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Innovative Online Shopping

A few of us on the Web team have been chatting lately about alternatives to traditional web shopping interfaces. Coincidentally, blogger Dan Taylor has posted an interesting and interactive overview of alternative online shopping experiences which is worth a read: Enjoy!

Second Life Can Teleport Open Source to a Whole New Level

Collaborative crowd sourcing is evolving above and beyond the norm through 3D virtual worlds such as Second Life. The use of Wikitecture in Second Life is emerging as something significantly different and is proving to be a successful way that we as individuals can effectively begin to form and collectively organize to act as a human network as never before. The increased speed and quality of the visualization and consensus process for groups who collaborate globally in 3D worlds reflects just how lightning fast new open source collaborative ideas such as a Wikitecture have been embraced. Trail blazing this area is Jon Bouchard (Keystone Bouchard in Second Life) and Ryan Schultz (Theory Shaw in Second Life). As co-founders of Studio Wikitecture, they have been using Second Life as a platform for architectural collaboration to create innovative architectural and urban design solutions. Harnessing the power of collective human intelligence and leveraging the open source paradigm applied in real life and Second Life. Their most recent project was chosen as winner of the overall ‘Founder’s Award’ out of over 500 entries worldwide in the Open Architecture Challenge. Their entry in this international architecture competition, was developed entirely in Second Life.How Wikitecture works is simply genius. Studio Wikitecture group developed a 3D-Wiki plug-in for Second Life known as a ‘Wiki-Tree‘. It works like a conventional Wiki but instead of tracking text documents in a linear history like Wikipedia, the ‘Wiki-Tree’ tracks versions of 3D models and stores them in a stylized 3D digital tree ‘canopy’. Watch how this continually evolves as it allows a self-organized group of contributors to share ideas, edit the contributions of others, and vote on which design iterations should be chosen. The ‘Wiki-Tree’ allows feedback from the client and end-user as the design evolves. Not only that, the exploration for prediction market voting procedures are used to assure consensus or ‘Crowd Wisdom’, plus a contribution assessment model can calculate and divide ownership from contributors in the development process.Dennis Mancini, Senior Art Director, Brand Strategy & Identity, Cisco Systems

Cool & Useful: Search on Mobile

Here is something that’s not only really neat; it’s also incredibly useful: We’re just added the ability to search for virtually anything in the world of via our mobile experience. And, once you find the results you’re looking for, you can pull up the pages and read them right on your phone. We even resize pictures to fit well with the phone.

Here’s a (ok, somewhat fuzzy) set of pictures I took from my friend Steve’s phone to show how it works. First you go to on your phone (we recognize most phones automatically, but you can also go directly to the mobile site at Choose the menu option to “Search on” and then you’ll see a screen where you can enter your search terms (by the way this works the same as the search on


When you follow a link in the search results, you’ll get a page nicely formatted for your mobile device — we’ve trimmed off some of the elements from the side of the page, and also resized the pictures to fit.


Oh, and search in specific countries, too:



“One small step for an avatar, one giant leap for virtual worlds”

These were the closing words in a video Linden Labs and IBM created to demonstrate how an avatar can teleport between virtual worlds. If you haven’t heard, the creators of Second Life and IBM announced yesterday a major interoperability milestone. They have inched our avatars closer to mobility between different virtual world platforms. I’m not a tech wiz by all means, but even I was like, “That is just way too cool!” Yes, Tuesday was a very momentous occasion for Linden Labs and IBM in that regard, so kudos to them! We keep hearing about the intersection betwen different virtual world platforms as the future. Glad to see that future is actually a bit closer than we think. In other news, Google also grabbed headlines yesterday with the launch of Lively, it’s very own virtual world where you can “create an avatar and chat with your friends in rooms you design.” I haven’t visited Lively yet, but am planning to. If you’ve already been, please do share your experiences! Based on what I’ve read in the blogosphere, the reception has been anything but “lively.” Regardless of your feelings and opinions towards this week’s news, it is a giant leap for virtual worlds.

Thanks for the Virtual Cisco Live Memories

Cisco Live is over…and a jam packed week it was, barely allowing us on the Cisco Virtual team to catch our breath. Now that we are back in our real life homes I have been reflecting on some of the exciting events, serendipitous happenings, and painful moments we all experienced over the week.imageFirst, we had our largest in-world and web audience to date for one of our virtual events in Second Life with the Power of Collaboration Q&A featuring John Chambers. The event was not without some problems to be sure, for example the unfortunate soul tasked with working John’s avatar on stage had to deal with Second Life crashing on him every five seconds. However, our best practices and sage advice from other folks producing events in virtual worlds had all ready led us to using a phone bridge to stream John’s live responses instead of using the in-world voice option. This meant everyone heard everything he had to say, both in-world and out-of-world at the conference and via the web. The questions where excellent and since I was MC’ing, and thankfully only crashed a few times, most where able to be relayed to John live. His answers, as always, where insightful and well received.

