During the first major keynote with client showcases, one of the case studies was Sogeti's offering of TeamPark which was introduced to the 8,000 + audience by Sogeti CTO Michiel Boreel.
As said in a previous blogpost, many companies find it hard to put real KPI's on Corporate Social Networking and Michiel also touched this subject; "there is a chance that your managers see social collaboration as a whole new waste of time" but in this day and age you have to push the limits, especially as a global IT company. The world is changing fast and competition heats up. As a company, you need to be agile and close to the market. You need to keep up to speed in terms of the latest developments. That is the reason why Sogeti chose to implement Lotus Connections 2.5 by the end of 2009: It's the challenge to increase the speed of innovation by engaging the talent of your employees.
Michiel described the for stages of the TeamPark methodology; Awareness, Strategy, Implementation and Live. In many IT projects we do the strategy and the implementation but we do not do the first and last phase: Awareness and bringing the platform to Live. Especially when it comes to corporate social networking, these stages are essential. Else you would have an empty restaurant. And where do people eat? Not in the empty restaurant, but one across the street where it's busy. Now if your company would be like that, your employees would probably eat out in restaurants like Facebook or LinkedIn.
A social environment breaks down into five areas: Socialness, Organicness, Collective Intelligence, Aliveness and Linkedess (it needs to be S.O.CI.A.L.)
According to IBM, Sogeti's TeamPark offering currently is the best in the market when it comes to implementing social software in companies. If you would like to know more about TeamPark, just leave me a message or contact me on twitter (@vjburns), or call your nearest Sogeti Offices off course ;)
The first big keynote session after the OGS (Opening General Session) was KEY106: Social Collaboration delivers Real Business Value in which Jeff Schick asked: What is your companies collaboration culture? Is it phone? Is it email?
What do you think will get you the best response? Is that dropping an email bomb on your employees or a dynamic search of a live site? Not surprisingly we are still in the proces of justifying corporate social software. We need metrics to convince our managers.
A number of partners and clients came on stage to showcase how collaboration has helped their business grow. First of all, Saleem Avan, Head of IT at the United Nations showed us how collaboration helps them to be agile and creative in harsh situations.
Other client showcases included Thomas Anger, manager Collaboration Services at Sun Life Financial (and guess what his blog is called: Anger Management. That drew a few laughs), Sogeti CTO Michiel Boreel (which I'll get into later), Travis Hall - Director of Client Engineering at Union Pacific and Eve McLain from ACI which deliver payment processing solutions
KEY106 Social Collaboration Delivers Real Business Value at Collaboration Matters.
Since early april IBM has been running a managed beta for their next big release of Lotus Connections. Version 2.5 is officially set to come this friday, the 28th and we've been fidgetting around with this beta version since the beginning. Time to have a quick look at what's new.
The biggest changes compared to LC 2.0.1 are the addition of two new services: Files and Wiki's, but there are lots of minor changes as well. I won't go into too much detail on the specs, there are probably dozens of sites who will do so, I'd rather share a glimpse of what we've done with it in our project called TeamPark.
In the image below you'll see the main services for Connections: Profiles, Communities, Blogs, Files, Wiki's Bookmarks and Activities. In yellow (the middle part) you'll see the new, cool, microtweeting like functionality of Connections 2.5
One of the big advantages of Connections is that it is people centered and not document centered, like Microsoft Sharepoint. You can tag about everything, including people so that it becomes very easy to find experts. Obviously, it is very important to stimulate everyone to fill in their profile details, so we added a few things to the default Connections 2.5 implementation. On the left hand side you'll see two widgets below the profile picture (oui, c'est moi). The first is the standard Tagcloud for your profile (which is minimized now) which we use to find expertise and interest. At Sogeti, we work for different customers all the time so we added a "MyClients" widget. We added an extra field to the profile page where we can fill in the Clients we've worked for, and they appear in the bottom left widget "MyClients" This way we can easily find who's been working at a specific client to get references.
A second Widget we've made is to stimulate everyone to fill in their profile information and is a Profile % Complete counter, quite similar to what you'll find on LinkedIn. Currently my profile is 51% complete as you can see in the right column. Basically the widget counts which profile fields have been filled in, and assigns a weight to that. Obviously a profile picture carries more weight than the phone number of my (sadly) non-existent Assistant.
So, that's it for a first view of the Sogeti TeamPark platform based on Connections 2.5. More to follow.
Last month I've blogged a bit about what the important SOCIAL factors are in creating corporate social networks. Today my colleague Patrick Savalle published a first presentation on the TeamPark approach which is designed to help organisations successfully implement corporate social networks and become more intelligent organisations.
SlideShare presentation you'll also find a transcript to go with the presentation.
In every organization processes can be identified that do not function optimal in the normal, so called bureaucratic or formal structure.
Finding people or expertise, sharing and leveraging implicit knowledge, exploiting the wisdom of the crowd, using the special talents of people, driving sustainable innovation. Many processes run more efficient and are more effective using the social networks of the organisation.
Many tasks can be accomplished better by organizing people in communities instead of teams. An organization that knows how to use communities, social networks, crowd-sourcing, broadcast communication, self-organization and other ‘2.0’ concepts has an advantage over competitors and offers an appealing working environment.
The Intelligent Organization knows; build it with TeamPark
A few posts back I did a quick comparison on Microsoft MOSS 2007 and IBM Lotus Connectins to see which one is best suited for Enterprise 2.0, for Corporate Social Networking. One of the criteria we've developed in our TeamPark approach at Sogeti is that the software needs to be S.O.C.I.A.L. But what exactly does it mean?
As of this moment we only have a Dutch version of our book available, so I'll try and write up a few bits and pieces here on the blog.
The foundation of Enterprise 2.0 is social software. A TeamPark which has a lot in common with MySpace for instance, but with clear differences.
What should your TeamPark look like? Whatever we think of and eventually build, a core requirement should be that it should be a place where people like to come to, without directions in their function description or receiving notification all day long to let them know something of interest has been added, or changed. A corporate hangout which lets people experience community and mutual interest. Various literary sources call this aliveness, as an important quality of social websites and, as far as we're concerned this pretty much nails it. It is just like in real life, as people are looking out for signs of life to find a place to socialize. Once inside that environment it takes some time to find the talk of the town.
It is not really that difficult to sum up what is necessary to build a social website, more or less. Which means; which are the elements that give a website a social character. A website on which you lookup a telephone number or are reading a text is not really social. In no way you can see what happens or who else is there, what the others think and there are definately no options to collaborate. A social environment does show these signals. As soon as you can see the presence of others, track their activities it suddenly gets a lot more social. It is perceived entirely different, and these signals, or stimuli, create an environment to interact. Which (inter-) actions actually do take place, and the result of these actions in consequence is primarily dependent on the focus the designer puts in the environment. The design of the website is a dominant factor, both the layout as the interaction design, in delivering the right stimuli.
