Thursday, December 04, 2008

Pownce goes Bownce

I gues it's been a little more than a year now since I happily blogged the arrival of Pownce, a flashy new microblogging tool that would heat up competition for Twitter and Jaiku (before it got assimilated by Google).

I was quite excited when I got my invitation to the alpha version on the 1st of July last year and reviewed:

In my twittergroup it kinda hyped and everyone was screaming for invites. Why?
I think two reasons:

  1. One of the makers of Pownce is KevinRose (from Digg) and
  2. Robert Scoble (Scobleizer) is on it as well.

The early signs were promising, but over the weekend Pownce saw an onrush of new users resulting in scalability and stability problems. The slick looking Adobe AIR driven client crashed several times.

We're a year and a half onward now, and the curtain falls for Pownce. From December 15 on you'll get bounced on Pownce according to the short email notification I received:

We are sad to announce that Pownce is shutting down on December 15,2008. As of today, Pownce will no longer be accepting new users or newpro accounts.

To help with your transition, we have built an export tool so you cansave your content. You can find the export tool at Settings > Export. Please export your content by December 15, 2008, as the site will not be accessible after this date.

Please visit our new home to find out more:

Our thanks go out to everyone who contributed to the Pownce community,

The Pownce Crew

I still think it wins 99 out of a 100 times over Twitter when it comes to presentation and when it comes to functionality, I guess it may still beat the crap out of Twitter.

So when it tops Twitter, why did Six Apart tear it apart? Why did the curtain fall? Did the Credit Crunch, or Techcrunch, or whatever you want to call it dry up the wells of green and caused the bailout? Perhaps that may have been the final pushover, but let's face it. It lost competition to an inferior platform, just like Philips' Video 2000 and Sony's Betamax lost to the lousy VHS back in the 80's in a fierce format war.

Pownce wasn't stable yet, as the initial review showed. It crashed. But that isn't uncommon. I regularly get the message that the "Technorati monster escaped" or twitter hiccups. Seems like it comes as a standard feature of services like these. That didn't kill Pownce. It's the buzz that did, rather the lack off. I liked it better than Twitter, but rarely used Pownce simply because all my friends were on Twitter.

Twitter aleady had the crowd, and though better, it wasn't good enough to start another tiresome tribal migration from one community to the other and rebuild your contact list. Twitter is sustainable by sheer numbers only. Pownce would have needed an ecosystem to support it, a tie in with social networking sites in which is messaging capacities could be leveraged. It could have been done, as Six Apart is one of the prime ecosystem contributors for LinkedIn for example.

I guess that's settled than, one less account to worry about, one place that holds yet another part of my digital identity, my humoungous digital footprint down. Just hope they'll do erase their databases thoroughly and not use it for a new startup.

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

I am becoming my avatar (2): Big Stage

Last month I wrote an article on the Philips Design probes, titled I am becoming my avatar, in which I said:

In Second Life we often see people trying to shape their avatar as much as possible to their Real Life appearance -kinda counts for beach babes and sixpack Joe's I guess - or the other way around, people shaping their avatar in their ideal sort of way and then try to become like this ultimate adonis in real life too. With this combined technology Philips will provide the change to bring this a step closer. Soon we will be able to project those textures and skins from Second Life on our own skins and clothing.

In this article I focussed on the way we take virtual stuff and try to add them to our real life selves, but the other way around works as well of course, which I tried in June last year at Avatar Island in which I did a testdrive of the CyberExtruder software.

The avatarisation has a new chapter though, which is called Big Stage. Mashable did an excellent report on them:

Big Stage, a personal avatar virtualization service introduced in beta form earlier this year, has its official launch today. The company has marked the moment with more choices for use of their own unique “@ctor,” as well as an updated media player and social sharing functions.

The so-called “@ctor” is a user’s 3D facial representation, which the company calls “The Digital You.” The user can subsequently insert this representation into a myriad of places, like still imagery, social networks, video games, virtual worlds, music videos, TV clips, and even advertisements. An @ctor can be animated through the Big Stage Media Player.

Since launch, the founders of Big Stage have made it a point to emphasize the backend power that goes into the making of an @ctor. The process involves up to three digital photographs taken from different angles of your face, which must be uploaded and put through what the Big Stage team regards as “advanced stereo reconstruction.”

Read Full article at Mashable.

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Friday, October 10, 2008

Philips Design Probes - I am becoming my Avatar

After blogging IBM's avances into virtual Fashion , it's yet another Fashion blogpost. This time from Philips. It seems fashion is getting fashionable in the Tech industry.

This time it's not a coproduction, but the presentation of a new Philips Product: Fractal - Living Jewelry.

