Let’s curate and preserve our digital/virtual heritage

Today I made a presentation about my MOOC-experiences for a Blended Learning Symposium. Turned out I only had ten minutes, this text is the elaborate version. Blended Learning is about learning in the physical, digital and social space. My question: what about the virtual? A university can think it is out of reach for competition by monsters such as MIT or Stanford because of the importance of face-to-face contact, especially for undergraduates. What if in five years time we have a super high quality immersive experience, sharing highly sophisticated virtual spaces (think Oculus Rift and a Second Life 3.0). At least we should keep such possibility in mind on a conceptual level: the virtual is a kind of deconstruction of “the physical” and “the digital”.

Also, I think these developments deserve a thorough historical analysis (not by me, but I really hope a real expert would write the history of MUDs and MOOs, MMORPGs, VW…). Virtual entities are vulnerable. They can disappear suddenly or on quick notice. I think we should curate and preserve these cultural artefacts as good as we can. If such projects exist already, please let me know!

Anyway, here is the text of the presentation (it repeats parts of what I posted previously but I just publish it anyway for the record and consistency and to keep a record):

I was fascinated early on (meaning the nineties and the first years of this century) by bulletin Board Systems (BBS), the early consumer networks such as Compuserve and by MUDs and MOOs – Multi-User Dungeons were text-based virtual environments where people could socialize and roleplay. The author Julian Dibbell had a huge success with his work on a very specific case: a rape in cyberspace, about sexual harassment in LambdaMOO (1993, 1998). However, these environments were also used for educational purposes.

The reason I was fascinated was because these environments imply the death of distance. They allow us to go beyond the borders of the nation-state. Finally, they were very cheap or even free.

This strange new world of global networks became even more fascinating as the graphical capabilities of the web increased. While the text-based adventures made a select bunch of geeks very happy, a new kind of online games would captivate millions of people. World Of Warcraft (2004, Blizzard Entertainment)  became a huge success as a Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game or MMORPG.

The next step for me was Second Life (2003, Linden Lab). This virtual world was a real hype in 2006-2008. Schools, colleges, governments, spooks, media organizations moved into this huge user-generated virtual world.

I discovered authors such as Howard Rheingold, the man who learned the world the words “virtual community”.

One of the major attractions for me in Second Life (during my more intensive stay there in 2007-2009) was the Metanomics show about all things virtual economies, media and culture. The host was Professor Robert Bloomfield (Cornell University). Among the guests were many scholars involved in virtual worlds studies. There was a live in-world audience and people could also watch via video. One could consider the show as an interactive radio-show, but with the extra bonus of sharing the same virtual place. This enabled informal discussions before and after the sessions.

In 2008 educators in Second Life told me about something new: a Massive Open Online Course. For virtual world people it was obvious that MOOC was somehow related to the Massive Multiplayer Online Games, so of course we were very interested.

My first MOOC, and I guess it was also the very first time a MOOC was facilitated, was CCK08 with the education researchers Stephen Downes and George Siemens. Back then we lived in full euphoria about the power of virtual communities and I participated with a group of Second Life residents. It was a bewildering experience and when it was all over, I had far more questions than answers. These days I must admit it was of the most enriching experiences of my life as a learner.

Downes makes a distinction between community-based connectivist (cMOOCs) courses and the so-called Stanford branch (xMOOCs, companies offering massive online courses such as Udacity, Coursera en edX).

While communities are about sharing, co-creating, mash-ups and remixing, institutions are about consuming. “Open” does not just mean put if for free on the internet. cMOOCs are about harmony through diversity, about unstated and multiple learning objectives versus concrete and stated objectives – or this is as least what Stephen Downes says. Anyway, it was also my experience: there was no pressure to conform to some stated objectives. Maybe this was different for a group of people who participated in the context of their academic career (there was a special track for them, if I remember correctly).

The learning in a cMOOC is also a distributed process. People share status updates and blog posts or make videos and other digital materials about the course. I used my blog MixedRealities and a meeting venue on Second Life, but of course the participants used a wild variety of other platforms. The cMOOC organizers typically try to harvest all these materials through aggregation engines and by letting the learners use tags. A list of relevant blog posts is published on a daily or even more frequent basis.

