The Rise of Letting Go

I recently did a presentation at the very excellent DigitalNow conference, in Orlando. It’s a conference for leaders of professional associations, who have a vested interest in virtual community building and keeping their constituents engaged, even in the splintered information-saturated “Web 2.0” world.

I combined a couple of previous years’ IASummit presentations and added a few new things to try and create an interesting picture that tries to re-frame the situation in several ways, hopefully adding some clarity and helping spark some new ideas for them.

Here’s a pdf of the deck: The Rise of Letting Go: How the Net Generation can teach us to lose control and like it. (Warning: it’s about a 20MB file!)

Second Life of Warcraft

SnoopyBrown Zamboni at Electric Sheep Company has started a geek-roots initiative to bridge the somewhat divergent virtual world experiences at World of Warcraft and Second Life.

Second Life of Warcraft Wiki Is Up

Check it out, lend your thoughts, and if you’re excited please get involved! This can be as big as we all make it. Looking for more WoW guilds and Second Life builders to throw in their hats.

Real Worlds & Game Rules

This sounds right up my alley … I’m fascinated with how various things in ‘real’ life behave with game-like logic and rules.

Half-Real: Video Games between Real Rules and Fictional Worlds

Half-Real is an attempt at creating a basic theory of video games: In the book I discuss what video games are and how they relate to non-digital games, how players learn to use a game, how players imagine the world of a game, and why video games are fun.

Second Life and the Future of Prototyping

I ran across a post by Nat Torkington on the excellent O’Reilly Radar blog echoing (more articulately) some of what I was trying to say in the podcast I posted about earlier today.

O’Reilly Radar > Second Life and the Future of Prototyping

The biggest appeal of Second Life from a creator’s point of view has been generous 3D building tools and the embedded event driven scripting language to control and manipulate avatars and objects. Cory is now adding the ultimate feature to the toolbox — Firefox embedded in Second Life.
Combine this with the aforementioned scripting language and you have a wonderful prototyping environment for real life gadgets, objects and experiences. Ever wonder how users would react to your new context-sensitive location-based social application? Don’t scratch your head for 12 months learning J2ME and phone intricacies, but power up Second Life and hook it to the web service you’ll be building anyhow.

IAI in Second Life – Podcast on Rabble

IAI In Second Life

I played a small role in starting the IA Institute five years (and 30 lbs) ago, but I can’t take credit for the success it’s had since. Lots of dedicated people have worked very hard on it during that time.

Recently I became a little more involved, when Stacy Surla gently prodded me into helping with an initiative around Second Life. The IAI has purchased an island there, close to a cluster of info-science/education themed islands called the “Information Archipelago.” It may seem like putting the cart before the horse, but the challenge with something as radically new as Second Life is that you don’t really know how you’re going to use it until you start using it.

At any rate, someone in the area (in the ‘game’) saw what we were up to and asked if he could interview us for a podcast. He and Stacy graciously put up with my rambling answers — I think he said initially it was to be a 15 minute podcast, but it turned out to be a half hour — and posted the finished product. Here’s a link, and the intro from the site.

Who’s On Second Podcast 17: The New Architects of Information

I first met information architects Stacy Surla and Andrew Hinton as they were hammering the first planks together for their new island for the Information Architecture Institute. The space is just offshore from Cafe Fireball, so I got curious about what was going on over on the new plot of land. What I discovered was that the IAI is keenly interested in creating real world, online and Second Life experiences that let users get work done, find there way around and find the information they need easily and sensibly.

It’s an interesting experience being interviewed about this stuff, because it creates a bit of pressure to actually formulate an articulate answer about things that you can normally fudge on in your own head or in quick conversations with others.

In a nutshell, the reason why I think Second Life is a worthy laboratory for the IAI is this: Increasingly our physical environment is going to turn into a hybrid of semantic and concrete, with the rise of ubicomp. Why not experiment, get our feet wet and learn valuable lessons, in an environment that is already a three-dimensional semantic space?

I may jot more thoughts about this later here … it’ll also be relevant for a panel Stacy Surla is planning for the IA Summit.

Hope to see you there!

The Wright Stuff – Popular Science

The Wright Stuff – Popular Science

This is an excellent interview with Will Wright, creator of SimCity, The Sims, Spore, and other games.

It touches on a lot of key ideas about game design; the nature of education, play and socializing, the richness of game design, how to engage users of different types, and so forth. I kept wanting to quote parts of it here, but then it turned into quoting half the article. So just go read it.

Milgram-like experiment with avatars

In a study much like the famous Milgram experiments (where people administered shocks to others behind a partition, in accordance to an authoritative direction), they’re finding that people have high empathic response to avatars (like those in Second Life) even when they know they aren’t real.

Research findings:

Our results show that in spite of the fact that all participants knew for sure that neither the stranger nor the shocks were real, the participants who saw and heard her tended to respond to the situation at the subjective, behavioural and physiological levels as if it were real. This result reopens the door to direct empirical studies of obedience and related extreme social situations, an area of research that is otherwise not open to experimental study for ethical reasons, through the employment of virtual environments.