Archive for July, 2010

We do not want war!

July 29, 2010

Just read “Microsoft Readies For War with New Small Business Division For Cloud Push” on Read Write Cloud. Here we go again, Microsoft versus Google on a new service for the Internet community.

Who is going to provide the finest Cloud based service? Who is going to provide the best Cloud based applications?

The virtual world running Linden Lab Second Life could certainly tell both of those companies how to serve up cloud applications, afterall they’ve been doing it for nearly seven years. And, they’ve served up a user content generation environment that enables anyone to build a 3D marketplace, and use Google Apps, or Microsoft Office Live in place.

My recommendation to accelerate the operational use of these environments is to stop warring, and start partnering. There is so much software, so many services, such saturation that the user world is growing very fatigued of all the choices and differences – when there really isn’t any difference.

What we’d like to see is a solid virtual world that enables us to access content through secure interfaces, share and interact in 3D places that provide meaning to the user and business value for the company.

Whether we end up using Teleplace, Protosphere, Unisfair, Blue Mars, Second Life isn’t what is going to make up our minds as virtual world decision makers. What is going to make a difference is integration, seamless integration that allows us to work without concern if this feature is going to work.

Think of the Internet as a Builder’s Emporium, a HomeDepot if you will. Think of it as a place where users go and get the products they need to build the houses and buildings they want to run an international small business anywhere they want in the virtual world of the Internet.

Make your products good, the nails strong, the wood pure, the tools precise. And we’ll build new jobs for you.

Practical Advise for Virtual Worlds and Learning

July 24, 2010

Theory To Date: I’ve been studying the current literature on gaming, virtual worlds and learning for a book I’m writing with Charles Wankel, co-author of Virtual Worlds in Higher Education. The case studies are all so great. There is so much literature appearing and I’m glad to report: the field has arrived. In addition to Tony O’Driscoll and Karl Kapp’s contribution 3D Learning will easily become a study guide for everyone developing in the field. Aimee Weber’s, et. als. book called creating your world, (although SL viewer 1.23 and not the new 2.1 interface) is a hallmark and follow these instructions and get these results.

Call to Action: I trust the theory: communications, HCI, semiotics, situated cognition, learning archtypes, following Gagne and Briggs, Clark, Bandura, Rhinegold. I love it all. What we need now I think is a book for the average instructor. I think it’s time to start laying down some practical advise on how to do it. This means lesson plans, curriculum, programs, and of course back it up with research. But, we need the Dummies Guide to Education and Virtual Worlds.

A Practical Way of Putting Games in Education. Richard Fertig at U. Florida in his book Handbook of Research on Effective Electronic Gaming in Education offered some. Let me reshare it. Let me just use a poetic format to do it.

“Specifically, an effective video game
will allow players to choose
the difficulty level of the video game
and gradually increase the challenge
as a player’s skill increases.

Skills learned in the beginning of a game
should be practiced
to the point of automatization and
continually utilized as new skills are practiced.

Educational video games should
be made to take advantage of the ability
to provide immediate feedback.
The system of reinforcement is a critical
component of an educational video game.

The most effective games at motivating players will
make use of both extrinsic reinforcement
(e.g., points or impressive visual effects)
and intrinsic reinforcement
(e.g., a sense of accomplishment
or competence”.

Analysis: Okay, like poetry, the advise is sound, the measure and beat tied sweetly to the message. Here’s what I think this poem said. Make it easy, then make it hard. Make it stick. Tell them when they’ve done good, and fix them when they did it wrong. That way they’ll be smart.

Doin’ It. Now I want to move from poetry to hard core to do lists.

1) Limit your virtual world learning to no more than 15 people.

2) Meet in a virtual world at least 3 hours per week in a group.

3) Encourage 3 hours per week of smaller group meetings with a mentor.

4) On the first day, teach everyone to navigate, communicate and move objects by going to go find stuff and show you they found it.

5) After you do that, give everyone their own work space.

6) Give them something to build immediately. Start with a box. Have them number each side of the box with a texture.

7) Turn the box around so everyone has a 4 lined up in rows.

8) Turn the boxes so every box turns to #2 simultaneously.

9) Repeat that with another object like a circle.

10) Give the students 5 minutes to line up the boxes or circles up from 1-15 in five minutes.

11) Pick the best students and the leaders for the next session and ask them to meet with the other students before next class.

12) At the start of the next class, repeat exercise above and give out an award for doing it under 5 minutes.

Get “R Done (Borrowed from Larry the Cable Guy). You now have a formula for the first 3 hours of class, the in-between practice class, and the beginning of the next class. When you state the rules, provide ownership of space with tools that enable the learners, and walk through a concrete task with a concrete outcome, you’ll get results. Add people and cooperation, a use of the menu and a real use of the 3D object space like you’re really in the place, you’ll get 3D learning results.

Challenge: Now, please write me a lesson plan and send it to me at rjhinrichs@2b3d.net so I can include it in the book.