Why limit yourself to a few beads or earrings when you can slip on a full-body 'living jewelry' suit that also changes in response to your behavior and mood? Introducing Fractal, the latest expression of the Philips Design SKIN Probes program …

Fractal is a stunning, figure-hugging outfit consisting entirely of huge imitation jewels augmented by pulsing LEDs. By incorporating sensors that measure movement, excitement levels and proximity of others - and using this input to alter the intensity of its integrated lighting - Fractal essentially becomes an extension of the body. It also serves as a platform for exploring emotional sensing.

Read more on Philips - Living Jewelry.

Over the course of last year, Philips has organised a number of Design Probe sessions in Second Life, in which they presented a number of concepts they were working on and discussed these with us, see Designing the Future 1a and Designing the Future 1b on this blog for detailed transcripts.

Under the title "Don't predict the Future, design it!" we discussed three themes back in august 2007, which were:

  1. The future of self-expression
  2. The future of packaging
  3. The future of clothing

These brainstorm sessions have been a huge success for Philips, said Slava Kozlov at the 3rd Eduverse symposium last month. Not that we've actually invented new products for them, but as Slava added yesterday on twitter:

"As always in case of probes, it is difficult to point to a direct influence; it's a logical line from earlier 'emotional dress' concept. However, I feel that Second Life in general made a large impact on the designers' way of thinking "

The Electronic Tattoo

It's hard to say if Fractal, or the living Jewelry as you like, fits in one, two or all three of the above categories. A second project has been the Electronic Tattoo, which clearly falls under the self-expression category.

Tattoos and physical mutilation are amongst the oldest forms of personal expression and identity. Subcultures have used tattoos as a form of self representation; a visual language communicating personality and status. Philips Design examined the growing trend of extreme body adornment like tattoos, piercing, implants and scarring.

Read more - Philips Electronic Tattoos, including a cool video about the tattoos.

I am Becoming my Avatar

In Second Life we often see people trying to shape their avatar as much as possible to their Real Life appearance -kinda counts for beach babes and sixpack Joe's I guess) or the other way around, people shaping their avatar in their ideal sort of way and then try to become like this ultimate adonis in real life too. With this combined technology Philips will provide the change to bring this a step closer. Soon we will be able to project those textures and skins from Second Life on our own skins and clothing.

Off course, that is not the idea behind these projects. It is ultimately about sustainability, but also has commercial ends:

The relationship between the human body, apparel and the near environment is seen as one of the next big challenges. That is why explorations in this area can help build up essential knowledge that could serve as valuable input for future business activities. There could even be shorter-term spin-offs. "In Fractal we’re taking LED light, which can feel harsh and cold, and experimenting with it," says Van Heerden. "We pulse it at different speeds, making it appear quickly and fade slowly, and also diffract it through various materials. The result is warmer and more comforting, something that could be very interesting to our Lighting division."

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Thursday, January 24, 2008

1st Metaverse Meetup - Amsterdam

At exactly 0.00 I returned from Amsterdam where I attended the first Metaverse Meetup (Amsterdam Edition) in "De Balie" which was initiated by Joja Dhara and Ze Moo.

As this was a first meetup, apropriately themed "Meet the Avatar", the most timeconsuming event was the introduction round, but on the other hand it was nice to know who was who. We saw representatives from several MDC's such as Jeroen Frans, Executive Director of the Vesuvius Group (the guys that brought us Google in SL), Damian Simmons of Lost in the Magic Forest (Content, Essent, Aegon) and Up the Vortex (blog), and on the corporate present there was 'moi' for Sogeti, and people from ING (Our Virtual Holland), KPN and Philips Design, researchers from EPN, bloggers like Roy Cassini from Digado and excellent freelancers such as Ollie Kubrick from Unreal Design.

And off course, Bart DutchX, Founder of the Dutch Echange was present. I seem to run into him at about every metaverse related event these days. The Linden Lab banking ban doesn't seem to affect his business, as it is still expanding and they're hiring new people and adding new payment methods continuously.

As it was the first meetup I won't do an assesment of the contents of the meetup, as it was primarily a networking event tonight. I hope we'll get to discuss hot metaversal topics in the future.

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Friday, October 12, 2007

VW Conference buzzwords: Interoperability and Portability

Christian Renaud's keynote this morning was generally received as an outstanding analysis of the Virtual World industry and the challenges that lie ahead of us if we want it to go mainstream.


What it all boils down to is that the web, and especially the social web is getting very confusing. We need to have multiple identities, and now there are virtual identities to juggle as well. You've gotta go nuts if you have to juggle all that. This isn't much different from what I've blogged midway june (VeeJay juggles web 2.0 chaos). Like Christian said, we've failed to get openID into place when it comes to the web, let's try to get it right for virtual worlds.

