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It’s been a good week.  I get asked a lot about how to create videos using virtual worlds (machinima [pronounced ma shin ee ma], so I’ve been creating a series of videos on how to create virtual videos.  Which of course means this is one of those happy times when the medium is the message.  There is nothing new in all that of course, but as it’s done on IBM time and for an IBM audience it sadly means that I won’t be posting it on the internet.

In the course of doing all this, I found a great little internal IBM website which allows you to create topics with content and then mash them together into mini-courses which people can sign up for.  It did also remind me that things go full circle.  When I joined IBM I worked on a project called “Learning Village” which IBM sold to a company called RiverDeep which basically did the same thing and more, but was a full-blown Lotus Notes deployment.

This is all very timely as I am on a panel discussion tomorrow up in London for an HR Magazine on virtual worlds learning.  I’d best go iron a shirt! 🙂

OK I’m sold… check out the hits on this blog…

Great conference.  Some really interesting discussions which should bear fruit for IBM 🙂  It’s also been good for me in terms of getting back into twittering and blogging – thanks for kind comments from folk.  My blog views have gone through the roof too which is nice. 🙂

Final thought – there was a cool 3D scanner for creating an accurate avatar of yourself here.  I didn’t pluck up the courage, but perhaps this is the future for custom clothes…




Alternate Reality Games

I should be listening more here – trying to mentally process all the cool conversations today. 🙂

ARGs are very flexible and can be on  any platform.  They are games, not computer games.  The intersection of story and games.  Takes place in real world, online or indeed anywhere.

I love the concept and suprised that I’ve not heard more about it.  Sounds a lot like a much more sophisticated version of stuff I’ve done with friends.  I was wanting to do something like this with a large church I used to be part of to help increase the level of community.

Ideal for something like X-Factor.  With Roo on this panel expect the BBC to break out in ARGs 🙂

Games can empower the audience.

Dan Hon – often so far people play themselves in ARGs. (need not be that way).

Q- Do assests in ARGs have real world value? Dan – yes.

Most thought provoking talk of the conference!  Brain will now officially explode 🙂

Business Process Management

Ian used to work in BPM and now works in virtual worlds and is amused that these things are now coming together.  It’s all about people – BPM and virtual worlds, everything.  Combine services and people to do a piece of business – SOA – People Information Process.

BPM with Virtual Worlds
What is it you’re trying to do.  V. different having a VW as an end touch point for your customers to having a VW for doing business.  Very different for VW providers too.

Chain Model of Needs
Expressiveness, Communcation and Instrumentation
Depends on what you are trying to do as to how things flow between them.

Ian talking about virtual business center )  Nice slides.  Customer touchpoint.  Ian is making point that it’s integrated into our regular processes.  Note we even have Siebel tactic codes for leads!

Internal Communication
Often treated as a side project. VW has to be integrated into the workflow of everyday business life.  Treat it as you treat email system, IM etc.  Ian gives cattail example – IBM’s social filesharing app, which can be easily pulled into IBM’s internal Metaverse project as same login is used for both systems. Also mentioning instant VW comms as part of IM – IBM’s recent announcement.

Virtual Worlds as the Business
As a service provider or tool vendor this is business as usual.
Opensim is a good fit for IBM – open and interoperable.

Innov8 – a BPM simulator

Ian talking about holistic view of business and business dashboards.  Is best way to find out about your business a spreadsheet at the end of the month or a living breathing model.

Understanding your business – the future
VW visulization of the entire holistic view of your business in realtime.  Think mirror world, but with the business/IT as the model to mirror.

Eating the IT Elephant
Not about VW, but able to use dynamics of a virtual world to communicate the details outlined – physical, business services, Data/Component Entities, SOA view, Complete view. Gives you a model that you can use to explain things to people.

To quote Douglas Adams. “Space is big.  You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is.  I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the drg store, but that’s just peanuts to space.”  Virtual worlds can be at the end of a business process, part of the business process or controlling your business process.

Platform Integration Considerations for Enterprise Virtual Worlds

I arrived late, so didn’t catch the whole panel

Rob Smart
Unity 3D looking at peer to peer applications – scales down well as well as up.  e.g. for peer to peer meetings.

People asking about the limitations of laptops in the enterprise for these types of applications.  Personally I think it’s not a big worry as this is just a time thing and there are plenty of other things holding up adoption anyway, so by the time those things are fixed, people will just have better machines anyway and companies should hopefully realise the need to prioritise graphics along with processing.  Vista should help with that I imagine.

Q How to cope with lots of concurrent users
Rob – more productive to spread people over a number of areas.  Optionally can relay chat.  People chat more.

Q Key Drivers
Matt Furman – Always helps to get the CEO on-board!  Got hooks in at the top level and trickles down from there.

Q Should you try and replicate existing buildings or do something new?
Rob – Do something new unless you have a specific need or want to mimic existing structures.

Just wanted to blog a little more about the VW SIG session.

