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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Friday, August 22, 2008

Why Virtual Worlds don't work....yet (part 1)

Two years ago I jumped enthusiastically into the Metaverse, with Second Life booming and media were eager to cover every company entering this particular Virtual World. The past year we've discovered -too the disappointment of many - that we were living the Gartner Hypecycle curve. At the close of 2007 I've pondered what was going on and what the challenges for 2008 would be. Due to family circumstances I've stepped back from the Metaverse for almost 6 months now and found some time to reflect on the industry. The title of this blogpost has been in my head for months, but only recently I was triggered to actually start writing it.

Virtual World Innovation

The trigger was the announcement of the Virtual World Newsforum and VW Conference Organisation announcing the introduction of the Virtual World Innovation Award. Although my good friend Christian Renaud (CEO TechIntelGroup) is on the jury, I have to be sceptical if I look deep down into my heart.

The thing is... There hasn't been any real innovation in this business for years.

Innovation in my book is a big thing. New breakthrough technology, new insights, exciting new products. When I look at the Virtual World Industry I see a whole lot going on. I see hundreds of new startups over the past year but truth is, I don't see real innovation there, despite the billions of dollars invested into the industry. If I were to nominate candidates for the Virtual World Innovation Award, there would be only three true Metarati: Neil Stephenson, Tad Williams and Ron Britvich , the guy from WebWorlds.

Stephenson, Gibson & Williams

Neil Stephenson is an obvious candidate. In the early 90's he wrote the novel 'Snowcrash' in which he pretty much invented the metaverse. I doubt there is anyone questioning the nomination of Neil Stephenson. A second name, often mentioned in the same breath, is William Gibson, author of the cyberpunk classic 'Neuromancer'. 'Neuromancer' was innovation, it was the start of cyberpunk, but it doesn't deal with the Metaverse, so despite popular believe, I wouldn't count Gibson in with the Metarati but rather fill that spot with the nomination of Tad Williams, author of the 'Otherland' series.

Both the novel 'Snowcrash' and the 'Otherland' series have created the image of the Metaverse and still hold some very interesting ideas, key elements that in my opinion could well open up a new window on Virtual Worlds. From these works we can learn what might work and what won't. Although both are quite dystopian in their full setting (a thing that happens a lot with novels dealing in the future), they do hold a promise, and in their dystopic setting a warning at the same time.

Dawn of the Virtual Worlds

Aside from the ideas presented by Stephenson and Williams, the first breakthrough in the field was in 1994 when Ron Brevitch created WebWorlds, predecessor of Active Worlds.

In the summer 1994, Ron Britvich created WebWorld, the first 2.5D world where tens of thousands could chat, build and travel. WebWorld operated on the Peregrine Systems Inc. servers as an 'after hours' project until Britvich left the company to join Knowledge Adventure Worlds (KAW) in the fall of that year.

In February 1995, KAW spun off their 3D Web division to form the company Worlds Inc. Britvich was eventually joined by several other developers, and the renamed "AlphaWorld" continued to develop as a skunk works project at Worlds Inc, internally competing with a similar project known internally as Gamma and publicly as Worlds Chat. While AlphaWorld was developing a strong cult following due in large part to Britvich's open philosophy of favoring user-built content, Worlds, Inc. favored Gamma for the company produced contract projects for Disney and others.

On June 28, 1995, AlphaWorld was renamed Active Worlds (from Active Worlds Explorer) and officially launched as version 1.0. Around this time, Circle of Fire (CoF) was formed to create content for the Active Worlds universe. This company played a pivotal role in the future of the product. [Wikipedia]

The creation of WebWorlds was innovation. Everything we've seen between 1995 and 2008 is merely spin off.

In this series of articles I'll try to explain why I haven't seen any real innovation and why I call everything since WebWorlds a mere spin-off, What the challenges of NVE's will be for the (near) future and why Virtual Worlds don't work yet.

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Saturday, August 09, 2008

VWN kicks off VW Innovation Award

Through: Virtual World News


There has been a huge amount of innovation in virtual worlds over the past year. To acknowledge that fact, we at Virtual Worlds Management are kicking off a new awards program to recognize top innovators at the Virtual Worlds Expo in Los Angeles on September 3-4, 2008.

