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

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.

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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, 2010ANNOUNCER: Metanomics is owned and operated by Remedy and Dusan WritersMetaverse.ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Hi. Im Robert Bloomfield, professor at Cornell UniversitysJohnson Graduate School of Management. Today we continue exploring Virtual Worlds inthe larger sphere of social media, culture, enterprise and policy. Naturally, our discussionabout 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 inSecond Life. We are pleased to broadcast weekly to our event partners and to welcomediscussion. We use ChatBridge technology to allow viewers to comment during the show.Metanomics is sponsored by the Johnson Graduate School of Management at CornellUniversity. Welcome. This is Metanomics.ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Welcome, everyone, to Metanomics. This is our last show of thefall 2010 season, and, as always, it seems we turn to reminiscing and looking forward to thefuture, 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 fromthree people who have invested heavily in money, time and themselves in the Metaverse.Weve 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 atMontana State University; and Larry Johnson of the New Media Consortium. So were goingto hear from all three of these gentlemen on, really, again, past and future, what broughtthem into the Metaverse and Second Life, where theyre headed from here and their advicefor all of you who might be thinking of adopting Metaverse technology and, no doubt, a littleadvice for Linden Lab as well. So Id like to welcome you all to Metanomics.Brian, lets 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 onNational 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 wasjust pleasantly surprised to find all of these people listening to the program and talkingtogether about it, sharing information back and forth. I made a few friends there. Theyintroduced me to music. They introduced me to New Citizens Incorporated. They introducedme to other people that were around, and, for me, that community experience began. Abouta year and a half later, I was showing folks inside Mayo Clinic about this environment, andwe started exploring and investigating, and thats when Mayo Clinic got involved. So I wasinvolved personally for over a year and a half before our organization even got their toe inthe water, so to speak.ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: And, Terry, how about you?TERRY BEAUBOIS: Well, in 2005, Id 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 doingresearch on what kind of software tools might be available for use in education and fordistance learning also. I was very interested in that. I read an article in Wired Magazine anddownloaded Second Life, and I just couldnt believe it. Im someone who was introduced tovirtual reality in the early 1980s at NASA at Ames Research Center. They had Craycomputers and IRIS workstations. And so it doesnt seem like its happened all that quickly,but it is wonderful to be able to bring architectural students into this environment. We dointeractive and interdisciplinary collaboration, so weve been able to get other students fromother 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 thats in here, the internationaleducation community. Ive been fortunate enough to be able to travel to Finland andDenmark 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 broughtyou 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 wereworking on our project with the McArthur Foundation, and we were looking for a way toreally 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 littlebenchmarks, the average number of concurrent users online was about 2,500, and therewere 150,000 residents total in Second Life. It was really a very different platform then, andwe 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 coverstory 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 havenearly a hundred universities involved in our project, but it was a heady time, and we wereall 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 ofthe future here? It sounds like there has been fallback in how much activity theres been inSecond Life.LARRY JOHNSON: Well, Robert, youre an economist so Im sure you could speak forhours on what has happened in the world in the last several years.ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: And itd be every bit as exciting as you [think?].LARRY JOHNSON: Yeah. The thing is that colleges and universities took some realserious hits all over the world, whether they were colleges in Europe or Australia or in thestates, Canada or wherever universities were coming into Second Life to participate. Theyall 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 inresponse to that. I think thats a very natural response, and its an economic survivalmechanism. 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 abacklash that corresponded to Gartners Hype Curve as Second Life and Linden Labstechnology started to come down that vertical slope on the right side of that graph. Theycame down pretty hard and pretty fast. So when you ask do I still feel like that Second Life ispart of the future, the question I actually heard in my head was: Does Second Life have afuture? And I think that the answer to that is absolutely yes. Do I think that it really is thefuture in the way that I did? I have to be honest and say no. I think its actually a maturetechnology now. I think that people understand how to use it in ways that we didnt backthen. I think weve put a lot of time and energy and resources into learning how to use it, andthere are a bunch of really good projects that Im really ecstatic to see are still here, evenafter 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. Iwant to compliment NMC on