From the Metaverse in Real-World Governance department: the BBC ran an interesting story recently about the possibility that Iraqis might be able to use Google Earth to plan escape routes and make themselves safer from terrorist and milita attacks. [Spotted via Clipmarks.] “As the communal bloodshed has worsened, some Iraqis have set up advice websites to help others avoid the death squads. One tip — on the Iraq League site, one of the best known — is for people to draw up maps of their local area using Google Earth’s detailed imagery of Baghdad so they can work out escape routes and routes to block,” writes the Beeb. Continue reading
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Jerry Paffendorf, Rik Riel, my friend Micah and I dropped in Saturday night at the 13 Most Beautiful Avatars show at the Postmasters gallery in New York. The prints on display were beautiful 36″x 48″ prints of avatars taken from the virtual world of Second Life by a pair of artists named Eva and Franco Mattes, who together constitute 0100101110101101.ORG. I don’t know where that number came from, but it spells 19,373 in binary (unless my calculator is broken). I spoke to Franco at the show and he told me a little but about their work and the process of putting the show together, but what I didn’t realize at the time is that he and Eva and a pair of hacktivist pranksters (or “restless European con-artists,” as they describe themselves) who have engaged in some pretty formidable and in some ways very 3pointD works of art in years past. Continue reading
There comes a time in the life all good blogs when they must spruce things up a bit, and such a moment has now been reached by 3pointD. I need a logo, to fill the space in the upper left that’s now occupied by the title and description. Let’s say it has to be 468×60 pixels, so that I can use it for an advertisement, and also has to come in a 125×125 version. It doesn’t have to include the description line, just the word “3pointD.” And it has to better than the crude 3pedia logo that I pasted together a while back, which you can see above.
What do you get if you do me this favor? Well, you get paid, for one thing. Continue reading
In the space of two days, Linden Lab, maker of the virtual world of Second Life, has made three separate announcements that indicate trouble may be on the horizon for the company — if it hasn’t already arrived. Two of them have raised renewed alarms about the platform’s scalability. Though CEO Philip Rosedale blithely assured the world last summer that Second Life could “scale to inifinity,” he seemed to be the only one who believed such an absurd claim. The skeptics are now being proven correct. And instead of concentrating all of its firepower on solving the current problem, the Lab is also casting about for ideas on how to beef up its 2D Web interface — despite the fact that any number of developers large and small are already working on the same thing. Is trouble ahead? It sure smells like it. Read on for our conclusions as to why. Though this post may be overly alarmist, to a certain extent, we’re looking at serious issues here. Take it with a grain of salt, but not too big a grain. Continue reading
Two new applications out recently — Yahoo! Pipes and IBM’s QEDWiki — contain much promise for the 3pointD world. They’re basically mashupmakers (mashuppers? mashers?), GUI-based systems that let you create your own mashups without having to get too deep into code. They’re still a bit beyond my ability to really check out without spending a whole day on them, but they definitely make mashupping (I’m going with “mashupping” for the moment) available to a broader set of users. What does this mean for the 3pointD generation? More mashups, of course. But more importantly, it means greater, more widespread power to make the virtual world a more useful place. Continue reading
An anonymous beta tester of AOL‘s new service in the virtual world of Second Life, known as AOL Pointe, just forwarded me the image above, which appears to be the AOL Pointe build, perhaps still under construction. Kind of hard to tell from that angle just where everything’s at, but the build looks nice and colorful, and I dig the textures on the ground. Plus: Is that a skateboard rail I see? Cool. After the jump: a teleport map that indicates the build will be pretty elaborate. Centrifuge? Continue reading
I’m not sure how long this has been around, but I just came across it in a BlogHUD post by Jaishree Bengal, and it’s a great idea: a kind of floating tour bus for use in the virtual world of Second Life. Controlled through a heads-up attachment, the Pied Piper unit lets you create a 1-, 3-, 8- or 14-seat floating platform — which then follows you around as you walk or fly around a sim or from sim to sim (though not when teleporting, of course). Created by SL resident Deep Semaphore, the Pied Piper seems ideal for giving tours of a private island or a large build of whatever type. Seasoned SL users know how to use the mini-map to follow their friend’s green dot around a sim (if it isn’t too crowded), but if you haven’t mastered that trick yet, following someone around can be quite challenging. The Pied Piper looks like a good way to solve that problem. You can get one at the »CryoGen Cloning Facility« — though they may be slightly expensive, at L$875. Fortunately, there’s a free trial version there (which disappears after a minute or two), which you can also pick up at »3pointD Labs«. Let the tours commence!