"Innovators" is a broad term, though. To help us finalize both the concept of the awards and pick the winners, we've tapped experts from throughout the industry without ties to any one product: I (this is Joey Seiler, Editor, Virtual Worlds News) will be chairing the Virtual Worlds Innovation Awards, but I'm excited to have plenty of help with the heavy lifting from Christian Renaud (CEO, Technology Intelligence Group), Erica Driver (Co-Founder and Principal, ThinkBalm), Nic Mitham (Managing Director, K Zero), Steve Prentice (VP and Fellow, Gartner), and Robert Bloomfield (Founder and Host, Metanomics; Professor and Director of Graduate Studies, Director of the Business Simulation Laboratory, Cornell's Johnson School). I know several of them are soliciting advice from the audiences of their respective blogs and shows. I'll welcome any insight as well. Feel free to shoot me an email or a leave a suggestion in the comments.


We will announce the Virtual Worlds Innovation Award winners at the Virtual Worlds Expo on Wednesday evening, 5:00 to 6:00pm, Wednesday, September 3, 2008, on the stage in the expo hall. The reception kicks off with free beer for attendees, celebration, and a good time for everyone.

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Thursday, March 13, 2008

Dark Discovery: a promising ARG

Just little over an hour I ago Reuben Steiger, Millions of Us CEO announced the release of the worlds first ARG through his twitterstream. As already defined by Wikipedia, an ARG is:


"An alternate reality game is an interactive narrative that uses the real world as a platform, often involving multiple media and game elements, to tell a story that may be affected by participants’ ideas or actions."

On the Millions of Us blog we find the introduction to the story:



2 weeks before the launch of the new Fox show “The Sarah Connor Chronicles” a website for an unusual company
appeared
. In their first video they claimed to have developed a tachyon camera that sensed faster-than-light particles and could therefore generate images of the future.


Their first blog post generated significant online controversy, with 53 posts suggesting ways of testing the camera’s capabilities. In their second video, the researchers followed the audience’s suggestions, taking photos of mirrors, newspapers, and cityscapes. The images they revealed suggested a dark and apocalyptic future.
Soon the audience became directly involved in the story,
digging up similar camera devices around the United States.


Finally, the researchers found themselves being hunted by a deadly entity seeking to stop their work permanently. The drama built to an explosive conclusion in the Sausalito parking lot of Enitech’s offices. Now that it’s concluded we’d like to show you a bit of it.


If you want to know more, check out Enitechlabs.com.


Introductions may look good, but the screening of the story may be disappointing. The preview though posted at the MoU blog looks very impressive though and may put the MoU back into the drivers seat of the mixed reality metarati:





The ARG is part of the new Fox tv series "The Sarah Connor Chronicles". Does the name ring a bell? Here's a little info on the show:



"At the end of "Terminator 2: Judgment Day," Sarah vanquished the Terminator sent from the future to kill her teenage son, John. Sarah and John now find themselves alone in a very dangerous, complicated world. Fugitives from the law, they are confronted with the reality that still more enemies from the future, and the present, could attack at any moment.


TERMINATOR: THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES reveals what happens when SARAH (Lena Headey) stops running and goes on the offensive against an ever-evolving technological enemy bent on destroying her life, and perhaps the world. Her son, 15-year-old JOHN CONNOR (Thomas Dekker), knows that he may be the future savior of mankind, but is not yet ready to take on the mantle of leadership that he's told is his destiny. John finds himself inextricably drawn to CAMERON (Summer Glau), an enigmatic and otherworldly student at his high school, who soon proves to be much more than his confidante - she assumes the role of Sarah and John's fearless protector. On their trail are not only threats from the future, but an intelligent and tough FBI agent, JAMES ELLISON (Richard T.Jones), who soon becomes a powerful ally."

The Enitech website and blog is supporting the show, being the official blog for the resistance. Read the blog to find out more about the Terminator machines, the SkyNet company and the show episodes of course. Here's an entry from the blog:

"Brief update in the wake of the Enitech tragedy

March 3rd, 2008

Enitech admin here again. As many of you have now heard, Enitech Research labs was destroyed and several employees were killed last week. I’ve heard a rumor that a media outlet was able to get a hold of video footage, an interview with Anna Kies, before her untimely death during the Enitech Attack. Hopefully this will shed some light on the many questions we still have in the wake of such a senseless tragedy.