what theyve provided because I think we talked about this oneother time, Larry. I think it was in the fall of 2007 when you had the conference at NMC, andI remember being reluctant to attend and be a presenter. But, at the end of the day, I justwent, "This is wonderful. I mean I havent had to drive to an airport, fly to another city, getinto 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 someof the Virtual World technology, I am optimistic because I think the technology is one thingand the people are the other.Im in technology in Second Life because of the people that are in here. I mean some of thepeople that I meet are just some of the most talented, funny, creative people, and thatswhat brings me back in here, including yourself with your program here. I think its a majorcontribution to the Virtual Worlds and to the educational community and the businesscommunity 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, its easy to do because its true. The other things is, these aretough times. The economic problems that Larry was referring to are international andcertainly all over the United States, and Second Life isnt immune to that. Separate anddifferent from that is how we handle those concerns and economic difficulties, and I think itssort of compounded--I dont know whether you want to go into this yet or not, in regard tothe pricing of Sims in the education sector. When I prepared for this program, I talked topeople in Finland and Denmark and Sweden and Japan and all over the United States, andthey had a lot to say about what their concerns were.I think its important that, as a mature technology as Larry mentioned, that we learn how tocommunicate and talk to each other. I think theres a lot of benefit that can be done if we findthose 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 Ill hold my comments on the Sim pricing to later, if youwant to make that a separate topic for everyone, but its a challenge.ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Yeah. I imagine well get there very quickly. Lets see, it soundslike Brian?BRIAN KAIHOI: I would agree wholeheartedly with everything that Larry and Tab aresaying. The benefit of this kind of environment is the people that are here. Its thecommunity thats here. At Mayo Clinic we understand and have for a long time that the bestmedicine is practiced in a group; its integrated. There are people working together in teams.Its the foundation of what Mayo Clinic is. So bringing Second Life technology, Virtual Worldtechnology, into our organization has simply been a matter of helping the organization seehow these tools fit into the philosophy in the scope of practice that we have. But, its been atremendous experience to have the people inside Second Life helping just withinMetanomics.The folks--Jennette Forager, JenzZa Misfit, the Metanomics crew--Ive been very fortunateto be part of the volunteer group here. So Devon, even sitting in the audience. People likeMarty and Jenaia, folks that are very involved in health-care activities, partnering with youand helping to do the right things has just been great. And weve been learning how best tohelp 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 thepeople. 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 whomade this happen, and I just happened to be the one who likes a microphone. So thats whyyou hear my voice. But it really is something else. And so I guess Id like to stick with thisissue of basically to what extent what are the dimensions on which Second Life has lived upto its promise. Well probably talk about alternative worlds shortly, but we might as well stickwith 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, youve been able toconvert into a project? I mean its great to talk about the community, but what are theelements of Second Life where you are actually able to get some traction and use thetechnology? Actually, do you want to just continue on that, Brian?BRIAN KAIHOI: Certainly. The efforts at Mayo Clinic revolve around education, researchand clinical practice. The education activities, be they patient education or graduate schooleducation, medical education, continuing medical education, those activities have beenfairly well scoped out by folks like NMC, like other universities, and were following along intheir footsteps. Its something thats fairly easy for people to grasp, to see how it fits, and sowere doing the continuing medical education programs, etcetera, at the Mayo Clinic space,and thats going very well.The clinical practice activities are harder, but its largely not the technology that makes ithard, but understanding how, in this health-care environment that were in, particularly in theUnited States, you can work in a distance kind of way and still be following appropriateprotocols and being legal and all that sort of thing. Second Life isnt 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 Misfitreminds me that youre 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, Im not sure about total on the ground. We just got 26 inches over theweekend, that added to the snow that was there.ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: I bring it up because that really is one thing, that I think, afterweve 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 doesnt matter whether theressnow or swine flu or whatever, that youre still just talking with someone and feeling likeyoure actually getting a chance to meet them, even though you cant even get your car outof the garage.BRIAN KAIHOI: That is absolutely right.ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: I have to say that still is one of the very important aspects of thisto me. So, Terry, can I just ask, as far as the technology goes, architecture just seems sopromising 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 byjust three words: free building materials. Because they dont have to worry about the realestate after we acquire some property. While there are differences, and Ive talked aboutthem a lot in the past and hope to watch the improvements of the technology over time tocontinue, there are differences between real-life architecture and Virtual World architecture.I think theres a lot that can be taught. And then to your point that you were mentioning inregard to the communication, in 2005, we learned that students arent taught communicationas 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 beforegoing into voice, and we have a transcript of communication. I still think its as valid now as itis in 2005.I visited a Sim yesterday, that just opened yesterday, and its sponsored by IBM, but its justan incredible environment. The creativity that went into it is phenomenal. I visited a retailvenue that releases new clothing designs on the marketplace and has a pub with dancing. Icontinue to visit the educational Sims that people have, and both sit in on classes anddeliver lectures. So what were all saying is how this is a fantastic tool, it is challenging towork 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 theywere thinking that the backchat was rude. All these people were typing while you weretalking. And youre such a master at being able to handle that and pick out a question to ask
  11. 11. a guest, while theyre talking or youre talking, that I think that we all have a lot to learn andteach in regard to this. Ill just add one more thing. We went to a high school teacher, youknow, being these marvelous university professors with all this high tech, two years ago, toshow them the technology that we were using, and what we ended up doing was learningabout 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. Its hard to remember that. This year he was nominated as Montana Teacherof the Year, and he has 70 of his lectures--he teaches advanced placement biology--he has70 of his lectures up on YouTube. He doesnt give lectures anymore. His students areassigned a six-minute lecture to review the night before, and he works with themone-on-one when they come into class. I can see, in the future, of virtual environmentsbecoming that kind of integrated part in teaching and learning because were starting to seeour teaching training at the college level, the people that train K through 12 teachers start toreally look around and look for twenty-first century technology thats out there and how theycan implement it in the classroom.ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: You mentioned the backchat, Terry, and so I do want to follow upon that. First of all, you have a bunch of people chatting to ask if you can name the Simsthat you were referring to. I think you talked about one that was an IBM Sim and one, letssee, the pub with dancing, and the educational one. So you can type those in if you dontremember them immediately.TERRY BEAUBOIS: Sure. Let me get the correct wording and spelling of all those, and Ill
  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 Denmarkthought it was rude, and I see that Fleep Tuque has chimed in, saying that she still haspeople who believe that its rude, but what did she say--if I can find this here, "Personally, Ihate any presentation that doesnt have it." I think Im with Fleep there that, if theres onelittle bit of the technological experience for me that has been transformative, it actually hasbeen, well, let me just say, as a teacher, most of us of my generation have made thistransition from the notion of just a lecture where we stand up there and talk to bringing in thestudents, some to have maybe a discussion of cases and some Q&A. This, to me, does feellike the next step in the evolution which is having text constantly moving the conversationnot 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 Im going to be usingsome new technology to teach for Cornell. We have a distance MBA program, its called theBoardroom program, where we have students who are at any number of cities. I think wehave a dozen and a half or so cities around the U.S. and Canada, and well have a littleboardroom of four to six people there, and they will have a camera that shows me here inSage Hall, and I have cameras to see them. Its a lot like Metanomics actually because Ivegot a producer who can change from one camera to another, and I can see whoeverstalking. So Im hoping to get some sort of backchat into that. Its going to be a veryinteresting way to teach. And I see wonderful backchat about backchat. Lots of it going onnow, 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 offamiliarity. I think at first were all uncomfortable with the technology, and then we sort of getused to it, and then we miss it if it isnt there. Youre talking about the backchat, and somepeople have been typing about they want to have backchat. One of the things I do in my labis, I always have my computer usually plugged into a projector or a big studio display, andso people can see what Im working on when they come in, and were working around thetable. Anytime Im not plugged in, theyre going, "Whats wrong? We cant see what youredoing. What is it youre working on?" So it goes from them thinking, "Oh, thats odd that hessitting there projecting his computer," to really wanting that input. And then I have a16 computer switch so that we can have as many as 16 people working on laptops in thesame room, all talking and sharing four different projection screens.ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Very interesting. That brings up the issue of multipletechnologies, and I think all of you made the point that Second Life is not the be-all andend-all. And, Larry, maybe Ill direct this to you first because the New Media Consortium is, Iknow, broad-based and looking at lots of different technologies. There have been so manychanges over the last three years since Metanomics started. What do you see as being thetechnologies that are going to merge most seamlessly with Virtual Worlds, and do you seeanything thats just going to upend them?
