BrainBoard Training Modules

May 3, 2009

In preparation for the upcoming release of the BrainBoard V1, I prepared 3 videos to help people get the most out of their use of the tool.

The user orientation is under 3 minutes and will prepare users to fully collaborate on the board.

The two owner/moderator orientations are roughly 2 minutes each, and cover how to import/export, adding a 2nd board, Collaboration vs. Moderator Modes, and a few other basics.


I also posted a text reference sheet covering the basics in one page.


2 Weeks in the ThinkBalm Innovation Community

September 6, 2008

For the last 2 weeks, I have actively participated in ThinkBalm’s Innovation Community.  For those of you who haven’t heard of this new community, here are my impressions:

What is it:

In a nutshell, it’s an online approach to inovation management.  Built on the Spigit’s serious game platform (see my earlier post explaining Spigit), ThinkBalm’s community focuses on generating and critiquing ideas relating to the immersive internet.  The ideas are refined through community member interaction and feedback.

How it works:

Take a brainstorming session, mix in equal parts of Wall Street, facebook, your favorite blogs, market economics, election politics, LinkedIn, and academic peer reviewed journals, hit purée, and you start to get a feel for what it is and how it operates.  Members have a range of methods to engage in the process, but it all starts with someone posting their idea.

The idea founder’s goal is to progress their idea through a standard process of peer review hurtles, structured much like a business startup, with a hopefully successful IPO and strong market capitalization on the game’s “spock” market.  Based on peer feedback, founders can refine their ideas and, if necessary, even recruit partners with “spock” ownership incentives.  Members provide feedback through discussion forums, by writing reviews, and by voting to “spig” or “scrap” the idea.  Your can choose to change your vote if compelling evidence is presented in discussion or if the idea’s team improves the idea.  You can also spig and scrap discussion comments, which not only voices you opinion of the comment but also impacts the reputation of the member that posted the comment.

The Performance Feedback:

The variety of performance feedback provided quickly draws you into the community’s “game” of innovation.  The leaderboard gives the low-down on member and idea performance, ranking both on reputation, popularity, and wealth.  It’s a thrill seeing your ideas and your name rise and fall through the rankings.

So, why you should pay attention:

It’s practical…

Sure, there is some pie-in-the-sky prognosticating (like one of my my ideas: Arrival of Ubiquitous Augmented Reality), but the collective wisdom of the vigorous community discussion always keeps the proverbial one foot on the ground.  I have discovered it is a great way to improve the ideas you’ve developed, as long as you are willing to listen and adapt.

Stay on the cutting edge of innovative virtual environment thinking…

If you are interested or involved in virtual environments, whether it be for education or the enterprise, the community is an excellent source of innovative cutting-edge thinking.

Games are the future of work…

I’m very impressed with the way this “game” approaches the process of innovation.  It’s not a top-down, let’s-meet-to-discuss-ways-our-organization-can-step-out-of-the-box, typical enterprise approach to promoting innovative thought and action.  It’s a fun, grass-roots, games approach to gathering innovations from the workforce, which is often the source of the most significant innovations.

It’s fun…

Even after a long day of work, I still enjoy logging on and contributing my thoughts.  It’s just plain fun.  And any tool an organization can deploy that taps into the heart of their stakeholders has enoromous potential.


Managing a Large Virtual Event

August 17, 2008

Recently, I assisted some of my Second Life contacts in preparing and running PeaceFest 08, their multi-location fundraising event.  Along with developing a LSL script for distributing the event schedule and calendar, I helped greet people and manage security at the main event sim location.  The following are suggestions (based on my observations of what worked and what needed improvement) for anyone planning a multi-location event in Second Life (focused on text chat only without voice).

1.  Security

Griefer attacks will happen at any well-publicized event.  You must have a plan to deal with this eventuality.

  • Prepare your frontline staff to identify possible griefers.  Be sure they know who to IM if they spot something suspicious.
  • Have adequate staff with the power to ban people from land ready to respond to frontline staff requests.
  • Lurkers, or avatars dancing or standing underwater or at corners of the sim could be griefers in waiting.  Ask if they need help.  If they don’t respond, warn them.  If they remain unresponsive, boot them from the sim for safety.
  • Watch out for the imposter leaches too, especially if you are collecting money.  While welcoming guests, someone arrived with a sign above them announcing, “give $1 here”.  Since our event had donation stations located around the area, they were obviously attempting to skim donations from the event.  After requesting them to leave (with no response) we eventually booted them.

