Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Goodbye blogger

Goodbye blogger, hello Wordpress.

I have moved to a new web2.0'd blogosphere.
It's been fun, but I need to stretch my virtual wings a li'l

Find me at


Thursday, August 23, 2007

Metaversal Immersion

Some brief ramblings on interactive narrative and immersive environments:)

A virtual world is restricted only by your imagination. If you want to engage people in the experience of your brand, your need to provide an environment that demands exploring within the context of a compelling motive or narrative. In other words, create something fun, something unusual, something I want to look at a little longer. Give me a reason to be there, tell a story, weave a web of intrigue into the experience. Lead me into a metaphorical maze.

Once you have done that, consider the social and collaborative nature of virtual worlds, and ask yourself if the experience you present provides a social atmosphere. Not literally, I don't want to sit at a bar in SL! Ask yourself if your landscape creates a dynamic talking point for the user, does it lend itself to an intimate (not sleazy, I mean *friendly*) atmosphere. Where is the joy of use? Build some easter eggs in the landscape to surprise your visitors. Half the fun of social interaction in SL is the path of discovery.

Finally, ask yourself the very important "so what?" question.
eg I have created a building just like my real business and you can go inside and sit at a table "so what?"

What else do you think makes an immersive virtual world experience?

Friday, August 17, 2007

Secondlife Faces

Is it just me or does there seem to be a storm of activity happening on Facebook right now by Secondlife-ers? People who were connecting on SL groups are (re)creating groups in FB and learning even more about one another, sharing family photos, playing with friend-wheels etc
My theory - networking within Secondlife at present is very limited. Networking could be(is?) a huge drawcard for virtual worlds. There is more talk about the funky aspects of VW than the social collaboration possibilities. Facebook offers a visual display "who's who" with far more transparency.

Imagine if :
* groups in FB and Groups in SL(or other VW) were connected with one interface.
* within FB I could see if somebody was online in-world and connect.
* within SL I could click on a profile and not only "friend" but see my friend's friends in FB, and connect with them.

Methinks a Virtual Faces application will be coming soon!
And please, why doesn't Facebook have an option for Friends vs Networks? Privacy filtering is icky.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Social Transparency

Recent posts by Luis Suarez on making Enterprise2.0 matter and another by Jeremiah Owyang on Facebook have got me thinking about the new transparency requirement organisations now need to consider. Right now employers have a choice of walling in employees, blocking access to streaming media, blogs, Facebook, virtual worlds(VWs) and even instant messaging.
So what does productivity really mean? Should organisations be thinking more about the need to teach time and technology management to their employees, rather than fencing them in?
I am a big believer in the value of sharing knowledge. Iron sharpens iron, as they say. The value within "social capital" will become enormous and I believe IT departments will soon bow down to pressure from employees and managers alike. It might be a choice now, but will it become a demand - a right - from the next generation?
Collaborative social networks of wikis, blogs, virtual worlds are facilitating real time knowledge sharing. I just look at the small group of VW bloggers I am now following in twitter (and now Facebook) and the type of ambient knowledge collective it offers. What if my friends started to embrace these technologies also? What difference would it make to their relationships, their projects, their customers?
I think one day we will see a far more transparent social dynamic enter the workforce. Less demand on intranets, more focus on social networking using web2.0 groups as the benefits of collaboration are realised.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Express Yourself

Never before have I had such a candid view of people in my life. I have current friends, old school friends, work colleagues...all in view of each other via Facebook. I realise there are some privacy settings which I have tweaked, but right now there is a fine line between friends and work in this communication medium. Are we becoming a more tolerant and candid society? Is it Facebook Faux Pas to hide your "wall" or friends? Is being a "private person" less acceptable than ever?

Another question - is Facebook really about connecting or is it about embedding your identity? Do you get to know more about your friends or yourself by using FB and twitter? How much of this is manufactured identity? Will "who's hot and who's not" become a determining factor in collaboration on projects? I can't help but think that although we try (I hope) to be genuine in updating our profiles, sometimes there is a certain pop-culture spin element involved.

Third question. Will companies begin to lose the power of proprietary communication channels such as intranets and email/meeting management tools? We are beginning to see more use of for sharing bookmarks, FB to share events (I love being able to invite friends to events via FB and having a view of who is coming, who is not and not being limited to only work colleagues), twitter to share hot URLs , secondlife meetings with impromptu external parties invited. Will companies embrace this 24 x 7 global water cooler or will they shut the doors as they struggle to manage IP?

