3 years in Second Life – Autovatar Biography time!

Today is my 3rd anniversary rez day in Second Life and time to reflect on everything that has happened in that time. Of course I have been online as epredator for a lot longer than just the Second Life existence but the past years have been the most formative of my career. Much of the anecdotes and experience of driving innovation across social media and in large enterprises has been triggered by those early days in SL. It is those years and the successes, failures, highs and lows combined with the personalities involved that really form the basis of the book I am mapping out in between all the other things I am doing. I am even more convinced than ever that people really need to hear the complete story as at every conference and event I go to people ask about it and are usually amazed at just how mad this roller coaster has been.

Visually in SL things have changed a little, but not a greta deal, but my understanding on the depth of engagement, the positive and negative stories alters every day. So despite having this 3 year period of exploration it does not stop here. I often tell people we are all forever N00b.

Part of the most formative story elements are captured here in a Flickr set via Snapzilla.

Clearly these pictures on their own need the narrative woven into them for what was going on in the physical world, but thats part of my job. As the person who experienced it I need to share what I have learned. Just as I have learned to present and to convince as well as my background of being able to create and invent with code and technology this will be an interesting experience. It may end up that many people will benefit from what I have been through, or it may just be a cathartic experience. I will let you know. 

So we go from Roo and I trying to make a space hopper on first land
Postcard from Second Life

A few days later turning a light on and off via a webpage in april 2006 to show external messages being able to interact with this virtual world.
light offlight turns on from the outside world

Before I knew it Rob had joined me too and I was busy showing my message broker in world.(Just another few thousand to go after us 3 got going and 40,000+ people personally talked to up to now.)


… and now director of Feeding Edge ltd with 2 islands to my name and starting as a rental landlord
Rez Day 3 years

Those three years have also ended up with a press highlight reel. The most recent being some fantastic coverage in the Irish Times which was a result of being invited to do the opening keynote at the ACE conference.

ACE Conference
This of course is part of the continuum that has been the past 3 years, hence the signpost. You can’t go and meet and greet great people, share what you know if you have not spent time doing it and making sense of things. A common misunderstanding that people have of social media in general is that of overnight success. Computers are thought to make things happen quicker, process equations solve problems, move data really really fast. However, people work at their own pace, adoption curves, politics and experience all get enhanced by digital technology but reputations still require effort and building. So in sharing what I have been doing on blogs and in social media and metaverses, and the next phase of sharing, hopefully in print and on Kindles all over the world the personal story is really the key. Of course understanding the balance of the positive nature of the support and the less than positive challenges that have been faced on the journey will take some thinking through.

Wish me luck and any authors want to offer their perspective please feel free to share 🙂

Ace Conference Keynote

My keynote to the ACE conference in Derry seemed to go down very well. I have just uploaded a version to slideshare, though it will be available soon as a recorded webcast so you can hear the words that go with the pictures.

The base is that we have set ways of doing things, the cave painting mentality, once we have cave paintings we have human communication sorted. Which is clearly not the case. I added the important fact that we are all connected, that the traditional structures and boundaries we have from countries, corporates, factories etc can be bypassed  by everyone being able to interact with everyone.

Anyway, see what you think, and if anyone wants to hear this in person let me know. 

Space as a memory aid

Many people instantly ask of any virtual world, can I get my powerpoint presentation in there. All of us in Second Life and other worlds know full well its not that hard. Of course people also assume that they only need one screen and that the physical restrictions of one screen one projector one slide need to prevail. After all thats the way we have “always” done it. 

I was prepping my new pitch, using keynote on the Mac and decided to see what it looked like layed end to end. So I just uploaded the images and dropped then on my parcel in IQ. It has a side effect that I know how a visual and spatial memory of what I have as material. It will of course adjust to whatever I need to say on the day. However, in prep terms this is a useful exercise that I can recommend. It also gives you the simple options of layering and grouping the ideas as I have at the back with a stack of three slides.

This is not new news, but as I still have the conversations with people about real life presentations I thought I would write this now to point people at, or allow them to visit in SL.

keynote SL

Of course the key is to go past this and to represent the ideas with 3d interactive objects not flat screens. So I may make this an exhibit over the next few weeks, see how the pitch (very much subject to change) goes first 🙂

Friendly landlord seeks friendly tenants

Very often in Second Life the renting of land is based around trust of the Landlord. The land controls and ownership of sim’s requires that tenants know the landlord will work in an honourable fashion. Of course these works two ways, especially when a high degree of access is available and control available for the tenant.

I hope that my constant honorable actions for the good of virtual worlds both in the enterprise and in personal uses provides some of that degree of trust to any new tenants. 

I have decided to start being a rental landlord with the famous Hursley island in SL and also in part with IQ that is next door. 

I am selling parcels, so that the new owner has a great deal of flexibility. The initial purchase is the first months rent. 

Parcels are usually 4096 sq m, 937 prims and start at L$8000 a month. Coastal parcels and corner plots are slightly more.
Hursley for rent

I also am putting up half of IQ for rent as one big block, ideal for an event.
IQ parcel

Hursley sim can be found on the main map or here

IQ sim can also be found on the main map or here 

****Update. Parcels are listed on Xstreet now too here

Should anyone need an entire sim, I am willing to discuss pricing and terms for all of IQ.

So a piece of Second Life history, Hursley and IQ used to be provided free as a sandbox by me to all my fellow eightbars. Its where we started Wimbledon in SL and where thousands of my former colleagues found a spiritual home. It was part of my personal VC investment to get my previous company to have enough critical mass of understanding of virtual worlds to take it seriously. 

To many these may just be a server in a network, but to us it has a history, if you would like to be part of the next phase of that, or just need a little place to call home come and join us on Hursley or IQ as a resident. You will also find you have a few very skilled and influential resident neighbours and island admins.

Learning in Virtual Worlds

Another fellow ex-IBMer Tony O’Driscoll has put together a description of all the people and ideas that are going to be covered in the up and coming 3DTLC conference in Washington DC.

Clearly learning training and collaboration are key applications of virtual worlds and the surrounding technology. Not the only ones of course, but the sort of thing that will drive enterprise adoption. 

I have recently been working with several education and training based clients that sit on top of all the technology we have available. It is very clear that this is a growth area.

With the release of applications to support some elements of education such as Daden’s new open source Pivote  and applications such as Sloodle there is a clear trend forming. 

The interesting subject I would like to see addressed is this separation of the learning content and structures and where the boundaries are of the virtual world platform. i.e. is the virtual world just another front end, or does it contain some of the essence of the learning experience. 

I am not sure I will be at this conference, being a fledgling startup doesn’t sit well with buying plane tickets and hotels just yet 🙂 I will of course attend on whatever digital channels are made available.

Rezzing on a stage near you

Feeding Edge is going on tour, fresh from the most enjoyable Metanomics interview in Second Life I am taking my brand of futurology, enthusiasm and technology geekness to Northern Ireland. I have been invited to Awaken Creative Entrepreneurship (ACE) 25th March – 27th March in Derry.
ACE conference

The conference website  and the eventbrite entry has many more details.

My job is to both open the event with a keynote to set the tone, but also very much to participate in the rest of the event, much of it is in an unconference format.

I was very interested in this particular event because it aims to mix all sorts of people from all sorts of professions and industries. The intersections of parts of creativity in all pursuits is where true innovation happens. You have to combine and mix people, if two groups are stuck in two different ways of doing things, they will inevitably question one another’s approaches and in an open environment such a conference like this good things will happen. Even just take a look at the set of speakers and you will see a diverse set of people, education, games, software companies, finance, hardware, media development to name but a few. Mix in the very integrated close cooperation that delegates have in the unconference format and we are going to spark some great ideas.

I know the sort of areas I will be hitting in the opening session. The key being that we are the most disruptive technology and we now have ways to connect and disrupt that where unheard of even 10 years ago. Hopefully see some of you there, lets get going with this.

