Monthly Archives: May 2009


More green hair in Lanzarote, merging more realities

I am off on holiday with family and friends in Lanzarote at the moment. Of course it is not a simple case of turning off the computer and leaving home. Having a fledgling business and wanting to know what is going on in the world and keep a finger on the pulse means that I decided to rent local 3g access here. Rafael from http://www.lanzarotetouristnetwork.com/ met me at the airport and I grabbed my Vodafone 3g which works just fine. Thin slicing work/life and the bits in between means that things have to be connected and consistent. It does not mean being online all day everyday, but 2 weeks is a long while online.
Today though we headed for a market town, and whilst walking around the artisans we not only saw this logo a few times (not dissimilar to the Second Life logo). The photo is from the seafront not the market town.
IMGP3793
What really got me though was this mannequin outside a shop.
IMGP3851
Art imitating Second Life it would seem.
The great thing though was that this t-shirt was on the front of the stall. This was so in keeping with my personal branding it had to be bought. As I often use green spikey hair as my default avatar customization test online, and the slightly aggressive look it is, as you can see, very me 🙂
Green Spikey hair biker
Another interesting happening was that it is predlet1.0’s birthday out here and we needed a cake. Searching google for bakers and cake shops seemed to not give us very much information. So I twittered asking if anyone knew of a good place. JulieCJ very kindly twittered back with a great suggestion. The power of asking people can’t be beaten. Wetware grid beats search any day.

Peggotty’s, Mirror Worlds and knowledge

I have written before about Sid Corleone who is bringing my home town and some local businesses into SL and it appeared here on virtual worlds news. I just popped into the Great Yarmouth sim to take a look and ended up in Peggotty’s bar. This is a real bar in Yarmouth, and one we used to start our nights out in my late teens all those years ago.
Peggottys
 
It is named after the Charles Dicken’s character who lived in an old upturned boat on Yarmouth beach. Now it is in SL even more cultural references are combining. I have to say just seeing the outside and walking up to it gave me goosebumps, way more than just looking at a photo (an I am an old hand at this stuff so should expect such reactions).
You can also have “Chips off the market” which are much more famous than I ever thought given the Dragon Sir Peter Jones drove DJ Chris Moyles all the way to Yarmouth in his lino to experience.
chips off the market

Of course this will not be as personal to everyone out there, but imagine a place you remember having a good rendition or tribute in SL or some similar world.
Peggottys SL style
Whilst on the subject of mirror worlds too I was lucky enough to attend the roof closing ceremony at Wimbledon last Sunday. In conversations with someone there asked if any other tennis tournaments have a roof. There was some thought and discussion and I pointed out the Australian Open does. I knew that because Piper and Gizzy had built a working roof on the Second Life stadium and not becuase I had been there and seen it.
Wimbledon's new roof
This mirror world rehearsal and knowledge also came into play on a recent trip to London. I was heading for Pall Mall, but walked over Westminster bridge, past parliament and round past the treasury and the back of horseguards. I was then in a short piece I had never walked before, when I arrived at these steps
London PGR3
I instant recognized them from the car racing game Project Gotham 3 on the Xbox 360. Having driven laps lots in the past I knew where I was and where I needed to head too. I looked to the right and sure enough there was the other part of the course.
Mall
Now PGR3 is not a training game for navigation, but the fun elements of driving the cars around did bring me to a level of understanding that I would not have had otherwise

Avatars add up

Predlet 1.0 came home today with a username and password from school for a site called Mathletics. She was very keen to get on and have a look. She also was very keen to login herself and said the password was secret and not for me to see. (That’s a good start).

What I was struck with was how straight away the first task was customization of the character to represent you. I should not have been surprised but I was. The site is global and has elements of competition and scoreboards for completing the flash based maths games. It was very slick and very well done and she enjoyed it too. 

During the customization I got asked “dad what colour are my eyes?” and “does this hair look like mine?”. Entering work mode for a moment I said “why do you want it to look like you?”. The reply “It is me”. So we had certainly moved from the notion of the thing online being a toy to externalize.  She was showing a need to control her own brand effectively. 

I did point out that some of my characters online don’t look like me but are me, e.g. spikey green hair and that its ok to play with the look 🙂 However it is one of those stages we all have to go through. Start to be 100% accurate, then start tweaking. The difference here is that my daughter is starting this at age 5 going on 6. What will her self expression be like in the systems in 5 years time?. An interesting thought and great seeing a digital native evolve.

Mathletics

Tribes – Pay attention please

If you have not had a chance to read Seth Godin’s tribes, watch this video instead. If you have read Seth Godin’s Tribes, watch this video from TED anyway.
For me he gave a name and a validation to what I think I was doing with my virtual world movement in the corporate world. I started way back before this book was described. However a desire to change things when people suggested “its always been done this way, we dont like it but what can you do?” is a powerful driver. Now that everywhere and everyone is local to us and we are able to gather and share there is no excuse to not make tribes work.
This should also be a waker up call for people who feel at odds with anything they have to operate with or within. Godin has managed to show that whilst we may consider this a revolution, it is in fact taking us back to basics, back to our human needs rather than us being a slave to systems of our own creation.
If you are in marketing, or locked into corporate ways of doing things or in any regimented organization take note and adapt.
As I always point out if anyone needs to know the story of how this all happened to me and my former collegues, the rise of eightbar and adoption of virtual worlds in the enterprise I am more than happy to come and share that with you. (It’s an ever evolving story!)

