A couple of years ago, I described how we were using the Open Wonderland virtual environment platform to host polls for users to express their opinions about proposed governmental policies, as part of  the +Spaces project. In the next stage of the project, we have taken a look at another way of engaging citizens: debates. TheRead More →

[Editor: A couple of years ago, Chris Ravensoft was an actual paying customer for Second Life Enteprise, a behind-the-firewall version of Second Life, designed for companies who needed a secure, private space for internal collaboration, training, and rapid prototyping. In the summer of 2010, Linden Lab shut the project down.]Read More →

OpenSim is making headway as a viable alternative to Second Life. About 98 percent of the functionality of Second Life is present in OpenSim. The remaining 2 percent primarily deals with vehicle physics. Although it is still considered “alpha” software, OpenSim hosting is sold, and teachers, students, and businesses are taking advantage.Read More →

There are many reasons why I believe that virtual worlds are not dead, dying or disappearing. In fact, I believe that they are gaining momentum and are becoming more and more impactful as the technology gets better and more real world business cases are indicating the value of these environments,Read More →

Launching, maintaining, and expanding a virtual business — a new grid, design firm, hosting company or consultancy — can be an overwhelming task. While start-up costs are often not too high, it is difficult to run a viable business until consistent revenue streams are achieved. Regardless of financial situation though,Read More →

[Note from Editor: SimHost‘s James Stalling responded to this review with the following: “He was a difficult customer who did not give OpenSim a good evaluation before he got involved, and didn’t give it a fair shake after he got involved.  I have to say that I disagree entirely with hisRead More →

Zoe, a prototype AI bot, lives in her own house on OpenSim. (Image courtesy David Burden.)

[Editor: Recent OpenSim upgrades have substantially expanded support for NPCs — non-player characters — also known as bots or AIs. NPCs are typically used in games, as enemies for players to defeat, or characters who help the players in their quests. However, they are also increasingly being used for business.]Read More →

Over the course of two years, we designed and ran a simulation for the University of Richmond based upon Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher” in the virtual world of Second Life. I wanted to enable my classes to change the ending of Poe’s tale, ifRead More →

If you like building — or need to build for your work or school — and you find Second Life cramped and expensive, OpenSim is a great option. But where do you start? There are over a hundred active public grids, dozens of hosting providers… for someone new to OpenSim,Read More →

Kitely — an OpenSim-based grid that runs its regions in the Amazon cloud — has a unique system that gives educators some interesting capabilities and advantages. To appreciate those features that are most beneficial requires just a bit of imagination and I have drawn on my perspective of having been involvedRead More →

Here is a little vignette describing how 3D collaborative environments can impact large organizations. Just as technology has advanced in almost every field, so has the technology surrounding learning and collaboration. Three-dimensional virtual immersive environments are the next logical evolution and extension of existing technologies—a convergence of 2D virtual classrooms,Read More →

In November, I led a well-attended three-hour workshop, Second Life is Dead – Prepare for an OpenSim Future at the 17th International Conference on Online Learning in Orlando, Florida. My basic point was that, right now, Second Life as a product for educators is actually dead unless something dramatically changesRead More →

One of my teeny tiny pet peeves is when people harp about Second Life being a game. This is often followed by declarations that games should not be taken seriously. Therefore, Second Life should not be taken seriously. But putting the benefits of play — such as learning, teamwork, relaxation,Read More →

[Editor: Joe Essid teaches a class about Edgar Allen Poe’s “Fall of the House of Usher” for the department of English & Rhetoric & Communication Studies at the University of Richmond, using virtual space on the JokaydiaGrid.] With some glitches along the way, six groups of students completed their finalRead More →

Even as OpenSim implementation continues to grow, a constant remains: there is no viewer tailored specifically for OpenSim as it comes direct from OpenSimulator.org. It’s discouraging, and it’s easy to cite the nearly million lines of code that are simply too complex to unravel as the culprit, yet the reasonsRead More →

How real does a virtual environment need to be for users to feel presence? This is a question educators have been researching in the attempt to implement virtual spaces to expand the classroom. For those of us old enough to have been playing eight bit video games and text-driven adventures,Read More →

The economic downturn has put a damper on tradeshow activities worldwide. Travel budgets have been tightened across the board. Attendees are less willing to hop on a plane halfway around the globe for a few meetings with uncertain ROI. On the vendor side, exhibitors are faced with stagnant budgets andRead More →

An interesting quesion arose from my ALT-C talk last week. It was basically “How can you use Second Life for teaching when it takes two hours to learn how to use it?” Which isn’t really a question, of course. It’s a statement. Along the lines of “It takes my studentsRead More →

