2.0 Sees the Light of Day

Sorry for going dark for a bit. I’ve been working on our 2.0 version. You gotta love it when you work way hard and it’s way fun. But:

  1. I’ve had no time to write.
  2. I couldn’t write about what I was working on (until now).

I’ve got lots to babble about now and will do so soon, after a bit of rest. In the mean time some other folks’ take: Reuters (press release), Culture of Collaboration (blogger’s tight overview), Virtual World News (nice summary representation).

Five for Talking

Travel for meetings is so last year. This management article in silicon.com describes five alternatives technologies to meetings: instant messaging, virtual worlds, telepresence, Wikis, and social networking. But do these really have to be separate? Let’s take a look at what each of these offers, and what it means for 3D virtual worlds to incorporate the other alternative meeting technologies.

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What Do You Want to Do Today?

What can you do in a virtual world? Quite a bit, although we’re still quite far from the answer being, “Anything you can do in the real world.” Here’s a baseline list of today’s raw capabilities, in the language of virtual worlds. (The higher level activity one does with these capabilities is another story.)

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Testing 1, 2, 3. Check. Check. …. Waiter?!

I’ve been working with some test harnesses for our Croquet worlds. It’s been a real pain working outside of Croquet: getting things to happen across multiple platforms. Moving data around. It’s all so much easier in a virtual space that automatically replicates everything.

Anyway, we finally got it working enough that there are several machines in Qwaq’s Palo Alto office that are all running around as robots in a virtual world, doing various user activities to see what breaks. Being (still!) in Wisconsin, I have to peek on these machines via remote. I’m currently using Virtual Network Computing (VNC), but there’s also Windows Remote Desktop (RDP). These programs basically scrape the screen at some level, and send the pictures to me. So when these robots are buzzing around in-world, I get a screen repaint, and then another, and then another. And that’s just one machine. If I want to monitor what they’re all doing, I have to use have a VNC window open for each, scraping and repainting away. Yuck. If only there were a better way….

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We have an industry

I just turned 44, which kind of sucks, but as they say, it’s better than the alternative. I think I’ve been old for a long long time, but now I have to admit it. Virtual World have been growing up, too, and my feelings are somewhat the same. Despite reports by Gartner and Forrester, articles in the Wall Street Journal, Business Week and Information Week, and even popular press like the LA Times, I still hadn’t quite caught on to the idea that we now have an industry. But when I saw Christian Renaud’s blog, I had to admit that “Virtual Worlds” is an industry category, and I’m in it. None of these articles are about the technology (what I do), but about what people do with it and how businesses make money with it. I guess it’s better than the alternative. OK, it’s pretty cool, but kind of weird. This stuff isn’t household technology or household names yet. The future is here. It’s just not evenly distributed yet. It’s an interesting life-span inflection point.