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2010 & next second life, virtual worlds and the state of the union

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Its been a decade of advances for virtual worlds, ending with a year that many won’t forget. As the technologies allowing immersive experiences expand, Second Life has come to a cross-roads of sorts, with Linden pulling the plug on its enterprise product and raising the price for educational and non-profit institutions.

Click here to watch video
http://www.metanomics.net/show/december_13_2010_next_-_second_life_virtual_worlds_and_the_state_of_the_uni/

Its been a decade of advances for virtual worlds, ending with a year that many won’t forget. As the technologies allowing immersive experiences expand, Second Life has come to a cross-roads of sorts, with Linden pulling the plug on its enterprise product and raising the price for educational and non-profit institutions.

Click here to watch video
http://www.metanomics.net/show/december_13_2010_next_-_second_life_virtual_worlds_and_the_state_of_the_uni/

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2010 & next second life, virtual worlds and the state of the union

  1. 1. METANOMICS: 2010 & NEXT SECOND LIFE, VIRTUAL WORLDS, AND THE STATE OF THE UNION DECEMBER 13, 2010 ANNOUNCER: Metanomics is owned and operated by Remedy and Dusan Writer's Metaverse. ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Hi. I'm Robert Bloomfield, professor at Cornell University's Johnson Graduate School of Management. Today we continue exploring Virtual Worlds in the larger sphere of social media, culture, enterprise and policy. Naturally, our discussion about Virtual Worlds takes place in a Virtual World. So join us. This is Metanomics. ANNOUNCER: Metanomics is filmed today in front of a live audience at our studios in Second Life. We are pleased to broadcast weekly to our event partners and to welcome discussion. We use ChatBridge technology to allow viewers to comment during the show. Metanomics is sponsored by the Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University. Welcome. This is Metanomics. ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Welcome, everyone, to Metanomics. This is our last show of the fall 2010 season, and, as always, it seems we turn to reminiscing and looking forward to the future, when we close the season out. Today is no different in our episode entitled 2010 & Next - second life, Virtual Worlds and the State of the Union. We are going to hear from three people who have invested heavily in money, time and themselves in the Metaverse. We've got Brian Kaihoi of Mayo Clinic Center for Innovation and Interactive Development;
  2. 2. Terry Beaubois, a professor of architecture and director of the Creative Research Lab at Montana State University; and Larry Johnson of the New Media Consortium. So we're going to hear from all three of these gentlemen on, really, again, past and future, what brought them into the Metaverse and Second Life, where they're headed from here and their advice for all of you who might be thinking of adopting Metaverse technology and, no doubt, a little advice for Linden Lab as well. So I'd like to welcome you all to Metanomics. Brian, let's start with you. What brought you and the Mayo Clinic into the Metaverse? BRIAN KAIHOI: Well, I came into Second Life because I happen to like Science Friday on National Public Radio, and, every once in a while, I would hear that there was a, quote, "question" from Second Life. So I was curious, downloaded the software, came in and was just pleasantly surprised to find all of these people listening to the program and talking together about it, sharing information back and forth. I made a few friends there. They introduced me to music. They introduced me to New Citizens Incorporated. They introduced me to other people that were around, and, for me, that community experience began. About a year and a half later, I was showing folks inside Mayo Clinic about this environment, and we started exploring and investigating, and that's when Mayo Clinic got involved. So I was involved personally for over a year and a half before our organization even got their toe in the water, so to speak. ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: And, Terry, how about you? TERRY BEAUBOIS: Well, in 2005, I'd been asked to be a guest lecturer up at Montana
  3. 3. State University. I was living in the San Francisco Bay Area at the time, and I was doing research on what kind of software tools might be available for use in education and for distance learning also. I was very interested in that. I read an article in Wired Magazine and downloaded Second Life, and I just couldn't believe it. I'm someone who was introduced to virtual reality in the early 1980s at NASA at Ames Research Center. They had Cray computers and IRIS workstations. And so it doesn't seem like it's happened all that quickly, but it is wonderful to be able to bring architectural students into this environment. We do interactive and interdisciplinary collaboration, so we've been able to get other students from other schools and departments to work on projects together in here, as well as in real life. And then one incredible benefit is in the community that's in here, the international education community. I've been fortunate enough to be able to travel to Finland and Denmark and Japan and also do joint workshops and visit conferences in those countries, talking about Virtual Worlds and Second Life. ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Excellent! And, Larry Johnson, to round this out, what brought you and New Media Consortium into Second Life? Oh, I wonder if Larry is still on mute. LARRY JOHNSON: I was. Good point. Thank you for that. We started when we were working on our project with the McArthur Foundation, and we were looking for a way to really push the envelope on what we were calling digital media and learning. And, of course, McArthur has kept up that work and has done a tremendous amount with it, and I guess so