All these stimuli a social environment offers, will stimulate people to engage in conversation, produce content and share ideas.
A conversation is quickly started by allowing users to react to a newsarticle. Different sorts of conversations can be facilitated by various web elements ranging from Instant Messaging to Chatboxes, Shoutboxes and a forum.
If there is a lot of content added to the environment, it will become important to weigh (rate) and filter which will allow content to surface that really has value, is popular, interesting, funny or up to date. With these mechanisms you avoid an information overload and stimulate quality.
As soon as a website starts to get a lot of users, the urge to create subcommunities arises. Each of these will form itself around special interests or themes. In large groups individual ideas are lost in the din and a sense of anonimity grows. A well designed social website stimulates growing optimum sized communities.
Finally, it requires enough mechanisms which truly enable to leverage the talent of the crowd. These are called aggregationmechanisms. Participation and UGC (user generated content) only is not enough.
Translation: Johan Vermij / VeeJay Burns
Original: TeamPark Method, the development of the intelligent organisation Page 13/14 by Arnd Brugman and Patrick Savalle, Sogeti Netherlands.
All around us, companies feel the need to go Social. As the web grows and companies see their employees blog and interact, share knowledge everywhere, suddenly we have to take Social Networking behind firewalls and create a corporate walled social garden.
It's not that big of a surprise senior management sees merit in embracing social networking as communities are pretty loyal and dedicated. It would be nice if we could bind our employees so strongly and also use their creativity to get better. It's probably no surprise either that they just don't quite get the essence of social networking. In the end it is about information, about knowledge that is the company's main asset, isn't it?
The next thing your senior management will probably ask for is a thorough analyses of requirements and a turn up a full list of features. A Social Networking site should have blogs, wiki, forum, chat, and so on. Over the past month I've been doing just that and made a thorough comparison between Microsoft MOSS 2007, IBM Lotus Connections and Telligent Community Server. Drawing up comparison charts, listing the functionality is a cumbersome job. Especially when the result is that there hardly is a difference. All platforms offer more or less the same functionality.
When it's all about the same, the obvious choice for senior management is to stick to what they know and we already use inside the company. From this reasoning, many companies will probably go for Microsoft MOSS 2007 (or MOSS 14 if they can wait until 2010) as it will offer the basic functionality you would want and integrates well with the other corporate software, and even allows you to keep sharing those all important documents.
Last week I attended a presentation by my Swedish colleague Andreas Sjöström, who founded the website inarockband. In his presentation he said working for Sogeti was like playing in a rockband:
inarockband.com builds on the analogy that working for Sogeti is like playing in a rock band.
Just as rock musicians we are serious about our passion, instruments and customers. In our creative work we understand that everyone in the project plays and important role, just as every instrument counts.
Working with Sogeti is not about working your career, but about your passion. Be passionate about your work, try to excell and in excellence delight the crowd.
In my opinion, Corporate Social Networking also fits this analogy. Blogs are a stage to enthuce and delight, communities a place to share passion. When we look at platforms to support this we are looking for simplicity, easy to use software instead of massively complicated configurable packages. The most suitable software for the job is Social, Organic, Collectively Intelligent, Alive and Linked.
We at Sogeti are passionate about our job. We like to excell. Small wonder we are constantly working up new books on best practises, creating new standards and methods. One of the latest books we've come up with is about moving from Crowd to Community. The second part of the book deals with the Teampark idea, a method to implement and adopt social software inside companies. In the next release this part will be extended and worked out into a full approach.
In the acronym S.O.CI.A.L my colleague Patrick Savalle has tried to capture what the elements are that empower social software:
These are the key elements for Social Software. From this vantage point, there is a clear winner when it comes to Enterprise platforms: IBM Lotus Connections. Whereas MOSS will excell in sharing explicit knowledge, LC will tap into the implicit knowlegde of your workforce.
I'm not saying Lotus Connections is the perfect match, but from an enterprise point of view, it's closing in on the magic quadrant, as Gartner puts it:In the graph IBM is not yet in the Magic Quadrant, and Microsoft isn't far behind. Don't get me wrong, MOSS isn't a bad product, not at all and I'm not saying IBM has done the trick yet, but they're slightly ahead at this point in time. In June last year, the CIO magazine also ran an article on IBM vs. Microsoft in the Social Software space and concluded:
While both vendors showed their products could integrate with existing e-mail systems (especially e-mail systems that they sell, such as Notes and Exchange), IBM’s Lotus Connections looked, at minimum, a year or more ahead of SharePoint in its social computing capabilities out of the box.
It was a lot prettier looking, too.
If we look at the road ahead, this conclusion still stands with Lotus Connections 2.5 going into Beta in April and expected to go Gold by Mid July whereas Microsoft MOSS 14 is due for early 2010. However, it is more than just release dates. It is about the core focus of the product. In terms of S.O.CI.A.L aspects, LC2.5 still has a more informal, organic, people centered approach than MOSS 14, which (from what I have seen under NDA) still is more formal and hyrarchical focussed on information, despite all it's slick tricks.
Identifying the right triggers to create Social Networks is not a guarantee for instant succes though. On the one hand, setting psychology loose on Social Webdesign to delight the crowd and direct communities, creating emergent behaviour is tricky, but on the other hand we have the issue of the walled gardens. Companies will try to contain these platforms behind their corporate firewalls.
About a year ago I did a project in wich security played an important role. The client went into extremes to protect its data. However, all it's corporate knowledge, its value, could be found on Wikipedia for free. Knowledge and creativity are hard things to contain, they will find a way. Take blogging for instance.
From a bloggers point of view, his main drive will probably be to build a reputation. Blogging is more than just jotting down short things you are passionate about. You want to excell and gain authority. A global audience will probably suit you better than a limited corporate stage can offer.
Regarding this, Hutch Carpenter wrote an interesting article on his blog "I'm not actually a Geek" where he asks how much scale is actually needed in Enterprise 2.0 Employee Adoption.
Blogs: The nature of a blog is a single person’s thoughts, observations and ideas. Inside companies, these applications can be tools for the ongoing recording of things that fall outside the deadlines and process-oriented activities that make up the day. Making them public is a great way to share these contributions with other employees and establish your record of what’s happening. If only a few key people blogged inside a company, there will be value in that.
The article raises many interesting issues, but the question remains if we should take it all behind walls. It is quite true that Blogs do not require a large scale adoption, It will take justa few catalysts to start interesting corporate blogs, but if you want your employees to excell, to put effort into this Social Environment you have to offer them a worldwide stage. Have them interact with the world instead of limiting them to peers.
From a knowledge point of view we really have to consider which information really is actually a corporate asset. Is it knowledge on technology (which probably is out there on the web anyway) or is it about privacy, personal data and sensitive information about competitors or clients?
