Virtual Worlds 2007 Data Dump from Day 1

WOW. All I can say, is that the last two days at this conference really opened my eyes to the possibilities for virtual worlds. I leave even MORE convinced of the potential for virtual worlds to change the real-world and being committed to finding a way to dedicating all my energy to contributing to making it happen.

Mark Wallace over at 3pointD is the most prolific blogger in this space. You can essentially see transcripts of all the panels there I gotta learn to type faster…I wonder if he has some kinda voice to text cos he does a masterful job.

Since it is now 1AM and I am going into the Game Change conference in Toronto tomorrow I can only do a data dump list for now. I will double-loop all this when I get some time on the plane tomorrow. But wanted to get raw ah-has out there tonight before I lost them.

Go to Mark’s page for more details, but here is what I had highlited as left-hand-column instances of brilliance in my experience of the conference:

Philip Rosedale Keynote:

    Second life is a playful place to make neat things.

    The thing that is cool about Second Life is not that it is 3D it is that it has other people in it and you can interact with them.

    When you go to Amazon to buy a book there are hundreds or even thousands of folks on that same page but you never know that. Virtual worlds are technology mediated experiences that include us in it!

MTV/Nickelodian KEYNOTE(Media Meets Virtual Worlds)

    The true potential is when linear content (i.e. programs on TV) meets user generated content. When watching TV becomes living TV.

    When individual and independent avatars can influence the story arcs for linear programming, audience consumption and engagement goes up.

    Our (Laguna Beach) audience lives in a world that is parallel to what they see on air, only they are the stars and they create their own experience.

    Media does not replace Media.

    In the new world of media it is about participation, personalization and customization. We have to move from passive consumtion to active engagement.

    In this new world the AUDIENCE IS THE CONTENT.

    We need to make the GLIDE PATH into vitual worlds a lot less onerous to increase adoption.

    NEOPETS: 11 Million monthly users, 150 million game plays per month

    NICKTROPOLIS: 2.4 Million users, 1.3 million rooms created 7.5 million visits, 50 million game plays, 21 Million items exchanged.

    Don’t sit this one out, join us and help us make it so!


    Corey Bridges of Multiverse talked about the idea of a universal metaverse browser. This is first incling of the notion of intraverses where I can go from verse to verse (meta or intra). Their business model on the B2C side is cool…software is free and we take 10% of what you sell after that, but enterprise clients wanting to do B2E stuff will need another model to engage.

    Trilogy got in with There to do the Laguna Beach stuff. That is showing how the gaming capabilities of flow/addiction and slick visual rendering and some captivating elements of rendering are bleeding into the free for all UGC end of the spectrum that we find in SL.

    Entropia continues to be of interest with its hard wired real-economy dollars (PEDs). They are up to 600K users and the currency throughput has gone up from $150M to $360M in a year. John Bates brought up the notion of involvement marketing by showing a Video that an Entropia fan put together. There is more and more of this. Kinda like the meme of residents building stuff in world for Second Life tallies up to about $1.2B per year, here we have folks building commericals for the prodcut because they enjoy the experience so much and want others to grok it. Could not find the exaple John used, but there were plenty to choose from on You Tube. Here is one to give you a taste:

    Another issue the panel brought up was the notion of taxation and or regulation to stop laundering. Most panelists think that it is just a matter of time until government swoops down and slams VWs with taxation on casinos/gambling in VWs.

    One of the big dualities emerged in this panel and the meme propogated throughout the conference: User Generated Content on a fully open platform (SL) versus a heavily locked down platform where players are bound by narrative and rules and have little or creative liscence within world (WOW). This was further broked down into two types of platform: Blank Canvas (With No Vetting or Some Vetting) and Themed Worlds (with various graditions of allowing for UGC).

All in all I was blown away by what MTV is doing with their themed worlds. They are taking the aggregation of “couch potatos” and trying to turn them into “mouse potatos.” They went with as a platform, but also leveraged Trilogy (game design folks) to make the world more nuanced and aligned with sensibilities of the demographic. The are now building highways between the themed worlds (Hills, Laguna and new Van Nuys build for Pimp My Ride).

Oh, by the way, 4 years from now the millions and millions of kids who have been living, learning, working and playing in this way will be walking thorough the hallowed halls of corporate America. What will we have that is as engaging and sticky as what MTV is doing to keep them passionate and engaged in endeavors that bring value to business and society? Time to get a move on folks!