Gamasutra is running a nice feature in which a team from Intel that’s “focused on pushing the limits of PC gaming” describes the experience of creating a game for Google Earth. Called Mars Sucks, the game really just involves navigating to specific locations based on a series of clues, whereupon your spaceship starts blowing up the invading Martian craft you’ve found. Intel’s account of making the game is interesting, though. They used the Google Earth client and server, the Keyhole Markup Language (KML), a Web server and PHP5. They’ve made the source code freely available (via this zip file), and have described what went into the game in some detail. Their conclusion? “We learned that very simple games and casual games are possible now on Google Earth. We also learned that Google Earth is not yet ready to be the foundation of a serious action game. While we think the prototype [of Mars Sucks] is fun to play, it is just an early prototype. Further enhancementsâ€”some by Google and some by game developersâ€”would go a long way to improving the game and making bigger and better games available.” Continue reading
Three nice Google Earth items to bring you (one of which includes Microsoft’s Virtual Earth, actually). First up is a nice piece in Spiegel Online about the race between Google and Microsoft to virtualize the planet. It’s linked from the All Points Blog, which notes, “I didn’t learn anything new, but it’s a nice article. And, there’s no mention of how the two will monetize these investments.” That’s a good assessment, of the piece, which still makes for worthwhile reading.
Stefan Geens at Ogle Earth also points out some nice functionality for those using Google Calendar to schedule their days: “you can put a link to a KML file in the “Where” field of an event, and Google will map it for you in Google Maps.” Nice. Here’s more info.
Lastly, Stefan also turns up Google Earth Chess! I haven’t tried it so I can’t tell you exactly how it works, but according to Stefan, “You play against others online, make your moves in the browser, and then see the resulting game develop on a big 3D chessboard in Google Earth.” This is really interesting, as it (like a few of the other Google Earth games that have come along) begins to push the app toward a more multi-user situation. Although, as Stefan points out, “I also wish it would be possible to get network links for games in progress, so we can watch along.”
The All Points Blog links to a report in PC Advisor about a new program to outfit Tokyo’s high-end shopping district, the Ginza, with 10,000 RFID tags and other digital beacons. The project, led by Ken Sakamura, a professor at the University of Tokyo, will bring location-based information to people carrying prototype readers developed for the trial. From the article: “Bringing the terminal close to an RFID tag on a street lamp will pinpoint the user’s location and the system will be able to guide them to the nearest railway station, while walking past a radio beacon in front of a shop might bring up details of current special offers or a menu for a restaurant.” This is more of the kind of thing we were jawboning about at the Metaverse Roadmap summit. This is the metaverse all around us, the physical-world extension of the metaversal computing power we think of as residing mostly on our desktops or laptops. The Ginza project should be an interesting test of just how useful such technology can be at the moment.
As Ogle Earth points out, the 5th International Symposium on Digital Earth is taking place June 5-9 in San Francisco. This sounds like a very cool event, devoted to an “international vision” that “encompasses the virtual and 3-D representation of the Earth with vast amounts of scientific, natural, and cultural information that is spatially referenced and interconnected with digital knowledge archives from around the planet to describe and understand the Earth, its systems, and human activities.” This is one of the things we were kicking around earlier this year at the Metaverse Roadmap summit that looked at how various technologies might develop not just to create richer and more extensive virtual worlds but to replicate the real world in a digital medium as well, and how that might become useful in various ways. While the program for the symposium isn’t set, speakers will include Al Gore and Douglas Engelbart, one of the early pioneers of computing as we know it today. (A call for presentations at the symposium is open until January 15.) Attendance is a bit expensive, at $650 for the whole shot, but if you can swing I imagine it will be a very interesting place to be.