When you carefully look around in your company you might find these catalysts; passionate people who engage and delight the crowd. These thoughtleaders and visionaries inside your company probably have their own blogs, as they will be sharing their passion, having a global stage to build their reputation. Do we really want to confine them inside corporate walled gardens? Will they combine the pursuit of their personal passion and delight the corporate crowd? You will undoubtedly find out they will put more effort in personal blogging than in corporate blogging if we rigidly put our Corporate Social Network behind firewalls.
The current Social Networking trends focus on aggregation, pulling together updates from a variety of media into a single lifestream. If I look at my Plaxo Pulse stream for instance puts my twitter messages and my blogposts into a single update stream which is visible for all my connections. The next challenge will be to move from this information convergence to information divergence. This divergence will allow me, as a blogger, to write one passionate article and distribute it to the medium I chose and the audience I choose. This divergence will even more require personal and professional digital presence to blend, calling for better identity management and privacy measurements. In short, getting into the Magic Quadrant of Corporate Social Networking will not be about more features, but about smart blending of corporate and private digital identities.
This afternoon I was honored to give a masterclass at the Christian University of Applied Sciences in Ede, the CHE, on the future of Education. In this masterclass I gave an overview of new technology, such as virtual worlds and augmented reality and how it will change the future of education.
To most readers of this blog, Virtual Worlds aren't new anymore, but it was too the students, future teachers. To get into the right frameset I started off with the famous video "Did you know - Shift Happens" by Karl Fish. It's always a good teaser to get the imagination going.
I think it is very important to future teachers to know what new technology is out there. I used to be one. When I was teaching, they always told me my students could not focus for 1 hour and you had to temporize your classes. Same happens when you get to church. Sermons shouldn't last too long, because our attention span is too short. Well, that's bull...
Kids growing up in these days grow up being used to massive amounts of information, able to handle multiple information streams simultaneously. It is all about captivating them, challenging them and that is what often lacks in schools. Children stop learning when they get to school. Once back home they turn on their computers and start learning again, according to some studies. I think these researchers have a point. We can use the games of Neopets or whichever kidworld and use it in the classroom to teach mathematics. We can use Google Earth and Rome Reborn to teach Geography and History instead of using old maps. These are the media they are used to.
Finalising my masterclass I zoomed in on Augmented Reality. One of the things I brought with me was the freshly published English version of "Me the Media" by ViNT, Sogeti's research institute. It was so fresh that the book I brought with me was actually the first to leave the office. I drove upto the office to pick it up as it had just been deliverd by the publisher today. It has an extensive section on Augmented Reality and it was fun to live demonstrate the cool tricks.
Last video I included in the presentation was on the Future of Education, an Italian video on Augmented reality which really show the opportunities this technology has in education.
It's time for Change was the slogan used by Barack Obama in his election campaign. And indeed the winds of change are shaking the dust world wide in the wake of the Credit Crunch. Not the change desired by Obama, but change it is. 24/7 Wall Street reports that at least 12 major US newspapers are set for closure in the coming months.
No one working in the media industry will ever have seen a year as bad as 2009 will be. The sharp slide in advertising began in 2008, and, based on the worsening economy, there is no reason to think that advertising will improve. Most Wall St. analysts have predicted a harsh year for the ad business. If the downturn deepens and unemployment rises above 10% most predictions about media, no matter how negative, will have been unexpectedly optimistic.
The outlook might not be this grim here in the Netherlands, but newspapers are having a hard time over here too. Just yesterday I blogged on how Google should compensate it's CO2 emission and touched the subject of lack of innovation in the american automotive industry. I guess this pretty much is the same story.
Traditional newspaper have stayed traditional. Most of the people working at newspapers are old timers, senior reporters and editors who have grown up with the traditional printing press and have switched to digital offset without really changing their process. Currently I see a lot of traditional publishers in the Netherlands clinging on to their outdated ways, trying to get a little bite of the mobile news market and a little bite of the online marketing chunk without wanting to change their own ways. This is lack of innovation.
The credit crunch might be a blessing to shake that old tree (and save a rainforest in the proces) and force the old newspaper industry to innovate. The world of news and information has changed with the arrivel of web 2.0, called the social web, or conversational web by others. The most heard argument in this case is that bloggers are not trained journalists and are living the fastlane without time to do thorough research and taking time to write indepth stories. Well, there are a few out there that prove you wrong. And if that's the case, why not skip daily newspapers and let the bloggers and televesion do the daily news and create more indepth research magazines?
On the website you'll find excerpts of the book in English. A complete English version will be published sometime februari / march. I'll keep you posted.
The industry has grown with the first revolution and survived the second, but now is crumbling under the onslaught of this third media revolution. It was bound to happen sooner or later, the crunch is just the final push to speed up this third media revolution. It neither is Obama nor the Credit Crunch but a driving force called innovation that is bringing about these winds of change.
We're an IT company and have a massive amount of laptops and desktops, but guess what, just two Macbooks. One specifically allocated to a client account and one we bought to get a good and working development environment to start programming for the iPhone. There are a few options to develop without a Mac environment, but they're a real hassle. Maybe I'll get into these later.
With only one environment to develop (and a few iphones) we started looking for emulators. Developing and testing Native Applications requires a bit more than developing web applications, so turning your browser into an iphone would help. And in this case we wound up in a strange place... ismashphone. Well, not really the strangest of places when developing for an iPhone, but the context wasn't exactly office material.
Back in may 2008 the ismashphone team reviewed the new Zinio magazine reader for iPhone. Zinio is a distributer for Technology magazines and they were offering a number of magazines to iPhone users for free, including magazines like Penthouse and Playboy, which do have some bits about gadgets and tech to let you have an excuse. The ismashphone team was kind enough to provide you with a hack so you can update your Firefix or Safari browser to act like an iPhone and be recognised as an iPhone.
It seems the hack still is pretty hot, also judging by the fact that the same article (Read MacWorld...) on the Aplletell blog is among the fastest rising blogs on Technorati this week.
In case you're looking for pictures go their, if you want to try out the hack inside your office for serious testing, here's the version without distracting piccies. The hack is rather easy and gives webmasters an easy tool to check how their websites look when visited by an iPhone. Here's the 7 steps to walk through:
The Issue: With a few steps you'll be able to turn your computer's Mozilla Firefox into an iPhone browser. This is similar to our post on turning your computer's Safari browser into an iPhone browser.
Why? To access iPhone only websites with your Firefox browser in order to preview them, or to obtain data from iPhone mobile-web targeted sites.
1. Open your Mozilla Firefox browser
2. In the URL bar, enter "about:config"
In my post yesterday I briefly mentioned a potential danger of social webdesign. But what exactly is social webdesign?
Social webdesign is not about website builders building websites for social networks. Well, not entirely. Social Webdesign is more than putting together a social network, making a site design and putting bits of code into the website. Social Webdesign is about the features on these websites that create communities and addiction.
It's actually about psychologists designing mechanisms that get you hooked, that pull you in hook, line and sinker untill you can't get out anymore.
