Hursley Bloggers Meetup

We had a bit of a Hursley bloggers meetup today. There’s now quite a few UK based IBMers blogging inside and outside the firewall. We’re lucky to have a good internal blogging setup and most of the people who now write publicly got to grips with the whole idea in the relative safe waters of the IBM intranet. One of the things we’ve all found from writing internally is that we’ve made a lot of new contacts that we wouldn’t otherwise have made. Apart from that, we talked about Singapore (which I think I should get Hannah to write about here), Blogher, Brian’s growing team and the excessive noise made by the Hursley Cha Bar drink making machines.

More reaction to the baseball in secondlife from Cnet

Cnet has a post saying that were suprised at the extent of the positive reaction they got to the homerun derby in Second Life.
I did get taking to someone from at the home run derby event in the foyer. The reason was simply we had the same game surname. Potato being one of the less common Second Life choices.
This is another example of a strange trigger for interaction. So we have choice of surname ‘cousins’ we obviously have a whole set of mandelbrots in eightbar, location of virtual land next to other influential land being more important than a catchy URL, newbie greeting and helping because other people helped me when I arrived and being at the same ‘webpage’/3d build at the same time, to simply liking someones work enough to tell them. All very intersting extra things that drive interaction in the metaverse.
Anyway hi to Justin Potato from Epredator Potato.

Baby Linden Second Life in Second Life

After a late night at the SL baseball last night, I had to excuse myself early from the event. I announced to all in earshot that I had to be awake for my RL Wife’s scan on our new baby. This scan is the 13 weeks one. I also mentioned, as people do, that we have a nickname for the baby. Last time it was Herbert/Herbertina. This time I have started calling the baby Linden.
My Regina Spektor cd had arrived that morning too so things were all getting very circular.
I could not resist putting little Linden into Second Life, the baby being our second.
Now this is getting confusing!
I dont think this causes the same problems as Scoble letting his son use second life

Live at MLB second life game

I am currently having a late night session sitting here in a baseball stadium with quite a crowd. There are all sort here Lindens (including Phillip). Cory Edo and Satchmo Prototype and the rest of the Electric Sheep Company. The ubiquitous Spin Martin is in the same section as I am. FlipperPa Peregrine, who happened to be around in London during Wimbledon. Busy at work on the Second Life Community Convention
A few people from, including a virtual cousin in Justin Potato (Me being epredator potato) are also present.
Algernon Spackler even managed to get in late.
We all gathered in the shop at the start, looking at the great merchandise. Getting our free foam hands to wave.
So far my L$1000 is well spent. As with all these events its the crowd that make it. Avatar wise we were all fairly well sorted. I dropped my usual predator look to help with any lag.
I am not sure I managed to follow the event, thats just a cultural thing.
They had cute little big headed representation of the players, a live updating scoreboard, three screen to watch the live stream and a well crafted live event. It was low lag, all very entertaining, good conversation, a sense of spirit. Everything a live event should be. As lindens improve the platform you can see how the events will easily get more and more crowded.

More pictures here

Trademarks, and presence in the metaverse

Over at Terranova there is a good article on trademarks in a virtual world. This is something that I have a keen interest in. in particular given the work we have been looking at for Wimbledon. Doing a proof of concept, but as an individual who hapens to work at IBM, partnering with the AELTC at Wimbledon, I was very aware of the risks to the brand values of including trademarks and player likenesses in a Second Life Demo.
Equally in a metaverse environment such as second life, it is not just the fact the logo placement is there, its the fact other people can see you interact with that placement through your avatar. People can sit on things, dance on things etc.
Trademarks guardians therefore have much more to worry about than just ‘being’, they have to worry about people ‘doing’ things with them.

Baseball Sneek peek

Hank Hoodoo from the electric sheep company sent me an IM that I got this morning in Second Life, saying the baseball stadium for tonights HomeRun Derby 2006 was open for a look around. I had wrriten about this before but at the time I could only look it it from afar.
So I popped along and took a tour. All this is linked to the work on Wimbledon Tennis this year that I have been demonstrating to customers and fellow IBMers, on the potential of Second Life and general metaverse technology in several areas. One key are is the ability to represent a brand and an experience in a much more immersive and sociable way. Event are attended by othre people, interested people. The more events I attend the more I learn how they can be run and the benefits and risks that they bring. This is aside from the other trends around avatar based marketing, social computing and education.
The baseball stadium has been built by people who specialize in this sort of building. Designers and programmers working together. Some people focus on structure others on textures, others on code.
On approach this is very impressive. It has a very authentic feel as a ‘real’ place

The foyer is a shop for branded goods, some team medallions, free foam hands and some nice baseball caps, as you would expect

The approach is suitably stadium like

The internal of the stadium is a baseball diamond representation. I am assuming this will allow avat or object positioning to indicate which base a player is on.
The event will be video cast on the giant screen. There is also a scoreboard on the side of the screen. I am not sure if this will be scripted or manually changed. I am assuming there is some sort of data feed from the event.

