It's been quite a while since I first noticed the Generali island, but at the time it was still under construction and closed for the public. Today I tried once more and it's open. It's a good build with a lot of detail and well designed furniture.
Generali, Italy's largest insurance company plans "to engage with the SL community and explore the nature and ‘insurability’ of risk in virtual worlds, as well as to interactively promote the Group’s image and business."
Let's start of with a few snapshots:
In Generali’s perspective, Second Life represents an opportunity laboratory for innovating (prototyping new products and services), learning and communicating as well as an interesting emerging market – virtual worlds inhabited by dynamic and knowledgeable users.
The main objectives of “Generali Virtual” could be summarized as follows:
On the left, places and areas on Generali Virtual
- explore the extent to which virtual reality might affect and extend the nature of risk and risk management services
- experiment with new insurance-related services relevant to a world where connectivity and virtuality become dominant features: insuring virtual risks in reality and real risks in virtuality
- witness Generali’s effort in providing innovative services, and promote the Group’s image throughout non-traditional environments and communities.
The success of Second Life itself may be transient, but the phenomenon of technology-enabled virtual worlds will not and the Group is keen to put itself in a position of monitoring and learning early on in order to be ready for future challenges.
The Generali island is organized around a central piazza – the Community Area – which provides a space for presentations and virtual encounters, and potentially an alternative channel for real-world corporate events. A large screen can be used to show a registration or the live video from the event. On one side of the piazza the Generali Building provides up-to-date information about the Generali Group and links to the generali.com website. Close to it, a structure informally known as “Chill Area” is designed to provide a context for hosting some social, educational and entertainment activities of the SL community.
The large Water Tower is a panoramic view point with a room that gives a view of the whole island. The most interactive part of the island is the Warehouse Set, where a game can be played by visitors, in fact Generali Virtual offers to visitors an interactive game, a sort of “car chase” with prizes to be won, that is meant to convey a simple but effective message about the rewards for risk-adverse behaviour.
To be honest, I really couldn't spot the interactivity, tried a few warehouses but couldn't really get in. Perhaps there's a teleport point somewhere. A second thing I couldn't really figure out is what the islands' subtitle "keeping heroes safe" means.
This week the island of Sogeti Netherlands removed the access restrictions. We've been working on the final release of the island after a year of exploring the metaverse and tinkering in a sandbox. We've decided to go functional and not provide a themepark for metaversalists. So don't expect gadgets and funrides.
It will take us some time to get it all finished, we still need to work out some details, but untill then you're welcome to enjoy a WindLight sunset at our beach.
SLURL: http://slurl.com/secondlife/Sogeti%20Netherlands/128/128/0, and to the north you'll find Sogeti Sweden, also under construction, but open for a good chat.
In a time when global warming and major climate changes are the talk of the town, Dutch insurance company Aegon (one of the biggest insurance companies in the world) comes with a good old Dutch winterscene. The island is dominated by the flat fields of the Netherlands with frozen streams.
The scenerty reminded me of the legendary 'Eleven City Tour' a 200 Km long skate tour which was last held in 1997 (it's been so long since then we have had enough ice). Due to the requirement that along the route the ice needs a minimum thickness of 15 cm. it's only been held 15 times since 1909. When it's on though, it's a national holiday.
The second picture reminds me of the Bridge of Bartlehiem (a tiny village a.k.a. Bethlehem in Frisia, which the tour passes two times en route to Dokkum and back to the finish at Leeuwarden).
It's almost impossible to have a guaranteed thickness of 15 cm. everywhere on the track, and especially under the bridges the ice grows slowly. To safeguard the over 15.000 skaters that usually participate there are occasional 'kluning points' where skaters have to pass a bridge on the road. These parts are usually carpeted so the skating irons don't get blunt.
But alas, that's ancient history now. Let's concentrate on speedskating. And so does Aegon, who's been sponsoring a Dutch speedskating team for ages. The center of the sim contains a mega iceblock which holds the Aegon logo. On top of it, there's a speedskating ring.