  14. 14. LARRY JOHNSON: Well, I think theres a single thing that is the new shiny stuff in VirtualWorlds, and its been there from the beginning, and its still here. And, even though now wehave essentially the web on a prim, which seemed like the holy grail for a while, and, ofcourse, we can do video every kind of way and ChatBridge. Weve solved a lot of interestingchallenges along the way. Its still, at the end of the day, about two people sitting in twodifferent places going to a third place together. Its unlike any other real-time communicationtool in that way.I made this same point when I was just _____ on Second Life, its that, if you have ahigh-definition video cam conferencing system or telepresence even and you walk towardsthe screen, the people on the other side dont move out of the way because they knowyoure not in the same place they are. But, if I were to get out of my chair and walk around inthe audience here and get in peoples spaces, they would move out of the way. I would besaying, "Oh, Im sorry. I didnt mean to bump into you," and youd have to say, "Well, why dowe do that?" Well, its because we really have gone to a third place thats a place thatneither one of us was at. Weve gone somewhere together. Thats really new. Theresnothing else that does it.Everything that weve done in Second Life has really tried to maximize that, and so Tabmentioned our conferences, and, gosh, weve done nearly 30 of them. The first one we did,the Symposium on Digital Media in Learning, had 1,300 people attend to it. Weve regularlydone two- and three-day meetings that sold out. Essentially, all of them trying to tap into thatnotion that weve come to someplace together. Weve done research on how you do that, ingroups 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. Butthe reason why we were there was really that essential newness of the Virtual World, thenotion of going someplace together. Really, really powerful.ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Okay. Lets turn to an issue thats been getting a lot of discussion.Im trying to think. I think it was first announced shortly after SLCC that there would be anincrease in prices, basically eliminating the discount for nonprofit and educational Sims inSecond Life. I think a lot of people have a lot to say on this. I wont preface it. Ill just ask youwhat you think, and, Brian, shall we start with you?BRIAN KAIHOI: Certainly. The first economic challenge weve ever had with health care--Im being a little facetious there--health care is obviously under tremendous economicpressure. Theres need for lots of change and how things work. Its a very fluid kind ofenvironment. And this change in policy, from Linden Labs perspective, simply is one morepiece of that puzzle. Its not for us. Its not a deal breaker in and of itself. There are lots ofother issues that are much larger, but theres no question, as has already been mentioned,all of the activities that, from an educational perspective, are under a lot of economicchallenge, and this is simply one of them.Another reason why I think this community in particular has a wonderful opportunity forbanding together, doing things together. The community aspects of Second Life are going tosimply be shining compared to some other environments because we need to.
  16. 16. ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Okay. Lets see. Larry or Terry?TERRY BEAUBOIS: Yeah. I think that the results from the announcement were notanticipated necessarily, nor desired, but I think that we can all understand anytime--and itsbeen characterized as removing the discount or doubling the price, and I think its caused alot of conversation that, hopefully, we can turn in a direction that benefits both educatorsand Second Life, in the long run. Everyone Ive talked to is going through the Sims, areupset and disturbed and frustrated about it. And Im encouraging us all to sort of go aheadand think and feel those things, and then lets try to figure out how we can turn that intouseful information.Linden Labs is also going through the same kind of economic difficulties, as much as itseems that laying off people can sort of be a mean-spirited thing, its actually a reflection ofthe economic times that were all talking about here. They can benefit from our help inunderstanding what to do with this environment, to move forward and go ahead. At thesame time, its spurred this sort of migration off of Second Life and exploring other areasthat I dont think is a bad thing, and I dont think Second Life is necessarily surprised. Iremember talking to Philip years ago when he talked about they want Second Life to be likeManhattan, with all the bridges where people can come and go. They dont want it to be anisland that you cant get to or cant get off