Webvolution Snippit from Irish Learning Alliance

Jonathan Kayes, CLO of the CIA and some colleagues paid a visit to Duke today. He was giving me a hard time about not updating my blog. He mentioned that he was really liking his i-phone and he had even created a link to my blog, but funnily enough he has not seen an update there in quite some time.

Touche Jonathan, this one’s for you ; )

In case you think I have been doing nothing, I want you all to know that I am just back from London where we launched the redesign of Fuqua’s Cross Continent MBA program. 119 students from 28 different countries, 50 of whom have non-US passports converged on the Tower Hotel in London for a jam-packed residency. By all accounts it seems to have been very well received.

You can see the blog that I built for the Culture, Civilization and Leadership course, with Bill Boulding, by clicking here. A visit to this blog will, hopefully, attest to the fact that all my blogging energies were sucked up by this effort!

Anyway, you may recall that I had the great pleasure of Keynoting at an Irish Learning Alliance conference in New York back in March where I got to meet with Ireland’s Taoiseach. More on that meeting in this post.

The good folks at the ILA took a few snippits of my talk and I link to them here for your review and comment.




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!

Triangle OD Network Talk – The Demise of the Enterprise

Last week I spoke at the Triangle OD Network’s Annual Meeting. We were fortunate to have close to 100 folks show up for the meeting – a record turnout for the group.

I was asked to speak about the Demise of the Enterprise and how OD professionals need to revisit their own practices and tools in order to keep pace with changes within the enterprise.

I only had 20 minutes so I ended up, as I often do, going completely ad lib. But, just in case anyone thought I had not done my homework here is the mind map I created as I prepped for this session.

Turns out this would be a better TOC for a book than a 20 minute talk, but I had fun (and I learned) in the process and that is all that matters.

For those of you who are less visual (or don’t have a magnifying glass handy), I mostly went over my Webvolution Soapbox article from February’s Training Magazine. You can read it here (or below if you want to save a click).

Join the Training Webvolution: The Internet has changed business forever. Can learning be far behind?

Market economies typically are characterized by extended periods of stability occasionally punctuated by short unstable periods that forever alter the economic landscape. In the past, disruptive technologies such as the printing press and the steam engine were catalysts in redefining the economies of their respective eras. In the information-age economy, the Internet has emerged as the primary disruptive force of our time—driving unpredictable changes in our economy while simultaneously challenging the viability of the 20th century enterprise.

Today, we live in an innovation-focused, knowledge-enabled economy where work is increasing rapidly in complexity and velocity. Computers have migrated from being information crunchers focused on optimizing productivity to people connectors focused on creating economic value through human interaction. In this increasingly flat, transparent, and globally interconnected world, organizations or individuals that cannot change as fast as the environment within which they operate are destined to regress to a mean of mediocrity.

Internet technology makes rich exchanges possible without the need for formal structures. The nonlinear dynamics of this new information ecosystem are challenging the traditional structures of enterprise. In fact, a recent study from IBM’s Global Innovation Outlook suggests that the future might consist of a billion one-person enterprises—people who act as free agents moving freely and frequently from project to project as their skills, focus, and passion shift.

Today, people work, communicate, and learn across time zones and physical boundaries. Information no longer moves in one direction from top to bottom or from teacher to learner. Instead, information moves through time and space based on the desire and ability of individuals to interact with it—and each other—to make more effective decisions or develop keener insights. In the Webvolution era, information is the currency, individuals are the transport mechanism, and conversation is the transfer mechanism.

As the Webvolution unfolds, the scarcity paradigm that undergirds most modern economic theory is reversed. Information can be shared without being given away. If we take a positive perspective, we can conceive of the Internet as a living information ecosystem, whose central purpose is to promote learning and growth. In essence, people are represented as nodes in a pervasive and persistent network that is aware of who they are; what they are capable of doing; and, perhaps more important, what they are keenly interested in doing. Within this context, the Internet itself can be conceived of as a persistent, worldwide community of learners.

In this type of information ecosystem, the very concept of learning must be recast. Jay Cross puts it best: “Schooling has confused us into thinking learning was equivalent to pouring content into people’s heads. It’s more practical to think of learning as optimizing our networks.” Optimized human intuition networks create a meaningful context within which content can be consumed and digested to create new value.

In the Webvolution era, content may be king, but context is the kingdom. The enterprise that is able to network and tap into resource nodes to address a surfaced need within another part of the network will be able to successfully conduct business within a system primarily tuned to optimize learning and growth.

As such, the learning function’s focus and value proposition must migrate from supporting denominator management (i.e., teaching people how to do things we know how to do to cut costs), to driving numerator growth (i.e., enabling human capital to develop ideas and concepts that grow revenue). Such innovation-focused learning feeds on context and social interaction to channel human intuition toward rapid collective sensemaking around a given opportunity or issue.

In the enterprise of the future, work and learning become synonymous. At the heart of the capacity to innovate is the ability to learn. An enterprise cannot innovate without first learning something new. Thus, training professionals must focus on how to leverage the participatory Web to unleash the innovative energy that lies dormant within the existing structure of enterprise. Are you ready to join the Webvolution?

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.

Web 3D follows Web 1.0 Adoption Meme

In an earlier post I mused on how it looks like Web 3D is following a similar adoption meme to Web 1.0. The sizzle comes from Business to Consumer (B2C) side, the Steak is starting to emerge in the Business to Employee (B2E) domain and the special sauce we anticipate will come where the serious move back and forth on digital pipes…in the Business to Business (B2B) space.

Last October I was asked to the Society for Information Management’s Advanced Practices Council. The audience was CIOs from large corporations. Only one or two had heard of Second Life and a few had heard of MMORPGs. Five minutes into the presentation I could feel the resistance from the audience. Although this was the Advanced Practices Council and although they had asked to be briefed on this topic, they were clearly uncomfortable. Thankfully I had a ton of data and corporate examples to back up my claims that corporations were getting serious about Serious Games and Virtual Social Worlds and the audience eventually became very engaged around the possibilities that this new technology could afford their respective organizations.

As a result of that session, Blake Ives (Head of the Advanced Practice Council and Chair in Business Leadership at the University of Houston), Dennis Adams (Chair of Decision and Information Sciences at the C.T. Bauer College of Business at the University of Huston) and I embarked on a study to find out what IT leaders believed with regards to the future of Online Role Playing Games (ORPGs) and Virtual Social Worlds (VSWs) in business.

The chart below is but one of many that we developed in surveying 105 IT leaders around the world. I can’t go into all the details of the study here, but I can say that, overall, IT leaders saw more business potential in Virtual Worlds than they did in Online Role Playing Games. In fact, with regards to virtual worlds, 82% agreed or strongly agreed that there are many opportunities to leverage virtual worlds for commercial benefit.

Going a little deeper into the left side of this graph, we uncover some data to validate the replication of Sizzle, Steak, Sauce meme.

B2C facing activity (Brand Development, Reverse Branding) does not get as much emphasis as B2C facing activity Education, Simulation and Leadership/Teamwork. B2B activity like managing Distribution Channel and Product/Service Development, also get some mention, but it is clear that from an IT perspective the emphasis for the near-term will be on B2E.

Of course with that comes all the other issues I mentioned earlier about the feature/function that enterprise grade 3D environments will need that existing B2C Metaverses do not have in place. So there will be a lot to figure out on this front to make the B2E plays of learning, collaboration and development come alive via the first person interface.

It is clearly early days yet. But things definitely have come a long way since that cold October pitch in Philly last October ; )

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.