You Too Will Surf Virtual Halls of the Dead

October 20 2008 / by Alvis Brigis / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Culture   Year: 2013   Rating: 12 Hot

The increasing richness of memorial media is a powerful by-product of accelerating change in technology, information and communication. In five years time, both broad public-facing and private 3d memorial media has a good chance of taking off, gradually catalyzing a shift in the way we interact with history and our dearly departed.

How do we properly remember and honor the dead? Our cultural answer to this question has changed over the millennia alongside with the invention of memory-enhancing technologies such as symbols, spoken language, writing, photography, video, digital information and the web.

Now the trend continues as powerful new disruptors such as social media, semantic search, virtual worlds and mirror worlds allow us to assemble, aggregate and interact with information about the dearly departed in surprising new ways.

On the most basic level, crowd-edited text-based structures like Wikipedia have already catalyzed an explosion of biographical data capture and made possible a growing niche of specialized human memorial websites.

Similarly, account-driven portals like Geanealogy.com’s Virtual Cemetery Project, MyCemetery, and World Gardens have been growing in popularity and each lay claim to being “The World’s First Online Memorial and Virtual Cemetery” or such.

In the physical world, progressive cemetery Hollywood Forever, which boasts the densest concentration of celebrity gravesites, has sparked a media memorial trend by displaying actors’ hilight reels beside their tombs. (Yes, for a pretty steep price you too can purchase your very own Lifestories Kiosk.)

Continue Reading

The Virtual Worlds Blitz is Coming

March 03 2008 / by Alvis Brigis / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Economics   Year: 2012   Rating: 11

Chris Sherman over at Virtual World News noted yesterday that there are so many virtual world start-ups in stealth-mode that he’s lost count.

“They range in focus from virtual goods and economies to lifelogging to 2d and 3d virtual world destinations to platforms and tools companies and more,” points out Sherman, the producer of the steadily growing Virtual Worlds conference series.

Not only are myriad start-ups getting into the virtual frenzy, so are corporate giants like Google.

All this activity nicely reinforces a DFC estimate that virtual world revenues will reach 6 billion $ annually by 2012.

Even with the slowing growth of Second Life, it’s easy to imagine that between Spore, MetaPlace, Multiverse, Club Penguin, Google, Microsoft, Sony and all of the little guys, it won’t be all that hard to hit that 6 billion $ target.

Check back tomorrow for an in-depth interview with Jerry Paffendorf, co-founder of Wello Horld, one of the stealth start-ups mentioned by Sherman.

What will be the biggest virtual world in 2010?

or Show Results

Second Life on the Hill: U.S. House Members Seek to Understand Virtual Worlds

April 01 2008 / by Marisa Vitols / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Metaverse   Year: 2008   Rating: 10 Hot

The following is a summary of the key moments that transpired during the U.S. House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet hearing on Virtual Worlds held April 1, 2008. This marked the first ever simulcast of a Congressional hearing into a virtual world – a truly historic moment.

Spanning the positive uses of virtual worlds (entrepreneurial, non-profit, educational, and other purposes) as well as the security implications (terrorism, child protection, privacy and illegal activities) the first-of-its-kind hearing finally came to a close at 11:15 AM this morning after nearly two full hours of position statements and riveting Q&A.

Subcommittee members’ opening speeches covered general statistics, implications, applications and potential futures of virtual worlds. Subcommittee Chairman Ed Markey of Massachusetts (pictured second) noted that virtual worlds often permit people to do things that are often impossible in real life, thus empowering individuals and that virtual worlds are at the cutting edge of web 2.0 applications. As per the future of virtual worlds, the Chairman said that virtual worlds are steadily becoming more commonplace and therefore policymakers will have to continue to monitor them as they grow further while upgrading national infrastructure to foster the positive utilities of such worlds.

Congressman Stearns of Florida (pictured third) cited an interesting statistic in his opening remarks, that 40% of men and 50% of women see virtual friends as equal or better than their real-life friends. He found this a bit unsettling, and elucidated his concern for sexual predators and con-men inevitably finding their way into virtual worlds, as they did the internet.