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Metaversal Elephant

I had to giggle when I stumbled across this - I have used the story before in interactive design briefing but never read the poem. Think it gives a good picture of how researchers, marketeers, IT professionals, gamers and designers are all trying to define the possible future uses of the 3D internet! enjoy - I just had to replace one *word.

Blind Men and the Elephant (a.k.a., "Blindmen")

(by John Godfrey Saxe)

American poet John Godfrey Saxe (1816-1887) based this poem, "The Blind Men and the Elephant", on a fable that was told in India many years ago. It is a good warning about how our sensory perceptions can lead to misinterpretations.

Six blindmen touching an elephant.

It was six men of Indostan
To learning much inclined,
Who went to see the Elephant
(Though all of them were blind),
That each by observation
Might satisfy his mind
The First approached the Elephant,
And happening to fall
Against his broad and sturdy side,
At once began to bawl:
“God bless me! but the Elephant
Is very like a wall!”
The Second, feeling of the tusk,
Cried, “Ho! what have we here
So very round and smooth and sharp?
To me ’tis mighty clear
This wonder of an Elephant
Is very like a spear!"
The Third approached the animal,
And happening to take
The squirming trunk within his hands,
Thus boldly up and spake:
“I see,” quoth he, “the Elephant
Is very like a snake!”
The Fourth reached out an eager hand,
And felt about the knee.
“What most this wondrous beast is like
Is mighty plain,” quoth he;
‘Tis clear enough the Elephant
Is very like a tree!”
The Fifth, who chanced to touch the ear,
Said: “E’en the blindest man
Can tell what this resembles most;
Deny the fact who can
This marvel of an Elephant
Is very like a fan!”
The Sixth no sooner had begun
About the beast to grope,
Than, seizing on the swinging tail
That fell within his scope,
“I see,” quoth he, “the Elephant
Is very like a rope!”
And so these men of Indostan
Disputed loud and long,
Each in his own opinion
Exceeding stiff and strong,
Though each was partly in the right,
And all were in the wrong!

So oft in *metaversal wars,
The disputants, I ween,
Rail on in utter ignorance
Of what each other mean,
And prate about an Elephant
Not one of them has seen!

Friday, August 3, 2007

Visceral Virtuality

Blogging is a funny thing. Like a jumble of thoughts welling up during the week and then...splat. Here you go - into the blogosphere once more...

I was exploring some of my favorite places with a new friend from the UK in SL last night - which began with a twitter from him, some of our antics were tweeted while in world and observed by a twitter-in-law(?). While exploring we were discussing the social sixth sense that twitter creates and I was saying it is like Social Osmosis - and now come to think of it, Visceral Virtuality!

Over the last week or so, I heard about the floods in the UK, the devastating fires in the Canary Islands and a few happenings in the virtual world and private lives of connections in Twitterland. I hardly get to watch the news or even read it these days and it fascinates me that a tool like twitter is keeping me in touch with the news through the eyes of my connections.

What really intrigues me with the visceral (and vicarious) qualities of twittering and exploring with friends in SL is the seemingly natural level of friendship and openness usually experienced only after more lengthy social interactions. I think one cyber month becomes the equivalent of one earth year! Twittering in particular gives me an insight into my colleagues and friends and quite a few laughs along the way. I wonder how many Munchausen Twitterers exist? There are certainly many sociologists sighted in secondlife - the interactions just too interesting not to document!

I like Roo Reynolds post on Social Networking for whales and wonder just how effective my life of Visceral Virtuality will become? It has been great to catch up with old friends on Facebook and glimpse into their lives right now. But is this social networking getting too close to home? How much do I choose to reciprocate? Should some doors remain best closed? Where do the lines blur? And if my twitter goes past the current small crowd to the 150 number mentioned in Roo's post - will my head start to spin? Time will tell, as they say. I just wonder if I should measure it in cyber years or earth years?

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Google less

I went to a conference yesterday by the AIIA on marketing predictions. While we started with Peter Williams from Eclipse (Deloitte) giving us a web 2.0 showcase: user-driven content, joy-of-use sites, mash-ups, hacking and good examples of user experience - the second presentation on "how to get google to love your website" left me stumped.
We are entering the "golden age of the networked economy" where users want to have more input and control over content but...

should we have incredibly long lists of search query text at the bottom of our screen and change the wording on our sites to bad English because Google says so (cos it makes us come up on Google searches?)I dont think so! Feels like a search engine dictating how i look at sites? I don't want to see back end stuff on the front, even it it is marketing spiel.

