Real Life Woes for Virtual Worlds

January 27, 2009 at 9:36 am | Posted in collaboration, communication, Recession, virtual worlds | Leave a comment

For public-facing virtual worlds (mostly social and gaming worlds), Virtual Worlds News identified $594 million in investments from media companies and venture capital firms in 2008. That’s down from $1.4 billion in 2007.  Although, as the article points out, venture capital spending is down 30% in general.

Here is the outlook for the Enterprise segment of virtual worlds, according to the Virtual Worlds Management Industry Forecast for 2009:

Many vendors promoting enterprise-targeted virtual worlds view the economic slowdown as a double-edged sword. Discretionary and experimental budgets are being slashed to cut costs, but travel dollars seem to be running out just as quickly.

“This is a perfect opportunity for our industry. Enterprise virtual worlds have clear business advantages in this economic downturn and the industry has to convey these advantages just as aggressively as the social software/web 2.0 market did in the last 3 years,” wrote Rivers Run Red CEO Justin Bovington.

Others, many outside of the direct enterprise space, are more skeptical, seeing the economic climate pop the enterprise bubble for good. Others, like The Electric Sheep Company CEO Sibley Verbeck,  see the enterprise market in state of stagnation so that the end of 2009 will look much the same as the beginning.

There are many ways enterprise virtual worlds can save costs, including reducing travel (mentioned above), reducing the need for high-end conferencing (telepresence) systems, and substituting virtual rehearsal and training for expensive real-life equivalents.  But in this climate it will be difficult to keep projects that mention “virtual worlds” on the “approved” list as budgets are getting slashed.

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Second Life Avatars Teleport, But the Virtual Moving Truck Stays Behind

July 15, 2008 at 3:54 pm | Posted in Gaming, virtual worlds | 4 Comments

In “Avatars Teleport Away From Second Life”, Don Clark of the WSJ’s “Business Technology” blog described how an experiment to teleport an avatar out of Second Life into another world (based on an IBM implementation of the open source OpenSimulator project) was successful.  It’s worth noting that this was from one test grid to another and only involved the avatar, not any items, script, or currency.

To me, this is a nice stunt.  It gets attention for its sci-fi undertones, but doesn’t address the real barriers to mobility in virtual worlds, nor does it do much to address disgruntled Second Life residents.  From a technical point of view, if someone knows the data structures that define an avatar in Second Life, and knows the same structures in OpenSim (which is open source and publicly available), it should just be a relatively simple matter of programming to enact a transformation, transmission, create (on OpenSim), and delete (in Second Life).  That also assumes the two structures are compatible, which they apparently aren’t entirely since clothing doesn’t transfer (The Terminator got it right 25 years in advance!).

Clearly the problem to be solved is not technological.  It is a morass of issues such as:

  • Legal: How can intellectual property be protected when it can be infinitely copied and transferred (like with unprotected digital music and movies)?
  • Business: Does openness or proprietary lock-in provide a better business model?
  • Economic: If worlds have different ease and cost of content creation and pricing, how will virtual arbitrage impact the fortunes of residents and the business models of the content creators?
  • Design and development: If each world has to support a lowest common denominator for items and avatars, how will metaverses differentiate themselves and incrementally improve?

These issues can all be addressed over time.  For example, maybe the business issues can be handled by charging a fee to travel from one metaverse to the other, just like flying from Chicago to Salt Lake City (two very different worlds) today cost me $600.

For residents of Second Life who are developing content they want to protect and extend, the philosophical issues don’t matter.  What matters is whether Linden Lab will push this forward.  According to the company, “Linden Lab sees interoperability as essential for virtual worlds to reach their full potential.” But about when this will be possible for regular residents they say “We don’t know exactly. We’re working toward that goal but we’re still very much in the experimental phase.”

Clearly the “virtual movers” scenario I depicted in my Enterprise3 conference presentation on Enterprise Virtual worlds (see slide below) is still too far off.

