Thursday, March 29, 2007

Live (sort of) from the future of virtual worlds...

10 a.m.

I’m sitting here in the Museum of Jewish Heritage in NYC, site of the first-ever Virtual Worlds conference – a gathering of 600 industry professionals (and a few academics) eager to learn as much as they can about virtual environments so they can jump ahead of the pack and become the next digiterati.

It’s déjà vu, from start to finish.

Today’s opening panel consists of five guys – all white guys – talking with huge "authority about things they can’t possibly know or predict.

Each one is (not very subtly) pushing his own business model: 3D is essential (no, it’s not). Second Life needs competition (No, it doesn’t). User-generated content is creative anarchy (Nothing great (like the film Titanic, for example) will ever beproduced by the unwashed masses.

One of the five is more open than the others to what’s possible (anything), but it turns out that’s his job. Jerry Paffendorf is the Resident Futurist at The Electric Sheep, one of the conference sponsors. He makes his living keeping track of what’s going on now and imagining what might happen next.

His answer: Anything.

I think we need a Resident Futurist in the Park School: Nobody needs to stay connected to the future like higher education does…

Gotta go...believe it or not, the woman sitting in front of me has objected to my typing during the sessions. My 'tap-tapping' is apparently distracting her....I reminded her that we're at a VIRTUAL WORLDS conference, and that she is surrounded by people with laptops open, tap-tapping away....)

11 a.m.

She moved. (Kim Gregson explained to her in no uncertain terms that SHE owned the problem...) Problem is, she moved down two rows, and the guy in front of her was (you guessed it) tap-tapping away on his laptop. Seems there's no escape from we crazy laptoppers when you go to a Virtual Worlds conference. Go figure.

1:55 p.m.

The most interesting thing that came out of this morning's sessions (in my opinion, but hey, this is MY blog) had nothing to do with the panels or the scheduled program.

After the 11 a.m. session, which focused on ways to merge virtual activities with real-world activities, a guy got up to the microphone to ask a question. Here's (pretty close to) what he said (I was trying to tap-tap quietly and it slowed down my notetaking):

3D virtual worlds will replace 2D Web presentations because 3D reflects the organization of the human cortex.

We have huge processing power associated with 3D because that's the nature of our world; we have very little processing power for 2D presentations.

We are social animals.

We care about our identity because that's how we find mates.

In virtual worlds, we finally have a technology that symbiotically matches how our brains work.

And that’s why virtual worlds will replace traditional Web presentations, which will basically just fade away.

Interesting idea.

His name is Jim Bower, and he's not just a guy with some good ideas. He's also a professor of neurocomputation at the University of Texas at San Antonio and founder of a really interesting Web site for kids,

I just emailed him to see if he can come to the Park School next fall to talk to us about big ideas, virtual worlds, and learning.



I'm listening to Tor Myhren, evp for Leo Burnett advertising, talking about Pontiac's presence in Second Life (Motorati). They created an island where people can come and build their own car, and then race it on the speedtrack next door. It's an interesting way to get consumers to think that Pontiac is a cool brand -- how's that for an advertising achievement?

It's all well and good, but he's talking about how cheap it is to have a real impact in a demographic that's really hard to reach. And all I can really hear is the rush of every corporation in the country into Second Life, which is about to be littered -- and I use the term thoughtfully -- with commercialism of every type, style, color and size.

I'm staying in Times Square...I can just imagine it:



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