Thought Leadership

In order to get this right for the Virtual World industry, several thoughtleaders met the day prior to the VW Conference, amongst which Cisco, IBM, Linden Lab and Philips. Linden Lab and IBM put forth a press release stating they are working on interoperability and portability. Other terms to describe this are unified communications between Virtual Worlds, or setting new industry standards (is it going to be VHS or Betamax?). IBM has made no secret of the fact that they have been pursuing this for months, the only speculation and blogosphere fuzz at the moment is that it's now an official tie-in with Linden Lab.


So the market needs convergence, standards of portability to go mainstream. I personally feel this is a very, very good thing. In fact, I've been saying so for months. The real big challenges are:

  • How do you asses the value of virtual goods on various platforms in relation to other platforms
  • How do you get a sound Identity Management System in place

No consensus yet

In the beginning I said Christian's keynote was generally accepted as outstanding. Here's a few thoughts from the business

While talking to Craig Sherman on this he let me know that Gaia is pursuing its own target group and has no intention whatsoever to even start thinking about portability. pretty much the same goes for Habbo Hotel, as Timo Soininen doesn't see much chances to asses the value of goods for portability.

John K. Bates of Entropia / Mindark noted that value is generally based on user demand for goods and in a lot of instances World-specific. Like in Entropia you've got dung. Absolutely of no value if you return it to the Entropia caretakers, but a must have for landowners who need dung to fertilize their lands so they can grow monsters and tax those who come to their land to hunt monsters. So in entropia you might wanna be a dung-baron if you don't want to pay for stuff and still get rich.

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Friday, August 31, 2007

Designing the Future 1b

Here's blogpost number 2 on the Philips sessions on Designing the Future. The first can be found here, where we started of with the Philips Design Probes and discussing the topic "The Future of Self-Expression." This second post will focus on the second brainstorm topic we discussed:

The Future of Packaging.

Philips themeselves are quite interested in new ways of food packaging

"We have been especially interested in the packaging of food. In fact food packaging is a large part of our waste."

But what do we need from packaging, and how will this evolve in the next 20 years? From a Philips point of view, packaging obiously is a new market in which they can put new gadgets. Instead of enthusiastically get involved with all sorts of gadgetted packaging stuff, I advocated less packaging. Here some ramblings:

"I'd be happy to go back 50 years in time to get rid of all this plastic waste.
I hate it to see my meat being packaged in foam, then ceiled, then bagged in a plastic bag.. I don't ask for it. Some stuff at the supermarket is triple packaged. So biodegradable and non-toxic packaging would help a lot."

"But what concerns you most - amount of stuff or possible danger to products?"

"We're getting too peculiar I'd say. Partly it's a self sustaining economy. We enhance our food, do tricks to keep our cows fat, thus more risk of all sorts of bacteria, thus need of more sterile packaging I think."

"Oh, I like this train of thought, that its not only packaging per ser, but in fact whole system."

"Packaging is at the end of the production chain, so logical to see where the need comes from. Is our plastic industry build upon the waste and need from oil companies? or does it serve purpose? ok, that sounded far too much conspiracy theory.... non intentionally. so if technology finds another source of energy rather then oil, we'd have less plastic?"

After the obligatory fit about our current society we got down to business though tinkering about new ways for packaging, amongst which RFID technology, the impact of Technology on our elderly people, Identity Management and what have you got. Too much to cut into decent bits at this time anyway, so here's the transcript:

[12:31]  Una Gackt: three things expression , cloth and package are same interests, I suppose.

[12:32]  Una Gackt: It reveal what it contains or at least It pretend what it contains

[12:32]  Centrasian Wise: and in every topic we are in fact interested in how people will interact with these new thingies

[12:33]  Una Gackt: I really love the show of Philips design probe : SKIN

[12:33]  Centrasian Wise: our next topic :)

[12:33]  Una Gackt: it gave us some messages of what people to express, and pretend.

[12:33]  Una Gackt: and the tool to attempt to the wills.

[12:34]  Centrasian Wise: in some sense, packaging can be compared to the skin of the product - but what do we expect from such skin?

[12:34]  Tara5 Oh: that is interestin point una because pretending is an important part of self expression!

[12:34]  Una Gackt: right...

[12:34]  Centrasian Wise: yes, I sense a dilemma here

[12:34]  Una Gackt: and it is also a good biz in SL

[12:34]  Una Gackt: SKIN production^^

[12:34]  Centrasian Wise: it all goes to the trust again

[12:34]  Eolus McMillan: the skin should know when we need medical attention

[12:35]  Tara5 Oh: i think it is not necessarily a dilemma

[12:35]  Centrasian Wise: if you trust me, I don't have to pretend, I can be myself...

