Second Life and West Wing?

As has been reported in a number of places politicians are starting to come to the metaverse. I will be politically neutral here. However it does bring up something that a few of us were discussing the other day.
We met with Asif Noorani from Epiphany Productions, to discuss how we work in Second Life and show some of our other projetcs off in the Real World. Asif mentioned he was a big fan of the West Wing and one way and another that led us to a mad idea. Many of the meetings in Second Life tend to be people gathering in spaces and staying still.
Now in West Wing much of the interaction happens in fast bursts as the characters walk down the coridoors.
So what if we just replicated a coridoor/conveyor belt for a specific type of meeting. i.e. rather than those with a fixed place, or the ad hoc instant messaging across places. When you want someone’s full attention for 30 seconds to 1 minute then both teleport to the West Wing coridoor.
You are giving one another the ability to have full attention, and indicating that by your presence but you are also indicating that this will be fleeting, yet you still have avatar expressions and non verbal exchanges whilst walking.
It very easy to build in Second Life, but what other new meeting metaphors are there out there?

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10 thoughts on “Second Life and West Wing?

  1. A corridor implies walking. Walking and texting at the same time are problematic. Elevators on the other hand…

  2. Hence why I said “implies”. There are already automated walking tools inside SL. However, when I imagine the real life scenario, I imagine people actually stopping in the corridor during the walk – they exchange a few words and then resume talking. The important communication occurs during those brief static moments. The rest is icing.

    An elevator metaphor has its issues as well. When I’m in a public elevator, being enclosed with other people (who are likely invading my personal space), the environment tends to prevent me from discussing topics of importance. If the elevator is in an office building (I used to visit a federal building rather frequently and noticed this), people who worked there spoke freely while visitors tended to not say a word; there was a sense of domain and ownership that I got from the workers. So the elevator is tied to the place in a different way.

    Other options include the water fountain (of course), but also the coffee machine and the smoking(!) area outside a building. Within SL these activities are effectively meaningless. So the question really might be: What is the activity in SL that most closely mimics these other real life activities? Maybe it’s flying above the crowd.

    Perhaps an escalator? There is an implied urgency so the information needs to be exchanged within a visually-referencable time frame. The space is open enough to not feel like a public elevator. The avatar is expected to be stationary while moving so the person can concentrate on typing messages. There is also the ability to move between levels (up/down) such that you could have stages of interactivity (lowest level is very mobile; highest level is stationary).

    Just thinking with my fingers…

  3. csven, they are all really good ideas. Since the key bit seems to be the short temporal aspect to the interaction then many analogies woudl work.
    I had envisaged (and nearly built) a backdrop with a animated image of a scrolling corridor. With 2 pose balls in front.
    SO if we have a meeting and it needs to be quick I rez one of these, we meet, attach to the pose balls with walks.
    After 2 minutes its kicks us out 🙂
    THe need for an elevator pitch is a common phrase we see in IBM. When yuo happen to bump into someone in a lift, you have 30 seconds to get the idea across. I am sure it is not just IBM of course!
    I like the ascending levels of interaction idea, the longer you stay the more you are able to do.

  4. And it takes you to a higher, more static level where sitting is more appropriate. So there’s an association between the activity and the destination.

    I like the moving backdrop idea too (being a longtime filmmaking afficianado). I couldn’t help but stare at the rear window in a recent snip for an old Glen Ford film. It still works pretty well.

    Wonder if there’s a good reason to link the two?

  5. Moving backdrops and videos certainly help when you are in a prim constrained environment.
    I have long been a fan of communications migrating across types of channel.
    The right tools for the job. We have lots of ways to get ideas and messages across and being able to examine some of these interactions and test them out in virtual safety seems to be a big theme that we are all picking up on.

  6. Here’s another thought: virtual video conferencing.

    Right now in SL the sim constraints on the number of avatars is very limiting. If you have a plot in a mainland sim and want to use it for a meeting (e.g. a class on scripting) and there happens to be an event elsewhere in the sim, you may be out of luck.

    For (infrequent) Townhall meetings, LL uses a “repeater” (using an old radio for the metaphor). But what if you could stream purely inworld video from one place on the grid to another? Possible? Maybe not right now.

    So what about a hybrid system? A combo of a text-to-speech converter and a PowerPoint style slideshow. The slideshow images could be distributed just like any other content, and controlled by the presenter.

  7. That is a superb buil don where we were going with this. I had seen video conferences used to extend the real world into the virtual. I have also seen secondary places spring up to load balance events.
    I have not seen (though I am happy to be corrected) this sort of virtual video conference. What a fantastic idea.
    I had wondered about how to stream in world video before, but for different reasons. However, with the ability to grab video and stream it elsewhere via another server sounds very plausible too.
    I like it!

  8. The hybrid idea is actually related to some of my earlier thoughts on the subject. Back when we did a SL Future Salon on my parcel, I threw some sloppy last minute code together for a simple presentation system. But while doing it I kept thinking about what I might do if I had some time. Using it for the presentation especially highlighted for me the need for a centralized server (so that guest presenters could have a single load point). This just extends that core idea.

    Grabbing the video inside the world and streaming it elsewhere inside actually comes courtesy of some things I’d read about Valve’s HL2 system. If I recall correctly, grabbing the video and distributing it within an HLS level is built in to their game engine. I forget exactly what the limitation is now. It’ll come to me.

    I started to post about the possibility of a BitTorrent-style system where the host might have a Camera set up that would capture video (Fraps-style?) from their PC and then upload it via a BT distribution system, and that would get picked up by the first two people (maybe in Seats 1 and 2) and sent to four more (Seats 3, 4, 5, 6) and so on. But that might induce too much delay if it even worked. Not sure we’re ready for that. But capturing to and coming off of a dedicated server should be easy enough if the bandwidth is available. Actually, hasn’t that been done? I think it has.

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