  4. 4. have we. That was in 2005, in the fall of 2005. And, when I came in, just to give you little benchmarks, the average number of concurrent users online was about 2,500, and there were 150,000 residents total in Second Life. It was really a very different platform then, and we all felt like we were part of something very, very, very new. You roll the clock forward to 2007, when things really took off after the Business Week cover story in July of 2006 and beyond. Our project grew beyond all concept of where it would go. We, at one point, had 110 regions and hundreds of universities involved. We still have nearly a hundred universities involved in our project, but it was a heady time, and we were all convinced we were part of something that was very much about the future. ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Let me follow up with you on that, Larry. Are you still convinced of the future here? It sounds like there has been fallback in how much activity there's been in Second Life. LARRY JOHNSON: Well, Robert, you're an economist so I'm sure you could speak for hours on what has happened in the world in the last several years. ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: And it'd be every bit as exciting as you [think?]. LARRY JOHNSON: Yeah. The thing is that colleges and universities took some real serious hits all over the world, whether they were colleges in Europe or Australia or in the states, Canada or wherever universities were coming into Second Life to participate. They all found themselves in a position where budgets were being looked at very, very hard, and
  5. 5. a lot of hard questions were asked, and I think pretty much every project contracted some in response to that. I think that's a very natural response, and it's an economic survival mechanism. So that definitely was part of it. It was compounded though because it also kind of opened the door, I think, to a bit of a backlash that corresponded to Gartner's Hype Curve as Second Life and Linden Lab's technology started to come down that vertical slope on the right side of that graph. They came down pretty hard and pretty fast. So when you ask do I still feel like that Second Life is part of the future, the question I actually heard in my head was: Does Second Life have a future? And I think that the answer to that is absolutely yes. Do I think that it really is the future in the way that I did? I have to be honest and say no. I think it's actually a mature technology now. I think that people understand how to use it in ways that we didn't back then. I think we've put a lot of time and energy and resources into learning how to use it, and there are a bunch of really good projects that I'm really ecstatic to see are still here, even after a bit of pounding that took place over the last few years. ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Okay. Terry, Brian, would you like to chime in on any of that? TERRY BEAUBOIS: Yeah. One of the things I want to comment on is sort of in the run-up. I want to compliment NMC on what they've provided because I think we talked about this one other time, Larry. I think it was in the fall of 2007 when you had the conference at NMC, and I remember being reluctant to attend and be a presenter. But, at the end of the day, I just went, "This is wonderful. I mean I haven't had to drive to an airport, fly to another city, get into a hotel. Yet I had a lot of the same experience." So I think as we talk about things that
  6. 6. are just as equally true, like the Hype Cycle and sort of the decline in perspective on some of the Virtual World technology, I am optimistic because I think the technology is one thing and the people are the other. I'm in technology in Second Life because of the people that are in here. I mean some of the people that I meet are just some of the most talented, funny, creative people, and that's what brings me back in here, including yourself with your program here. I think it's a major contribution to the Virtual Worlds and to the educational community and the business community in here, that this program is continuing. We really appreciate all of your efforts. ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Well, flattery will get you lots of air time so please continue. TERRY BEAUBOIS: Well, it's easy to do because it's true. The other things is, these are tough times. The economic problems that Larry was referring to are international and certainly all over the United States, and Second Life isn't immune to that. Separate and different from that is how we handle those concerns and economic difficulties, and I think it's sort of compounded--I don't know whether you want to go into this yet or not, in regard to the pricing of Sims in the education sector. When I prepared for this program, I talked to people in Finland and Denmark and Sweden and Japan and all over the United States, and they had a lot to say about what their concerns were. I think it's important that, as a mature technology as Larry mentioned, that we learn how to communicate and talk to each other. I think there's a lot of benefit that can be done if we find those paths that make this technology successful in each of our areas, and we all sort of