[12:35]  Centrasian Wise: yes, right Tara, I was looking for a better word :)

[12:35]  Tara5 Oh: for instance sometimes self expression is just a way of making contack it doen't have to be scientifically accurate

[12:36]  Tara5 Oh: there are all those silly games on facebook for example like how alike are wee

[12:36]  Tara5 Oh: they are totally inaccurate but noone cares it is a way of breaking the ice

[12:36]  Una Gackt: haha, scientifically accrate,...that's impossible...people are people, and they are full of errors and they enjoy it.

[12:36]  Centrasian Wise: same as we say 'dress to impress' - packaging of today often works as a way of impressing, seducing even

[12:37]  Tara5 Oh: yes there is a lot of pleaure in mistaken identity games!

[12:37]  Centrasian Wise: but at the same time informing, communicating

[12:37]  Centrasian Wise: :)

[12:37]  Tara5 Oh: hey my dress shows i am sad but i am really happy!

[12:37]  Una Gackt: true...SL itself is the joy of gap from the reality.

[12:38]  Tara5 Oh: sometimes and sometimes its p[ower comes from communicating reality in new ways

[12:38]  Tara5 Oh: it is both

[12:38]  Una Gackt: yes...

[12:38]  Centrasian Wise: i wonder of something similar will emerge in packaging.. with similar level of playfulness

[12:38]  Una Gackt: both...

[12:38]  Una Gackt: yes...the point is playfulness.

[12:38]  Tara5 Oh: if a doctor was talking to a patient in SL the patient might want to show their pain accurately

[12:39]  Tara5 Oh: or as accurately as possible

[12:39]  Una Gackt: SKIN makes people happy and feeling of satisfaction about their self esteem.

[12:40]  Centrasian Wise: why do you think it so, Tara?

[12:40]  You: however, if this all this info gets digitized, you might get serious privacy problems / issues

[12:40]  Tara5 Oh: but privacy has different meanings to different people

[12:41]  Una Gackt: haha....almost Zen philosophical...

[12:41]  Tara5 Oh: for example some people don't like the idea of companies knowing what products they like and use

[12:41]  Una Gackt: all depends on their intension.

[12:41]  Tara5 Oh: but peronally i like havinf relevant info pushed to me

[12:41]  Centrasian Wise: issue of trust?

[12:41]  Una Gackt: you're first person who said that loving the push info.

[12:42]  Tara5 Oh: i don't watch TV etc anymore so i need to know what is out there

[12:42]  You: yes. but that would require a closed web. A single sign on. so you can adjust what you would like to share / receive

[12:42]  Centrasian Wise: if i trust my friend, i will share with her a lot, because i am sure she will be helping, not harming

[12:42]  Tara5 Oh: i actually depend on it!

[12:42]  Una Gackt: I see.

[12:42]  Tara5 Oh: but i like it to come from social networks best

[12:42]  Tara5 Oh: but i still want to know about new products

[12:42]  Tara5 Oh: in my areas of interest

[12:42]  You: social networks are too scattered, no interchangeability

[12:43]  You: for most people ;)

[12:43]  Una Gackt: other than the consumer info what is your SN source for?

[12:43]  Tara5 Oh: well I rely on for music

[12:43]  Dennis Slocombe is Offline

[12:43]  Centrasian Wise: do you think they will stay like this in the future, VeeJay?

[12:44]  You: no, I think the way we use the web will change. As I said to a short of single sign on. Desktop usage will be transferred to webbased Document Management and merging of private, social and professional networks

[12:44]  You: there will be huge leaps to be made with Identity Management / web 2.0 profiles

[12:44]  Una Gackt: if you googled, then it's already there.

[12:45]  You: Una, it's there, the basic outlines.

[12:45]  You: but not the whole deal.

[12:45]  Centrasian Wise: so if i project this vision to, say, packages - a lot of its current functions will done by the networks, right?

[12:45]  Una Gackt: it brings you everything to your personal top.

[12:46]  Una Gackt: you just logged in, and there ...go

[12:46]  Una Gackt: no more surfing.

[12:46]  Tara5 Oh: not just the generic info

[12:46]  You: yes cent.

[12:46]  Tara5 Oh: yes I would like packages to delive the information that i am interested in personally

[12:46]  Tara5 Oh: for example i am very fussy about how my food is produced

[12:46]  Tara5 Oh: but i don't care about the calories etc

[12:46]  You: so focuspoints would be unified communications and identitymanagement

[12:47]  Una Gackt: OK, Veejay might be in the area.

