This years west coast event has, as usual, been very full of lots of conversation with all sorts of people. The IBM stand seemed to be a constantly busy place, and my shifts on there certainly were productive in terms of explaining what we do in general and what I do with the CIO office. having the award on the stand for innovation also brought a fair few people over.
I attended some of the sessions, but by no means as many as I would have liked. However it is always a draw between attending things to support the element you represent and know a lot about, to gauge other people positions on things versus hitting the more apparently unrelated topics.
The John Landau session keynote, with Corey from Multiverse intreviewing him was a very interesting start. It highlighted the fact we were in Hollywood. My main take away from this was that some very influential hollywood players were starting to tap into the whole virtual world direction. I was also struck by how much multiverse were now doing or had in the pipeline. Multiverse has always been there, Corey is always a leading voice but they have obvioulsy been in it for the long haul, so that now, several years on they announced the Buffy MMO would be multiverse based.
The next day keynote was started off with Rueben, formerly the Linden Lab Second Life evangelist. He admitted to being the worlds greatest virtual world keynote warmup act as he often has this slot. He talk about how we had to evangelize. A kindred spirit I fully got what he was saying and making all these people who do this now evangelists in their own right with the power to shape the industry is key.
Colin Parris (our IBM VP for all this) also had an interesting keynote with Erica Driver interviewing. This was struck a very good balance with the hollywood one the day before bringing more traditional business but mixed with innovation into the mix. Colin said many of the things I spend my time talking to people about, how the community formed, how it had a grassroots global take up in IBM. How we were investigating and pushing forward things in the enterprise and adding value. Showing the lotus sametime to opensim interoperability. I actually twittered that my work here is done. As Reuben had pointed out before in making everyone now their own evangelist, there is less need for those founding evangelists.
This leads nicely onto the technology visionary panel that I took part in.
This session will analyze the future course of virtual worlds technologies. Join us for debate between leading industry technology experts on the future of the technology, where it’s headed and what needs to be done to get there. Don’t miss this lively conversation.
– John Swords, Director of
Business Development, The Electric Sheep Company (moderator)
– Ian Hughes/epredator Metaverse
– Ben Goertzel, CEO, Novamente
– Mark Wallace, Chief Executive,
Wello Horld, Inc.
– Christian Renaud, CEO,
Technology Intelligence Group
We jammed on some subjects about where to take this next. We covered all sorts of ideas. A main theme was that we know this is not all solved technically and socially and we should not just settle for assuming the continuation of this has to be the same modes we have become used to. It may be the case that we need to evolve past avatars and islands. Though they have their place, and we know they work there is more that can be expressed and other metaphors that we can use as we connect humans at a deeper level over the web.
Interoperability, different ways to look at that and the needs of that obviously came up. I extended that interoperability conversation into my pet subject of 3d printers and making the virtual real completing the loop that we have of modelling things from the real to the virtual. We know the technology will get better ( a common theme across many sessions) we have to keep pushing it past what it can do. The reason we have to do that is that it is not actually about the tech. It is about people. All the things we do and try connect people in interesting and rewarding ways.
That segues into the other panel I managed to attend at least half of.
An exploration of cross-platform narrative possibilities, bringing video content into virtual worlds and vice versa.
Tim Kring, Executive Producer/Creator, Heroes
Reuben Steiger, CEO and Founder, Millions of Us (moderator)
Elan Lee, formerly of 42
Entertainment and now founder of Fourth Wall Studios
– Douglas Gayeton, CCO, Millions of Us
– Chris Jacquemin,
Endeavor Talent Agency
I found this fascinating to hear the sort of problems with adoption of new channels that pervades an industry that has such an obvious creative output stream that can benefit from the ways the web now works. It had the same pattern of stagnation and inertia that we see in every other industry. Of course the formulaic nature of the media industry is obvious, as with the games industry, so it is not that big a surprise.
I liked what Tim Kring had to say about Heroes, and how every non TV element of the franchise has to either reach out or feed back to the “mothership”. Yet each individual element has to stand on its own, and be a mini Heroes experience. This was contrasted by the panel with the way many properties were merely repackaged and pasted into other mediums. The consumers now really dont want that.
In the scope of innovation it was suggested that the industry needs another star wars moment to break the mould.
It sounds to me like a few movie studios, tv companies, agencies and hollywood types could do with their own metaverse evangelists too.
Finally I need to talk about Roo’s panel. He was running an augmented reality one. This and 3d printers are very much in my sights now. I guess I can be an ARvangelist?
Augmented Reality: Virtual Interfaces to Tangible Spaces
Augmented reality is an emerging platform with new application areas for museums, edutainment, home entertainment, research, and industry. Novel approaches have taken augmented reality beyond traditional eye-worn or hand-held displays, creating links between the real and virtual worlds. Join this panel of experts as they guide you to where the augmented world is headed next.
– Marc Goodman, Director,
– Eric Rice, Producer,
– Blair MacIntyre,
Associate Professor, School of Interactive Computing, Director, GVU
Center Augmented Environments Lab, Georgia Institute of Technology
– David Orban, Founder & Chief
Evangelist, WideTag, Inc.
– Andrew (Roo) Reynolds,
Portfolio Executive for Social Media, BBC Vision (moderator)
Roo did his usual good job of blending moderation and presentation with comment. The panel was a really good set of people to discuss this. Eric having a huge interest and push in representing stories, games and content, David with intrumentina the world with OpenSpime. Marc with the Alcatel-Lucent technolgies already used in many places including the media and sports coverage and Blair with a huge track record in AR, including some of the more recent and famous experiments using the Second Life client to blend life with the real world.
Other things of note at the conference and expo:
The growth in the capabilities of Mycosm. A show pick and favourite from the New York show, more on that later in its own post, but its looking really good and has some very nice features including being an nuderlying web service based architecture
The Rivers Run Red part of the Second Life stand with the Immersive Workspaces which I think is fair to say our very own Rob Smart had in forming the direction of during a shared IBM/RRR customer project.
Proton Media were doing very well too, a platform that has pretty much everything an enterprise would need for desktop collaboration. Which now includes a free demo ( something we discussed way back at the very first VW conference.
A very cool 3d camera sensor from Soft Kinetic was getting a lot of attention too.
Finally, as I already mentioned before Multiverse had some interesting directions with multiverse places which will be next on my list to explore.
On our own stand many people responded to seeing Rob’s Unity based world running and talking the environment. It would appear unity has captured some peoples imaginations as a platform to develop quickly too.
Thus ends a long post, with no pictures.
Final thought… I do think this industry is on the right track, I do think we have to come to terms with the different needs of different businesses and experiences. The diversity of platform is good in that it allows us to create anything, not be tied into one way. I still have the feeling there is a game changing piece sitting there ready to explode. Either way the end result of being able to merge the real and the virtual, to print, visualize, feel, and extend what happens is offering us a set of new planes to work with. That is very exciting.