  7. 7. contribute the best we can to it. So I'll hold my comments on the Sim pricing to later, if you want to make that a separate topic for everyone, but it's a challenge. ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Yeah. I imagine we'll get there very quickly. Let's see, it sounds like Brian? BRIAN KAIHOI: I would agree wholeheartedly with everything that Larry and Tab are saying. The benefit of this kind of environment is the people that are here. It's the community that's here. At Mayo Clinic we understand and have for a long time that the best medicine is practiced in a group; it's integrated. There are people working together in teams. It's the foundation of what Mayo Clinic is. So bringing Second Life technology, Virtual World technology, into our organization has simply been a matter of helping the organization see how these tools fit into the philosophy in the scope of practice that we have. But, it's been a tremendous experience to have the people inside Second Life helping just within Metanomics. The folks--Jennette Forager, JenzZa Misfit, the Metanomics crew--I've been very fortunate to be part of the volunteer group here. So Devon, even sitting in the audience. People like Marty and Jenaia, folks that are very involved in health-care activities, partnering with you and helping to do the right things has just been great. And we've been learning how best to help Mayo Clinic work in this sphere, with all the people here doing the work with us. ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Let me just second or, I guess really, fourth that point on the people. I feel like I was more than anything else just carried along on a wave with
  8. 8. Metanomics. It was primarily the activity and the motivation of a bunch of other people who made this happen, and I just happened to be the one who likes a microphone. So that's why you hear my voice. But it really is something else. And so I guess I'd like to stick with this issue of basically to what extent what are the dimensions on which Second Life has lived up to its promise. We'll probably talk about alternative worlds shortly, but we might as well stick with Second Life since all three of you have your primary Metaverse activities there. What are the parts that you really feel like, more than anything else, you've been able to convert into a project? I mean it's great to talk about the community, but what are the elements of Second Life where you are actually able to get some traction and use the technology? Actually, do you want to just continue on that, Brian? BRIAN KAIHOI: Certainly. The efforts at Mayo Clinic revolve around education, research and clinical practice. The education activities, be they patient education or graduate school education, medical education, continuing medical education, those activities have been fairly well scoped out by folks like NMC, like other universities, and we're following along in their footsteps. It's something that's fairly easy for people to grasp, to see how it fits, and so we're doing the continuing medical education programs, etcetera, at the Mayo Clinic space, and that's going very well. The clinical practice activities are harder, but it's largely not the technology that makes it hard, but understanding how, in this health-care environment that we're in, particularly in the United States, you can work in a distance kind of way and still be following appropriate protocols and being legal and all that sort of thing. Second Life isn't necessarily the barrier
  9. 9. there to get that done. ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: I just want to point out before I pass it on to Terry, JenzZa Misfit reminds me that you're doing this show right now in Rochester, Minnesota. Is that right? BRIAN KAIHOI: Rochester, Minnesota. Correct. ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: How many inches of snow are on the ground right now there? BRIAN KAIHOI: Oh, I'm not sure about total on the ground. We just got 26 inches over the weekend, that added to the snow that was there. ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: I bring it up because that really is one thing, that I think, after we've all been in Second Life for a while. This Metanomics started in September of 2007, and I forget. I know how easy it is for me to forget that it doesn't matter whether there's snow or swine flu or whatever, that you're still just talking with someone and feeling like you're actually getting a chance to meet them, even though you can't even get your car out of the garage. BRIAN KAIHOI: That is absolutely right. ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: I have to say that still is one of the very important aspects of this to me. So, Terry, can I just ask, as far as the technology goes, architecture just seems so promising as a way to exploit the visual nature of Second Life. Have you been able to take
  10. 10. advantage of that? TERRY BEAUBOIS: Yeah. We can get almost any architectural student into Second Life by just three words: free building materials. Because they don't have to worry about the real estate after we acquire some property. While there are differences, and I've talked about them a lot in the past and hope to watch the improvements of the technology over time to continue, there are differences between real-life architecture and Virtual World architecture. I think there's a lot that can be taught. And then to your point that you were mentioning in regard to the communication, in 2005, we learned that students aren't taught communication as successfully as we would like them to be able to do when they get into our classes. And, by looking at chat, text messages and communication, we can analyze those things before going into voice, and we have a transcript of communication. I still think it's as valid now as it is in 2005. I visited a Sim yesterday, that just opened yesterday, and it's sponsored by IBM, but it's just an incredible environment. The creativity that went into it is phenomenal. I visited a retail venue that releases new clothing designs on the marketplace and has a pub with dancing. I continue to visit the educational Sims that people have, and both sit in on classes and deliver lectures. So what we're all saying is how this is a fantastic tool, it is challenging to work with economically--but I think we have experienced the benefits of it. And then their cultural information. I remember when you first went to Denmark, and they were thinking that the backchat was rude. All these people were typing while you were talking. And you're such a master at being able to handle that and pick out a question to ask
