Metameets part 3 of n : Grid wars and envelope pushing

Metameets might seem a long while ago at web speed but the themes and trends emerging are still relevant. So I make not apology for this being a long run series of posts πŸ™‚
On day 1 we got to another section about the grid and kicking this off was a discussion about Second Life third party viewers or TPV’s as they are called. This is a fascinating case study in both competition and symbiosis with a load of niche and specialised interests thrown in for good measure.
Kirstenlee Cinquetti/Lee Quick is the driving force behind the very popular TPV Kirstens Viewer Lee has a great passion for the Second Life environment and also is very interested in photography and film making.

So the aim of his viewer project was to take the Open Sourced Snowglobe code from Linden Lab and enhance it and improve it to make a very focused viewer that presents a great visual experience, as good as it possibly can be. He makes no apology for the spec of machine needed and this is where the cooperation with SL comes in. He is able to provide a focus and a niche built on top of the standard open source code to enhance some users experiences. However he is, and has to be, so on top of the releases of the code and changes to the grid (servers) that he finds things out before they go really public. When a function appears, hidden away, he and his team will find it, test it and patch their viewer to use it, or work around it if it doesn’t work properly. In many ways he is quality assurance for SL, whilst being completely independent. He said the Lab hates him πŸ™‚ but i am sure they love him in equal measure too. It is difficulty for many commercial companies in andy industry to understand this user/developer/prosumer model. Kirstenlee is pushing the envelope with access to features that are intriguing (like stereoscopic 3d). He is restructuring major parts of code to treat the user interface in a much more engineered way to allow for cleaner layout and transparent parts of the interface. He is now looking at better camera controls, fixed views, dollys etc for the machinima makers to use. All of this is good for SL (and also the related platforms like opensim potentially). The Lab benefits from this focus, but I can imagine that it can also be difficult as when developing an releasing products time and priorities are different for different people.
Next up and on the a slightly different co-op confrontational path was Melanie Thielker. She is another (of the very rare) core opensim developer and has done a lot of the restructuring work. Here though Melanie was talking about her hosted business based on Opensim Avination This venture is a growing business, with a focus on roleplay. It is very impressive to be able to both spark up and push forward a customer facing grid whilst also living in the open source development world. However that gives Melanie a great perspective on what needs to be done and real life systems architecture to keep her grids running and growing. This grid is of course in direct competition with the Second Life one, but exists because of the spin off of Opensim and the open source approach to development in taking something closed and making it better.
Next we had a bit more of a standard product pitch, though it is still a leading edge idea. Fred van Rijswijk from C2K dashed in to share some of the interesting things being done with Layar. Layar is a “traditional” augmented reality application. The client allows the merging of real and virtual content based on location of the client. I say traditional as I think AR is about anything from anywhere merged with anything from anywhere else in more than one way. We do have to evolve to that though. Rather like the early web AR generally requires someone to make things for you. Design and game agencies can craft the 3d models and register them in layers to be viewed. It is interesting to consider all the content creation in various virtual worlds done by general users and how that might be liberated by AR applications? Augmenting one AR with another etc. I do like many of the Layar examples and the increasing move to go from flat HUD styles to more interactive 3d objects in space is an interesting direction.
Finally for the day Tim Goree of Nokia and a rather well known metaversanlity riffed on some ideas without the aid of a power point (yay). Tim knows his stuff and I am happy he has managed to stick with it in a large corporate environment and keep pushing. Tim was musing on the avatar, not just as a single mesh used to represent you in a virtual world, but as an identity construct that flows across all digital media. He talked about some of Microsoft’s work in ultra realistic avatars (which help with the concept of visual identity) but he also talked about the underlying need to choose how and what to share with who and own your own identity.
I am borrowing Tim’s quote from Roland over at Mixed Realties (as I took no notes πŸ™‚ )
“Count up all the virtual worlds user hours, gaming user hours, chances are all this is more important than the web”, so Tim continued. β€œAvatars have been used to validate transactions for hundreds of years – think stamps, coins for example. These days there are billions of (virtual) avatars out there, why not use them to change society?”
It was then left for me to wrap up, as Tim had said some cool forward thinking things I just mentioned the IEEE Virtual Environment Colab and its event coming up as validation that many people are gathering again to push the industry to the next step and not just considering moving data from a to point b (though we still need to do that). I also pointed to the Btween3d conference in London sponsored by Sony that is bringing thought leaders from lots of industries to consider the whole of the domain.
So with consensus driving bodies such as the IEEE looking for the patterns and exemplars in the virtual world and related technology domain, and a major gathering in London on the subject it was good that the pioneers in the room at Metameets were still very much on the leading edge, pushing things forward whilst the world catches up with them πŸ™‚
Next Day 2 (which is more art than science and a shows the breadth of what goes on out here/there)

One thought on “Metameets part 3 of n : Grid wars and envelope pushing

  1. Pingback: Metameets – The last post : 4 of 4 (plus 1) « Life at the Feeding Edge

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