Props to Rich White whose blog attracted my attention to this video, via twitter 🙂
Props also to Ian Smith, he introduced me to Seth Godin’s work and in particular Tribes

TronjiWorld – BBC virtual world for kids

I have been taking a look (with the predlets) at TronjiWorld that launched a public beta yesterday to coincide with the TV show airing. I have been interested in what this might turn out like for some time. In particular this is because the platform it is running on is by NiceTech a company based out of the UK.
tronjiworld

You should not be fooled by the cartoon nature of the images you see, because under the covers NiceTech state they “use ‘autonomous agents’ to model objects for real.” and “access to a number of biological components ranging from genetics and biochemistry to neural networks.”. This is because the CTO of NiceTech is Toby Simpson who was instrumental in the creation of the Artificial Life game Creatures in which the characters learned and evolved through genetic algorithms. (This ties in nicely with yesterdays post about flocking and the complexity created by simplicity).

Another win for Tronji world. My random character I created had spikey green hair

At the moment I have just wandered around had a few hello’s with some other people via the key word chat and earned a bike to ride around on from a mission. I think the predlets like the look of it too. Its a heft download and windows only but you cant have everything can you 🙂

There is definitely something going on in world though as whilst writing this 3 large dionsaurs and some bouncy little people turned up of their own free will to watch the big screen TV
tronjiworld2

Flocking Brilliant (fill in own joke here)

In my exploration of what unity3d does and how easy it can be to get things going I was about to set upon implementing the Craig Reynolds flocking code in the environment. I have done a fair few things related to using this flocking algorithm. Not all were published publicly, though I did about 4 years back create an organizational structure viewer where on selecting a person their related people would flock around them so that you could navigate through a organization based on relationships and drag flocks around.
The principle of the flocking code is very simple. Each individual in a flock has a motivation to aim for a destination, but to back from a collision with any other member of the flock. The code used is pretty much the same everywhere based on Craig originals. Flocking can provide some dynamic insight into relationships between objects, in particular when more than one flock, or the focus of the flock can be changed.
Before I set about my coding example I had a look around, and not surprisingly I found that the Unify community wiki had already done the work needed in both C# and JS.

Once set in motion the boids (as they are referred to everywhere) a cast out into the world. They then try and reach a point at the centre of the flock, never bumping into one another, as they get close they back off and then try again. An element of random direction provides an interesting display. Bear in mind these are simply acting under a simple rule, the path and shape of the flock is just emergent from those simple rules.

I have simply published a version of that on this page (it will do the plugin download for you) as you need to see the beauty in both the complexity and simplicity of movement.
As you can see a still just does not do it justice.
Flocking
So now I have this I can see what I can apply it to. (Flickr Flock of Photo maybe? )

Hijacking the Metaverse Week In Review

Last night Malburns kindly invited me on to the Mogulus powered Metaverse week in review show. We had been talking about various things at the Apply Serious Games conference and he asked me if I would come and appear, chat and also talk a bit about Feeding Edge.

I had a Mogulus account signed up and Mal invited me to be part of the channel, i.e. the ability to deliver video and audio content into the channel. I have to say I had not experiemented before the show other than to try the windows Procaster plugin application that lets you stream your Second Life (or any other window in as the video source). So as the show was going live, and I had assumed we were all meeting in world I hit the publish button on my machine. I had not realized that the default settings were to instantly publish to the channel rather than just enter the studio application ready to be cued in live. So SL epredator appeared and cut Mal off. (oops)

Once I got introduced in and tried the broadcast it all went OK (apart from knowing the sort of delay we were dealing with). Once I had finished my talking I cut the channel publication, but that seemed to cut off the end of what I was saying as I should have just left it running and let Producer Mal cue himself up.

So then it seemed a good idea for my next talking bit to go to webcam and live me. So I switched to the Mac, and sparked up the web studio application. (I failed to notice the audio monitor on/off button). On going live I generated a massive feedback loop as the MBP mic and speakers did not noise cancel. However that resolved and seeing the toggle (as well as everyone screaming at me in chat) we were soon back to normal.

I really enjoyed the show for the live nature of it, but I particularly enjoyed hearing what Jenn Hienrichs has to say about here plans and the excellent story approach she is taking to “SL Things to Do” a group of travellers and explores that I remember well form the early days visiting Wimbledon SL in 2007.