  11. 11. a guest, while they're talking or you're talking, that I think that we all have a lot to learn and teach in regard to this. I'll just add one more thing. We went to a high school teacher, you know, being these marvelous university professors with all this high tech, two years ago, to show them the technology that we were using, and what we ended up doing was learning about flip cams and all of these other things. But we did show the high school teacher about YouTube, which was sort of new at the time, two years ago. It's hard to remember that. This year he was nominated as Montana Teacher of the Year, and he has 70 of his lectures--he teaches advanced placement biology--he has 70 of his lectures up on YouTube. He doesn't give lectures anymore. His students are assigned a six-minute lecture to review the night before, and he works with them one-on-one when they come into class. I can see, in the future, of virtual environments becoming that kind of integrated part in teaching and learning because we're starting to see our teaching training at the college level, the people that train K through 12 teachers start to really look around and look for twenty-first century technology that's out there and how they can implement it in the classroom. ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: You mentioned the backchat, Terry, and so I do want to follow up on that. First of all, you have a bunch of people chatting to ask if you can name the Sims that you were referring to. I think you talked about one that was an IBM Sim and one, let's see, the pub with dancing, and the educational one. So you can type those in if you don't remember them immediately. TERRY BEAUBOIS: Sure. Let me get the correct wording and spelling of all those, and I'll
  12. 12. type them into the chat, and we can include it in the transcript as well. ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Okay. You talked about the backchat, that people in Denmark thought it was rude, and I see that Fleep Tuque has chimed in, saying that she still has people who believe that it's rude, but what did she say--if I can find this here, "Personally, I hate any presentation that doesn't have it." I think I'm with Fleep there that, if there's one little bit of the technological experience for me that has been transformative, it actually has been, well, let me just say, as a teacher, most of us of my generation have made this transition from the notion of just a lecture where we stand up there and talk to bringing in the students, some to have maybe a discussion of cases and some Q&A. This, to me, does feel like the next step in the evolution which is having text constantly moving the conversation not just from the students to the teacher, but among the students or the audience as well. I hate to take time away from our guests, but I do want to point out that I'm going to be using some new technology to teach for Cornell. We have a distance MBA program, it's called the Boardroom program, where we have students who are at any number of cities. I think we have a dozen and a half or so cities around the U.S. and Canada, and we'll have a little boardroom of four to six people there, and they will have a camera that shows me here in Sage Hall, and I have cameras to see them. It's a lot like Metanomics actually because I've got a producer who can change from one camera to another, and I can see whoever's talking. So I'm hoping to get some sort of backchat into that. It's going to be a very interesting way to teach. And I see wonderful backchat about backchat. Lots of it going on now, so it somehow feels very Meta.
  13. 13. BRIAN KAIHOI: It feels very much like medicine. ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Medicine, yeah. And someone else piped in there. Was that? TERRY BEAUBOIS: Yeah. I was just going to say part of your point is a matter of familiarity. I think at first we're all uncomfortable with the technology, and then we sort of get used to it, and then we miss it if it isn't there. You're talking about the backchat, and some people have been typing about they want to have backchat. One of the things I do in my lab is, I always have my computer usually plugged into a projector or a big studio display, and so people can see what I'm working on when they come in, and we're working around the table. Anytime I'm not plugged in, they're going, "What's wrong? We can't see what you're doing. What is it you're working on?" So it goes from them thinking, "Oh, that's odd that he's sitting there projecting his computer," to really wanting that input. And then I have a 16 computer switch so that we can have as many as 16 people working on laptops in the same room, all talking and sharing four different projection screens. ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Very interesting. That brings up the issue of multiple technologies, and I think all of you made the point that Second Life is not the be-all and end-all. And, Larry, maybe I'll direct this to you first because the New Media Consortium is, I know, broad-based and looking at lots of different technologies. There have been so many changes over the last three years since Metanomics started. What do you see as being the technologies that are going to merge most seamlessly with Virtual Worlds, and do you see anything that's just going to upend them?
