Saturday, January 19, 2008

A basic introduction to Clever Zebra

Hello! Veejay has been gracious enough to let me come on here and contribute (sparingly, due to my absent-mindedness) to Mindblizzard the last year or so. Today I'd like to give folks a bit of an introduction to Clever Zebra, the latest project I'm working on. Fair warning: I'm a creative guy, not a business guy, so my wording is most likely quite imprecise. I don't speak business very well. I'll answer any questions the best I can, but for more serious business inquiries you might want to hit up Nick or Caleb. :)

Clever Zebra is a virtual worlds company that's doing things a bit differently. Headed up by Nick Wilson (aka 57 Miles in SL), myself (Josh Eikenberry, Lordfly Digeridoo in SL) and Caleb Booker (Onder Skall in SL), we want to bring open source to an enterprise level in virtual worlds.

The basic idea goes like this: We provide a suite of an entire corporate sim to the community, free of charge and under the GPLv3. We allow the community to tinker, improve, modify, and even sell their works.

As people work with the content we've given out, eventually they might want to develop different set pieces, or different "themes", as we're calling it. Think of Wordpress themes as an example. Each Wordpress theme does the exact same thing, but presents the data in different ways. That's what we're aiming for.

With these Zebra Themes, freelancers and designers can then upload their assets (textures, scripts, geometry) into what we're calling the Zebra Index, which will be a website that lets people browse the different Zebra themes for each project.

From there, Clever Zebra will offer virtual worlds consulting; event management, customization, island support. Run of the mill stuff, right? The kicker is that we'll already have a "ready to go" island solution ready for clients with the Zebra Index; clients can look through the themes freelancers have developed and pick the visual representation that they believe best suits them. As we set up their island, freelancers would get a generous commission from the proceeds coming from our clients.

This is a win-win situation all around. Clever Zebra lowers the barriers of entry to corporations and organizations looking to get into virtual worlds quickly and easily. The increased flow of businesses coming into Second Life makes the prospect of working in virtual worlds seem more advantageous every day. Freelancers get a commission from every client that uses their stuff. Freelancers also get increased visibility by having their themes out and about on the grid and on the website.

Some people are concerned that we're just following the same model that the "big names" of metaverse development tried a few years ago: mainly, the idea that you can just drop in a few buildings, make them pretty, issue a press release, and open it to the public. The thing is, we're not really aiming for big brands wanting to make a splash into SL. Rather, we're aiming for companies and organizations that actually WORK in Second Life; educators, non-profits, telecommuters, and so on. For many of those organizations, they simply don't have a public sim, but still want something presentable to visitors and guests. They also want easy to use productivity tools (which we're working on) to show Powerpoint, give presentations, lectures, and so on. The future of business in SL isn't the flashy logo of an international brand on a pedestal. Instead, it rests in the companies, non-profits, and educators who benefit from distance collaboration, rapid prototyping, and telecommuted lectures that SL does so well.

We recently released version 0.1 of the Zebra Corporate theme. It's simply a fully-functioning, well-designed 60-seat amphitheater. We'll be releasing the 120-seat and 240-seat (multiple sim versions) over the next week, and we'd really love everyone's input. The easiest way to do that would be to join the conversations in our forums at . That keeps all communication honest and in the open.

Hopefully this post sheds some light on where we're coming from. I don't explain things well, but I get a bit frustrated when folks misunderstand what we're actually doing.

Comments welcome. Post on the forum or shoot me an email at :)

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Anonymous dandellion Kimban said...

Good. That might work. Wish you all the best.

Sunday, January 20, 2008 7:16:00 AM  

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