Virtual Worlds III is in full swing up in New York and around the blogosphere. The big news is that IBM announces a development deal with Second Life to bring their platform to the enterprise. This is yet one more piece of the puzzle that falls into place for a vision for what I am calling the i-web singularity: A technological black hole at the apex of four technological vectors that is moving forward at an exponential pace and integrating across vectors at the same time.
I have noodled on this topic before, but this time I think the focus is getting sharper.
Vector 1: Flatland 2D Learning applications integrate with Knowledge sharing repositories. The outcome here is that truly NETWORKed Virtual Spaces emerge. These spaces will integrate Synchronous Sharing with Asynchronous Storage so there is finally a one stop shop for storage and sharing of content. Since MS owns Sharepoint and Live Meeting they could create a slam dunk in this arena. Cisco bought Webex for 3.2Billion dollars (Austin Powers comes to mind) recently so they must be looking for some kind of value-added play here too and I know that know that my students would love nothing more than more jumping back and between Illuminante to Vista (Blackboard) and Yahoo Groups to get their work done.
Vector 2: Web 2.0 meets Knoweldge Sharing Spaces. I won’t go over well trodden ground on how Blogs, Wikis and Social Media sites like Facebook and Myspace are revolutionizing real-time interactive KM concepts. However, the true transformation lever in the Web 2.0 revolution for me is is the one least discussed: Tagging/Folksonomy. Pretty much everyting created and stored in the Web 2.0 domain (people,profiles and content) is TAGGED. This means that contextually relevant knoweldeg through people or content is much more easily or even serendipitously encountered. More tagging means more knowledge accidents of both the people-to-people and people-to-information kind. In the attention economy, information is the currency, people are the transport mechanism and conversation is the transfer mechanism. The mash-up between real-time tagging and NETWORKed Virtual spaces will jack up knowledge accidents and drive the immediacy of access to key information and interaction with key people around a given task or activity. In this emerging virtually afforded, contextually relevant matchmaking world, knowledge discovery and expert encounters becomes like air, it just happens and people don’t give it a second thought.
Vector 3: The 212 degree point for for both Trend 1 and 2 is when the web enters the next dimension, literally. With the infusion of 3Di technology, it is only a matter of time before 3D Social Networking taking off. The 3Di space is a different kind of cottage industry. It is the first one I have encountered that is run on blogs. The time between idea and actualization is tending towards zero. Case in point, at Virtual Worlds II in Christian Renaud’s Keynote introduction Ruben Steiger predicted that one of the key Social Networking sites (Facebook or Myspace) would go 3D in 2008. Later that SAME AFTERNOON the Active Worlds booth was demoing a 3D Facebook page mash-up that someone had sent them. When you think about it it just plain makes sense. Look at MySpace. They will truly become MySPACE (and not MyPAGE as it is today) and actualize their brand promise by integrating 3D technology. It is just too obvious an outcome for it not to happen. This social movement will, in turn – like its more stripped down relative instant messaging – will then force corporate CIOs to develop enterprise grade 3D Facebook/Myspace mash-ups for their for corporate citizens. Forterra is already playing with integrating sametime into their platform and Proton Media already has enterprise grade 3D Myspace built into its archtecture. So from both the consumer, enterprise and vendor side of the equation we are seeing convergence here.
Vector 4: Last , but by no means least we see how Synchronous 2D learning platforms will enter the third dimension. As is the case with social media, it just plain makes sense that flatland distance learning systems like Webex, Adobe, Citrix and Illuminate will be pulled into the 3D realm, particularly given the activity in the other four vectors. Karl Kapp and I have written extensively on this and I have a summary of our notion of learning applicaitons escaping flatland here.
These four vectors are on a collision to creat the i-web: Immersive, Interactive, Immediate and Intuitive. When this world-wide, three-dimensional, avatar-mediated Cognosphere emerges we will truly reach a singularity: a point where technological progress reaches infinity as it relates to leveraging and enabling human capital.
The i-web will become a worldwide virtual platform that allows people to exercise their skills and abilities passion around endeavors that matter most to them (and get paid for it too). The i-web will be like e-bay for trading work rather than second-hand products. No one will work for the i-web. Instead the i-web will work for them. Providing i-web dwellers the opportunity to find both work and people to work with on endeavors that they share a passion around. e-Bay allowed people to sell their personal items in a world-wide yard sale, the i-web will allow people to sell their personal skills and abilities in much the same way.
Free agent nation – nay virtual planet – here we come! If you think the i-phone was cool, wait until the i-web consumes us (or our avatars).
Here is the 2minute 30 second romp through the model on YouTube: