Tagged: work

Cold Hard Cash: Second Life Coins Available

IBM employee mints Second Life coinsGod bless IBM. Of all the big bad corporations doing business in the virtual world of Second Life, these guys — and, on an individual basis, the company’s employees — are near the top of the “most creative and ambitious” league table (mostly, I suspect, because they can afford to be). The latest: an IBM employee with his own private island in Second Life has had some coins minted that are each worth one Linden dollar. That’s right, you can now hold the Linden dollar in your hand and actually spend it — if, that is, you’re on »Tender Island«, which has been owned by IBMer David van Gent since March.

The coins come complete with an “SL” mintmark, and are “accepted as legal currency on Tender Island.” Before you get your knickers in a twist over who’s allowed to mint coins denominated in a particular currency, keep in mind that in the U.S., at least, creating your own tender is perfectly acceptable — you can print all the money you want (as long as you’re not counterfeiting dollars), it’s just a matter of whether you can get anyone to accept it. Linden Lab, of course, is not a government. But their rhetoric (“I’m not building a game, I’m building a country“) indicates there shouldn’t be anything objectionable in Tender Island coins. Continue reading

Seriosity Teams With IBM to Study Work 2.0

Seriosity teams with IBM to study work 2.0
Meet the new boss

Good news, all you obssessively grinding World of Warcraft addicts: “Success as a business leader may depend on skills as a gamer,” according to Jim Spohrer, Director of Services Research at the IBM Research Center in Almaden, California. IBM has just done a study with Seriosity (one of the cooler companies at the virtual goods summit) which found “significant parallels between online gaming and the future of work,” according to a press release. “Today’s gamers are learning collaboration, self-organization, risk-taking, openness, influence, and how to earn incentives linked to performance and be flexible in the way they communicate.” That’s a lot better than the hand-eye coordination that most people think as the limit of what games have to teach. More below. Continue reading

Ambient Gaming: Lifelogging in Disguise?

Cool British journo-researcher Aleks Krotoski has a couple of really good interviews up on the Guardian Gamesblog with veteran games designer Mark Eyles, who’s now in academia. In part one of their interview, Eyles talks about “ambient gaming,” and describes the thinking behind his game, Ambient Quest. (In part two, he talks about academia.) Ambient Quest is PC-only and requires a game-master, of all things, so I haven’t checked it out yet (and I actually have a hard time understanding how it works based on the description on its Web site), but the idea is cool — although it strikes me that it’s hardly as ambient as Justin Hall’s Passively Multiplayer Online Game, where I’ve become a level 77 Seer by dint of doing almost exactly nothing. Regardless, the ideas that Eyles is exploring are fascinating (read his paper on ambient RPGs), and dovetail with thoughts that have appeared on 3pointD and elsewhere in the guise of things like lifelogging and ideas about bringing game-like feedback mechanisms into the workplace (a la Seriosity). The interview raises some interesting questions — Where is the line between gaming and recording behavior? Does PMOG qualify as a game just because it lays the trappings of games atop a record of the things I do every day anyway? — and is well worth the read. And if you can figure out how to play the damn thing, let me know.

DoMyStuff Launches Wish Market For Chores

DoMyStuff.com actually launched in April, but it represents an interesting dovetail with some of the ideas that knock around among some of the younger metarati. In particular, a few people have been talking about wish markets: marketplaces that let buyers announce what they’re looking for and receive offers from vendors, rather than the normal course of commerce as we’ve come to know it, in which vendors announce their products and receive offers from buyers. Wish markets are cool not only because they tend to promote competition if they’re broad enough, and thus lower prices (as on Priceline), but also because they allow you to shop for the thing you actually want, rather than having to choose from the limited number of things that are already out there. You can tell a wish market that you want something that might never have existed before, and if you’re willing to pay enough for it, the market will create it for you. Just like having a wish fulfilled (for a price, of course).