2.  The Schedule

The schedule of events must be easily found, distributed, understood, and updated.

  • Make the schedule easily accessible.  All too often, event planners think in real life terms that limit distribution possibilities.  Put the schedule in a publicly accessible Google Calendar.  Staff can chat the calendar link to guests, which then need only click to access the schedule.  You can also script objects to chat the schedule link automatically, leaving the human staff to be more personable in their interactions with attendees.
  • I also scripted a simple calendar sign so that people could touch and receive the event main location and the link to the google calendar.  This automated approach helps for remote locations without welcome staff and to augment efforts of human staff.
  • Be sure to clearly communicate what timezone is used.  Since it is an online event, you will probably have worldwide visitors.  Either provide functionality in your schedule to display times from the viewer’s timezone, or stick with the SL time (PST).
  • The staff also placed their schedule on a notecard.  I noticed each time there was a change, the staff had to not only IM the new version to all the greeters, but also put the correct version in the automated schedule distributors.  It caused a bit of confusion and a lot of needless work.  Just like printed schedules for real life events, notecards are tough to update when changes happen.  Thus, they are probably not the most effective schedule vehicle.

3.  Getting the Masses to the Places

People need to know how to get to the event locations, and navigating in Second Life is often difficult, especially to those just beginning.

  • Establish SLURLS for the main locations in each sim you use.  Station human staff at those locations to greet and answer questions.  You can publish the SLURLS on the web (maybe in a Google Doc, Event website, or event blog) and list them in a notecard inworld.  Staff can chat the SLURLS to give guests instant clickable access (teleport) to the location.  The easier it is for the guest to get to where they need to go, the better.
  • Be sure to make it flexible enough so that when (not if) the location changes for an event, you can easily update everyone simply by updating one calendar, not multiple ones.
  • At the event, use signs judiciously.  Don’t overcrowd the area.  Arrowed signs work well, as do glowing or particle-emitting signs.

4.  Frontline Staff

Frontline staff are the face of an event.  They need to know the schedule, where things are, when they happen, and how to quickly explain this to multiple guests simultaneously.

  • Have frontline workers pull-up each visitor’s profile when they arrive.  Check for unusual names with numbers such as “sean874902 Hax” and for birthdates within a few days.  These may be disposable alt accounts that griefers will use for an attack.  Having a recent birthdate indicates this avatar was recently created.  IM the avatar and ask if they need any help, since you notice they are new (nice gesture if they are innocent, acknowledgement that you are watching if they have nefarious intent).
  • Equip your frontline staff with basic chat scripts for the anticipated repeatable statements, such as, “Welcome to PeaceFest 08,” and, “You can find the schedule at the following link:  http://tinyURL.com/PeaceFest08”.  This frees up time to be more interactive and personable.  Workers can copy and paste into chat to save time.  I used these today and trust me, with 20+ IM conversations occuring at the same time with guests, they were a lifesaver.  You could even use scripted greeter programs for this augmented by humans, but it does lose the personal touch.
  • Even if they are volunteers, take the time to do some basic training/orientation with the greeters.  It should at least cover all the numbered items in this post.

5.  Staff Coordination

Staff must have multiple back channels for effective communication to all levels of Staff.

  • Create a group for the Welcomers, Security Crew, and whatever other logical groups your events require.  Use the group chat to keep everyone within that group up-to-date on changes, problems, and status.  We utilized this to great effect to insure we balanced the appropriate number of greeters at each location, instantly moving staff to where the crowds needed them the most.
  • You can use Skype or in-world voice direct call when typing is just way too slow.

MetaHappenings: PeaceFest 08

August 10, 2008


Date: Friday, August 15th – Sunday, August 17th
Time: 10am-Midnight (CST)
Location: At over 30 different sims within Second Life

What: “A global, interfaith, cross-cultural effort to create lasting peace through mobilizing support for and learning with real-life peace organizations. All proceeds from PeaceFest ‘08 will go to benefit Amnesty International, UNICEF, World Conference of Religions for Peace, Uthango Social Investments, and Kids for Peace.

This event represents a true cross-over from real-life to Second Life and back again as we bring real-life speakers in-world to discuss peace-related initiatives in our global open and free SL forum. Musicians and speakers will be streamed into SL while panel discussions and performances are streamed back out.”

