Terminology Tossed Salad (3DTLC pt 1)

April 25, 2009

Hands down, no doubt, the best conference I’ve attended.  Since there were so many stimulating talks, questions, & conversations, I will attempt to synthesize my observations topically in the next few postings.

Terminology Tossed Salad:  What do we call this technology?  Is it Virtual Reality, Virtual Worlds, Immersive Internet, Immersive Technology, 3D Virtual Environments, Multiple User Virtual Environments?  Keynote Joe Little (BP), prefers 3D Virtual Environment (3DVE), the ThinkBalm team prefers “Immersive Internet“, although most individuals’ default is still virtual worlds.  I have a problem with the terms “virtual worlds,” “virtual reality,” and “virtual” for that matter.  All have baggage that cloud the clear perception and potential of the technology.

First, the “virtual”.  I’m a huge sci-fi fan (but was humbled at the ThinkBalm Innovation Community meetup by the sci-fi prowess of Mark Oehlert & Sam Driver…I am in awe).  Sci-fi is a double-edged sword to immersive technology.  It sparks the imagination and feeds the possible, but it brings with it the entire genre.  It’s entertainment, it’s accessible only by those with advanced technological skills, it’s speculative & not practical, it’s not real.  Basically, it’s niche entertainment for nerds.  To some, the term “virtual” brings images of “Tron” or “Lawnmower Man” or any number of low budget 80’s alien or mind-control films.  A collection of entertainments that reinforce the “unrealness” of the virtual.  Link that term with any other, and you still bring the associated baggage.

As far as “reality” goes, isn’t it all real?  We don’t call talking on the phone “virtual” or “simulated” interaction.

I choose to use the term “immersive”.  It brings with it a sense of presence, space, of surrounding oneself in something.  You can immerse yourself in a sport, in a hobby, in work, in an environment.  It’s focuses on the person experiencing and the potential for the subject being experienced to impact that person.  The degree of immersion is important, since the greater the sense of presence, the greater the engagement in the subject becomes.  Immersive technology is thus any technology utilized that incorporates the 3 dimentional in creating an experience of presence.

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Best Laid Plans for 3DTLC

April 18, 2009

I’m incredibly excited to be attending the 3D Training, Learning and Collaboration (3D TLC) conference in Washington, D.C. April 20-21st.  As a self-proclaimed conference nerd, I’ve set several specific objectives to accomplish:

To learn…

I like the logical progression of the agenda topics.   Seems to quite completely cover the spectrum of topics an organization will need to explore and progress through in implementing an immersive technology.  I hope to learn from each stage specific mistakes to avoid, successes to replicate, and best practices to emulate.

I admit, I rely too heavily on too few platforms (Open Sim & Second Life).  I hope to learn current and future developments of many other platforms, specifically through the lens of which are most promising (applicability to education, training, and collaboration).  I need to identify which few I should target to invest my limited learning time.

To scout out partners…

My and my University’s vision for immersive technologies cannot be accomplished without some additional human & organizational partners.  I’ll be on the lookout for individuals and groups that are the missing puzzle pieces to complete our plans.  What are those plans, you might ask?  Well, without giving too much away, OUCPM (my employer) will soon be pursuing several federal grants geared towards the utilization of immersive technology in future workforce development & in enhancing innovation.  For my personal immersive projects, I need a partner to help lighten the tool deployment load, so I can focus more on the R&D.

To capture inspiration…

Virtual environments need collaboration tools!  There are not enough of them, and many that do exist are user-unfriendly.  I’ve found my best tool ideas come from those user moments that start with, “I wish we could…”  I hope that through the multitude of comments and conversations, that I can synthesize several concepts for cool & useful tools to develop.

To earn clients…

This is not a sales trip for me, but I do intend to remain open and receptive to opportunities.  So, if you have any of the following needs, shoot me a tweet ( @JeffLowe ) and we can talk shop:

  • Turn-key video production for broadcast or web distribution (utilizing live and machinima footage )
  • Virtual and physical event management (from public lectures to 1000+ participant national conferences)
  • Virtual, physical, and online training development & management
  • Virtual collaboration tool development (see my Virtual Toolkit for examples)

To strengthen connections…

I’m absolutely pumpped to finally physically meet many of my virtual contacts, especially several members of the ThinkBalm Innovation Community.  Many of these people I’ve conducted business with, yet have only met via an avatar and voice/text chat.

Finally, for those not attending, if time permits, I will post a few post-conference observations and analysis.  You can also keep up with us real-time by following the Twitter hashtag #3DTLC.


Metaverse U Conference

February 16, 2008


Fascinating stuff was addressed at Stanford’s Metaverse U Conference today. I attended from within Second Life at Scilands island. The event was live webstreamed onto a bigscreen inworld. I would say roughly 40 people were in attendance in-world and maybe 60ish in real world. In-world participants not only could submit questions to an real-world moderator and have that moderator ask the speaker, but also conducted their own in-world text discussion over open chat lines.

The most fantastic presentation was by Jon Brouchoud (Wikitecture). I found the open-sourcing and massively outsourcing of architecture very promising, but the most interesting was the information display he developed. Users can come to the in-world island and via a 3-Dimensional display, know the status of various plans. Via a tower interface, users can load, inspect, and contribute to a plan.

This tool of information collection, manipulation, and display is exactly what I believe the world is heading towards. With the increase of the amount and availability of information, it is quickly becoming a world where those that can orchastrate and synthesize information excel. It is not enough to know about one subject. It is not enough to know how and where to get multiple sources of information on any subject. It is the ability to take massive amounts of diverse information, quickly, and synthesize that into nuggets of useful relevant and timely knowledge that will be most needed in the coming future. These emerging virtual tools will slowly develop into the tools used by such people in the future.

Needless to say, it’s an exciting time to be involved with the emerging virtuality.