Thursday, February 26, 2009

Crowdsourced Innovation

Innovation is becoming more and more of a buzzword these days, sort of a magical formula to overcome global crisis. Long before the crisis though, the Dutch Government has launched an Innovation Platform that was to propose ideas on how to propel the Dutch economy and expertise. The first presentation of this platform is due on March 11th.

However, the Innovation Platform is Government appointed and merely takes suggestions into consideration, it does not let YOU contribute. To cure this, a group of citizens has started the "Burger Innovatie Initiatief" (Citizen Innovation Initiative), a crowdsourcing experiment at "Beleid 2.0" in which YOU, the expert, can contribute your ideas on how to change our society and economy to prepare it for the future.

It might be a little out of place on this blog, but the ideas may impact the Dutch technology sector so it's probably not too farfetched as a lot of my readers are thoughtleaders from the Dutch technology scene I'd really like to invite you to make it happen!

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Dear IT Leadership: Please Lead

The twittersphere just tweeted an interesting blogpost to me, a cry for thoughtleadership and IT Governance by Reid Carlberg on the Model Metrics blog

Dear IT Leadership,

Today, your business needs you more than ever. The economy is weakening. Competition is intense.. You’ve helped it navigate technologies for years. But the business has immensely complex new challenges today. It needs your help to operate more efficiently. It needs your help to innovate in new ways.

In short – they need you to lead – but they need you to lead differently. They need you to lead them through radical change. What do I mean?

What does Reid Carlberg mean? Read the full article here.

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Friday, January 23, 2009

World Economy Crash

These days you might be willing to be everything but a bank, or at least stay away as far as possible from anything just remotely looking like money. The world is in bad shape as it is with the credit crunch and the recession taking its toll, but I am noticing a rise in bad tidings as well.

Security Plan leak

Todays latest news is that the security plans for the renovated Dutch Ministry of Finance have accidentaly thrown out with the garbage in december. The plans contain checklists of camerapositions and many more details. (source Nu.nl)

Credit Leak

Earlier this week, on tuesday, Ars Technica reported that millions of US Credit Card details may have fallen into the wrong hands.

...payment processor Heartland Payment Systems has potentially leaked up to 100 million credit and debit accounts into the black market. That number, if verified, would make this the largest data breach on record. It also means the United States has managed to set two national records in the same day. Guess which one folks are paying attention to? Awful convenient, that.

The giant leak may have been a result of a malware infestation, but according to the Ars Technica report, Heartland doesn't really know what really happened. That's hopefull (not!)

Russians launching attack on Dutch Internet Banking System

Another troublesome newsitem was Nu.nl reporting that the Russians are planning an attack on the Dutch Internet Banking system last monday.

According to the article Russian gangs would be increasing their activity in the Netherlands and other European countries according to Ultrascan, a financial research institute.

Ultrascan says the criminals are looking for ways to hack the banks systems, already probing the ABN Amro Wincor Nixdorf cash registers and are installing skimming software all over Europe as well as having developed software to launch an all out out attack on Internet Banking. According to the research institute the current operations appear to be unprecedented and urge banks to take precautionary measures.

Amidst a credit crunch and a recession where we see thousands of jobs disappear and billions of dollars evaporate due to bad banking, it is extremely sad to see leaks and security breeches on top of that. Our money is melting fast, too fast to handle for some. Maybe it's time to reconsider the gold standard?


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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Google Emissions Crunched as Kincaid gets it straight.

Half a forest was burned on the printing presses and a ton of CO2 blasted into orbit as the Times reported yesterday that "Two Google searches needed the same amount of energy to boil a kettle of water." Tons of blogs and newspapers worldwide dove at the news like hungry vultures to dig this story, like I did in the article "Plant a Tree and get a free search" yesterday.Google immediately denied the alledged amounts of pollution, but it was Techcrunch blogger Jason Kincaid who actually managed to get the facts straight.

The quintessence of the story run by the Times was young Harvard physicist Alex Wissner-Gross, who was quoted in saying “that performing two Google searches uses up as much energy as boiling the kettle for a cup of tea”. Kincaid received the article very sceptical and did some proper research.

"Unfortunately, according to Wissner-Gross he never said anything of the sort. For starters, he says he would never refer to any sort of measurement having to do with tea (he’d go with coffee). But his findings have nothing to do with Google as a company, either - they’re concerned with much more generalized stats, like your computer’s rate of CO2 production when you look at a
webpage.

Wissner-Gross says that the widely circulated 7 gram/search figure came from some other source (he’s not sure where), and notes that if you read the article carefully it only makes it sound like it’s from his data. He has confirmed that he did make some vague statements regarding Google, including “A Google search has a definite environmental impact” and “Google operates huge data centers around the world that consume a great deal of power”. But the “tea kettle” statistic that has been repeated ad nauseum simply isn’t his. After learning of the misleading story, Wissner-Gross says that he contacted The Times and was assured that it would be fixed by Sunday morning. No corrections have been made.?

Kincaid also states that this isn't the first time the Times has gone awry;

This isn’t the first time in recent memory that The Times has been mistaken about a tech story - in late November the newspaper incorrectly reported on a complicated and fictional Yahoo/Microsoft search arrangement.

I remember touching this topic earlier this morning as I wrote that the credit crunch was a healthy wind passing through the traditional media landscape;

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?

I think the research by Kincaid proves the old media wrong. It's bloggers who get the facts straight and not trained journalists with years and years of field experience and editors to double check.

In short, we all stand corrected. Google's footprint is down a little bit, but the main focus of my article yesterday still stands:

The only problem is.... Google and every other major player on the market is either American or China based, which means they don't really give a **** about the environment. Despite Al Gore and every greenie in the States, every environmental deal is blocked by the United States in favor of economic growth. Where did that bring us? It only brought global crisis. America has blocked deals like the Kyoto protocol so it could continue to produce supersized cars. It has only killed innovation and the United States are now putting billions of dollars into an outdated automotive industry. Cars are too big, engines to polluting for the present day world. No wonder nobody's buying anymore.

Read the full Techcrunch article here.

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Introducing the Hyperspeech Transfer Protocol (HSTP)

A recent study by Pew Research on the future of the internet was clear on one thing: Every expert in the field feels the focus of the web is moving towards mobile. The number of cellphones worldwide is rapidly growing. In India for example, there are 10 phones to every 1 pc. The latest wave bring smartphones with full internet capability. IBM's institute for Business Value predicts the number of mobile web users worldwide will reach one billion by 2011.

So it's really not surprising that businesses are starting to shift gear as well. One of IBM's latest insights is the voice controlled web, or the spoken web. 'You will talk to the Web... and the Web will talk back,' predicts IBM in its latest list of innovations that "have the potential to change the way people work, live and play over the next five years".

The concept is gathering steam with a project named "Spoken Web" that is being led by IBM's India Research Laboratory (IRL) team, and also being incubated in IBM's eight global labs in six countries. In fact, the corporation recently completed a pilot in Andhra Pradesh to implement the concept.

"The project was very successful. It started out with around 100 villagers but many hundreds joined later after seeing the response," Guruduth Banavar, director, IBM India Research Laboratory (IRL), told Business Standard.