At the side of the ring you'll find this seasons speedskating calender and you can buy (~!@#$%^) skates for L$ 900 and try it out. Get outta here, I like freebies!
"Power to the Community" was the title of one of the main sessions prior to Rod Beckstrom's presentation on the Starfish and the Spider at the "From Web 2.0 to Enterprise 2.0" conference in Utrecht last wednesday.
I liked this presentation, not because Patrick Savalle is a Sogeti colleague, but I like his way of thinking. It was what you could call a boardroom wakeup call. The essence of the presentation was moving the crowd from version 1.0 to 2.0.
One of the things to churn on was explaining the Peter Principle which often occurs in centralized organisations (the spiders) which pionts out that a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence.
His second thought focussed on emergent behaviour; In a crowd we all do things we wouldn't do as individuals. We've all been suckered into buying things we don't need by early marketing guru's like Edward Bernays who laid the foundations of mass manipulation and crowd control.
His final thought was called Social (web-) Design. When looking at social networking sites you have to find what makes these things attractive. How do you build communities? It's in little things, it's in poking, it's in listing events, in smilies, profile pictures or tweets: all these little things are a frameset in which the crowd interacts and grows into a collective community. This collective community will eventually return to emergent behaviour so we have to be carefull. Edward Bernays, much like his uncle Sigmund Freud, wasn't all that happy with what he did to humanity. Maybe in 20 years we'll have a generation of social webdesigners looking back at how they manipulated the masses.
In my opinion that's a pretty spooky thought. Walk along that path and we might even end up with Asimov's famous Psychohistory;
The basis of psychohistory is the idea that, while the actions of a particular individual could not be foreseen, the laws of statistics could be applied to large groups of people and used to predict the general flow of future events. Asimov used the analogy of a gas: in a gas, the motion of a single molecule is very difficult to predict, but the mass action of the gas can be predicted to a high level of accuracy - known in physics as the Kinetic Theory. Asimov applied this concept to the population of the fictional Galactic Empire, which numbered in a quintillion. The character responsible for the science's creation, Hari Seldon, established two postulates:
So my question to Patrick would be: Shouldn't the title be "Take power from the community" instead of "give power to"?
Thanks for posting the videos. I'm a bit surprised that you can grok his message but choose to work in the spider verse of SL instead of contributing to one of the starfish.
Second Life is controlled by a single corporate entity, hosted on centralized hardware, governed by a single legal structure, and is fundamentally structured around the centralized idea of One Big World.
In this analogy, Linden Lab is the spider head and if you chop it off then Second Life is dead.
I think I have to disagree with Beckstrom then, I guess ;). And I really do.
The thing Rod says about Starfisch companies is that they are decentralized but in order for this to function, there needs to be a very very clear set of operational protocols.
In this, each organisational cell has to have the maturity to operate autonomously within the main ideology. But what happens in unforseen circumstances? Who makes the decisions when a company comes into a crises? It is impossible to have a full starfish company. What happens if we’re in a hostile take-over situation or a scandal? Who will have to pick up responsibility in the end? What if two decentralized cells or organisational units have different interests, or even conflicting interests, who mediates or puts out strategy in the end?
An example of this would be typically Dutch churchlife. In the Middle Ages we had the Catholic Empire. Super centralized and only the clergy had Bibles, their handbook, protocol set. That didn’t really work and Calvinism rose and in the ages past dozens of religious factions appeared. Each having their particular organisational model. Some with centralised governing bodies, others decentralised. The particular set I go to is kind of decentralised. Locally governed churches. Each member of the church has his/her own handbook nowadays and we’re all considered to be really smart intelligent people. There are occasions though that Elders put out a different gospel, to keep with the handbook, a cell leader that thinks the set of protocols needs to be altered a little, or other issues that can’t be solved at a local level. For this occasion there’s a national assembly every four years to judge these things. Consider changes or addenda to the protocols and make a ruling in cases where protocols have been violated, or challenged.
Optimal performance is a cross between Starfish and Spiders I guess, or every rule has its mandatory exceptions.