Virtual Worlds and Cloud Computing

July 18, 2010

Journal Article Review. I just read the latest version of the Journal of Virtual Worlds Research entitled the Metaverse Assembled. I stopped at  Tom Boellstorff’s Editorial article on cloud computing, and thought about the evolution of computing and how badly it needs a virtual world’s interface.  The metaphor is simple — enough one of accumulation — data, networks, devices being in the cloud, providing nourishment to everyone. Tom hinted at it clearly enough — cloud computing is simply an enabler – it allows us to access lots and lots of software to grow our companies, deliver experiences to our customers, communicate and use applications on any device we have available to us. That is what we need to hear. We now need to hear more about the virtual world part of this that is going to make the cloud experience even better.

Use VW in Context to Show Cloud Apps. Now, what is the relevance to virtual worlds. It’s simple – virtual worlds provide a realistic interface to cloud computing – instead of looking at so many different kinds of screens, we can put the cloud applications in context in a place we can relate to easily – an office, a desktop, a manufacturing plant, a classroom.

Distribution and Provenance. Broadband and mass distribution have helped of course. We’ve commercialized computers, created devices we could create content on, and enabled a communications industry to provide services to access the infrastructure to store up, serve and protect our assets for years to come. I’m delighted Tom mentioned how Google’s Chrome is taking on the provenance issue – in short how do you make sure you can run a copy of your iPhone in 50 years, or run a copy of your spreadsheet on a Windows 32-bit machine with XP.

Research is Useful. The implications of cloud computing with a virtual world’s interface will be a great journey in the Journal of Virtual Worlds Research and I’m looking to hear it all. What is working, what isn’t working? Who is using the cloud in a way that I can use the cloud? How does the virtual world interface connect to the cloud? How can interoperability help be achieved by use of the cloud? A journal should ask questions like these and provide potential venues for research and outcomes from research.

Practical Uses. You have this amazing virtual world in which the objects you build look like the objects in the physical world. So if you build an office in a building, it looks like an office in a building. If you have a desk with drawers, you can store 3D objects in there that you can use in your world. If you build a table, you can lay out documents from Google Docs on the table. If you build a training center, you can host Dabbleboard and YouTube on the screen, and enable users to separate into breakout rooms and brainstorm about the video or presentation, or latest idea shown in a prototype room.

More Practical Ideas. If you build a desktop computer, you can share your desktop on a single prim and watch someone else use their cloud application and guide them to learn faster. You can use 3D lighting effects and motion to highlight a patient lying on a table in a medical education simulation and stream cloud stored videos from a resource library at a University into the virtual operating room. If you have an office, you can lock the office for cybersecurity so no one can enter into your part of the cloud application unless you authorize them – playing off of User ID and login, and using the office metaphor as a group login concept.

VWs better than File Open. If you build 3D posters or 3D picture frames you can draw off your intranet what your key missions and values are using art work that sits on a cloud application managed by your art department, or use Flickr that hosts pictures of your family. In short, you have a 3rd place to store digital items in a virtual world that enables you to remember where it is better. 3D representations of spaces are much easier to manage the cloud than say File Open Network Documents … shall I go on?

Avatars in Clouds. Take the avatar in the cloud in a virtual world. Imagine creating a 3D image of a Rolodex – but one connected to LinkedIn for the recommender system and programmed to have avatars pop out through teleportation when you connect with them. Think novel cloud applications using Web 2.0 social networking software.

Attention Management in Clouds. You have a “presence” that identifies who you are, or better yet what you’d like to project about yourself. Your avatar is essentially your cursor, it represents where you are in the 3D virtual space at any given time. As your avatar is walking through a cloud of applications, he may look around and use the avatar to alert other individuals what you’re looking at or what you’re doing. If your avatar faces a screen, you’re likely paying attention to what is on the screen. If your avatar is reaching out to initialize a program, you’re likely launching the program or working on part of the program. If your avatar is following behind you as you discuss something and you are showing off items in your virtual world, there is a strong possibility that the avatar is paying attention to you.

Leveraging the Cloud. If this is done over many different spaces in a virtual world, you are literally looking into an environment that is a representation of what is happening on the “cloud”. But, you’re not talking about the cloud, you’re not including the cloud, you are leveraging the cloud, and using all of the applications on it along with your collaborators.

Invent and Innovate. We are in an age of invention and innovation. Invention being the application of money to create ideas, and innovation being the application of ideas to make money. Let us start getting specific about what those ideas are.

2b3d Wins four Telly Awards

July 15, 2010

2b3d announces winning 3 Bronze Telly Awards for Use of Animation, Use of Graphics, Visual Effects and 1 Silver Telly Award in the Category of Sales and Marketing for their work on Club One Island. Club One Island is a set of four islands dedicated to providing a healthy environment for residents who are following the Habit Changer program. This program is sponsored and taught by Club One Fitness on our islands to help people lose weight. In a recent study, we blogged about how users are loosing more weight in the in-world experience than those who are following the program in the physical Club One location. The use of good graphics, animations, and visual effects combine to create a realistic world in which the participants gain a sense of living together and working together to achieve their personal goals. The textures, graphics, and programming for this island are designed by 2b3d’s award winning designers and developers. The atmosphere is tropical, the sense of activity is immediate, and the live events draw people to the program in a way that indicates a long future is at hand for this award winning concept.