CCK08 had the benefit of a daily blog post on the official site, in which the facilitators tried to make sense of the proceedings. I remember many participants considered that post being very useful.
The learning on xMOOCs tends to be exclusively on one platform, or at least most activity is located on that platform. However, various courses on xMOOC-platforms such as Coursera try to incite learners to use other platforms as well. The clear-cut opposition made by Downes is in reality less obvious.

The cMOOC learning is also totally learner-centered. Learners are told to do as much or as little as they want, or to tweak, change or combine learning materials in order to make it fit their individual objectives. There is a very strong recommendation to connect to other people inside and outside the course.

This leads often to an avalanche of learning materials as the course can easily split up in a number of groups each organizing their own version of some of the main topics, or even adding new main topics. For instance, the group active in Second Life  was very interested in the educational use of virtual environments.

This information overload and the fact that not everybody is familiar with the specificities of the main digital platforms makes it necessary to teach and learn about digital literacies: blogging, the various social networks, social media dashboards and filters, organizing feeds, detecting bogus information… In my experience this learning process was already well-established for many ‘residents’ of virtual worlds. Those residents tend to be very active on forums, social networks, blogging and video platforms.

All of which means that cMOOCs are strongly embedded in web culture, and this is often explicitly part of the course content.  The recent web-based cMOOC ConnectedCourses (2014,  25 instructors) for instance starts out with a mini-course about blogging and linking up blogs.

Later on during the course, these are some of the questions asked:

How do we maintain trust and a sense of security in open networks? How do we build our networks? What is social capital? How do we enable at-large learners to engage in our courses? Where should we teach our classes?

And also:

What is this thing called the World Wide Web? What are the values and ambitions that gave rise to its design? If “the medium is the message,” what is the message of the web? What are some threshold concepts that help us to understand what is meant by “the web”? How is it reframing learning and education? What do we stand to lose or gain in pursuing the possibilities opened up by the web?

Open source practices and culture – as observed in open source programming and knowledge production (Wikipedia) are clearly very important here.

Another example of this is the course e-learning and digital cultures… (2014) on Coursera. Even though Coursera is often considered a typical xMOOC platform, this course is facilitated by a group of instructors of the University of Edinburgh and requires the learners to use blogs and a number of other digital platforms and techniques. The learners explore how digital cultures and learning cultures connect, and what this means for the ways in which we conduct education online. The course is not about how to ‘do’ e-learning; rather, it is an invitation to view online educational practices through a particular lens – that of popular and digital culture.

My sympathy for cMOOC-styled courses does not prevent me from participating in more classical courses – meaning more top-down and often taught by one professor. I enjoyed courses about gamification, Buddhism and modern psychology, computer sciences and Google and the Media. However, the connectivist background helps me to organize this learning in a more relaxed way, taking into account primarily my own objectives.

Or for instance, one can take an xMOOC course and adapt it. We participated with a group of newsroom colleagues of De Tijd in a course on the Canvas-platform about Data Journalism. We simply organized weekly lunchtime sessions to discuss the course and we published the proceedings on an internal wiki.

There are two less-massive experiences I’d like to mention which seem interesting in the context of blended learning.

The first experience was online learning in a small group and in a closed environment. 

One of the communities facilitated by Howard Rheingold is the Rheingold U learning community. The courses in which I participated – sometimes several times – included Toward a Literacy of Cooperation: Introduction to Cooperation Theory, Think-Know Tools and Introduction to Mind Amplifiers. In these courses we used asynchronous forums, blogs, wikis, mindmaps, social bookmarks, synchronous audio, video, chat, and Twitter.

The courses were neither free nor massive: about thirty people worked together and had intense interactions, culminating in a last session which was self-organized by the co-learners. I particularly liked how we collaboratively made mindmaps and how a group of people, dispersed over several continents, created thought-provoking maps in minutes.

The second non-massive learning was entirely project based. In yet another group facilitated and inspired by Howard Rheingold, I contributed to an online Peeragogy Handbook (Peeragogy as in how to learn peer-to-peer). We started from scratch, discussed without a clear leader what and how we should write about how to engage in peer-to-peer learning projects. This involved once again intensive use of social media such as wikis, blogs and video platforms.

So, what did I finally learn? What impact had all this on my life? 

What I learned was to put myself in the center as a learner and to have my own objectives, while reaching out to others who I assume have different objectives and perspectives.