of.Sort of within this terribly disturbing economic crisis that no one would want to be in bychoice, there are ways of looking at what is going on and try to take a longer view and keepa perspective as to what is it were 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,hes doing some grid-hopping stuff right now that is some of the most exciting things Ivedone in Virtual Worlds for a while.I think its going to result in that kind of people checking out other grids and then figuring outhow to jump from one grid to another. I think its to everybodys benefit. I think its completelyhuman. I mean I have my frustrations and disappointments as well so Im talking to myselfas well as everybody else, but I do think there are opportunities within this challenging time.It seems like thats the spirit of which the Mayo Clinic and NMC and Metanomics and myown 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 reallyimportant, and I would have made them myself had they not already been put out there. Butthe notion of recognizing that Linden Lab has challenges as well, I mean we dont any of uslive in a bubble. Its taken a pounding in the marketplace at the same time that the economyhas shrunken. Its been a challenge for any relatively small business, and Linden Lab is nota big enterprise. I think its important to recognize that they have essentially given educationa subsidy for six years. I dont think there should have been an expectation ever that wesomehow deserve this. I mean the thing about educational discounts is, well always takethem, but theyre not at all the norm or even the rule. I certainly will take advantage of everyone I get so Im always sad to see them go, but the reality is, is that were consumers, and ifwe 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 Ive done over my career, and Ive done lots and lots ofmultimillion-dollar projects, the thing that is nice about Second Life is, in comparison, itsreally cheap. You can put up a fully-blown effort in Second Life, with a Sim and have it builtby pros and lots of programming and all sorts of things for well under $50,000 for your firstyear. And you think about doing anything like that with animation or television even, andyoure really looking at quarter-million and up. So theres a price advantage built into thetechnology itself that I think its easy to overlook, and thats made it be accessible to a lot ofpeople that were able to do rather small-scale projects.Now, I dont want to minimize the fact that many of those may be hurt, and this is a chance, Iguess, to say that what we worked on was really hard to find support that will enable us tocontinue to offer educational communities at the same-level pricing that weve offered foryears. So our prices are not going up for land at all, and we can commit to that for at least acouple of years. So thats the take that weve taken for it is, "All right. Well, the big projectsare going to survive. Theyre going to have people in charge that are able to go out andsecure resources just as we are." And so what we try to put our energy into is how can wepreserve the safety net under the little projects, which are going to be the ones most hurt bythis. So thats been the focus of what the NMCs done, with the goal of maintaining at least aplace 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 tomarshal 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 dont we let you run with itfor a minute.LARRY JOHNSON: Its easy to look back on things with the benefit of full hindsight anddescribe a number of times when Linden Lab has kind of shot itself in the foot. And its easyto think about how, "Boy! I wish this message would have gone this way or that way," but, asI look at the arc of what the platform has done, I think theyre really trying to do the rightthing. 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 ofthat, I think, to their credit, theyve tried to keep their focus on the core experience.While its easy to say, "Well, this is still not right. And, yeah, theres still chat lag. And, yeah,theres this. And, yeah, theres that," my leg doesnt stick out 90 degrees anymore, and Idont turn into Ruth, although Im not sure smoke is better. I happen to like the new viewermyself. 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 weat one point had thought about doing K-12 projects there, its not prime time. The scripting isnot all there. Theres a lot you can do there. Its really exciting, and its got some of the flairand the energy of the old Second Life, but it is about three years ago is the way that all thatfeels to me. And, if Im going to be in a Virtual World, Id rather be in the one thats got themost utility to me so thats here.ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Okay. Terry, how about you?