  14. 14. LARRY JOHNSON: Well, I think there's a single thing that is the new shiny stuff in Virtual Worlds, and it's been there from the beginning, and it's still here. And, even though now we have essentially the web on a prim, which seemed like the holy grail for a while, and, of course, we can do video every kind of way and ChatBridge. We've solved a lot of interesting challenges along the way. It's still, at the end of the day, about two people sitting in two different places going to a third place together. It's unlike any other real-time communication tool in that way. I made this same point when I was just _____ on Second Life, it's that, if you have a high-definition video cam conferencing system or telepresence even and you walk towards the screen, the people on the other side don't move out of the way because they know you're not in the same place they are. But, if I were to get out of my chair and walk around in the audience here and get in people's spaces, they would move out of the way. I would be saying, "Oh, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to bump into you," and you'd have to say, "Well, why do we do that?" Well, it's because we really have gone to a third place that's a place that neither one of us was at. We've gone somewhere together. That's really new. There's nothing else that does it. Everything that we've done in Second Life has really tried to maximize that, and so Tab mentioned our conferences, and, gosh, we've done nearly 30 of them. The first one we did, the Symposium on Digital Media in Learning, had 1,300 people attend to it. We've regularly done two- and three-day meetings that sold out. Essentially, all of them trying to tap into that notion that we've come to someplace together. We've done research on how you do that, in groups of two and three and four and 20 and 100. We went to other Sims, other platforms or
  15. 15. the Second Life Enterprise platform. They say that was still the magic that was going there, and the rest of the technologies made what we were trying to do more engaging, I think. But the reason why we were there was really that essential newness of the Virtual World, the notion of going someplace together. Really, really powerful. ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Okay. Let's turn to an issue that's been getting a lot of discussion. I'm trying to think. I think it was first announced shortly after SLCC that there would be an increase in prices, basically eliminating the discount for nonprofit and educational Sims in Second Life. I think a lot of people have a lot to say on this. I won't preface it. I'll just ask you what you think, and, Brian, shall we start with you? BRIAN KAIHOI: Certainly. The first economic challenge we've ever had with health care-- I'm being a little facetious there--health care is obviously under tremendous economic pressure. There's need for lots of change and how things work. It's a very fluid kind of environment. And this change in policy, from Linden Lab's perspective, simply is one more piece of that puzzle. It's not for us. It's not a deal breaker in and of itself. There are lots of other issues that are much larger, but there's no question, as has already been mentioned, all of the activities that, from an educational perspective, are under a lot of economic challenge, and this is simply one of them. Another reason why I think this community in particular has a wonderful opportunity for banding together, doing things together. The community aspects of Second Life are going to simply be shining compared to some other environments because we need to.
  16. 16. ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Okay. Let's see. Larry or Terry? TERRY BEAUBOIS: Yeah. I think that the results from the announcement were not anticipated necessarily, nor desired, but I think that we can all understand anytime--and it's been characterized as removing the discount or doubling the price, and I think it's caused a lot of conversation that, hopefully, we can turn in a direction that benefits both educators and Second Life, in the long run. Everyone I've talked to is going through the Sims, are upset and disturbed and frustrated about it. And I'm encouraging us all to sort of go ahead and think and feel those things, and then let's try to figure out how we can turn that into useful information. Linden Labs is also going through the same kind of economic difficulties, as much as it seems that laying off people can sort of be a mean-spirited thing, it's actually a reflection of the economic times that we're all talking about here. They can benefit from our help in understanding what to do with this environment, to move forward and go ahead. At the same time, it's spurred this sort of migration off of Second Life and exploring other areas that I don't think is a bad thing, and I don't think Second Life is necessarily surprised. I remember talking to Philip years ago when he talked about they want Second Life to be like Manhattan, with all the bridges where people can come and go. They don't want it to be an island that you can't get to or can't get off of. Sort of within this terribly disturbing economic crisis that no one would want to be in by choice, there are ways of looking at what is going on and try to take a longer view and keep a perspective as to what is it we're trying to accomplish in the long run. If the results of
  17. 17. it--and most people here know Pathfinder Lester, who we all knew as Pathfinder Linden, he's doing some grid-hopping stuff right now that is some of the most exciting things I've done in Virtual Worlds for a while. I think it's going to result in that kind of people checking out other grids and then figuring out how to jump from one grid to another. I think it's to everybody's benefit. I think it's completely human. I mean I have my frustrations and disappointments as well so I'm talking to myself as well as everybody else, but I do think there are opportunities within this challenging time. It seems like that's the spirit of which the Mayo Clinic and NMC and Metanomics and my own work take for the most part. ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Okay. Larry, you want to weigh in on the pricing issue? LARRY JOHNSON: Absolutely. Yeah. I think all the points that have been made are really important, and I would have made them myself had they not already been put out there. But the notion of recognizing that Linden Lab has challenges as well, I mean we don't any of us live in a bubble. It's taken a pounding in the marketplace at the same time that the economy has shrunken. It's been a challenge for any relatively small business, and Linden Lab is not a big enterprise. I think it's important to recognize that they have essentially given education a subsidy for six years. I don't think there should have been an expectation ever that we somehow deserve this. I mean the thing about educational discounts is, we'll always take them, but they're not at all the norm or even the rule. I certainly will take advantage of every one I get so I'm always sad to see them go, but the reality is, is that we're consumers, and if we were paying for electricity or bandwidth or any other of, you know, video services, we
