Tuesday, January 26, 2010

LotusSphere 2010: Orlando, we have a problem!

"Orlando, we have a problem" was the title of the funniest session I attended during LotusSphere 2010 on monday Januari 18. Two crazy Scotsmen, but crack lotus admins Paul Mooney and Bill Buchan did a very inspiring session on how small mistakes can lead to huge catastrophes.
(photo Ed Brill)
Paul and Bill discussed 10 worst cases of 'fatal errors' that literally crippled entire companies. How can you send all 18,000 employees on holiday in just one click? Well, it happened! Of course, they did not just share the best jokes in sysadmin land to us, they investigated how these errors were made and presented the lessons learned.

Link to the presentation at Paul Mooney's site.

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Monday, January 18, 2010

LotusSphere 2010: TeamPark the best solution in the market

During the first major keynote with client showcases, one of the case studies was Sogeti's offering of TeamPark which was introduced to the 8,000 + audience by Sogeti CTO Michiel Boreel.

LotusSphere 2010,Orlando,Florida,IBM,Walt Disney World

As said in a previous blogpost, many companies find it hard to put real KPI's on Corporate Social Networking and Michiel also touched this subject; "there is a chance that your managers see social collaboration as a whole new waste of time" but in this day and age you have to push the limits, especially as a global IT company. The world is changing fast and competition heats up. As a company, you need to be agile and close to the market. You need to keep up to speed in terms of the latest developments. That is the reason why Sogeti chose to implement Lotus Connections 2.5 by the end of 2009: It's the challenge to increase the speed of innovation by engaging the talent of your employees.

LotusSphere 2010,IBM,Connections,Orlando,Florida,Walt Disney World

Michiel described the for stages of the TeamPark methodology; Awareness, Strategy, Implementation and Live. In many IT projects we do the strategy and the implementation but we do not do the first and last phase: Awareness and bringing the platform to Live. Especially when it comes to corporate social networking, these stages are essential. Else you would have an empty restaurant. And where do people eat? Not in the empty restaurant, but one across the street where it's busy. Now if your company would be like that, your employees would probably eat out in restaurants like Facebook or LinkedIn.

A social environment breaks down into five areas: Socialness, Organicness, Collective Intelligence, Aliveness and Linkedess (it needs to be S.O.CI.A.L.)

According to IBM, Sogeti's TeamPark offering currently is the best in the market when it comes to implementing social software in companies. If you would like to know more about TeamPark, just leave me a message or contact me on twitter (@vjburns), or call your nearest Sogeti Offices off course ;)

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LotusSphere 2010: Social Collaboration delivers Real Business Value

The first big keynote session after the OGS (Opening General Session) was KEY106: Social Collaboration delivers Real Business Value in which Jeff Schick asked: What is your companies collaboration culture? Is it phone? Is it email?

LotusSphere 2010,Orlando,Florida,IBM,Walt Disney World

What do you think will get you the best response? Is that dropping an email bomb on your employees or a dynamic search of a live site? Not surprisingly we are still in the proces of justifying corporate social software. We need metrics to convince our managers.

A number of partners and clients came on stage to showcase how collaboration has helped their business grow. First of all, Saleem Avan, Head of IT at the United Nations showed us how collaboration helps them to be agile and creative in harsh situations.

LotusSphere 2010,Orlando,Florida,IBM,Walt Disney World

Other client showcases included Thomas Anger, manager Collaboration Services at Sun Life Financial (and guess what his blog is called: Anger Management. That drew a few laughs), Sogeti CTO Michiel Boreel (which I'll get into later), Travis Hall - Director of Client Engineering at Union Pacific and Eve McLain from ACI which deliver payment processing solutions

KEY106 Social Collaboration Delivers Real Business Value at Collaboration Matters.

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LotusSphere 2010: Poject Vulcan

Well, we had Shatner and the Social Enterprise for starters and now we have Vulcans. Where is this all heading to?

Project Vulcan was announced by IBM at LotusSphere 2010 as the IBM vision on the Future of Collaboration, and not yet the near future, but Vulcan kicks off a preliminary roadmap towards 2020.

The project is not about new IBM products but about making IBM products integrate more seamlessly and expanding their functionality. Key elements in the future development will be social analysis and business analysis. This seems to be a hot topic in Corporate Social Networking as many companies find it hard to put meaningfull metrics to Social Networking: Can it really improve my business?