 

Comin and goin 

Note: This is a (belated) cross-posting from the Collaboration and Content Strategies Blog

Back Home and Blogging Again

June 17, 2008 at 4:02 pm | Posted in Enterprise 2.0, portals, social software, virtual worlds | Leave a comment

It’s been a while since my last blog post as I’ve been kept running all over Europe lately doing speaking and visiting current and potential clients in Munich, Copenhagen, Vienna, and London.  My presentation on social computing for the Domino Notes Users Group in Bremen went fine except for my PC getting possessed and flipping slides around on me while presenting.

IMG_2943

Now that I’m home I’m decompressing and reflecting on what I was hearing from the corporate and government organizations I talked to about collaboration and portals. 

  • I found a great deal of interest in social software, but the dozen or so organizations I spoke with seemed a bit further behind the U.S. in terms of awareness and piloting.
  • There was quite a bit of SharePoint work going on, but generally in a more controlled fashion than I’ve seen in the U.S.  SharePoint was being stripped down to fit into the rest of the environment, being used as just a web file store in one case and as a low-end content management system in another.  I prefer this approach to the whole-hog implementation that steps on the toes of other installed infrastructure that I see too often.
  • Portals were a hot topic, with most organizations I visited using them, sometimes many of them.  In fact, portal consolidation and governance is as big an issue as it was in my last few visits to Europe.
  • Enterprise virtual worlds came up twice, without much prompting from me.  One governmental agency was very interested in its use for rehearsal and disaster preparedness.

Now I’m off to work on the Mother of All Expense Reports.  

Munich Neues Rathaus

Enterprise Communication Meets the World of Warcraft

April 10, 2008 at 8:36 am | Posted in communication, Gaming, presence, usability, User experience, virtual worlds | 2 Comments

I’m working on my Enterprise Virtual Worlds presentation and was filling in some detail on communication in game-oriented virtual worlds that I would like to share here as well. 

Enterprises are wise to look to gaming from time to time due to trends in:

  • Outside-in technology: how consumer technologies such as blogs and wikis increasingly find their way into enterprises
  • Emergent gameplay: the use of gaming technology in ways the original designer hadn’t intended
  • User experience lessons: UE improvements tend to filter from the competitive gaming market to generalized applications.  Gaming is an optional activity, so UE has to be at a high level when you want the users to pay you to use their systems rather than the other way around.

Communication is interesting to explore since the number of communication channels that enterprises use (and every information worker must now attend to) has increased a great deal over the past five years to include instant messaging, presence, websites, and blogs.  Getting enterprises used to the idea of “channels” and how to manage and select between them has taken some time and some pain.

I was quite impressed when all the methods of communication in World of Warcraft (which was released in November of 2003) are laid out. WoW communication is strikingly similar (and maybe more efficient) than enterprise communication technology in many areas.

It includes:

  • Channels: Players can subscribe to communication channels such as /trade to receive ongoing chat on the channel, or unsubscribe.  Another example is in EVE Online, which has a “newbie” channel that can put new players in touch with others taking their first steps, but can be turned off once the player is more confident.
  • Chat modes (IM): The variety of built-in IM modes goes beyond most enterprise IM implementations which rely on groups.  They are: /say (vacinity), /party (your group only), /guild (your broader community), /yell (all in larger region), /whisper (one person)
  • Presence: Friends can be selected and you are made aware when they come online/offline, and location is displayed (a feature still on the cutting edge in the enterprise)
  • Mail: Consists of normal mail, packages, and COD packages. The inbox is visited at WoW Postal Service facilities, which has the pleasant effect of isolating the player trying to accomplish objectives from the stream of email since they only check it periodically when they visit town.  Also, since email costs money to send (a few copper pieces), there is practically no spam
  • Emotes: There are over 100 emotes such as /wave, /thank, /cheer, /dance, etc. It is amazing how fluid the use of emotes gets in the real game, such that they do not feel like a conscious effort to be funny, but rather a natural way of expressing oneself in group situations. 

How the Enterprise Colonized the Virtual Worlds: A Sort-of Science Fiction Short Story by Craig Roth

March 27, 2008 at 1:15 pm | Posted in Fun, Gaming, virtual worlds | 1 Comment

Comin and goin

I don’t normally indulge in fiction writing in this blog, but maybe just once wouldn’t hurt. Besides, it’s not really fiction – it’s just a tongue-in-cheek way of describing what I see as the past generations and future generations of enterprise virtual worlds. I won’t go so far as to say these are definite predictions, but simply a description of a likely path (well, all except that last paragraph) for how large organizations will make serious use of virtual worlds.