Posted in EniTech News 11 Comments »"

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Bantam Dell: a little lack of creativity

It's been a while since I look in the area surrounding the Electric Sheep Island, but early this morning I scrolled by and noticed the Bantam Dell island.

Probably depending on which writer to promote and which audience to target the mothercompany Random House uses one of their many subsidiary imprints as a stand alone publisher or a combination. This time it's the Bantam-Dell combination, which are both respected publishing houses.

Probably best known of all the Random House imprints is Bantam which has published major science finction writers such as Isaac Asimov, Jean Michel Auel and the early metarati such as William Gibson and Neil Stephenson.

Bantam has published the entire original run of the "Choose Your Own Adventure" series of children's books, as well as the first original novels (aimed at adults) based upon the Star Trek franchise, publishing about a dozen such books
between 1970 and 1982 when the licence was taken over by Pocket Books. Bantam also published a dozen volumes of short story adaptations of scripts from Star Trek: The Original Series. Bantam is the American paperback publisher of The
Guinness Book of Records.
(wikipedia)

The other part of this imprint is Dell Publishing, most notable for publishing works by H.G. Wells and Alfred Hitchcock.

Dell Publishing was an American publisher of books, magazines, and comic books. It was founded in 1921 by George T. Delacorte Jr.. During the 1920s, 30s, and 40s, Dell was one of the largest publishers of magazines, including pulp
magazines. From 1929 to 1974, they published comics under the Dell Comics line, the bulk of which (1938-62) was done in partnership with Western Publishing. In 1943, Dell entered into paperback book publishing with "Dell Paperbacks". They also used the book imprint of "Dial Press", "Delacorte Books", "Yearling Books" and "Laurel Leaf Library".
(wikipedia)

The Bantam Dell island is an excellent build, as far as building goes. The island is set up for 6 builds, but only half of it is build: The Bantam Dell Bookshop & Cafe, the central plaza and the auditorium.

The main venue is the Bantam Dell Bookshop & Cafe which is an excellent build and breathes the atmosphere of a classic bookshop and lounge. The books on display aren't the ones I'd buy at Bantam though.



As for interactivity there isn't much beyond clicking the books and opening the corresponding webpage (old fashioned style with an external browser) and a HUD promoting the Bantam Dell podcasts.



There are event lawns which are currently empty and asking for ideas. This is pretty much a disappointment for me as the Bantam Dell combination has a wide range of authors that would fit in with this new media of virtual worlds. I'd suggest they combine elements and scenes from the aforementioned writers to create an immersive experience, a tour of the future rather than settle for an old fashioned bookshop.

SLURL: http://slurl.com/secondlife/Bantam%20Dell%20Island/133/124/25

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Sunday, March 02, 2008

Autism in Second Life

Second Life can be a place to meet and greet, and because of the anonimity an NVE offers hope for many who have social disabilities. Here's a YouTube movie about Autism in Second Life:



Although I've been writing about Education in virtual worlds, I really wasn't looking for this one. I got pointed to this one while keeping up with my favorite authors. The one pointing out to this particular video was one of the metarati, William Gibson, who wrote:

THE COOLEST THING IN SECOND LIFE

Absolutely . [hat-tip to my wife]

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Saturday, January 26, 2008

It's Corey's Turn

MyTurn is the name of a new metarati column on the Virtual World News site. Yesterday it was Multiverse Executive Producer and Co-Founder Corey Bridges' turn, and he was pretty bold and blunt.

"This is no time to go wobbly," Margaret Thatcher once famously said. That's especially pertinent advice right now. Second Life and its owner Linden Lab are going through tough times. And, nascent as the virtual world industry is, many
people confuse it with Second Life itself. To the less informed (and even to some people in our industry who should know better), Linden's current difficulties speak directly to the viability of the medium of virtual worlds.

They're wrong, of course; for those of us who work on other worlds and platforms, business has never been better."

True, Second Life has gotten more media attention than any other world and it has entered the hypecycle ahead of the flock, but I'm sure other social online worlds will start to experience this in the coming year. The more storyplay or gameplay a world has, the less affected it will be by this hype though.

"Here's some of the news that should make us all bullish on the future of our industry: according to a recent Forrester Research report, in a mere five years virtual worlds will be just as important to businesses as the Web; the ever-staid Gartner Research predicts that in four years 80% of Internet users will have avatars; and, as a sign of industry maturity, there are now many participants in each market segment of our industry--from platforms to service agencies to users of all stripes."