Instead of using mockups IBM was working with real code during the demos and showed us a client interface much like the one we are used to from the Lotus Notes client and a webbased client. For end users there should not be a difference between desktop and webclients anymore and the client should integrate products like Lotus Quickr, Lotus Connections, Lotus Sametime and Microsoft Office Sharepoint into one seamless user experience.

You can tell IBM has been looking very closely at social networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIN in continuing their Lotus Connections development of the homepage, which should become a central hub that lets users see and edit information from business applications in a relative context.

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LotusSphere 2010: Starship Social Enterprise

Early monday morning the LotusSphere 2010 Convention officially kicked off in the grand opening session. General Manager of Lotus Software Bob Piccanio did the introduction, then quit the job as he introduced Alistair Rennie as his successor.

We weren't expecting any kick ass announcements as Jeff Schick had already given a few sneak previews at the Business Development Day session yesterday, so we were all waiting for the big star to open the ball. This time it was William Shatner, or Captain Kirk of the Starship Enterprise.

LotusSphere 2010,Orlando,Florida,IBM,Walt Disney World

His performance drew a lot of laughs as he talked about collaboration in the movie industry. For a pretty extensive live blogging coverage of the OGS (Opening General Session) check out the Collaboration Matters website.

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LotusSphere 2010: The Tweet Up

After the Business Development Session it was time for the grand welcoming reception, a meet and greet with proper bites and drinks. for folks on Twitter we organized a little tweet up party - fun part was that there was no WiFi available so I couldn't tweet.

Anyway, I ran into Doc Brown (who isn't on Twitter)
LotusSphere 2010,Orlando,Florida,IBM,Walt Disney World

and finally met with Luis Benitez (left) and Luis Suarez (right), the first one kind enough to shoot the above and picture.

LotusSphere 2010,IBM,Connections,Orlando,Florida,Walt Disney World

I'm still looking for the picture we took in front of the DeLorean! Please let me know where to get it.

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Who are your Twitterfriends?

Most people are pretty honest in building their social network at sites like LinkedIn and Plaxo, connection to people with whom they have a real relationship. It also helps that if you want to connect with someone out of the blue, you often have to enter the person's email address.

Building your friendlist at microblogging site Twitter works differently though. On Twitter you send out your message to the world. Everytime you blurt something into the Twitterverse there's a good chance it gets picked up by someone you don't know. If they like your tweet, there's a good chance they'll start following you, and if you politely follow them back, you'll get into a new network, building your own. Networks on twitter can expand pretty fast to thousands of followers.

Stars of Le Web 2.0 often have massive lists of followers, like Barack Obama (555,878), iJustine (285,034) Guy Kawasaki (100,318), Robert Scoble (74,688). It's impossible to pay attention to everything your 'friends' say when you've got such a list to monitor. Chances are that you're barely able to follow about a 100 or 150 of them actively.

One of the nice tools that plug into Twitter is the Mailana social network analysis system, which taps into millions of messages, tweets and pulls up a nice graph of your Network. If your list of followers has grown too big to manage and you start to forget who your real friends are, maybe it's time to pull up a graph of your own to see who you've been interacting with. The image below is my Twittersphere, which you can explore here.

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Monday, March 23, 2009

Companies spy on Twitter

Although it's been around a while already, suddenly Microblogging service Twitter, is the talk of the town, overly hyped and going supernova with unsurpassed growth rates over 1300%. For those unaware of Twitter: It's nothing special. It lets you type 140 character messages to the world, or anyone who cares to read your digital farts.

Nonetheless, Twitter is getting more and more popular and getting a lot of mainstream attention as twitterers like @BreakingNewsOn often bring breaking news way ahead of traditional media. In its wake we've seen all sorts of people turning to twitter to get attention. When I say all sorts of groups, I really mean all sorts of groups. On the serious side we find (of course) Obama, the Governator, Dutch Royalty and Dutch politicians (find the list on kamertweets.nl) for instance, and on the other side of the spectrum we find a list of pornstars who'd like more than 100 character lines in movies. Over the past months I've also seen an invasion marketeers on Twitter.

Most of Twitter's richness though comes from add-on applications that allow you to search on certain topics and handle multiple streams.