Linden Lab itself isn’t a spider corporation. There’s the tao of Linden which allows each unit or individual employee incredible freedom in picking his / her own priorities (LL should be more Spider in this regard). De grid is spread over several hosting locations, yes true, all LL owned. Take out part of the grid, the other part lives on.
Ogoglio of course is different. It’s open source and if we chopped off Trevor’s head (that’s a no-no) Ogoglio would live on. You can run it at home. Great stuff, and very very Starfishish.
There’s a wide range of variety though. Second Life is open, decentralized sometimes even anarchistic when it comes to user generated content. If we’d cut off Philip’s spikey head (also a no-no) would content creation stop? We’ve got tens of content development companies and we’ve got an active, contributing community. This can’t be said for a range of other platforms, even when the are enterprise platforms and you can run your own version of it, you’re still by far and large dependable on the platform owners for content creation.
"My problem is that, imho Second Life isn't a business platform at this moment
in which these goals can be achieved."
"Then it comes to waiting for the next 'killer app' which really draws the
crowd into the metaverse. However, I'm having difficulties in formulating the
needs in which this 'holy grail' should provide. Is it mass collaboration, the
digital long tail, outsourcing or will the virtual economy grow to such an
extent that retail goes 3D because of efficiency? In other words, what is your
vision of a businessmodel that goes beyond the limitations of Second Life, which
added value can a 3D environment have for entrepeneurs and how will crowds be
These are easy questions, much like "Why are we here? How does the universe work?" The answer is similarly hard. If I had a straightforward answer, I'd probably be a millionaire soon.
It's the X-million dollar question.
As a Metaverse Evangelist, or sr. Networked Virtual Environment Consultant I could talk about the potential of metaverses forever. To be honest though. We have to be realistic.
When it comes to designing the metaversal killer app I'd say it's too early to tell. We still don't have a web 2.0 killer app. Every day new sites, new worlds and new functionality emerges. The killer app will have to be a mashup of the best of both worlds; 3D Facebook, Google virtualisation or whatever. I've got tons of unformulated thoughts on this but what it comes down to is that we have to move from technology driven design to social design; step out of the binary limitations and explore the realms of psychology and communication to understand human needs for interaction and information and only then move on to functionality on demand. 2007 is a year of options. We see variation, we see diferent platforms, technologies and cultures emerge. Now is the time to explore, the time of veni vidi vici. Observe, Asses and Implement (though by by trial and error). To Incorporate, that's 2010 and beyond for the majority of companies.
Time for bed now. A few more points need to be addressed tomorrow...
Below is the presentation he did at the Next Web Conference, which is pretty much the same story and same slideshow. Sit down and enjoy. It's good stuff.
This evening I took some time again to skim through my Linked-In network and browsed the questions from my connections. There's this lad, Rick, who's working on a thesis on Second Life and the metaverse. He posed this question:
Has Second Life in 2007 raised or lowered your expectations for the
Since the big hype in October of last year those who have been watching the Virtual World of Second Life have seen the hype come and go. But what have we learned from the most successful metaverse up to now? Has it raised or lowered your expectations for a social virtual world?
Now I had a bit of a fight with Linked-In tonight. My answer was too long (apparently 4000 characters max), I tried adding the last bit by clarifying, tried editing and finally deleting and start over again. However, that didn't work either as it said I had already posted. So here's my answer:
Early 2007 I said that the age of the Digerati was gone and that 2007 was the beginning of a new era, that of the Metarati, the visionairs that bring us the metaverse. It truly has begun. It's not just Second Life, but the whole industry.
The year isn't over yet and we've seen over 2 billion US$ in investments in the Networked Virtual Environment Industry. It's not just SL: It's platforms like Qwaq springing up for business, it's Neopets going 144 million subscriptions strong, it's Hipihi, Novoking and the other Chinese booms, it Football superstars and Barbie Girls boosting the extraverse (branded worlds) and it's Sony Home or Eve Online with the new Crytek engine bringing us superior graphics
Over the past year Second Life has drawn more media attention than any other virtual world, respectively positive and then later ill-informed negative publicity has driven the world of Second Life into a hype cycle, especially in the Dutch Press after the Dutch PCM Web (Personal Computer Magazine) picked up a story by the LA Times that companies are getting disappointed in Second Life.
