The i-web Singularity Redux

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:


Tony’s Take on Webvolution

A while back I wrapped some text around a model that I developed with Jim Spohrer at IBM Research that tries to explain how the web is evolving and how is impacting, well, everything ; )

You can re-read that post here

Well, if a picture tells a thousand words, a movie may tells even more (especially if it is me at 2AM in some strange state between alertness and dreaming).

I originally put this piece together in Articulate but could not figure out how to publish it to WordPress (again probably due to lack of sleep). So I gave up and dropped it into Vegas, rendered it and posted on YouTube.

If anyone can get me over the hump in terms of posting Articulate files to the blog (Jay? Mark?) I would really appreciate it. I found it very user friendly to create with all the functions embedded right into PPT and the version on my desktop really does work well.

Anyway, another nine minute rant on Webvolution awaits right if you are up to it! I am going to bed at a reasonable hour for a change.

Virtual World and Game Change Update

I have been out on vacation then down with some crazy bug and on top of that my notes has been crashed for two days. Choosing to be off-grid for vacation was fun. Not being able to be on-grid to deal with the deluge of mail due to me being off-grid is not.

e-mail truly is a killer app. It is killing the CIO because as technology gets wiz-bangier folks love to send around flash and ppts that weigh the digital equivalent of a ton and the digital highways that the CIO must fund are stressed to the max from all the heavy traffic. More importantly, e-mail is a killer applicaiton because it is killing us humans. OK, maybe not killing us, but certainly dramatically reducing our ability to focus for any reasonable length of time. e-mail is probably the biggest contributor to the fact the most of us have been reduced to having the attention span of a nat, or a ferrett on two cappucinos.

Anyway, on to other things. Virtual Worlds Day II was great. It focused more on the meat and potatoes side of the potential for this technology. Joe Miller of Second Life was kind enough to use one of my charts to describe the evolution of the web:

A lot of folks seemed to resonate with this chart although as I mentioned in an earlier post, many well known thinkers in this field like Henry Jenkins warn against continuum charts like this. You can read more about this from my previous post on entrepreneurial capitalism here. BTW, I got a nice surprise while on vacation….A note from none other than Joe Pine of “Experience Economy” fame where he said “I recently caught up with your post on Second Life and the Experience Economy — and, yes, the former is absolutely a platform for the latter! A platform I’m increasingly enamored with for its potential. I actually think it not just a platform but a new medium for experiences.”

OK, back to task – I did mention I have ADD Right?

Upon reflection of the two days at VW, I am seeing a similar meme to what happened in Web 1.0. Back then, the SIZZLE was all about Business to Consumer (B2C) which focused on Marketing/Branding/Advertising. Remeber the Sock Puppet from and a ton of other similar ploys to establish presence and leverage brands with little or no back-end to crazy valuations? The STEAK was in the Business to Employee (B2E) space where companies leveraged the differentiating capabilities of this technology to enable self-service for employees allowing better access and usage to information and services by employees at dramatically lower costs. Finally the SPECIAL SAUCE for Web 1.0 (and the place where the biggest bucks were made) was in the Business to Business (B2B) space.

My colleague at IBM, Peter Finn came up with the terms Intraverse and Interverse to bring a 3D flavor to the 2D concepts of intranets and internets. Metaverse is reserved for Neal Stepenson. BTW Ruben Steiger of Millions of Us had a very funny story of how he met Neal and told him that they had created the Metaverse with SecondLife…Neal’s response…”cool.” That was it, nothing more.

Coming out of the VW conference, I think that MTV is bringing a lot of Sizzle to the B2C space. That being said, it is intersting to note that they are building their Laguna Beach, The Hills and Pimp My Ride destinations on the There Platfrorm and working with Game Designers to get the production/addiction quality where they want it to be and to have more control over the worlds. In a way, Secondlife is the ultimate B2C play as the consumer is the producer (or prosumer as Tapscott would like to say). Joe Miller reckons that residents contribute over a billion dollars worth of content creation a year to SL as things stand today. That is prosumption at its wildest!

On the Business to Employee side, players like Forterra and Proton Media provide industrial grade 3D worlds built to reside behind a company’s firewall and integrate with other enterprise apps which is a core requirment to deliver value in the B2E space. Finally, Multiverse’s notion of universal browser that allows folks who use their platform to connect worlds through that browser gives us the first notion of the Interverse and is well worth keeping track of.

So when it comest to 3Di there is Sizzle, there is Steak and there is Special Sauce. We need the sizzle to create the interest, we need the steak to show how real business to employee applications can be achieved via the application of 3D technology and we will ultimately (3-4 years out according to most panelists at VW) get the special sauce that allows all of this to connect in a seamless way.

Don’t know about you all, but I got my Fork and my Steak Knife and I am ready to chow down on the 3D future!