Rednosin, Chinposin for Comic Relief

The rednosin twitter account made me aware of the excellent addition to the comic relief donation options. That of buying a digital rednose picture. Whilst many of us can bolt a red nose onto a picture that is not the point. The ability donate and join in with the excellent charity that is Comic relief is something we should all do. We use avatar pictures all over the place and you will see twitter full of them next few days.

Check out Rednosin Chinposin so see more.

So what are you waiting for! It works for Graham Norton, Chris Moyles or who ever comes up in this picture from the website :0)
Graham Norton

Worth paying attention to these books

I have written about some of these things elsewhere but as this is turning over a new digital leaf I thought it worth mentioning some key things that I think are worth paying attention to when you are trying to persuade people of the benefits of the current wave of emerging technology.

  1. Seth Godin’s book Tribes which for me is more of a history book as it came after our tribe had already got going . It shows the sort of attitude and actions across the available media to get a massive adoption of an idea and of a movement, which indicates that if others take note of his style and approach, if they like his angle on things, then they can be successful too.
  2. Don Tapscott’s latest Grown Up Digital: How the Net Generation is Changing Your World which is really for those who need to see the statistics about the wealth of engagement across all forms of social media and whilst may not be able to engage yet, will need to see what the workforce will expect in the very near future.
  3. Sandy Carter’s The New Language of Marketing 2.0: How to Use ANGELS to Energize Your Market: Screaming ANGEL which is a book about the marketing steps that can be taken and starts to explain how engagement works, with case studies (including what we did at Wimbledon with Second Life).

Each of these three books offer a convincing set of approaches for certain types of people. Godin is more evangelical, Tapscott scientific analysis, Carter offers practical steps for business. 

I have of course alluded to my own book, having not written a whole book before, but instead stacks of individual presentations and ideas I am working up the thread of my story. Trying to in some way cross the approach of these three books, without repeating too much of course. The history and the challenges faced as an intrapreneur, and the ways to bypass those obstacles that really should not be there will form the main arc. I can only really be personal about these things as it is when I feel things happen I can articulate them. Facts can work for some people, but when they have their mind set against something, or are not in a receptive mood for change it is not clear facts that alter those states. Here I give a nod to all my fellow metaverse and social media evangelist friends, how often have we said, armed with a fact or two “but it’s obvious!” 

It is really the fun in all this, finding what it is that makes people so anti an idea, or so supportive of it and blending the two in a way everyone is supportive rather than resolving to a balanced zero!

Live on Metanomics, a first interview for Feeding Edge

The first in the title is done with a hint of irony at all the firsts we used to hear about and claim in virtual worlds over the last few years. However I am delighted to have been asked to appear on Metanomics this coming monday representing Feeding Edge and myself. It is the first interview or public conversation I have had since starting Feeding Edge a whole week ago (just to put it into context it is still very early days).
I am intrigued as to where the conversation and the questions may go. I have of course the things that make up what I intend to be doing with Feeding Edge.

  1. The history of creating a movement like eightbar and mass adoption via social media of an idea within the constraints of a corporate environment, dare I say the birth of enterprise 2.0.
  2. Metaverses and virtual worlds themselves. What have we done so far and what can we do next. What are the sorts of applications we can expect to see layered on top of the experiences we already have today. The recession, corporate activity, open source platforms etc.
  3. Where are we going now? The future of Augmented Reality,Rapid Fabrication/3d printers, merging with the games industries etc.

Any of you who have heard me speak before know that I am more than willing to go off topic. I find in those off topic areas is where both inspiration and serendipity reside.
I am also looking forward to being amongst a knowledgeable audience, it is nice to mix evangelizing about this to people who have yet to fully appreciate the enormity of what is happening, with those that we don’t need that onramp conversation and can challenge points based on experience.
So feel free to come along the Metanomics site has a multitude of ways to interact.
This should be fun and challenging all in one tasty virtual package.
The link to the video is here