It is another sign of old media living in total oblivion of what is going on.
"After an enormous hype om Second Life more and more 'experts' are getting sceptic on the added value of Second Life to business. Online visitors aren't big shoppers, but are mainly looking for entertainment" reads the introduction. Where did this come from? There's hardly a real life company to be found in Second Life that's actually selling stuff. If it ain't on offer, we can't buy it.
"Successfully promoting your company inside the virtual world of Second Life shows to be harder than expected. More and more marketing departments conclude that Second Life residents feel like visiting their online stores. "Actually there isn't any convincing reason to be present in Second Life" says Brian McGuinness, a Hotelchain bigshot in the LA times, and thus his company left Second Life"
Most of these 'marketing departments' probably have never seen Second Life from the inside. Many companies just use Second Life as another medium for corporate communication... without understanding it. It's back to the early 90's when serious companies launched crappy (excuse me) Frontpage websites.
In most cases there wont be a ROI (return on investment) indeed for the year to come, or even the year after. When will companies see that Second Life is not a commercial, a product flyer?
There are companies that dig SL though. Have a look at Intel and Cisco giving tech meetings and classes on Java and other skills. take a look at Philips taking surveys, or at ABN Amro organising sponsor events for non profits.
One of the most telling lines in this article is the following quote: "Analists from Forrester (yay, the big reasearchers) have calculated that at prime time there are only about 35,000 to 40,000 visitors in Second Life" Okay, prepare for another research paper (usual rates about $ 1.000,- US dollar / hard cash) telling you the same the counter on this webpage -an many many other websites - will show you every single day. The good news is: You don't even need to pay me L$ 1,000 to get this info. (Concurrent Logins as per june 07, now over 50K)
Now the Dutch seem to have been in the grips of hypecycles for several years now, on a range of subjects. The nation is becoming governed by the whims of media. The point is that most companies don't really have a clue either to what they want from a virtual world like Second Life. It still seems like many companies establish a presence in Second Life because everybody does so (that's no longer valid). It's like users: If you register for SL and have no idea what you want to do there, you're likely not to return. You're at a loss. Companies should have a goal in Second Life as well. Innovation, Exploration, Crowdsourcing, User Acceptance, Branding, Sponsoring whatever, just make up your mind and set some goals...
Aside from the misperceptions I have seen the virtual worlds grow. Many new startups stir up competition, challenging each platform to innovate and stay at the top. There’s the promise of new and converging media with projects like CSI:NY, The Office, Gossip Girls and the Korean Que Sera adding interactivity to television, which make me believe we are making progress on making these worlds fit for business. So yes, sofar 2007 has definately raised hopes of making the metaverse fit for business. Virtual Economies are the fastest growing economies on earth. Advancement in terms of stability and scalability are made in rapid succession. It's an enormously varied landscape though, different cultures, people and habits. A wide variety of engines are used to drive these worlds. Some are java-based, some are desktop applications that connect to grids and some are using streaming technology. It's almost impossible to try and define these worlds, let alone find ways for identity management unified communications, interoperability and portability for the sector. These are the steps we have to make these worlds an integral part of our daily work or leisure time.
In real life I had a day off. Not to lean back, but to take care of the kids who were down sick. This afternoon when they were asleep I just had time to immerse and join the Information Week session on Dr. Dobbs island where Mitch Wagner, a.k.a. Ziggy Figaro interviewed SciFi author Charles Stross.
Stross has always known he wanted to be a Science Fiction writer and started writing in his early teens and sold his first bit of wordplay in 1986. After a few stories sold, the dip came and Charles went back to University (Bradford) and did a postgraduate in computer science and hopped from techjob to techjob slowly crawling towards Edinburgh and suddenly went into web consultancy - This was right about the time of the dot com crash (if not the cause to it). He managed to establish himself as a proper Linux and Free Software journalist until...
