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.