The virtual worlds roadmap is being written by a group of VW enthusiasts, with representation from people like Intel, IBM, Electric Sheep company, Samsung and others.  It’s goal is to be a casebook that documents past efforts (so that the industry does not collectively forget, as sometimes people attempt a problem that turns out to be too difficult with the current technology or user experience, which someone else may attempt again a few years later), lessons learnt and best practices.  The effort is based around identifying major opportunities for virtual worlds and then analysing what the requirements are and what the barries are for their implementation.  This is designed to be a lower level, more pragmatic ongoing approach, compared to the initial high level metaverse roadmap version originally undertaken.  The point being that we all benefit in the industry if we can collectively understand what it will take for these opportunites to reach mass adoption.  The groups are:

Situational Training

Simulated Environments – Education and Entertainment

Paraverse, Mobile Reality, Mixed Reality (top rated)

One other that escapes me

Recently groups met in each category to establish a goal, current state of the industry, Key barries, Future uses and potential.

Next steps are:

  1. The next round of meetings will probably happen Jan 09.
  2. Establish standing teams for each major use in Q4
  3. Establish a wiki toolkit

Finally wanted to mention an interesting discussion with the Mycosm folk who are developing a quite pretty virtual world concept – which builds on IM and then offers users the chance to build their own virtual world which links to others.  Sounds a bit similar to other companies, but what caught my ear was that they are offering a full camera system including different focal length lenses, apetures and depth of field, rather than a simple screenshot approach where everything is in focus.  I imagine some others offer this too, but have not heard about it.

Quick summary of Virtual Worlds London conference day 1…

Ron demoing Olive

Ron demoing Olive

Firstly big thanks to Ron from Ambient Performance for supplying me with a full pass for the conference, when I realised at the last minute that IBM didn’t actually have a stand(!)  Ron was demoing the olive platform during one of the breaks and had a team of people demonstrating how it could be used for sales training.  The team were across the US logged in live.  It was quite amusing as they had a mother and child and the mom was interrupting a sales assistant to say that her child needed the restroom and if she didn’t get help her daughter would go potty right there and then!  🙂

Mark Kindon opened the batting for Linden Labs with a 30min infomercial for Second Life, which was fine by me as a Second Life fan.  It was interesting to see what Rivers Run Red are doing with LL on out of the box virtual spaces, and have largely dropped their agency work to focus on it.  They still have a strong design ethos though from what I saw, with some lovely builds, which take the white label idea to an extreme (very white very Apple).  I think that this and the IBM Sametime/opensim/forterra integration stuff are the most interesting stuff for mainstream business I’ve seen (apart from qwaq).

I was also interested in Mark’s comment about their mixed reality meeting room which carries the spatial sound from second life into the real world nicely.  Perhaps I need to put in for a 7.1 surround sound system.  Sound was the one thing I skimped on when speccing up my pc, settling for on-board sound. 🙂

As for take up by the enterprise of virtual worlds, one thing that came up a few times, was it will just take time.  Takes time for large companies to evaluate, test and assimilate anything, especially something as left field as virtual worlds.  Also, the people for whom this is natural will take time to grow up and become part of the workforce, but it will happen.

Lots of stats from Strategy Analytics, KZero and Gartner.  Was interested in KZero’s assessment that growth areas are virtual worlds based around brands – e.g. watch out for lego (perhaps especially given their successful foray into games), also “vertical worlds” based around specific interest groups.

Steve Prentice from Gartner tried to simplify the whole stats issues.  His rough assessment was that the ratio of software client downloads to real users is 10:1.  Also was strong on the idea of Effort vs. Reward and that VWs are often high effort for low reward.  Contrast this with say World of Warcraft – high effort, high reward and Facebook, low effort, high reward. His other soundbites were,


purpose not volume

value not numbers

people not physics – users don’t give a monkeys about technology, they want to meet people like them.

Moving on to Virtual Worlds in the Workplace session.  Most interesting comment to me, was from Justin Bovington of Rivers Run Red who said that there most asked for feature was a “window on the virtual world” even if they were not logged in – i.e. live video feed from the virtual world.  We’ve thought about doing that, so perhaps we should revisit it!  🙂

Virtual Worlds Roadmap

Virtual Worlds Roadmap

Some good stuff from the Virtual World Roadmap folk later on, who were encouraging folk to get involved.  Ian Hughes and I went up to hand in business cards at the end and suggested that IBM’s Virtual Universe Community could be good contributers to this effort.



Another cool demo I saw, was the haptic device from Anarkik3D

At the end of the day, were 1 or 2 companies who shall remain nameless, but whose sole purpose seemed to be to provide amusement by pitching their ideas in a really poor way.  One had some of the worst slidewear and presentation I’ve ever seen and was then asking for venture capital.  I was still not really sure what the product was or what problem it solved!!!

Champagne on the London Eye

Champagne on the London Eye

I met up with the Metaverse Mod Squad folk afterwards and walked over

MMS at Big Ben

MMS at Big Ben

to the London Eye for Champagne with Crisp Thinking and KZero.

Big Ben

Big Ben

Aftwards we went to the Marriot County Hall for dinner in a private oak pannelled dining room.





Food was delicious!



Thank you Metaverse Mod Squad for the invite!  I have been an advocate for their business model since coming across them at the NY VW show back in March.  Land in virtual worlds is cheap for companies, people are expensive.  Do the maths and that says that even popular places will often feel empty…. unless staffed by enthusistic affordable non-specialists, which is where MMS come in.

I’d better get some sleep as it’s 12:47am and in too short a time I have to get up, head into London and do it all over again.

Another try!

Originally uploaded by Boris Frampton

Another shot of the outside of the VGDC

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