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 hadn’t heard of Mappa Novus until someone dropped it in the comments here. The Mappa crew is doing interesting work creating maps of the virtual world of Second Life that seem to be mashed up with the Google Maps interface, and overlaid with data layers about population, land sales, etc. On top of that, they’ve layered some advanced edition maps that you can subscribe to for $7.95 a month or $19.95 for three months, which give extra data about land sales. The whole deal seems to be able the real estate business, as there’s also a land search tool available. They also have printed maps available for sale. Continue reading
MapJack.com is a new Web site offering the kind of street-level views that Google Maps‘ Street View feature does, only in better focus and with a more interesting interface. MapJack only has San Francisco, for now — and only part of that city, to tell you the truth — but if they can add more streets and cities and find a way to capture users’ attention, it could become a useful or at least entertaining tool — more entertaining than Google’s feature. MapJack splits your browser window in two, as seen above, with a satellite street map in the bottom and a street-level photograph above (of better quality than Google’s; see comparative screenshot after the jump). You can place “Jack” on any of the blue dots on the map, and you can also click on the dots in the photo to move him around. Since he’s a tiny little articulated avatar, you can also see which way he’s facing. Continue reading
Hm, I must have fallen out of favor with the folks at MTV, since I heard about this not from them but from one of the artists involved in the project. What is it? It’s nothing less than Virtual Lower East Side, or vLES, for short, which is basically the implementation of what was to be known as MTV’s Music World. Using Doppelganger‘s technology, MTV has built out a more or less street-for-street replica of New York’s Lower East Side, complete with virtual versions of the area’s real clubs and restaurants. This is like the seedy sister world to Virtual Hills and Laguna Beach. Essentially, it’s a 3D virtual world with a MySpace for bands attached. If things are still on course, your band can get promoted from the Web-based social network into the virtual world, if you’re popular enough, with the distant possibility of actually getting into rotation on one of MTV’s channels if you do well enough there. (The site doesn’t say that, but that’s what I was told wehn I was working on the article linked above.) It’s just now in alpha, so you probably can’t get in yet, but the site shows some promising features, including a cool map highlighting the few establishments that have already been built out. But the $64 million question is, Can this gain any traction with young hipsters here and with those who aspire to hipsterdom elsewhwere but who can’t get to the Lower East Side they’ve always wanted to 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
UpNext is in closed beta, but it sounds like it could be very cool. According to Mashable, it provides “a 3D virtual cityscape, providing users a way to explore cities. UpNext will offer ways to search visually online to find out whatâ€™s going on in their city, or cities, on a local level.” Very cool, very metaversal, very 3pointD. The team (seen above), which has just started a blog, is launching the service tonight at Where 2.0. If this works, it could be close to the virtual Williamsburg that the Electric Sheep Company‘s Jerry Paffendorf is always on about. It doesn’t sound like it’s avatarized, though we won’t know until tonight. To tell you the truth, I’m a bit surprised that no one has combined these ideas yet: a 3D representation of my neighborhood, links to the Web, and all in an avatarized, multiuser space. Coming soon, I imagine. In the meantime, we look forward to seeing what’s up next for UpNext.
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
Metaverse services company in-world momentum has begun construction on a virtual Munich in Second Life, the company announced today. Tourist attractions like the Marienplatz, the Viktualienmarkt, and the Frauenkirche should be built out by the end of June, and offices and shopfronts will eventually be offered for rent to SL members. There are a number of blog entries in English, and you should be able to follow the project’s construction at the site. While there’s not much here to get excited about yet, one interesting aspect is the entry detailing how the team shrank Munich down to manageable size. In the end, though, this isn’t the kind of virtual reflection of real-world people, activity and events that could be one of the most interesting uses of Second Life, but only a virtual tourist attraction and demo project. There’s a lot of potential here, though, given the density of tech in Munich, so we look forward to seeing where the SL version of the city goes.
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.
