Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Virtual Worlds Collaboration Survey

A survey is being conducted on the role virtual worlds play in collaborative work. Take 15 minutes to fill out this survey (click here) and you will get the results.

It is a joint effort by:
• Special Interest Group (SIG) on Virtual Worlds of the Software Developers Forum (SDF) in Silicon Valley (led by Bob Kettner)
• The Serious Second Life group in Bolder, Colorado (led by Richard Hackathorn)
• Metaverse U at Stanford University (led by Henrik Bennetsen)
• The Virtual-Worlds Consortium for Innovation and Learning of SRIC-BI (led by Eilif Trondsen)

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Virtual World/Web Browsers

I spent tonight doing a deep dive on Transmutable's Tommorrow Space based on the Ogoglio Project's technology. Transmutable is "a scrappy little startup in Seattle that is building a series of goal oriented web apps merging the value of 3D spaces with the 2D web."

One of the main differences of this companies direction is that they believe a 3D virtual world should be available through any existing web browser vs. having to download a "fat" client. As of today, most virtual world clients like Second Lifeand other open source projects such as Sun's Project Wonderland and OpenCroquet require you to download a client application to access the virtual world.

So, if virtual worlds become mainstream will we all be using one or two browser to access the web and the worlds?

One Browser To Rule Them All
A one browser solution would allow me to seamlessly navigate between traditional web sites and virtual worlds. I could work creatively with mixed displays of 2D and 3D data. I might also manage 1 friends list (and one login PLEEEASE). The challanges to a one browser solution are likely to be:
- providing an immersive experience (full screen 3D)
- adding 3D capability to the browser that scales
- standards consistency across MSFT, Opensource, and MAC technologies
- keeping up with graphics card advances

The ability to access traditional web graphics in-world (Second Life "Text on a Prim") could either be facilitated or hindered by this option.

Two Browsers
The other possibilty is the evolution of two browsers, one for traditional web and one for virtual worlds. This certainly seems less likely to me on the whole, but clearly most of the efforts in 3D worlds both serious and game/education oriented assume a native client which is downloaded to drive the world. It may be we see the rise of a 2 browser solution and then a break through advanced to a one browser solution as standards evolve, security is tightened, and consumers get frustrated with moving between two clients.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Why Are Virtual Worlds Important?

I participated in a panel discussion last night of the Seattle Social Media Club coordinated by Katie Hoyne of Text 100. The room was a mix of Seattle Virtual Worlds experts such as Jeff Barr of Amazon fame, Rob Lanphier and Greg Tomko-Pavia from Seattle Linden Lab office, Trevor Smith and Ian Smith of Transmutable, as well as many curious people new to virtual worlds.

I greased the discussion by presenting Why Virtual Worlds Are Important?. This presentation provides some history of communication/collaboration technologies, discusses why VW technologies are different, and surmises that virtual worlds are the next wave in human communication technology allowing us to work and play together while being geographically distant. I'm interested in any feedback people have on this who have familiarity in the space, I'm hoping to reuse it for future educational talks.

There was also some fun to be had doing Second Life demos. Quite interesting to see what it looks like to a Linden when they walk into a lively pub in Dublin. Best of the night was the avatar chipper/shreader.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Second Life Insider PodCast

Akela Talamasca interviewed me for the Second Life Insider Podcast.

Predicting Linked Objects Maximum Distance in Second Life

After aligning prims, linking prims into objects in SL often proves to be both frustrating and befuddling for new builders. In my book I noted the great forum post from Ceera Murakami where Ceera says "It's difficult to predict exactly how far apart the farthest pieces will be, except by trying in-world".

Recently, I ran across this link http://wiki.secondlife.com/wiki/Linkability_Rules on the SL wiki while reading about the new Havoc4 beta. The beta states changes on link ability as:

Linkability Rules [changes with Havok4]
o More robust: depend only on primitive position and scale (NOT rotation, cut, shear, twist, taper, or hollow)
o Larger linkability distances (proportional to sum of scales, rather than the root mean square of the sum)

When these changes do eventually make it into the main branch it should be very helpful for builders who are trying to link large objects.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

IBM, Linden Labs, and Virtual World Interoperability

I attended a great session today at Dr. Dobbs Island hosted by Ziggy Figaro (exec editor of InfoWeek). DrCP Cydrome (IBM's VP of Digital Convergence) spoke as well as Ginsu Linden. It is obviously very early days, but was an interesting conversation. A bit from the chat stream below.

Noteable Links:
Architecture Working Group
PC World Article
IBM Press Release

Ziggy Figaro: What is IBM getting from this - why is IBM involved?
DrCP Cydrome: There is a significant capacity to transform enterprises using this technology
Ziggy Figaro: How so?
DrCP Cydrome: Even as much so as the web did and IBM sees itself as one of the leaders here in this effort
DrCP Cydrome: Given the many enterprise processes that can benefit from this innovative learning and collaborative capability we see this as a new step for enterprises
DrCP Cydrome: towards cost reduction, increased efficiency, and optimization
DrCP Cydrome: Also think of the enterprises who would like to sell or provide services to consumers -they could maximize their investments if worlds were interoperable and
Ginsu Linden: right like the old services, or like the IM services today, or like SNS (Facebook, MySpace),
Zha Ewry: Content often was trapped in one part of that space, and until we got to a single markup, it was costly to move it between those spaces.
Ginsu Linden: you find that you wish you had more interoperability through any service that's walled now.
DrCP Cydrome: Also given interoperability there are many business models that would permit investment of new services and capabilities in this space.
DrCP Cydrome: With walled approaches the economics does not sustain broad expansion

Ziggy Figaro: What's in it for LL?
Ginsu Linden: And you have another service with, say, a user base that is focused on a specific experience around an interest, like music or clothes or books.
Ziggy Figaro: You're hte market leader here - and market leaders in most industries are resistant to standardization.
Ginsu Linden: If the two services can interoperate, then they will both be more valuable.
Ziggy Figaro: Or they "embrace and extend" like those fabulous fellows in Redmond, Wash.
Ginsu Linden: What's in it for LL is to expand the market. It doesn't mean much to lead a market that doesn't grow.
Ginsu Linden: We think that the key to growth to Internet scale is in interoperability.
Ziggy Figaro: Ah. So a piece of a big pie is worth more to LL than most or almost all of a smaller pie?
Ginsu Linden: Of course.
Ginsu Linden: In order to be involved in an Internet scale phenomenon, you really have to be com

Zha Ewry: Also.. please note that our work, on this, the Architecture Working Group is being hosted on the SL wiki, Feel free to come look
Tao Takashi: http://wiki.secondlife.com/wiki/Architecture_Working_Group

Wednesday, October 03, 2007