Congresswoman Harman of California echoed many of the same positive implications of virtual worlds, but seemed most concerned with the use of virtual worlds by Islamic militants, noting that a “clear-eyed understanding is essential” in helping fight this new wave of “transient terrorism.”

(cont.)

Continue Reading

Avatars and AI

May 29 2008 / by randalc / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Culture   Year: 2010   Rating: 10 Hot

Recently Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute created an artificial intelligence program to run within the platform of Second Life. The researchers are studying the interactions that occur with real people through their avatars. The RPI students created the program to maneuver the avatar and understand some fairly straight forward questions, asked in English.

Operators of Second Life don’t seem concerned about synthetic agents lurking in their world. John Lester, Boston operations manager for Linden Lab, said the San Francisco-based company sees a fascinating opportunity for AI to evolve. “I think the real future for this is when people take these AI-controlled avatars and let them free in ‘Second Life,’” Lester said, ” ... let them randomly walk the grid.”

With AI characters within a grid of tens of thousands of active users the social experimentation is nearly limitless. Social scientists can examine certain behaviors and even provoke them through the AI interface. Most interesting is if the AI can recognize and then smoothly translate languages the program could create cultural bridges and even examine cultural behavior proclivities.

Virtual Worlds Finally Make the Jump to Mobile Phones

April 29 2008 / by Alvis Brigis / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Metaverse   Year: 2008   Rating: 7 Hot

This is a shot that was definitely not heard around the “real world”.

A company named Vollee has at last enabled fluid access to 3D virtual worlds, namely Second Life, via a mobile phone. Check out the video of their new service, currently in Beta:

While this product won’t matter to 99.9% of us (barring the SL addicted) in the short term, it’s a big milestone for the broader evolution of the web.

As such, we can use it to extrapolate what changes an increasingly interactive 3D web might gradually enable:

Perhaps we’ll visit real-time representations of stores from hundreds of miles away or more efficiently navigate shops in real space, or more easily find jobs that allow us to work from afar, or surf 3D social networks to see what our friends are currently doing and where, or hop into virtual games tied into real-life locations when we’re bored, or search the web in 3D and 2D as well as through text and semantic search, etc.

The main point is that as we endeavor to simulate the near term future of other domains like health, business, transporation, etc. it’s important to consider the impact of new products like Vollee so that we don’t miss the larger, more disruptive products and events just over the horizon.

Virtual Unreality

June 22 2008 / by StuartDobson / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Metaverse   Year: General   Rating: 7 Hot

Virtual worlds are created by us – so why limit ourselves to reality? We could create entirely new realities. By realising that we are free of the rules of real life, the doors are open to incredible new possibilities. In many ways, virtual worlds already provide us with glimpses of alternate realities. Its time we took notice of these instrumental differences. In the future, we may decide that a virtual existence, a life inside a fully immersive computer game where our every desire is fulfilled, is a more appealing option than the real world we currently inhabit. Many people have presented the idea that we are already in such a virtual reality, but I don’t believe this is possible. This is because virtual worlds provide us with many possibilities that the real world does not, so why have they not been “programmed” into the real world we know?

Since the early 21st century, the residents of the virtual world Second Life have been working hard to recreate real life as accurately as possible. Despite the virtual platform giving occupants the ability to fly and teleport, they still prefer to meticulously create staircases to walk their avatar up and down. At discos, people require the coolest dance animations and best looking clothes. In meetings, virtual characters sit down to rest their virtual legs. It seems the confines of reality provide a comfortable and familiar environment.

But virtual worlds are created by us – so why limit ourselves to reality? We could create entirely new realities. By realising that we are free of the rules of real life, the doors are open to incredible new possibilities. In many ways, virtual worlds already provide us with glimpses of alternate realities. Its time we took notice of these instrumental differences. (cont.)