DoMyStuff has created what’s more or less a wish market for chores and other small tasks. It’s not terribly unlike Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, where employers crowdsource small tasks, for small change. But DoMyStuff services involve either “local tasks,” which include stuff like Clean My House and Do My Laundry, and Yard Cleaning, or “global tasks,” which are more like Upgrade My WordPress Blog and Find Me Clients, that can be done from anywhere (similar to several sites that list small jobs for programmers and designers). The listings are essentially RFPs, or Requests for Proposals, and are even referred to as such in the php script that runs the site. What that means, of course, is that competition for jobs drives the price down, instead of competition for products driving the price up in an auction market like eBay.

My favorite thing about DoMyStuff, though, is not necessarily the market mechanism. That’s been seen before, here and there. It’s the fact that this market is designed for face-to-face meetings, to create a more dynamic market for chores, of all things. (Isn’t there a Cory Doctorow chapter about a similar system?) Continue reading

Mitch Kapor Speaks on Ending Bias Tonite in SL

Mitch Kapor, an early investor in and board member of Linden Lab, creators of the virtual world of Second Life, will give a talk this evening in SL, all about the Level Playing Field Institute, where he also sits on the board and which “promotes innovative approaches to fairness in higher education and workplaces by removing barriers to full participation,” and about philanthropy in general. Mitch’s talk at last year’s Second Life Community Convention was a really informative and insightful look at how disruptive technologies happen (something Kapor knows a lot about, having helped make computers useful for large numbers of people). If he can have the same effect on reducing the kind of subtle bias in education and the workplace that holds people back without many people even being aware of it, it’ll be a great thing. Mitch’s talk goes off at 8pm SL Time (11pm Eastern), and you’ll be able to listen to it at »Sheep Island Auditorium«, »Crayon Theater«, and »Reuters Auditorium«. The late time unfortunately puts it out of reach of most European SL members, but hopefully the talk will be archived somewhere on the Web.

Etsy Considers Crafting Its Own Virtual World

Etsy Labs headquarters near the Manhattan Bridge in BrooklynIt was just over a year ago that I first blogged about Etsy, the online community for makers and sellers (and buyers, of course) of crafts of all flavors and kinds. Because they’re here in Brooklyn and because they have their metaversal aspects about them, I thought I’d go and pay them a visit recently. The metaversal aspects of Etsy are mostly the doing of the company’s highly talented Flash programmer, Jared Tarbell, and prove that you don’t necessarily need a Z axis to have a good time. If you’ve poked around the site at all, you’ll have seen hints of them, in the form of the various “ways to shop” found on the front page. (Try time machine, and definitely check out the color page, which is slightly too awesome for its own good.) Where Etsy really comes alive, though, is when you become part of the community and start doing things like attending classes and town halls online. Jared’s cool interfaces give presence to your “avatar” (who’s nothing more than a square uploaded image) in a way few Web page have managed to. And now, Rob Kalin, Etsy’s founder, is thinking about putting Jared’s mad Flash skillz to work in a Flash virtual world that would be an online bazaar for Etsy crafters. More on that (and a couple of other interesting developments) after the jump. Continue reading

Sun Aims New 3D Environment at Business

Sun Microsystems' MPK20 virtual workplace

On the heels of IBM‘s recent announcement about their new mainframe-class machines geared for 3D virtual worlds comes the news that Sun Microsystems has constructed its own 3D virtual environment for business. Currently an in-house demo project, the software could be ready for release within six months, according to a Sun engineer quoted in this InformationWeek story.

The system is currently known as MPK20, which identifies it as the 20th building at Sun’s corporate campus in Menlo Park, California — which is known as MPK and in fact houses only 19 buildings. The MPK20 environment is built atop the open-source Wonderland software and the Project Darkstar infrastructure designed to run online games.

According to Sun, the key difference between MPK20 and other 3D environments is that it is explicitly designed for business use. The Wonderland software permits the creation of live, shared applications that are ideal for a workplace environment, Sun says. And of course the virtual world lets Sun employees work together no matter their location in the real world.