At Tuesday morning’s opening session of Autodesk University 2006, CEO Carl Bass saved his best demo for last to present before a crowd of over 6000 Computer Aided Drafting and 3D modeling enthusiasts at the software maker’s largest annual event. While it had already been posted this past Sunday by corporate blogger Shaan Hurley, Bass’s unveiling of Autodesk Island in the online world of Second Life marks the day in history that the 800 pound gorilla of the CAD market brings its resources and user base to bear in its latest return to cyberspace, a term that reportedly it once attempted to trademark as its own.
A cool new thing floating around the virtual world of Second Life these days is the TourHUD, a generic name for a heads-up display that provides you with a list of destinations and in-world landmarks to allow you to teleport to each in turn. There are two different types of TourHUD available at the moment, as far as I can tell. Both provide a nice way to get around the world and hopefully spot some things you may not have been able to find in SL’s clunky search utility. But it also seems the tour guide business in Second Life is heating up as well. Continue reading
The real-time weather visualization system that Aimee Weber has been building for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association can now be viewed in the virtual world of Second Life, on »Info Island II«. This is pretty neat stuff, and a nice real-world / virtual-world interface and application. While at this stage it’s not as detailed or interactive as a Web-based weather map, it’s definitely worth checking out. As you can see in the screenshot above, it’s snowing in Wyoming and the Dakotas. More details on SL Insider.
IBM’s eightbar blog flags a very nice new in-world Second Life application, developed by SL resident Turner Boehm (who I think is an IBMer), that automatically models the links and nodes of a complex system using SL objects. The picture above shows multiple interconnecting software systems represented by an automatically generated set of prims, based on information stored outside SL. This kind of visual display of information can be very important in making it easier to grasp and work with complex systems, and this is just the kind of thing that SL does well. I’m thinking this could turn into a very useful app for those working with datasets — such as certain kinds of maps, traffic patterns, software systems in development, many other things — that are difficult to represent clearly in 2D. Nice work.
a Google Map mashup that tracks â€œteardownâ€ homes of a place I know all too well, Montclair, NJ…
We’ve been twisting the arm of Brian Chirls, who works with Susan and Arin of the Four Eyed Monsters film, to get him to add the virtual world of Second Life to the map of cities in which the film has been requested. (See these two posts for more details; if you can garner 150 requests on the Web site, they’ll show the film in your town.) As you can see above, he’s done it. Thanks, Brian! Just dial up the map to see how many requests have been made (you have to zoom way out to see where on the earth SL has ended up), and don’t forget to put your request in. It would be great to see a movie as interesting as Four Eyed Monsters have a screening in Second Life as part of its worldwide rollout. Only 83 requests to go!
World of Warcraft guild We Know has garnered some repute for being run by venture capitalist Joi Ito, who says he listens to the guild’s TeamSpeak channel even while cooking dinner or driving his car. We Know’s latest innovation is to use the virtual world of Second Life to plan their end-game raids on World of Warcraft instances, the tough dungeons that can only be conquered by intense planning and lockstep cooperation. In Ito’s Kula sim, the guild has set up maps of several WoW instances (taken from WoW screenshots), and annotates them using SL objects. [Via Metroblogging Azeroth.] Ito spoke at SD Forum about the fact that his guild uses SL as a place to review in-game video footage of their raids, much as a football team would review game videos. Now SL is being used as a place to prepare specific strategies, in what amounts to a nice virtual world mashup. How much cooler would this be, though, if We Know was putting the instance maps into something like angrybeth Shortbread’s communal writeboard or one of the other collaborative annotation tools that are available in Second Life? And even cooler than that if the maps were made interactive. Just watch out for Overlord Wyrmthalak.
Jerry and Vanessa and I went to a party last night for Four Eyed Monsters, the cool film we saw last week. Susan and Arin were very nice, delighted to be feted, and we got them pumped up to bring the film to Second Life. Susan has a friend who just joined SL, and Arin is down with the idea, also having immediately grokked the concept of lifelogging as described in this post (see the comments thread). It was very cool to see their eyes light up as we described some of the things they’d be able to do in Second Life. But we need your help! Go to this Web page to request the film be screened in Second Life, if you haven’t already. Plug in a random zip code and select “2nd Life” from the drop-down country menu. We’re leaning on Susan and Arin’s friend Brian to include SL on the request map so you can see how many requests there have been, but trust us, you need to go request the film now so that the first feature film to be screened in SL is this very cool production and not the latest X-Men sequel. Plus there’s one more Thursday in September on which you can go see the film in an actual theater. Enjoy.