That's not the whole truth there Corey. Gartner has adjusted that prophesy in later researches and also, the Forrester Research report (as discussed here) also drops a few stitches.

"But it's undeniable that dark clouds have gathered over Second Life and some of the companies that have relied on it. I don't think I need to recount all the ominous stories from the last few months, but the bottom line is that many
companies and consumers are now avoiding that world. Linden Lab is going through some internal turmoil and may be on the verge of lean times itself. Even staunch Second Life cheerleader IBM has people wondering if it's hedging its bets by
mocking virtual worlds (the second article)."

Except for calling ePredator a cheerleader (can someone photoshop this?) I pretty much agree. However, I don't read Corey's column as the words of a thoughtleader in the industry. While naming a few very valid points, its tone is too agitated in my humble opinion.

Electric Sheep Company COO Giff Constable jumps on the train and steps up in defence of Linden Lab (never bite the hand that feeds you):

"It is true that Linden Lab has quite a list of challenges ahead of them: general stability, performance and usability issues… they are handcuffed by early architectural decisions (physics on the server rather than the client; many artificial constraints that limit flexibility such a sim size, spatial privacy, group limits, etc; the performance hit that comes with prims; enforced last names; centralized asset server; a limited and laggy scripting system, etc). They have announced many technical improvements with great potential but which never made it into production. Linden Lab also has many strengths, some of which I laid out here, and I think they will be around for a good while yet. Their platform has weaknesses, but it has some unique selling points which cannot be dismissed."

Giff has to conclude that Corey has a point though:

"I agree with the root of Corey’s message, however, which is that the virtual worlds industry is not in crisis. There is a lot of interest out there, and many really exciting projects."

I really hope ESC's portfolio is filled to the brim, but I doubt it as they laid off 20% of their employees just before Christmas. True, the NVE industry is not in crisis, social worlds have taken on a challenge to prove themselves fit for business.

I fully agree with Corey's last lines though:

"But the medium is much larger than any one company. To use another British turn of phrase (I've been doing a lot of business in the U.K.), "Keep calm and carry on."

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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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Saturday, August 04, 2007

Pinguin Gibson Stephenson and Metarati

Somehow I've written and deleted the first line of this article about 10 times in the last hour.


What I had in mind was a short blog on William Gibson, acknowledged metarati and author of (a.o.) Neuromancer.


No Maps for these terrirory


Alas, sometimes even visionairs are ruled by their publishers, and so it seemed on this feat. A few weeks ago there was a screener of a documentary called No Maps for These Territori, which is a 90 minute film about Gibson, and is praised as the Documentary of the Year by the LA Times. This was a good and glitchless performance so a 'reading' wouldn't be too hard.

So August 2nd would have been the day to meet one of the cyberpunk and metaverse metarati on a heavily piblicized official Pinguin public reading, but I missed out due to the spectacular (official) opening of the Greenies.

However, through several friends I heard I hadn't missed out on much, as the event was far from smooth. Metaverse Territories reports (and also kindly provides the image above on the No Map Screener):

"...but marketing ploys like Penguin’s organized, very publicized reading by William Gibson is another case altogether. Events like this must go smoothly in order for the world to become a credible place for business AND art, fun AND work. First of all, for SL users who came, it is as much an investment of their time and energy, which for me, was a wasted one (started late, the feed didn’t work until 10 minutes into his reading, didn’t know where to go, never actually saw the avatar etc. etc…). "

According to Gibson's blog he himself was left with a peculiar feeling as well. This should be amended!

Pinguin Presence

Being present in the metaverse these days requires a presence with a mission, or a message. It is going from pages to places in a quest for immersive and shared experience. Pinguin's line of thought isn't a bad one, when it comes to public readings. It just needs work and a fullscale programme (and maybe a few other things).

However, their speck of virtual land doesn't hold much that will draw crowds:

Second Life is an excellent platform to experiment. Even for publishers. A few months ago I wrote some thoughts on that in a post on the Amsterdam Public Library;

"In this new metaversality it would be a challenge for libraries (and publishers for that matter) to explore new formats that would draw back readers to good books.

Neil Stephenson, one of the metarati, is most famous for his novel "Snowcrash" in which the concept of the Metaverse is explored, but another excellent work is called "The Diamond Age" in which the future of reading and publishing is explored."