So, how did it happen? The rise of the virtual worlds and their colonization by the Enterprise and everything that happened afterwards?

Well, no one knows exactly when the virtual worlds began. It was about 2006 when the adults began to notice that their teenagers would go into their rooms and disappear for hours at end. They would emerge only for food, squinting in the full light of the kitchen, and mumbling about “avatars”, “griefing”, “furries”, and “rezzing.” College students had disappeared too, but everyone just thought they were at class. Little did the adults know, but the virtual worlds were being built and populated from portals in their own homes.

Some of these adults worked in the Enterprise – large organizations and corporations where they attended meetings, designed products for customers, and tested out ideas. They wore woolly uniforms and had a confusing array of titles, although most of the ones with computers were called “infoworkers.” During 2006, some of them took a look at the virtual worlds through their telescopes, located at the end of hallways of fuzzy cubes at the top of their well lit, climate-controlled buildings in suburban office parks. What they saw was strange creatures – cat-men, flying faeries, naked inhabitants. There were people bumping repeatedly into walls or flying into buildings while others stood still for hours at a time typing on invisible keyboards. The infoworkers of the Enterprise thought the world they were viewing was bizarre and of no use to them, so they decided to stay away. Besides, they had work to do attending meetings, designing products, and testing ideas.

But by the end of 2006 the Enterprise had sent the first wave of intrepid colonists to the virtual worlds. It was a small number and conditions were harsh for the colonists. They didn’t know a lot about their environment and encountered griefers at every turn. They mostly came from high tech companies or those with youth-oriented brands. They came from IBM, Cisco, Sun, Intel, Reebok, American Apparel, Adidas, Toyota. The high tech companies sent evangelists back to the real world, telling about the wondrous things they had seen and done in the Enterprise virtual worlds.

Back in their fuzzy cubes and breakout session rooms, the infoworkers listened intently and the evangelists finally got them to go back to their telescopes and look at the virtual worlds again. They saw something that amazed them. They looked at the virtual worlds and saw their customers. Then they looked a little more and saw their competitors there too, sometimes talking to their customers. That was all they needed to see, so in 2007 the second wave of colonization began.

Oddly enough, as the second wave of colonists was traveling to the virtual worlds – virtual construction engineers and brand consultants in tow – they noticed some colonists from the first wave passing them on the way back. A few of them, from American Apparel and Wells Fargo, had already decided to pack up and leave. Some complained that the worlds were empty wastelands without a colonist in sight. Starwood was towing an entire hotel called Aloft with them. They seemed happy though, saying their time on the virtual world helped them design their hotel. Wells Fargo, towing Stagecoach Island behind them, was just traveling to another virtual world rather than heading back to Earth. The climate on the world they first colonized was too wild and unforgiving, but they had heard of tamer environs farther away and were off to colonize other worlds.

Some of the virtual world programmers went underground and decided to work on creating infrastructure that many worlds, each to meet different needs, could be built off of. Being able to control their environment and what the people in it could do made the Enterprises feel more confident that the risks involved were not too great, so they colonized new places where the virtual worlds, not just the islands and buildings in it, were built to their specifications.

With more controlled environments available by 2009, a third wave of colonization began. The Enterprise sent many of its best and most creative infoworkers – programmers, designers, and even marketing product managers. The term “resident” gave way to “visitor”, because the virtual people were there to visit, not stay, just like on websites.

As the customized virtual worlds could be created and owned by the Enterprise, they created worlds much like the secure websites they created for partners back home. Rather than everything being public like in the old virtual worlds, these could be controlled and only accessible by visitors the Enterprise wanted there. But putting private information in the virtual worlds caused the Enterprise security forces to become nervous. So, in 2010 a shipload of lawyers arrived. “Who invited them?” asked some of the frightened programmers. But the leaders of the infoworkers stood up and said “We did! Playing around and experimenting is fine, but if we are going to make this mission critical and confidential, we need them to make this world safe for the Enterprise.” And with that, the lawyers drew their pens and fired termination clauses, retribution clauses, service level agreements, latency warranties, confidentiality clauses, information privacy warranties, and hosted service warranties. Terms like “furries” and “rezzing” gave way to discussions of “code escrow” and “bonding.”

