Mike Liebhold was one of the participants at the original Metaverse Roadmap Summit last year, which produced the Metaverse Roadmap Overview, and I remember him as one of the more forward-thinking and impressive presenters. Now, he’s presenting tomorrow at the first Metaverse Meetup at Stanford University, talking about “3D data for real world virtual worlds.” Definitely worth checking out if you’re in the area — and you can also attend via the virtual world of Second Life Details below, from organizer Henrik Bennetsen: Continue reading
I’m off Monday for the Virtual Worlds 2007 conference in San Jose next week (online registration ends tomorrow! see below), where I’ll be moderating what should be a very cool roundtable on the future of virtual world platforms. We go on Thursday at 11am, on the strategy track, with a very flattering title: Visionary Panel: Where the Platforms Are Going Next. The panel features Christopher Klaus, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Kaneva; Raph Koster, President, Areae, Inc.; Michael Wilson, CEO, Makena Technologies; Hui Xu, Founder & CEO, HiPiHi Co., Ltd; Stephen Lawler, General Manager of Virtual Earth, Microsoft; and Corey Bridges, Co-founder, Executive Producer, & Marketing Director, The Multiverse Network. Should be some pretty fascinating talk flying around about what’s going to happen in the near and far terms, and where all of the things these people and others are working on are headed.
As noted, online registration for the conference (of which 3pointD is a media sponsor) ends tomorrow, Friday, October 5. The online reg price is only $795. After Friday, you’ll be able to register onsite at the show beginning 7:30am, Wednesday, October 10, for $995. Reg now and save your cash for drinks with Corey!
The YouTube video above is a very cool way to leverage the expressive capabilities of the virtual world of Second Life, if you ask me. It describes the Second Chance Trees reforestation project, which was designed and built out by social media communications company Converseon, in partnership with Plant-It 2020, a non-profit whose business it is to plant and maintain indigenous trees around the world. For each virtual tree planted »on Second Chance Trees island« in Second Life (at a cost of L$300, or about US$1), Plant-It will plant one tree in the real world. Now, the Second Chance Trees project has a chance to be funded to the tune of one to five million dollars (and plant a corresponding number of real-world trees) through the American Express Members Project, where Second Chance Trees has made it into the round of 50 finalists. Vote for the project if you dig what you see.
Artur Bergman, writing on O’Reilly Radar, has a good wrap of the location-based services that were trotted out last night at Where 2.0. We posted yesterday about UpNext, about which there’s now more detail, and Artur has good insights into other services as well.
UpNext sounds pretty cool, featuring “a 3D cityscape of New York” where you can zoom around, select different data sets and mash up things like your Upcoming.org events. Plus, “You can click on any building to find out what is in it, as well as tag buildings.” It’s not avatarized nor multi-user, but otherwise sounds quite nice. Of course, it sounds like you could build similar functions for Google Earth with a little bit of effort, and the new Google Maps Street View gives you a crude approximation of the scene at street level (it actually took me a minute to recognize the facade of the building I live in when I looked it up). But UpNext sounds like — sorry about all the “sounds like,” there’s still very littile information on just how it works and what it does — it sounds like it comes ready to load up with events and people and all the rest, which means it could catch on if people dig the interface. Continue reading
GeoCommons is a cool-looking service designed to let you “explore, create and share geographic data and intelligent maps.” That is, it’s a map-mashup-maker. But this one comes with the built-in ability to publish your maps through a variety of channels, and provides access to “geographic information beyond anything Google Earth is producing right now,” according to an email I just got from a PR dude working on behalf of FortiusOne, the company behind GeoCommons. The service goes into public beta on 28 May, to be introduced at the Where 2.0 conference. The Web site description is promising, with talk of a large number of data sets to choose from, plus the ability to add your own, support for various kinds of tagging and metadata, and map sharing, syndication and social networking tools. Continue reading
In case you missed this (as I did when I was traveling), I chatted with the gang from the excellent VerySpatial.com for one of their podcasts a while back, and it’s now posted on their blog. We recap Virtual Worlds 2007 a bit and explore some other corners of mapping and virtual worlds. It was an interesting chat, and should make an interesting listen.