The reason for this enthusiasm, he said, is simple. "Most people do not have a PC. Even smartphones are far and few. Besides, most people, especially the semi-literate kind, are not comfortable using a visual interface. But what most of the Indian population can do is talk. So the spoken web project makes immense sense." he added.

Read more at Rediff News / Business Standard

To support this fundamental change in how the internet works, IBM has developed a new protocol, named Hyperspeech Transfer Protocol (HSTP).

World Wide Telecom Web (also called as Spoken Web or Telecom Web) is an initiative to create an alternate web for the under-privileged. It could help bridge the digital divide by bringing the benefits of the information revolution to the billions of underserved people by providing information and services through a voice driven channel over an ordinary phone call. Information on this web could be community created as well as leveraged from World Wide Web. It is essentially a voice driven eco-system parallel and complimentary to that of the existing Web. Though primarily meant for the under-served in population in emerging economies, it has several applications for the developed world as well.

WWTW can be accessible to more number of people in the world as it enables an ordinary phone subscriber to join the digital information revolution. This enables a significatly larger fraction of the human population to benefit from existing and envisioned services than what was made possible by WWW. Specifically, it removes accessibility barriers that manifest themselves in terms of illiteracy, unaffordability and lack of relevant information. Further, it provides the means to create and sustain an ecosystem of local (and global) services, information and communities relevant to these underprivileged users. [Wikipedia]

IBM has put an effort into getting the abstracts of the HSTP onto the web, with wikipedia entries a with brief outline of how it works and various papers, such as the paper submitted for www2008, the 17th World Wide Web Conference in China in april last year (Paper:
The World Wide Telecom Web Browser) and an introduction to HSTP on their own website.

photograph from the book: The First Book of Sound: A Basic Guide to the Science of Acoustics by David C. Knight, Franklin Watts, Inc. New York (1960). p. 80

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Saturday, January 10, 2009

A.D. 2009, Open Beta or Stable?

Just been looking at the news again. Not something to relax on these days. We're barely two weeks into the year 2009 and shit happens everywhere. We've seen earthquakes and Israel waging war on Gaza and so on.

As a project manager in the IT Business I'm responsible for bringing projects to a happy end. We deliver and when we deliver the customer usually has a two week acceptancy period to fully test the application or implementation to discover bug and decide whether or not they're happy with the project. Then we'll go live.

Looking at this years' start you'd almost say that the product delivered is not acceptable. Take it back to the drawing board and fix the bugs and nasty little things that make it an inpleasant experience. Unfortunately. It can't be done. Almost like you have to live every year in public Beta, knowing you'll see so many disasters that at the end of the year it has reached the end of its lifecycle already and the next beta version will be packaged.

So much for this random thought though, which came up after a review on the 2008 technology scene and a look forward into 2009.

2008 definately was a year of Beta releases, closed and open. It seemed like half the internet was in open beta. We saw tons of virtual worlds and social networking sites walk this path. Some of these sites have been in open beta for years. Let's hope 2009 will be a year of stability; applications and worlds closing down their beta stages and moving into stable production.


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Friday, September 26, 2008

Twones: Something new or yet another me2?

It's that time of year again... No, it's not yet Christmas, but september has been a blast with the Virtual Worlds Conference & Expo, TechCrunch Top50, PICNIC 08, EmTech and one on Digital Content Distribution all in one month. No wonder one or two new and exciting startups get overlooked.

Today I came across yet another new startup: Twones, which just went into private Beta. People say it's cool, so let's have a look.


Twones is a music service lets you store, organize, find & share music played all over the web (tracking many services, see image above) or on your computer (like iTunes) to one single point of access. Twones ties all music together and let's you share your taste with others in its most direct way.

It basically works in 4 steps:

  1. Track
  2. Store
  3. Socialize
  4. Discover

I'm not much of a music freak myself, well yeah, I'm an 80's fetishist, but I usually play CD's and don't listen online to music. I've tried Last.FM, it didn't bring me what I needed. So I'll pass on this one as there are enough other lifestreams and aggregators to follow, so for me, Twones is just another Me2 site whcih yet again fails to crack the code. If you are a music lover and use all sorts of media sites you might still wanna check it out.

The good new is that it is yet another Dutch startup like the übercool Project E, which I blogged yesterday.

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Monday, September 08, 2008

Real X tend

About two years ago, Second Life exploded and became -as far as virtual worlds go- extermely popular. Many of us wanted it open source, and along came Open Sim, but now there's another world, based on Second Life technology: RealXtend

Here's Caleb Booker's account on his first immersion:

They’ve added some major features, including “meshes” (the graphic component almost every 3D environment but Second Life uses) and the ability to import and export everything from avatars to objects. They even include some great tools for working with standard 3d applications.

Launching the server was as easy as launching any other application, and in no time I was walking around a world
on my hard drive. I was able to log into a remote demo server as well, and exported my avatar onto their server with no problems.

Modifying avatars in this thing is fantastic. Everything is pull-down menus and buttons, making it very easy to browse content. Clothes look awesome, actually draping on your avatar in a very realistic way. You can even tweak the way it handles animations, changing your posture and walk speed, and you get extremely fine control of the way you look right down to the length of individual fingers.

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Thursday, September 04, 2008

In a world...

"In a world where man fought machine... and machine won...".

Imagine this to be the opening line of a movie trailer, with the voice of Don Lafontaine, the king of voice-overs who just passed away, and you'll be sitting up straight, ready to watch a blockbuster movie, like Terminator - Judgement Day. Well, maybe you are. We're watching the Terminator-Google Mashup.

The Google Empire

Yesterday I blogged about the newly released Google Chrome browser ready to take on Internet Explorer and Firefox. I'm noticing I'm using Google products more and more often. It almost scares me how much I like Google products. It probably started because of my dislike of Microsoft, being too big and too dominant, but now Google itself is becoming such a monolith. Google gets into your life.

  • Google Search: They know what you do on the internet, know your interests (even your most private ones).
  • Google Mail: They get into your email, know your contacts and the contents of your mail.
  • Google Docs: Now they know even the things you don't mail and it won't be long untill the Google writer and spreadsheets move into the office space.
  • Google Android: Has the power to compete with the top producers of the mobile phone market. Now they can also follow your phone conversations and know where you are.
  • Google AdSense: They try to gigure out what you do, add sense to it and create desires in you to buy. It won't be long untill AdSense gets into your banking account to cross-advertise on every purchase you've made.
  • Google CheckOut: Now they're not only advertising you tyo buy products, they actually start making the transactions too.
  • Google Maps: Along with their mobile technology they know where you are, and where you wanna go. project this into...
  • Google Earth: and they'll have a 3D rendering of you and everything around you. It's Big Brother watching you.

It's SkyNet

Is Google turning out to be the Skynet of the present, moving towards domination? In Science Fiction and Cyberpunk novels (such as Neuromancer) we see that massive companies rule the world and have taken over command from national governments, often creating a dystopian society. The question is: "is it Science Fiction, or is it becoming reality?"