Due to its nature of 140 characters max per textmessage, people are often too honest, to blunt in their statements about almost anything and the number of stories about people who got into professional trouble after their boss picked up a tweet is growing. Online Marketing and CRM company Salesforce now adds to this, in offering a new service which helps companies to spy on Twitter.

Your Customers Are Talking in the Cloud.Where do customers go for service today? More and more often, it's not the call center. What used to be everyone’s favorite way to access customer service has become a jumbled mess of touch-tone navigation and poorly trained outsourced agents. It's no wonder customers are looking elsewhere. Today, real wisdom lives in the cloud. Web communities. Twitter. Facebook. Forums. Blogs. Google. The cloud is where customers are turning for service.

Salecforce just recently launched their Service Cloud offering (January), and promised it will include Twitter in the very near future, which basically means that you pay them a bunch for doing queries on Twitter. Companies will have to pay fees in excess of $ 1.000,- per month. After two months of service, Salesforce already registers 6.800 customers for their Service Cloud offering. According to Alexandre Dayon in a Venturebeat article yesterday, there is a huge interest in listening in on Twitter:

Most people on popular microblogging site Twitter (which just turned three) have probably seen customer service-type queries from other users — questions about how to make a product work, or complaints that it’s broken. I have even posted some complaints of my own. That’s one of the reasons companies like Google have created their own Twitter accounts, and its why Salesforce.com is adding Twitter integration to its customer service product, which it calls the Service Cloud.

This, of course, is the positive, official view on the Service Cloud offering, the more realistic version is that companies want to know what is said about their products and service, not to help you, but to do damage control if a customer has been 'too honest'.

Of course, there are exceptions; official corporate representatives who are not on twitter to monitor comments on their company, but for the love of Twitter itself. These folks are usually very accessible and welcome comments about their companies.

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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Google unfit for Social Web

Over the past years we have seen two major trends on the internet; one is the so-called web 2.0 stuff, social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace etcetera and the second trend is Google taking ousting one rival after the other, gaining dominance on the web. Today a new study says these two trends are incompatible:

"NEW YORK Google doesn’t care about social networking. But perhaps it should, since social-networking platforms are gradually making search less relevant.Those are just two of the more pointed conclusions found in a report issued today by Pali Research analyst Richard Greenfield, who examined MySpace’s business and its long-term ad relationship with Google. In the report, Greenfield reiterated a contention he made last July that the underperformance of search ads in MySpace is not simply a product of the non-responsive nature of these sites’ users. Rather, according to Greenfield, Google’s algorithm isn’t well-suited to social-networking sites -- and that’s something Google isn’t necessarily concerned with."

I'm not sure Google isn't concerned with social networking sites, but it certainly is an interesting statement. What is particularly interesting is why Greenfield things Google is not suited for Social networking;

"The reason the company doesn’t care, said Greenfield, is that the basic functionality of social platforms like MySpace, Facebook and Twitter is "diminishing the importance of search.” He points to users’ growing inclination to search for specific information by tapping into friends’ and colleague's knowledge through platforms like Twitter’s own search product, as well Facebook’s status update tool."

The rise of the social web brings people together. Friends and professional networks are the way to provide the necessary information, as these are sources you trust and value.

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Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Microsoft takes Kumo for testdrive

In previous blog entries I've written about Microsoft loosing the online battle to Google and why they desperately need to team up with Yahoo. Google offers a whole suite of online applications, but at the core is of course Google's searchengine and this is where Microsoft wants to take the battle to in launching their new searchengine 'Kumo'

Earlier this week Microsoft announced that the company had started testing the new service, which is supposed to be much more intelligent that Google's. It is supposed to understand syntax and the relation between queries. Last monday CNet reported :

"Word that Microsoft was close to launching the new search tool began with a Twitter posting by Powerset co-founder Barney Pell, who now serves as a "search strategist and evangelist" for Microsoft. In the posting, reported by enthusiast site LiveSide, Pell did not mention the Kumo name, but said that the site was getting an updated user interface and new brand.

"Barney was referring to our internal testing environments," the Microsoft representative said, adding that the company had nothing to announce today. "We are not in a position to confirm what will come to the market or when." Microsoft acquired Pell's Powerset in July. "

According to yesterday's news at CNet, Kumo is a rebranded version of Microsoft Live Search. However, to stand more than a snowflake's chance in hell, Kumo needs to be a whole lot more than a mere revampt of the Live Search, which is the 3rd largest searchengine and currently has a marketshare of 8,5%, trailing Google (60%) and Yahoo (21%) by miles.