Almost 2 AM gotta go to bed. I will do a dump on Day 2 tomorrow. My favorite was Future Panel and the Motorati story. But for now some shuteye. Carbon life forms need to recharge too you know ; )

Over and out from Toronto.

Virtual Worlds Going Mainstream!

I know, I have been a bad bad blogger lately. But rest assured, I have not been idle and now you get to share in the fruits of my labor!

At Training this year I delivered a presentation entitled Games and the Future of Learning at 8:00 AM on the opening day of the conference. To my pleasant surprise, the room was packed and the energy palpable.

I won’t go into the whole story about Tony’s typical last minute shennanigans in pulling together pitches, but suffice to say that I pulled this one off with very very little sleep the night before. That being said, the response to this pitch was overwhelming. Folks were truly pumped about the possibilities for games and virtual social worlds.

Since that pitch much has happened both internally and externally. The e-Learning Guild published their report on Immersive Learning Sims, I wrapped and IBM study on Leadership in Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing games and Lisa Neal at e-Learning Magazine asked Jay Cross, Eilif Trondsen and I to do a piece on VSWs for this months edition (good timing right ahead of the first Virtual Worlds conferece in NY next week).

The e-Learn article is up right now so please have a read and see let us know what you think.

If you liked it, and you did not make my session at Training, I have been working like a maniac to condense this message form this pitch down. I bought some video editing software and hacked together a 9 minute piece that I really believe will leave you with a true sense of the incredible possibilities that the 3D internet offers to learning. I spent over 30 hours to get this thing together, between learning how to film in virtual worlds, to learning how to edit video and audio, to scouring the web for good examples of the sensibilites and audio clips from visionaries like Jimmy Wales from Wikipedia.

Take a look, the first two mintes are talkie, but then I get into some very cool machinima clips from inside virtual worlds that bring the sensibilities alive. To completely mash up some of Jay’s eloquent writing, my latest one liner is “Avatars are Free Range Learners and Virtual Social Worlds are the Learnscape within which they learn.”

So go get a coffee, sit back for a 10 minute break and take a look at movie director debut ; ). More importantly please respond here in this blog so others can share in your widsom.

UGH, unfortunately it seems that this billion dollar lawsuit is causing some drag on our Google pals. For whatever reason, access to this video intermittent. As a backup, I have posted a slightly longer,ergo more detailed version of this video on Acid Planet. The benefit of this site is that you can download the file for your own use, the downside is it costs you two more clicks!

Click HERE to view and/or download.

In the Web 2.0 world is all about Rip, Remix, Resubmit, Repeat. Let me know how to make this better of if you are better at video editing than me, rip it, remix it, resubmit it and lets get the power Wikiography (as opposed to videography) going.

Lifelogging from SL: Part Deux

Today we held a baby shower for a colleague of ours in the UK. Stae Young let us use the Agora Ballroom. He and Liv (his wife) put a ton of work into decorating the ballroom in a blue theme since Tracy is having a little boy.

We sent Tracy gifts via snail mail. She then opened them while we were all in the Agora ballroom and our pal Cal Gemini ported in pictures as Tracy opened the gifts and described them.

Cal also rendered out a picture of a quilt that one of our colleagues made for Tracy. She is waiting to embroider the birth-date and name before and sending it over the UK, but here as you can see, Tracy got a good look at it.

Of, course, since we were at the Agora, we needed to try out our (or more accurately Stae’s) dance moves ; )

So what Tony? Why blog this? Aren’t you basically just goofing off here?

Actually, I was moved to blog this based on a few things that Tracy said. She said that in the UK baby showers are not common so she did not know what to expect. At the end of our time together Tracy said she was really touched by all the effort her colleagues had put into producing this experience for her and she felt she now knew what a baby shower really was all about! Sounds like an authentic learning experience to me. So, she LEARNED what an American baby shower was, not by reading about it but by actually EXPERIENCING it.

Let’s go back to the sensibilities of VSWs again. We leveraged the DEATH OF DISTANCE to allow folks to convene in one place in cyberspace from many places in matterspace. We leveraged the POWER of PRESENCE within the Agora Ballroom and by porting in pics of the gifts that Tracy was opening which led to an ENRICHMENT of EXPERIENCE for all involved.

I would also venture to guess that she will remember this experience far more than a conference call or Centra session since our minds are wired to absorb things in 3D and there are a lot more memory hooks for us to hang stuff on when we experience things in three dimensions. So, we managed to share with Tracy an American cultual artifact in a digital world witout any of us having to leave our respective abodes, or countries for that matter.