If you read Adjiedj Bakash, Hollands premier trendwatcher, it is becoming reality. he observes the birth of a new economic world order as one of the big megatrends of the next decade. I'm not sure if we're there yet, but it's starting to look very creepy with Google at the helm. Maybe it isn't Paradise lost yet, but it sure is Privacy Lost.

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Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Rosedale at Eduverse Symposium 3

With the Virtual World Conference and Expo barely underway, two conferences are lined up for Europe. Probably the biggest of these is the Virtual Worlds London edition (20-21 october), but the more promising one is happening right at my doorstep (well... practically): The 3rd Eduverse Symposium.
The Eduverse Symposium 3 is scheduled for September 23rd in Amsterdam and has an impressive line-up:

Some (like Philip Rosedale) will be present in the flesh, others will be adressing the symposium through a variety of media.

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Friday, May 09, 2008

Me the Media - about me as well

Mid april the Sogeti Vint Institute released its latest book, called "Me the Media. Past, Present and Future of the Third Media Revolution".

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.

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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Eye Gaze Interaction

For those of us having problems navigating Second Life, there's some new technology about to hit the market.

The video shows eye gaze interaction with Second Life using our "Snap Clutch" software; developed at De Montfort University, UK in collaboration with University of Tampere, Finland. The software allows us to change quickly between
interaction modes to allow for a more real-time gaming experience. This research will be presented at ETRA 2008, US.

For more information on the project please visit: http://www.cse.dmu.ac.uk/~svickers/ and http://www.cogain.org/

When looking at the video, I'm pretty impressed with the technology. However, when you've got both hands left, use them, as this is getting very passive.

Thanks to Pieter Bosch for the Tip.

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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Life 2.0 in Wonderland

One of the prime Technology events is Dr. Dobbs Life 2.0 Conference. Today saw a series of talks in Second Life as well. Unfortunately I didn't have time to drop in. The good thing was that I was kept up to date through the Metanomics group IM on today's keynote;

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

9:00 AM PDT - 10:00 AM PDTKEYNOTE:
Project Wonderland - 3D Toolkit for Building Virtual Worlds. Nicole Yankelovich, Principal Investigator, Collaborative Environments Project, Sun Microsystems Laboratories

Project Wonderland is an open source toolkit for building 3D virtual worlds for business and education collaboration. Within a Wonderland virtual! world, p s, interact with team members, and have chance encounters with colleagues, all using natural voice interaction. Most importantly, real work can be accomplished with Wonderland's support of X and Java applications as well as innovative telephone integration. With application sharing as the default, people can create, edit, and share documents within the virtual world.

Wonderland is built on top of the Project Darkstar game server platform, which provides enterprise-grade scalability, reliability, and flexible integration with other enterprise systems.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Surprisingly enough, synchronisity strikes again. Thursday I have to give a presentation on collaboration and project management in Virtual Worlds, and one of the options I will discuss is the Wonderland project as it is one of the most advanced platforms when it comes to collaboration at this point in time, I think.

Perhaps we have to clarify a bit on the names used, as it sometimes causes some confusion.

  • Darkstar: (also referred to as project ~) The game server platform which is the foundation of the technology
  • Wonderland: (or project ~) The open source virtual world produced by Sun, which is built on top of the Darkstar platform.
  • MPK20: The wonderland version Sun uses as its own private development VW.


Some bits and pieces on Darkstar / Wonderland from the speech:

Darkstar permits users to participate in one space without sharding. In addition to Darkstar they use jVoiceBridge for audio. It also permits interacting with telephone systems. They are also trying to get their artwork to be open source or CCL. Part of Wonderland includes collaboration capability that can be extended to enterprise software.It can interact with business data. Darkstar also scales down...an instance with 2-3 users can run on a laptop

There are external worlds live today: and some coming up fairly soon. They have tested some already. Small wonder; Wonderland is not planned to interact with SL... However, except maybe in the interoperability space (transportable avatars, etc.) and they will cooperate as much as possible.


For a complete schedule of the Dr. Dobbs Life 2.0 conference in Second Life click here.
More info on the Wonderland click here.

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Pioneering SL with sound, vision and soul

When browsing the map and randomly entering a few letters in the search I noticed a sim called "Pioneer Corporation." I had noticed the plain "Pioneer" sim months ago, but that wasn't any corporate build. This one is.



Pioneer Corporation is a Japanese multinational corporation that specializes in digital entertainment products, based in Tokyo, Japan. The company was founded in 1938 in Tokyo as a radio and speaker repair shop. Today, Pioneer is well-known for technology advancements in the consumer electronics industry.


Pioneer played a role in the development of interactive cable TV, the Laser Disc player, the first automotive Compact Disc player, the first detachable face car stereo, Supertuner technology, DVD and DVD recording, plasma display, and Organic LED display (OLED). The company works with optical disc and display technology and software products and is also a manufacturer. Sharp Corporation
took a controlling stake in Pioneer in 2007.
(Wikipedia)


The sim is actually built quite well to cover a wide range of products offered by Pioneer. The main venture is the AV Tower in which various systems are on display.



In the North-East corner there is a small residential block in which their KURO hometheatre systems are on display.



The various locations on the island are linked by a road, winding across the island. Take a balloon trip, or rent a car (with Pioneer sound off course) to see the scenery. There's a waterfall and a surf area. Unlike most (western) corporate sims, this one was actually in use. I counted about 9 people coming in for a balloon flight or a surf on the beach.



NB: Pioneer's slogan is "Sound, Vision, Soul" Although I like the sim, I missed out on the visionary part for Virtual Worlds.

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Sunday, March 02, 2008

NEC calls from SL, but says what?

Last wednesday I picked up a press release by Nec, stating they are going to connect Second Life to real life with their SCI Platform solution;

NEC Corporation, a provider of Next Generation IP Voice and Media service solutions, announced that their intention to connect the virtual world, namely "Second Life" to the real world using their SCI Platform solution. SCI Platform,
which incorporates components of NEC's Service Delivery Platform (SDP) for providers of IP voice and multimedia services, will liberate currently closed virtual world communications and connect them to the real world by using a unique `NEC communicator` placed in Second Life world.

Virtual to real world cell phone calls
NEC's vision for "real world gateways", as illustrated by this demonstration, helps its customers to find new Web 2.0 revenue streams by taking critical "virtual to real world"
interface roles in terms of ubiquitous communication, payment, media distribution and context distribution. NEC will further communicate their vision for IP Voice and Media innovation, convergence and service evolution through other exciting demonstrations.

SCI Platform at Mobile World Congress
At NEC's booth, Mobile World Congress 2008 in Barcelona, visitors can enter Second Life and control an avatar to make calls to another person in the real world by using the
NEC communicator. Additionally, visitors can send text oriented messages such as SMS, email and IP Messaging from Second Life to the real world.

Second Life phone calls
The NEC Communicator will be located at "Tokutoku Pocket Island" in the Second Life world during Mobile World Congress 2008. NEC launched "NEC Island", "Tokutoku Pocket Island" and several other virtual points of presence in September 2007 to initiate branding, marketing and new business opportunities activities in the virtual world.

We've seen claims made in the past about unique stuff in a Virtual World. I have noticed NEC island before, I've never been able to enter at that time, and later I just simply forgot about them., so this time I went down to see what is going on.