Mostly my objective was to learn new concepts and ways of thinking in order to look at the world in a different way. For instance, I learned that computers and networks can amplify our brains. I discovered that people can learn a lot outside of the traditional institutions: fan communities learning Japanese in order to immerse themselves in the world of manga culture, people who learn scripting and 3D-building as ‘residents’ of virtual worlds, or youngsters learning everything about video as part of some YouTube subculture.

Often these informal ‘educations’ are far more efficient than the programs prepared and implemented by professional educators. It reminds me of Ivan Illich and his book Deschooling Society, but then again I must admit I went to college myself were I graduated in applied economics and philosophy. I still feel very grateful for that ‘institutional’ education.

I also learned what the value could be of social networks and virtual communities, how to find sources and friends online and how to collaborate. These skills and knowledge are becoming more common these days, which is a good thing, but because of my immersion in online learning I was ahead of the curve. It helped me to contribute to the innovation of our newspaper. Even though I’m far from being a digital native, I feel I can communicate fairly easy with those who are and even help them to sharpen their digital literacies. Needless to say, online learning goes beyond advantages on a professional level – it made my life far richer.

It is our responsibility to enhance online learning, for make it better, to reach far more people in our own country and worldwide. It’s not only a responsibility of the universities, also media and the people formerly known as the audience – all of us – have to contribute. It’s the only way for people to flourish in an increasingly complex and interdependent world, and the only way to find solutions for the problems of that world.



Toward a Metaverse Future Society!

AvaCon announces:

AvaCon has exciting things planned for 2013!

We are working on new initiatives to connect and support the communities and people involved in co-creating and using the metaverse, including new events, a new membership-led community organization (coming soon!), and our latest call for proposals for the recently launched Metaverse Cultural Series.

Metaverse Cultural Series 2013

The Metaverse Cultural Series 2013 is a set of events featuring performances and lectures that highlight unique aspects of metaverse culture. The events will take place in multiple virtual world spaces and the series will showcase innovative artists, thinkers, performers, and academics whose work is on the forefront of exploring what it means to work, play, and live in the emerging metaverse.

If you are interested in performing or speaking in the Metaverse Cultural Series 2013, or hosting an event in your virtual space, we encourage you to submit your proposal at: http://avacon.org/blog/events/metaverse-cultural-series/

Hosts and performers will receive a $50 USD stipend for their participation in the program!

Metaverse Future Society – Coming Soon!

There are many places on the web where communities of interest gather around a particular technology or virtual world platform, but there are few places where those communities can come together to discuss the broader metaverse concept, where it converges with gaming and the web, and where we want it to go.

We envision a new kind of membership-driven organization where those passionate about the metaverse can help shape its future. Through issue advocacy, collaborative working groups, technical standards, and policy development, we can tackle the challenges of the fledgling metaverse today while also growing the career opportunities and professional skills of those working to create the platforms, content, and experiences for an exciting metaverse of tomorrow.

Stay tuned for more information about the Metaverse Future Society and how you can get involved!
Volunteer Opportunities & Open Staff Positions

AvaCon has exciting plans for the new year, and we’re on the lookout for people passionate about the metaverse and virtual worlds to help us showcase all of the terrific work being done in Second Life, Opensim, Unity3D, Open Wonderland, CloudParty, Utherverse and other metaverse-y platforms and technologies. We especially need volunteers with great organizing skills who love to meet and work with people in multiple worlds.

If this sounds like you, then join our organization today and help us help the people making the metaverse a reality! See our open positions and volunteer opportunities at: http://avacon.org/blog/positions/

Donations to AvaCon Now Tax Deductible

We are very pleased that AvaCon received formal 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status from the IRS as a public charity organization, so donations and sponsorships for AvaCon events and activities are now tax deductible!

It’s never too early to start planning for your next year’s taxes, so please consider giving a donation to support AvaCon’s mission as we work towards the growth and development of the metaverse, virtual worlds, augmented reality, and 3D immersive and virtual spaces.

Donate today at: http://avacon.org/blog/donate/

Best Wishes for a Happy New Year!

We want to personally wish you a very happy and prosperous New Year and we look forward to supporting, sharing and helping shape the future of the metaverse with you as we start an exciting 2013.


Joyce Bettencourt, President
Chris Collins, Vice President
Kathey Fatica, Treasurer

Interesting. It’s not the first time efforts are being launched for this kind of metaverse-wide approach. I remember roadbooks being feverishly discussed, and of course we have MetaMeets and the folks around the Journal of Virtual Worlds Research. I think it’s neither too late nor too soon for this latest initiatieve – knowing some of the people involved, I’m sure new and passionating ideas will emerge and lead to new and unexpected projects.

