Second Life: Beyond the Hype

The hype is over. Whereas only a year ago, Second Life was everywhere in the mainstream media, the mad rush seems over. Then, every major organization seemed to try to establish a presence “in world”, and the virtual sky seemed the limit. Now, the number of active users seems to have stabilized, and many initially over-enthusiasts are disappointed, because their unrealistic expectations have not been met.

However, the dot com bust around the turn of the century did not kill the development of worthwhile applications of the Internet, on the contrary. Similarly, the current stage in the evolution of Second Life from mere vision to serious business, educational, and many other applications is a natural one. Consolidation and reflection on where to go from here is healthy and necessary. Issues to be worked on include tool systems and (workflow) process models.

For a nice glimpse into already existing “useful” applications of Second Life, check out Wagner James Au’s list in his “Second Life: Hype vs. Anti-Hype vs. Anti-Anti Hype” post:

He’d see applications in, for example, retail shopping (as here), online gaming and entertainment (as here and here), data visualization (as here), national security (as here), international relations (as here), non-profit fundraising (as here), architecture (as here), scientific simulation (as here), education (as here and here), and therapy (as here); just ten industries worth billions of dollars, which could potentially impact hundreds of millions of Internet users, quickly culled from my bookmark cache– and that’s not even mentioning the as-yet-unproven applications which have already gained traction, like in-world celebrity appearances (as here), political activism (as here and here), and marketing/brand promotion (as here.)

One particularly interesting use I have experienced myself is as a venue for cyberconferencing.

Virtual Teams and Collaborative Environments – book

CALL FOR CHAPTERS
Proposals Submission Deadline: 3/31/2008
Full Chapters Due: 7/31/2008
Virtual Teams and Collaborative Environments:
Knowledge-Driven Creativity

A book edited by A book edited by Aggelos Liapis, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussels, Belgium
Julian Malins, The Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, Scotland UK
Stijn Christiaens, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussels, Belgium
Pieter De Leenheer, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussels, Belgium

http://www.igi-pub.com/requests/details.asp?ID=371

OBJECTIVES
One of the principal objectives of this new book is to suggest improved tools and methodologies for CSCW which can be applied in a variety of disciplines and professional contexts. The book will explore the nature of creativity and how this relates to CSCW. In particular this book will identify the factors that limit creativity in virtual teams when using online collaborative environments.

The overall objectives of the book are as follows:

  • To develop a clear understanding of the use of ontologies as an approach to developing computer supported collaborative working systems within the areas of creativity and design.
  • To identify creative approaches for supporting ontology engineering.
  • To develop the possible uses for collaborative environments that can be used to assist creative communities.
  • To provide insights that support virtual teams, communities and associated ontologies.
  • To examine the future developments in CSCW, focusing on collaborative environments.
  • To demonstrate the advantages of using collaborative environments in order to increase productivity.

Back to the basics

Since yesterday, I am the happy owner of an Asus EEE laptop. No, it’s not yet another machine with more cycles, megabytes, and features. Rather, the philosophy is “less is more”. EEE stands for “Easy to learn, Easy to work, Easy to play”, and as far as I am concerned, the machine fully lives up to this promise.

My version is the 4G-Surf: only a 7″ display, 512 Mb RAM, and 4 Gb solid state disk. The price? Less than 350 euros for all this goodness! There is a huge backorder for the newest models (4 Gb SSD with webcam, 8 Gb SSD), but the 4G-Surf is already definitely good enough for your daily basic mobile needs. See also my post on GrowingPains for some reflections on the impact of this development.

Some useful links:

5th Prato Community Informatics & Development Informatics Conference 2008

5th Prato Community Informatics & Development Informatics Conference 2008: ICTs for Social Inclusion: What is the Reality?

27 OCTOBER-30 OCTOBER 2008, MONASH CENTRE, PRATO ITALY.

FIRST CALL FOR PAPERS
We are seeking abstracts and proposals from academics, practitioners and PhD students for a conference and workshop event at the Monash University Centre, Prato, Italy (near Florence). The Conference will also include a development informatics stream under the aegis of the International Development Informatics Association as part of its second conference meeting.

Click here for more information.

Virtual worlds are not enough

I had an interesting conversation yesterday with Philippe Kerremans, who through his Louis Platini company is implementing Second Life business solutions. We agreed that building virtual worlds in, for example, Second Life is not enough. Additional necessary conditions are an accompanying website in “ordinary cyberspace” and process models that can be used to ensure that available functionalities are actually being used by community members in all their various roles.

IADIS International Conference Web Based Communities 2008

IADIS INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE WEB BASED COMMUNITIES 2008

Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 24 to 26 July 2008

(http://www.webcommunities-conf.org/)

part of the IADIS Multi Conference on Computer Science and Information Systems

(MCCSIS 2008)

Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 22 to 27 July 2008

(http://www.mccsis.org)

* Conference background and goals

The mission of this conference is to publish and integrate scientific results and act catalytically to the fast developing culture of web communities. The conference invites original papers, review papers, technical reports and case studies on WWW in particular the emerging role of so-called WWW-Based Communities.

Ontology Management book

M. Hepp, P. De Leenheer, A. de Moor, Y. Sure, eds. (2008). Ontology Management: Semantic Web, Semantic Web Services, and Business Applications, Semantic Web and Beyond: Computing for Human Experience series, Springer Verlag, Berlin, ISBN 978-0-387-69899-1

has just been published. It contains a set of state-of-the-art chapters of ontology management. An interesting observation is that concepts like evolution and communities are starting to be seen as core elements of successful ontology management. The very formal and informal semantic worlds are finally starting to meet.

Besides having been a co-editor, I have also been a co-author of one of the book chapters:

S. Christiaens, P. De Leenheer, A. de Moor, and R. Meersman (2008). Ontologising Competencies in an Interorganisational Setting. In M. Hepp, P. De Leenheer, A. de Moor, and Y. Sure (eds.), Ontology Management: Semantic Web, Semantic Web Services, and Business Applications, Springer, Berlin, pp.265-288. ISBN 978-0-387-69899-1.

It contains a description of the DOGMA-MESS (Meaning Evolution Support System) I worked on while at STARLab, and is all about the interaction between formal semantics and the living communities of human beings involved in their definition and use. Good stuff 🙂