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August 06, 2007


David A. Smith

To understand where virtual worlds are going, I think it is important to truly understand what Doug Engelbart was trying to demonstrate in 1968. An environment where the participating community can both deeply collaborate, and can dynamically modify the system from inside it - his concept of bootstrapping, is a critical step. What we are looking at is the augmented conversation - an ability to mutually explore and simulate ideas that expand beyond what we can do in real life. The virtual world will lead to a richer and more complex kind of communication. Since we are defined more by how we communicate than anything else, this implies a kind of redefinition of what it means to be human. Training and conferencing are necessary to jump-start the process.

jeff rhoda

Irving, one comment you made awhile back still sticks with me, and I think will be a "killer app" that comes out of virtual worlds, if not for VW themselves: natural interfaces.

At the time, your description of interacting with everyday applications and systems much as we do in the real world created a real vision of what IT could be one day: Truly embedded.....interacting naturally with applications and complex systems by talking, pointing or even eye movement.

Lots of research in these areas today, but I think the virtual worlds will be a place to test out human reactions and preferences in interacting with avatars, video representations, etc.

btw, belated congratulations.


I am honoured that my particular avatar came up in this conversation :-)
I should mention that it is built by a Second Life resident Sythia Veil, with a few additions such as the jacket and walk. Whilst the visual cues are important, it is also important the way that the puppetry is used to express ideas and emotions in a virtual world.
I hope that blend of innovative and open action combined with interesting visuals is the essence of epredator online.
I am also happy that the original point of immersing and enagaging within the spirit of Second Life as an employee of a large corporation is able to be used as a suitably sensible discussion.
You look like..... has allowed me to engage people in dicussions even before we put the guidelines out there. These discussions have helped form a wider idea.
I like many others have more than one avatar look, I have been exploring which ones work where. Just as others have explored having more than one account in various virtual worlds to explore the balance of reputation and anonymity.
The feeling that people act in a more civil fashion I believe is becuase of the relatively instant feedback that they get from their peers if they step away from the social norm that forms in any interaction.
I think is the same principle as that of a self correcting wiki. If people care enough about a place, a meeting, an interaction then they will make sure it stays nice. Its a community spirit.
That will clearly not stop a determined person who wishes to enagage in any anti-social or even criminal behaviour. However people are more able to indicate their emotions to people who are misbehaving.

Rajesh Shakya

I agree with you. I expect next generation of "killer App" will be through virtual world. I think you will see a real social networking webspace using full fledged virtual world concepts. We may call that paradigm shift web 3.0 Virtual?

Rajesh Shakya
Helping technopreneurs to excel and lead their life!

Prokofy Neva


I wonder if you have found a way to measure productivity in virtual worlds, using this particular method of meeting, training, learning. I find that communication can be very hobbled -- it can work well for 2 people in IMs or meeting f2f, or even a group of 700 talking at once (ironic as that sounds) if everyone's willing to "scroll their own," but it's those meetings of 15 people that often get very frustrating. I find the IM to be a great underminer of relationships in virtual worlds.

Also, I wonder if you feel virtual worlds are more civil than email. I think they are.

Thanks for putting in all those myriad hyperlinks into your blog post, must be work for you but it's a treat for the reader.


Neil Leyden

Dear Irving,

I'm new to this blog but really enjoying it. Thanks for the stimulating discourse and links.

What appealed to me about Virtual Worlds as a screenwriter, first and foremost, is the potential for building a fictonal world that users can interact in and engage with stories in a new and exciting way. The "tyranny of the linear' finally overcomes.

In terms of enterprise and learning, something that I am interested in is how Virtual Worlds allow people to overcome their social inhibitions and can free training seminars getting hijacked by Alpha personalities. Having often used De Bono's Six Hats for stimulating creativity, it would be interesting to see how using different avatars - a different hat, as it were, - could allow users expore one problem from many different angles - perhaps even inhabiting different personalities in order to understand them.

All the best,

Neil Leyden


Jonathan Salem Baskin

I really enjoyed reading your post on the IBM Guidelines, and I, too, wonder what the 'killer app(s)' will be. As a marketer, I view those apps as primary drivers for adoption and habit, which are two behaviors that constitute things like 'brand loyalty' and ongoing consumption. Are meetings and other business collaborations the real future of places like Second Life? I am not so sure, in that the sense of cartoon presence, as well as much else involved in the experience, is unrelated to the behavioral purpose of the activity. Seeing a cartoon of the office manager from Singapore doesn't enable me to talk to her any better, faster, more honestly, or more productively, does it? But I think you are right that the ongoing experimentation in these media will help people discover their 'true' uses (i.e. the killer apps).

For now, I choose to see the Guidelines (also) as a savvy piece of branding for IBM.

As you also note, there's not much too them other than a generic warning to not act like an idiot online. But the document does throw out a lot of questions about identity, responsibility, and the uses for consensual online experience. These issues are all part of that experimentation you encourage. This makes IBM's expenditure of time/money on the document far smarter marketing than one of those soaringly inane Sunday morning TV commercials.

I've written a bit more about it on my branding blog, DIM BULB, at http://dimbulb.typepad.com, if you want to check it out. Thanks!

Joe Baressi


I think you vastly understate your case. "Training" is a corporate term for a much broader phenomenon: Education.

Universities and schools, both public and private, should tremble at what the Internet and virtual reality mean for their (non-profit(wink-wink)) business models.

Matt Bowman

Hi Irving, These comments comes via your post on AlwaysOn. Cheers/ Matt Bowman

David Scott Lewis, Startech Global:
Isn't Bestiality the Killer App for Second Life? You're assuming (falsely) that there is a killer app for virtual worlds, sans serving as an outlet for aberrant behaviors. Virtual worlds are way too early; Second Life is Worlds Inc 2.0, nothing more ... and will suffer the same fate.

Pete Ianace, ESPRE Solutions:
I agree with your view. Applications like WebEx prove there is a need and a desire to collaborate. I would suggest that an easy to use version of WebEx, 100% browser based that connects anyone, anywhere at anytime has a lot of merit.

Ray Podder, GROW:
What then becomes the killer app for the REAL world? Regardless of the continued sophistication virtual worlds, the real effect is how the Virtual affects the Real. We're already seeing it with Ambient Devices, and I suspect there's more on the way. It could be technological or social in nature like Smart Mobs. Virtual enhances the real as we live and experience VirtuReality. It'll be interesting to see how these virtual advances play out in the real world.

Bret Carpenter, New Generation Community Development
Taking hold of the essence of an innovation culture is amazingly easy. Just fill in the blank. When an idea is proposed, you will discover the core values of an innovation culture in the words that follow this phrase: “We can NOT do that because…” the administrators won’t like it, the attorneys won’t allow us, it’s not in the budget its too expensive, marketing will take it from us if it actually succeeds, the vendor will charge too much for changing the code, IT shouldn’t be directing this kind of initiative, it distracts us from our mission and so on. Whatever reasons, evasions or excuses Tech-fluentials use to explain away why good ideas can’t be implemented is the organization’s innovation culture responsibility, period end of sentence; successful innovation is separate from successful implementation. Innovation initiatives must have flowcharts and methods giving details how internal resistance will be identified then dealt with. Overcoming resistance is the key to dynamically drive implementation of innovations within any endeavor.

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