Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Virtual Worlds Conference and Expo 2007

I'm at the Virtual Worlds Conference this week and I'll be focusing my attention in two primary areas: the use of virtual worlds as a transmedia platform and new business models afforded by the attendant emerging markets and technologies.

If you have a question or want me to try to track down some information, drop me a comment.

Selected Updates
I usually skip keynotes unless I know the speaker and they often feel like eating dry toast, but I am really glad I did not miss Anthony Zuiker. In addition to being the perfect personification of "tram tour guide makes it good", Anthony is the consummate showman. None of this distracted from his unveiling of the upcoming CSI episode on October 24th as a significant step toward transmedia story telling in conjunction with The Electric Sheep Company.

Unlike the Law and Order debacle, Anthony is using Second Life to extend the story and the viewer's experience not just that night, but in an on going unfolding arc that will wrap on February 6th. I had the chance to talk to Anthony last night at an after-party, and he really does get it. I encouraged him to talk to Henry Jenkins which I hope he does, he has the energy and resources to take this concept far beyond Henry's musings.

The Electric Sheep have been busy bees, in conjunction with the CSI release, they unveiled their new Second Life viewer, touted as the first commercially licensed viewer since the client was open sourced by Linden Lab. I think this deserves it's own post which I'll write later.

In an interesting partnership, IBM and Linden Lab are teaming up to create a new set of standards to increase interoperability between worlds. From the IBM press release:
IBM and Linden Labs today announced they will work with a broad community of partners to drive open standards and interoperability to enable avatars -- the online persona of visitors to these online worlds -- to move from one virtual world to another with ease, much like you can move from one website to another on the Internet today. The companies see many applications of virtual world technology for business and society in commerce, collaboration, education, training and more.
This is definitely something I will blog more about later.

More Updates:
Thursday was mostly a meet and greet day for me. As for the Day-2 keynote, Christian Renaud is a finely tuned speaker, but his powers of ten introduction and a near-forensic analysis of how we get to the future via standards, committees, and councils (oh my) left me a bit cold. I'm not arguing for rah-rah and pom-poms, just a bit more insight into what's actually working in virtual worlds before we dive head first into a morass of standards.

Suffice it to say that "interoperability" was the buzz word of day 2, and I was surprised not to hear more buzz about the InDuality multi-platform viewer developed by Clive Jackson, CEO and Founder of Pelican Crossing. You may recall, Clive helped me escape the prison of defining "virtual world" with a great paper entitled The Metaverse 2.0 in this previous post. I completely missed meeting Clive and the InDuality demo so if anyone was lucky enough to see it, drop in a comment with your impressions.

I was lucky enough to spend some quality time with Raph Koster and Jason Hable from Areae to get an under the hood tour of Metaplace. On a side note, if you've not had a chance to hear Raph speak, you want to put that on your life list and in the mean time, you can find a lot of what he thinks out loud on his blog. Metaplace is still in a closed alpha, but by the grace of the virtual goddesses, I will get a chance to kick the tires before year end and the only thing I will tell you is you might want to tune up your Lua skillz. (No, I don't know where the auto references came from; perhaps I'm traveling too much).
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