the face of these inevitable changes and to render them defenceless. I liken current trends to waves in the ocean. Some feel panicked when they see the waves while others find a platform and start surfing them. I believe that humankind will continue to organise among themselves to collect those boards to build a ship and to explore new lands. Not just on Earth but across and beyond the entire Solar System.



What is your research process when you study a topic? What inspires you?

I can be inspired by many things. For instance, a word from a lyric in the song I’m listening to while exercising recalls a scene from a movie, and that triggers a commute between my library and the pages of the internet.

What kind of opportunities will be missed by those who do not prefer or resist entering this world? In other words, considering the effects of social media on online generations, do you have a utopic or dystopic view on the future of the metaverse?

Missing the opportunities presented by the digital world may not lead to equally negative results for everyone. Considering that billions of people around the world still don’t have access to the internet, we should start realising the fact that these balloons, which we create ourselves, may lead to illusions that mostly affect us.

What are your thoughts on the characteristics of Gen Z? Do you think science and art will have to change shape for this generation?

I think “metaverse” is a concept born for Gen Z, which can also be called “gamification generation.” They’re not digital nomads like the rest of us and were born in it. They’re digital locals and are looking for ways to express themselves in the digital world as much as in the analogue world. However, they too will grow and mature as a generation. Those who tend to care about trends when they are young will develop different techniques from us in terms of research when they become middle-aged. They will transform not science per se, but the tools of science.

Your content mostly focuses on science but you always mention spirituality. How do you balance these two in your personal life? Do you think they complement or contradict one another?

I’d rather explain my content as stories about “art, design, and technology” rather than “science-oriented.” Science is interested in data while stories are about what is missing and can be imagined. Interestingly enough, it was a scientist not a writer who best expressed the balance between the two. Einstein says, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.”

What would you recommend to those who wish to pursue a career in technology?

Since there hasn’t remained a field unpenetrated by technology, I’d answer this from a career point of view. I make three recommendations in my speeches: curiosity, experiment, and learning. Those who blaze their engine of experiment with the fire of curiosity will always keep learning. That’s how they improve themselves because life is a story, and everybody writes their own.


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