Dutch IT consultant and photographer Erwyn Van Der Meer is working on something called a Flickr Metadata Synchr, “a tool to synchronize relevant metadata added to images stored on Flickr with the original versions of those images stored locally on your hard drive.” Though the project is only at version 0.6.0.0 at the moment, this is a great idea. Erwyn shares some of the thinking behind it in this blog post. I think it’s a great idea. (The one drawback, for now, is that it works only under Vista.) It would be great to have access to the metadata associated with my Flickr photos even while offline, and to be able to work with that and then synch the same data on Flickr without having the enter it all again. Storing that kind of data locally makes it accessible to all kind of other applications, which broadens the range of things I can possibly do with it. Continue reading
Kudos to CNet writer Dan Terdiman for his scoop of the report that’s been emerging from the Metaverse Roadmap summit we attended last spring. Dan has a nice story up today on a draft version of the report he obtained. It doesn’t seem to be online yet, nor has it been distributed to participants (of which I was one), so I can’t link it for you, but check out Dan’s story, as well as some of last spring’s coverage for an idea of what it contains. I’ll blog it some more once I see it myself. Which will probably be sometime next week, as I have a wedding to go to tomorrow in Rio, though this seemed worth taking a moment to blog. Let me know what you think if you see it before I do.
David Alexander of the environmentally minded Web site PlanetThoughts.org sends along the news that the Environmental Council of Second Life and virtual garden-supply company »Luna Bliss« are organizing a series of events this April 22 to mark Earth Day in the virtual world of Second Life. A full schedule will apparently be released on the site shortly, but “presentation and display topics include water resources, energy, global warming, tree planting, art, and much more. Fun events, raffles, and more.” Certainly a worthy initiative, so get your avatar’s green thumb on and see how you can contribute.
Microsoft will push the development of geospatial and mapping applications with “unrestricted funding” totaling $1.1 million that has been offered to 21 winners chosen from among more than 140 university teams that responded to a recent Microsoft Research request for proposals. The awards are made for one year.
What I like about this program is that it’s focused squarely on how mapping and geospatial functions can be used to improve our physical lives. According to a press release, “The university research teams aim to study and map the physical world in real time, to push the technological boundaries of local search, and to understand the potential societal impact of these kinds of geographic technologies. New solutions ultimately resulting from the research are expected to yield rich and diverse benefits, such as helping tourists find affordable restaurants with the shortest lines, or helping scientists understand changes in the ecology of biological systems under the threat of climate change.” [Emphasis added.]
Projects already in the works include layering current environmental conditions into a mirror world like Microsoft’s Virtual Earth, or allowing climatologists and other scientists to examine data over the long term to track pollution and climate changes. Other projects take in what we at 3pointD would call augmented reality, combining data from tiny real-world sensors, the Internet and “a variety of other sources” with map information and geographic imagery. There’s also a researcher who’s contemplating recreating his movements in a mirror world so that friends and family can keep up with him remotely. Now that’s my kind of mapping. Continue reading
The non-profit EnviroLink Network has just launched a cool build that puts geolocated Google Earth-type feeds onto a replica globe in the virtual world of Second Life. Josh Knauer of the EnviroLink blog just sent over the news, and I couldn’t resist blogging it on the spot. The »GeoGlobe in SL« captures KML, GeoRSS and RSS feeds and displays them as miniature SL primitives at the correct location. Zoom in on a prim and you can read the headline and click through to the Web page it’s associated with. Continue reading
Eduardo Manchon of Panoramio, the very cool geophotography site (another coinage?), sends news that Panoramio recently saw the one-millionth geolocated photo uploaded to the service. [Also reported in Ogle Earth.] What’s so cool about that, besides the fact that it’s a damn big number even for a service that started in October 2005? Well, if you were reading 3pointD last December, you already know that Panoramio, then “still a small site,” according to Eduardo, has been a default layer in Google Earth for the last three months. That means that if you upload a geolocated photo to Panoramio, it will appear on everyone’s Google Earth if they have the Panoramio layer turned on (which it is by default). The question then is, why geotag your photos on Flickr when you can just have them stuck right into Google Earth? Continue reading
Will Wright gave the keynote talk at the Hilton Grand Ballroom on Tuesday, the last day of 2007’s South by Southwest Interactive.