Anyway the various parts of all this (as it got archived in 3 parts due to my interference can be found here On demand Live Shows, Week in review 10th May

Metaworld2b

Metaworld2c

Metaworld2

Anyway, thanks for having me on the show, and thanks for letting me break a few things in order to learn 🙂

Talking Tech with Dogear Nation

I was invited onto the 101st Dogear Nation show this week. The premise is simple, we discuss what is going on out on the web, in particular in virtual worlds and game related areas through the medium of the shared URL. i.e. if you take things on delicious with the tag dogear-nation then they form the selection for the running order of the show.
It is always a blast doing this show and this week was no exception.
Check it out, it will be up on itunes very soon too.
Michael Rowe had also done this advert video for dogear nation this week 🙂

Six Degrees is just a game? Proof of serendipity?

This week the BBC aired a programme on the science of Network Analysis. Since the programme I have talked to lots of people and we have all said the same thing. Yes we knew all about the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon game. We all live and work in social media (a self selecting bunch of people I talk to of course), so we all understand the power of the connected hub and the ability to link people and ideas and spread the word. We all knew the obvious statements that disease spreads through contact hubs where people have more direct contact with others. We all knew that travel broadens the mind and also the dispersal of families and companies at a global level means the world is smaller.
Its all obvious. That does not mean that it is wrong of course.
The programme sought to show the science and maths involved in the description of the various types of network theory. It also did an experiment involving random people in far flung part of the world having to find a people to help get a package to someone they did not know. i.e. pass it on and see how many steps it really took.
That worked very well too.
The piece of the puzzle that is the most thought provoking is the places these clumped networks of relationships, hubs of influence and transmitters exists. Social Networks, The Web, Flu spreading are the classic obvious ones. However in studying this scientists have found the patterns and principles apply at all sorts of meta levels.
One that I thought they might have explicitly pointed out, but may have just been subtle and clever scripting was the fact that the hsitory of the network theory development was itself a network of hubs and connectors. Someone happened to see an article by someone else etc.
The striking one was that scientists mapped all diseases and their relationships to one another, each has a relationship to another, and some common hubs act as a link between many disparate ilnesses.
Just consider that, every illness we can suffer is just six degrees of separation or less from another via their structure and our genes.
If we look at networks of networks the same patterns will apply. The patterns continue in a repeating fractal nature at any level you care to consider, from brain cells to the eco system, financial systems to planetary systems.
Why is this relevant?
Everywhere is local
We have through various pieces of technology, from email and the telephone to virtual worlds provided a way to make these connections even faster to use the network effect to transmit ideas to one another. It surely makes sense to be aware of the nature of the structure of networks and hubs that helps adoption of an idea, a technology or a movement.
In trying to help people come to terms with a change you have to deal with the hubs, or reduce your path to the hubs. Convincing people on the periphery of a network has to be done, but the aim is to get to the fast connector, the fast influencer.
It would seem the fast influencer and meta network that many people look to is money. The conversations on technology adoption and its usage tends to be based on objections or otherwise of ROI. However, money is a network in its own right. There are hubs, people with more access to more money that need to be influenced. Money though is not the only network here. As we often say the virtual world and social media is not about the technology it is about people. People themselves are collections of networks, from those they belong to socially, to the collection of neurons that form the brain.
It struck me that the best way to get people to adopt something is not to appeal to just one of their networks. instead to appeal to the network of networks. Just as each disease is shown to be part of its own network of diseases and the cure for one major one might be found by focussing on the nearest apparently unrelated disease on the surface, then adoption curves and getting people to where we think they need to be may be best done via another route than their major network.
I then realized that in some ways I had been explaining this and doing this all along. I often help people who want to know how you convinces crowds of people to follow an idea. The key is to make is personal to each individual. To now dive straight at their primary concern (in business this is money/ROI etc). Instead you appeal to another part of their own network, rather than the network they are part of.
Finding a long lost friend of relative, discovering someone with the same passion for the same hobby, being inspired by an idea, being able to show off, even taking a moment to think of others. All these when applied to the person you are trying to help and convince will work so much better than the £ or $ signs in most cases. Once they have experienced even in the smallest amount a change to their internal biological personal network then they will be open to consider the influence they may have on the networks they are in.
Another example was clearly how the use of Second Life at Wimbledon, via IBM made people consider the potential options of virtual worlds. To me the link made sense, the network and flow was clear. However looking back it is even more obvious in the context of peoples internal influence networks. Wimbledon is an emotive hub. Sport, whilst a business to some is an emotive experience, seldom about the prize money or company share price, but about competition. Attaching such an emotive hub to the personal experiences that we have in virtual worlds made sense. The second hub, that of a solid Blue Chip IT business clearly also appealed to a different network of business. Hence Second Life, Wimbledon and IBM became three super hubs joining multiple networks of people, ideas, emotions and motivators.
I often point out how we have to rely on serendipity. I think now that serendipity really is the collision of multiple types of network at a point in time. Seemingly unrelated things occur and form a pattern we cannot quite discern, but we feel that something is right.
The trick is to feel these networks at all their various levels, not just social and try and weave them and make them collide in a positive way.
So next time you are focussed on one goal, one target, one idea just for a second considered the multitude of networks that that may for part of. Look at those may just get you to that goal quicker, and open up a whole new set of others.
To quote Snowcrash (again) “Is it a virus, a drug or a religion…. what’s the difference?”