One interesting thing about Sun’s vision for MPK20 is that the company seems to be looking toward a mirror world environment for business. “The next stage in the MPK20 project is to design complementary physical and virtual work spaces. If personal and team workspaces primarily exist in the virtual world, then people in physical spaces should be able to project their workspace around them no matter where in the world they are and interact seamlessly with people who are remote.” [Emphasis added.] It will definitely be interesting to see exactly what that means. Continue reading

Areae Looking at OGRE Hires For 3D Client

Areae, the start-up virtual world-maker run by veteran MMO developer Raph Koster, is looking for a “senior 3D client engineer” to “lead the development of a cross-platform 3D client” that’s currently planning to use open-source graphics engine OGRE. There had been some doubt as to how 3D Areae was going to be; would it be 2D, isometric 2-1/2 D, 3D, or some combination of those dimensions? Seems Raph wants to go all the way with it, or with some component of it, and hopes to go with OGRE — though according to a post on the OGRE forums, much will depend on finding the right lead dev: “Honestly, we aren’t sure that’s our final solution or not – it’s likely highly dependent on the person we hire. If the perfect person comes along and they have deeper experience with a different engine and want us to switch, we will.” One interesting thing to note about the Help Wanted posting: candidates are invited to “help develop the next generation of online gaming.” I’m not sure if that’s a reference to the fact that Raph sees Areae as primarily a game world (or series of game worlds), or whether it means something else entirely. Interesting that he’s not characterizing it as a non-game world, though. Raph has talked in the past about the fact that social worlds need game-like orientations to them, which is my bet for Areae. That would imply less game and more world, though. Change of course, or just semantic hair-splitting from the 3pointD office of virtual Kremlinology? [Thanks to cw for sending that news!]

Will Collaboration Be Enough For Qwaq?

Qwaq Forums service offered on Croquet platformQwaq, a company I blogged about last June, has been planning to “enable a rich ecosystem of interlinked Croquet spaces, that is as easy to navigate and extend as today’s Web.” News from the company yesterday flags its first product, Qwaq Forums, which offer customizable “virtual spaces for real work.” The spaces are built on the peer-to-peer open-source Croquet platform, which was demo’d to great effect last fall to a bunch of metaversal types, but which we haven’t heard much from since. It sounds like Qwaq is a custom build-out of a Croquet implementation, tweaked for the needs of a specific business. It would offer multi-user interactivity, and a persistent 3D work environment. And because of how Croquet handles external applications, it should be relatively easy to drag something like an Excel spreadsheet into a window in Qwaq, and then let anyone in the space edit it. Continue reading

SXSW Xcript: Joi Ito and Justin Hall

Venture capitalist and World of Warcraft addict Joi Ito and lifelogger Justin Hall sat down for a conversation together in Room 9C on Monday afternoon at South by Southwest. Ben Cerveny joined them midway. Title of the talk: Online Games: Beyond Play and Fantasy.

Ito: I know everyone says this, but we’re going to try to make this as interactive as possible. Justin and I are going to talk about online games and what we can learn from them and things like that. I play World of Warcraft and mess around in Second Life, I think it’s stupid to compare them, it’s like apples and oranges. If you played text MUDs you know MOOs and MUDs split at some point. People who were into furries tended to go toward one, people who went toward the other focused more on gamplay and quests and levels. But it is interesting to compare in terms of what you can learn from them.

I play my WoW videos inside of SL and plan WoW raids in SL. SL is more for simulation for me, I do lots of ritual there, talks and things like that. It’s really not where I build relationships, although different people do that.

Shows a slide of WoW UI. Think all the way back to LambdaMOO, Pavel Curtis was saying the whole Internet will eventually be MUDs or MOOs. You can think of WoW as an evolutionary point in interface design. You can think of this as an interface to everything on the Web. You can make add-ons, there’s the Lua language for scripting that you can do. Shows his own more complex HUD with lots of add-ons. Most of the screen is in 2D. There’s all kinds of sophisticated stuff. Sometimes the 3D world is really important, but when I’m engaged in a boss fight it’s like a pilot looking at instruments rather than at terrain. A Lot of the innovation happens in the user community. Continue reading

Clocking in at the Idea Factory (or the Farm)