  20. 20. TERRY BEAUBOIS: Sure. I think that the developing excitement of this sort ofgrid-hopping, is it going to be a factor from here on out, and it would be great if there wassome discussion in regard to how it relates to Second Life and how it relates to what LindenLabs would like to see. The issue of cost is important. I would place a challenge on us all tothink about--I mean I use Facebook and Google and other media tools. And when Imrecommending software to educators, free is the right choice. I mean doubling the price ofthe Sim, anybody can do that. I think the companies that are going to be successful in thetwenty-first century are the ones that use twenty-first century revenue models.Im not saying that it can be done easily, but I think Linden Lab should take a very seriouslook at the Facebook and Google models and how they can consider those things as theygo ahead. Just being real estate lessors of virtual space I think worked in 2002. As arevenue model, I think its time to reconsider that and really take a really good, hard look atwhats going on. I also would encourage them--I would be in Second Life all day long foreverything, if it was the perfect environment. I mean if I could get my Facebook and get myTwitters and get my IMs and what you sort of can now with some of the prim technology, butits in Viewer 2 only right now.So I would encourage more further development because a lot of the Virtual Worlds are stillin the sort of 2005-2006 technology development cycles, and I just think we can all dobetter, including what we do in here as educators and what the business is doing. Ive seensome horrible business models come in here and fail, just fall flat on their faces. So I wouldchallenge us all to do our best to make this work and to do our best to come up with arevenue model that works for everybody because it doesnt really align with educators. Most
  21. 21. of the educators that come in here are attracted to advanced technology. Theyre not theones with the money. Theyre not the ones making the big dollar decisions as to what aschool district is going to do. And many of us came in and subsidized out of our ownpockets educations activities in Second Life, as a result of that.I think we need to look at who were nurturing in here because theres some incrediblywonderful things going on in education and in Virtual World construction in here, and Id justlike us to be able to move ahead. Weve sort of been waiting for Godot for certain levels oftechnology to appear, and Im just anxious for it to keep moving ahead.BRIAN KAIHOI: I would agree with everything thats been said, in that we are alwayslooking for high value. Value often is described as quality over cost. Theres certainly a costelement to it, but it has to be worth what youre paying. If we are doing the right things, weare creating value for people inside Second Life, and, for us, value involves community. Itinvolves people. It involves content that is being shared back and forth. It isnt so muchabout creating technology for the sake of technology. We want value, and we want lots ofvalue for the dollars, limited as they are, that we have to invest, and that for a lot of usinvolves community and content.ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Okay. And Ill just say the backchat has been very interesting, asyou guys are talking about this, and particularly lots of discussion of immersive educationand 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 havent mentioned, that really isan essential part of Second Life, that differentiates it from everywhere else is the content. Ijust think about if I need to have a whatever, if I want a nice coffee table for my little houseor if I want a pose ball thatll make me sit like a professional in a chair or even the chairitself, I mean theres just hundreds of providers for this stuff. Second Life is so fertile thatway, 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 OpenSims not completely thatway, you definitely get that same sensation as well, that youre not bringing the economyover, and thats a really, really special part of what weve got going here. Perhaps evencould be described as a technology itself, but it certainly is a phenomenon, and its importantto my experience. Sorry, Robert.ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Oh, no, thats quite all right. Lets see. Im looking at the time.Weve got about ten minutes left so Ive got a list of things that we could talk about. Youknow what? Im just going to throw some things out there, and each of you can give yourthoughts on whichever aspects of these you want to. Some of the questions that I alwayshave when I talk with people like you are, one, what would be the most important bit ofadvice youd 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 youd like to wrap up with is good enough for me. I guess why dont westart 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 peoplefrom 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." Its, "Get a senseof what is being done here. Learn the culture. It has got some elements that are very, veryfamiliar and some that are quite different and that are surprisingly wonderful. It is like goingto a different part of the world than where you grew up and finding the things that are justdelightful, that youd never even considered." So our advice to people is, "Get involved inthe things that are going on around you, and learn whats 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 bettercare for people. Its a new set of technologies that provide opportunities that were neveravailable to us, in terms of collaboration, 3D, immersive environments, and we think thatsgoing to be very, very exciting for what that does just for health care. So were a littleparochial in that regard, but we certainly are interested to see what happens with that andare 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. Im looking at education and sort of for the first time in four and a half years ofmy involvement here, schools of education, schools in higher ed are completelyrestructuring how they train teachers to teach in K through 12. Theyre starting to reallyseriously look at twenty-first