A virtual worlds community going beyond virtual worlds?

Fleep Tuque, a major virtual worlds community expert, said on her Google+ page that AvaCon, the organizers of the Second Life Community Convention (SLCC) plans to include the open-source version of Second Life, OpenSim, and other platforms, in the upcoming gatherings (which will get another name). On the AvaCon website it seems they’re looking for volunteers.

In a famous blogpost Tuque previously explained that people who care about the future of the Metaverse need to move beyond Second Life. There was no edition 2012 of the SLCC as there was disagreement between Linden Lab, the company behind Second Life, and AvaCon.

All of which is very interesting as the community conventions were highly creative gatherings, with keynotes from visionaries such as Philip Rosedale and Ray Kurzweil. Most of all, these conventions inspired people who are actually building new layers on top of our reality and who are part of a digital culture avant-garde.

This is how AvaCon defines its mission:

Our mission is to promote the growth, enhancement, and development of the metaverse, virtual worlds, augmented reality, and 3D immersive and virtual spaces. We hold conventions and meetings to promote educational and scientific inquiry into these spaces, and to support organized fan activities, including performances, lectures, art, music, machinima, and much more. Our primary goal is to connect and support the diverse communities and practitioners involved in co-creating and using virtual worlds, and to educate the public and our constituents about the emerging ecosystem of technologies broadly known as the metaverse.

But what is the Metaverse exactly? This is what Wikipedia says:

The Metaverse is our collective online shared space, created by the convergence of virtually enhanced physical reality and physically persistent virtual space, including the sum of all virtual worlds, augmented reality, and the internet. The word metaverse is a portmanteau of the prefix “meta” (meaning “beyond”) and “universe” and is typically used to describe the concept of a future iteration of the internet, made up of persistent, shared, 3D virtual spaces linked into a perceived virtual universe.

So we talk here about the sum of all virtual worlds but also about augmented reality and even ‘the internet’, which seems to be quite a broad definition. Maybe that’s normal as the mobile revolution, ubiquitous computing, the internet of things are integrating ‘the internet’ with the ‘physical space’.

I do hope AvaCon will embrace this broad definition. (Some) people in virtual worlds not only want to export their creations into other virtual places, they also want to turn bits into atoms through 3D-printing (read about Second Life artisan Maxi Gossamer in the New World Notes).

It also makes sense to go beyond virtual worlds (which does not mean abandoning them) as we know them and not just beyond Second Life. In essence these virtual worlds create the illusion of 3D on a flat screen. But what about this? Thesis Prize Winner at the Harvard Graduate School of Design 2011 Greg Tran:

Greg believes that ”People assume we have digital 3D already but this is a fallacy. When you rotate your model on ascreen or watch a Pixar animation is actually just a digital 2d REPRESENTATION of material 3d.What people are calling 3DTV and 3D movies are just a form of shallow depth or Bas Relief, not true digital 3D. The critical/operative imperative of the digital 3D is that there is a subject moving through space. The digital 3D is in its beginning stages, but will evolve in a similar way to the digital 2D. The digital 2D began as a specialized, singular medium which was largely used for documentation purposes, but has evolved towards personalization, interactivity, fluency and distribution.”

Or what about telepresence through iPads mounted on light structures? Or about avatars combined with robotics?

https://youtube.com/watch?v=ARW9n6wy23g?version=3&hl=en_US”>< One of the lessons of the latest MetaMeets conference was that it’s very worthwhile to gather people who are interested in augmented reality, mobile applications, Kinect and Kinect-style sensors, and virtual worlds (plural). I hope AvaCon will succeed in doing this on an even bigger scale and that they will embed their virtual worlds focus into a larger vision.

Read also: The Metaverse is Dead (and the discussion following the post).

Hat tip to Daniel Voyager for posting about Fleep Tuque on Google+ (did I mention I’m kind of addicted to Google+?)

Hack your games!

Mozilla has a challenge for you: Show what’s possible using the web as an open gaming platform for the world. From the Mozilla-blog:

Imagine the Web as an open gaming platform for the world. Where game players seamlessly become game creators. Where your favorite games work on any device, anytime, anywhere. And where your own personal web-based creations earn you internet fame, fortune and the adulation of gamers around the world.