The Tokutoku sim certainly looks futuristic. Nec really is communicatiing a whole lot, but I don't have a clue as to what they're saying as it's all in Japanese. Please comment if you know what the island is about ;)


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Friday, February 29, 2008

Siemens Solid Edge to enhance Second Life 3D design

PLANO, Texas, Feb. 28 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Siemens PLM Software, a business unit of Siemens Industry Automation Division and a leading global provider of product lifecycle management (PLM) software and services, today announced a new interactive tool that enables users to create their own 3-D Razor Scooter in Second Life. The tool is easy to use like Siemens PLM Software's Solid Edge(R) software and meant to expose Second Life residents to the possibilities of CAD software.

In the real world, Siemens PLM Software hosts "test drive" Solid Edgeseminars to illustrate how easy the software is to use. Solid Edge is apowerful hybrid 2D/3D design system and a core component of the VelocitySeries(TM) portfolio.

In the virtual world, the new interactive tool provides companies a glimpse into the use of 3-D modeling software inproduct development. A transparent screen guides Second Life residents to click through a range of selections to create a custom-built scooter in less than a minute. "

In our industry it's important to be able to vet out design ideas as quickly as possible," says Bob Hadley, product development manager, Razor(R). "In the real-world, with Solid Edge, we're able to introduce at least two or three times as many new products each year as we could previously. To compete in our industry, that's essential. Siemens PLMSoftware is taking this to the next level by integrating real-world design experiences in virtual worlds."

According to a recent report, "Getting Real Work Done In Virtual Worlds," Forrester Research, Inc., Jan. 7, 2008, "Virtual worlds like Second Life ... are on the brink of becoming valuable work tools ... " Thereport notes that virtual worlds have advantages over other approaches to communication and collaboration. One example is "they allow people to work with and share digital 3-D models of physical or theoretical objects. Many disciplines rely on 3-D models and designs: Surgeons, architects, engineers, and product designers all use CAD models or sophisticated visualization systems to explore and create complex real-world objects ...You can release near-final designs to a limited external group of users and solicit feedback before starting fabrication." The report predicts that within five years, the 3-D Internet will be as important for work as the Web is today.

"This new tool is a great example of how companies can use some of the unique characteristics of the Second Life platform to create interactive experiences for their products," said Chris Kelley, vice president, Platforms and Partners, Siemens PLM Software. "Our goal in Second Life continues to be to find new ways to collaborate with our customers and partners in an effort to provide a more immersive way to experience our software. The user experience in Second Life is based upon our successful Solid Edge Dare to Compare Test Drive events where you learn first-hand how easy it is to use Solid Edge compared to competitive products."

In the real world, Solid Edge Dare to Compare Test Drive events guide users through key stages of 3D design: part modeling, sheet metal, assembly creation, drafting and documentation, plus analysis and full motion simulation.

To reach the Siemens Innovation Connection on Second Life, visit http://www.siemens.com/plm/secondlife.

To attend a real-world Solid Edge Dare to Compare Test Drive, visit http://www.siemens.com/plm/daretocompare.

Source: PRNewsWire

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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Massive lay offs and the future of NVE's

Today Massively made it into my RSS feed. There's really a couple of cool Second Life residents blogging over there now. This time it's Moo Money that brings up some juicy gossip from Second Life as she writes on the ESCapists:

In a shocking blog entry today, Jeremy Flagstaff noted that the Electric Sheep Company has laid off approximately one-third of their staff, or about 22 people. It has been previously noted that ESC had to cut back on the number of islands for CSI: NY, and now both AOL Pointe and Pontiac are pulling out of Second Life. This news should come as no surprise, but it's still heartbreaking to hear that it
happened so close to Christmas.

While it is not known at this time exactly why the layoffs occurred, Jeremy speculates that they will be focusing on technology like OnRez. Joel Greenberg, whose job status is unknown at this time, announced on Twitter that ESC is shutting down their virtual ad network project. In a prophetic blog entry written last week by Rez Menoptra, he speculated on how long builds will last in virtual worlds and who will remember them.

Massively will update you with the latest news on this topic as we hear it. Stay tuned!

Most of these people we will never know, but we've seen Jeremy himself move away from the Sheep earlier this year as well as Jerry Paffendorf. Is the negative trend for Second Life we've seen in Europe now crossing to the US as well? Are we close to a dotcom-burst in the virtual world industry? I don't think so.

In november I quickly mentioned AOL's departure from Second Life, now Pontiac is joining the list of departing companies. How should we read these signs: Is it true that Second Life has proved itself unfit for business? In the case of Pontiac / Motorati I think it surely didn't.

The thing I keep saying to our clients is this: Right now Second Life is the ideal platform to experiment. It is open, and it's present, which means you can start up exploring the metaverse at relatively low cost. Try to get a feel for the technology, explore opportunities, chase ideas. Second Life makes this possible because it's free to sign up and you can put in almost any kind of data. Second Life is as open as the gates of heaven to whom believes. The feeling I get now is that most of the departing companies are not going out of business, they're moving. It's just as much tribal migration that we see in social networking sites. You explore, then find a site that better suits your needs. A lot of these companies gained experience from Second Life and are now preparing for dedicated themed worlds, based upon enterprise technology on platforms like There.com

It is a moving business we're in. The past year has seen an extreme usergrowth in Second Life, and an enormous commercial / PR drive for companies to enter virtual worlds. Now it's time to check the balance. All in all, as I wrote in my previous blogpost on the Millions of Us venue for Splenda; "It's Dozens of Them" meaning right now it's just too much of the same. We're creating presence for companies. There's an occasional immersion that goes beyond simple presence and really adds something to the industry.

Millions of Us, Lost in the Magic Forest, Electric Sheep Company, Virtual Italian Parks, and many many other MDC's have mastered the skill of building in Second Life. What they haven't got is the skill of Business Analysis.

It will take skilled consultants to translate core business to virtual representations. It will take experience and time for us to be able to build virtual venues that are fit for business and will form an extention to our daily operations. 2007 has been a year in which Second Life and virtual worlds have been a toy for marketing and communication departments, 2008 will probably see NVE's as a playhouse for IT departments and 2009 will probably be the year in which the NVE potential really sinks in, the time when the Business takes over and will use it as a medium for its core processes.

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Friday, November 23, 2007

Sogeti Sunset

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.

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Thursday, November 22, 2007

Your expectations of the Metaverse in 2007 (2)

Yesterday I blogged about my expectations for the Metaverse in 2007 in answer to Rick's question. His reply to my answer (part of it) was:

"My problem is that, imho Second Life isn't a business platform at this moment
in which these goals can be achieved."


and

"Then it comes to waiting for the next 'killer app' which really draws the
crowd into the metaverse. However, I'm having difficulties in formulating the
needs in which this 'holy grail' should provide. Is it mass collaboration, the
digital long tail, outsourcing or will the virtual economy grow to such an
extent that retail goes 3D because of efficiency? In other words, what is your
vision of a businessmodel that goes beyond the limitations of Second Life, which
added value can a 3D environment have for entrepeneurs and how will crowds be
involved?"