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
John Swords and I recorded a couple of new Metaverse Sessions while we were down at South by Southwest, one with Ethan Zuckerman of Global Voices Online and one with Jamais Cascio of World Changing. Johnny has just posted Ethan’s session (incorrectly labeled #9, even though it’s #10), and there’s some really interesting stuff there. Ethan talks about how Google Maps was used to heighten political awareness in Bahrain, how LiveJournal has become the blogging tool of choice for politically active adults (not kids) in Russia, and the “cyber-utopian dominant narrative” in which everyone gets along in the same online place. We also explore some interesting question of how cultural backgrounds inform the use of technologies, questions that don’t get much discussed (or thought about) in most our metaversal questions. A really cool guest to have for the Sessions, and highly recommended listening.
No April Fool’s joke this: 3pointD turned one year old today! It was in the early hours (early minutes, actually) of April 1, 2006, that I posted my first Hello, World! here. Something like 1,400 posts later (can that be? WordPress must be over-counting) and our mission remains the same: “At its most fundamental level, itâ€™s about connecting people in new ways, and about giving them the tools to get more out of not just the Web but out of the real world around them.”
That’s still true, but in the year since then, the 3pointD space (aka the metaverse) has begun to resolve itself a bit — which is perhaps not surprising, since the word didn’t actually mean anything a year ago. What I’ve been trying to describe over the last year is the general direction of the future of connectivity. I still feel, as I wrote last March on my old blog, Walkerings, that “Web 2.0 is over like a hipster neighborhood when The Gap moves in,” and that there’s a new neighborhood to be colonized. That’s of course an overstatement for effect, but I don’t think it’s off the mark. Over the next several (many?) years, the most exciting developments in technology are going to be those that leverage our ever-increasing digital access to places both real and virtual to develop better connections between people in various ways.
The question is, What’s that going to look like? I hate making predictions, but as my birthday present to the blog and its readers, I’ve just spent the evening going out on a limb. You can read the details below or you can jump directly to a brief, fun scenario at the end of the post. Enjoy. Continue reading
View the full-size map
Nic Mitham at the K Zero blog (a marketing and branding company) posted a map a few days ago of all the real-world brands he could find operating in the virtual world of Second Life, and now he’s already posted a new version. Nice work, though tough to keep up. (Interested readers could help by contacting Nic with new finds, I suppose.) If done well, this could become a great resource. Never content to leave well enough alone, though, I thought up two feature suggestions:
â€¢ leave the map at a static URL which simply directs people to latest version [UPDATE: A link to Nic’s static map is now available.]
â€¢ make the company names into clickable secondlife:// links
[A note before we leave you: I’m not taking the week off from blogging because of the Kathy Sierra affair, but I am going to try to mark all my posts today with a message like this, despite the fact that some other people have a blogging boycott on today. I’m not sure a boycott is the right thing for me, but I don’t mind interrupting a few posts for a public service announcement about an insult culture that has run right off the rails. See you soon.]
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
Three services we brought you recently that mash up the virtual world of Second Life and the (also virtual, in its way) World Wide Web, have had new versions released in the last few days. Sloog, TwitterBox, and SLateIt, (originally blogged here, here, and here), are three instances of one of my favorite things: they’re real 3pointD apps that make the 3D world of SL interoperable (to a small extent) with the 2D world of the Web, and in a social, Web 2.0 way. Their initial release was very rough and beta, but now all three have new versions out that have made them easier to use and/or increased their functionality. Excellent news. Full descriptions below. 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
I’m going to go ahead and call Sloog the best Web 2.0-style site for the virtual world of Second Life that I’ve seen yet. Sloog lets you tag locations in Second Life, storing them in the Sloog system so you can access them later on the Web. It’s a bit like del.icio.us tagging or Digg-ing virtual places, and it’s not a new function for SL users, but this is the best implementation of it I’ve seen yet. 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
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
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
Spotted on the MAKE Magazine blog (run by goggle-headed nutjob Phil Torrone): the new Hackszine site, developed to “promote the philosophy of Hacks as a way to gain control of the devices and systems in our lives.” I like it. Already there’s a cool 3pointD-worthy hack up on the site, a mashup that lets you map places mentioned in books via Google Maps. We look forward to more.
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
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.
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.