Chart from Bill Ward's notes toward a metaversal idea factory

Regular readers know I’ve been making noise lately about an idea factory that would seek to leverage (sorry, Ordinal) the skills of anyone who cared to participate in an effort to create any or all of a list of wish apps that had also been created by the community. As previously noted, I had to miss last Saturday’s jawboning session on the topic, but Bill Ward and a couple of other people who were there have been kind enough to send me some notes about what was discussed (including a fantastic handwritten page, from which I’ve clipped the chart above, which you can view in its entirety on Flickr). I’m going to try to tie all those notes together here into a vision of a metaversal idea factory (which I’m still not convinced shouldn’t be called an idea farm — or insert your good idea for a name here), and will try to keep you posted as things develop. Keep in mind that this is my interpretation of the state of things; it seems a fairly complex undertaking, so I may have gotten a few details out of place. In any case, though, it’s a very cool project which I’d love to see take off. Continue reading

Sweden Looks At Taxing Virtual World Earnings

Add Sweden’s to the growing list of governments considering taxing monetary transfers from virtual worlds, if not the in-world earnings themselves. According to an AFP story, Swedish authorities are “planning a clapdown.” Said one Swedish taxman, “Most people play and keep their money on their game account, but if they move it out of the virtual world into the real world, then we’re interested in them.” Any move is at least two to three years away. The U.S. Congress seems to be moving more slowly on looking into the issue, but is headed in the same direction. In a way, this is an encouraging sign, in that with taxation most often comes some compensatory protection of rights. If my activities in a virtual world can be considered, in some way, to be work or investment, they should be due similar protections to other forms of work or investment. Note that the Swedish taxman is not contemplating exactly that, but is looking only at transfers of cash from virtual worlds into the real world. Still, it pushes virtual activities closer to the status of the real. Good thing? [Via SL Insider.]

Rivers Run Red to Open California Office

Metaverse development company Rivers Run Red will open a California studio this Friday, January 5, according to Rivers CEO Justin Bovington. With a staff of seven and headed by a fellow names Ben James, Rivers’ west-coast operation will be located in San Francisco and will cater to the company’s existing clients, including Adidas , and also work on “a number of projects which have called for a global team presence.” (The company is based in London.) This is another indicator that the flow of virtual projects is not slowing yet and in fact is only growing. Whether that’s sustainable or just a temporary trend is a matter of hot debate elsewhere in the metaversal blogosphere at the moment, but for now it seems that the people who earn their livings bringing new corporate entrants into virtual worlds are doing just fine.

Now Hiring: Become an Electric Sheep

The Electric Sheep Company is hiring. The Sheep are apparently looking for everyone from entry-level builders and texturers on up to project managers and the like. Only the excellent need apply, of course: no wind-up sheep or steam-powered sheep will likely get in the door. If you think you’ve got what it takes to become an eSheep, help build the metaverse and work with Sheep clients like NBC, Edelman, Major League Baseball, the Sundance Channel and all the rest, drop a line to contact@electricsheepcompany expressing your interest. Good luck!

New Metaverse Services Firm Already Busy

Trinity Unviersity professor and Terra Nova author Aaron Delwiche sends word that he and SL resident Adri Saarinen have started up a new metaverse services firm, known as Metaversatility. The company has already recruited a number of SL residents and others to help out, and has a small but growing portfolio of projects — including an »in-world location« for ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, which is a cool client to have. “Our client list continues to grow, and there are more and more projects on the horizon,” Delwiche says. That’s what’s most remarkable to me: There still seems to be a lot more demand for such services than there is supply. Start-ups are immediately busy, notable builders and scripters are still being hired off the Grid, and projects continue to roll out in a steady (increasing?) stream. The market, at least for the moment, remains bullish on SL. (Though one recent report questions whether usage statistics are growing as quickly as registration figures would make it seem.)

Ogoglio’s Trevor Smith Talks 3D Web

Trevor Smith of the Ogoglio project (“exploring shared 3D spaces in the context of Web-enabled work”), will discuss the synthetic world he’s developing for businesses, on Tuesday, December 5, at 10pm Eastern time, in Second Life. [UPDATE: The event has been moved to Sheep Tower, at »Sheep Island (134, 134, 113)«. A former Xerox PARC researcher, Smith will talk about using 3D Web spaces to “meet with remote coworkers, collaborate using new tools, integrate existing business applications, and enjoy the benefits of being in the same office with people in different time zones.” Trevor’s a smart guy, so this should prove to be a very interesting talk. There’s a brief announcement of the talk, which will be held »in the Mill Pond sim«, on the Synthetic World News blog of Indiana University.