Now, change the context from a Baby Shower to something like a Negotiation around a complex deal or a consultative selling situation around a white space opportunity and real possibilities for this experential learning platform as a source of competitive business advantage emerge.

In Informal Learning, Jay Cross has coined a number of new terms. Free Range Learners and Learnscapes are two of my favorites. Avatars are Free Range Leaners and the 3D internet is their Learnscape.

By applying the sensibilities of VSWs in thoughtful and creative ways we can create truly new expriences that cannot be accomplished (either practically, financially or due to the laws of physics) in the real world.

Liv and Stae Young are a poster children in the Virtual from Gilmore and Pine’s work that talks about the Experience Economy (see my earlier post on this.).

Each week that goes by opens me up to more insights and the event horizon on possibilities moves further out into the vast abyss of opportunity. This platform provides a place in cyberspace where Don Tapscott’s Wikinomics concepts are coming to life in new and different ways every day. It truly is the wild wild west of the web. Grab a flag, stake your claim and build great things!

Over and out…gotta get some sleep for a change.

Lifelogging from SL

As I write I am in SL attending IBM’s first Machinima Ocsars around the theme of IBM’s Greater Connection Network. Here I am heading into the Auditorium for the main event:

Here is the intro to the Machinima Contest. All entries were pumped into the video screen you see in the center of the auditorium above.

I was so energized to see the co-crative energies of colleagues at IBM come to life here and from what I could gather so too were my colleagues who attended the event.

Thankfully, there fruit of their co-creative labor is available to all via You Tube. For those of you trying to find videos that explain the possibilities of virtual worlds take a look, you may find useful snippits here.

Click here to see the individual videos.

Onward and upward….got to go to a baby shower for one of my colleagues…yes it is in SL

Is Steve Behind This?

Ran across this while trolling YouTube for latest on the Verse. Not clear whether or not Apple is actually behind it but it certainly confirms that the apple culture resses quite well in the Verse. File this one under Metaverse and Commerce.

Into the VerseScape

OK, been a while since I posted. Sorry.

Been thinking a lot about the ‘Verse. I know that SL is the 300 pound gorilla in the room, but certainly not the only game in town and depending on what your business intentions are, there may be other solutions that work better.

This is my first and I am sure meager attempt to catalogue some of the major players across a continuum. Please help me make it better:

Clearly a SL/There/Big World play where the Virtual Social World has an economic underpinning and the primary value drivers are commerce and collaboration within those contexts.

Where organizaitons are keen to extend their learning and collaboration technologies into the third dimension. They want to do all the things that their LMS and Collaboration Software can do but extend it into the 3D realm. Centra meets Saba in the 3D world if you will.

Where communities and organizations want to leverage the power of 3D for community and collaboration across firewalls. Not unlike some of the existing collaborative technologies that allow customers to share virtual space with providers. The Interverse is about facilitating 3D interaction between communities and enterprises who have a common goal that requires a higher level of collaboration. Think about New Product Development Prototyping, Chip Layout, Architecture Reviews etc….

So you have the Metaverse, InterVerse and Intraverse. These verses roughly correlate to the value drivers of Commerce, Collaboration and Learning. But as you can see in the picture, these value drivers themselves have overlap value spaces.

Below that I have tried to map SOME of the key players in terms of how they can enable the value drivers. SL is clearly in the Metaverse/Commerce and Intraverse/Collaboration realm with the emphais being on the former. There and Forterra are different packages of the same stuff. One for Metaverse and other for Intra/Interverse. There already has VOIP on board but the difference is you can’t buils stuff like you can in SL. If Peer Procuction (or prosumption) as Tapscott calls it is what you are after, then SL is probably your best bet.

However if you want a platform that runs on 56K, integrates with existing apps, allows you to fire up a browser in world and oh-yeah integrates with your current LMS you may want to check out Protosphere. Metaverse is a new arrival on the scene (for me at least so have not had a chance to grok it) but it seems to fit somewhere in between. And finally for all of us who are educators and have bene salivating over SL meets Moodle (SLOODLE), I’d urge you to take a look at Open Croquet. Some big brains behind this software, most noticably Alan Kay

I Love Web 2.0

The more I steep myself into the Web 2.0 and 3Di domain the more amazed I become.

Throughout today grabbing 5 minutes here and there to upload snippits and about 2 more hours this PM after everyone was in bed, I was able to put this picture/video montage together on Jumpcut:

Movie Link

Movie Thumbnail
It's Up to You!

