Posts Tagged 'virtual worlds'

Blurred Vision

Vision can be blurry because something is interfering actively or because the focus has not yet resolved. When I look at the future and virtual worlds, my vision blurs from both causes. This post was triggered by my reaction to Gwyneth Llewelyn‘s post “Innovation, yes, but wrong turn“. Gwyneth is one of my favorite bloggers. I find her comments to be sound and well-supported, and her tone is always equable.

I still believe that all of us will have an avatar in virtual worlds in the fairly near future. I believe that more and more business meetings and collaborations will take place virtually. There will always be a need for face-to-face. But the workplace is global and for short-duration meetings and conferences, unless we have a major breakthrough in transportation costs (“Beam me up, Scotty!”), the most cost and time efficient solution will remain electronic. I no longer believe, however, that SecondLife/OpenSim will be that virtual means. And therefore my vision is blurred from the unshed tears in my eyes. I am still unable to articulate why my SL avatar resonates so strongly for me. I am unable to identify which particular aspects make the experience so powerful. I have tried to bring friends and coworkers into SL. I’ve failed. I introduce them to friends. To live music. To building. To the ability to hold business meetings simply. Many many things. (No, I didn’t try introducing them to Zindra. Was that the problem?) But to date I have failed to convince anyone to see it as I do.

I think that not only is there something in my eyes, but I think the view-finder has not yet been turned to the correct focus. At the moment the virtual world is beset by a storm about anonymity, pseudonymity and “real identity”. I tend toward seeing the pessimistic future and I fear that we, advocates for pseudonymity and anonymity, are going to lose this argument. But moving beyond this moment, I think that the business world has still not identified why it needs virtual worlds. Because of that lack of vision – the WHY – virtual worlds still lack the WHAT. I think we have the “HOW” – we can get there. Once we are there, however, there’s little to do. There’s no “HOW”. We need TOOLS in the virtual worlds. Those tools are coming. But not fast enough and not “sexy” enough. We need tools that allow our avatars to do that which our organic bodies do: easy note taking, modify the same objects (think whiteboards, sketching). Picture yourself in an organic conference room in a brainstorming, problem-solving session. Now, imagine your avatar doing the same thing. The trick here is that all of those tasks that are seamless in the organic world need to be as seamless in the virtual. So yes, there are whiteboard tools and there are ways to modify the same object, etc. But they are not seamless to the avatar experience. The business world and LL only thought to the point of getting people IN.

Not only are we lacking the tools, but there are not enough people being encouraged and supported to envision. I state quite clearly – I am NOT a visionary. I am the person who can get your vision done. But we NEED the people who will look at the conference room I described, will look at the work being done, look at virtual worlds, and make the leap that says: ah, because we are freed from the constraints of the physical world, we can visualize the problem THUSLY. I had the good fortune to work on a project with people who ARE visionaries. We began work on such a business application tool. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get the backing (substitute “funding”) to keep working so that they had time to learn the virtual worlds sufficiently to make that quantum leap into hyperspace.

In her article, Gwyneth Llewelyn says:
However, I still think that LL (and not only Rod; he’s just starting to think like the rest) is working from a totally wrong assumption: that virtual worlds with user-generated content are somehow a mainstream product, if only “done right”, and that the trick is how to figure out to “do them right”. To be very honest — and you can check it up on my blog — I used to think like that as well. But the more time passes, the less likely I believe this is going to happen.
… I’m quite convinced these days that Second Life (and these days there is nothing else that compares with SL; I’m considering OpenSim to be just a variant of SL running under open source software, of course) is simply a niche product.

I’m sad to say that to a great extent, I agree. I think that SL/OpenSim is a tool, an environment. Now take that tool and customize it to what you need. Businesses need specific business tools, specific ways of manipulating data. Businesses need specific ways of interacting. Like the government, corporations have specific concerns that drive innovation. Think of how many inventions and every-day appliances we now have due to the government needing a tool. If business took virtual worlds seriously, used them, put the energy into adding tools and applications and seamless integration, virtual worlds would have a bigger niche. I believe that once such tools are there, other people will take them, bend them shake them and leap them into the future. As that happens, the niche expands to a mainstream product.

Expatriate

I thought of titling this post “Émigré”, but I consider SL to be my home and my visits to InWorldz temporary. Since expat has a temporary denotation I used that instead.

I went to IW first back in July 2010. It was both good and bad. It was good, because immediately upon rezzing my friend Astra was there welcoming me. We are SL friends and rezzing in and finding a friend immediately made IW feel like “home”. It was a good experience because Astra guided me to a welcome area where there was free content for customizing my appearance. As I’ve blogged in the past, SL residents seem to NEED customization instantly. When we would rez into Opensim or other virtual worlds at work, the SL folk would click “Edit Appearance” instantly, attempting to look like ourselves. The not-so-good part was the lag, which was horrendous. I was trying to change my hair when I crashed. And there I left it for all these many months.

Now many of my friends have either emigrated to InWorldz or maintain vacation homes there. I’ve been reading blogs and watching the content grow. I hear that Tranquility Dexter has rewritten the IW scripting language (Phlox) so that the lag is alleviated greatly, if not vanished completely. I decided it was time to go and finish doing my hair. *grin*

It was great. (Okay, I’ll confess – I miss using v2. *grin* But I did begin to remember the other viewer.) I love all the nice free content available to noobs, there were a lot of people there when I rezzed, and there were flowers! I managed to make myself presentable, I think. I don’t look too much like “myself” in these pics, but that will come in time. In the meanwhile – I’m ready to rock and roll InWorldz.

Brrrring! Time for School!

It is only fitting that I return to my blog as I send my son back to school. *grin* I’ve been doing a lot – both RL and SL. I’ve made new friends in very SL-fashion. Work is going well. Family is good, pets are okay. So it’s time to stop dancing and partying and get back to LEARNING and BUILDING!!!

Although I don’t expect to post anything on it, I attended SL Pro! back in February. I thought it was worth the price and I learned a lot. I followed the builders’ track. Without a doubt there are people doing some amazing things in SL. For me personally the most useful thing was the explanation and introduction of the Beta Viewer 2.0. I LIKE it, although I LOATHE what they did to the camera controls. BLECH!! Put them back as they are in v1!!!

I heard of another VW builders’ conference coming up. Please note how grown-up I am being. *I* am a Nittany Lion. Yet I am giving press to another school, not even a Big 10 school. The University of Arkansas in collaboration with IBM is holding an Extensible Virtual Worlds Workshop March 29-April 2. The timing is extremely bad for me. Sheesh – don’t these folks KNOW that they are supposed to check with ME before setting dates and times??? I mean, it IS all about ME, after all. I hope to make the end of the conference. It’s free, it’s in SL, and it sounds very interesting. Note – this isn’t about building prims – it’s about constructing worlds. The conference covers 4 themes:

Extensible Virtual World Architectures
Virtual World Applications
Integration with the Real World
Enhanced Capabilities

I am interested in the Apps and Integration. *grin* I confess – I looked up the definition of extensible, which apparently means that implementation of the system takes into consider the future use/construction of that system. I guess I’ve always been associated with the design of extensible applications without knowing the terminology. This is what happens when a classicist ends up as a software developer. *grin*

I hope I’ll see you there. The papers are posted and I see some well-known names there.

We are a Multitude

Take 7 minutes and watch this video about different virtual worlds. It gives you a brief view of approximately 50 virtual worlds. Interspersed among the videos are relevant and thought-provoking quotattions. Many thanks to Holli Hollwood who posted this link on her blog.


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