"Even more implausibly, after fifteen years of abject obscurity, his fiction
became an overnight success in the US, with five novel sales and several Hugo
nominations in the space of two years. "
Charles, or Charlie, talked about the world of 'Halting State', a world set in our near future where Metaverses and augmented reality are part of our daily routine. Mitch Wagner says:
It's really hard to predict the future on the scale Stross does. Imagine yourself in 1996. Back then, would you have predicted the ubiquity of smartphones, user-generated content on the Internet (blogs weren't even invented yet), Facebook, MySpace, the massive American entertainment industry grinding to a complete halt over a dispute over Internet video, and post-9/11 geopolitics? Could you have imagined, in your bones, what it would be like to live in that world?
One of the things Stross sees is that in a few years from now it'll be mobile all the way. A large percentage of the computers on the world right now are already cell-phones. In a few years they'll have gigs of bandwidth. As Dr. Dobbs was quite maxed out with visitors, we were all yearning for that extra bandwidth as Second Life almost came to a halting state with clothing taking its time to download, or just plainly go missing.
Unfortunately I had to take care of one of my kids, so couldn't keep track of all the exciting things and visions Charles shared with the crowd, you'd best check out the Ugotrade blog in a few days to find a smashing recap.
When I logged in yesterday I received a landmark and notecard saying to come and see the new and improved Sogeti office in Second Life. Someone had copied our auditorium and added five new levels to it.
We haven't been very particular about people on our island, but we've primarily used it for internal purposes. The auditorium was a temporary build I put up in april to facilitate a number of workshops, the rest of the island was mainly sandbox. To give the builder some credit, it doesn't look that bad.
"Active Worlds, the web's most powerful Virtual Reality experience, lets you visit and chat in incredible 3D worlds that are built by other users. Think you have what it takes to build your own world or Virtual Reality game?
Active Worlds is the place for you, where in minutes you can create fascinating
3D worlds that others can visit and chat in. The Active Worlds Universe is
a community of hundreds of thousands of users that chat and build 3D virtual
reality environments in millions of square kilometers of virtual territory. Take
a quick look at some of our satellite maps and see how our community has grown over the years. Launch the free software and come check us out for yourself. You'll be amazed at how vast our Virtual Worlds universe is."
"At the moment there are only a few games that support head tracking, such as World of WarCraft, Half-Life, Counter-Strike, Second Life, and a few others."
"I've picked a lot of nits, and at this stage I've been wrestling with drivers and trying to put a shirt over my head to block out incoming light. I'm kind of cranky that way. All of that annoyance was gone, as I found myself inside the cockpit. Like, inside it. I look down and see the instrument panel. I look left and see out the window. I look up and see the rivets holding the metal plates of the plane together. I took off, looked out the right window over the empty seat, and banked hard so I could see the ocean beneath me. Amazing. The sense of flight and actually being there is almost overwhelming. "
There's several platforms and studio's than bring more than just one game. My favorite of these online gaming producers is Gala-Net who brings us a set of brilliant and entertaining games through their gameportal gPotato.
Founded in 2004, Gala-Net, Inc. is a subsidiary of global online community company Gala, Inc. Together with its European subsidiary, Gala Networks Europe, Gala-Net is a leader in the free-to-play online games market. Headquartered in Sunnyvale, California, Gala-Net's diverse service portfolio includes Flyff, Space Cowboy Online, Rappelz, Corum Online and Upshift StrikeRacer. Through the community portal gPotato, gamers can access all of Gala-Net's services and micro-currency, which can be used to buy in-game currency and virtual items for any of its games.
Action / Sports
Rappelz - Revolutions
One of the hottest games at this time is Rappelz which is gaining popularity fast. In no way it's close to the 8 million World of Warcraft players, but WoW has been online for some time now, and has a legacy.
Here's the game scenario:
And finally a shot of the great graphics of this game:
It's just that my time is soooo limited...personally, I like this game better than WoW.