From a graphical design point of view you could argue that the Facebook design is rather boring, maybe even unattractive. From a technical design point of view you may fuzz about their ecosystem and from an Interaction Design point of view you may freckle over the layout of the interface, but looking at it from a Social Webdesign point of view, it's a different ball park. Social Webdesign is about what makes Facebook work, about the widgets, the features that have attracted millions of users almost overnight.
Social webdesign works around several key principles, which we at Sogeti have neatly called S.O.C.I.A.L;
There's a side to social webdesign though. Yesterday I blogged a little on how Authority based filtering for example can bring about the danger of creating an elite, a dominant opinion in which new and refreshing ideas are taken out of the equasion.
First class social webdesign can have the power to play the masses. It can ignite emergent behaviour and lead groups of people into doing things they would normally not do individually (or are even strongly opposed to). It may well bring about the tools to mass manipulate.
Further reading tip:
One site you might want to check out is Joshua Porter's blog called Bokardo. It is a blog about interface design for social web sites and applications, about recommendation systems, identity, ratings, privacy, comments, profiles, tags, reputation, sharing, as well as the social psychology underlying our motivation to use (or not use) these things.
Through email I received a christmas teaser from Twinity
Also in the World of Entropia things are getting dressed up for christmas. In the Entropia Forum (clothing section) I found a number of christmas pants, jackets and hats.
No doubt christmas will be celebrated in more worlds. Please send your images to veejay [at] mindblizzard [dot] com to have your christmas posted here and a link to your site.
Today I finally had some time again to socialize with my Real Life colleagues and especially liked the conversation I had with a colleague, Simon Boorsma, on Oracle Application Express Mashups. He had just returned from San Francisco where he gave a pitch at the My Open World event on september 22nd.
Session 3: Apex Mashup – Simon Boorsma
One of the advantages of APEX is that it’s easy to integrate third party functionalities like mashups. A mashup is obtained collecting data from different sources and combining them into a unique result, like for example google news does.In this session, Simon Boorsma showed us nice examples of mashup integration with APEX. He uses google maps and amazon store APIs to collect information into an APEX page. He also made an example of using dapper to get flickr photos.
from: Oracle Apex Notebook
To my memory, Oracle has always been a solid database giant and somewhat has the image of being tied in with legacy systems. That's an unfair image, because it is often the client using Oracle stuff that doesn't upgrade. Oracle were on top of the competition in the 80's and build stuff that lasts. They've moved on, but some clients haven't. Especially the Oracle e-suite is
looking quite potential and now we're moving into the Mashup zone with Apex.
Yesterday I visited the 3rd Eduverse Symposium in Amsterdam, which Sogeti Netherlands kindly sponsored. Probably one of the highlights of the long and intensive day was Philip Rosedale's talk on his dreams for Second Life.
Phil's speech started with his initial dreams for Second Life, a lush green forest world -a sort of Utopian Garden of Eden - and how it evolved to what it is right now. The good thing about stepping down as CEO from Linden Lab is, according to Phil, that he nw once again has time to work on his dreams, one of them is to bring SecondLife to the 3rd world.
His speech was passionate about how virtual worlds are easier to use as an interface to knowledge than the worldwide web. He admitted it was a troublesome experience to get to know Second Life and people would have to go through extreme pains for 7 or 8 hours to try and understand how to navigate the world, but... That's far less than the time it would take to teach a n00b how the internet works.
His second argument was that virtual worlds are cross-cultural and do not stop at language barriers whereas the internet has difficulties to overcome these barriers as it needs you to understand the language of the page to be able to navigate and understand the contents .
VINT is Sogeti Group's New Technology Research Institute, founded as the Verkennings Instituut Nieuwe Technologie in the Netherlands in 1994. Currently VINT has offices in Amsterdam, Paris, Stockholm and Washington.
"Me the Media " investigates the exciting development of web media. It envisages a future of hyper-individualization, of ICTainment on top of ICTechnology, and of meaningful web conversations between organizations, customers and employees. Somewhere in the book you run into a picture of yours truly, both avatar and Real Life and referral to the MindBlizzard blog. On the Me The Media website you'll find a short outline of the book in English as well.
To get more info on the novel, sign up for the book presentation at the Vint Quarterly Technology Update in 't Spant in Bussum on May 13th.
Today's last expedition led me to te Wipro Innovation Isle (I guess it they'd love to abbreviate it to Wii - but that one's already taken in SL). For people working in the IT Services a well known name as it is one of India's giants when it comes to IT services.
"Wipro Tech is an information technology service company established in India in 1980. It is the global IT services arm of Wipro Limited (in operation since 1945, incorporated 1946). It is headquartered in Bangalore and is the third largest IT services company in India. It has more than 79,832 employees as of December 2007, including its business process outsourcing (BPO) arm which it acquired in 2002. Wipro Technologies has over 300 customers across U.S., Europe and Japan including 50 of the Fortune 500 companies." (Wikipedia)
Near the end of 2007 there were speculations of Wipro Technologies considering to take over Capgemini and thus Sogeti as well, but in the end it was a no show. The corporate website puts focus on 'applied innovation';
"At Wipro we have fine-tuned the science of viewing innovation through the lens of practicality to design unique solutions for end customers. Applied Innovation is the ability to infuse newer ideas and newer ways of doing things into all parts of the organization, and improve business outcomes, often without major disruptive change. It is a 360-degree business approach covering process, delivery, business and technology Innovations that help Wipro to work
collaboratively with clients for cost take-outs, speed to market and new business opportunities."
It is this theme that is the starting point for the Wipro presence in Second Life, which looks to be in the first stage of the experiment. It is a 3 sim cluster, of which only one is fully build, one only holding an expo stand and an empty sim.
Applied Innovation is the ability to infuse newer ideas and newer ways of doing things into all parts of the organization, and I can well imagine this applies to their Second Life expedition as well. I do believe we have to bring Virtual Worlds (newer ways) beyond the average marketing department (i.e. into all parts of the organization). The question remains how to do this.
Let's see if Wipro can bring the answer. The sim is filled with an assorted array of buildings, with two larger builds standing out. The first of these is the 'Learning Center' and is shaped a little like the Sydney Opera (not really, buyt you can see which building I'm referring to).
Please reread the lines on the triple sim: "One build, one half build, one empty." This is pretty much the case with the Learning Center as well. It holds two auditoria, and right outside there's an amphitheater. Also, at the second level it has several empty officerooms.
Further onto the campus we see various buildings, like a 'Client Engagement' building, a library and a datacenter each filled with several workstations / cubicles.
Finally I arrived at the second large building, a four storey square concrete office block which looked a little cramped when I walked into the hall and up the staircase. It made me wonder how much of the build is actually shaped like their real life offices... This building is labelled 'Offshore Development Center' and that is what interests me, what would bring innovation to the virtual workspace.