In 2012 standards came down from Earth and permeated the wild frontier of the virtual worlds. It became easier for colonists (now called residents after living there so long) to bring their belongings with them when moving to another world. There were more laws to regulate business transactions (but thankfully not taxes until 2015 as a last grab for revenue before an election).

By 2014 the virtual worlds had become accepted and even boring. Infoworkers who had decided long ago that they shouldn’t show up to work in a bunny costume determined it was probably inappropriate (even though possible) on their enterprise virtual worlds too, except on Halloween. In fact, they no longer felt like a wild frontier, but just another place for the Enterprise to use when needed. They didn’t replace much of what the Enterprise did in their fuzzy cubes. When the enterprise felt a virtual world was the best way of collaborating while attending meetings, designing products for customers, and testing out ideas, they visited them. When they felt other, more archaic communication and collaboration mechanisms were better, they used the old mechanisms. The portals, which were awkward at first, became better as virtual browser technology improved and standardized. In fact, virtual browsers and web browsers combined in 2016 as the separation between virtual content and web content became meaningless. Now they colonized in force.

That’s right about the time a band of real aliens happened upon the Earth. They found everyone – the teenagers and the adult workers – sitting around their portals to the virtual worlds and decided they could invade and be done before lunchtime. All the adults, now weak from a lack of physical exercise and blinded by the sun, were now no match for the aliens who took over the Earth, had a quick snack, and continued along their way.

The end.

Edward Castronova’s Book "Synthetic Worlds"

February 13, 2008 at 10:29 am | Posted in Book Review, Economics, Fun, Gaming, virtual worlds | Leave a comment

In my research into virtual worlds I’ve run across many complimentary references to Edward Castronova, so I was very interested to get his book “Synthetic Worlds, the Business and Culture of Online Games”.  Besides, he teaches at my alma mater Indiana University, so I have to pull for a fellow Hoosier. 

I generally talk about virtual worlds, but Castronova uses the term “synthetic world”.  He defines a synthetic world as “an expansive, world-like, large-group environment made by humans, for humans, and which is maintained, recorded, and rendered by a computer”. 

As an economist, Castronova keenly understands and conveys why items in these worlds have value and why that value is often directly convertible into real currency as proof.  And as an economist, his best insights are into the economics of virtual worlds.  Castronova includes a great chapter on the Economics of Fun.  When I was writing games for Strategic Simulations (SSI) in the 80’s I had an explicit set of characteristics I would apply that described what made a game enjoyable.  Castronova hits them head on: that new objects provide new capabilities, that making choices under scarcity is enjoyable, that the work required to produce rewards is reasonable, and that everyone gets to play “rags to riches” with their characters.  My games pre-dated the internet era, so Castronova adds others that didn’t apply in my experience such as crime, competition, and human-driven economics.

Castornova has also discovered the concept I call “bridging” when he talks about “moments that blurred the distinction between this world and the synthetic world”.  I also feel this is why some people don’t “get” virtual worlds though.  They cannot suspend belief or open themselves up to the virtual reality as having any meaning.

He shows some good insight into general aspects of philosophy, policy, and design of virtual worlds.  In fact, the best quote of the book is this one: “my argument is not that you should care about the ogres and elves running around in cyberspace, but that you should care about the fact that there are ogres and elves, millions of them, running around in cyberspace.” (p. 251)

But clearly, Castronova is not as authoritative when straying far from economics.  For example, when entering the realm of behavioral science, Castronova falls into the common fallacy of saying that people immerse themselves in virtual worlds when they are better than the real world.  The stereotype here is the geek who gets picked on by the bigger boys at school and is ignored by his parents, but escapes to his room to play EverQuest where he is a famous, powerful warrior that commands respect and attention. But those are my words.  As Castronova puts it: “the new worlds being built will grow in popularity if, and only if, they provide a better life experience than the world we were born into.” (p. 70)  That may be true for some people and at some times when they look for escape, just as people do through movies.  But VWs also just count as entertainment, like sports.  Has anyone shown quantitatively or anecdotally that when internet access is provided in impoverished inner cities or war-torn third world countries that people try to escape into virtual worlds?  On the contrary, I think VWs are more popular with people with pretty comfy lives who have their other basic needs met.