In yesterday's article at CNet they also laid hands on an internal Microsoft email calling out for testers. Here's a wee bit from the article:

In spite of the progress made by search engines, 40 percent of queries go unanswered; half of queries are about searchers returning to previous tasks; and 46 percent of search sessions are longer than 20 minutes. These and many other learnings suggest that customers often don't find what they need from search today.

We believe we can provide a better and more useful search experience that helps you not just search but accomplish tasks. During the test, features will vary by country, but you'll see results organized in a way that saves you more time. An explorer pane on the left side of results pages will give you access to tools that help you with your tasks. Other features like single session history and hover preview help accomplish more in search sessions.

Also from the same CNet article, a first screenshot of Kumo

For now, Kumo is the projects codename, but the blogoshere doubts it will be the final brandname. Officially, Kumo is Japanese for 'Cloud' and 'Spider' but sounds a little too much like that crazy dog, Cujo, from a Stephen King novel (according to ZDnet)

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Saturday, February 28, 2009

The business value of real networks

Today I came across an interesting video on Open Forum. In their series "Inside the Entrepreneurial Mind " bestselling author and thoughtleader Seth Godin made a few interesting remarks about Twitter and Facebook: "They're useless"
The particular video I'm referring to starts with a marketing guy asking what the benefit of networking is for business.
Seth's answer is pretty straightforward:

"The internet is a giant cocktail party of people swarming around, connecting as much as they can and keeping score...but one day you need to ask them to authorize a 100,000 dollar contract... it doesn't matter"

His conclusion:

"Networking is always important when it's real and it's always a useless distraction when it's fake"

Real value comes from real connections. No wonder why Twitter is still looking for a business model, other than just selling a person database and why would people value Facebook in the billions of dollars?

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Friday, January 09, 2009

Authority Search and Social Webdesign

Loic Le Meur wrote an interesting article last week on filtering by Authority to which I fully disagree:

"There were more than 7000 tweets posted during the two days of LeWeb, no way anyone can read them quickly. We need filtering and search by authority. We're not equal on Twitter, as we're not equal on blogs and on the web. I am not saying someone who has more followers than yourself matters more, but what he says has a tendency to spread much faster. Comments about your brand or yourself coming from @techcrunch with 36000 followers are not equal than someone with 100 followers. Most people use Twitter with a few friends, but when someone who has thousands, if not tens of thousands of followers starts to speak, you have to pay attention.

Brands do pay attention and already start understanding the difference. We made the experiment with Ben Metcalfe. I started complaining that Sprint was not offering the new Blackberry (they still don't, I want a BB Bold with worldwide unlimited data) on Twitter and minutes later a Sprint representative contacted me and offered me VIP customer service. I loved it. For the experiment, @dotben started also complaining about the same issue (and really would love a Bold too, it was true) but nothing happened for Ben. Why not? Sprint understood that I have nearly 10x the number of followers of Ben so I had to be answered immediately, even with my weird last name no one can pronounce. Ben has almost 2000 followers, I think Sprint should actually pay attention too.

What we need is search by authority in Twitter Search. Technorati had nailed it years ago by allowing searches filtered by number of links the blogger had. It would be very easy for Twitter to add an authority line in their search criteria, with the number of followers so that you can search for say, only people who have more than a thousand followers and see what they say. React as fast as you can for criticism from them. It is not a criteria for being smart or not, but clearly a criteria for how fast something can spread."

I fully agree with Loic that the amount of information we spread out nowadays is too much. If you pick up a saturday issue of the New York Times you'll be getting more information than a person would get in his whole life say 200 years ago. Every year we see a stellar growth in information. The information poured onto us in the last five years through the internet is more than the information mankind has produced in the 5,000 years before.

No wonder we get lost along the way, and you've got a hell of a job in finding out who really does know something about the issue you're pondering. I don't have Loics reputation, so I don't count as an authority here, but I dare say Loic is wrong. He's off by miles.

In his blogpost he pleas to have a twitter search by authority, just like technorati who worked out an algorithm to define the authority of your blog. I'll walk a mile with him on this path as the algorithm to define authority by number of citations or links is much better than counting sheer numbers of followers. However...

There's a catch.