Sound like fun? Game on.

The Game On Competition wants YOU
Today, we’re proud to invite game designers, developers and enthusiasts everywhere to take part in this year’s Game On competition. We’re looking for your ideas and playable protoypes for gaming experiences that push the limits of what open Web technologies can do.

All are welcome to submit their entries now at gameon.mozilla.org. The deadline is Feb 24, 2013.

You can submit games in one of three categories: Hackable Games, Multi-Device Games and Web-Only Games. Hackable games? Have a look:

The guys at Mozilla explain:

Imagine games you could hack and remix to make even better — with open Web building blocks like HTML, CSS and Javascript serving as the world’s ultimate “level editor.” (Want to replace that zombie’s face with a picture of your dog? Go right ahead.)

“What if we looked at games as open, creative systems that, like the Web itself, are hackable by design?” says Mozilla’s Chloe Varelidi.

“Games are traditionally at the forefront of tech, continually pushing the envelope of what’s possible,” she says. “Mozilla is inviting you to re-imagine the Web as the console, and use the power of the browser to revolutionize the way we make and play games.”

More about open web technologies:

This includes but is not limited to HTML, CSS, JavaScript, WebGL and WebRTC, as well as server-side code like PHP, Python, Ruby or Java. Please go ahead and use freely available libraries and modules — there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. Please list all the libraries and stock resources you use on your team’s profile page to provide fair attribution.

We also encourage you to make use of third-party web services and their APIs (like Twitter, Flickr, Google Maps, etc). We love mashups and would love to see what you can do with these kinds of web services in the context of a game. Again, please be sure to list any of these services you use on your game entry page.

WebGL, a JavaScript API for rendering interactive 3D graphics and 2D graphics within any compatible web browser without the use of plug-ins, was also a popular subject at the recent MetaMeets gathering in the Netherlands. It’s an important building block for a browser based virtual world such as Cloud Party (which just has upgraded its Marketplace in a significant way – but I still wait anxiously for a mobile version).

What does the success of Minecraft mean?

‘Could Minecraft be the next great engineering school?’ Scott Smith asks at Quartz.

He explains that Minecraft can be considered as a particularly interesting MOOC – and an example of peer2peer learning.

Minecraft has become a kind of anarchic massive open online course (MOOC) all on its own, without developing courseware or costly new program licenses. Part of the proliferation is due to user-created video, particularly on YouTube, where a quick search yields 7.5 million mentions. Video podcasts, recordings of building in progress and most importantly, walkthroughs, or videos of players demonstrating how to master levels or particular construction techniques, keep the global Minecraft horde digging and trying to impress or teach one another, forming a key part of the informal player-to-player education that makes the game a fascinating phenomenon to observe.

Let’s have a look at this game and engineering:

Minecraft is spectacularly popular, even though it’s an open or ‘sandbox’-game. Wagner James Au at the New World Notes reported a while ago that the game is more popular than Call of Duty on Xbox Live – as it became the most popular game.

Which contrasts with my conviction that these open ended, sandbox-like games only cater for a niche audience. Is Minecraft a unique success story or is there a wider trend in favor of these open games? Linden Lab is launching Patterns which seems to be heavily inspired by Minecraft, so they seem to believe in the wider trend.

Another question is why Second Life – as another open environment – seems to stagnate if such a trend exists. Could it be that sophisticated graphics are of lesser importance?

Read also my post about Minecraft in Layar and Minecraft Reality.

Changing the world while exiting the trough of disillusionment

I’m recovering from the second MetaMeets day, but here comes my report about the second part of this two-day conference in the beautiful ‘s Hertogenbosch (the Netherlands).

This day was hands-on: we had a workshop during which we learned to use sculptris to make a model, meshlab to clean it up, and then have it 3dprinted at fablab. My own creation was less than stellar (I even had no computer mouse so my equipment was to blame of course, not me!) but anyway, it was great fun. Chris Kautz facilitated the workshop, he has a great website packed with tutorials and resources: art-werx.com. On YouTube he has a series as crocodileEddie.

Much of the conference was about escaping from the virtual or digital world into the real world via augmented reality or 3D-printing, but we also discussed how to get the physical into the virtual, using Microsoft’s motion sensing input device Kinect.

