Surviving Digital Darwinism

Thanks to everyone for your very kind words about my presentation at OEB Midsummit today. It was a labor of love and I really appreciate how many of you took time out to share how you appreciated the narrative approach. Thanks also to Gary Zamchick who is my visual partner in crime on projects such as this.

For those who want the WHOLE Story….I will post later today

Metanomics: Book Overview and 3DTLC

PHEW, Nice to be back. Finally getting around to an update. Things have been incredibly busy of late. Plus have been setting up another blog for a course I am doing at Fuqua so my blogging attention/allocation was pretty much spent. All good stuff though ; ).

Rob Bloomfield was kind enough to have be back on Metanomics again at the beginning of the month. We delved into the core chapter of the book that Karl Kapp and I wrote on Learning in 3D (out in January) and we talked about how 3DTLC is shaping up for September.


You can check out the video by clicking HERE:

For the main event Margaret Regan who is President and CEO of the FutureWork Institute. Margaret was kind enough to let us write a case on her comany’s work with 3D applied to Diversity and Inclusion.

This video of FutureWork island is a GREAT example of how the thoughtful application of 3D technology can create a powerful 3D Learning Experience.

OK back to figuring out the 3DTLC show lineup. It is shaping up to be a very cool couple of days in San Jose BTW so sign up NOW!


Well, it is just about midnight, a perfect time to double-loop/synthesize what happened over the past 48 hours at the conference.


I am in that happy-but-exhausted place that is both sad it is over but glad at the same time. Sad because I think we managed to get a solid groundswell of positive energy going around Enterprise Virtual worlds, glad because channelling the energy of such passionate and innovative people for two days straight can drain your own reserves quickly ; )

We definitely had the right people in the room. We were not lacking in passion, or opinion, as a fledgling community that wants desperately to become legitimate in the eyes of the enterprise.

Taking a page from my research into MMORPGs a few years back we decided as a community to bring the affordance of backchat into the real world by leveraging Twitter. In fact at around 3PM today the ” #3DTLC” hashtag trended on Twitter – Ashton Kutcher and Oprah better be looking over their shoulders the TLC tweeterrati is onto them.

If you want to check out the whole Twitter Stream, this link should do the trick (warning over 100 pages worth of tweets):

Some Teasers from the Twitter Stream:

    “The Immersive Internet – Emerging technologies combined with a social culture that has roots in gaming and virtual worlds” – Erica Driver

    “The first-time user experience in virtual worlds, to put it bluntly, sucks.” – Steve Prentice

    “If you can’t get peple to use GoToMeeting, how r u going to get them to use VW? – Steve Prentice

    “Nobody can miss the irony that we’re the leading lights in virtual worlds and we’re having this physical meeting.” – Steve Prentice

    “The middle layer of the company is where the resistance is the greatest.” – Joe Little

    “We dont know where we are going but we are going to invent new things that do not compare to existing models of learning and working.” Dick Riedl

    “You should have to justify a lecture just as much as any other learning approach” – Intellagirl

    “Education abuses students when it is monlogic. Lets not treat students like receptacles that need to be filled.” – Intellagirl

    “Bad teaching is bad teaching no matter where you do it.” – Dick Reidl

    “We will have pedagogy that is purpose built for Virtual Worlds” – Karl Kapp

    “For Diversity Experience there is nothing Better than Walking in Another Person’s Shoes” – Margaret Regan

    “Trying to do training the old way in this new environment is not effective” – Debbie Dalmand

    “It is not about ME, it is about WE” – Randy Hinrichs

    “It is not about BEING there, it is about DOING there” – Randy Hinrichs

    “It is not about the DATABASE, it is about the HUMAN RACE” – Randy Hinrichs

    “The only actions taken by user should be ones that reflect end goals and intermediate steps should be taken automatically” – Sibley Verbeck

    “We need to move beyond “one size fits all” software and see specific applications of VW tech to much narrower use cases” – Sibley Verbeck

    “There is a gap in the maturity of virtual world vendor business models versus what enterprise expects in doing business” – John Hengeveld