I was a little disappointed though when there were more rooms with workstations, and more and more. But no show. One of the great benefits I see for Virtual Worlds is what they potentially can do for the offshoring industry, as offshoring projects often require a lot of attention; extra management, extra communication, extra code checking etcetera and in the virtual workspace where you can collaborate while both in offshore and rightshore location would greatly aid this process.
Yet I'm fully aware of the limitations Second Life has in this regard. There's no real integration with development suites or management tools. Then there's always the issue of security. I can't really blame Wipro for not finding the solution for Second Life, but I had hoped for more info, more ideas.
The last redundancy in the sim was when I moved from the cantine inside the ODC to 'the Glacier', a cafe on the campus.
As for the build itself, I find it of average quality. It is a melee of textures (a lot of default SL texturing) and styles. As I said, I'm under the impression that part of it is based upon real life buildings, so maybe they had to work with what they had. Otherwise, I'd say the triple auditorium, the cramped staircases etcetera don't really utilise the 3D-ness of a virtual environment.
Blue Note is one of the well known Jazz labels in the world. Now it's Big Blue that starts to Jam. Last week I received an email by IBM's Rick Reesen with an update on Jazz, Open Sim and lots of other stuff. I never got round to blogging it , but as IBM's "Power Up" has been hitting the blogoshpere in the past days I'm going out of sync.
The most blogged IBM event was the launch of "Power Up - the Game" which basically is a game about powering up, i.e. energy.
Power up is an educational world, named Helios (Greek for Sun - no competition intented probably) for teens with a focus on energy and climate Al-Gorish hypes. Teens can explore and work in this virtual plant to save the us all from disaster.
A more interesting release though was the opening of Jazz which basically is a software development project, which was publically announced at January 14:
ARMONK, NY - 14 Jan 2008: IBM (NYSE: IBM) today unveiled new software and research innovations aimed at improving the way employees across an organization collaborate in a globally integrated enterprise.
The challenges of globalization are forcing companies to become more nimble, using an increasingly geographically-dispersed and virtual workforce to remain competitive. In the world of software development, this means 24x7 collaboration with specialized teams around the globe to pick up where another left off. IBM is also examining
how virtual worlds can help software development teams break down the barriers caused by globalization.
IBM is announcing it is opening up its development platform based on Web 2.0 technologies for developers to collaborate and contribute to software under development at www.Jazz.net. Jazz.net is an open, commercial community designed to help companies globally and transparently collaborate on the development of Jazz-based technology.
More on Jazz (such as a promo) can be found in Second Life on IBM's codestation.
IBM's involvement in the Metaverse:
Somehow I keep running into IBM-ers working with virtual worlds in some way or the other. It doesn't matter if it's a Sogeti event or a VW Seminar or Symposium, but they're always there... and they're evangelising the metaverse. Some have asked me if I know what their budget is. Somewhere I picked up a figure of 100 million USD, but no doubt it's huge.
The IBM SL community holds about 6.000 members, which is impressive. What I've learned though is that only a few of these are paid to explore the metaverse and that the vast majority consists of enthusiasts which contribute in their spare time, which puts it all into perspective. For companies like mine (Sogeti) or Capgemini, most of the virtual world attention and development is still a spare time excercise of enthusiasts trying to figure out ways for their employers to coin in, or find meaningfull use of metaverses. Taking in the total population of IBM worldwide, one might even say that Sogeti's community in Second Life is even bigger (percentage wise) with over 90 members in a total of 3.000 employees in the Netherlands. Alas we don't have full time funding as ABN Amro has had over the past year.
One last thing that is nagging me about the email I received is the mention of the UgoTrade blog as a reference. I've been reading Tish's blog over the past year with great pleasure as she really writes good indepth stories on technology in Virtual Worlds. But when companies like IBM start to use it as a base of reference for their work in VW's I'm getting a wee bit hesitant.
Tish, please don't turn into a corporate blogger....
Today's world is getting more complex by the minute. Terms like Information Overload have been buzzing around for many years now, but are getting more and more quantified off late.
Scientific research has shown that we've actually started to walk 10% faster since we've fully adapted email and internet and your average kind of NY Times reader (which basically is 'old media') is getting more information a week than a person in the 1800's would have access to in his whole lifetime. The amount of information on the net doubles about every year and we've produced more content in the last year than we've done in the past 5,000 years in total.
Product and Information cycles alike are growing shorter and shorter. It's like when you buy a computer, you'll find yourself with an outdated model as soon as you leave the store. Pretty much the same goes for information. As soon as you're in year 4 of your education, there's a good chance everything you've learned in year one is outdated. Students have to juggle such vast amounts of information these days that in a lot of cases it's getting impossible to learn facts. Virtual Worlds can play an important role in modelling these complex issues
VeeJay Burns, a.k.a. Johan Vermij (Networked Virtual Environments consultant for Sogeti) and David van Gent (IBM Learning Consultant) will be hosting the symoposium which managed to secure an impressive list of speakers like:
Main force behind getting this incredible lineup is Eduverse founder Robert Sheperd (a.k.a. Ollie Kubrick) and the rest of the Eduverse team, including Frank Husmann (Up the Vortex), Bart Bockhoudt (Dutch Xchange), Jeroen Franse (Vesuvius Group) and little old me.
The symposium will be held in RL Amsterdam and various SL locations (to be announced). More info and complete programme on the Eduverse website here.
This saturday I attended (and spoke) at the first Sogeti Engineering World conference, an engineering event for software engineers with various technology updates and workshops.
Today's keynote speaker was IBM's Scott W. Ambler, the practiseleader in Agile Software Development. His presentation about an agile approach to developing software and projects was very inspiring, though at times a little blunt. On the other hand, that made his points come across very well. Here are some oneliners I picked up:
"Most software development is based upon false standards and don't work that well."
You have to step back sometimes and observe what works and doesn't work, rather than just do what we've been told what work"."
"Agile challenges the religion of traditional software development"
"Business isn't really interested in 'on time' and 'on budget' projects. Yet they ask for it in the contracts because they have so little faith in the software community."
"RfP's with long lists of requirements are meant to minimize financial risk, but do the opposite: They increase risk. 45% of development generally goes to functionality that's never used at all."
"The best timeframe for development iterations are usually 1 to 4 weeks. A 2-week iteration works best for its short feedback cycle."
A question from the audience: "How much time do you take between iterations?" "I usually call it the weekend."
"We don't want to have repeatable processes, we want repeatable results. Nobody cares how you do it if you do it over and over again."
"The worst possible time to do testing is at the end of a development phase."
"Testers don't need a set of specs, they need to break the system. The defects are your requirements."
"Every product works on powerpoint slides, but the longer you wait with actually starting coding, the bigger your risks are."
"At the beginning of the project we write big documents, but in the end when things go wrong we throw them out the window and we solve the problem. So why bother to write stuff that nobody uses anyway?"
After the Ambler's Keynote there were three technology update sessions with our partners Microsoft (on silverlight, linq, wpf etcetera) , IBM (on SOA Service Oriented Architecture and there Websphere and BPM solutions) and Oracle.