The chair organizer of MetaMeets Jolanda Mastenbroek was thrilled to try out the Kinect – by slowly moving her body, she brought avatars in Second Life to life – they were moving in sync with her movements in the physical world. This could also work for the open source-version of Second Life, OpenSim.

For the techies, please consult this page about Kinect and Second Life. It’s an ongoing project, but imagine the possibilities for machinima, gaming and inevitably adult entertainment (always an indication whether or not a technology will succeed).

In my presentation I asked for business models. Can people earn a living in this sector of virtual worlds, augmented reality and mixed realities? Someone who combines with great success his physical artwork with virtual stuff is the French artist Patrick Moya. We watched this video about his work:

A very different style is this beautiful impression of the Second Life art installations by Artistide Despres, filmed and edited by Marx Catteneo (aka Marc Cuppens) http://www.marccuppens.nl
handheld machinima 2012:

Cuppens also showed this video about The Cube Project LEA 2012 Second Life.

The Cube Project August 2012, “Over 25 virtual artists have joined the ranks of The Cube Project, curated by Bryn Oh, to create a 20-sim exhibit in just 5 days. What’s the theme? Artists can only use two distinct virtual objects: a black cube, and a white cube.”

Bryn Oh: “We are turning away for a moment from the wonderful range of mesh or photoshopping beautiful textures to work instead on simple minimal compositions in black and white, over 20 regions. The overall idea is to create a massive harmonious environment rather than follow the standard exhibition practice of each artist having a clearly defined separate space to exhibit.”

The Cube Project is a collaborative artwork consisting of virtual artists Bryn Oh, Cajska Carlsson, Charlotte Bartlett, Dancoyote Antonelli, Giovanna Cerise, Haveit Neox, Kicca Igaly, L1Aura Loire, London Junkers, Maya Paris, Misprint Thursday, Nessuno Myoo, Oberon Onmura, PatriciaAnne Daviau, Pol Jarvinen, Rag Randt, Rowan Derryth, Sea Mizin, Secret Rage, Solkide Auer, Remington Aries, Solo Mornington, Tony Resident, Werner Kurosawa and Xineohp Guisse.

A video impression by Marx Catteneo – handheld machinima august 2012
Music by the Artist: Logical Confusion Track: Darklight Album: Logical 3
Downloaded from tribeofnoise.com

Virtual worlds are not dead, they just smell funny, Flufee said at the opening of the conference (see previous post). It’s a quote from Frank Zappa who said Jazz isn’t dead. It just smells funny. The same applies for virtual worlds. They are somewhere on the agonizing slow exit of the trough of disillusionment in the Gartner cycle of hype, but they allow us to change the real world as we put layers of digital information on the physical reality. They also allow us to change the real world as they enable artists to create new art.

Read also the first part of the MetaMeets report. I also updated my wiki mindmap about this conference.

‘Virtual worlds are not dead, they only smell funny’

Allow Flufee McFluff to introduce this post about the first day of the MetaMeets conference:

You can find the mindmap on which my own presentation (slideshow) was based in the previous post. I update the mindmap in function of what I learn during this two day-conference.
Some highlights of the conference:

The artist Sander Veenhof showed us the beauty and the subversive power of augmented reality. For instance by organizing an exhibition at the MoMa without any official approval:

Veenhof often uses Layar, which is a mobile browser for augmented reality. However, these days Layar seems to focus more on activating print media with interactive experiences – which may be more interesting business-wise, but seems less revolutionary. So it’s not surprising Veenhof these days is rather fond of junaio, which boasts being ‘the most advances augmented reality browser.’

– CJ Davies and John McCaffery presented the Project Open Virtual Worlds at the University of St Andrews. CJ is currently developing a modified Second Life viewer for a tablet computer that allows avatar movement & camera control to reflect the tablet’s real world position & orientation using a combination of accelerometer, magnetometer & GPS data. I think it’s pretty exciting to combine avatars and real world in this way.

– Talking about combining the virtual and ‘the real’, Bart Veldhuizen talked about shapeways.com which is specialized in 3D-printing in various materials – so not only plastics but also metal, nylon or silver. Shapeways boasts a community of about 150,000 members. So would it be interesting for those community members to collaborate in 3D environments? That’s not self-evident as the ideal designs for 3D-printing often diverge from what is ideal in a virtual world such as Second Life. Also, the community members may also be competitors and not so keen on collaborating. There is discussion about all this, as other designers often do want to collaborate and work in ‘virtual guilds’ and virtual worlds could be interesting places for discussions, brainstorming and early prototyping.