The more I use web2.0 the less I google. As much as I love it, I also love tagging and find half the stuff I need using social bookmarking, twitter and blogs. I would prefer to visit a site recommended by others, than a site recommended by the site-creators.

Maybe soon Google will have a 3rd search option.
Search: tagged content

What do you think?

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Virtual Value

Virtual Value

Are businesses making the most of their Secondlife investments? Maybe not.

Firstly, you might have seen some press flying around about a hotel chain discontinuing their Secondlife investment and donating its’ “land” for charitable purposes, and more about Secondlife user numbers falling over the last month. No surprise really- given the nature in which companies have jumped into this space to get a bit of presence without really considering the interactive and social dynamic of virtual worlds (or interactive media for that matter.)

One major failing I can identify is the precise replication of one business and economy metaphor into another without consideration of the technological advantages. Secondlife, as many are aware, is not yet stable enough to support users as a complete v-business web experience, and technology is still catching up with the demands of the user. Retail stores who tried to replicate their shopping experience on the web ten years ago are doing the same again now. Have they forgotten the reasons why that experience does not work as well? Ok there is the bandwith issue, but how does a user want to look at the product when shopping? The advantage of online shopping in this retail example, is the ability to have a cart, use previous lists, do quick searches for items and all the other perks of online shopping. When you use technology well – you consider the advantages and how that might benefit the business and customer demands.

So what are some of the advantages in virtual worlds like Secondlife? People want to interact, be entertained, create, learn, converse, discover, play, experience, roam, teleport, fly, engage, communicate and even escape. Who wants to escape to an online supermarket for entertainment? Not me!!

Some of the better examples of Secondlife places using the interactive social dynamic include, Comcastic island, the Alpine Conference Centre, IBM’s SOA Island, and even Coca-Cola who recently had a machinama competition with Crayon Marketing.

Next time your customer asks you about ways to use Virtual Worlds – think about the way users engage and the business opportunities therein.

  • Speaking to Harley Davidson? What about making well branded virtual bikes, giving them away at the popular and Noob (new user) areas and embedding links to your online store?
  • Talking to an insurance company? What about putting billboards up in the Freebie areas (such as Coldwell Banker is doing) handing out free wearables, or creating a ride in one of the many playgrounds?
  • What is a new and unusual way to use the medium – like IBM did with Wimbledon and the real world ‘hawkeye’ ball tracking data?
  • Your customer has globally disconnected teams? Set up team building exercises at the beginning of a project as part of the project ramp-up with thematic visual cues for retention and gameplay as a way of connecting.
  • Need to challenge some workforce diversity issues? Create a simulation using objects with scripting (like the Schizophrenia simulation)!
  • Onboarding staff? Get staff to take a cruise around the different areas of your business, set up a landscape metaphor…and that is just the tip of the iceberg, I am sure there are plenty of better uses…

Why are people making so many houses and business centres that are fast becoming empty while the nightclubs, beaches and experiential islands flourish with social networking? Lets think outside the square – and tell me about your favourite places or ideas…!!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Moving Pictures

You may have seen this already
but are you inspired?

virtual charity

Time to start a public blog!

I'm loving emerging technologies right now,virtual worlds and web 2.0(but hey, why version it?)
We are on the verge of something big - "a mixed reality perfect storm" .Although there seems to be a lot of toe-dipping and not so clever attempts to replicate business models into this medium, I think the possibilities are enormous and gaming culture will be a huge influencer on the future of the web & v-business. I am fascinated in the potential social and learning applications. Its great to be a part of it.

I have seen some good examples of philanthropic use of secondlife by the Global Kids Digital Media Initiative in NY, who made a machinama about child soldiers in Africa - incidentally I am raising funds this month along with some friends for rescued child soldiers - email me if you want an angel bookmark for $10 (au)!!

These kids have done some great work. They love feedback on their blog.

And of course there have been many places I have come across in SL raising money for cancer, reforestation and others.
I would love to know about other social applications of secondlife and other virtual worlds - please share your ideas! And thanks for stopping by!