century skills so I think the past, where we might complain andwhine about how people dont seem to be able to appreciate virtual environments. Thatmay 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 youwere asking.My perspective is having it be part of everything. Anyone who tries to do a standaloneSecond Life thing, where thats all thats going on, I think thats not enough. I think we needto learn how to teach and learn in multiple technology environments. And, Beyers, I thinkyou mentioned that already earlier. Were applying everything that weve learned oninterdisciplinary collaboration in computer-based technology, in support of education--thelongest title I could think of for that--in our college. And were a research lab, so werelooking at how do we spiral that research down into curriculum, both at the higher-ed leveland at the K through 12 level. Our projects include things like a sustainable house, asustainable community, a sustainable campus project because we need to focus and showhow these things can be applied to real life.The other thing were exploring with a public policy institute here in Montana is the issue ofhow do we get everyone engaged in knowledge-based decision-making. And were lookingat how the residents of an area, whether its a town or a city or a country or a state, canbecome engaged in the decision-making process and policy-setting processes and not just
  25. 25. react to policy after its passed. My thoughts are, "Shouldnt we do that in a Virtual Worldtoo?" I think that we would learn things and be able to pass things back and forth from RealWorld and Virtual World. Thats always been my interest in being in here. I know its noteveryones, but I think the benefit of making the Real World a better world with our activitiesin the Virtual World is primary in the efforts Id like to encourage.LARRY JOHNSON: Id 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 havent 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 andyour projects that youve been doing as well, Robert, its just phenomenal. I think about thevery first foray we made into thinking about medicine in Virtual Worlds was Second Healthand conceptualizing an entire new hospital, something that involved not only medicine, butarchitecture 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 palliativesorts of care and medical ethics, just on down the line. The trauma center that we did withthe 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.Weve done four conferences, symposia for the future in Second Life, where we broughtpeople together to talk about all sorts of ideas about how technology in general can impactthings. I think that Terry hit it right on the head in the idea that what Second Life gives us isactually a fairly inexpensive sandbox to build new notions and new ideas in, that have RealWorld applicability. As I look around at literally hundreds of people that are working on someof that, as I look around the audience here, I see Jenaia and other folks, and Firery Broomewith the University of Delaware, and just people that have been doing, for years, amazingstuff 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 couldnt leave all of that behind.We couldnt leave all of that energy and effort and take it to a new promised land and try andrebuild it there, with the expectation that we could somehow make that magic again. Wechose to really stay with the magic that we knew was already taking place and, instead,trying to solve the economic challenges of it.We didnt do that because we didnt make an informed decision. We still have our own gridin OpenSim. We still have our SLE server. Weve looked at countless other platforms alongthe way. Were always looking at new platforms, but this ones special, and I cant leave
  27. 27. these people. Theyre just doing too many good things, and thats the bottom line for NMC.ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Well, Ill say that really brings us full circle to what we werediscussing at the very beginning of the show, which is that so much of Second Life and Ithink Virtual Worlds in general, is about the people. And so not only are they a tremendousresource, but they are something that people naturally cling to, and I think its a realadvantage of the technology. In fact, one of the very first discussions I ever had withsomeone in Second Life, who was trying to use it as part of their business, it was a womanwho was working with Nature Magazine, the publisher of Nature Magazine.Before finding Virtual Worlds, she would just have conference calls between scientists andpotential coauthors. After trying that a few times in Second Life, her reaction was that theywere much more likely to follow up with one another because they had actually made whatfelt like a personal connection, avatar to avatar, rather than disembodied voice over thephone to disembodied voice over the phone. And so Im not surprised that this discussionbegins and ends thinking about the importance of the people that were dealing with in aVirtual World.So I guess thats all we have time for so those will be the closing remarks, but sticking withthe importance of people first. Id like to thank our guests Brian Kaihoi, Terry Beaubois andLarry Johnson. Thanks so much, guys, for giving us your insights, and I wish you the best ofluck in all of your projects for 2011.BRIAN KAIHOI: Its an absolute pleasure.
  28. 28. TERRY BEAUBOIS: Thanks, Beyers. Its 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 smallnumber of the Metanomics volunteers who help out with our show and with all the activitieswith promotion, formal, informal. It takes a world, not just a village, to pull this off. So thanksto 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 busyTwittering 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 therefor me to name off the top of my head. So anyway, again, thanks to all the people who makeMetanomics happen, and well 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.docTranscribed by: http://www.hiredhand.com

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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/


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