– So, to refer to Flufee, are virtual worlds dead, now that the talk is so much about 3D-printing and augmented reality? In the discussions about virtual worlds Maria Korolov (Hypergrid Business) gave expert advice about OpenSim, which seems a good solution for education, especially for younger kids. This was also demonstrated by Nick Zwart, an award-winning pioneer in the educational use of virtual worlds (language education) who uses OpenSim.

MetaMeets! Virtuality Meets Reality

Tomorrow I’ll participate in the MetaMeets gathering in ‘s-Hertogenbosch,The Netherlands. What we’l do and talk about:

MetaMeets is a seminar/meeting about virtual worlds, augmented reality and 3D internet, this year’s topic will be The Art of Creation : Virtuality meets Reality.

Virtual worlds and 3D internet have been developing continuously. Mobile and browser based worlds have been created. Mesh format uploads have provided huge progress in content creation through open source programs like Blender and Google Sketchup.
Machinima creation has grown and improved with special interfaces and innovations in visual possibilities, making films shot in virtual worlds a professional tool for presentation to a mainstream audience.

MetaMeets has chosen this year to shine a light on this versatile digital canvas by taking its participants interactively into the Art of Creation. The programme will begin with a few lectures on the current state of virtual worlds and their new developments. Subsequently, we will have workshops exploring methods of accomplishing each of the key steps in 3D creation. The workshops will range from creating a virtual world on your own server, creating 3D content, creating (motion) pictures of it, and even printing 3D objects as real world 3D models.

We also will have an interactive roundtable discussion based on the movie The Singularity is Near that is released this summer for download and availible on dvd.

This is a mindmap I prepared. My subject is about the virtual which escapes into the real. Or how maybe Second Life is catering for a niche group of people, but the ethos of virtual worlds is spreading fast in what we once called the ‘real world’.

Create your own mind maps at MindMeister

Apps on top of the real world

This seems to be pretty cool, but as you’ll see in the ‘read more’ section, it’s much more than just ‘cool’:

https://youtube.com/watch?v=2pOpcR7uf5U?version=3&hl=en_US”>< And here is how it works: https://youtube.com/watch?v=lmKYVUemS_M?version=3&hl=en_US">< It's build by Stockholm-based 13thlab.com and it’s an app available on iOS.

Using advanced computer vision, Minecraft Reality maps and tracks the world around you using the camera, and allows you to place Minecraft worlds in reality, and even save them in a specific location for others to look at.

Minecraft Reality is built on our PointCloud SDK. For more information, and examples of what people are placing, visit http://minecraftreality.com.

Just like the Google ARG Ingress, this is yet another example of the crumbling walls between the digital world and the world formerly known as the real world.

The guys of 13thLab claim: “We think the camera will replace the GPS as the most important sensor to interpret and make sense of the world around you.”

Hat tip for Bruce Sterling on Beyond the Beyond for posting about this.

Read also:
– If the world were your platform, what apps would you build, by Janko Roettgers at GigaOM. He asks the fascinating question: “If your apps aren’t just running on a phone or a tablet anymore, but essentially on top of the real world — what kind of apps do you build?”
– The World Is Not Enough: Google and the Future of Augmented Reality by Alexis C. Madrigal at theAtlantic.
-Minecraft creations meet the real world through augmented reality iOS app by David Meyer on GigaOM.

Do we get more happiness from virtual worlds than from real good news?

An academic study co-authored last year by leading virtual world academic Edward Castronova suggests that people get more happiness from being in Second Life than they do from good news in their real life. 

Wagner James Au on New World Notes says this is probably also true for other virtual environments, not only for Second Life. He also points to the bigger question of the shifting boundaries between virtual and real. 

Social media help extend immersive experiences to so-called real world networks. Virtual money is convertible in real money, and solidarity actions for real world issues can start out in virtual environments. 

Manuel Castells explains we live in a cultural of virtual reality – I think the deconstruction of the boundaries between real and virtual is becoming fairly obvious. Virtual is not some exclusive feature of 3D environments, and reality is ever more being augmented and digitally annotated.
via Diigo http://nwn.blogs.com/nwn/2012/10/second-life-and-the-matrix.html