[12:47]  Una Gackt: security and privacy engineering

[12:47]  Centrasian Wise: but for us, desingers, it will also mean whole new way of interaction with products

[12:48]  Tara5 Oh: yes and i think that people want to bring environmental consciousness into all purchase

[12:48]  Centrasian Wise: or, designing for such inteactions

[12:48]  Una Gackt: now a days it is very hard to say designers design the product.

[12:48]  Tara5 Oh: i.e. what is the carbon footprint associated with the whole product life style

[12:48]  Una Gackt: customers or markets shaping its need until designers understand their need.

[12:49]  You: productinformation / production information / manuals from products streamed to your feedreader / document management system on purchase

[12:49]  Centrasian Wise: but it's interesting, that this consciousness is emerging from the relations *around* the product

[12:49]  You: guarantee and service notes stored

[12:49]  Una Gackt: now adays, designers task is the producing but watching or observing.

[12:50]  Centrasian Wise: not even manuals per se, even, but rather social distributed knowledge

[12:50]  Tara5 Oh: for example I would like to know my product was manufacutered in an energy monitored EOLUS faciltiy!!!

[12:50]  Yel Oh: Hi guys :-)

[12:50]  Una Gackt: but in the future they will spend more time for watcing

[12:50]  Centrasian Wise: Yes, very right Una

Then there was a short break, after which we continued:

[13:03]  Centrasian Wise: The interaction between the human body, apparel and the near environment is going to be one of the next big challenges

[13:04]  Una Gackt: aha wearabel computing...

[13:04]  Centrasian Wise: and we will be very happy to show you our ideas and concepts in this area at one of the next meetings

[13:04]  You: why is that a challenge for a technology company like philips?

[13:04]  Una Gackt: which sense your temperature...mood, health, and even your happiness.

[13:04]  Tara5 Oh: yes I like the ID of shirt that people can point and click their phone at to go to my blog

[13:04]  Una Gackt: hahahaha...

[13:04]  Tara5 Oh: he he

[13:04]  Centrasian Wise: ^_^

[13:04]  Una Gackt: clever.

[13:05]  Centrasian Wise: Is it available already, Tara? :)

[13:05]  Tara5 Oh: I wplus i think cards are very outdated!

[13:05]  Tara5 Oh: oh can you send me one1

[13:05]  Tara5 Oh: should be point , click and save1

[13:05]  Una Gackt: each name card has its own texutre...

[13:06]  Una Gackt: not just color and shape.

[13:06]  Una Gackt: that's why it should be a card.

[13:06]  Una Gackt: you can keep and bring the texture.

[13:06]  Tara5 Oh: no i mean in RL not SL this time

[13:06]  Tara5 Oh: i don't want RL cards

[13:06]  You: I like technology. I like information, but there are times I like to get away from it. And that'll be hard if you even wear communicative things ;)

[13:07]  Una Gackt: hehe...I mean fact.

[13:07]  Una Gackt: I love the physical products.

[13:07]  Una Gackt: it has a texture, weight and shape.

[13:07]  Tara5 Oh: no coc you could turn it on and off

[13:07]  Eolus McMillan: but if the thing is smart it would know that you are in a mood of not having any communication

[13:07]  Eolus McMillan: and it would act accordingly

[13:07]  Una Gackt: that's the part of its won attributes.

[13:07]  Tara5 Oh: yes eolus even better in case you forgot to turn it off!

[13:08]  Eolus McMillan: a simple thought would turn it on or off

[13:08]  Eolus McMillan: in the back of your mind

[13:08]  Tara5 Oh: but i think jewellry ismore appropriate cos my clothing wears out too fast!

[13:08]  You: ok. we're looking at it from the exciting vantage of new technology things. But surely, especially you Eolus and Tara would have to wonder if it is usefull and not waste. What purpose would it all serve?

[13:09]  Centrasian Wise: good question! :)

[13:09]  Eolus McMillan: it might be usefull for old people

[13:09]  Tara5 Oh: cards are waste they use non renewable resources

[13:09]  Eolus McMillan: people with disabilities

[13:09]  You: My mother would rather die or get lost before she wears self thinking boots

[13:09]  Tara5 Oh: anyway wallets are going out soon i guess

[13:09]  Una Gackt: what is the gesture cent...

[13:10]  Una Gackt: did you look at your watch?

[13:10]  Eolus McMillan: it really depends

[13:10]  Una Gackt: how is it possible....