Personal Notes: I’ll be working at a few of the Saturday events. If you have a Second Life account, log-in and stop by. I believe this SLURL will get you there.


Today on Tomorrow: Orchestrating Information in 3D

March 1, 2008


We are stuck in the past, in an antiquated paradigm. We are sipping through a tiny coffee stirring straw while we remain parched. We require a new information processing model for individuals, one with the ability to match the ever increasing levels of available information produced by our world.

We google search, read feeds, watch TV News, browse websites, read and write blogs, store bookmarks to sites, scratch notes onto paper, daydream while commuting, read/write/reply/forward emails, stuff thumbdrives, get managed by planners, cram papers into binders, interact over the phone, IM statements, attend meetings, record meetings, set more meetings, (did I mention meetings?), read & write books, have truly brilliant ponderings that evaporate in an instant before recording, wandering wikis, absorb excel spreadsheets, record/revise/file way word documents, solidify filing cabinets, hear podcasts, watch vodcasts, and so on. And while we do, all too often brilliant innovations vanish before birth due to the lack of the individual’s ability to weave the disparate multi-disciplinary bits of information into a cohesive meaningful construct of knowledge. And not only that, even if and when we do achieve some semblance of a construct of understanding, new information always arrives to erode or eradicate the order.

Information orchestration models and tools of the future will empower individuals to navigate the oceans of information, assimilate useful streams of information, organize these streams into rapidly understood and useful forms, process these forms into useful and timely knowledge. Whatever these models will be, they will undoubtedly utilize more of our bodily senses in an effort to optimize the transaction (improve efficiency of throughput) between the human individual and the tool.

Imagine in the future immersing yourself into your Personal Knowledge Garden, a virtual 3D space containing spacially arranged plants. These plants are repositories of compiled and purposfully sorted information, varying in topic with each different species. Each plant in your garden is of different sizes, shapes, colors, feels, and smells. These differences are not merely cosmetic…the differences represent changes in a certain topic of interest. Grasping one flower, you are instantly exposed to a graphical summary of not the contents, but the changes, the growth of emphasis on one aspect of the topic (i.e. a flurry of information in the world relating to this topic). Further examination of the grown flower petal allows you to see the source information contributions to the plant. A graphical immersive representation of massive amounts of information like this garden would allow humans to utilize their full senses to more efficiently translate massive information into useable knowledge.


The Virtual Thunder Dome

February 26, 2008

Imagine a virtual environment that you could actually physically move around in. Your body, while moving in the real world, guides the path of your virtual avatar. Imagine an environment similar to a Star Trek holodeck, where you could explore unconfined to physical space restrictions.

Seem to good to be true?

Well, it is. But this product is going to try anyway. For some reason, I just don’t see this sphere thing catching on.


Tools of the Trade: Ajaxlife.net

February 24, 2008

Problem: Got a work computer, or a laptop, that doesn’t have the graphics muscles to run Second Life? Do you need to chat with your contacts/friends in Second Life, but don’t really need to eat up processor time?

Possible Solution: Ajaxlife.net

My Observations: Accessing Second Life (an Multiple User Virtual Environment) normally requires downloaded software. To experience the world in all it’s 3D glory, you do need a somewhat beefy graphics-capable computer system…something I do not have in my work office. Enter from stage right Ajaxlife. Ajaxlife is a web based interface for Second Life. You don’t get all the pretty pictures, or get to move around, or voice talk, or even see anything for that matter. What you do get is this:

Access To

  • Your inventory (and the ability to sort)
  • Avatar profiles (and thus the ability to contact them)

Search Capabilities

  • You can find non-friend Avatars

Communications

  • Local Chat (Text chatting with avatars located near you in the Second Life sim world)
  • Instant Messaging (think of it as a person-to-person text chat)

Tools

  • Scan for nearby Avatars (since you are blind, comes in real handy)
  • Stats (tells you when there is serious lag in world)

Travel

  • Ability to TP to another location via the map


Bottomline:
Incredibly useful tool for those needing access to the communication features of Second Life when they are away from a graphics-capable machine. It is very difficult to Teleport to another location, since you are as blind as a bat (my apologies to all the bats out there), which may prevent widespread use. No download required! Fairly simple to use (EXCEPT for traveling).

…and btw…this was developed by a teenage girl!