Here's another thought. Perhaps it would work for Pinguin to setup a giant ancient bookprinting press, have their books (f)lying about like old press letters and create an experience about books.

... just a thought, not a guaranteed success.

The Cyberpunk Metarati

Earlier this week I blogged on the Infocalypse project, a decorum for cyberpunk stories, of which Nexus Prime is one. I didn't check my numbers and linked it to the sim Nexus. Wrong! It should have been Gibson of course. Reading the firts part of the blog entry, it sounds pretty obvious why a cyberpunk-sim is named Gibson. When I first got there (sometime 2006) there ironically was placed a Neil Stephensons' Snowcrash promotion by Pinguin books. Now it's gone though, and replaced with a neat Gibson Spook City promo.

However, since the reading left Gibson with a peculiar feeling, there should be another change for the metarati to explore and experience the metaverse in all its richness and creativeness. I'm not sure who will take up the glove, but here's a proposal.

Geek Meet Challenge

What I'd like to see is Gibson and Stephenson to get a guided tour of the Cyberpunk cities, thrown in with some new Kowloon and steampunk Caledon to see the world they've envisaged and then settle down for a good panel discussion on the metaverse at the weekly Metaversed (and Dr. Dobbs and Information week) Geek Meets.

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Thursday, June 28, 2007

Metarazzi down the drain

Earlier this week Second Life's premier Machinimist Moo Money noticed the metarati on twitter and within a few hours it became a pretty good row. It was living the fastlane for metarati-TV - though forced to take the first exit.
Within a week the project has died and the site's been taken offline. Moo Money was kind enough to snapshot the site, so here's yesterdays news and todays reality.

related articles:

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Monday, June 25, 2007

Metarati Blogwars !?

Since Moo Money noticed the metarati paparazzi (or metarazzi) on twitter there's been a stir over it. People started looking at me, hence my waver yesterday, now conspiracy theories are getting about. Some seem to be thinking Jerry Paffendorf to be responsible since there's gossip he's leaving ESC (nah).
  • Here's Nick's piece of mind:
    Eric Nails it on the Metarati.tv Shite Those fuckwits over at Metarati.tv remind me very strongly of a few 'pro bloggers' im aquainted with. I so hope it's not who it looks like, cos that would be a dark day for the Mertaverse. Eric Rice summed it up nicely here: Red flags everywhere!
  • Spindoctor Eric's post:
    It’s 3 am, I’m exhausted and JUST learned about this nonsense with Metarati.tv. I started to write a post about my thoughts on it (and trust me, it was not pretty at all), but I can’t organize paragraphs anymore at this hour. So here’s the ultra short version– the longer one will come after I get back from a day at LEGO Land...

Ordinal Malaprop is of the opinion that we shouldn't pay any attention to it at all, which should probably be the way to go... but I hope to see who's behind it anyway. The Spindoctor seems to have a few leads and I'm waiting to see if it matches with my shortlist of Top-3 suspects.

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Saturday, June 23, 2007

Metarati Copycats

Right now there's a new twitter account "metarati" that's adding people unasked. It's profile points to the webpage http://www.metarati.tv/ where it describes it's mission:

"Metarati TV covers the movers, groovers and shakers of the Metaverse. Got a lead for a story we should know about? Maybe an upcoming launch or event you think we should cover? Want to share some audio or video on Metarati TV? Then get in touch via one of our lifestream contacts - we would love to hear from you!"

Many people are getting annoyed at their approach, since there is no face behind it. Since 3pointD's Mark Wallace credited me once for coining the term metarati there are people thinking I am behind this nuisance. Well, IT ISN'T ME!

On april 27th I used the term Metarati on my blog to describe the great minds that are working on the Metaverse Roadmap, the pioneers of Web 3D. Following this blogpost I registered http://www.metarati.org/ at 2007-05-01 13:07:27, which is the site to which the link "Home of the Metarati" points on this blog. In Second Life I also registered the group "metarati".

On June 11 I wrote an update on the metarati in the post "Metarati and Metapolitans" saying:
"When referring to the metarati I mean the movers and shakers of the web 3D that's coming about. These are the visionairs that are working on the metaverse roadmap, are creating new technology and are able to get investor commitment to explore new paths. The metarati are visionary technology pioneers."