Hypergrid is probably one of the greatest and unifying features for OpenSim, and virtual worlds in general. Basically, virtual worlds cannot be what they should be without the hypergrid. It is the same unifying feature and innovation as the hyperlink was – and still is – for the unification ofRead More →

Healthcare and the pharmaceutical industries can benefit from using training simulations and serious games in everything from sales and customer relations to helping medical professionals work with upset patients. Since replicating these types of experiences in traditional training programs is difficult and costly, finding a much more effective, learner centeredRead More →

The flight simulator celebrated its 100s anniversary a couple of years ago. A training rig was developed in 1909 to help pilots operate the control wheels of the early monoplanes in a safe environment and its predecessors have been a mainstay of pilot training ever since. Translating this concept toRead More →

Image by jscreationzs at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I attended UMass in the early eighties when access to DARPAnet first became available to students. In the beginning, all we had was terminal-based FTP access to download TeX markup documents that we could send to the batch printers. It wasn’t until almost ten years later that Mosaic based graphicalRead More →

Over the last three years I’ve planned, designed, and orchestrated a dozen learning events in the virtual world of Second Life. I’ve been fortunate enough to work with extremely experienced and talented programmers, producers, content experts, scripters, and machinima artists from whom I have learned volumes about planning and stagingRead More →

I have been using OpenSim since October, 2008. The software is still in an alpha stage of development, but it has come a long way, and its usage has exploded, and will continue to do so. Linden Labs has basically stopped focusing on education — which has also included droppingRead More →

The recent furor over patents by SpotON3D is understandable. However, we may be overemphasizing that issue while staying naïve about other formidable developments. Let me begin with a specific illustration. Back in December of 2010, Hypergrid Business ran an article that indicated IBM had filed a patent on sim designRead More →

The good folks at the Virtual Worlds Education Roundtable are training new people to host our meetings, and they’ve asked us veterans to share our ideas. The following  principles have worked fairly well for me over the past few years. 1. Open forums are not completely open When I host one ofRead More →

For years I have been wanting to see 3D on the web become ubiquitous and with Katalabs‘ OurBricks, I am closer than ever to seeing that dream come true. Leveraging the power of WebGL and its supported browsers, OurBricks allows users to examine a full 3D version of any modelRead More →

There have been several attempts over the past year to create a viewer for Second Life and OpenSim based virtual environments that would run in a browser. I’ve tried to write about them all, from Linden Lab partnering with GaiKai to provide a server-side rendered and streamed experience of SecondLife to TipodeanRead More →

I am looking for volunteers for an OSGrid Academic Consortium — somewhere between four to eight schools who want to have free regions in an education-oriented community located near to one another on the non-profit OSGrid. Here is how it will work. I will take care of the setup —Read More →

Many people view virtual online currencies; the kind used in online websites such as Second Life for example, as being wholly different from their real life counterparts. Many online games have their own currencies with their own currency conversion rates but until now they have not been viewed in anyRead More →

[Editor’s note: We encourage groups using virtual worlds to tell us about their experiences — both good and bad — in order to educate the public about this new industry segment, and to encourage platform and hosting vendors to improve their services. If you would like to contribute a review,Read More →

Hypergrid Business is one of the very few publications you can safely categorize as virtual world platform agnostic. Editor Maria Korolov has visited our Avaya Web.alive environments from the earliest “MellaniuM Dome” with the dinosaurs and Spitfire replica to the latest Trainspotting and Medieval replete with “Helms Deep”-esque bridges andRead More →

The last four months have been tumultuous ones for our university. With the end of educational discounts for our island in Second Life, we faced a tough decision. Second Life’s steep learning curve and our local system of incentives and rewards for faculty had discouraged any use of virtual worldsRead More →

While most of the attention within our industry has been on the 2D and 3D platforms for virtual events, I envisioned that a simpler, website-like interface may begin emerging for digital events. My post last December postulated that this website interface would be widgetized, allowing users to add or removeRead More →

In the early days of virtual events (i.e. a few years ago), we used to say that users could attend a virtual event “from anywhere.” Of course, that wasn’t entirely true, as “anywhere” usually meant at a location with “fixed” (vs. roaming) Internet connectivity and “chained” to a desktop orRead More →

There are several different components to consider in designing and developing interactive 3D software that will ensure that your training simulation will get the results you want. These components aren’t random in design and structure. They are developed within each serious game to allow management and training coordinators to haveRead More →