Second Life Business: Nothing Virtual About It

Business Week has an interesting article about the challenges faced by “real-world” businesses setting up shop in the virtual world of Second Life. The piece is perhaps the most forward-thinking of any that have appeared so far in the popular press, as it acknowledges that large corporate interests are beginning to view Second Life as a viable marketing platform (though one that still stands a chance of collapsing down the line). It’s nice to see an article like this quantify some of the work that’s being done: contracts to virtual world services companies are being let for anywhere from $5,000 to $400,000, according to the article, with some perhaps reaching as much as $1 million. It also doesn’t treat the virtual world as an “us and them” proposition, correctly so. The idea that there is a community of Second Life residents that are somehow separate from people who live in the real world is one that will have to go out the window if the virtual world continues to grow. It will still be possible to form communities on the Grid that are somewhat walled off from real-world concerns, but if you’re competing for business from “real-world” companies, you’re now swimming in the ocean, not the small pond that SL has been until now. Continue reading

A Virtual Chamber of Commerce Takes Shape

Second Life resident Chili Carson is launching what could be a great boon for SL’s business owners as well as their customers: a Chamber of Commerce for the virtual world. While news of the venture first surfaced at the Second Life Community Convention and on New World Notes, 3pointD has some fresh details from Chili as she builds out the concept and seeks to garner support in the virtual world. The question now is whether the chamber can withstand the slings and arrows of the Second Life community. Continue reading

Getting Business Efficiencies from the Metaverse

Add terrorism and politics to the list of world-historical factors now driving people into the metaverse. Several links in this VRoot post discuss “how travel restrictions have given a boost to telepresence and effective visual collaboration as alternatives to physical travel.” Add to that high fuel prices that may simply make it cheaper to hold a meeting at your desk, rather than at someone else’s desk across town, and even environmental concerns about the pollution you’re pushing into the atmosphere to get there.

As IT Week executive editor Martin Veitch puts it, “The old model of business collaboration is broken.” Of course, that doesn’t mean a 3D virtual world is the perfect place for every meeting. But it does mean that people are increasingly looking for alternatives to physical meetings that might more efficiently be held elsewhere. Seek and ye shall find. Continue reading

Log On, Rez In, Drop Out: The 60s of Technology

Hallucinatory giant snail races in the virtual world of Second Life
Virtual snail race, or mere hallucination?

A week or two ago, I found myself describing the greater metaversapolitan area to a friend who had never heard of things like Second Life or There.com, virtual worlds or massively multiplayer online games, and who had only passing knowledge of apps like Google Earth and the concept of mirror worlds. I told her about the little business boomlet the sector seems to be experiencing these days, and the potential such places and applications hold for not only increasing our knowledge of the real world and the ways we connect there, but for making possible new modes of being and richer ways of interacting. A great place to get your fantasy on, and you can pull down six figures there, to boot, or so the marketing goes. Regardless, I said, it was exciting to be a part of it, to see this new thing unfold before my eyes, to be reporting on it from the front lines, so to speak, and to ride along and see just where it might go — even if it’s headed for a fiery crash, as some would argue, or a more mundane sputtering thud.

Her reaction was interesting: “It sounds like you’re living through the 1960s of technology,” quoth she. This strikes me as pretty spot on. Continue reading

Play With Julian Dibbell’s Money in Second Life

Julian Dibbell reads from his new book, Play Money, in the virtual world of Second Life

Well, read about it, anyway. Dibbell, a journalist, Terra Nova contributor and author of the new book Play Money, Or, How I Quit My Day Job and Made Millions Trading Virtual Loot, comes to the virtual world of Second Life today — not once, but twice — to promote his new publication (which is sitting on my desk at the moment, but which I’ve barely had time to crack yet). Check him out for a book signing and “informal chat” at noon SL time, and a live interview with New World Notes‘s Hamlet Au at 6pm, followed by audience Q&A and more signing. Continue reading

After the Great Boredom: Gaming 3006

Go now and read this piece in Gamasutra to see how one the UK’s (or anywhere’s) best games journalists, Jim Rossignol, envisions gaming (and more) circa the year 3006. A taste:

Neuroscience has long been aware that the brain is little more than a pattern completion engine, so like all 31st century denizens I carry a personalised ludic pattern box, a handy device which produces generative gameworks——patterns that are suitable for my brain to complete on a subconscious level. I play the games without conscious reasoning——a vital exercise for the more strenuous activities I will later undertake. This kind of exercise is an aspect of ubiquitous gaming that goes unnoticed in 3006.

