Morphing fun with Avatars

I happened upon a post on mind hacks about morphing an average face from lots of faces. I really like morphing images, even its a very 80’s pop video thing. So naturally it seemed a good idea to see who I was, on average, in Second Life.
This has led to a spate of these, so expect to see some unsual eightbar images in the next few weeks. Roo has some classics in the pipeline. Not all Second Life related.

The set of images on flickr had a comment that led to SqirlzMorph

Another odd chain of events. I have mindhacks RSS feed because Daz said he did not like that sort of thing, this led to a morphing post that caught my eye, to a piece of software used by a flickr user that I then talked to Roo about as we were in the office which led to a hey Second Life avatars that might work, which then got posted on youtube, and blogged here.

I think I am blending a little bit a la Eric Rice

About the book

I am currently enjoying the SL time shift and watching Walker, Catherine, Wagner and Aimee doing an event about the ‘book’
Aimee and I had some fun with the book cover whilst waiting
There were lots of good questions, the odd sim problem that kept us all amused and a good vibe. Plus I like the book so it was a nice addition to be able to hang with the authors and stars and a whole host of ’03’s as well

Five in Five

IBM recently announced its thinking behind “five innovations that will change the way we live over the next five years“. Apparently influenced by the Innovation Jam results, some of the ideas are whacky, others are intriguing  while one is, for some of us at least, a reassurance that we’re on the right track.

The five in five are…

  1. Healthcare prognosis: more flexible, accessible, affordable
  2. Real time speech translation will become the norm
  3. The Internet moves to the 3rd dimension
  4. Micromanaging our environment down to the nano-level
  5. Get ready for mind-reading phones

There’s flash version and a non-flash version too.  Here’s the full text of the 3D Internet one, which helps flesh out what this term will come to mean.

The Internet moves to the 3rd dimension

The popular online immersive destinations, such as Second Life, will evolve into a 3-D Internet, much like the early work by AOL and Prodigy evolved into the World Wide Web. The 3-D Internet will enable new kinds of interactive education, remote medicine and consumer experiences, transforming how we interact with our friends and family, teachers, doctors and more.

Imagine being able to virtually walk the aisles of your favorite stores, interact with experts and even virtually try on clothes, all in the convenience of your own home. Or if you could recreate the blueprints of a room in your home and test out different appliances, cabinets styles, colors and more.

Kids can experience things that they could never access through traditional means. For example, they will be able to walk through rain forests or visit ancient Rome.

Today, 3-D virtual worlds are emerging on the Internet that have a very realistic look and feel to them.

Working with a broad community, and leveraging decades of experience in supercomputing, visualization and work with the three major game platforms (Microsoft’s XBOX 360, Nintendo’s Wii and Sony’s PlayStation 3), IBM hopes to help build out this next generation Internet, one that is open, immersive and 3-D.

The site also points to Ian’s Wimbledon YouTube video, though neglects to mention the follow up Australian Open project.

To whoever was behind this (yes, IBM is a big enough place that I have no idea), nice one. A great eye opener to get people thinking about meaningfully near-term ideas.

QEDWiki on 3pointd

Once again 3pointd has found something interesting. This time we do have a bit of a headsup on this. QEDWiki is a situational application building tool. The basic premise is to use the principles of a Wiki but allowing people to pull in services and feeds as part of the wiki.
The wiki approach lets people pull together a mashup and then share it with others. In a business context the aim is to do the same thing as tends to happen with shared spreadsheets. Business people often are happy to build a spreadsheet with some business information pasted in then share that with collegues. To many of us this is Web 2.0 mentality anyway, it is a natural rearranging of data and sharing of data. Now remove the cut and paste of the data, make it a live feed, place it in a Web 2.0 browser context and you have a situational application builder.
In many of the Web 2.0 presentations we do we have been explaining QEDWiki and alike for the past year as it comes out of the Emerging Technology organization that serveral of the Hursley eightbar crew are part of or have been part of.
One conversation point is usually around the reliability of the feeds and mashup sources that a business user may pull together. What happens when in meeting the requirement for a business problem the mashup becomes so important that it is a business critical system? (it is going to happen) What happens if a public feed, a mapping system for example, is no longer is available?
These are very valid points, but I regard the mashup as a very quick way to solve an immediate problem and protoype things that, then need to be hardened into a business application. It is much better than an esoteric design document that is full of theory.
I have often related Second Life to a mashup application too. Its ability to absorb feeds and data from the web, and to share in real time with other users fits the same model.

Working across Metaverses

Mark Wallace of 3pointd fame is a guest writer on Terra Nova.

This TN post is well worth reading, (though the extensive comments may get a bit much :-))

The base principle is one of meta guilds. This is something that we have explored in various ways. Eightbar exits in a few places including a very early presence in Eve-Online. We also have a wider team at IBM called the Virtual Universe Community. Our charter started out from our Second Life exploration but was always intended to cover multiple environments and places in the future so that we could work as one across many metaverses. Many of the meta guilds are clearly based around gameplay and more amusing concepts. Ours though is focussed on us as IBMers and as part of the industry.

To quote Mark
“A meta-guild — i.e., a guild with a presence across a number of virtual worlds and/or MMOs — allows a group to share their experiences of gameplay in various environments, and eases the process of traveling among such worlds for the individual.”