The seating areas look a little sparse, but this is due to ensuring that there is a low lag environment. As Second Life scales up these seat numbers will increase.
One approach to event scaling is simply to clone the build on multiple servers, this could even be done automatically as sims filled up. It certainly the on demand approach we would take if we had control over our own servers for such events.

I am looking forward to attending the event. I am not a huge baseball fan, but I appreciate it enough, and want to see how it goes with my metahporical rather than virtual research hat on.
Good luck to the team doing it.

Thoughts on Professions

I’ve been spending most of the weekend writing my professions case. Professions cases are used to qualify for certain levels of accreditation within the Professions structure. It is, essentially, an internal IBM qualification. There are different Professions streams for different job types (Project Management, Architects, Software Engineers etc.) and I am in the IT Specialist one, which is probably the biggest one and covers the widest range of people, ideal for generalists like me. As well as a qualification it also acts as a large community, the UK has yearly get togethers for the different streams of professions. While I’m normally anti any kind of qualification/title/status, I do admit to having a level of base respect for anyone with a qualification in the various professions disciplines (ok maybe not the project managers 😛 ), it is done by peer review after all.

The main incentive for people to gain their qualification is that many areas of IBM have it as a prerequisite for promotion. Not all of IBM follow this, which is a problem, but a large enough part do to make it seem fair. People who don’t actually do their cases probably underestimate what a large piece of work it is. I’ve spent two solid weekends on it so far and it’s probably half finished. Your case is really a set of evidence to show that you have been working at a level that is necessary for the status you’re applying for. I’m writing my Senior case, which is the prerequisite (in my area) for becoming a band 8 IBMer (bands are a whole other thing!).

Anyway, here’re some thoughts I had while writing my case:

  • There’s nothing more boring in the world than writing about yourself.
  • As much as you may hate corporate buzzwords, it’s hard not to include them.
  • Personally, there’s too much structure enforced in the case. Some people prefer this, but I’d prefer a blank piece of paper where I could just prove that I reach the required level by writing (or probably drawing) anything I want.
  • Lots of the things I’m most proud of being involved in at IBM are actually the hardest to fit in to the structure.
  • I’m much better at knowing what other people are good at, than what I’m good at.
  • I think blogs could be made better use of in cases, lots of people write more detail about what they’re doing in their blogs, so some easy way of incorporating that in would make sense.
  • I shouldn’t put off writing more of my case by blogging about it instead.

What sort of Geek are you?

Eric Rice has some good anecdotal evidence on how people seem to approach things like Second Life.I have noticed that there are varying sets of people, even in a technical environment such as I we work in that sometimes find Second Life building hard. There are also people that a retiscent to leave things lying around. There does seem to be a general trend that non techies have no preconceptions about how things should work, objects are objects. They see the build tools, build a box, wear it on their head accidentally and then move on to do some shopping. The problem for an established techie is that in order to learn building you tend to have to do that in public. The same as how you have to learn to blog with an audience. Scripting is a different matter, nearly, that’s more traditional. You can write code hidden away in objects, though the outputs of the code tend to be shouting status messages to all an sundry. People will come up and ask, “what ya doin?”. Not something that normally happens when deep in code.
So I think it may be the introvert versus the extrovert factors that change the initial learning experience, though we have new extroverts in the blogging world that may only be digital extroverts.
As more and more non techies, non geek people seem to be populating the metaverse we are getting a some new digital personas, and presumably new ways to work out who is who. An interesting social trend.

Baseball and Wimbledon in SecondLife

Over at Electric sheep they are announcing major league baseball as an event This of particular interest given my current Wimbledon tennis proof of concept that we have been demoing the past two weeks here at Wimbledon along side the official championships site
This has been getting some very good reactions from my collegues and my customers, and it feels like we are riding the start of a very large wave.