These are easy questions, much like "Why are we here? How does the universe work?" The answer is similarly hard. If I had a straightforward answer, I'd probably be a millionaire soon.
It's the X-million dollar question.


As a Metaverse Evangelist, or sr. Networked Virtual Environment Consultant I could talk about the potential of metaverses forever. To be honest though. We have to be realistic.



  1. We're at the early stages of the industry. Many companies are still having difficulties in understanding web 2.0; seeing blogs and wiki's rise but don't know how to implement it in their corporate strategy, let alone we can convince companies to adapt to the Metaverse overnight. It's a process.
  2. There's a couple of industries that can make quick wins with metaversal presence (like real estate), but not every product is suitable for a 3D environment (like mortgages)

Desinging the Metaverse Killer App

When it comes to designing the metaversal killer app I'd say it's too early to tell. We still don't have a web 2.0 killer app. Every day new sites, new worlds and new functionality emerges. The killer app will have to be a mashup of the best of both worlds; 3D Facebook, Google virtualisation or whatever. I've got tons of unformulated thoughts on this but what it comes down to is that we have to move from technology driven design to social design; step out of the binary limitations and explore the realms of psychology and communication to understand human needs for interaction and information and only then move on to functionality on demand. 2007 is a year of options. We see variation, we see diferent platforms, technologies and cultures emerge. Now is the time to explore, the time of veni vidi vici. Observe, Asses and Implement (though by by trial and error). To Incorporate, that's 2010 and beyond for the majority of companies.

Time for bed now. A few more points need to be addressed tomorrow...

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Saturday, November 10, 2007

Second Life in Full 3D

Yesterday I came across a review of the all new Vuzix iWear VR920 video eyewear on Ars Technica. The line that especially caught my eye was:



"At the moment there are only a few games that support head tracking, such as World of WarCraft, Half-Life, Counter-Strike, Second Life, and a few others."


What it all comes down to is that the goggles prices at $ 400,- you've got real VR within reach. However, as they point out, it's still pricey for a thing that is supported only by a dozen or so games. But if your life is totally about Second Life, you might wanna give this a shot.


Ars Technica primarily tested it on Flight Simulator and this is what they thought:




"I've picked a lot of nits, and at this stage I've been wrestling with drivers and trying to put a shirt over my head to block out incoming light. I'm kind of cranky that way. All of that annoyance was gone, as I found myself inside the cockpit. Like, inside it. I look down and see the instrument panel. I look left and see out the window. I look up and see the rivets holding the metal plates of the plane together. I took off, looked out the right window over the empty seat, and banked hard so I could see the ocean beneath me. Amazing. The sense of flight and actually being there is almost overwhelming. "

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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Fleck evolution of notecards

On the same run I ran into Wakoopa (see previous blogentry), I ran into Fleck. Now this might be one to watch. In short, Fleck is the evolution of the notecard.

Where we needed hammers, chisels, enormous walls and tons of paint to let our friends know we saw a bunch of horses in prehistoric times We had to nail our thoughts to the wall - or door, needing lots of paper, nails and a hammer and risk being burned at the stake in medieval times


At last we got rid of nails and push pins as it is no longer appropriate in our western culture that women have a red spot on their forehead, so we invented sticky notes.



Now Fleck is taking it to the next level. We no longer need to put up reminders on the edges of our screen, we can comment directly on the website that drives us to whichever thought we need to hold.


Here's the Techcrunch website sampled with Fleck's annotation bar and comments.




Here's Flecks own vision:



Fleck.com wants to add a new layer of interactivity to the web. Fleck is inspired on a story written in 1945 by Vannevar Bush and an article titled 'We Are The Web' by Kevin Kelly. Vannevar Bush predicted a machine called the Memex that would allow people to surf from one information page to another. Some people say that Hypertext and the World Wide Web are based on or at least inspired by the Memex.
One thing that
the Memex had and the web doesn't is the ability to add new content to every page it contained. After reading the Wired article by Kevin Kelly we decided to try to add a new level to the web by adding new tools that would allow its users to add information rather than just consuming it.


Fleck allows you to interact with pages on the web just as if it were pages in a magazine. You can save your annotated page for yourself, send it to friends or colleagues or use it in your blog.


You can start using Fleck right now. It's free and what's best: you don't have to install anything on your computer. Try the search box at the top of this page or add Fleck to your browser with a Bookmarklet or Extention.



The easy part, and quite usefull is the option to add your notes on top of a webpages and other people will be able to see your remarks. These notes are freely draggable and you can add bullet points. In the bottom of the screen you'll see the Fleck toolbar which gives you the ability to blog, mail or save history.

The technique we're talking about here is annotation and Fleck isn't the first to walk this path. There's TrailFire, Stickis and Diigo that put up competition. Fleck is easier to use though, and you don't need an account. Last but not least, it's last pluspoint is that it's Dutch ;)

TechCrunch blogger Marshall Kirkpatrick has this to say on Fleck:


I can imagine myself quickly adding questions to pages on a site I’m reviewing and emailing those annotated pages back to a company. They could respond immediately on the page, with no need to download anything or start an account
with the annotation service. I like that. I also like that those collaborators would have a list of all the pages we’ve collaborated on created for them automatically.



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Friday, September 07, 2007

True Web2.0 still to come


All around the world we’re talking about Web 2.0. Almost everything is 2.0 these days. In the blogosphere we all get excited about every new web 2.0 app. But really, what’s web 2.0?


2.0 means there was a 1.0, and old web. However, the web hasn’t been closed a single day to migrate it’s content to a new release. So technically we don’t have a new web. It’s usage has changed. The way we use the web and the content we use and put on it has changed. The web hasn’t. But it will. It has to. True web 2.0 still needs to come in my opinion. The contemporary social networks and usergenerated content change our way of working with the net and is raising new questions, asking for new standards.


A little while ago I wrote that web 2.0 is chaos. It’s going from site to site, registering hether and tether, inviting old friends over and over again to join and meeting new friends. It’s getting too complicated. Too much going on to keep track. In the process we get sloppy with our identity. Do some good searches on the net, add profile data from one site with info from the other site. Throw in a good whois lookup and it’s easy enough to put together a complete profile and history on someone. Perhaps even enough to start making educated guesses about passwords.


The web itself, it’s core isn’t ready for web 2.0. Web 2.0 needs to be more closed than the current web when it comes to privacy.


This is a first blog on why web 2.0 still has to come. More will follow soon

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Web 2.0 in 333 seconds

iPhone price drop & refund

From Engadget (but also from almost every other US techblog)

El Jobso is "confident" Apple's made the right decision to lower the price of the iPhone yesterday -- and really, we can't fault them for knocking some cash off the top to attract new buyers, why is cheaper gear a bad thing all of a sudden? But even given the outcry, we definitely didn't see this one coming. In another open letter to his people, Jobs states that he's giving all iPhone owners a $100 Apple gift certificate (details to follow in the next week -- it goes without saying this will only apply to people who bought before the price drop). Well, that's mighty kind of you Steve. And definitely unprecedented in the consumer electronics industry that a company would give cash back to early adopters -- those most accustomed to buying a gadget first, asking questions later, and bottling their complaints when said gadget later drops dramatically in price.