  18. 18. would be paying rack rates for all that sort of thing. When I compare any big project that I've done over my career, and I've done lots and lots of multimillion-dollar projects, the thing that is nice about Second Life is, in comparison, it's really cheap. You can put up a fully-blown effort in Second Life, with a Sim and have it built by pros and lots of programming and all sorts of things for well under $50,000 for your first year. And you think about doing anything like that with animation or television even, and you're really looking at quarter-million and up. So there's a price advantage built into the technology itself that I think it's easy to overlook, and that's made it be accessible to a lot of people that were able to do rather small-scale projects. Now, I don't want to minimize the fact that many of those may be hurt, and this is a chance, I guess, to say that what we worked on was really hard to find support that will enable us to continue to offer educational communities at the same-level pricing that we've offered for years. So our prices are not going up for land at all, and we can commit to that for at least a couple of years. So that's the take that we've taken for it is, "All right. Well, the big projects are going to survive. They're going to have people in charge that are able to go out and secure resources just as we are." And so what we try to put our energy into is how can we preserve the safety net under the little projects, which are going to be the ones most hurt by this. So that's been the focus of what the NMC's done, with the goal of maintaining at least a place in the grid where the prices are still going to be the same. ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: What advice would each of you give Linden Lab, as they try to marshal all of this activity, especially in the nonprofit sector, but throughout all of the people
  19. 19. with all of the ideas? And, Larry, I guess you have the mike. Why don't we let you run with it for a minute. LARRY JOHNSON: It's easy to look back on things with the benefit of full hindsight and describe a number of times when Linden Lab has kind of shot itself in the foot. And it's easy to think about how, "Boy! I wish this message would have gone this way or that way," but, as I look at the arc of what the platform has done, I think they're really trying to do the right thing. There was a huge set of expectations placed on the company about what it would be. I was among those that were placing those big expectations on them. And, throughout all of that, I think, to their credit, they've tried to keep their focus on the core experience. While it's easy to say, "Well, this is still not right. And, yeah, there's still chat lag. And, yeah, there's this. And, yeah, there's that," my leg doesn't stick out 90 degrees anymore, and I don't turn into Ruth, although I'm not sure smoke is better. I happen to like the new viewer myself. I use pretty much all the viewers that are out there. When I go visit the OpenSims, and the NMCs had a grid over there for about 18 months, quietly, just research, because we at one point had thought about doing K-12 projects there, it's not prime time. The scripting is not all there. There's a lot you can do there. It's really exciting, and it's got some of the flair and the energy of the old Second Life, but it is about three years ago is the way that all that feels to me. And, if I'm going to be in a Virtual World, I'd rather be in the one that's got the most utility to me so that's here. ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Okay. Terry, how about you?
  20. 20. TERRY BEAUBOIS: Sure. I think that the developing excitement of this sort of grid-hopping, is it going to be a factor from here on out, and it would be great if there was some discussion in regard to how it relates to Second Life and how it relates to what Linden Labs would like to see. The issue of cost is important. I would place a challenge on us all to think about--I mean I use Facebook and Google and other media tools. And when I'm recommending software to educators, free is the right choice. I mean doubling the price of the Sim, anybody can do that. I think the companies that are going to be successful in the twenty-first century are the ones that use twenty-first century revenue models. I'm not saying that it can be done easily, but I think Linden Lab should take a very serious look at the Facebook and Google models and how they can consider those things as they go ahead. Just being real estate lessors of virtual space I think worked in 2002. As a revenue model, I think it's time to reconsider that and really take a really good, hard look at what's going on. I also would encourage them--I would be in Second Life all day long for everything, if it was the perfect environment. I mean if I could get my Facebook and get my Twitters and get my IMs and what you sort of can now with some of the prim technology, but it's in Viewer 2 only right now. So I would encourage more further development because a lot of the Virtual Worlds are still in the sort of 2005-2006 technology development cycles, and I just think we can all do better, including what we do in here as educators and what the business is doing. I've seen some horrible business models come in here and fail, just fall flat on their faces. So I would challenge us all to do our best to make this work and to do our best to come up with a revenue model that works for everybody because it doesn't really align with educators. Most
  21. 21. of the educators that come in here are attracted to advanced technology. They're not the ones with the money. They're not the ones making the big dollar decisions as to what a school district is going to do. And many of us came in and subsidized out of our own pockets education's activities in Second Life, as a result of that. I think we need to look at who we're nurturing in here because there's some incredibly wonderful things going on in education and in Virtual World construction in here, and I'd just like us to be able to move ahead. We've sort of been waiting for Godot for certain levels of technology to appear, and I'm just anxious for it to keep moving ahead. BRIAN KAIHOI: I would agree with everything that's been said, in that we are always looking for high value. Value often is described as quality over cost. There's certainly a cost element to it, but it has to be worth what you're paying. If we are doing the right things, we are creating value for people inside Second Life, and, for us, value involves community. It involves people. It involves content that is being shared back and forth. It isn't so much about creating technology for the sake of technology. We want value, and we want lots of value for the dollars, limited as they are, that we have to invest, and that for a lot of us involves community and content. ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Okay. And I'll just say the backchat has been very interesting, as you guys are talking about this, and particularly lots of discussion of immersive education and also some OpenSim. LARRY JOHNSON: Can I jump in with just one last thing?