If you’re in New York on Friday, September 22, and you want to talk metaversal shop, come meet up with us in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, at Zabloski’s Bar at 6:30pm. The meetup is being arranged in the wake of the Metaverse Roadmap summit and party, “for people actively working on or in virtual worlds who want a place to get together with metaverse colleagues to talk shop, work, opportunities, creative ideas, anything on your mind,” according to Jerry Paffendorf, who’s organizing it. I’ll be there, so feel free to drop by if you want to get involved in anything 3pointD, or chat about the in-world meetup for 3pointD readers that’s in the works (if vaguely). Brooktown, of course, is the official capital of the metaverse, so you won’t want to miss this one. See you there.
I’m blogging this from the Austin Convention Center in Texas, where the Austin Game Conference is in full swing. The highlight for me so far has been (not surprisingly) the panel I spoke on yesterday with Corey Bridges of Multiverse; Raph Koster, formerly of Sony Online Entertainment and now of his own stealth virtual-world startup, which has just gotten a first round of funding, according to Raph; Cory Ondrejka, chief technology officer at Linden Lab, makers of the virtual world of Second Life; and moderated by Jerry Paffendorf, resident futurist for the Electric Sheep Company (sponsors of this blog). There’s an audio file of the panel that I’m going to post here as soon as I get hold of it, but for now I thought I’d share a few of the thoughts and opiniosn that I managed to remember throughout the thing.
If you can pardon my obviously biased opinion, it seemed to me that we rolled out a bunch of interesting thoughts and questions having to do with the future of virtual worlds (which was the topic of the panel), and, judging from the faces in the audience, managed to blow a few minds in the process. Continue reading
As Alex Steffen at the World Changing blog points out, “we can’t build what we can’t imagine.” The city of Berlin, hoping to help build a better future for itself, is now in the process of catalyzing some imagination in a series of events looking at “the future of urban spaces in [the] world.”
As futuring goes, this seems like a great way to go about things, especially the series of citywide “experiment days” involved in the ExperimentCity project. This got me thinking about whether there couldn’t be a way to do a similar thing in virtual worlds. Continue reading
flickr’d map of NYC
Download episode of Battlestar Galactica on to your 360
“Mental maps of imaginary territory” (via BB)
annotated side by side frames of star wars 1977 vs star wars 2004
It was in Austin last spring, after the South by Southwest Interactive conference, that the ideas behind this blog finally gelled in my head (even though I’d staked my claim to the 3pointD territory months earlier, for no good reason). Now, not even six months after SXSW, 3pointD is headed back to Texas to chat about some of the stuff we write about here, on a panel filled with much heavier weights than mine, at the Austin Game Conference on September 6. Jerry Paffendorf of the Electric Sheep Company sponsors of this blog) has convened a panel on The Future of Virtual Worlds (at 1:30pm on the Online Multiplayer Tech/Art track) that will see me sitting beside legendary MMO developer Raph Koster, Linden Lab chief technology officer Cory Ondrejka and Multiverse‘s Corey Bridges. Can anything I have to say possibly be of value? Continue reading
The All Points Blog points to a post on urban travel site Gridskipper that wistfully hopes people will start doing more mashing up of the many mashups that are already out there. In this case, it’s a pair of Google Maps mashups that show the locations of fast-food restaurants in one case, and demographic information in another. “I’d love to see a Google map mashup that allows you to search the Census data through fast food locations so you could find the median income level, ethnicity and age around a specific Burger King location,” Gridskipper says. (In fact, would it be possible to write an app that could automatically mash up any two mashups? That would be beautiful.) I love the idea of mashing together mashups like this. And especially when applied to maps, it’s just the kind of 3pointD stuff that’s tying the Web ever more closely to the real world.