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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 last.fm 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 ...you ...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 RL...in 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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Thursday, July 19, 2007

MindBlizzard growing

The MindBlizzard blog has been up for just 4 months, but it's growing (too) fast...

Size


This is getting a regular habit I fear. Right now I'm having a hard time publishing to my blog. It's been barely a month ago that I upgraded my hostingaccount from 50 to 100 Mb and DataTraffic limits from 2 Gb/month to 4 Gb per month.



Now, halway through July I'm at 3.2 Gb Data Traffic already and have grown beyond 100Mb.
Maybe I should start considering getting a sponsor as well.



Reputation


To look on the bright side of life: In the past month my technorati rating has rocketed from autority 26 to authority 50, and closing in on the top 100K blogs. Not bad for a 4 month old blog.




Readers


In the past months I've seen various people comment on and link to my blog, such as:


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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

AjaxLife an Odyssey

"In Homer's Iliad he (Ajax) is described as of great stature and colossal frame, the tallest and strongest of all the Achaeans, second only to his cousin Achilles in skill-at-arms, and the 'bulwark of the Achaeans'. He was trained by the centaur Chiron (who had also trained his father, Telamon, and Achilles' father Peleus), at the same time as Achilles. Aside from Achilles, Ajax is the most valuable warrior in Agamemnon's army (along with Diomedes), though he is not as cunning as Nestor, Idomeneus, or Odysseus. He commands his army wielding a great hammer and a huge shield made of seven ox-hides with a layer of bronze. He is not wounded in any of the battles described in the Iliad."

[source: Wikipedia]


In Short, Ajax is colossal, Ajax is a winner. Doesn't he just Rock?

The Trojan war is long gone, but Ajax has come back to life in AjaxLife, as an Ajax based Webbrowser for Second Life.

Katherine Berry, a TeenGrid resident has created an impressive Ajax-based client for the virtual world of Second Life. Linden Labs themselves have been working very hard on the "sim-caps project", in changing asset management, backbone construction and what have you got in preparing a move from UDP to HTTP.


"The “caps” in “sim-caps” stands for capabilities. This is a well known design pattern whose biggest success has been web cookies. Now before you all jump on that, realize that cookies, properly implemented, are what make the internet go ’round. It is how every major site with accounts keeps you logged in."


This AjaxLife webviewer might well be a messenger of what fully HTTP enabled Second Life may bring when it comes to accessability.

Here's a short piece of the original post describing AjaxLife:

Due to some combination of boredom, wanting to talk to people in SL, and inspiration from a vague memory of something Interfect Sonic did, I decided to start work on an AJAX based SL client.

It’s still under heavy development, but the result so far is an application/page/site called AjaxLife. It now works on the MG (I think!)


Features
  • Basic map
  • Teleports
  • Accepting/declining teleport offers
  • Local chat, instant messages (partially — you can’t start them except with online friends)
  • Inventory received notifications
  • Friend on/offline notifications
  • Balance change notifications, etc.

In short, a project to watch closely as it has a lot of potential. If Second Life integrates with the web it will not be long untill we see the first widgets and toolbars appear.

Here some mandatory snapshots provided by Katherine:



At the start of this blog I wrote that the Trojan War is long gone... There might be a catch.

For now, the AjaxLife is running on Katherine's server. Some of my friends were wondring what it would in terms of password logging.

This is the official statement on Katherine's blog:

"If you want to use it, and trust that I won’t look at your password (which I can’t, and nothing that this does is logged, but you should always be careful and stuff), you can test it at https://secure.katharineberry.co.uk/ajaxlife-s/login.kat"

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Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Dutch IT Professionals meet up

I've visited a nice meeting at the NGI sim, home of the NGI (Nederlands Genootschap voor Informatica), the Dutch platform for ICT Professionals.
The session started off with a welcome by Frank Langeveld, Division CEO of Sogeti Netherlands and Boardmember of the NGI and was followed by Pascal Huijbers giving us a quick overview at the collaboration initiatives and future plans.
The second part of the meet-up was the presentation of NGIJ, the Young Proffessionals of the NGI speaking on various plans, intiatives and games being set up
The meet-up ended with a brainstorm closing in on the December congres of the NGI, themed "Serious Gaming" with several seminars and events being planned in Second Life.
For more information contact Storm Stonewall or SNiCHerz Demina in Second Life
SLURL: http://slurl.com/secondlife/Isle%20of%20NGI/106/106/26

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Monday, July 02, 2007

Pownce Review

Here's a short review on Pownce, the new IM social networking thing from the States. We've had Twitter and Jaiku and suddenly there is Pownce.

Pownce launched on june 26th into Alpha testing. So after barely one week of existence it is a little short to draw conclusions. Too early to tell if Pownce will be the next killer app or will be doomed before it leaves alpha or beta testing.

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.
There are a number of features on Pownce which I really like.
The screen below is the webinterface. Pownce has a number of very nice features, when compared to Twitter or Jaiku.
  1. You can reply to messages (and rate them)
  2. You can send files and plan events
  3. You can divide your friends in various subsets (see last pic)
Off course, there's always a downside. The first two "weak points" may not be that bad at all though, depends on how you look at the world of Ol' Bill's Crap.
  1. Not every setting works when changed in IE, works fine in Firefox though ;)
  2. My current templates works with alphachannels and transparency. Doesn't work in IE6, so the background of white text becoms white, ergo non readable.
  3. After the sudden onrush of new twitter-seasoned folks it seems as if Pownce is experiencing some problems with scalability.
  4. There's no support for mobile messaging

Finally there's some points that the lot of them (Pownce, Jaiku and Twitter) could take notice of: In this day and age of social networks and metaverses we all know eachother by different names, our real name, our social name, our metaverse name and what have you got. An extensive addressbook would come in handy.

Anyway, here's a few other blogposts

Worth mentioning is Tao Takashi's notes on the lack of mobile support and RSS:

"What Pownce is missing is the mobile side of things. You cannot yet send or receive posts via SMS and additionally only one RSS feed is there right now which is the feed of your and your friend’s posts but not the one of the main timeline. Moreover an API seems to be there as they created an external application using AIR themselves and somebody made a Facebook application but it’s not open or documented it seems."