But it is in the realm of philosophy (or, more exactly, utopian visioning), that Castronova runs off the road (chapter 12).  His imaginings include potential utopias where a person would be “judged not by the body but on the basis of the mind alone.” and “once everyone gets used to the fact that bodies don’t matter, they may cease to cause discrimination even on Earth.”  (p.258)

Many of his experiences in these games and worlds simply don’t match with mine.  For one, his description of the experience of using a synthetic world is a bit more immersive and extreme than I have experienced and I suspect may overstate its impact on people.  For example, he describes how the user’s identity begins to expand to encompass the user’s avatar, such as when “the avatar’s attributes felt like they were your own personal attributes” or that people frequently leave off “character” or “avatar” when saying things like “my strength is depleted”.  They actually do this when they have multiple avatars, which is pretty common. 

So all in all, I think this is a great book and a must-read for people interested in what virtual worlds are about (mostly from a gaming point of view).  It provides an overview of how the games work followed by a survey of philosophy, game design, politics, psychology, and sociology behind the games, but is clearly most at home with the economics of these worlds.

Enterprise3 Conference Discount

February 4, 2008 at 3:27 pm | Posted in virtual worlds | Leave a comment

I’m going to be giving a presentation on enterprise virtual worlds at the E3 conference (portals, collaboration, web), which is taking place May 19-22 in San Diego.  If you’re going to be there let me know and we can meet up.  Also, I’m passing along a discount code I got as a speaker.  If you use the speaker code SPKRM2091CR you get a 20% discount.

Here’s what I’ll be talking about:

Enterprise Virtual Worlds

Virtual Worlds like Second Life have been getting a lot of attention in the past year, in articles that range from childlike wonder to curmudgeon-like dismissal of it as a game with no real value.  But somewhere between these extremes is emerging a more measured view of what enterprise virtual worlds are and what they can actually do for businesses, both externally for customer outreach and internally for employee and partner collaboration.  In this session, Craig Roth, Burton Group Senior Analyst and Vice President, will discuss:

  • What counts as a virtual world when the word “virtual” can mean virtually anything?
  • What can virtual worlds do for businesses and organizations?
  • What are the benefits and pitfalls of using an enterprise virtual world?
  • What other options are there to Second Life?

Lotusphere 2008 – Day 2

January 22, 2008 at 10:49 pm | Posted in Lotusphere2008, portals, SaaS, virtual worlds | 1 Comment

After a late, but fun night with old friends, new friends, and friendly IBM folks, it was a bit difficult getting up bright and early, especially without a symphony to wake me up like yesterday.  But there were some good presentations.  I also had some good presentation with executives from IBM, but those observations will work their way into other blog entries and I won’t post a blow-by-blow bullet list like I do for these

