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Digital and Social

VW2007-5.001.jpgWith each presentation I hear at a conference, there is always a moment when you are scribbling what the presenter is saying and you feel like an undergraduate in your first astronomy class furiously taking verbatim notes because you don’t know what will be on the test. Then you realize that you missed 50% or more of the point of the presentation.Two good things about the keynote today at Virtual Worlds 2007….(1) There’s no test, and (2) we can do simple things like list the references used in the slides on a blog, like this one!One of the first references (of a non-demographic nature) used in the presentation was the reference to the Industry Solutions Partner Network, which Cisco announced on September 14th, 2007. This is an environment specifically built for Cisco channel partners (systems integrators, resellers, etc.) to interact and learn about the excellent offerings by our application service provider community. It is a hybrid of a trade show and a matchmaking service, in that channel partners can not only browse, but also converse with representatives of our ASP partners.The second reference on that same slide was of our Cisco Virtual Campus in Second Life. Here is a SLURL to the campus for those of you who use Second Life.On a later slide, I mentioned OpenID. For those of you who are not aware of OpenID, a nicely balanced Wikipedia entry is here, and I encourage everyone interested to support and implement OpenID in their own environments.When discussing presence, I mentioned two specific examples that I consider noteworthy of the many I have found. First is the work of David Wortley at the Serious Games Institute in Coventry. David’s excellent team, Giunti Labs and Cisco are working together on tying physical location to virtual location, either 1:1 (in an exact replica of a physical building) or logically based on context. Second was the work in development by Benjamin Waber at the MIT Media Lab, one of Professor Sandy Pentland’s team on the Sensible Organizations research program.When discussing augmentation, I referenced two additional efforts. First was the work of Drew Harry, also at the MIT Media Lab, who works with Professor Judith Donath’s Sociable Media group. He is doing explicit augmented meeting areas. (be sure to check out Prof. Donath’s most recent Science paper on trustworthy avatars linked from the SM page) Next is the work being done by Oliver Goh at Implenia in Second Life under the aegis of Eolus One, a multi-vendor effort around instrumentation of real world structures represented and controlled in the virtual world. We are pleased to be joining this effort moving forward.A key announcement during the presentation concerned the Metaverse Market Index, or MMI. This is the not-for-profit group that is being formed currently to rationalize the numbers and metrics used in the virtual world space so the industry can communicate a common metric to future users, content creators, and advertisers. It will also allow better analysis of commerce and economies, as well as future prediction market opportunities. Contact info for Nick Wilson of Metaversed and Prof. Bloomfield at Cornell are on the MMI page.The next announcement is a work in progress, which is the Virtual Worlds Interoperability council (or Forum, as I stated in my talk). This is a nascent effort of a number of vendors to start the interoperability dialogue sooner rather than later, with the hopes of identifying the key use cases where virtual worlds should be able to communicate with the broader Internet and world wide web, as well as each other. More detail will be posted here about the VWIF as the infrastructure comes online for broader participation. A special thanks to our friends at IBM for helping get the unilateral conversations already underway on the subject organized into a much-more-functional multilateral conversation.Last, I mentioned the excellent work being done by Professor Tom Malone and his team at the Center for Collective Intelligence at MIT. They are beginning a potentially-multi-year study on the dynamics of electronically-mediated (read ‘virtual’) interactions when compared to live interactions. This will include group dynamics and decision making, collective intelligence, and aspects of a ‘Collaboration Quotient’ of teams. Our hope is that this study identifies the empirical benefits and drawbacks of this form of collaboration so we can, as an industry, attempt to address any current deficiencies with technology instrumentation, and soberly acknowledge the areas where this will always be less effective than an in-person meeting.If there are any other references I used in my talk that I missed, please feel free to comment below and I’ll be happy to append this post.

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2 Comments.


  1. Thank you for your fantastic presentation. I loved the shrinking globe and your broad discussion of the many people exploring this universe.I am an Architect and would love get the contact info of the Swiss gentleman who is exploring building systems in the virtual world.

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  2. Jumping on the opportunity to congratulate and thank you, as well as the whole Cisco bloggers’ team, for your interesting posts on virtual worlds, I was wondering about your comment on virtual worlds interoperability. In the past several efforts have been made to develop standards for VW, such as VRML, H-ANIM for avatars, Collada, and others. Although most of them were not really designed and/or not really appropriate for web applications and communication, the MPEG group is also proposing AFX (Animation Framework eXtension) since a few years, including avatars, for multimedia networked scenarii.Let’s hope VWIF would learn from and build on past experiences and also on new practical and innovative ideas. It really sounds, anyway, like a great initiative that was missing until now. It is nice to see such interests by industrial leaders to combine their efforts for reaching universal avatars and VW.

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