  22. 22. ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Oh, sure. Yeah, absolutely. LARRY JOHNSON: One of the things that I think that we haven't mentioned, that really is an essential part of Second Life, that differentiates it from everywhere else is the content. I just think about if I need to have a whatever, if I want a nice coffee table for my little house or if I want a pose ball that'll make me sit like a professional in a chair or even the chair itself, I mean there's just hundreds of providers for this stuff. Second Life is so fertile that way, and all you have to really do is to--and that was one of the challenges with the SLE, the Second Life Enterprise, is that you could bring none of that with you. Basically, you had to build everything from scratch. While OpenSim's not completely that way, you definitely get that same sensation as well, that you're not bringing the economy over, and that's a really, really special part of what we've got going here. Perhaps even could be described as a technology itself, but it certainly is a phenomenon, and it's important to my experience. Sorry, Robert. ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Oh, no, that's quite all right. Let's see. I'm looking at the time. We've got about ten minutes left so I've got a list of things that we could talk about. You know what? I'm just going to throw some things out there, and each of you can give your thoughts on whichever aspects of these you want to. Some of the questions that I always have when I talk with people like you are, one, what would be the most important bit of advice you'd have for people who are trying to adopt this technology? And, two, predictions: what do you see for yourself or for the medium in, say, the next six months, year or two
  23. 23. years? But whatever you'd like to wrap up with is good enough for me. I guess why don't we start with Brian. BRIAN KAIHOI: I would give the same advice here that I give to people from Mayo Clinic, who are jumping into Virtual Worlds. We now have, just in our staff group, about 87 people from the Rochester campus, that are involved in Second Life. What we tell them is, "Join. Get involved. But then start to learn from the people that are around you." It's, "Get a sense of what is being done here. Learn the culture. It has got some elements that are very, very familiar and some that are quite different and that are surprisingly wonderful. It is like going to a different part of the world than where you grew up and finding the things that are just delightful, that you'd never even considered." So our advice to people is, "Get involved in the things that are going on around you, and learn what's going to be happening long-term, long-term in a technical sense, over the next year and a half, two years." We are very excited to see how we can use these kinds of tools to actually provide better care for people. It's a new set of technologies that provide opportunities that were never available to us, in terms of collaboration, 3D, immersive environments, and we think that's going to be very, very exciting for what that does just for health care. So we're a little parochial in that regard, but we certainly are interested to see what happens with that and are pretty optimistic about the possibilities. ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Okay. And, Terry? TERRY BEAUBOIS: Yeah. Just based on what was just said, I think we should drop the old
  24. 24. assumptions. I'm looking at education and sort of for the first time in four and a half years of my involvement here, schools of education, schools in higher ed are completely restructuring how they train teachers to teach in K through 12. They're starting to really seriously look at twenty-first century skills so I think the past, where we might complain and whine about how people don't seem to be able to appreciate virtual environments. That may be ending. I think we have to be prepared for, "Okay, what if they do start accepting it? How do we move ahead successfully, and how do we integrate those things in," like you were asking. My perspective is having it be part of everything. Anyone who tries to do a standalone Second Life thing, where that's all that's going on, I think that's not enough. I think we need to learn how to teach and learn in multiple technology environments. And, Beyers, I think you mentioned that already earlier. We're applying everything that we've learned on interdisciplinary collaboration in computer-based technology, in support of education--the longest title I could think of for that--in our college. And we're a research lab, so we're looking at how do we spiral that research down into curriculum, both at the higher-ed level and at the K through 12 level. Our projects include things like a sustainable house, a sustainable community, a sustainable campus project because we need to focus and show how these things can be applied to real life. The other thing we're exploring with a public policy institute here in Montana is the issue of how do we get everyone engaged in knowledge-based decision-making. And we're looking at how the residents of an area, whether it's a town or a city or a country or a state, can become engaged in the decision-making process and policy-setting processes and not just