[13:10]  Tara5 Oh: but my mother loves this kind of technolofy

[13:10]  Centrasian Wise: :)

[13:10]  Tara5 Oh: she is frail and lives on herown

[13:10]  Eolus McMillan: if thinking means taking over

[13:10]  Eolus McMillan: then i agree

[13:10]  Eolus McMillan: but if a thinking boot assists you in finding a place

[13:10]  Eolus McMillan: or not stepping on something dangerous

[13:10]  Centrasian Wise: i better stand up, to stop confusing you, Una :)

[13:11]  Eolus McMillan: then it might not be so bad after all

[13:11]  Tara5 Oh: she relies a panic button for her asthma

[13:11]  Una Gackt: ^^

[13:11]  Eolus McMillan: there must be a right balance

[13:11]  Una Gackt: it is a wonderful session. and for it's time to go.

[13:11]  Una Gackt: it was great pleasure to meet you all.

[13:12]  Eolus McMillan: bye Una, was nice discussing with you

[13:12]  Una Gackt: bye everyone...

[13:12]  Eolus McMillan: bye

[13:12]  Centrasian Wise: Thank you, Una!

[13:12]  Una Gackt: thank you cent^^

[13:12]  Centrasian Wise: I hope you will join our next session!

[13:12]  Una Gackt: see you Tara5

[13:12]  You: I see many elderly growing more and more unhappy in this society we live in. Too much change. From moving from hard cash to virtual money to credit cards to mobile paying is too much for them (only one example)

[13:12]  Una Gackt: definately.

[13:12]  Eolus McMillan: yes , i agree

[13:12]  You: they don't understand society anymore

[13:12]  Tara5 Oh: yesnice to meet you!

[13:13]  Eolus McMillan: so that really means we must take all those facts into consideration when designing such things

[13:13]  You: what i mean is that technology can have a downside as well

[13:13]  Eolus McMillan: it is up to us to make it right

[13:14]  Centrasian Wise: but what's the choice, VeeJay? To stop? Or to offer them support in learning? or may be even 3rd way?

[13:14]  You: well, the issue I'm having with it is what the real business drivers are.

[13:14]  You: which are the motivators behind change and innovation.

[13:15]  You: technology can make life easier, but more complex as well

[13:15]  You: can bring people together, but devide as well

[13:15]  Centrasian Wise: well, even if we would reflect on what we do here

[13:15]  You: even wedge first and third world more

[13:16]  You: can help overcome environmental problems as well as create much more pollution and waste

[13:16]  Centrasian Wise: when we try to bring people INTO innovation - it is exactly to make sure that chances to produce useless technology are lesser

[13:16]  You: when money and profit is the motivator, you'd just have to hope the right choices are made

[13:17]  Centrasian Wise: Yes, all your words are very valid observaitons, Veejay

[13:18]  You: so, are what's the base we're designing our future from? Is that from the viewpoint that we can think up a whole lot of new gadgets? or

[13:18]  You: is it a viewpoint in say, let's see what life is about, forget everything we've got now and see what that live needs

[13:18]  Centrasian Wise: <-- quickly say 'NO'

[13:18]  Centrasian Wise: lol, the 'NO' was to your first question :)

[13:19]  Centrasian Wise: one of issues as we see it is that it's very diffult to say 'what live needs'

[13:19]  You: mmm, looking at my history I see I've been very sceptical today

[13:20]  Centrasian Wise: and how it evolves is through multiple probes and tryouts

[13:21]  You: actually, I'm pretty interested in seeing where it goes, looking forward to explore new technology, but it has to be balanced ;)

[13:21]  Centrasian Wise: If you remember, we call this program Probes - to exactly do that, see what reacion our concepts can trigger

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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Designing the Future 1a

Last night I finally had time to slip into one of the Philips Design meetups. Due to scheduling issues I hadn't been able to attend before so I was glad I finally had the chance to meet up with the Philips Design Crew.

It was quite a session, over 2.5 hours of full-scale brainstorm on 3 topics, giving me over 14 pages of textlog to read back and condence. This will be a post in bits and pieces I think.

Don't predict the future, design it!

The sessions are titled "Designing the Future" and today's introduction was given by Centrasian Wise, one of Philips Design's inworld evangelists.

"We plan to have a series of interesting discussions with you and these discussions will be about …. the future! As we say in the panels at the top there, we don’t want to predict the future, we want to design it, or rather co-design it with people, with you.

In the next few months we will be holding a series of meetings here in SL to share our ideas and our work but also to learn what you think about them. The meeting today is an introduction to this new series."