Yesterday I've posted a first overview of the VW industry with several charts. Although I said it wasn't exact science, I received many comments trough twitter, IM and other media. Thanks for the feedback.
One of the first changes I've made is to add specific categories for 'adult worlds' (with the input I received about 4% of the market) and chats (19%) (no games included)
The chatrooms are both 2D and 3D worlds, many aiming at different agegroups.
This list is up for discussion. I for one am not sure Whyville or vSide are really chatroom focussed. Here some screenshots:
Additions are welcome!
UPDATE: The numbers in this blog are old. There will be an update shortly.
This blogentry was posted first at the Virtual World blog powered by Sogeti Sweden. As it is a new blog I gave an outline of the market we're dealing with. Several bits and bytes have appeared on this blog before - VeeJay
It's a brave new world out there, the question is which world? We've seen the industry of virtual worlds explode in this past year with billions of dollars of capital funding, takeovers and corporate builds. Over the past year Second Life has drawn more media attention than any other virtual world, respectively positive and then later ill-informed negative publicity has driven the world of Second Life into a hype cycle (as defined by Gartner).
There's more to it though. There's not only a brave new world out there, it's an entire universe. It was also Gartner who did a short report on virtual worlds in december 2006 and introduced the term NVE, Networked Virtual Environments as an overal term for the industry, their definition:
An NVE is an online platform in which participants are immersed in a three-dimensional representation of a virtual space. Other, analogous, terms for
NVEs in the market are metaverses and virtual worlds.
It's not a 100% definition as the industry also includes 2D spaces. I'd like to use it as a term for the entire universe whereas I would reserve the usage of the metaverse for a specific section in the industry.
A very good kick off was given at the Virtual World Conference in San Jose (10-11 October 2007) by Christian Renaud. He put in some good effort to come up with a list of about 75 Virtual Worlds with subscription numbers.
This subscription pie is based on the number of subscriptions per virtual world. Adding up to a grand total of 465.000.000 registered users. Wow, that's huge. That's the entire population of North America, or the entire population of Western Europe. And this is not even counting the Asian (Ralph Koster estimates the number to be close to 2000!).
This might be an unbelievable number. We have to put that into perspective. People do sign up a lot, then drop out. The current number of registered users in Second Life is about 9.2 million of which close to 2 million are active. Christian Renaud estimates the total number of active virtual world residents to be close to 50 million. Still, the number of signups is impressive. Let's take a look at the Social Network list on Wikipedia; it gives a list of 85 community sites totalling 1 billion registered users. Like web 2.0 sites, we do travel a lot. We sign up, play around and then move to the other world / site. And there's people like me. I'm registered at about 15 Virtual Worlds.
This is the division of the NVE's I'd like to make
A quick and easy split up is to say we use these worlds for social activities (i.e. Social Network Worlds) and for personal recreation (online gaming). But we also start to use these worlds for business purposes: online meetings, training, simulation, promotion, recruitment etcetera. Where does the business fit in? There's a number of platforms out there that could be considered as being typical business environments. Like Qwaq with office applications and Forterra which focusses on training and simulation. And then there are the intraverses. These have a business oriëntation as well. The chart below shows the division by usage focus. There is business on Second Life, but Second Life is not focussed on business.
Each world has its own culture and its own demographics. The chart below gives an overview of agegroups. It's not a demographic of the VW residents but an overview of worlds focussing on a specific agegroup. Teen Worlds are growing fast in the sector. There's no world yet that has a focus on elderly people yet. The virtual residents are generally young people. But there will be a market for elderly people, I'm sure. One of the problems of a lot of elderly people is a lack of social contact. We'll be seeing our first virtual elderly home in a few years time.
