Emerging Virtual Social World (VSW) Sensibilities and Design Principles

This week Global Innovation community within IBM hosted and event in Second Live to discuss our new Emerging Business Opportunity (EBO) that is focused on 3D Internet (3Di).

Global Innovation Outlook Meeting in SL

Above, Colin Parris, VP of the 3Di EBO is going over a presentation where he was discussing the evolution of the Web from Web 1.0 to Web 2.0 to Web 3D.

Our 12 islands on SL are cleverly designed where our forums sit on the corner of 4 sims/islands. This allows us to bring more folks together in a shared space.

IBM's 12 Islands in SL

To all of us present, it looked like we were all in the same place. Actually, Colin was on one Island in Section 2 and I was on another Island in Section 4 (see below). But it all FELT like the same place…and it was not the champagne we got from greeters that made me think that ; )

Sipping Champagne in Section 4

The more I hang out in this space the more I am starting to see sensibilities and design principles that are emerging. Here are a few sensibilities and design principles I have come up with to get things rolling:

Proximity: VSWs are not bound by physical geographic restrictions. This provides opportunity for leverage of “one-to-many” and “peer-to-peer” interactions on a global scale. This GE Video (which I am willing to bet is a Machinima) gets across the idea of the death of distance as a frog teleports around the world:

Perspective: VSWs allow avatars to view objects and situations from a number of different perspectives. This allows people to experience situations from multiple viewpoints thus enhancing the experiential learning experience. Joe Miller from Second Life has a great demo on this where he pulls his 3D Molecule Maker and shows us the Caffeine and Aspirin molecules and then not only interacts with them but even sits on them ; )

Immersion: The VSW environment is immersive. You are your avatar and the environment itself restricts the ability to multitask. Your presence, or lack thereof, is more explicit in VSWs and your feeling of being there is more real than other media moderated interaction. This video of Peter Yellowlees work at UC Davis demonstrates how non Schizophrenics can immerse themselves in an environment allows one to experience what it feels like to be a Schizophrenic.

Interactivity: VSWs create the spatial, temporal and material conditions for interaction. Unlike the 2D web, interactivity is not disembodied and asynchronous, rather it is embodied, synchronous and richer than 2D. The building video I point to below combines interactivity and co-creation.

Co-Creation: The role of prototype as a shared space core to enabling the improvisation that results in innovation. VSWs give us the opportunity to communicate in real time about a prototype that is being co-constructed. As such, VSWs are not just about developing clever ideas, but more importantly they are about creating clever interactions between people. This video really demonstrates how people can learn via co-creation within a 3D context.

Rehearsal: This video shows how troops can rehearse search procedures in Virtual Iraq.

At the end of the day, I believe that 3D Immersive Learning Sims will NOT replace courses any more than e-learning did. I think we should get really smart about sensibilities that VSW technology enables and apply it to augment the learning exprience.

Here are a few half-baked design principles that are emerging:

    VSWs will only be leveraged as an affordance to the existing programs and will only be applied where it is clear that this pedagogical approach, by virtue of its unique sensibilities, will further the individual and organizational objectives of the program

    VSWs are about generative learning. To quote Drucker, “…training is about teaching people to do things the company has figured out and the outcome is productivity. Learning is about having people figure out what needs to be done and the outcome is growth.”

    VSWs are enablement mechanisms for Argyris and Schon’s double-loop learning concept. They allow people to explore what they think about the concepts that they learned

    Borrowing from VSW’s close cousin, MMORPG (they are kin but definitely not twins), we can add some elements of competition into the VSW that can serve as a scaffold to motivate folks to really learn the content of the program and internalize it for themselves.

    In VSWs there is no distance. Geography converges into a common cluster of pixels in virtual space, and yet when you get there you are all there and you feel part of something. Just ask the people who went to the first Woodstock in 2L. We can leverage the disappearance of distance to great advantage here.

    In VSWs distraction is less and more can be accomplished in a shorter time by more people who are digitally co-located

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