The world of computer or web-based training has evolved rapidly over the last several years. In particular, a large amount of interest has surrounded the world of interactive 3D simulation training and the several advantages it brings to hands-on training. The question: Are people really learning here? The answer: quiteRead More →

Machinima, once banished to the realm of the basement dwelling geek, is now being let out of the closet and into the company of professional society. No longer relegated to fanboys, the cinematic art is finding a new life as a highly effective method of marketing. A few factors haveRead More →

Technology improvements have allowed us to meet, connect and engage online. The 2008 financial crisis further drove the adoption of virtual events for organizations. But even to this day, there is no standard definition of what a virtual event is today and where it should be tomorrow. My partner atRead More →

The evolution of the Linden Dollar from a strictly virtual currency and economy to a currency that intertwines with recognized currencies and economies has created many issues that need to be addressed in order for Second Life to continue to flourish as a developing world and be a viable blueprintRead More →

Now that you’ve settled on the title, topic and date of your virtual event, it’s time to rally the sales team to go out and sell sponsorships. We provide six tips on how to approach the selling process. 1. Target wisely. As with any sales effort, categorize your accounts basedRead More →

What would happen if at a school’s talent show some parents stood up and started heckling the child playing the piano or dancing in front of them? “You’re awful!” or “You call yourself a dancer?” For one thing, it would never happen. And if it did, the rest of theRead More →

The results of this Harvard Business School study, and many others like it, provide ample and compelling evidence to suggest that virtual collaboration is a powerful means of achieving new levels of efficiency and effectiveness: “Remarkably, an extensive benchmarking study reveals, it isn’t necessary to bring team members together to getRead More →

Corporations are comfortable with using WebEx-like solutions for their virtual meetings, with some using pseudo-3D platforms for large-scale virtual conferences and trade shows. When they need more sense of presence and more interaction than the typical alternative is face-to-face meetings, even at high transportation costs. Immersive 3D solutions fill inRead More →

Sometimes, people new to the concept of virtual engagement ask: “How do you market a virtual event? Is it necessary to drive attendance with email and other tools?” As experienced marketers, we know that virtual events require a similar effort as promoting a physical event, but there are several differencesRead More →

They say it’s not the winning that counts but the taking part. Watson managed to do both — but perhaps the winning actually counted for less. All the indications are that Watson’s win was as much about his — or its — speed on the buzzer as for his knowledge. As competitor Brad RutterRead More →

According to a new report, virtual conferences are not longer a novelty for associations and are expected to triple in number this year. And while reducing costs remains a major driver for virtual events, organizers are now looking at ways to use them to generate revenue. Virtual events emerged asRead More →

Am I being premature? Second Life has outlived its many obituaries. This is not an obit. At the same time, only the most ardent SL-cheerleaders would deny that the virtual world has stagnated. In the case of education, I expect no more than a gradual decline in participation.  Other worldsRead More →

In early December, I wrote about the cease & desist order sent by lawyers representing the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation to the Frank Lloyd Wright Virtual Museum in Second Life – which had recently been granted a licensing agreement by the same Foundation, and later attained official 501(c)3 non-profit statusRead More →

OpenSim makes for a good, and free, tool for 3D animation work. I have spoken at conferences and webinars on the use of Second Life for creating video for branched scenario-based eLearning because it is a relatively easy tool to use. My focus has shifted to our current endeavor forRead More →

It was an honor to present to the Nonprofit Commons in Second Life. A wide range of organizations were represented by their avatars in the central arena. There to discuss signage, I discussed tips and ideas for how they can improve their signage overall. Although most of the organizations, unfortunately,Read More →

Online virtual worlds boast an expansive global fan base, and effectively communicating with and marketing to this diverse user base can present opportunities for professionals. At TinierMe, an avatar-based world focused around Japanese anime, we have gathered user analytics from international online events, virtual communities and the TinierMe game centerRead More →

It seems like more and more marketers are looking into virtual and hybrid events. With tight event budgets and opportunity to scale reach online, virtual events can look attractive. Craig Rosenberg from the Focus Expert Network posted a question last week, “What are/will be the biggest impediments to the VirtualRead More →

Every year I look forward to attending the Virtual Edge Summit online. Not only is it free to consume the content online and saves my travel budget (one of the keys for virtual events) but it also showcases some of the top vendors and trends in the virtual event industry.Read More →

I’m a believer in hybrid events and the benefits of extending reach through that strategy. Associations that go down the hybrid road, and make it financially attractive, are putting their profession ahead of profit. AND they will reap long-term benefits. Why I Am Not There On Pure Virtual Events Yet However,Read More →