Justin Hall introduces: Will Wright is a famous successful computer game designer. He created SimCity, which mapped birdseye urban planning into millions of minds. Working on a dollhouse for boys he created the Sims, which allowed all of us to manipulate suburban households. Billions of dollars of revenue, putting him in the highest echelons of entertainment. What does a guy like him do for a hobby? He runs the Stupid Fun Club in the East Bay. I visited the club, and the night I was there, there was a video shown of a robot laying on its side in theh street asking for help, and someone had taped the responses of passers-by to what was basically a homeless helpless robot. Then someone handed me a plastic visor and body suit, I put it on in the spirit of the evening, and suddenly this robot was rapid firing ping pong balls at me. I could see in the back of the room Will Wright behind the controls steering and watching and I think wondering how long I would stand there. This idea of experimentation and testing with things, he’s made it possible for all of us to experiment with the systems around us. Now Will Wright is building a simulation of the universe. Wow.
Will Wright (one arm in a sling): All those pictures you just saw [projected on screens before the talk] are from the Hubble. I broke my arm skiing, before you ask. I had way too much coffee today, so I’ll go fast. They asked me to speak here, I decided I’d come and talk about story. Then a week ago I read that I would be demoing Spore, so I’m mashing the two together. Continue reading
It’s Sunday at 5:00pm in Austin and I’m at the panel: On the Edge of Independent User-Creation in Gamespace
Paffendorf: Imagine being pumped up right now. Welcome. What I work on: My profession is being a futurist in the video gaming and virtual world space. I survey and think ahead about what’s happening with various simulations. I’m actually on staff, which is a nice position, with Electric Sheep Company, about a year old start-up that builds 3D content, experiences and software for virtual worlds that allow users to create content. We work primarily in Second Life. Invites audience to take stage to fill a fourth position on the panel.
In our business, I have a lot of freedom to lead and create public conversations. I define what’s happening in that space as the metaverse, which I do borrow from Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash. Last year I helped to start a research project with the Acceleration Studies Foundation called the Metaverse Roadmap: What is happening between video games, virtual worlds, gemapping and the web? We kind of came up with a definition: 4 components: Virtual worlds. Mirror Worlds. Augmented reality technolgoies bringing virtual activity to physical locations. Lifelogging, having a persistent identity in various sites and things you do, turning yourself into an avatar.
What happens when video games and gamespaces become more like the Web, in that anyone can create their own spaces and games, then connect to those with avatar identity, then we have the real practical immersive virtual world of communities online. Continue reading
Dan Catt’s mapping panel was a very cool session that was difficult to synthesize at the speed it went by, but I think I got most of what the panelists said. All very 3pointD.
Moderator: Rev. Dan Catt, from Geobloggers.com and Flickr
Tom Carden from Random Etc.
Aaron Straup Cope from Flickr
Jerry Paffendorf from the Electric Sheep Company
Ian White from Urban Mapping Inc.
Catt first asked everyone without laptops to stand up and shake their hands in front of them in order to wake up, then groan quietly like a zombie, then louder than the person next to you. Two questions before you sit down: Who objects to swearing, say boo. Those who don’t object to swearing, say Fuck Yeah. (You can imagine which was louder.)
Cope talked about how we tell where things are. Shows a quote from Douglas Coupland’s Shampoo Planet. “History and geography are being thrown away.” Cope: This is wrong.