Design Probes

Philips themselves have been thinking about the future themselves for some time now;

"Already for some years now Philips Design is carrying a design research program called Design Probes. It is an in-house future research program that explores what new lifestyles and people behaviors might emerge in the future and under 'future' we mean 2020 for these discussions. This program was set up to identify long term social changes and to anticipate changes in future lifestyles. It's far enough to already expect changes, but still foreseable.
So, we study new and emerging technology, socio-cultural trends and possible effects of political, economic and environmental changes.
Based on this knowledge, we then design a number of ‘probes’, or visionary concepts we call 'Probes'.
They reflect our understanding of potential futures, but also provoke and challenge existing assumptions. For example, our Design Probe Program wants to challenges the notion that our lives are automatically better because they are more digital.So, In the coming weeks we will present some of the results of this program."

Since Philips is a technology and digital gadgetting firm, that last remark shouts profit driven motivation. Or is there a more social spark driving the Probes?

"You'll have to see in the coming weeks whether it is technology-drive or people-driven :)."

Just like any good traditional sermon, this brainstorm session came in three topics:

  1. The future of self-expression
  2. The future of packaging
  3. The future of clothing

Where does it all lead to? Is Philips going into virtual clothing business in Second Life, or are we up to new and exciting adventures with self-thinking or self-guiding boots?

The Future of Self-Expression

After the the introduction the group split into three smaller groups for some severe brainstorming, almost good enough to call it a MindBlizzard. My little group saw Centrasian himself als moderator and also consisted of Ugotrade blogger Tara5 Oh and Implenia / EOLUS founder and thoughtleader Eolus McMillan and several other residents with backgrounds in Design and Technology as well. This made up for the producing end of the chain, it would have been good to see some from the receiving end (i.e. consumers) in there, so I went a little into skeptical mode.

The question at hand is how technology can augment our senses and the senses of those we communicate and interact with.

The discussion spiraled down to sensor technologies, or as Tara put it:

"I am particularly interested about how sensor/actuator networkscan enhance self expression in hyper connected eletronic environment s in new ways. By that I mean how can the kind of emotional bandwidth these kind of sensor technologies bring to communication be integrated into an immersive social networking environment like SL..... phew that is a bit long winded! But reall what are the interesting ways biometric sensors can be introduced into networked virtual environments?"

Now we don't have to get all creepy about Matrix-like plugins or neuropods from Tad William's Otherland series, or Neil Stephenson's Snowcrash visors. Here's some of the discussion:

[12:11] Tara5 Oh: but id i can't say it here where can I!
[12:11] Centrasian Wise: But would happen if we would add ‘sensing technology’ to our bodies?
[12:12] Centrasian Wise: Enhance it? Amplify?
[12:12] Una Gackt: I hope it would not be our body, but thinking things.
[12:12] Tara5 Oh: well I like the idea of the mutual enhancement of virtual and real environment through biometric sensors could be quite simple
[12:13] Tara5 Oh: like communicating the way you are feeling to a group on online friends
[12:13] Tara5 Oh: could be quite complex and move into the extreme life logging area
[12:13] Centrasian Wise: Like, to show your emotional state?
[12:13] Eolus McMillan: hehe to apply the expression in RL to your avatar in sL
[12:13] Tara5 Oh: yes!
[12:14] Tara5 Oh: and then combine that with some of the special communicative qualities of this eletronice environment

Well that's all folks for today. I'll have to find some time to put up the other two topics, which partly intertwine with the above discussion.

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Saturday, August 25, 2007

25% of Global top 100 in SL

In June I wrote 30% of Dutch Top100 corporations in Virtual Worlds, listing the top Dutch companies in Second Life. Earlier this month though SLionheads' Timbo Urbanowicz did the math on the global top 100 companies.

Based upon the Top 100 Global Brands Scoreboard he checked to see which companies were in Second Life and concludes 20% of these Global brands have a presence in Second Life:

"Interbrand takes many ingredients into account when ranking the value of the
Best Global Brands. Even to qualifyfor the list, each brand must derive at least
a third of its earnings outside its home country, be recognizableoutside of its
base of customers, and have publicly available marketing and financial data. "

1. Coca Cola

2. Microsoft

3. IBM

6. Toyota

7. Intel

10. Mercedes-benz

13. BMW

18. Cisco

25. Sony

29. Nike

31. Dell

42. Philips

43. Siemens

44. Nintendo

52. MTV

62. Amazon

69. Adidas

76. Reuters

81. ING

98. Nissan

Missing on this list are apple (33), SAP (34), eBay (48), Accenture (50) and BP (84) though, so it's closer to 25%.

Some, like Coca Cola and SAP only hold a small spot in Second Life, others such as IBM have a multble island presence and others (like eBay and BP) are still under cosntruction.