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Sunday, June 17, 2007

VeeJay juggles Web 2.0 Chaos

Being under pressure to come to twitter I finally signed up. Web 2.0 is getting a little confusing right now.
What I'm facing right now is juggling email accounts to and fro:
  • My snowcrash@usa.com account at http://www.mail.com/ for old times sake
  • A yahoo mail account for del.ici.us
  • A google mail account for blogger
  • A hotmail account for MSN
  • A private hosting account for private emails
  • An email account at my ISP
  • And 5 email accounts for various sideshows and clubs I'm involved in.
Then there's IM-ing or communication thingies going down at
  • Twitter
  • ICQ
  • Skype
  • MSN
Then there's stats to watch and pimp at http://www.technorati.com/ and AWstats for my hosting account. Finally there's some 100 RSS feeds to monitor, my pages at http://www.linkedin.com/, xing and ning and my page at http://www.hyves.nl/ to maintain, not to mention the old 90's crowd at http://www.ancientsites.com/ who know me as Johannes Nestor.
The one thing that keeps me standing up in this total chaos is for the most part http://www.netvibes.com/ which I prefer over iGoogle. It offers me widgets for webmail, weather, rss feeds, twitter, del.ici.us, flickr, digg it etcetera, so I've only got about 3 tabs to scan every morning. Still, some of the aforementioned socalled essentials to Web 2.0 are don't integrate as well.
Web 2.0 is about social networking, but in my case that network is almost too widespread to maintain and too many accounts are needed to keep a grip. This world needs more unified communications. (My collegues at Sogeti would agree, and I guess the almighty Epradator agrees as well as he said much of the same on his view on Virtual Worlds).
Tech Rocks, but for tech-savvy folks it's getting a full-time job to read the various sources that tell you what your job should be. Information overload, or load balancing is the question.

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Saturday, June 16, 2007

Friday's Geekmeet: IBM-Intel-Sun

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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VeeJay's Facelift

Okay, in my previous post I blogged about the Cyberextruder's sim in which the company found another way to use its high tech facial recognition system. It's a fully automated system that scans a photograph and maps it in a texture. Everything else in the sim is just for the show, but makes up for a good laugh.


After the virtual processing tour I received a purchase number to go to the website and upload my picture. I send in just an ordinary pasport pic (the one you see in the final result pic) and here's what their software came up with:
So that's me huh?

And here's the final result. I think the texture is quite okay, I'm just having a hard time getting the shape of my head right... Guess I'm just having an impossible face there.
Well, you'll be the judge. Spot the difference I'd say, so I can tweak a little more.

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Thursday, June 14, 2007

Cyberextruder's Facelift shop

Here's another episode in the rise of the Metabrands as Cyberextruder comes to Second Life with a new über-cool Second Life service. One of the things I've noticed over the past months in Second Life is than many people are paying a lot of attention to their looks, some painstakingly tweaking their face until it does resemble their real life appearance.
Up till now it has been hard to get your real life face texturised and mapped on your face. I've experimented a little, but it would take a skilled person to make it look good, but ata Avatar Island you'll get it done the cyberway... automated laser surgery in freeky chairs ;)
Here's the island which has the main Laboratory and some free vendor sites for related avatar business, one of them is Cryogen Labs where you can pimp the rest of your avatar.


Well, mighty thanks to 57 who organised a trip to Avatar Island for the Things To Do group and got us free surgery (normal price at about l$ 2400, so close to 10 US dollar).
In normal plastics you're face swells up, gets bloody and messy and you're absolutely not allowed to laugh, talk cry, shout get angry or whatever. At Cyberextruders'nothing went really wrong, except SL went haywire, constant client crashes and forced client updates didn't really better my mood, so I barely dared look in the mirror.

Okay, SL is quite buggy'right now and is taking huge amounts of memory so I won't get into the report on my face job. That will have to wait until tomorrow.

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Monday, June 11, 2007

The Metarati and the Metapolitans

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

Metarati

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

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

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

Metapolitans

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

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

one offs

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

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Thursday, May 03, 2007

Good Samaritan Group Gathering

It's only been about two weeks ago that the V3 group organised a major SL tech event, the ITE 2007. This time its.... The Good Samaritan.
This week sees the Joysco Convention Center filled to the brim with the latest inworld tech, and other exciting stuff, all sponsored by Sun Microsytems Joysco Studio Journey (Legendary Rock Band) AvaStar SLCN.TV Reallusion.

When you get into the Convention Center, you'll think you're immersed in the next IT event, but it's not. This Expo is Johnny Austin's idea, who wanted a place where the business and creative communities in Second Life could come together and meet each other and work together. .. And yeah, Second Life is filled with tech-savvy people, so small wonder Sun Microsystems digs this (since they're hot on community building). However, it's not all High-Tech, there's plenty of room for other things, like Education and Clothing.

One of the participants, Hyperstring.net commented on its blog that after building their own stand, they were asked by several other companies to do so. That's good spirit! Another participant, Meta Mart is releasing its long awaited new HUD, "We will be doing some demos of newly released 3'rd generation of Meta Mart ( yes by then we will release it :) ) and also of other items from Meta Mart, showing all the possibilities," says Robbie Kiama from Meta Mart.

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Sunday, April 15, 2007

Microsoft admits defunct in Xbox

After several thousand complaints from X-box 360 users, Microsoft finally admitted that their X-box has a defunct. For months Microsoft stuck to their statement that there was nothing wrong with the X-box and held gamers responsible. According to Microsoft the X-box would not damage discs as long as it was placed solidly.

During the Dutch television programme "Kassa" (about consumer rights) Microsoft finally admitted that cd's and dvd's can be damaged by te X-Box.

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Googlephonics

Google is looking for the next level in their Search Engine development. They have started an experiment with voice recognition, enabling people to search Google by telephone when you don't have a computer or internet connectin at hand. Google does the search and gives you the results, if so desired per sms.

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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Second Life, Creationism or Evolution?

Today I read an interesting article about Second Life.

As you'll probably know, Second Life offers its virtual residents to create 3D thing. A whole new virtual world is opening up. In designated areas, socalled Sandboxes, people can practise their building skills and the most bizarre creations appear every day, ranging from "planes, trains and automobiles" to luxurious condo's and bodyparts. Some people say the power to create makes you feel like a god.

The article deals with the theological question: Is Second Life the result of Creationism or of Evolution?
"Somewhere around my third glass of pinot noir, I realized that Rosedale was describing something more interesting: a world where imaginations touch, interact, and create. Pardon me for being dense about this, but I had to see this through my own bio-lenses, and I now realize that Second Life is actually an organism--one that is in the early stages of pure Darwinian evolution.

Full article:

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Intelligent Documents

yesterday I went to a tech-meeting about intelligent documents.
I really do have to write something about this, so please remind me!

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Otherland

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Otherland is a four-volume science fiction epic by Tad Williams. The story is set in the mid-to-late 21st century where technology has advanced somewhat from the modern day. The most notable advancement has been the development of the ability for people to attach themselves fully to a computer via a nerve interface in order to experience an online world, called simply “the net”, as virtually real. Tad Williams weaves an intricate plot spanning four thick volumes and creates a picture of a future society where virtual worlds are fully integrated into everyday life.

His proposed ability to immerse oneself fully in a simulation gives him a great deal of artistic freedom, and the story winds through alternate interpretations of many classical literary works such as Through the Looking Glass, The Odyssey and The Wizard of Oz, which are in the book available as entertainment simulations.

The story begins when young Stephen Sulaweyo, a boy living in the South African city of Durban falls into a coma while on the net. His older sister Irene (nicknamed Renie) investigates what has happened and starts discovering strange goings-on in the net, among them the constant reappearance of a mysterious golden city. With the help of her bushman technology student !Xabbu, Martine Desroubins, a French woman she meets over the net at the advice of her mentor, Dr. Susan van Bleeck, and the last surviving technician who created Otherland, Singh, she breaks into the Otherland network to reach the city. Once inside, she meets several other people all gathered together by a man named Sellars, who says he has called them together, but before he can tell the group everything he means to say, the golden city is attacked and all of the characters are forced to flee into the network—and discover that they can no longer unplug themselves to exit the net.

