Monday, March 24, 2008

vBusiness Expo - April 2008

It's been a couple of months since I heard the first plans from Clever Zebra to organise yet another vw conference and expo. Here's the first announcement:

The vBusiness Central project in Second Life will launch in April with a 4 day Expo, to be held bi-yearly in April and October (which coincides with the Virtual World Conference).

The conference aims to cover 4 key areas:

We'll be announcing dates and details very shortly. If you want to keep up with developments, including other Clever Zebra events and product updates then join our email list to be first with the news.

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Tuesday, February 05, 2008

vBusiness Expo

I got pointed towards a video on YouTube about the vBusiness Expo. This will be an event about the Virtual Workspace, working in a virtual environment. The video states that there are over 200 companies working in Second Life right now. At 1.09 minutes you'll see Sogeti logo fly by...

I*t doesn't really say who uploaded the vid, except "posted by vBusiness" but I think I recognise Nick Wilson's (Clever Zebra, ex Metaversed) voice there.

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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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Monday, January 14, 2008

The SLord moves in mysterious ways

2008 holds a promise...

That was about the last line of my previous blogpost. And it does. One of the most promising new startups is Clever Zebra, an initiative by master builder Lordfly Digeridoo and the guys from Metaversed and others (among which a bit of Sogeti).

But aside from this promise, there is something funny going on which makes me think the SLord moves in mysterious ways:

Clever Zebra, Stupid Metaversed?

Although the Clever Zebra project has my sincere sympathy, there's a thing nagging me, and that's Metaversed. Early 2007 57 Miles was blogging like crazy on the Metaverse, doing great stuff and turned it into a business. A sponsored blog with sponsored events. That's when trouble came to town. First there was a break-up with Prokofy Neva on the Second Rant, and now Metaversed is going down to provide space for Clever Zebra. I wonder how the Metaversed Sponsors will feel about this. What will happen to the MMI, the Metanomics and the Virtual Business Innovators. Projects like the Grid Safari and the Geek Meets weren't long lived either.

Onders Skall writes:

How can you close Metaversed?
We covered business in virtual worlds like nobody else. There wasn't a better place to go for coverage of this stuff. We just loved it.

Along the way Nick and I compiled a huge amount of information about business in virtual worlds. We studied the phenomenon like few have ever had the opportunity to, and our imaginations were constantly ignited. More and
more of our days were spent discussing what could and should be done in virtual worlds to help business. We began designing plans to change things and make them better.

We soon realized that we'd rather create products people want to talk about instead of talking about products others were creating. The thing is, you can't often make things happen by telling stories. You make things happen by...
well... going out and making them happen. So while we came across as much news and met as many incredible people as we had before, news reportage became an afterthought. We were chasing a dream: bringing change to the virtual world.

I can agree on this, but why tear down Metaversed? It isn't too smart to burn all your bridges before you've crossed to the other side. A whole lot of tantrum is created now about the Clever Zebra start up and the Metaversed blog has died a slow death over the past months. Fortunately, the guys over at Metaversed also see this:

Why part with a popular brand?
Yes, Metaversed became a beloved brand. That's why we had to close it. Without publishing regular news, it was becoming a shadow of its former self. There's nothing worse than a brand that was once great and has lost its shine. If it's a name to be remembered, it should be remembered as something great.

Some feel we could have kept the name and switched the business model. The problem with doing something like that, though, is that it's a bit disrespectful of the readers. Metaversed is a blog about business in virtual worlds. If it suddenly becomes an open-source virtual world company, well, it's no longer the same company. We'd by lying if we said it was, and we respect our readers far too much to do something like that.

Wello 3PointD Horld

Much of the same is going on at 3PointD, a former leader in virtual world news, where Mark Wallace is letting the blog beed to death posting Glitchy Links for months now without blogging anything usefull and working on a gigantic new start up, Wello Horld with metaverse guru Jerry Paffendorff. His sponsor, Electric Sheep Company probably can't be bothered at this time though as they seem to be focussing on a whole new industry according to the word on the street.

The naked sheep

The word on the street is that the Sheep are (co-) developing a new platform which will be a true adult world (i.e. Porn, XXX). I wonder what CBS and the producers of CSI:NY will think of this. Would they be willing to be associated with a company that's in the porn industry?

Now what is it with these companies in changing their objectives? Is it short term profits, or are they just Metaversal Cowboys that jump on every opportunity?

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