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Friday, July 06, 2007

A Simple Switch

I ended my last post with the following lines:
"We're closing in on 7-7-7, Earth Day and Eolus is one more climate savvy project trying Second Life as stage. Yesterday I blogged on the Spanish getting climate savvy in SL as well, and today Philips was giving out energy low lamps."

Here's a few more words on Philips. I ran into Sonja Finney -a Philips employee and SL devotee - for the umpteenth time. This time in Groningen (see upcoming post) where she handed out Energy Saving Lightbulbs.
As far as I can tell it isn't an official, but very sympathetic support of the "A Simple Switch" campaign launched by Philips late this week.
Focuspoint of the campaign is the website "a simple switch"

The key message Philips tries to convey is change your lightbulbs to energy saving lamps. On the website you can fill in how many lamps you intend to switch and then it'll show you how much CO2 and other climate-disasters you help reduce.

Well, in 10 minutes Earth Day will start here in the Netherlans, so it's time you act!

As the world will see many Live-Earth concerts scattered around the globe (causing their own climate disasters) there will also be concerts in Second Life as well as live streaming.

More info:

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Saturday, June 09, 2007

30% of Dutch Top100 corporations in Virtual Worlds

Nearly 30% of the Top100 companies in the Netherlands are actively engaged in virtual worlds, as a recent EPN survey shows.

Of these 100 companies, 48 participated in the quickscan and they show that:
  • 60% see added value to internal communication
  • 52% see added value in training and branding
  • 45% see added value to external activities such as cocreation and staffing.
  • 66% say that it is still hard to get access to the right people
  • 50% see the stability of Second Life as a threat

And some say that they see Linden Labs as an unpredictable factor.

I'm not sure which companies but here's a few in Second Life:
  • ING
  • Philips
  • Heineken
  • Randstad
  • Content
  • Aegon
I'm wondering where the others are... please let me know ;)

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Friday, June 01, 2007

Nonsense and simplicity

Well, with certain anticipation I have looked forward to the Philips launchparty announced in the Avastar and other media. There has been a Philips sim out there for ages, but not open to public. I had hoped they would open their sim up so we could see what they have been working on these past months.

However, there was just nothing more than the platform I blogged yesterday (previous message). The only addition was that you could get a freebee beertender or coffeemaker.

During the last months I have held several presentations for inworld companies on the topic of Second Life and Virtual Worlds in general and when it comes to business sims I'd always told of how Philips was working together with customers on getting feedback on new designs and stuff.

Don't try to tell me this is Philips hail to the new world, that this is the only result of months of presence. You just don't throw an openingparty over a beertender and a coffeemaker. Who thought this up? Was this Philips or their SL consultant?

Well, there were lots of documents you could read on their website... is innovation to be found there? If so, tell us, because I'm not about to read 10 large documents to find out if they'd learned something.
To me this launch is too much on the simplicity side (or complex beyond my limited abilities) and makes absolutely no sense. So, anyone, please explain....

update 04- june - 07

After reading my blog one of Philips' spokepersons contacted me with a little clarification on the launch: "I would like to add that we were very happy with the results of the launch of this particular plot which was intended to introduce people to our Cocreation plans at Philips Design. We did aim for a simple presence and a soft launch but indeed it seems that expectations were raised for a number of reasons, press releases, Brand name etc. " Okay, well I intend to find out!

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Thursday, May 31, 2007

Philips Launchparty (2)

Last week I blogged that Philips is planning to open their sim to the public on June 1st. Here's some more details.

The event will start at 14.00 CET and from reliable sources I've heared that the launch will start in the Virtual Holland sim 3. I went over and indeed found some signs of Philips. There's a platform with a clear path to the open sea, which could well be the place where the Philips sim will immerse.

Connecting with Virtual Holland to some extend makes some sense, also suggests a Rivers Run Red influence.


Okay that'll be it for today. It's not much, but RL has been extremely tiring today with severe SL presentations so I'm totally knackered.

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Friday, April 13, 2007

Rivers Run Red

Rivers Run Red was the world's first agency to establish a working presence within a virtual world. RRR has been active in Second Life since 2003. In meatspace the company has offices in London and San Fran.

Projects include Vodafone, Philips, ING, Reebok, Adidas, Calvin Klein (CKin2U), Heineken, BBC, Channel 4, Penguin, Duran Duran and Radio 538. It's surprising to see how many Dutch client the company has. Since 2007 the RRR faces serious competition with new native Dutch virtual builders such as [lost in the] Magic Forest, Damanicorp and SLionhead.

Aside from their corporate website RRR runs the Space Think Dream thingy as an extra outlet of their works.

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