A geek in a virtual world
Hi all. My name is Dannette Veale and I work in Corporate Events here at Cisco. Let me start by stipulating I am not super-technical like my fellow virtual worlds bloggers, who should have capes and related insignia to indicate their super hero status :-)However I am a geek, always have been and always will be I am proud to say. Specifically I am a science fiction/cyberpunk/anime/gaming geek; so virtual worlds are right up my alley of interests.At Cisco, I am tasked with programming virtual events in networked virtual environments-so virtual events for all you readers to learn from and enjoy, hopefully. Much of my work time is spent on Cisco’s islands in Second Life as Dannette CiscoSystems.I get these types of questions/comments a lot:1) Why does Cisco pay me to play?2) Why would I participate in a virtual event instead of a webcast or forum? 3) Why would I use this virtual thing? You got to be kidding me-maybe my kids but not me!My responses are usually something like:1) Why does Cisco pay me to play?1a) Second Life (and most virtual worlds for that matter) is not necessarily a game. I game a lot: MMORPG (Wow), Console (Lego Star Wars is my current addiction, all though Resident Evil for the Wii is a serious contender) and PC (Pyschonauts being one my favs right now) so I now of what I speak. The key difference with games is they have clear objective you are supposed to accomplish where as most virtual worlds are open ended user driven experiences. Sure you can game in them but that is up to you, not part of the system. Cisco pays me to program virtual events because we believe that networked virtual environments offer an exciting and rich collaboration experience.2) Why would I participate in a virtual event instead of a webcast or forum? 2a) In this day and age do we really do one thing instead of another? I know I for one use all types of communication methods for learning as well as disseminating information out. However, there are intrinsic differences between the live webcasts, forums, and virtual events Cisco offers. — Live webcasts allow immediate Cisco to you/you to Cisco but ‘walls’ exist between you and your fellow peer attendees. However they are very easily accessed anytime, anywhere. — Forums allow for peer to peer but not in real time. However the discussion can be on going and have hundreds of contributors to a single entry.– Virtual events combine the best of both; real time Cisco to you/you to Cisco as well as peer to peer. Also, virtual events enable you to do things you may not be able to do in real life events. For example I can provide a heads up display (HUD) to virtual event attendees, which when worn enables them to have text based chat translated on the fly into their native language. However, virtual events usually require an application download, some amount of ramp up for the user to get comfortable with the UI and usually have to limit the number of attendees to the event.3) Why would I use this virtual thing? You got to be kidding me-maybe my kids but not me!3a) This is the same rhetoric folks gave me about webcasts back in the day but we all know that isn’t true today don’t we? So why use virtual now-I am not sure how to explain it scientifically but there is something about interacting with an avatar in a graphically rich environment that acts as a catalyst for creative thinking.”Thinking outside of the box” just happens more naturally it seems. I know this sounds a bit cliche and maybe nuts but I have confidence that there are smart people out there doing research right now on this very subject.To quote a character from Rudy Rucker’s novel Mathematicians in Love: “Crazy means illogical. I’m logical. Therefore I’m not crazy. Note that a system can be at the same time logical and unpredictable.”Looking for feedback from all you logical yet unpredictable readers. Comments, critique, general assessment, virtual event requests, or whatever strikes your fancy!