Actually, that hardly gives you the idea of the piece, which ranges across everything from singularity to some very post-3pointD ideas. But like I said at the beginning of this post, go. Now.

New SL Business Mag to Launch August 1

While browsing the Second Life Podcast blog I found this link to the upcoming SL Business magazine, due to launch in-world and as a PDF on August 1. According to the mag’s media kit on SLExchange, it’s quite an ambitious undertaking. The media kit was posted by resident Dalian Hansen, but no staff is named in it, so I’m not yet clear on who’s behind the undertaking. Second Life could really use a good business publication, in my opinion, but it remains to be seen if this is it. Continue reading

SL Travel Agency Seeks Paid Contributors

This is a cool idea: SL resident Spin Martin (aka media-maker Eric Rice) is starting a Second Life travel agency, tpTravel, and is seeking people to contribute content to its blog, for which they’ll be paid US$10 per (approved) post. VTOR linked the news, which came from the SLProfiles site.

We’ve created a new company called tpTravel, and it’s exactly what it sounds like… a travel agency within Second Life for Second Life, headquartered on the sim of Slackstreet. We are looking for well traveled residents to take snapshots, write descriptive posts, and create landmarks, SLurls, and machinima tours for posting on the blog that supports tpTravel.

Continue reading

IBM: Learn to Play, or Die Trying

IBM exec Linda Sanford gave a big shout-out to “the gaming generation” today at the Supernova conference in San Francisco. Sanford, a senior vice president of IBM’s internal On Demand Transformation and Information Technology initiatives, talked about some of the principles of innovation that IBM has been using to guide its business recently. In mentioning where new leadership may come from, Sanford talked about “the need to tap into the creative minds of gamers and apply that in the work world. I can imagine phenomenal effects if we’re able to do that,” she said. Sanford gave the examples of Second Life and EverQuest II as places from which tomorrow’s leaders could emerge. “Gamers are bringing a whole new set of skills to the table,” she said. “Games — the really good ones — have an inherent level of education they’re providing. You learn as you play; you’re either going to master it, or be dead trying.” Continue reading

3pointD Goes Supernova

We’ll be on the road next week (or, more accurately, in the air), headed to the Supernova conference in San Francisco, where I’ll be moderating a workshop on the social, business and work-oriented lessons we can learn from massively multiplayer online games and virtual worlds. We’ll have two hours to fill, hopefully with plenty of audience participation, so if you’re at all interested, drop by Wharton West early on Tuesday Wednesday, June 21st. The four very cool panelists include Corey Bridges of Multiverse; Nic Ducheneaut, who’s doing awesome work scraping data on social interactions in World of Warcraft over at the PlayOn project at PARC; Jerry Paffendorf, the resident futurist over at the Electric Sheep Company (our main sponsor here at 3pointD); and Helen Cheng of Seriosity, which is studying the overlap between work and play. The rest of the conference is filled with interesting people as well, and I’m definitely looking forward to meeting a few of them and blogging what they have to say. If you’re in the area and have any 3pointD news or just want to chat, feel free to drop me a line. Keep in mind, though, that I’m actually very bad about returning my emails. In any case, I look forward to seeing who’s around next week. Should be fun.

Help Wanted: TI Looks at Gamespace

Texas Instruments is looking to hire two positions into what sounds like an effort to get more TI product into games on both the harware and software levels. TI recruiter Brent Rogers tells me the company is looking for one “3D software design engineer” (an entry-level position) and one “gaming professional,” who would presumably help with contacts at game companies. Continue reading