  25. 25. react to policy after it's passed. My thoughts are, "Shouldn't we do that in a Virtual World too?" I think that we would learn things and be able to pass things back and forth from Real World and Virtual World. That's always been my interest in being in here. I know it's not everyone's, but I think the benefit of making the Real World a better world with our activities in the Virtual World is primary in the efforts I'd like to encourage. LARRY JOHNSON: I'd like to say kudos to that. ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Yeah. Well, lots of good ideas, and I still think lots of challenges. You guys wrapped up more quickly than I thought. We still have a few minutes yet. LARRY JOHNSON: I haven't wrapped up yet actually. ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Okay. There we go. Sorry about that. LARRY JOHNSON: I have a closing thought, if I can get it in. ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Excellent. Absolutely. LARRY JOHNSON: But as I’ve listened to my colleagues here describe their projects and your projects that you've been doing as well, Robert, it's just phenomenal. I think about the very first foray we made into thinking about medicine in Virtual Worlds was Second Health and conceptualizing an entire new hospital, something that involved not only medicine, but architecture and lots of other skill sets as well, that actually was input to public policy in the
  26. 26. UK. Phenomenal. And later projects that we did that looked at hospice care and palliative sorts of care and medical ethics, just on down the line. The trauma center that we did with the University of Tennessee. And dental projects. Those were just kind of the start. Our own conferences have never been about Second Life or the technology in Second Life. We've done four conferences, symposia for the future in Second Life, where we brought people together to talk about all sorts of ideas about how technology in general can impact things. I think that Terry hit it right on the head in the idea that what Second Life gives us is actually a fairly inexpensive sandbox to build new notions and new ideas in, that have Real World applicability. As I look around at literally hundreds of people that are working on some of that, as I look around the audience here, I see Jenaia and other folks, and Firery Broome with the University of Delaware, and just people that have been doing, for years, amazing stuff in this medium. When we were faced with the economic choice--and this was our choice--it was stay or go. And, when we thought about what it meant to go, we just couldn't leave all of that behind. We couldn't leave all of that energy and effort and take it to a new promised land and try and rebuild it there, with the expectation that we could somehow make that magic again. We chose to really stay with the magic that we knew was already taking place and, instead, trying to solve the economic challenges of it. We didn't do that because we didn't make an informed decision. We still have our own grid in OpenSim. We still have our SLE server. We've looked at countless other platforms along the way. We're always looking at new platforms, but this one's special, and I can't leave
  27. 27. these people. They're just doing too many good things, and that's the bottom line for NMC. ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Well, I'll say that really brings us full circle to what we were discussing at the very beginning of the show, which is that so much of Second Life and I think Virtual Worlds in general, is about the people. And so not only are they a tremendous resource, but they are something that people naturally cling to, and I think it's a real advantage of the technology. In fact, one of the very first discussions I ever had with someone in Second Life, who was trying to use it as part of their business, it was a woman who was working with Nature Magazine, the publisher of Nature Magazine. Before finding Virtual Worlds, she would just have conference calls between scientists and potential coauthors. After trying that a few times in Second Life, her reaction was that they were much more likely to follow up with one another because they had actually made what felt like a personal connection, avatar to avatar, rather than disembodied voice over the phone to disembodied voice over the phone. And so I'm not surprised that this discussion begins and ends thinking about the importance of the people that we're dealing with in a Virtual World. So I guess that's all we have time for so those will be the closing remarks, but sticking with the importance of people first. I'd like to thank our guests Brian Kaihoi, Terry Beaubois and Larry Johnson. Thanks so much, guys, for giving us your insights, and I wish you the best of luck in all of your projects for 2011. BRIAN KAIHOI: It's an absolute pleasure.
  28. 28. TERRY BEAUBOIS: Thanks, Beyers. It's a privilege to be here. LARRY JOHNSON: Absolutely. Thank you, Robert. ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: My pleasure to have you. And, finally, I want to thank just a small number of the Metanomics volunteers who help out with our show and with all the activities with promotion, formal, informal. It takes a world, not just a village, to pull this off. So thanks to our volunteer coordinator Devon Alderton, Tammy Nowotny, Alleara Snoodle, AmyBeth Seerose, Adeki Canelli(?), Devon A. Destiny(?), Ju Russell(?), Loud Laugher(?) Metaverse engineer, Nany Kayo, Ozzny Wozniak, Svera Morring(?) and Zola Zsun. There are so many others. I know this week especially Bevan Whitfield has been busy Twittering and promoting, and I see we got a good crowd so thanks for that. Thanks, too, also all the people who are helping transcribe our event for Virtual Ability. Too many there for me to name off the top of my head. So anyway, again, thanks to all the people who make Metanomics happen, and we'll pick up where we left off, in January. So happy holidays! Happy New Year! And, see you at a holiday party at some point. Bye bye. Document: cor1098.doc Transcribed by: http://www.hiredhand.com

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