In a virtual world there probably is no discrimination by gender. For example. Construction is an industry in which we usually find very few women. Perhaps it's prejudice, but the genereal thought is that women can't carry a load of bricks. Physical inhibitions don't count in virtual worlds. Another point is that we use avatars, representations, choosing whichever form we like. I know enough men dressing as women or vice versa in Second Life. Likewise, most worlds are open to both man and women without specifically aiming at a gender. There are a number of worlds however that are specifically targeted at teen girls. I've called them Girl Worlds. They're usually running on an extraverse, being brand driven. Examples of these are
Here's a chart of the marketshare these worlds have:
Finally, it's an enormously varied landscape. Different cultures, people and habits. A wide variety of engines are used to drive these worlds. Some are java-based, some are desktop applications that connect to grids and some are using streaming technology. It's almost impossible to try and define these worlds, let alone find ways for unified communications, interoperability and portability for the sector.
This afternoon I spent over an hour on the phone with Chritian Renaud, Chief Metaversal Bigshot at Cisco. Yes, that's right on the phone.... media 1.0 so to say. As I was on a sogeti-issued IBM T43 laptop I couldn't get Second Life to work (Ian please tell me this can be fixed) and also Skype failed.
After a good personal update (the us, timezone issues, busy schedules, kids, traffic jams, Prokofy Neva and stuff) we got down to business discussing the Metaverse and one of the VW Conference's buzzwords interoperability.
It remains hard to define the industry of NVE's, Networked Virtual Environments or virtual worlds. There's a mega grey area. You just can't categorize it straightforwardly. And yet we're trying. I'm doing so, Nick Wilson over at Metaversed is doing so, Christian is doing so and KZero is attempting much of the same.
It gets even harder when you get to discussing interoperability and some sort of unified communications or standardisation between these worlds. There's a few worlds out there that have a positive attitude towards the initiative, but others don't (see this post). What exactly is interoperability? Do we just throw all virtual worlds into a blender, find a common denominator, standardise it and run the risk of us all walking around in milky white avatars with jelly-green shirts and denying us all to use the potential of individual platforms?
Christian did quite a good blog on this over at Cisco: "Ode to Interoperability" It's truth, perhaps not the whole truth. It's a discussion. We're not there yet. What it all boils down to is that one of the key-elements will be Identity Management on the web. Christian tried to voice this in his piece, much of the same, not for virtual worlds, but for everyday web usage I run into every day, just like in my previous blogpost. I do have some thoughts to add to this discussion, but that'll have to wait. Bedtime now.
Tonight I was adding some books to my Visual Bookshelf on Facebook. Right now the number of books on my shelf is 229. I stopped when I added David Baldacci's "The Collectors" and reflected some on my web 2.0 lifeystyle.
The thing is, I remember this isn't the first time I'm doing this. I remember me making a list of my CD's and Books in WordPerfect 5.2 to keep track of my stuff after I'd lend it to friends (some stuff didn't return-and some still doesn't).
Later I entered my CD's into CD-Collector, my DVD's into MovieCollector (both by the Dutch Collectors.com). That was fun. It connected with several online bookshops, like Amazon and it downloaded covers, synopsis and reviews.
The thing is, I don't wanna do this over and over again. I've been talking with a Sogeti colleague of mine on this yesterday. We talked about the future of the web. One of the things is that NOW we have customized content. We choose what we want, what we like. We decide what gets in and what gets out. The next step will be customized functionality. We choose which functionality we want to have at the time we need it. It's basically cloud computing.
Today I discussed Tribal Migration with another (Sogeti) colleague. People move from site to site. Let's join MSN spaces, it let's you do stuff. Then move to Hyves as it lets you do more stuff, now we all migrate to Facebook as it provides even more functionality. We're sitehoppers, application addicts.
We migrate, but our content doesn't. Our account doesn't and in the mean time all our stuff (the personal info we registered and the content we've added) stays put. Our stuff is all over the web. This is soooooooo wrong. I just want one single point of entry for the web. I want to register with one site folks. And I want functionality when I need it.
None of the aforementioned applications; Word Perfect, MovieCollector and Facebook's bookshelf did for me what it has to do eventually: create a single complete database with portable content. I have to go to enormous lengths to get a complete database of my stuff. I've got about 500 CD's, 200 vhs/dvd's and 30 meters of bookshelf filled to the brim (yeah I'm a bookworm). What the killer app has to do for me is make it easy. Be smart, be intelligent. Now I've got an API with Amazon and I have to choose which book I've read. I've got to choose the edition. No, just give me a barcode scanner and let me scan my books, you fill in the details...