Continue Reading

Second Life FINALLY Allows In-World HTML

March 07 2008 / by Alvis Brigis / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Metaverse   Year: 2008   Rating: 6

Included in the latest Second Life (SL) code update is a feature that at long last allows in-world designers and programmers to incorporate html on objects. In other words, users will finally be allowed to import web content into the virtual world.

This comes as a relief to the many SL developers and futurists who’ve been clamoring for this for years, paving the way for myriad mash-ups and new forms of hybrid content.

Just imagine decorating your SL mansion with images found on the web, setting your avatar to display your Linked In profile when attending a networking event, organizing a wall of your favorite web feeds, or setting up just about any conceivable array of of web content. All of it linked and fully click-able. The collaborative, networking and entertainment possibilities are truly endless.

Thanks to these new steps, all of this will soon be possible on the increasingly popular platform, thus opening wide a whole new world of possibilities.

Also part of the new release is more physically accurate atmospheric rendering and lighting resulting in “vastly improved realistic water with reflections and glimmer” and ”’Glow” as a new object attribute.

(via Virtual Worlds News)

Virtual Going Out is the New Going Out

November 03 2008 / by StuartDobson / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Culture   Year: 2008   Rating: 5 Hot

Crossposted from SuperConcepts.

A ‘Virtual’ Escape From Economic Pain: Forbes

It seems that in these times of economic decline, people don’t want to forgo the luxuries that they’ve grown accustomed to over the years, so are choosing to indulge themselves in a virtual manner instead. There’s certainly a lot to be said for staying home surrounded by cheap entertainment compared with going out and being ripped off and mugged. Could this be the future? As Virtual Reality improves, we’ll be finding it replacing more and more of the “Real Life” things we currently take for granted.

Why travel on dangerous, expensive, and environmentally unfriendly airlines when you can immerse yourself in a Virtual holiday? Google Earth and Google Street, not to mention other “virtual sightseeing” options have recently taken a lot of big steps towards this. Although virtual reality interfaces have a long way to go before we can experience all the delights of a trip to somewhere beautiful, in the next few years it will be possible to walk down a foreign street on your computer screen, with the realism of a TV documentary. You’ll be able to go into a real shop, select a real item from a real shelf, and make real purchases from the shops on this street, to be delivered to your door. In Second Life, you can already wander around the accurately recreated streets of Dublin and other major cities. Primitive as it is now, we’ll soon be taking it for granted.

In the very distant future, personal nano-fabrication devices could allow us to recreate the exact tastes and textures of foods available anywhere on Earth. And if not, computer interfaces to our brains will merely simulate the feelings and tastes of eating these exotic cuisines. Whether as part of a virtual reality interface or not, the ability to remotely indulge our senses will surely come from somewhere.

Continue Reading

Myrl Launches Social Networking for Avatars

March 21 2008 / by Marisa Vitols / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Metaverse   Year: 2008   Rating: 4

Making friends in virtual worlds is pretty hit-or-miss. Unless you’re at a specific event, you have no idea what kind of person you’re bound to bump into. To make matters worse, approaching someone requires a bit of bravery. Interacting from behind a computer screens helps, but virtual worlds are so life-like that talking to someone out of the blue takes some level of courage. Dare ask someone their real name? Blasphemy!

This morning Virtual Worlds News reported the launch of a London-based social network for the metaverse called Myrl. Created in an effort to allow users to “worldshop,” as founder and CEO Francesco D’Orazio put it, Myrl intends to knock down the barriers that make virtual worlds so exclusive from one another.

Even in its early stages, Myrl has much to offer when trying to find like-minded users/avatars. Think of it as Facebook for the Metaverse – you can post pics, share favorite places and slurls, promote your virtual start-up, make friends, and even earn “Karma” points the more you interact with others. According to TechCrunch UK, Myrl currently supports users from Second Life and There.com, but plans to continually expand and create relationships with numerous other virtual worlds.