    “We will have arrived when the tool becomes part of the workflow and dissolves the ‘virtualworldness’ away – Ian Hughes

    “The power of the immersive is in the emotional impact” – Robin Williams

    “In the recruitment sphere there is no better way to reach so many in so many locations.” – Keith Dugdale

    “The US Holocaust Memorial Museum was created in Second Life to educate via learning thru movement – Learning Kinetically” – David Klevan

    “Technologies succeed when they meet a need that people care about” – John Hengeveld

    “The last thing we want to do is increase the efficiency with which we’re ineffective.” – Your’s Truly ; )

OK, I gotta go to BED now. Thanks to the community for the coming, connecting, contributing and co-creating new insight.

Over and out.

Presentation at Irish Learning Alliance

On March 16 of last month (the day before St. Patrick’s Day) I had the great pleasure of meeting the Taoiseach (Prime Minister) of Ireland, Brian Cowen.

Here is what he had to say about e-Learning in Ireland and beyond just prior to my Keynote address to the group:

Here is a short video of the ILA meeting Highlights:

Also, per multiple requests from attendees, here are the slides from my Keynote from that conference:

They did tape my whole keynote so when it becomes available I will post it here also.

Virtual Worlds Conference at UT Austin


I had the good fortune of keynoting the Virtual Worlds conference at UT Austin. The conference was broken into two days: Academic and Enterprise. You can see the agenda here.

On Thursday, the winning papers submitted to Management Information Services Quarterly (MISQ) special edition on Virtual Worlds. Over 60 papers were submitted to this special edition – a significant number to be sure. The papers spanned both MMORPG and Virtual Words and explored issues of indentity, place and space, and virtual trading/commerce.

There is some GREAT academic working going on in the Virtual World/MMORPG space and I would encourage you all to get a hold of the special issue when it comes out.

Last night Eilif Trondsen and I had the chance to walk around the campus and check out the famous bats in Austin. It was certainly a sight to see. Here is a shot of the tower at UTA. I just love campuses so much energy and curiosity. Wherever I go I always try to walk the campus to feed off that energy.


On the enterprise side, Craig Becker form IBM addressed a very large audience at the Business School yesterday evening. He did a great job of sharing the IBM story. Most notable to me, however, was when Craig asked how many people had an Avatar in SL, less than 10 folks raised their hands…and most of them were faculty not students.

This morning I addressed the group and worked hard to tie the research papers to the Seven Sensibilities of Virtual Worlds that I talk about a lot. Turns out that there was a very good mapping.

Here are the charts:

Panel 1: Virtual Worlds as a Platform for Commerce and Collaboration
Right now, listening to a great panel that includes Dell, Cisco, American Cancer Society, and U of Stockholm.

Laura Thomas from Dell mentioned how she leverages twitter to drive spontaneous virtual world interactions around emerging news. She simply tweets that she will be in the Virtual Cafe on Dell island and those who follow her on Twitter show up if available.

Anne Lange from Cisco, following on Laura’s theme, brought up some great points about Virtual Worlds being but one component of the emerging digitally enabled Human Network. I think she is right on. I have written on this before in this post where I ask “What is the Uber Web 2.0/3Di Mash Up for the Enterprise”.

David Neff had a great talk on how the American Cancer Society is leveraging virtual worlds and seeing significant value. In building their environment on a community model, ACS generated $2,000 in charitable donations in 2004. In 2005 that number rose to $5000, In 2006 it jumped to $41,000, in 2007 they were at $118,000, and in 2008 that number rose to $215000. David’s talk was truly inspiring and a GREAT example of how they are able to leverage the virtual world for a very noble cause. As he says Cancer never sleeps and neither will we.

Robin Teigland from University of Stockholm is talking about the commerce in Entropia Universe from Mindark. Entropia does not get near the visibility of Second Life but they are certainly worth checking out. Entropia is very much oriented around virtual commerce and they are now a real Sweedish bank, having secured a license in March 2009. Entropia is different in that virtual assets deteriorate. If you are a digger and you use a shovel, it wears out and you need to buy a new one.