On a recent trip to London, I found myself sitting in a Yo! Sushi. As I watched the colored plates winding their way around the room, I noticed a poster on the wall advertising “Blue Plate Mondays” (any sushi plate for £2 as opposed to the usual £3-5). Since gameRead More →

Event management is tough… really tough. In fact, if you are an experienced event planner, you are probably one of the only people in the world that knows how to ship an elephant from Dallas to Alaska, negotiate with three vendors at the same time, or find 200,000 Lego bricksRead More →

The following is an excerpt from a new book, Generate Sales Leads With Virtual Events. I can vividly recall my first experience exhibiting at a trade show.  It was the early 1990’s and I was fresh out of college.  I worked for a company that sold Internet connections to corporations. Read More →

The numbers are in on virtual. After being immersed in all things virtual the last four months through my work with the Virtual Edge Summit, it was interesting to attend IAEE last week and be brought back into the world of association and for-profit trade show producers who still haven’tRead More →

Sure we’re advocates of virtual meetings. But we’re not foolish enough to think a day will come — soon or ever — when face-to-face meetings go away. That’s just not going to happen. And the reasons are simple. They are absolutely the best way to build relationships and a senseRead More →

One of the key early decisions to game design or creating a virtual currency platform is designing the price and exchange rate of virtual currency. Unfortunately after it’s been released, it’s also one of the most difficult to change, because the change impacts the userbase and economy of the systemRead More →

Last week, ProtonMedia made a formal announcement about a project I first reported on in September  of this year that ProtoSphere, the 3D enterprise collaboration and learning tool, is  now fully integrated with Microsoft’s  Lync Server 2010. The Lync server is a software product that unifies enterprise voice, instant messagingRead More →

WonderSchool, a startup formed by Els Von Tol and myself, is a portal for schools where they can build their own virtual world, or use an existing one, and give their users access to software programs.  Today, WonderSchool offers live Alice workshops for teachers in the Netherlands and Germany. AliceRead More →

Like many aspects of life sciences today, speaker programs are being cut due to budgetary constraints and the tightening regulatory landscape. I read a recent article by Bill Cooney in PharmaExec that highlighted this trend, reporting that speaker program activity is down 30 percent or more at most pharmaceutical companies.Read More →

Much has been discussed and written about virtual environments achieving levels of immersion and interactivity that rival (and some believe exceed) face-to-face meetings. Much has also been written about increasing the retention of information shared in world. Interacting in a virtual environment But to many, the whys and hows surroundingRead More →

Much has been said in recent years regarding the benefits and substantial returns an organisation can achieve by integrating an Online 3D Environment into their everyday operations. Indeed, examples and demonstrations of the power and financial savings 3D collaboration can bring to businesses have been researched, developed, trialed and documentedRead More →

We just found out about a wonderful write-up on the real-time animated training video we recently created for the Exergen Corporation.  The magazine, Executive Healthcare Management, is a well respected trade publication for healthcare management professionals and has a two page Q&A spread with Dr. Francesco Pompei, founder and CEORead More →

One of the things every grid owner should be concerned with is the possibility that one of the grid’s users will be using, selling or transferring content that infringes upon another’s copyright. While both technological measures and contractual limitations can be utilized, the fact remains that neither of them  canRead More →

I work with a number of clients who exhibit at a virtual trade show for the first time.  They find that once they complete their first virtual trade show, that each successive show is simpler.  However, for the very first one, they’re often in need of some guidance.  Here’s ourRead More →

Until recently, it has not really been possible for residents of virtual worlds to use their real life name. While Second Life™ has had its Custom Name Program for some time, residents have understandably balked at having to pay Linden Research, Inc. a fee of $1,000 (plus $500 per annum)Read More →

MissionV – 3D Immersive Technology in the classroom for the support of exceptionally able and twice exceptional students What if you were told of an amazing untapped, sustainable national resource that has been discovered yet is not being exploited? I’m pretty sure your interest would be piqued, particularly in the currentRead More →

I spent the last few days reading Virtual Justice by Greg Lastowka. Lastowka outlined some legal issues that arise in virtual environments. Who owns what? What rights — if any — do you have when buying or creating digital content? It is important reading for anyone involved in virtual digitalRead More →

Exactly how many people can a region in OpenSim support? How many people could meet for business meetings or presentations in an OpenSim region? Allow me to illustrate with this piece of string and a tape measure. There are unfortunately many variables to consider, so much so that it isRead More →

