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.First, 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! Lastly 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.