Now I don''t mind people using the term metarati. And as it is a generic word, everyone's free to use it in whichever way they want. Yet this twitter account and website are nearly copying my words and using them to speed-push themselves into the incrowd. That's not gonna work I think.

The website metarati.tv was registered at june 6, 2007 with a first post from june 22nd. Their copyright sign yells 2006 though.

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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 übergeekmeet.

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 übergeeks 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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Monday, June 11, 2007

The Metarati and the Metapolitans

Lately I've seen the term metarati being picked up by several people and have seen a number of selfproclaimed metarati arise inside Second Life. On a number of occasions I think the term metarati is used inappropriately, so I'll thrown in another term today.

Metarati

When referring to the metarati I mean the movers and shakers of the web 3D that's coming about. These are the visionairs that are working on the metaverse roadmap, are creating new technology and are able to get investor commitment to explore new paths. The metarati are visionary technology pioneers.

Tish from the fab. Ugotrade blog also names them the mixed-reality metarati, which is an accurate combination as these are the people bridging the space from this world to the virtual one. Inside Second Life we generally consider Jerry Paffendorf, Electric Sheep Company's Futurist in residence, Philip Rosedal from Linden Labs to be members of the metarati.

For a full list of nominees see the Home of the Metarati.

Metapolitans

Metapolitans, (cf. metropolitan, cosmopolitan) are the metaversal citizens of the worlds created and envisioned by the metarati, the virtual worlds like Second Life, There.com and many others.
The metapolitans are not the casual visitors of these worlds, but the ones living a largely immersed life and are often travelling between several of these worlds.

Known examples of metapolitans are mostly bloggers like 57 Miles from Metaversed, Wagner Au, the 'embedded' journalist from New World Notes, or the ones at Prokovy's Feted Inner Core list.

one offs

Off course, there are always those that are impossible to categorise. Mark Wallace of the 3pointD blog has been named as a metarati, and though he has a strong influence in the public opinion on virtual worlds I'm still a bit hesitant to name him a mover, though he has my sympathy. The same goes for his wife, the fab Destroy Television.

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Thursday, June 07, 2007

Metaverse news

Okay, sometimes it's hard to keep up-to-date, so here's a few quick links

Linden Labs releases New Betagrid Viewer
The excellent 3PointD runs several stories on various NVE's this week on Ogoglio, EVE Online, and MindArk's Chinese virtual World (Entropia)

The other Second Life bloggernaut, 57 Miles from Metaversed runs stories on Korea's possible regulation of Virtual Content, PS3 Home, Entropia and the Multiverse Millionaire. Last but not least he askes himself if Meet Me is a new Japanese Second Life.

More on the Japanese getting setup for the metaverse can be found at the Virtual Worlds Blog.
Then there's EMAC reporting on spectacular growths in Kids-metaverses (like club Pinguin, Stardolls and Webkinz)

Last but not least in the series of links is Advertising for Succes, a business blog running some more links on the Metaverse.

Metarati update

Then there's the Metarati, a term I supposedly coined, which is rapidly being picked up by blogs like Ugotrade, 3pointD and by the Electric Sheep Company and a few others as well, such as the Click and gives about 300 results in Google Search right now.

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Friday, June 01, 2007

Twitterati Geek Meet

Tonight I was invited for the Second Life Geek Meet, organised by 57 Miles of Metaversed.
There was lively discussion between the twitterati from twitter and junga and saw several prominent Second Life members, metarati, authors and bloggernauts
The topics rocked back and forth between Business in SL, Griefer attacks (with some nice conspiracy theories) and Second Life's downside of conduct unbecoming a gentleman to make an ultimate understatement.

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

3pointD hooks up

Normally I'm not very much into Second Life social events and weddings, but tonight's an exception as Mr 3pointD, Mark Wallace (who's nominated as a potential metarati) and the lovely bride going by the nick of "Destroy Television"


Special guest were Lordfly Digeridoo as best man and Mr. Jerry Pfaffendorf, Electric Sheep CEO as father of the bride. The vows came down to "do you, Destroy Television, take to Walker Spaight to be your virtual husband? In sickness, in health, through lags, crashes, ghosting, mis-bakes and missing textures?"

The event took place in one of the many Celedon sims, hotspots to the streampunk community

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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Intergalactic news (2)

Here's another update on news from the vast expanse of networked virtual environments (NVE's) or simply called virtual worlds.