The afternoon was filled with break out sessions by Sogeti on various expert technologies, such as Microsoft, Security, Oracle and Java and yours truly did a presentation on Second Life again.
The first edition of the Sogeti Engineering World ended with a very interesting presentation by Playlogic, a Dutch gamemanufacturer on how the production of a game looks like and how they are starting to approach this in an agile fashion as well to make their development a lot more effective (whereas the old approach was very much like traditional software development)
I got pointed towards a video on YouTube about the vBusiness Expo. This will be an event about the Virtual Workspace, working in a virtual environment. The video states that there are over 200 companies working in Second Life right now. At 1.09 minutes you'll see Sogeti logo fly by...
I*t doesn't really say who uploaded the vid, except "posted by vBusiness" but I think I recognise Nick Wilson's (Clever Zebra, ex Metaversed) voice there.
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.
Earlier this evening I was present at the Sogeti Netherlands Kick Off party 2008 in the Heineken Music Hall. Over 2000 colleagues filled the hall to the max.
This years' kick off was titled Sogeti 2.0 and the keywords 'innovation' and 'participation'. Sogeti Netherlands is one of the leading IT companies in the Netherlands, so off course we used lots of web 2.0 stuff in the presentations. First of all, Sogeti CEO Jeroen Versteeg started the kick off from Second Life.
Contrary to previous years the CEO speech was not prepared in advance but was user generated as colleagues were asked not to turn off their phones but instead sms their topics for the keynote which generated the tagcloud below:
Menno van Doorn and Sander Duivestein of the Sogeti VINT research institute lifeblogged the event at the Vint.Sogeti blog (in Dutch) and a group of 32 Young Professionals who are currently at the Ohio University Without Boundaries (who also have a very strong SL presence) were plugged in through webstream and Second Life.
One of the fact-parts of the show was the financial and performance speech. We've had a great year and Sogeti Netherlands has grown 18% in 2007, outperforming every other Sogeti and Capgemini SA groupmembers by miles.
Right after closing the show, CEO Jeroen Versteeg took some time to chat with the Young Professionals in Second Life.
That was about the last line of my previous blogpost. And it does. One of the most promising new startups is Clever Zebra, an initiative by master builder Lordfly Digeridoo and the guys from Metaversed and others (among which a bit of Sogeti).
But aside from this promise, there is something funny going on which makes me think the SLord moves in mysterious ways:
Although the Clever Zebra project has my sincere sympathy, there's a thing nagging me, and that's Metaversed. Early 2007 57 Miles was blogging like crazy on the Metaverse, doing great stuff and turned it into a business. A sponsored blog with sponsored events. That's when trouble came to town. First there was a break-up with Prokofy Neva on the Second Rant, and now Metaversed is going down to provide space for Clever Zebra. I wonder how the Metaversed Sponsors will feel about this. What will happen to the MMI, the Metanomics and the Virtual Business Innovators. Projects like the Grid Safari and the Geek Meets weren't long lived either.
Onders Skall writes:
How can you close Metaversed?
We covered business in virtual worlds like nobody else. There wasn't a better place to go for coverage of this stuff. We just loved it.
Along the way Nick and I compiled a huge amount of information about business in virtual worlds. We studied the phenomenon like few have ever had the opportunity to, and our imaginations were constantly ignited. More and
more of our days were spent discussing what could and should be done in virtual worlds to help business. We began designing plans to change things and make them better.
We soon realized that we'd rather create products people want to talk about instead of talking about products others were creating. The thing is, you can't often make things happen by telling stories. You make things happen by...
well... going out and making them happen. So while we came across as much news and met as many incredible people as we had before, news reportage became an afterthought. We were chasing a dream: bringing change to the virtual world.
I can agree on this, but why tear down Metaversed? It isn't too smart to burn all your bridges before you've crossed to the other side. A whole lot of tantrum is created now about the Clever Zebra start up and the Metaversed blog has died a slow death over the past months. Fortunately, the guys over at Metaversed also see this:
Why part with a popular brand?
Yes, Metaversed became a beloved brand. That's why we had to close it. Without publishing regular news, it was becoming a shadow of its former self. There's nothing worse than a brand that was once great and has lost its shine. If it's a name to be remembered, it should be remembered as something great.
Some feel we could have kept the name and switched the business model. The problem with doing something like that, though, is that it's a bit disrespectful of the readers. Metaversed is a blog about business in virtual worlds. If it suddenly becomes an open-source virtual world company, well, it's no longer the same company. We'd by lying if we said it was, and we respect our readers far too much to do something like that.
Much of the same is going on at 3PointD, a former leader in virtual world news, where Mark Wallace is letting the blog beed to death posting Glitchy Links for months now without blogging anything usefull and working on a gigantic new start up, Wello Horld with metaverse guru Jerry Paffendorff. His sponsor, Electric Sheep Company probably can't be bothered at this time though as they seem to be focussing on a whole new industry according to the word on the street.
The word on the street is that the Sheep are (co-) developing a new platform which will be a true adult world (i.e. Porn, XXX). I wonder what CBS and the producers of CSI:NY will think of this. Would they be willing to be associated with a company that's in the porn industry?
Now what is it with these companies in changing their objectives? Is it short term profits, or are they just Metaversal Cowboys that jump on every opportunity?
It's the season to be jolly.... lalalalala something.
Anyway, as the first tiny snowflakes are falling outside, it's time to get into that white christmas mood in Second Life as well.
This afternoon, or early US morning the Lindens woke up with adrenaline rushing throuh their veins as the were in for a good snowfight. Within the space of several minutes 5 sims filled up with residents waiting to snowball the Lindens.
Jolly good ! Can't take life too serious all the time.
Last but not least, snow's starting to fall at the Sogeti Netherlands island as well:
In my previous post I already did some forecasting on 2008 and 2009 in terms of where the NVE industry is going. Today, Virtual World News (the guys from the VW Conferences) released a survey on the trends for 2008. In this survey some 45 industry leaders participated.
For a good overview of the contents of the 36 page whitepaper visit Fleeep's blog. My general observation is that each of the respondents is very positive about the developments of the industry. 2008 will see explosion this, massive growth that and so on. Since the majority of the respondents are either from MDC's (Metaverse Development Company) or from MSP's (Metaverse Service Provider) this positive view can be expected. I'm not sure it's fully safe to base your investment plan on their opinion.
The questionairre is simple, it's not a long list to pick and choose, but 5 open questions which makes it possible for all of us (not among the 45 chosen) to ponder them ourselves. The questions are:
Okay, past bedtime now, the other questions will have to wait.
Christmas is coming up. Which means a time to celebrate -and in the process destroy the environment by our outrageous need to light stuff up and cut down millions of trees. Fortunately our virtual Christmas setup at Sogeti Island doesn't need trees to be cut down, we just rez them.
