Saturday, February 28, 2009

IBM still diggs Metaverse

Earlier this week I wrote about Ian Hughes departure from IBM. So did half of the blogosphere. Sillicon Valley Insider also thought about what's next for IBM:

Earlier this week, we wondered if the departure of IBM's (IBM) "Metaverse Evangelist" means the company is scaling back its interest in virtual worlds and Second Life. We haven't heard much from the group in months, which only added to our speculation. IBM reps finally got back to us, and they let us know they're still in there

Read the full article here. The question however, is not if they still digg the metaverse, but if they still grog it.

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Edge and Beyond: Predator on the loose

In the past three years or so, the world of Second Life, and probably half of the entire Metaverse have been propelled and fueled by the power of IBM. In Second Life they have had over fifty island for example which shone like a beacon to other companies. Half of the projects in the Metaverse seemed to have a blue streak to it. The Metaversal force of IBM was not the 6,000 strong community in Second Life, or the weight of the 300K employees worldwide or the assumed millions of dollars they brought in. All this time it has been the energy of a single supernova that's been feeding the edge IBM had in the Metaverse.

This supernova in the Metaverse is the 2008 Virtual World Innovation Award winner Ian Hughes , or better known as epredator. This digital predator has hunted virtual worlds by the score, grabbing the available technology, devouring it and has been an inspiration to many people out their. Last monday Ian left Big Blue after a tour of duty lasting 18 years in search of new territories and a new prey. Ian announced his resignation on the Eightbar blog.

Today is a day of mixed emotions. Today I resigned from IBM having been there for 18 years, 19 if you count my year out from university.In all that time I have worked with some great people, and felt a tremendous sense of belonging.

Its been quite a journey, both in technical education and in personal growth. It is the extent of that growth and the speed that has not always been kept up to pace with by the system that I worked within.

Not surprisingly, the predator has already set his teeth into a new project and launched Feeding Edge, a consultancy company which is "Taking a bite on new technology so you don't have to". I have no doubt that the immense drive, the sheer energy and enormous creativity of Ian will get the Feeding Edge up and running.


From this place, Ian, I wish you all the best.

One tip though, at IBM you had the weight of an immense company, with all its rules and regulations holding you back. Be carefull that, as you're on your own now, you don't rush out as an avalanche thundering through the metaverse at lightning speed without us keeping up.

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Monday, October 15, 2007

New VW tech

During the Virtual World Conference 2007 (Fall edition, San Jose) lots of companies were showing off at the Expo. Platforms like Active Worlds, Multiverse and There.com, had a stand. Then there were lots of complimentary tech stands as well, ranging from avatar creating, 3D Modelling to motion capture. Here's the Icarus Studio stand:

From their website:
Icarus Studios is focused on helping our clients launch online virtual worlds,
MMOGs, simulators and 3D collaborative and educational products. We enable our
client's vision with our unique combination of next generation technology and
services, making Icarus a comprehensive resource center for those tasked with
quickly creating all or components of these initiatives. From complete project
development, platform and tool licensing to studio services and library
resources, Icarus will work within our client's time and budget constraints to
quickly create a quality product that meets their objectives.

Another very well visited booth was the stand that IBM had rezzed


Here's what Epredator / Ian Hughes had to say over at Eightbar:

Our stand we had both SL, Active Worlds and the IQ Metaverse (the torque based
one). We also have Jacques from the SMB media and entertainment and the guys
from Vivox there. There was another part to the stand over with Icarus and that
was where Peter Finn set up shop with his alpha demo of blending virtual worlds
with a browser. That needs a whole post in its own right of course.I had a good
chat with most of the stands, though it is amazaing how little time you end up
having when you are talking to press, analysts and bumping into the metarati
that you know from in world and on Twitter.

And certainly the meterati were there. Not all of them, and not all those present considered to be on the official metarati list (but some will make it there I think as the list needs updating.)

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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

All England SLawn Tennisclub

I've been wondering a lot about why there are so few UK companies in Second Life. Big brands from the US, Germany, Netherlands and Spain seem to be flocking this virtual world, but - to my knowledge - no English corps have immersed yet. A few pointed out that the English were perhaps to conservative, too carefull to thread unchartered waters.

Tonight's Things to Do event was a guided tour around Wimbledon which proves that statement wrong. If there's anything traditional in England, in my opinion, it is Wimbledon. It's history is fabulous.

Although I was an absolute fan of Stephan Edberg, I very much recall the first time Andre Agassi entered the All England Lawn Tennisclub. His long hair and wild clothing was considered provicative at the time and people wondered how he would appear at Wimbledon.... well his appearance was a statement. Wearing the same attire as usual, with stretch pants underneath his shorts and hairbands and all... but totally white to honor the tradition of Wimbledon.