This was literally thrown together per per Brent Schlenker and Mark Oehlert’s RIP, MIX, FEED, repeat, repeat…infinity ideas…thanks guys ; )

Take a look and let me know what you think. It is my first attempt to demonstrate the key Synthetic World Sensibilities and at the end I ask you whether you are willing to be like Neo and take the Red Pill. I need to learn how to use/import audio etc…but it is a start.

I got to get some sleep…over and out from Cary

Co-Creation Abounds: Thanks to Tom Crawford

I just love the blogosphere.

My learnings have been both broad and profund since I decided to trade 90 minutes of sleep for 90 minutes of double loop learning.

Tom Crawford, someone who I have been fortunate enough to know for over five years now, took my half-baked attempt at a taxonomy for 3Di environments and made it better.

Check out Tom’s musings on the updated model here. And, if you feel inclined, take a shot at improving it further.

3Di as a Platform for Entrepreneurial Capitalism?

In an earlier blog I mused on whether or not SL could become a platform that ushered in the experience economy. I have been reading Henry Jenkins’ blog where he admonishes folks for talking about continuums or waves of web evolution, but I am still compelled to throw out a few ideas that have been coming to mind on this topic. I am not suggesting in any way that Web 1.0 or 2.0 disappears in this visual rendering, but rather that each iteration technological discontinuity weaves new strands of value that coalesce in a new architecture (social and technical) that discovers new ways to create and share value.

Having the benefit of perspective, I’d like to suggest that the Web 1.0 revolution was all about the democratization of ACCESS. Industries like Financial Services, Banking, Retail, Travel and Government predictably saw value in providing their customers with access to information about their accounts so they could drive more transactions and thus generate more fees. Support industries to Web 1.0 like Technology Services, IT and Telecom rode the wave to support these industries in bringing the access value proposition to their clients.

The read-only web provided us with the opportunity to access more information than ever before and clever new businesses like Google, Amazon and e-bay found ways to monetize that access for their own gain. The attention and energy in the read-only web orbited around the value exchanged for finding and accessing information.

Napster served as the relay-baton between Web 1.0 and Web 2.0. The read-write web is all about the democratizaiton of sharing, participation and collaboration. Industries like Media and Entertainment, Publishing and Education see the participatory web a discontinuity and threat to their meat and potatoes (or couch potato) audience that were traditionally passive consumers of media/content.

The millennial generation is NOT passive. They want to interact and collaborate. That is why the average MySpace page gets 30 hits a day. They want to be engaged in the creative process rather than just being a consumer of it. Rupert Murdoch seems to get this and bought MySpace. Google follows suit it and bought You Tube and we are witnessing a huge redefinition of how the Media and Entertainment industry develops and distributes content and a shift in business models around that new dynamic in how they extract value from the market for doing so.

This democratization of participation and collaboration is also buttressed by a new set of economic platforms and a redefinition of the employer/employee contract. Sites such as e-Bay provide a platform for member driven value creation. The people who generate incomes from eBay are not eBay employees, They participate in the use of the platform provided by eBay (and Paypal etc.) to allow them to find/create their own value.

If you have not yet seen this powerful clip on Web 2.0, I urge you to spend the few minutes to grok it.

The Web 2.0 era ushers in a number of new value exchange platforms that are oriented around reputation capital (how good an e-Bayer are you) and referant capital (How many eyeballs does your name/blog attract and what is it worth to be associated with you? Adding to that the availability of a commerce and advertising platform from Web 1.0 and we see lots of different channels for value creation. More importantly these channels are leveraged less by enterprise and more by entrepreneur. The deeper we go into Web 2.0 the more we create a platform for entrepreneurial capitalism as popularized by Karl Schramm.

If Napster was the relay baton from Web 1.0 to Web 2.0, then Wikipedia and Linux are the bridge to the 3D internet (3Di). Wikipedia and Linux were all about the collaborative co-creation. In one case the development of a dictionary in another an operating system. Wikipedia was created by a volunteer workforce for the benefit of everyone worldwide. Thus the notion of virtual co-creation is firmly established as a pattern at the edge of Web 2.0. With the advent of 3Di I see significant opportunities for collaboration and innovation. Innovation is a creative process. It is socially constructed and emerges from interactivity.

The 3Di environment is naturally suited to that and so it is only a matter of time before we move from Web 1.0 (Democratization of Access) to Web 2.0 (Democratization of Participation and Collaboration) to Web 3D (Enablement of true generative learning and co-creation distributed virtually across the world). If you buy into Michael Schrage’s notion that the prototype is the engine of innovation (and I do), we now have a socially immersive environment where people all around the world can convene to communicate, collaborate and co-create in real time.