IBM

Big Blue is looking at the Torque game engine, proud product of the Garage Gamers as booster for their virtual escapades. IBM is rapidly advancing inte Virtual Revolution with a stronghold in Secondlife and in creating their own intraverse. They are also looking into the Multiverse which is still in Beta. This adaptiveness is surprising for a moloch from the days of the Digerati, the old school internet pioneers and is earning IBM's guru Irv Wladawsky a true nomination for the Metarati awards.

Shanda Entertainment

The Chinese corp Shanda Entertainment is digging into the world of Massively multiplayer online role-playing games, or MMORPGs. Shanda is China's largest entertainment and online gaming provider, with titles such as The Legend of Mir II, The World of Legend, The Sign, The Age, Magical Land and Dungeons & Dragons Online.

Shanda's move heats up the Asian Virtual World competition as 3pointD reports on nve's named HiPiHi and Splume.

Sony / Pinguin Club

The Sony entertainment group is aiming to take over the Pinguin Club according to Mashable with an bid close to $ 450.000 USD. The club is an online gaming world for children which is seeing an even more spectacular growth than Second Life.

The Canadian firm New Horizons launched the club in October 2005 and it has since grown to 4.5 million visitors in March 2007 and is subscription based. To Sony it may well be an interesting new marketing channel for their games, and perhaps merge with their Playstation Home, an alledgely superior virtual platform that will crush Second Life (according to Mashable)

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Amsterdam Public Library (OBA)

Early 2007 we have had a lot of commotion on the Dutch town of Zoetermeer entering Second Life, being criticised of wasting public money on niche market expression. However, they received a lot of attention which must have had some positive effect since many other Dutch towns are coming to Second Life as well.

One of the new arrivals, funded by public money, is the Openbare Bibliotheek Amsterdam (Amsterdam Public Library). The question is: will it be a waste of public money or not?

A little background on the sim might be in place here to look for specific triggers for the OBA to enter Second Life. Their old central library building was getting too small and a few years ago they've started building a new one in the Oosterdok, one of the main development areas in Amsterdam. This build will be finished this summer, so they've probably thought a virtual representation would add a little pizaz to dusty bookreading Holland.

As well as it's RL counterpart, the build itself is incomplete. Many elements are not texturised yet. From a distance it seems like a good, solid build, but as you get closer there is a lot of "jitter" (shifting textures) and not everything is properly aligned.


Aside from the main building there are a few things to do. There's a skydive point at the roof (okay, this is the popular conception of "things that work in SL nowadays", but hasn't got anything to do with the library) and the place is littered with bicycles. That is as real-life as you can get it, since the canals in Amsterdam are literally (not virtually) filled with rusty bikes.


The most complete element in the sim is the "Herman Brood" room, a famous Dutch rock 'n roll junky, musician and painter. On the lower levels there's a series of good looking computers with images of the library's website, but no interactiveness here yet. Then there are several stands with advanced microfilm readers. This connects with the OBA's cooperation with Karmac to digitize several important documents, under the projecttitle "the Memory of the Netherlands".

Unfortunately, these aren't working either...or worse, they're not even proper textures but badly cut images (see pic below)


So what can we expect from a virtual library? There's plenty of reference material to be found in Second Life in the Cybrary city sims, but sofar the OBA has not been able to go beyond a mere virtual representation of their new Central Library building.

In this new metaversality it would be a challenge for libraries (and publishers for that matter) to explore new formats that would draw back readers to good books.

Neil Stephenson, one of the metarati, is most famous for his novel "Snowcrash" in which the concept of the Metaverse is explored, but another excellent work is called "The Diamond Age" in which the future of reading and publishing is explored. This book can probably be found at the library, so I guess that's a must read for the peeps there exploring the future of libraring.

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Friday, April 27, 2007

The Metarati

Well, I did a short blogpost on the Digerati... but they're all 80's guys. Their time has gone. The days of the Digerati are gone, this is the time of the Metarati...

I wonder who they are

update


Since the term is being rapidly picked up by several blogs (a.o. 3PointD, UgoTrade, Electric Sheep Company, Metaversed), Wikipediasites (3pedia and Wikipedia) and numerous Twitters entries, here's a link to the nomination site: http://www.metarati.org.

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