The second thing it needs to do for me is give me a standardised output file. Give me an xml file which I can upload to the next application. For instance, I'd like to have my collection of books insured. If it can't be done in a single app, then at least let me upload it. The house burns down, I can tell the insurance company which books I owned and they can cover for the damage.
I must admit I just discovered that Collectors.com added a barcode scanning feature... Now add portability and I'm back as customer ;)
When the first critical and cynical blogs on CSI:NYwere starting to appear I was starting to get some mixed feelings
For exact numbers we either have to wait for CSI or the Electric Sheep Company to come with traffic stats and onRez viewer downloads and compare them to next weeks' Headcount by Tareru Nino. I do believe though that the average number of concurrent logins is higher these days. I'm not saying it was a smashing success. The massive number of islands, the fuzz upfront made us expect a lot. Again, too early to tell. There may well be ROI's made, but not sure which. I hope it'll continue though. Haven't had time to start solving the murder yet, but I for one like the concept. Me liking something isn't a guarantee that it'll make you millions though. (CSI (5) The Aftermath)
Finally, the Second Life Herald posted an article that kind of tried to sink the project.
A virtual recession may threaten the metaverse, as service workers hired to meet and greet noobies suffered mass layoffs today. The layoffs are part of a significant downsizing in the number of CSI:NY sims - perhaps due to a less than enthusiastic response to shark jumping, couch potato marketing of immersive games to television viewers. At this time last week, some enthusiastic reports were suggesting that CBS television's CSI:NY/Second Life hookup could yield as many as 1 million new players. However, that enthusiasm has been tempered by reality. (CSI:NY shrinks by 93%)
I've discussed that post with my good friend Aleister Kronos who has some reservations on the subject as well. There are a few things that don't really fit in. First of all, we came to watch the show and it carried a lot of Cisco sponsoring. Secondly, there was some exaggeration in the announcements, in the way that Hollywood usually does
Just yesterday I spoke with Chris Carella (Satchmo Prototype), Electric Sheep's Chief Creative Officer. I asked him what they thought of the result. Here's what he replied:
"Believe it or not, despite the blogs, everything is going exactly as planned. We purposefully had many many extra sims and staff the first 2 nights as a just in case precaution. There are few user experience worse than not being able to log in or even worse crashing the grid.
We're right on point with ours and CBS' expectations as far as number go. I've been impressed with how many people are still signing up a week later. It's to soon to get a good feel on retention numbers. Our expectations were never the millions of people the SL community expected. The % of people who went from TV to SL are well in line with our other TV experience and CBS's other efforts in cross media.
TV is a passive medium. It's really hard to get people from watching TV, to their computer checking out a website an downloading an application. However, those that do make it become more valuable customers. They spend 2-3 times longer a week with your brand and they will tell others how cool your show is".
The show has had about 16 million viewers, of which some 80.000 signed up for an account in the last week. That's a response of 0.5%. My marketing knowledge is a little rusty, maybe Nic Mitham from KZero can say some clever things on that, but as far as my memory serves me 0.5% is a very acceptable response. Truth is, we don't know if those 80.000 signed up because of CSY:NY. If we look at groups in Second Life, the CSI:NY group is the largest at the moment, having close to 1200 members, but the group for "the Office", which was much more viral and smaller in setup has about 675 members. And if they signed up for CSI, how many of those will stay?
There were those who had expected more than a million of new residents to sign up. Like a 5% response. That would have been awesome, a smashing success. Such a smash hit isn't build overnight though. If the 80K signups is a reliable figure to go by, I would say that the Great Satchmo has every reason to be happy. By marketing and advertising standards it's good. It got publicity and people still come to the CSI:NY sims. Everybody is entitled to his / her opinion. I'm inclined to look at it in a positive fashion. It's been a first time experience. We've got lots to learn. But we'll get there