IBM and SaaS

Doug Wilson and Aparatim Purakayastha

  • Examples Doug gave of IBM Lotus SaaS:
    • He began by talking about Bluehouse, the code name for the Lotus SMB SaaS program.
    • Also talked about Lotus Foundations, a collaboration server (being released 2q 2008) that IBM’s business partners sell as on-prem
    • Lotus Sametime Unyte Share and Unyte Meeting is a product as well as a service that can be cut into other offerings like those from business partners
  • I thought Doug’s presentation was interesting for the assumptions it made about the value proposition of SaaS.  I’ll pull these out and isolate them to clarify (so these are my words, not IBM’s position)
    • Traditional software vendors will prefer to offer applications that have a flexible hosting model versus pre-determined hosting model. For example, Bluehouse seems to be COTS software (commercial off the shelf) that IBM has decided to host and customize to offer as a service.  This is different than Google Apps for the Enterprise which were built from the start to be SaaS. It’s the difference between optional SaaS and mandatory SaaS.  IBM Lotus is leaning towards the flexible hosting model – as Doug said “You’ll see a hybrid – it’s not totally one or the other.”    The next question is therefore, is there a difference between applications developed to be purely SaaS versus either SaaS-or-COTS?  My instinct says there is, as this must introduce design limitations, but this will take further research
    • An easy market for SaaS is organizations at a low point on the technology maturity curve.  For Bluehouse, Doug mentioned a sweet spot of businesses that don’t currently do much collaboration, so SaaS is enabling access to capabilities that you can’t get otherwise.  In other words, the buyer is probably not comparing the SaaS to COTS – the choice is between the SaaS and nothing.  This concept is complementary to the one that SaaS offers stripped down functionality as one of its benefits (less complex)
    • Small business are another easy market for SaaS.  Small businesses have difficulty justifying enterprise software and their systems aren’t linked to partners
  • I agree with these assumptions, but I do think this leaves out a few value propositions that Doug did not mention
    • Software adoption risk: A typical buy-vs-lease calculation requires the number of years the software will be used.  But for technologies being explored for the first time, it’s not certain if it will catch on.  The time frame could be very short if it never catches on and dies out long before reaching critical mass in an organization.  Collaboration technologies such as wikis and even document libraries are experimental for some organizations, so SaaS can be cost effective versus a purchasing long term rights to software that may fizzle after a few months
    • Vendor risk: Buying long term rights to software from a vendor that may not be around in a year isn’t prudent.  Aside from code escrow allowances, SaaS provides another form of assurance that you’re not paying for a going-concern assumption.  This doesn’t apply to IBM, but it does to many of the smaller Web 2.0 vendors
    • Departmental or point usage: Even large enterprises have needs for small groups within them to set up their own collaborative environments such as for one department or for one project team.  In the Q&A Doug said that IBM Lotus may address that in the enterprise products, although that’s not what Bluehouse is about
    • Quick time to implementation: This ties into the departmental bullet above.  The idea is that if a project has certain software needs that can’t be met with the organization’s COTS software.  For example, a project team needs to collaborate with an external partner.  They certainly can’t wait to initiate a project to explore collaboration software and wait for it to be installed – they want it today
  • Aparatim pointed out architectural lessons about what is important for designing SaaS-capable software
    • Loose coupling
    • Federated and open identity systems
    • Application level awareness of multi-tenancy

Glimpsing the Future of the Business of Socializing

Irene Greif and Joan DiMicco

  • Beehive
    • Beehive is a research project for mixing work and purely social exchange
    • It’s a social networking website, like an internal Facebook
    • It’s not Connections – it’s opt-in and the profile is self-branding (like placement of where things go in the profile and you don’t just fill in categories)
    • Examples: photos, top five lists, events
    • I think it’s Interesting that Oracle also has a Beehive project for next-gen collaboration, not to mention the Apache Beehive project (unrelated to collaboration).  This is a popular code name!
  • Socializing in Virtual Worlds
    • Teams are strengthened by playing games
    • Leadership emerges from in-world exercises.  it gives people without leadership titles to take on leadership roles and learn and demonstrate leadership
    • One argument was that younger people like these immersive environments and we want them to feel comfortable
    • Another is maybe to get value to take people out of their work setting to share experiences together.  Using games to foster teaming
    • Expect integration with existing, 2D tools in the enterprise
    • Talked about some design principles they found from Second Life: were that they should be collaborative games (not single user), team competition, social identity (t-shirts, etc), and exercises to get comfy with Second Life
    • Their research showed that it helped foster a collaborative environment in virtual teams
    • Bluegrass
      • Irene described the Bluegrass project for virtual worlds for software developers.  I sat down in the Innovation Lab with it and it’s pretty neat
      • What I like about it is that it demonstrates the value of virtual worlds for visualization.  The same data can be visualized in a “normal” way in Rational Jazz.  You can see projects, people on the projects, when code is checked in, and so forth.  But the virtual visualization lets you see this data in a different way, with trees for projects, people with bubbles over their heads when they take an action, and profile information hovering around them
      • This isn’t a virtual IDE – it’s for the collaboration and a way to provide a visual concrete to the programmer’s abstract world
      • It was developed in the Torque engine, which has a server and client component
      • It was designed by and for millennials – so it has the fun look and feel of games
      • Irene discussed other similar projects like MUPPETS, MPK 20, Rubyists in Second Life, Chime
      • She described this as connection to attention management in being aware of what other developers are doing