The catch is in creating an elite layer, the twitterati, the digerati, or whatever you'd like to call them. While reading Loic's blogpost, two things came to mind. First a conversation I had past New Years'Eve and a blogpost I wrote about half a year ago on the Social Web.

The New Years Eve conversation I had was a conversation with my neighbour and my Sister in Law who has recently received her PhD at the Oxford University. She graduated in the interaction between insects and how that would affect a Ecological systems or something like that. Fact is she worked at the same department as Dawekins (the Evolution theory zealot) and the discussion went into Evolutionism vs. Creationism. On both sides you have zealots and with neither you can have a normal scientific, fact based discussion. Evolutionism is the dominant philosophy in Science these days and to most people it seems like the case has been closed. Evolution has been scientifically verified, beyond doubt. Well, it isn't. I didn't see a video on YouTube to prove it (nor did I see a video on YouTube to prove Divine Creation) and if you would conduct objective, unbiased science, you would have to conclude that the evolution theory has gaps. In a scientific setting you'd count on educated minds questioning these results, but in the way it is presented to our children who do not have the cognitive skills yet to analyse results, we are brainwashing them. If you look at how the scientific scene works it explains a lot. Authority in Science comes from the number of publications you have in a major magazine. Every paper you submit is reviewed by an editor who likes it, or not, regardless of the argumentation to your findings. Let's say you write an article about how Evolution sucks, no matter if you include 100% proof, if the editor doesn't like it, you're out. Next step is the peer review. Every paper, once it has passed the editorial selection, is sent to peers, colleagues and the same selections starts over again. Let's say my findings are solid and proves the previously published research of one of my reviewers wrong, he won't like that as it will make him lose his reputation, authority or stature. Case closed. No publication.

Selection and authority in this process kill Science as it should be unbiased and objective. It isn't. I think the same would count for authority based filtering. The key issue here is in automation. Google and other search engines have worked out algorithms, as well as technorati who put auhority to blogs. No matter how much intelligence you put into these intermediates, they cannot compete with the selection capacity of the human brain. These selection mechanisms will undoubtedly produce a prevailing elite, just like in the science case above and smart, intelligent and argumented opinions to the contrary will be neglected.

This made me recall a post I made several months ago on the social web called "Power to the Community" In this blogpost I discussed how my colleague defines social webdesgin. This is way more than defining the social web. It is about desinging your websites to create emergent behaviour. In extremis this could lead to Isaac Asimov's foundation series in which he presents the Psychohistory.

The basis of psychohistory is the idea that, while the actions of a particular individual could not be foreseen, the laws of statistics could be applied to large groups of people and used to predict the general flow of future events. Asimov used the analogy of a gas: in a gas, the motion of a single molecule is very difficult to predict, but the mass action of the gas can be predicted to a high level of accuracy - known in physics as the Kinetic Theory. Asimov applied this concept to the population of the fictional Galactic Empire, which numbered in a quintillion. The character responsible for the science's creation, Hari Seldon, established two postulates:

  1. That the population whose behaviour was modeled should be sufficiently large
  2. They should remain in ignorance of the results of the application of psychohistorical analyses.

In creating automated intelligent interfaces to filter through the inprocessable amount of digital information we might just be on our way to do that...

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Thursday, December 04, 2008

Pownce goes Bownce

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Please visit our new home to find out more:http://www.sixapart.com/pownce

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

The Pownce Crew

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

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

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

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

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

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Saturday, October 04, 2008


The people I hang out with are either dedicated gamers (people that play World of Warcraft, Warhamemr, Lord of the Rings Online or Rapelz), or metaverse enthusiasts that explore virtual worlds and do interesting blah blah on interoperability and portability. In neither community we take 3D chatrooms very seriously and why should we? Those are just chatrooms, not entire worlds. When we chat, we use twitter, msn or skype.

I guess that's not fair on the chatrooms. Let's be honest. What have we seen of corporate use in virtual worlds sofar? Most users to Second Life do little else than using it as a social hangout to chat or do other social stuff which could easily have been done just as good in a 3D chatroom.

We can laugh at most of these 3D chatrooms and wave them away as being niche things in the industry. This is true for a number of these environments, as some can barely reach 2.5D or have a sole focus on sex, like Rapture or Naughty America, but there's one that stands out among its peers: IMVU.