It's been a fun year and we wanna have some fun, so we're putting up a Christmas Party at the Sogeti Island on Saturday December 22, starting at 1 PM PDT (22.00 GMT+1).
Tonight's DJ will be our Sogeti colleague Metsel Gemini, who's a regular DJ at the Fix.
Be sure to party and get your free Christmas outfit!
Yesterday's speaker was Adjiedj Bakas, one of Europes Megatrendwatchers who gave us a view into the future. He adressed some 9 megatrends ranging from a 'world without oil' to a 'shift in power'. Here are just a few thoughts from that presentation:
One of the trends we're going to see in the near future is a shift in balance. Geographical nations will change into new communities. National identity will shift to corporate identity as we will see the growth of some stellar companies. In many ways this trend reminds me of the dystopian society of Gibson's Neuromancer.
Technology drives us forward, be it for good or bad. The world has changed through technology:
It is sold to us as extra service while the business actually crowdsources its workload to the consumer. We are getting prosumers.
Under pressure, everything becomes liquid. Although we've only used about a quarter of our oil reserves yet, we do have an energy and environmental problem. We'll see new technology in the very near future that will reduce energy consumption.
Do not underestimate the power of the Asian world. Just being statistical: China has more high-IQ kids than the US has kids in total. For every 20 kids born in the USA, about 250 are born in China and 350 in India. Do not overestimate the power of China either: Up till the industrial revelution, China has always been good for about 30% of the world economy. They just had a dip and are working their way back to where they belong. Yet in these times, when China had 30% of the world economy, the Netherlands still managed to have its Golden Age. We just have to do the right things.
A random thought (I forgot which trend it belonged to)
If you read the New York Times you'll get more information in a week than the average guy got in his entire lifetime in the 18th century. This year we're producing about 1.5 exabytes of information, which is more than we've done in the past 5,000 years.
This week the island of Sogeti Netherlands removed the access restrictions. We've been working on the final release of the island after a year of exploring the metaverse and tinkering in a sandbox. We've decided to go functional and not provide a themepark for metaversalists. So don't expect gadgets and funrides.
It will take us some time to get it all finished, we still need to work out some details, but untill then you're welcome to enjoy a WindLight sunset at our beach.
SLURL: http://slurl.com/secondlife/Sogeti%20Netherlands/128/128/0, and to the north you'll find Sogeti Sweden, also under construction, but open for a good chat.
"Power to the Community" was the title of one of the main sessions prior to Rod Beckstrom's presentation on the Starfish and the Spider at the "From Web 2.0 to Enterprise 2.0" conference in Utrecht last wednesday.
I liked this presentation, not because Patrick Savalle is a Sogeti colleague, but I like his way of thinking. It was what you could call a boardroom wakeup call. The essence of the presentation was moving the crowd from version 1.0 to 2.0.
One of the things to churn on was explaining the Peter Principle which often occurs in centralized organisations (the spiders) which pionts out that a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence.
His second thought focussed on emergent behaviour; In a crowd we all do things we wouldn't do as individuals. We've all been suckered into buying things we don't need by early marketing guru's like Edward Bernays who laid the foundations of mass manipulation and crowd control.
His final thought was called Social (web-) Design. When looking at social networking sites you have to find what makes these things attractive. How do you build communities? It's in little things, it's in poking, it's in listing events, in smilies, profile pictures or tweets: all these little things are a frameset in which the crowd interacts and grows into a collective community. This collective community will eventually return to emergent behaviour so we have to be carefull. Edward Bernays, much like his uncle Sigmund Freud, wasn't all that happy with what he did to humanity. Maybe in 20 years we'll have a generation of social webdesigners looking back at how they manipulated the masses.
In my opinion that's a pretty spooky thought. Walk along that path and we might even end up with Asimov's famous Psychohistory;
The basis of psychohistory is the idea that, while the actions of a particular individual could not be foreseen, the laws of statistics could be applied to large groups of people and used to predict the general flow of future events. Asimov used the analogy of a gas: in a gas, the motion of a single molecule is very difficult to predict, but the mass action of the gas can be predicted to a high level of accuracy - known in physics as the Kinetic Theory. Asimov applied this concept to the population of the fictional Galactic Empire, which numbered in a quintillion. The character responsible for the science's creation, Hari Seldon, established two postulates:
So my question to Patrick would be: Shouldn't the title be "Take power from the community" instead of "give power to"?
When I logged in yesterday I received a landmark and notecard saying to come and see the new and improved Sogeti office in Second Life. Someone had copied our auditorium and added five new levels to it.
We haven't been very particular about people on our island, but we've primarily used it for internal purposes. The auditorium was a temporary build I put up in april to facilitate a number of workshops, the rest of the island was mainly sandbox. To give the builder some credit, it doesn't look that bad.
UPDATE: The numbers in this blog are old. There will be an update shortly.
This blogentry was posted first at the Virtual World blog powered by Sogeti Sweden. As it is a new blog I gave an outline of the market we're dealing with. Several bits and bytes have appeared on this blog before - VeeJay
It's a brave new world out there, the question is which world? We've seen the industry of virtual worlds explode in this past year with billions of dollars of capital funding, takeovers and corporate builds. Over the past year Second Life has drawn more media attention than any other virtual world, respectively positive and then later ill-informed negative publicity has driven the world of Second Life into a hype cycle (as defined by Gartner).
There's more to it though. There's not only a brave new world out there, it's an entire universe. It was also Gartner who did a short report on virtual worlds in december 2006 and introduced the term NVE, Networked Virtual Environments as an overal term for the industry, their definition:
An NVE is an online platform in which participants are immersed in a three-dimensional representation of a virtual space. Other, analogous, terms for
NVEs in the market are metaverses and virtual worlds.
It's not a 100% definition as the industry also includes 2D spaces. I'd like to use it as a term for the entire universe whereas I would reserve the usage of the metaverse for a specific section in the industry.
A very good kick off was given at the Virtual World Conference in San Jose (10-11 October 2007) by Christian Renaud. He put in some good effort to come up with a list of about 75 Virtual Worlds with subscription numbers.
This subscription pie is based on the number of subscriptions per virtual world. Adding up to a grand total of 465.000.000 registered users. Wow, that's huge. That's the entire population of North America, or the entire population of Western Europe. And this is not even counting the Asian (Ralph Koster estimates the number to be close to 2000!).
This might be an unbelievable number. We have to put that into perspective. People do sign up a lot, then drop out. The current number of registered users in Second Life is about 9.2 million of which close to 2 million are active. Christian Renaud estimates the total number of active virtual world residents to be close to 50 million. Still, the number of signups is impressive. Let's take a look at the Social Network list on Wikipedia; it gives a list of 85 community sites totalling 1 billion registered users. Like web 2.0 sites, we do travel a lot. We sign up, play around and then move to the other world / site. And there's people like me. I'm registered at about 15 Virtual Worlds.