Cope: Geography helps set the stage for an experience, history gives an experience context and nuance. We have theselocation devices that tell you where things are. I could care less where the nearest Starbucks is. I don’r eally care about driving directions either. But if I’m at a place, I would love to be able to see what came before and have a sense of its history. Continue reading
Murat Aktihanoglu, who I met at the recent metaverse meetup, sends words of a mashup he’s developing that will make Google Earth into a multi-user application with the help of Skype. Needless to say, this is the kind of thing that excites 3pointD, and is in fact something we’ve been looking for for some time. You can download an early version at the somewhat oddly named Unype site. Unype lives between my Skype and yours, and between Google Earth and Skype on both machines. Fire up Skype and GE, click to connect your instance of Unype to them, click to connect to a friend within Unype, and then have your friend click Unype’s “follow” button. Then, when you navigate in your Google Earth, Unype automatically navigates your friend’s Google Earth to the same place. That’s cool as far as it goes, but there’s more coming, Murat says. Continue reading
Media Machines, which makes the browser-based 3D Flux Player (Windows only) and Flux Studio (both free), has an interesting mashup on its site that combines a Flux window with Google Maps. Click on the map marker and a 3D model of the buildings there pops up in a Flux Player window. The new Flux Studio 2.0 can now natively import the KML files that are used in Google Earth (but not yet export), allowing Flux users to get models created in SketchUp or listed on SketchUp’s 3D Warehouse into their browser-based 3D scenes. Continue reading
I’ve seen this YouTube clip before, but I was finally inspired to install it after 3pointD contributor Chip Poutine sent me this link. It’s a very cool screensaver that renders all the blog posts coming from everywhere in the world in 3D on a 3D globe. Unfortunately, something in my system seems to be preventing it from working (which is plaguing a lot of my day today, frustratingly). I get the cool globe, but no posts show up. In any case, I love the idea. Download it yourself and tell me what I’m doing wrong. [UPDATE: Ooh, nvm, it’s working now! \o/ Very cool. And yes, you can click through to the posts themselves on the Web. (Sorry for the double-update.)]
Quick follow-up to my post about using Google Earth to help survive in Iraq: podcaster Johnny Ming sends along a link to this story from last month about Iraqi insurgents using Google Earth to pinpoint coalition targets. “Documents seized during raids on the homes of insurgents last week uncovered print-outs from photographs taken from Google,” the story says. “The satellite photographs show in detail the buildings inside the bases and vulnerable areas such as tented accommodation, lavatory blocks and where lightly armoured Land Rovers are parked.” Just a reminder that technology makes no value judgments; it can as easily be used for destructive purposes as for benevolent ones.
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
I am occasionally asked by reporters interested in the Second Life Herald (where I’ve been an editor for two years now) what the appeal of doing journalism in virtual worlds is. In an attempt to locate a pithy soundbite for them, I sometimes say it’s like being a foreign correspondent without having to leave your desk (though this is not, in fact, the whole story; read on). So I was interested to spot this post by Ethan Zuckerman (via the Business Communicators of SL blog), which contains some thoughts on similar topics, inspired by a conversation with Pitchfork’s Chris Dahlen for Dahlen’s latest column. Dahlen wonders whether the Internet is up to the challenge of providing information about places like Africa, since it looks like you can find a lot more detail on the Web about Buffy than about the Somalian Union of Islamic Courts, for instance. Which touches off a thought on Zuckerman’s part: “I find it deeply odd that journalism is expanding into these illusory spaces while itâ€™s shrinking in the real world. I think the answer may be that these new spaces — whether SecondLife, World of Warcraft, the culture of fanfiction or machinima — are far more coverable than many events in the real world.” While both those statements are true, to an extent, I’d argue that there isn’t the causal link between them that Zuckerman sees, or at least that that link is not as strong, and that there are more important factors at work. 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
Google announced yesterday that it would hold a 3D building competition for university students, in which students in the U.S. and Canada are asked to model their university campus in 3D using SketchUp. Entries are due by June 1, and the top 50 team members receive an all-expense-paid trip to the Googleplex to participate in a three-day workshop with Google’s modeling experts. This is pretty cool, as far as it goes — it just doesn’t go very far. It seems to me this is just about the most boring way possible to promote the use of SketchUp and Google Earth for cool 3D modeling stuff. What do you think? Continue reading
Justin Bovington of Rivers Run Red passes on a link to the renewed rumor that Google is working on turning Google Earth into a virtual world that would work similarly to Second Life. We’ve heard mutterings of this kind of thing before. This one comes from “an academic who heard through the Ph.D. grapevine,” which doesn’t lend it any more credence, in my book. That said, it would make an awful lot of sense. Whether it’s going on or not probably depends on whether Google’s muckety-mucks believe there’s much of a future in virtual worlds. I know that a few significant people there are at least partial believers, but I’m not sure if there’s a great deal of buy-in at high levels or not. Would be ace, if so.