This social network and others of its kind will surely result in a more seamless metaverse experience for all – and allow those of us with shy avatars to finally make some friends. :)
- -
Interested in virtual worlds? Don’t miss this year’s annual Virtual Worlds Conference from April 3-4 in New York City for a host of interesting keynotes, demos, networking events and more. Email marisa@memebox.com for info on how to get a discount on conference tix.

Which Virtual World Will Rule 1 Year From Now?

September 04 2008 / by Christina / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Social Media   Year: 2009   Rating: 4

Millions of users log on to virtual worlds, such as the highly sophisticated and popular Second Life and the user-friendly Lively every day, positioning virtual worlds to become the future of internet browsing.

A recent Rezzable poll asking “Which virtual world will rule one year from now?” concluded with an overwhelming vote for the already popular Second Life, while Google’s new platform Lively came in a distant second; other platforms barely made the chart.

Second Life is the most developed platform right now, with almost 15 million total residents. By far the most stable and capable of the flock, SL has become a meeting place for many adults, especially appealing to gamers, artists, and entrepreneurs.

According to self-reported data, Second Life users are primarily male, with an average age of 33. Features of SL that set it apart from other Virtual Worlds include sophisticated avatar customization, the ability purchase land, and a large and thriving economy. Linden dollars allow users to create, market, and sell virtual products and services, a feature similar to that of World of Warcraft – which has kept WoW users shelling out the big bucks for years. There are currently over L$ 5 billion in supply, with an exchange rate of approximately L$ 250 to the US Dollar.

User generated content (UGC) is probably the most important feature keeping SL at the top of the list. The Second Life platform allows for creative users to design an infinite variety of content (i.e. objects, clothing, buildings, real life recreations, virtual businesses, etc.).

Continue Reading

The Singularity Movie (Web Release)

October 17 2008 / by Alvis Brigis / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Culture   Year: 2008   Rating: 3 Hot

Move over Ray Kurzweil, here’s the Scenario Land version of the upcoming Singularity Movie. And guess what – the Singularity just happened!

Note: Make sure the movie loads fully before watching. I am trying to upload it to YouTube, but the feature is still buggy as Xtra Normal is in beta.

Using the new Xtra Normal platform, the above video took just 30 minutes to produce. This forward-step in super-user-friendly machinima brings us just a little closer to a scenario that I like to call The Toon Point, the time when virtual-world-generated video equals the average quality of a Saturday morning cartoon created in 2005. (Why 2005? Because that’s roughly when I began thinking about the notion of a Toon Point.)

Ever since my days in the West Hollywood Metaverse House, as my buddy and former roommate Jerry Paffendorf likes to call it, I’ve been a fan of virtual worlds and looking forward to The Toon Point. Due to their ability to incorporate and network other communication technologies, the potential of virtual worlds as an Interactive Communication Technology is simply astounding, and is reflected in their rapid diffusion patterns.

Continue Reading

Immersive Data Visualization for Search & Drug Discovery, Green Phosphor Brings Glasshouse to Market

March 19 2009 / by Alvis Brigis / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Information   Year: 2009   Rating: 3 Hot

By helping us to climb the stairs of abstraction, user-friendly immersive data visualization (ie, geospatial data mapping) is poised to become one of the more significant near-term drivers of accelerating human inteligence and economics.  Leading the charge is the small but robust company Green Phosphor, core participants in the progressive and under-recognized Second Life DataViz Group, which is laying down the foundations for Matrix-esque search: "I need guns, lots of guns." 

Color me impressed by Green Phosphor's newest release, Glasshouse (demo vid below - don't worry, better graphics are on the way), which converts raw binary data into interactive 3d models.  As indicated by the hire of a molecular biologist as Chief Scientist, the company is gearing up to monetize by applying this technology to the medical domains such as genomics and drug discovery.

As CEO Ben Lindquist points out, "The immersive 3d environment creates an entirely new paradigm for business intelligence and process modelling."  More specifically, I'd argue that it marks a Meta-System Transition, or topsight leap, in our ability to process then interact with a variety of systems.

Continue Reading


   1   2