Ship ahoy

Andy Remblai in Second Life has started to specialize in building large boats. As I have been revisiting my snapzilla archives I have found the various pictures of Andy’s boats that he has built on Hursley.
The very public way people can build in Second Life also shows a very public progression in skill and knowledge. As techies when we write code it is not always easy to see the development of skill and knowledge. Likewise in consulting, quantifying how we do what we do to help explain new technology and concepts is equally hard to show to someone. Whilst SL does not need the character progression of eve-online or World of Warcraft it does benefit from learning to do things through practice. Virtual worlds seem to lead us to a meritocracy which seems a good thing?

Anyway this was his first boat back last year
boat 1

He then started on a more civilian style of super yacht
yacht 2

This yacht has since been moved to the IBM 12 island complex and graduated from Hursley.

Now he has this new super yacht underway. We had to clear some more land in order to make way for it.
yacht 3 b
yacht 3 c
yacht 3 d
yacht 3 e
yacht 3 f
All images from snapzilla

Self organizing, the threat and opportunity

The past year taught me to how to absorb and experience the self organizing culture. I had always known it was there. Chaos theory shows it has its risks, resolving to zero, infinity or a stable place. The way we all ended up in Second Life and changed so many things related to virtual worlds powered by web 2.0 interactions is fascinating.
I have seen and experienced how a more traditional control mechanism can not cope with the power of a self organized network (though it is a minority that tried to fight it). It is something that can not be understood from the outside and that can be frightening to some people, and I now unerstand the fear. However, people working for a common interest enabled by a will to cooperate produces powerful results.
My IBM collegues have embraced the spirit of self organization in so many ways. Not least with how we have approached virtual worlds such as Second Life. Eightbar has become a ‘brand’ for this spirit. As more new people join us on this journey we are all getting to spread the extra spirit of self organization. Its not anarchy, but those not part of it may consider it worryingly close to that.
Whilst enjoying the superbowl experience I read our collegue Rawn’s blog about some interesting books on the subject of self organizing.
As per usual I am sure I will not read the entire thing, but I have now ordered The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations. Just in case I have missed something. Also A Perfect Mess: The Hidden Benefits of Disorder.
It really is likely to be a rehash of Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance where order in apparent disorder is discussed. If only I could get around to writing the books in the first place I could stop buying quite so many books!

The world is shrinking or serendipity is playing again, this time its penguins.

3pointd has a great post about a collaborative wiki/novel experiment. Being very interested in how these things self organize I thought I would take a look. I was instantly struck by the fact that it was being run out of DeMontfort University my old uni.(Leicester Polytechnic when I joined). All through this past year serendipty has played a huge part in the things I have chosen to look at and pursue. So this fits right in there now.
The collaborative ability to tell a story will probably not make a stunning novel in the traditional sense. However we have plenty of novel writers to do that.
Mark asks how we can get this sort of thing happening in Second Life? In reality (virtual) we have this to some extent already. Hursley private island is a self organized mix of buildings, that has over time changed and developed a plot of its own. Many of the builds in SL are collaborative creations, some planned with a storyline or style, others evolving. I think the real metaverse collaborative beauty though is temporal. An event, a chance meeting, a concert. How we choose to record these and tell them as stories (as we have in this blog over the past year) and the language and tools required is where we can all make some progress. The many expressions of all things Second Life in machinima parallel the real world of film and video. The blogs are newspapers/novels. Snapzilla a photo archive.
Is there a place for a holographic history, ghosts in the machine to help us understand the significance of an event and share it?

Official public records now have metaverse evangelist in them

Yesterday we had to wander down to the Registrar in Fareham to officially put Sam on the system. I instantly blogged it as it was quite amusing over on my personal blog.. However in an SMS with Roo today where I told him the story he said “You have to put a picture of the birth certificate on eightbar”.
The conversation with the registrar was a lot simpler a few years ago with Sophie. Occupation: Consulting IT Specialist. This time with Sam, I proudly flashed my business card and showed that I was a Metaverse Evangelist. So it is now a matter of public record and family historians will have fun with that in a few years time.
When asked for the full names of Sam I nearly went mad and slipped Linden or Predlet in as he has been nicknamed Baby Linden and Predlet since his conception. However I am not a wealthy rock star (not that Linden is that unusual a name but Predlet may be a bit much) so we stuck to our agreed names.
The biggest hmmm should I ? moment occured when I was legally asked if I am known by any other names. Epredator and Epredator Potato may have been a bit too much for the poor registrar.
As it was she asked what the profession was, for the statistic people. We stuck with “online virtual worlds” rather than spark up a laptop and do a 40 minute demo. “That will keep them something to think about” she said.
So to the picture of the “worlds first metaverse evangelist on a birth certificate?” Well I can’t put that up.
a) It’s getting a bit too personal b)Its not here yet c) Its crown copyright. All three being very good reasons.

Mitch Kapor at Davos

It is very difficult to stay away from anything related to Second Life even on paternity leave. As the whole virtual world wave is such a part of my life now that news from SL and how it may change things is something I have to keep up with. I really enjoyed Adam Reuter’s interview with Mitch Kapor.
I had already blogged about it happening
A number of interesting perspectives and comment came out in this. Not least the need for distributed public servers. Also the discussion around the fact the the internet has many of the problems that are levelled at Second Life. The realistic attitude that we are very early into the entire virtual world set of concepts within the audience that we currently have. Listen/watch think about roadmaps, learning about transition and liquidity events, enjoy.