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.
I saw some relatives for a holiday dinner last night out in Queens here in New York. We had a lovely time — as well as an interesting 3pointD moment. A new addition to the family — a Windows laptop — was at several points the focus of attention. Not only were my cousin and her husband proud of the fact that they’d been able to set up a wireless router (without technical leet skillz other than the ability to hook up game consoles for their son and daughter), but she told me the family’s favorite app these days was Google Earth. Apparently, they spend hours sitting in front of the computer, touring not only the sites involved in the kids’ homework assignments, but my cousin also sometimes stays up after everyone has gone to bed, just poking around the planet. I was really struck by the way this resembled television consumption (which until now, and perhaps still, remains the family’s media of choice — they are huge sports fans). And when I showed them how to turn on the layer of 3D models, things got even more exciting. Soon we were downloading Shea Stadium and dropping it right where it belonged — much to the wonder and delight of my cousin’s 12-year-old son. Everyone also seemed to grok the fact that the 3D models had been made not by a company, for the most part, but by other users. The death of television as we know it is closer than you think. Make way for the New “New Media” tm — entertainment in the 3pointD mode.
Stefan Geens at Ogle Earth reports that Google Earth has added two new layers to its default set, and created a new directory for “Geographic Web.” Now included in Google Earth’s default placemark sets are georeferenced articles from Wikipedia and georeferenced photos from photo-sharing site Panoramio. Adding these as default layers is a nice way to promote what Google’s calling the geographic Web. It moves flat Web pages closer to 3D functionality. All that’s needed to complete the circle is for people to add links in Wikipedia’s georeferenced pages that launch Google Earth at the appropriate placemarks.
Here’s one I missed while I was away: It looks like Appliance maker Whirlpool has become the first big company to upload 3D models of its products to the 3D Warehouse of objects for use in SketchUp, which can in turn be imported into Google Earth. I spotted this on Ogle Earth, which notes, “Expect everybody else to follow suit. In a few years, I wouldn’t be surprised if you’ll be able to push a “buy” button in SketchUp and have your inventory of virtual home furniture materialize on your doorstep. With a cut to Google, of course.” What Stefan means is that physical versions of the furniture from your virtual home will be delivered to your real-life doorstep. I love this idea (which, it must be noted, is already happening here and there). Here’s the press release, and Whirlpool’s 3D Warehouse page.
I haven’t checked this out much yet, but Second Life resident FlipperPA Peregrine (creator of SLBoutique.com), sends words of Microsoft’s new beta release of Virtual Earth 3D, which runs in your Web browser and is available through a link in the left sidebar at the Live Search site. As you can see in the image of the Las Vegas strip above, the level of detail is mighty impressive. And wow, I just checked out the Golden Gate Bridge, it’s very nice. As James Fee points out, “It streams much slower than [Google Earth], but the detail is many times better.” If you haven’t seen this yet, install it now — in IE only, not Firefox, natch.