Throw on top of that the fact that even more sophisticated alternate-currency and currency exchange platforms are emerging to enable value exchange for that which is created in these 3D spaces and things get interesting. Joe Miller (Linden Lab) mentioned in a discussion the other day that 12 Wal-Marts worth of objects were bought and sold within 2L last month. That is a lot of trade.

Yes, I did read Ed Castranova’s piece on this too…I agree that SL is only an economy the size of Mayberry, but hey, New York was only the size of Mayberry once too. It is the possibility I am trying to get you to contemplate. If you stay there long enough you might actually come up with ways of capitalizing on this new and pliable value creation mechanism.

In this new world, entrepreneurs are creating and leveraging new value exchange platforms for their own benefit as well as for those who participate in their use. Another phenomenon I observe is that these platforms again start to challenge the notion of enterprise. Instead of just having “employees” work for them, places like e-bay and Second Life are enabling “members or citizens” to work through them. Imagine you opened up a new digital nation, and people moved there, became citizens and started paying taxes. You get to make the rules and tax people. But why would anyone move to your nation? Short answer is better roads, telephones, and opportunities to work (create and capture value). Sound familiar? There are over 720,000 Americans whose primary or secondary income comes from e-Bay and there are at least half a million folks in SL spending $1M in hard currency on a daily basis.

Here is how Jim Spohrer from IBM Services Research explains how these platforms work:

    Google Platform; Members can add AdLinks to their own website, and if somone clicks and buys via their link, Google gives them a small percentage.

    eBay Platform: Members can buy and sell, and eBay gets to tax each transaction (building up a reputation dossier on everyone, to make the world safer for commerce – governments keep citizens safe).

    Amazon Platform: Members can add links to books, etc. to their own website, and if someone buys via their link, Amazon gives them a small percentage.

    SecondLife Plaftorm: Members create products and services to sell, and SecondLife provides the infrastructure and currency markets in Linden dollars (the most direct analogy to setting up an “island nation”).

Our own work at IBM suggests that this generation is more interested in the endeavor than the enterprise and that they would rather be an entrepreneur than an employee.

The interesting thing Jim notes is that most businesses in the “Real World” need employees to make money. However, platform providers like Google, eBay, Amazon, and SecondLife have a small number of employees that run the platform, but a large number of members or citizens who leverage that platform in unique ways to create and capture value.

The entrepreneurial capitalists generate wealth proportional to the number of members or citizens, more like a nation. Solow production functions for economic growth show that production increases in proportion to population, capital intensity, and knowledge and innovation growth.

Entrepreneurial Capitalists endeavor to create platforms that enable members/citizens to do work that they would have to pay employees to do, and the member/citizens are willing to do the work without being an employee, because they too are entrepreneurial capitalists with opportunities to create value and be rewarded for it. Again, Joe Miller had a great illustration of this in calculating how much work SL citizens have contributed to build out the islands.

Furthermore, when we move into the research IBM has been doing in MMORPGs it is clear that economies and affordance structures play a huge part in making the experience a success. So, as we shift from Web 1.0 to 2.0 it is not only the value proposition that is changing (i.e. From Access to Participation/Collaboration) but the underlying economic model that incents participation without requiring employment that is very interesting.

With the advent of 3Di we see significant opportunities for collaboration and innovation. Innovation is a creative process. It is socially constructed and emerges from interactivity. The 3Di environment is naturally suited to that and so it is only a matter of time before we move from Web 1.0 (Democratization of Access) to Web 2.0 (Democratization of Participation and Collaboration) to Web 3D (Enablement of true generative learning and co-creation distributed virtually across the world).

If we believe Schrage that the prototype is the engine of innovation, with 3Di we now have a socially immersive environment where people all around the world can convene to communicate, collaborate and co-create in real time. As Ron Burns from Proton Media suggests perhaps we are moving from an era of Social Capital to Social Capitalism!

Dan Gilbert

Dan Gilbert spoke at Training 2007. He is an incredibly affable, funny and insightful person. His book, Stumbling on Happiness is a best seller.

One of the things that I really enjoy about speaking at conferences is the speaker room. Over the years I have been fortunate to meet and chat with a number of incredible people. Dan is no exception. Here is a 21 minute version of Dan discussing his research on Happiness.

To tie this back to my FREEDOM Mnemonic for Synthetic Worlds, I Love the following quote from Dan, “Freedom to choose, the ability to make up and change your mind is the friend of natural happiness and the enemy of synthetic happiness.” (Timestamp 14:22).