Matt2 Ultsch [Matt Hamblen of ComputerWorld]: My question for Mr. Chambers: A thoughtful blog by Bruce Damer recently questioned whether virtual world platforms could be facing a downturn in use and popularity-Do you have any reaction, now that Cisco is showing a strong interest in Second Life interactions?John Chambers: -..very often if there is one thing that I have learned in my thirty years in high tech is sometimes concepts are a little bit too early but when they do take off they take off with tremendous speed and efficiency. This where I think it is important especially for the business communities and the entertainment industries to understand what is possible because when the market does move it usually moves at speeds faster then anyone anticipated. I would compare it to the first stages of the internet. If you look back to the predictions made by Cisco and others in the early nineties and mid-nineties almost all of them not only came true but ended up being even lower then we expected in terms of under estimating the market opportunity.So I think when you think about interfacing to your customers, interfacing to your family, interfacing to your piers and the communities of interest we will have both in our business world and our personal life, I think we are at the very, very beginning stages of what is possible. Might there be some bumps along the way, yes. But I would disagree with the overall commentary. I think you are going to see a world that explodes into many types of utilization. But to refer back to one of your other colleague’s earlier comment, you are going to have more ubiquitous band width, processing power, and more people that see the value of bringing this…whether it is the value of bringing to education, health care, productivity or entertainment. I think that what you are seeing is the very front end of a very large wave of opportunities.

If you didn’t hear this entire Q&A I would encourage you to watch the archive now. So given the pain felt due to the unstableness of the environment on live day, you may ask why even bother with the in-world portion? There have been some folks who questioned why we would choose to participate in Second Life and I always go back to this; before Cisco had presence in Second Life a Cisco User Group existed…so the ‘go where your audience is’ adage seems to ring true. Eric Krangel of the Silicon Valley Insider summed it up a bit more eleqouently than I though, read his thoughts. I especially enjoyed the analogy to Axe body spray… I would also say I have done a lot of physical events in my day and when the power goes off at a venue I don’t cancel the event, I buy candles and flashlights and turn break-outs into ‘campfire’ sessions. Seriously though, roll with the punches when it comes to logistics has to be the motto. What matters is the content!Secondy. we held several excellent technical discussions over the week. These talks covered the following Work Space Ready Networks, ASR 1000 Series Routers, and Next Generation Collaboration with Unified Communications. When it comes right down to it the content is always the critical element for any event. Pretty creatives in real life or in-world won’t get the job done alone. Our TechChat speakers did a great job of extending the technical tracks of Cisco Live into the virtual environment. I know many folks had some problems getting out to the event due to some of those rolling restarts we have all come to know and love. I want to thank you for making every attempt and am glad that some of you where able to view live on the web instead. For those who didn’t get the opportunity to see the events live either in-world on via the web, the event links throughout this post will allow you to view the archives at will.Thirdly, as you know the packet sort challenge was on and we had some exciting moments on the playing field, like one of the attendees at Cisco Live who stepped up to the demo and went rogue…stealing the packets I was trying to retrieve before I could get to them to feed them to our sorter. Seriously though I really enjoyed watching the attendees in Orlando, many for first time in SL, interacting with in-world folks to achieve a common goal; win the challenge and have some fun. It was also cool too see them make connections as they realized that they had all come to interact with Cisco because they are peers and that SL would allow them to expand their professional network. Of course we had a top ten at the end of the week, I applaud all of you who tried and congratulate our Packert Sort Challenge winners! imageLastly we had a good time! We handed out shirts, hats and backpacks by the hundreds. The live concert was a blast for the hundred or so folks who came out. The Cisco Live build including the video vault and picture sphere was well received by our existing fans, thanks for the feedback. Many new folks where born that week to come out to the build, play the game and participate in the live events…welcome and thanks for joining us!I think we extended Cisco Live and all it means to our physical on-site attendees, to our virtual attendees. Using a virtual world allowed us to provide our in-world attendees access to technical content [the heart and soul of Cisco Live!], the ability to hear from our visionary leadership, meet with their peers and extend their professional network, and of course have a darn good time at a fabulous event and appreciation party!Stay tuned because another great collaborative event is coming at you soon in late August/September. By attending this event in-world you could find you are to be more than a passive audience member, yes it’s true as you could be picked to come up live on stage as a player in the action. Think of it as a choose your own adventure event.