This in-world collaboration tool for the virtual world of Second Life has been around for a couple of months at least, but 3pointD contributor Chip Poutine just flagged it to me, and it looks so cool I thought I’d flag it here. Its name is self-explanatory: “communal writeboard.” Created by SL resident angrybeth Shortbread and described on her blog, “the main ideas behind its design are to have a slideshow presenter that anyone can add or remove pictures from, plus a range of overlay tools that can be used to annotate or point to areas of interest within an image. These overlay tools can also be used to create simple mindmaps or visual polling events.” (See a shot of the overlay tools after the jump.) Continue reading
Your humble narrator, waiting for those sweet sweet words: You were killed.
Having abandoned aspirations for a career in first-person shooter (FPS) games a long time ago for reasons related to nausea, disorientation, and an overall skill level that might be best described as Emo, I have nonetheless been fascinated with the genre since its inception, due in large part to game developers making tools such as Software Development Kits and Level Editors available to vibrant amateur communities who then â€˜Modâ€™ their proprietary technologies into new games and gameplay experiences. The possibilities for making and examining architecture within this arena have been another story, seemingly dominated by an established set of conventions for map-making, as evidenced by a preponderance of precisely scattered wooden crates and redundantly symmetrical networks of dimly lit corridors.
To simply look at screenshots many would assume the Source Forts Mod for Half-Life 2 to be just another CounterStrike clone. All I can say to them is duck and cover. While surreptitiously perhaps, the developers of Source Forts have placed architecture and the act of making architecture at center stage, and in so doing have lobbed a 3pointD grenade into the Pantheon of FPS clichÃ©s. Continue reading
The closing keynote talk at the Second Life Community Convention this past weekend was given more or less in tandem by Linden Lab CEO Philip Rosedale and Chief Technology Officer Cory Ondrejka. While the pair were their usual charming and amusing selves, their act having been well honed by now, they looked back at the history of Second Life more than they looked forward to its future. More about that past in a post soon to come; for now let’s look ahead with Cory at what the future of the SL codebase may hold. Continue reading
Just a reminder: 3pointD will be at the Eyebeam OpenLab in Manhattan tomorrow evening, August 10, from 6-9pm, to take part in the Metaverse Roadmap pre-release party, which Electric Sheep Jerry Paffendorf has titled Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About the Metaverse but Were Too Afraid To Ask. “The night consists of presentations and conversations about the metaverse space (video games, virtual worlds, CAD, maps, and web apps) coming out of and inspired by the Metaverse Roadmap Project,” Jerry writes on his blog, where the final liine-up of presenters can be found. I’ll be in conversation with noted Second Life resident Prokofy Neva, dicussing the convergence or collision, depending on your point of view, of real life and virtual life in terms of business, culture and political issues in places like Second Life and There.com. What are the the relative merits and pitfalls of RL businesses, people and uses increasingly entering virtual worlds? Does a line in the virtual sand need to be drawn around metaversal
spaces? Should be segregated into “virtual” and “mirror” worlds, never to meet, or can a single metaversal space possibly contain the multitudes necessary for a peaceful co-existence of the two paradigms? We’ll take a flyer at some answers to these and other questions and let the audience get involved as well. Good fun, and tasty food for metaversal thought. See you there.
Mall of the Bluffs and cloverleaf interchange near Omaha NE, re-created in Sim City 4
Stefan Geens at the always outstanding Ogle Earth blog links to an emergent gameplay phenomenon I hadn’t heard of before: people using urban simulation/god-game Sim City 4 to build re-creations of real cities in all their mundane beauty, based largely on information from Google Earth and similar sources. Their development is chronicled in forum postings known as City Journals in the lingo of the fanbase. The re-creation of the Omaha NE area Stefan links to is chronicled in this thread on fan forum site Simtropolis, which also provides a place for players to swap assets and mods, and trade advice on developing their virtual urban areas. Continue reading
This landed while I was on hiatus, but is so cool and 3pointD that I can’t help but blog it here. Microsoft Live Labs’ Photosynth technology (in preview) matches up hundreds of photographs of the same location to create an image space that’s navigable in three dimensions. The technology works by making a “point map” of each image and then mapping all the images together in the same space. Besides the fact that you can make a 3D space out of photos that were casually taken by a hundred different tourists, say, what’s cool about this is that the software retains metadata for each photo, so that you can drill into an image and then pop out the other side at the Web page of the person who took the picture. Continue reading