Portal Site Management

J Paul Kelsey

  • Described site management as being about managing pages, artifacts, page lifecycle, access, and content creation
  • They opened up an ATOM feed into the portal through a content handler that can send and receive XML, so the admin screens for pushing pages out are now AJAX enabled
  • Through that they can issue GET, Put, Post, or DELETE requests on a page without going through admin screens
  • Can modify all sorts of things to a portal page locally to make changes to it (without ever going to the server) and then a single submit to the server would update it.  I think this could open up some nice 3rd party vendor opportunities for handy page design and admin functions
  • Apparently in the past you didn’t have an easy way to move a page from one server to the next.  I thought WCM did that.  Well, now there’s a button you can click to publish pages
  • There’s a site management option added to the resource manager portlet
  • I’ll admit that I got distracted doing some email during this presentation, so these notes may be a little off. 

That’s it for day 2. 

Can I Catch the 2:05 Technology Train at the Globalization Station? Sorry, You Just Missed Constant Partial Attention …

January 9, 2008 at 5:02 pm | Posted in Attention Management, Globalization, portals, virtual worlds | Leave a comment

For the end of the year, Ross Dawson published a map of trends across society in 2007, based on a train system map. I find Ross’s map of trends to be very interesting for what it says (and doesn’t say) about the areas I cover as an industry analyst: globalization, attention management, and portals.

Trend_Blend_2007_map 

Globalization is dead center in the middle of the trend graph.  It has 3 lines connecting it to anxiety compared to only 2 lines to happiness (or does the yellow train stop there?).  From my point of view though (content globalization) I noticed that the technology line does not connect to globalization.  But the core thesis of my research into content globalization is that the trend is for information technology’s intersection with globalization is rising rapidly due to enabling technology in the form of enterprise content management, XML standards, and component-oriented content.

Attention management is on the chart in the form of “too much information”.  It is shown as tantalizingly close to “resource scarcity”, which would have formed an interesting parallel to water scarcity and to the orange line below (constant partial attention, slowing down).  I happen to think those are inexorably connected to “too much information”.

Portals get interesting placement in the “personalization” hub in the lower left of the chart.  No less than 7 trains run through that hub including on-demand, fragmentation, wisdom of crowds, constant partial attention, and online medical records.

A fourth area I cover, virtual worlds, didn’t seem to get placement.  Unless it’s counted under “escapism”.  Or “boredom” …

Microsoft Gets On The Serious Games Bandwagon

January 3, 2008 at 1:54 pm | Posted in Gaming, virtual worlds | 1 Comment

Who said games have to be fun?  Not the serious gaming community.  Serious games are like “fun” games in that actors select outcomes and observe responses based on a set of inputs and rules.  This applies whether you’re playing Texas Hold ‘Em or testing military strategies.  But serious games use common gaming conventions for training or scenario assessment rather than pure enjoyment.  Don’t confuse serious games with educational games which are supposed to make learning fun, disguising education by embedding it in a context that usually means enjoyment.  Serious games have serious purposes, such as studying the spread of infectious diseases, disaster preparedness, and planning military operations.

Or flying a plane.  A recent example of this is Microsoft ESP, a version of their Flight Simulator game that’s been customized and marketed for non-gaming applications.  It has been in beta for a while, but it seems the site just went live after New Year’s.  Their data sheet describes it this way:

Microsoft® ESP™ is a visual simulation platform that brings immersive games-based technology to training and learning, decision support, and research and development modeling for government and commercial organizations.

Virtual worlds (which I’ve written about many times before in this blog) are providing the infrastructure for many serious games.  I think we’re just seeing the beginning of organizations beyond the military and public service segments starting to take serious games seriously.

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