This is the division of the NVE's I'd like to make
A quick and easy split up is to say we use these worlds for social activities (i.e. Social Network Worlds) and for personal recreation (online gaming). But we also start to use these worlds for business purposes: online meetings, training, simulation, promotion, recruitment etcetera. Where does the business fit in? There's a number of platforms out there that could be considered as being typical business environments. Like Qwaq with office applications and Forterra which focusses on training and simulation. And then there are the intraverses. These have a business oriëntation as well. The chart below shows the division by usage focus. There is business on Second Life, but Second Life is not focussed on business.
Each world has its own culture and its own demographics. The chart below gives an overview of agegroups. It's not a demographic of the VW residents but an overview of worlds focussing on a specific agegroup. Teen Worlds are growing fast in the sector. There's no world yet that has a focus on elderly people yet. The virtual residents are generally young people. But there will be a market for elderly people, I'm sure. One of the problems of a lot of elderly people is a lack of social contact. We'll be seeing our first virtual elderly home in a few years time.
In a virtual world there probably is no discrimination by gender. For example. Construction is an industry in which we usually find very few women. Perhaps it's prejudice, but the genereal thought is that women can't carry a load of bricks. Physical inhibitions don't count in virtual worlds. Another point is that we use avatars, representations, choosing whichever form we like. I know enough men dressing as women or vice versa in Second Life. Likewise, most worlds are open to both man and women without specifically aiming at a gender. There are a number of worlds however that are specifically targeted at teen girls. I've called them Girl Worlds. They're usually running on an extraverse, being brand driven. Examples of these are
Here's a chart of the marketshare these worlds have:
Finally, it's an enormously varied landscape. Different cultures, people and habits. A wide variety of engines are used to drive these worlds. Some are java-based, some are desktop applications that connect to grids and some are using streaming technology. It's almost impossible to try and define these worlds, let alone find ways for unified communications, interoperability and portability for the sector.
This afternoon I spent over an hour on the phone with Chritian Renaud, Chief Metaversal Bigshot at Cisco. Yes, that's right on the phone.... media 1.0 so to say. As I was on a sogeti-issued IBM T43 laptop I couldn't get Second Life to work (Ian please tell me this can be fixed) and also Skype failed.
After a good personal update (the us, timezone issues, busy schedules, kids, traffic jams, Prokofy Neva and stuff) we got down to business discussing the Metaverse and one of the VW Conference's buzzwords interoperability.
It remains hard to define the industry of NVE's, Networked Virtual Environments or virtual worlds. There's a mega grey area. You just can't categorize it straightforwardly. And yet we're trying. I'm doing so, Nick Wilson over at Metaversed is doing so, Christian is doing so and KZero is attempting much of the same.
It gets even harder when you get to discussing interoperability and some sort of unified communications or standardisation between these worlds. There's a few worlds out there that have a positive attitude towards the initiative, but others don't (see this post). What exactly is interoperability? Do we just throw all virtual worlds into a blender, find a common denominator, standardise it and run the risk of us all walking around in milky white avatars with jelly-green shirts and denying us all to use the potential of individual platforms?
Christian did quite a good blog on this over at Cisco: "Ode to Interoperability" It's truth, perhaps not the whole truth. It's a discussion. We're not there yet. What it all boils down to is that one of the key-elements will be Identity Management on the web. Christian tried to voice this in his piece, much of the same, not for virtual worlds, but for everyday web usage I run into every day, just like in my previous blogpost. I do have some thoughts to add to this discussion, but that'll have to wait. Bedtime now.
Tonight I was adding some books to my Visual Bookshelf on Facebook. Right now the number of books on my shelf is 229. I stopped when I added David Baldacci's "The Collectors" and reflected some on my web 2.0 lifeystyle.
The thing is, I remember this isn't the first time I'm doing this. I remember me making a list of my CD's and Books in WordPerfect 5.2 to keep track of my stuff after I'd lend it to friends (some stuff didn't return-and some still doesn't).
Later I entered my CD's into CD-Collector, my DVD's into MovieCollector (both by the Dutch Collectors.com). That was fun. It connected with several online bookshops, like Amazon and it downloaded covers, synopsis and reviews.
The thing is, I don't wanna do this over and over again. I've been talking with a Sogeti colleague of mine on this yesterday. We talked about the future of the web. One of the things is that NOW we have customized content. We choose what we want, what we like. We decide what gets in and what gets out. The next step will be customized functionality. We choose which functionality we want to have at the time we need it. It's basically cloud computing.
Today I discussed Tribal Migration with another (Sogeti) colleague. People move from site to site. Let's join MSN spaces, it let's you do stuff. Then move to Hyves as it lets you do more stuff, now we all migrate to Facebook as it provides even more functionality. We're sitehoppers, application addicts.
We migrate, but our content doesn't. Our account doesn't and in the mean time all our stuff (the personal info we registered and the content we've added) stays put. Our stuff is all over the web. This is soooooooo wrong. I just want one single point of entry for the web. I want to register with one site folks. And I want functionality when I need it.
None of the aforementioned applications; Word Perfect, MovieCollector and Facebook's bookshelf did for me what it has to do eventually: create a single complete database with portable content. I have to go to enormous lengths to get a complete database of my stuff. I've got about 500 CD's, 200 vhs/dvd's and 30 meters of bookshelf filled to the brim (yeah I'm a bookworm). What the killer app has to do for me is make it easy. Be smart, be intelligent. Now I've got an API with Amazon and I have to choose which book I've read. I've got to choose the edition. No, just give me a barcode scanner and let me scan my books, you fill in the details...
The second thing it needs to do for me is give me a standardised output file. Give me an xml file which I can upload to the next application. For instance, I'd like to have my collection of books insured. If it can't be done in a single app, then at least let me upload it. The house burns down, I can tell the insurance company which books I owned and they can cover for the damage.
I must admit I just discovered that Collectors.com added a barcode scanning feature... Now add portability and I'm back as customer ;)
During April and May Sogeti Netherlands has organised a series of seven workshops on Second Life for its employees and customers. Damanios Thetan from Damanicorp, an experienced and well known content creator explained how building and scripting worked in several workshops on advanced building.
Last tuesday a new episode was written as Damanios and yours truly VeeJay Burns gave an introduction to Second Life for a group of 120 Sogeti employees (including C-Level) and clients.
VeeJay gave a historic overview passing web 1.0 to web 2.0 and the current evolution in web 3D whereas Damanios provided the technical details on building.
Worldwide IT companies such as Sogeti, Cap Gemini and Logica CMG are slow to establish real presence in Second Life.
Sogeti Netherlands is the first to enter SL, but mainly uses the island as an internal playground. No customer orientation yet.
Cap Gemini has several plans that appear to be dead end streets due to lack of management commitment. Logica CMG is fortunate to have a creative builder who started the Logica SIM by private intiative. Well, creativity to a certain extent of course, the regular elements of auditorium, playground and infocorner are there, no surprising new features.