Sea of Silver Light paperback cover.

Books

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Snowcrash

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Snow Crash is a science fiction novel written by Neal Stephenson and published in 1992. It is his third novel. It follows in the footsteps of cyberpunk novels by authors like William Gibson and Rudy Rucker, but breaks away from this tradition by having a heavy dose of satire and black humor.

Like many postmodern novels, Snow Crash has a unique style and a chaotic structure which many readers find difficult to follow. It contains many arcane references to history, linguistics, anthropology, religion, computer science, politics, geography and philosophy, which may inspire readers to explore these topics further, or at least consult relevant reference works. Set in a world with a political-economic system that has been radically transformed, the novel examines religion along with its social importance, perception of reality versus virtual reality, and the violent and physical nature of humanity.

The title of the novel is explained in Stephenson's essay In the Beginning...was the Command Line, as the term for a particular software failure mode on the early Apple Macintosh computer. About the Macintosh, Stephenson wrote that "when the computer crashed and wrote gibberish into the bitmap, the result was something that looked vaguely like static on a broken television set — a 'snow crash.'"


Background

The story takes place in the former United States during the early 21st century. In this hypothetical future reality, the United States Federal Government has ceded most of its power to private organizations. Mercenary armies compete for national defense contracts, and private security guards preserve the peace in gated, sovereign housing developments. Highway companies compete to attract drivers to their roads rather than the competitors', and all mail deliveries are done by hired couriers. The remnants of the government maintain authority only in isolated compounds, where it transacts business that is by and large irrelevant to the booming, dynamic society around it.

Much of the territory ceded by the government has been carved up into a huge number of sovereign enclaves, each run by its own big business franchise (such as "Mr. Lee's Greater Hong Kong" or the various residential burbclaves (suburb enclaves)). This arrangement bears a similarity to anarcho-capitalism, a theme Stephenson carries over to his next novel The Diamond Age. Hyperinflation has devalued the dollar to the extent that trillion dollar bills, Ed Meeses, are little regarded and the quadrillion dollar note, a Gipper, is the standard 'small' bill. For physical transactions, people resort to alternative, non-hyperinflated currencies like yen or "Kongbucks" (the official currency of Mr. Lee's Greater Hong Kong).

The Metaverse, a phrase coined by Stephenson as a successor to the Internet, constitutes Stephenson's vision of how a virtual reality-based Internet might evolve in the near future. Although there are public-access Metaverse terminals in Reality, using them carries a social stigma among Metaverse denizens, in part because of the poor visual representation of themselves via low-quality avatars. In the Metaverse, status is a function of two things: access to restricted environments such as the Black Sun, an exclusive Metaverse club, and technical acumen which is often demonstrated by the sophistication of one's avatar.

Plot summary and major themes

The hero and protagonist whose story the book follows is Hiro Protagonist: "Last of the freelance hackers and Greatest swordfighter in the world". When Hiro loses his job as a pizza delivery driver for the Mafia, he meets a streetwise young girl nicknamed Y.T. (short for Yours Truly), who works as a skateboard "Kourier", and they decide to become partners in the intelligence business. The setting is a near-future version of Los Angeles, where franchising, individual sovereignty and automobiles reign supreme (along with drug trafficking, violent crime, and traffic congestion).

The pair soon learn of a dangerous new drug, called "Snow Crash" — both a computer virus, capable of infecting the brains of unwary hackers in the Metaverse, and a drug in Reality, being distributed by a network of Pentecostal churches via its infrastructure and belief system. As Hiro and Y.T. dig deeper (or are drawn in), they discover more about Snow Crash and its connection to ancient Sumerian culture, the fiber-optics monopolist L. Bob Rife and his enormous Raft of refugee boat people who speak in tongues, and an Aleut harpooner named Raven, whose motorcycle packs a nuke triggered by a literal dead man's switch. The Snow Crash meta-virus may be characterized as an extremely aggressive meme.

Stephenson takes the reader on a tour of the mythology of ancient Sumeria, while his characters theorize upon the origin of languages and their relationship to the Biblical story of the Tower of Babel. Asherah is portrayed as a deadly biological and verbal virus which was stopped in Ancient Sumer by the God Enki. In order to do that, Enki deployed a countermeasure which was later described as the Tower of Babel. The book also reflects ideas from Julian Jaynes's The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind (1976).

The characters speculate that early Sumerian culture used a primordial language which could be interpreted by human beings through the deep structures of the brain, rendering the learning of what he refers to as "acquired languages" needless. This theoretical language is related to glossolalia — also known as the phenomenon of "speaking in tongues" — stating that the babbling of glossolalia is in truth a truncated form of the primordial language. A comparison is made to computers and their binary machine code, which exists on a much more basic level than, for example, the human-readable, high-level programming languages, and as such gives those with the ability to speak the language great power.

In the Snow Crash interpretation of Sumer mythology, the masses were controlled by means of verbal rules called me. The characters of Hiro and Lagos compare me to small pieces of software which could be interpreted by humans, and which contained information for specific tasks such as baking bread. Me were stored in a temple and its distribution was handled by a high priest, referred to as the en. Within this context, Enki was an en who had the ability of writing new me, and is described as the primordial hacker. Also, the deuteronomists are supposed to have had an en of their own, and that kabbalistic sorcerers known as the Baalei Shem (masters of the name) could control the primordial tongue.

Me were erased from people's minds by a meta-virus (see the definition of meta-), a fact theoretically explaining the Tower of Babel myth. Enki then wrote a me called "The nam-shub of Enki", which had the effect of blocking the meta-virus from acting by preventing direct access to the primordial language, making the use of "acquired languages" necessary. The meta-virus did not disappear entirely, though, as the "Cult of Asherah" continued to spread it by means of cult prostitutes and infected women breast-feeding infants. This form of infection is compared to that of the herpes simplex virus or to the way religion is acquired.


Snow Crash
U.S. version cover shot, illustrated by Bruce Jensen.
Author Neal Stephenson
Cover artist Bruce Jensen
Country United States
Language English
Genre(s) Science fiction novel
Publisher Bantam Books (USA)
Released June 1992
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
ISBN ISBN 0-553-08853-X (first edition, hardback)

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New Kick Off

It's allways hard to start off with something new...

It is one to have the idea, two to realise it (set up an account, website)... but step three is to add content. What's a good way to start off?

Well, here's the kick-off
I started this blog with several goals in mind. First and foremost it is supposed to be a place where I can drop my ideas and insight about new technologies, such as Second Life, Web 2.0, BI 2.0 and what else is likely to become trendy in the IT world.

Secondly, it's supposed to be a digital archive for various "digital-farts" I'm a very opinionated man with ideas and view on a wide range of subjects. Too varied to try and bring some consistency into, hence I need a dumpsite.

Digital farting is a term I once heard someone use to describe the idea that it seems that nowadays everyone is able to publish the most ludicrous ideas on impulse... seems like a nice term to describe the various trivial notions that will probably pop up on this blog

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