I Envy You

You just can't miss IMVU these days. Whereas the majority of 3D related ads was taken up by World of Warcraft about a year ago, lately the ad market for 3D products seems to be dominated by IMVU. In the picture below a screenshot from the IMVU website, and 5 different IMVU ads I encountered in the last 5 hours at technorati.

Aside from the addvertisements, I don't hear a lot about IMVU, but it's serious business out there. In the past year they've grown rapidly - without much fuzz overtaking even Second Life in users - growing to over 20 million registered users, with about 600K active users every month. So what is IMVU exactly and why is it so succesfull

IMVU is a graphical instant messaging client with over 20 million registered users, and over 600,000 active monthly users, as of June 6th, 2008. Currently, it is in public beta, and has been available since April 02, 2004. It is developed by IMVU, Inc., founded by Will Harvey, a video game developer and founder of There.

IMVU has world’s largest catalog of virtual goods with over 1.5 million items, produced by over 100,000 content creators. It has generated $1 million in revenue per month, 90% of which comes directly from consumers who buy IMVU credits and virtual goods.

The primary focus of IMVU is the ability to use personalized 3D avatars and environments that let the user interact with the person they are chatting with. The secondary focus of IMVU is allowing the members to develop content that can be purchased by other members for use in personalizing their avatars and environments. [Wikipedia]

In general the presscoverage for Virtual Worlds has been dominated by Second Life, both positive and negative. The people I've spoken to, working at other Virtual Worlds generally feel most impact of the negative publications about Second Life, and feel they have hurt the industry and hampered growth. Yet again, this does not seem to be true for IMVU. They've mainly steered away from the press and did their own things. IMVU started up in 2004 and it took them four years (!) to release their first press statement, or as IMVU's CEO Cary Rosenzweig said last June:

"Today we take a big step for IMVU as a company - we’re issuing our first-ever
press release.

We are starting public relations (“PR”) activities for the first time in order to tell the IMVU story to a larger audience. We want to reach out and attract even more people to IMVU so that you have more people to meet, more people to have fun with, more people to buy your items from the catalog, more people to become content creators themselves."

And this was only after they've hit the 20M user mark.

In November last year I made a short overview of chatroom. To see what elkse is out there, check out this blogpost.

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Monday, September 08, 2008

Weblin - a 3D Chat overlay for your browser

Just after writing about Myrl, a new website offering a gateway to many different worlds, I read an interesting story by Vint Falken on Weblin, which tries to bring 3D to the web as well.

If I remember correctly, weblin used to advertise with ‘bringing the virtual world to the web’ … or something like that. Weblin - by Zeitgeist - ’s far from a virtual world (yet), but the concept of layering the avatar on top of normal websites is surely fascinating and well executed:

  1. You have a cute little avie that is customisable using the ‘avatar creation kit’.(takes 100×100px animated gif up to 50kb).
  2. It has a ‘monetary value’, named ‘Kala’ that is described as ‘the virtual weblin currency’. (Purchasing those is not yet possible. You receive 150 Kala (Kalas?) on start.)
  3. Weblin points. You get those as a reward for activity. Use them to unlock features & avatars.
  4. Contact list. See which of your befriended weblins are currently online.
  5. Mute button. Always handy! ;)
  6. Private chat. Duh!
  7. Integration with del.icou.us, twitter, stumble upon and even a self hosted WP install.
  8. Dating. As you’re on the same wegpage, you’ll surely have the same interests? What I love about this one is that weblin Flirt is standard disabled. So they don’t bother you with it unless you do state you’re looking for a relationship.
  9. Basic animations: jump, dance, wave and even better… decline/refuse.

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Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Vesuvius Group

A little while ago I blogged Google in Second Life, which was created by the Vesuvius Group. I hadn't run into them before, but today I ran into their Executive Director, Jeroen Frans. I've known Jeroen through twitter and other sites for ages, but never knew he was part of the Vesuvius Group. Here's a little slideshow of their portfolio:

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Monday, October 15, 2007

New VW tech

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Friday, October 12, 2007

Virtual World Conference wrap up

It's friday and the conference is over. Still got tons to blog though. '

I'm noticing I'm going quite randomly through my notes and don't really put up the speaches and notes in the presented order. Just browse on for the ins and outs of the conference.