Mindark is partnering with CHINA (yes China) to create a “Virtual Economy District – A Virtual World where millions will work, communicate and be in love.”

Robin’s View of the she explores two key uncertainties to set up a potential set of scenarios:

    In 2012 how advanced will the usage of virtual worlds be? Very Advanced or Less Advanced

    How integrated will virtual worlds be? Integrated or Fragmented

This analysis sets up Four Scenarios for 2015: Integrated Worlds versus Fragmented Worlds and Advanced Usage versus Less Advanced Use.

Scenario 1: In one converged universe (Integrated and Advanced)
You have a gigantic market of consumers. High penetration, easy avatar mobility, High scalability and Security and Business Transformation.

Scenario 2: Digital Divide (Integrated, Less Advanced)
Ease of mobility, self governance, dominance by gaming, traditional versus virtual biz.

Scenario 3: Virtual Silos (Advanced, Fragmented)
Many competing limited worlds, Difficult Avatar and Asset Mobility, Limited Scalability,

Scenario 4: Wild Worlds (Less Advanced, Fragmented)
MMORPG like context. More grassroots and not a lot of business traction.

Key question for panel, if Virtual Worlds go behind enterprise firewalls for legitimate security and privacy reasons won’t we be further fragmenting the VW space? This speaks directly to one of the key issues I see in terms of what kind of business model virtual world providers will use: Software as a Service or Enterprise License? If it goes enterprise license, we will end up with a lot of enterprise islands of collaboration but not an overall virtual market within which people participate wholesale in a 3D virtual economy.

Keynote: Eilif Trondsen – Virtual Worlds for Work and Learning

Eilif gave a great overview of enterprise applications and again echoed that virtual worlds are but one of many collaborative technologies. Business people do not like to bring in disconnected tools. They need them to be connected and integrated. Eilif also mentioned that there are 100 lawyers holed up in Silicon Valley working on the IBM/Sun deal and that could set up a lot of opportunity (or threat) for enterprise virtual worlds.

Eilif also had some very good analysis of the different platforms available. I will ask him to post the charts. In looking to the future Eilif proposed five possible futures: Grand Unifying Theory (Habbo and Disney say no), Balkanization (Where we are today), Semi-Unified Theory (Sun and IBM), De-Facto Standard (Microsoft), Web as a hub (sending data back and forth between worlds via the web).

All very interesting stuff and I leave the conference pumped up for 3DTLC!

Hope to see you all there!

The 3Di-Web Singularity is Near

Kurzweil fans will recognize the blatent lift from his most recent book. But as far as I am concerned stealing is the ultimate form of flattery, especially in a Web 2.0 world where “TEACHING” and “CHEATING” are anagrams…..More on that in another post.

Since I was asked to talk on this subject this Thursday at the e-Learning Guild Online Forums, I had to give this some attention this past week. Here is my latest back-of-napkin-turned-into-PPT thinking on the 3i-web singularity. If you like what you read here, you may want to consider signing up here for the Forum on Thursday.


In “The Singularity is Near” Kurzweil posits that due to the law of accelerating returns, technology is progressing towards a singularity where a machine/technology mashup extends beyond the capability of human beings.

Victor Vinge originally coined the “singularity’ term observing that just as our model of physics breaks down when it tries to model the singularity at the center of a black hole, our model of the world breaks down when it tries to model a future that contains entities smarter than human.

My attempt here is to take some of Kurzweil and Vinge’s thoughts and mash them up with some more pragmatic guidance from Analysts such as Steve Prentice at Gartner who suggests that

“By the end of 2011, 80 percent of active internet users (and Fortune 500 enterprises) will have a “second life,” but not neccessarily in Second Life.”

Anyhow the story towards the i-web singularity goes something like this:

The integration between traditional synchronous learning systems such as WebEX, Centra, Adobe Connect, Citrix and 3D Avatar-Mediated platforms is not far away. Karl Kapp and I have written a whole paper on this topic that is available through the e-learning guild site.