Okay, no pic of Edberg, Agassi or Sabatini here, but of Epredator, IBM's metaverse guru, who's actually at Wimbledon - and still found time to give us the guided tour.

IBM has capturing lots of match data in the past years as ofifical IT partner. That data and the rest of the site is used to extend the experience to people who cant be here. For IBM it is a natural step to use a metaverse for this extended experience.

First of all there are the goodies, the avatar, the clothing and the rackets. You can also buy real life tickets at the Wimbledon shop, but of course the main event is the centercourt.

"its one that we take the pointracker data from the real meta event and inject that into the ball that moves around -- ok the ball is pushed around having made http requests for the data the main scoreboard is then updated. We also then let people take the players eye view. Technically we have a lot more data, the strokes played etc but we are balancing how much code we have to pack in to get aronud http limits in script etc. and on the scoreboard if dynamic flash worked we would just use the normal pub sub scoreboard on wimbledon.org so we are looking see how we can represent the event but as I blogged on eightbar its hard to get data for bits that are not tennis points e.g. e do not capture on court wich chair a player sits on but we can imply things.
we produce DVD's for players in RL of matches which implies things from crowd noise to index the dvd large crowd noise, exciting points etc."


In the demo you could see the balls trajectory quite well. A lot of scripting is going on at this side, though for non-IBM (i.e. visitors) scripting is disabled, as IBM feels they and Wimbledon would be a prime target for griefers / hackers.



Aside from the usual visitors, IBM itself brings in a lot of people at C-Level (ceo/cto/cfo etc) to show their partners what they are doing in Second Life.
"Last year they just laughed alot and said how quaint, but this year they have all heard of SL and want to see what we're doing here."
What a difference a year makes!
And surely we are looking forward to the Australian Open as IBM has already build a complete Rod Lever Arena.

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Saturday, June 16, 2007

Friday's Geekmeet: IBM-Intel-Sun

Friday's the night of the weekly Geek Meet at the home of Metaversed's 57. This weeks turned out to be ├╝bergeekmeet.

This first pic show me and Aleister sitting next to epradator, aside from us, and 57 we saw several other bloggers and journalists appear at the meeting, all curious to see what the ├╝bergeeks of IBM, Intel and Sun would have to say.
Here's a full wrap up of the crowd, filled with the Geeks, the guru's and the metapolitans.

Epradator, one of Second Life's big chieftains, heading the IBM tribe which has grown to about 6.000! members, blogger at the famous eightbar blog was to kick off the meeting giving us some inside information on wtf IBM is doing inside SL. Well, that's easy. Ian (epradator) works for the IBM CIO office, and is responsible for moving 330K people into a virtual workspace;

"the subject is using the metaverse for business and what are we up to that is not Second Life. Firstly I have to say that SL has been the catalyst for all this, many of us have tried to get things like this going for years so we are not in any way not supporting SL, but.... there is a need for corporates to be able to have secure intranets and on those intranets there is a willigness to have a metaverse now. Still some resistence of course but most of the time I get asked 'right can we have a secure meeting?' whereas it used to be 'what the heck are you up to playing games at work'. So we have moved from a skunkwork project with Algernon Spackler and I to a digital convergece emerging business unit"

IBM's ideal situation would be to create some unified communication standard between various metaverses;

"The trick then is to deal with the flow between all these virtual worlds, the underlying standards. So I think its fair to say we are less interested in building another SL, more interested in having more than one platform to then get talking to one another, dealing with property flow between the environments helping with open standards"

The second speaker was Parviz Peiravi (a.k.a. Core Stine), Intel's evangelist but SL newbie, and thus running only a short story on virtualisation;

"I think if we run SL on virtual infrastructures utilizing both virtualization and grid we will be able to handle much more audience."

Third speaker was Klaatu Niu, a Sr. Systems Engineer from Sun, who mainly tried to propagate Sun's networked.com to a crowd of SL addicts, so that was a little queer.

"What we at Sun have done is make avail to the public a large scale computational grid for anyone to run jobs on... Today.. its a batch oriented environement. but you pay only $1 US per CPU hour consumed we also allow you to publish for others to run .. and use your own applications there.. what I think . might be interesting. and something that I'm begging to investigate is ..can an SL object.. submit to our grid some processing needs and get the results back."

To the metapolitans present it wasn't a quick win, someone was quick to point out that Amazon's EC2 cloud only runs at $ 0.05 /hr and that large scale projects, such as Jerry Paffendorf's innovative Destroy Television experiment, streaming 99,000 pictures from SL to Flickr turned out to be quite expensive.

Most interesting point is that Sun tried hard to steer away from rumours over the alledged virtual world project codenamed MPK20.

I think it is pretty safe to say that Intel and Sun are still seeking a way into web 3D but still remain deeply rooted in the era of the Digerati, whereas IBM surely has moved on to the Metarati age.

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