The power of first impressions is either ignored or overlooked. Perhaps the poor state of design in Second Life is due to myopia—no one can see his or her own face objectively. A stroll around the Aloft group in Nonprofit Commons is a lesson in visual frustration. (Because the 30Read More →

Everyone wants to go green these days, including meeting planners. And while there are many ways to green a meeting, one of the greenest approaches to meetings is to not meet in person. This is a way to have most of the functionality of a face-to-face meeting, while saving enormousRead More →

I have lost track of the number of times over the last few weeks that I have been somewhere in the OpenSim grid and heard someone say “This is like Second Life in the early days – I love it.”  This resonates for me – and I have been thinkingRead More →

Much has been discussed and written about virtual environments achieving levels of immersion and interactivity that rival (and some believe exceed) face-to-face meetings. Much has also been written about increasing the retention of information shared in world. But to many, the whys and hows surrounding this remain a mystery. PerhapsRead More →

My local farmers market had a “Vote 4 Your Favorite Booth” contest.  While the contest was active, I noticed that the fruit vendors were much more engaging and the amount of free samples increased dramatically.  The fruit stands had become more customer-friendly as a result of the competition.  This wasRead More →

Virtual events are undoubtedly effective… but can they also be fun? Over the last several years, many companies, squeezed by tough economic conditions, have looked for alternatives to in-person events. At the same time, virtual event providers have responded with a hundred rational arguments regarding why meeting online is betterRead More →

Last month I attended one of the most engaging meetings I’ve ever experienced and I was not even there.  The event was EventCamp Twin Cities.  This was a one-day conference for event professionals.  It was a hybrid event, meaning they had a live conference with a virtual component. I hadRead More →

Introduction 1. $54 million in cost savings 2. $19 million in productivity and time savings 3. 34,000 tons of carbon emissions eliminated If those kinds of numbers are interesting to you, we hope you will take a minute and read on, because that’s just the beginning of the story. TheseRead More →

How do you keep up with industry trends?  You hear from the people setting the trends.  On September 24th, FountainBlue held its annual virtual worlds conference on Cisco’s campus in Milpitas, CA.  The event featured a session titled “Trends in the Virtual Worlds Industry: An Update on What’s New andRead More →

When I first rezzed in January 2007, educators were investing heavily in Second Life, both its Teen and Main Grids. Throughout the “hype” era that ended the next  year, and amid the inevitable backlash against SL by mainstream media, many of us in education defended Linden Lab and its platform.Read More →

I hate that sinking feeling in the pit of the stomach when I know something has been lost that I care about. After my initial shock of hearing that Linden Labs was dropping education discounts, I immediately communicated with colleagues (most of whom I have never met in person) aboutRead More →

How do you keep up with industry trends?  You hear from the people setting the trends. On September 24th, FountainBlue held its annual virtual worlds conference on Cisco’s campus in Milpitas, CA. The event featured a session titled “Trends in the Virtual Worlds Industry: An Update on What’s New andRead More →

You might be interested to learn that virtual world IMVU has almost 1.4 million fans of their Facebook fan page. Why do they use Facebook? Lots of reasons… It’s a marketing and communications channel: IMVU communicates the latest news, competitions and user updates Their users also use Facebook: So itRead More →

Mark Szelenyi (Image courtesy On24)

Webcasting is seen by many professionals as an ideal marketing and communications tool, offering the effectiveness and efficiency that enterprises require in today’s business environment. These best practices can help you easily run a successful webcast. Maximizing Registration Rates Timing.  Avoid Mondays and Fridays, as these are peak meeting daysRead More →

The world is about to turn nasty. I don’t mean the world is about to turn nasty on you, personally, but its going to be a much harder world to do business in, as economic disruptions throughout Europe make strikes much more likely. Greece already is as close to aRead More →

International Freelancers Day is “the biggest ever (FREE) online conference exclusively for solo professionals.”  Want to know how to effectively generate virtual event registrations? Follow this event’s lead.  They make it easy for you to sign up.  And once you do, they provide you with compelling value well before youRead More →

Last week, I had a conversation with someone who’s organizing a virtual event. She wanted me to speak on the topic of using telesummits to build your list and I gladly agreed due to the quality of speakers and the refreshed format (I’m on that tip these days). As IRead More →

As businesses look to cut costs, one technology that they have begun adopting is the use of 3D virtual immersive environments or virtual worlds to hold meetings, trade shows and even conduct training. This is all done with users who log into these environments as avatars. An avatar in aRead More →