Virtual Worlds and Cloud Computing

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.

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One Response to “Virtual Worlds and Cloud Computing”

  1. http://grandzhan.com Says:

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