All in all, the conference was a success I think, from a VW point of view, as well as a personal and business point of view. I've finally met lots of people on my twitter and linked-in list, and established several new connections and got tons of inspiration to dwell on

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Thursday, July 05, 2007

Kaneva Expedition

Who thought Second Life was just a hype at the start of 2007 has to rethink. Yes, perhaps Second Life is a little hyped with an absurd amount of media attention, but 2007 looks to be the year that Virtual Worlds are going mainstream in the Western World (emphasizing Western, since Cyworld already seems to be a bare necessity in Korea)

Among the many Metaverses there's Kaneva, which I visited today.

Registration was quite easy and since there are no family names, like in Second Life, I was able to register myself as VeeJayBurns.

After the registration it's time to download. The first download, the install wizard is just 2Mb, but then the full engine is downloaded, 250 Mb, after installation about 500Mb.
One of the great features of Kaneva is the personal homepage that you get as a resident - a good start to integrate Web 2.0 and Web 3D into one environment. Think of the power of integrating Second Life with Flickr, Blogger, YouTube, Twitter/pownce and Facebook all in one!
Character creation is very limited, compared to Second Life, same pretty much goes for content creation.
Uploading textures, or patters works from webpages, which is actually a better interface than the inworld upload that Second Life offers.
Another great thing about Kaneva is, besides you getting your own 'homepage', you also get your own 'home'. That does bring back memories of First Land in Second Life (which I missed out on :-( )
A thing that surprised - in a good way - was the speed of Kaneva. Movement was quite fast. On the downside, as in SpaceStage I did not meet any people or found an easy way to wander around the world.

Kaneva does have some benefits to offer, some addons that may help to create a Metaversal identity, but is lacking in other parts compared to Second Life. For instance, Second Life really has the upper hand when it comes to content creation and the openness of the world. Also the 'mandatory' orientation island exerecises may seem to be a bit overdone, but when entering a world for the first time - without any practise, does leave you at a loss sometimes.

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Sunday, July 01, 2007

Pownce, Facebook and iPhone

Okay, here's a non SL post again. I've finally gotten into POWNCE!
Thanks to Vincent Shore of Squawknest.

Pownce is still in Alpha, but looks like it's gonna be the next big thing.

Pownce is a way to send stuff to your friends. What kind of stuff? You can send just about anything: music, photos, messages, links, events, and more. You can do it all through the web site, or install the desktop software that lets you get out of the browserbox.

The past weeks there's been a lively discussion at twitter on Pownce, which is seen by many as an enormous improvement to twitter (or as someone said: "if Twitter upgraded the things that users wanted, you'd kinda have pownce ")

(sorry couldn't grabcapture the client, but trust me, it looks slick)

The other thing that's taking up some of my time is Facebook. It's originally a Harvard Who's Who but is rapidly expanding and replacing myspace in some ways.

"Facebook isn't about college stuff anymore. I have no college network and enjoy the software as an organizational tool. "

If you'd like to know more, Danah Boyd wrote an excellent article on Facebook.

Finally, it seems like every US based friend I have on twitter has been suckered into the iPhone craze. Again, I'd have to admit it looks slick but I wouldn't buy one immediately --luckily it isn't available in Europe yet, so I'll have time to see how it develops.
It seems heavily overhyped at the moment in my opinion, though Steve did a good Job on fuelling it by stating that there might not be enough iPhone's available.
Here's a little reader question:
If you're reading this blog, could you tell me if you've bought one?

Finally, if you'd like to know more on iPhone or Pownce I'd recommend you'd visit Scobleizer's page at FastCompany magazine. Todays bloglinks give you an excellent overview on these apps / sites.
His current column is titled The New Web War.
"Perhaps the hottest debate in my circle today centers around the technologies we'll use inside, or outside, the browser to build a new kind of rich Internet application. We're talking mostly about video, because that's where the action is."
Part of his column is on Adobe's Apollo platform which is used for Pownce as well.
Robert Scoble is one of the leading ubergeek bloggers. Scoble is best known for his popular blog, Scobleizer, which came to prominence during his tenure as a technical evangelist at Microsoft.
So, again Web 2.0 which should be about integration is getting diversificated again.

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Sunday, June 17, 2007

VeeJay bows to pressure

... during every geek meet and things to do outing the keep telling me Twitter is an absolute must. I've resisted and have joined the collective.. apparently resistance is futile.

Anyway, since I'm a leaguie behind, please do add me and let me not have to look for you: http://twitter.com/vjburns

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Friday, June 01, 2007

Twitterati Geek Meet

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

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