I continue to marvel at the speed of the 3D space. My hypothesis is that this speed is driven by the Web 2.0 network that is built around it. Mark Wallace or other notables in Virtual World news post something as soon as they hear it on the grapvine. It is the ultimate in radical transparency and it is this transparency that propels the industry forward informed by the wisdom of the crowd that is both producting and consuming insights on where it is going. For instance, at Virtual Worlds II Ruben Steiger, in his morning keynote, posits that there will be a mash up between Facebook/Myspace and 3D worlds. That AFTERNOON I am at the Active Worlds table where I see an Facebook/Active Worlds mash up. Later I ready that Korea’s Cy World is going to go 3D. If this is where things are going in Consumer land, enterprise can’t be far behind. In fact, it does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that some lower end integration of Webex and Telepresence could be a new Killer App for Cisco, while IBM has already announced plans to integrate 3D with Lotus Connections.

This is the point at which Knowledge MANAGEMENT gets left in the dust. We stop focusing on trying to create “STOCKS” of extracted knowledge from experts, but instead we focus on enabling “FLOWS” of interactions via Blogs, Wikis, Social Tagging and Networking to increase the number of knowledge accidents within the firm. Also, we forego corporate competency modeling in favor of real-time, ongoing tag clouds attributed to both PEOPLE and DOCUMENTS. Blog squads go seek out the truth about an issue or opportunity, Wikis capture the wisdom of crowds around a given topic or task, dynamic social networking enables real-time capability discovery and takes advantage of an affordance long leveraged within MMORPGs and the list goes on.

Finally the integration of SLSs such as Live Meeting and Repository/Work Spaces such as SharePoint just plain makes sense. Marrying interactive work activity with the explicit knowledge required to engage in virtual work is an inevitability. If people like MS or Google get this right (given that Ozzie is now with MS, the chances of the former are good), then we will FINALLY have an intuitive NewWORKed environment where work just plain gets done.

Masup the Mashups and you end up with a totally new platform upon which people work, learn and play. A 3D environment that affords information age work like nothing we have seen before. One that is immersive, interactive, immediate and intuitive. One that unleashes the human capital inside the firm more effortlessly than ever before and one that attracts people to it because it is a space that allows them to uncover endeavors around which they have both the capability and the passion to engage. With something as powerful as this less than 4 years away (and I predict sooner), lets hope that those Human Capital Management folks are paying attention.

Save the Date: Feb 2 and 3 3Di Workshop at Training

NEWSFLASH: Use VIP Code TTZE6 to receive $150 off Registration!

Well it has finally happened. I am wrapping my two years of research into a “roll up your sleeves” 3D Internet Boot-Camp as part of the Training 2008 Certificate Program.

Here is the URL to the Certificate Description. I’ve also saved you some time by pasting the description here. Hope to see you and yours at the Workshop.

If you have been exposed to the 3D internet (3Di) hype, but you are not sure what to do about it, this certificate program is for you! This intensive and immersive program will take you on a journey from understanding the basics of 3Di technology to addressing the details of how to: conceive of, finance, develop, deploy and demonstrate value for 3D learning.

According to Gartner, by 2011, 80% of internet users will have a “second life” (not necessarily in Second Life). Research also indicates the most useful commercial applications of 3Di are: Education and Training, Simulation and Virtual Collaboration.

Don’t’ get left behind! Attend this program and understand the value of this new technology—and get a roadmap to successfully drive the adoption of 3D learning within your organization.


    How Virtual Social Worlds and Online Role Playing Games are similar and where they differ.
    Where 3Di technology is being applied today to enhance experiential and peer-to-peer learning.
    How to build a case to invest in 3D Learning.
    How to design an optimal 3Di learning experience using 3D learning archetypes.
    What to consider when selecting a 3D learning partner/vendor.
    How 3D learning will evolve and mature.

This certificate is designed for learning visionaries, leaders, and change agents who are passionate about the possibilities that 3Di can bring to our profession. It is a must-attend for anyone who wants to understand the value of 3D learning but has no idea where to begin, and for those who want to take their online virtual learning strategy to the next level.