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The Second Life Roundtable: Best Practices, Security Concerns, and Future Developments was held in Second Life on Monday, June 30, 2008, as part of a week-long celebration of Second Life’s fifth anniversary.
The event was done in Second Life, but for people who aren’t able to get into Second Life, a GoToMeeting Web conference was available so we could see what was going on in Second Life.
Overall, I have to say that I’m not sure that Second Life was a good venue for this particular event. The speakers’ avatars just stood on a stage and talked. Some had slides and some didn’t. The slides were hard to see because depending on the view of the room, they were far away or off to the side. So, I think a simple web conference with a teleconference line would have worked just as well.
There were several references to the difficulties that corporate people may have in getting into Second Life. However, it seemed like these were more related to security and firewall issues than the graphics card issue that some of us have experienced.
Here are my notes from the presentations:
1. Presentation from Michelin: Enterprise Architecture training
Phillipe Barreaud, Michelin
Project they worked with on IBM.
Feedback from attendees: The interactivity and game-like feel kept people engaged.
Best practice: They allowed 5 – 10 minutes at the beginning of the session for people to get used to being in and navigating in the environment.
Question for presenter: There were a lot of people who could not attend this event because of their corporate environment. Do you think Second Life is ready for the enterprise?
Answer: It’s getting there. Security, PCs have to be checked to ensure that they support SL.
Best Practice: Michelin used a progressive approach to get learners used to the Second Life environment. First, they conducted their Second Life class with all participants in the same location. This allowed the facilitators to control the experience and help people as needed. Then, they gave participants access to Second Life so they could play with it on their own.
2. General View–Where We Are and Where We’re Going
Erica Driver, ThinkBalm, Independent Analyst–company focused solely on corporate use of virtual worlds
3 reasons for using virtual worlds:
1) Increase engagement: Comes through immersion–that feeling that you’re really there.
2) Increase proficiency gains: Example: Study that came out of Stanford University Medical School, traditionally set up a simulation to train doctors on how to communicate with each other during an emergency. When replacing the physical simulation with a virtual one, the proficiency was exactly the same. But costs went down.
Did an interview with Microsoft: Microsoft has begun using virtual worlds within developer communities; did a launch of some products in SL, and part of that included training. Typical product launch costs $45 – $55/ head. When did a virtual launch instead, spent about 5%, and people stuck around a lot longer.
Learning and training is where people are most excited about investing in 3D worlds.
3) Minimize costs
Trends for corporate use:
- Teaching and learning; practicing work–hottest investment
- Turning presentations into tours–instead of just talking; show you what I’m trying to talk to you about.
- Managing real-world systems in a 3D environment.
- Networking/conferences and events
3. Current State of 3D
Ben Lorica, Senior Analyst O’Reilly Media
Use both qualitative data (following the “Alpha geeks”–leading technologists) and quantitative data to find out the latest trends. They merge the interviews with the Alpha geeks with solid quantitative data.
Here are some of their findings:
- Google searches of SL are down. Could mean that people are losing interest. But could also mean that it’s reached a level of maturity where people don’t need to Google it anymore.
- There are been major growth in the sale of books covering 3D worlds in the past few years.
- The number of job postings for virtual worlds is also up–61% since May 2007. The largest number of postings are from media companies–even more than the virtual world software companies themselves.
He sees a lot of opportunity to provide cognitive cycles away from TV. Even 1% means a lot of virtual world cognitive cycles.
He thinks that SL is growing, but the growth is slowing somewhat. Expects a second wave of growth once usability issues have been addressed.
4. How does SL behavior resembles behavior in real life?
Anne Massey Indiana Univ.; Mitzi Montoya NC State
Studying teams using various tools of online collaboration. Found that the immersion and engagement of virtual world improved performance.
Then started looking at which parts of virtual world most correlate to performance.
Virtual presence–complex subject; been studied for 10 years or so.
5. Other corporate uses: Recruiting and new hire orientation
Susan Raycroft, Accenture’s recruiting efforts in SL.
In late March 2008, Accenture launched Career Island to provide a single area for global recruiting efforts. It includes:
- Interview building
- Event auditorium
- Career Central building–provide info about careers at the company; try to make the content interactive
- 9 interactive games to create engagement; provide something to make people come back and to tell their friends about
Because Acceneture is a global company, all the content and signage is in 5 languages.
The area can be customized for specific events.
The recruits that they’re targeting are comfortable in Second Life, but Accenture’s recruiters were not. So, Accenture took some special steps to try to make the recruiters comfortable:
- Developed a How To guide for using and navigating in Second Life
- Created a marketing toolkit, with a full suite of tools for communicating about Second Life
- Offered live training and support for recruiting events
They are making progress in helping non-GenYers feel comfortable in Second Life.
So far, they have had 4 or 5 networking events in-world. In monitoring engagement, Accenture has found that most people that attend the events stay.
6. Royal Phillips Electronics
Dolf Wittkamper, responsible for developing 3D internet capabilities at Phillips.
Interested in virtual worlds from various perspectives–started doing it in 2007.
Looking at how virtual worlds can be a part of value propositions.
Focusing on co-creation this year.
Launched first sim for Co-Creation
Ideation Quest: developed with University of Innsbruck; testing and exploring how people can engage in co-creation in a playful way. Different stages that people go into. All facilitated. And ultimately, people can submit ideas.
Right now in Co-Creation area, people are discussing ideas for Sustainable Living.
Dolf has found that when people go to a virtual world, they are more committed. They are there at all different times of day because of global audience. When project stops because of budget constraints, people get really mad.
7. Dr. Gary Woodill, Director of Research and Analysis, Brandon Hall Research
What changes does SL and can SL bring to corporate training?
One of the reasons that SL may not be growing as much is because there is a chasm between those who are early adopters and those who want to wait and see what other people are going to do.
Marshall McLuhan: When we have a new technology, we tend to look backwards and do what we’ve done before. Gary is interested in what we can do that’s new.
Gary’s advice on SL to corporate trainers: Proceed with some degree of caution. This is a transitional technology.
He believes that this technology will start to be combined with other technologies. For example, it may be combined with the Wii so that people use the Wii controller to interact with objects in-world.
There aren’t a lot of studies yet showing how SL aids learning.
The conundrum for corporations: Do you get in now and make a conscious decision to ignore ROI so you can be a leader? Or do you wait knowing that if you wait, you won’t be a leader in this space? You have to decide how much risk you want to take.
Go forward, but be cautious.
8. Glenn Fischer, Director of Business Programs, Linden Labs
SL approach to security for corporations:
1) have to open a number of ports for communication
2) people don’t understand the private regions. With a private regions, only people you’ve given access to can access. Can also have private calls even in a public setting.
So much data out there, would be hard to find people’s private data.
Working with IBM on externally hosted servers that provide a higher level of security.
Smart Robotic Avatars–can test them in SL on Education Island on 7/1 and 7/2.