Monday, 26 February 2007

Meeting at IBM about SL in RL

Normally I blog about the content of Second Life, but today I had the good fortune to attend a regrettably short meeting hosted by IBM at their Southbank offices in London (Englandland).
In the session IBM aimed to show what they were doing in Second Life, and more importantly, why. The attendees came from a number of Big Name IT consulting companies.

Star of the show was Irving Wladawsky-Berger. I don't intend to explain to you who he is - other than to say he is VP for Technical Innovation, and a prime force behind IBM's involvement in SL and the whole 3D internet thang. I would urge you to look him up on Google. There aren't many Irving Wladawsky-Bergers to the pound! He was ably assisted by Ian Hughes, from IBM Hursley- latterly star of stage, screen and TV... well, he's been on the telly at any rate. Note to my colleagues: he is not the jovial, scouse technical architect we all know.

I don't think I heard anything today that I did not already know or believe to be true. However, it was most encouraging to hear one's own beliefs replayed back... and IBM were able to back up their assertions with worked examples. If there is a clamour from the floor, I will trot out these beliefs for your scrutiny and/or ridicule. But if I were to start now, I'd probably still be typing in 6 hours time - and I'd never get this blog entry published.

Not everything in the presentation was exactly on the money, though, and I would offer the following observations to IBM - and anyone else hosting events showing real-time use of SL:

  1. Make sure you have machines capable of handling the graphics demands. The IBM laptops were struggling at a time of day when concurrency should have been low. A big old desktop with a decent graphics card might have been more suitable.
  2. Try to avoid the "flying about and changing appearance" examples. Everyone seems to fall for it (and I'm sure I'd be no exception) - but it does encourage the view that it is a game.
  3. Focus on showing the stuff that will be of interest to your attendees (and use a cache big enough to reduce the rezzing time, if this means flitting about a bit). Some of today's presentation got a bit "bitty" and confusing towards the end. I could recognise it all, but for a complete noob it would look like gobbledigook.
  4. If possible, think of a few "try this at home" examples that people can take away and... ummm... try at home.
Finally, IWB made it clear at the outset that he viewed SL as an interesting 3D environment, and an example of what 3D internet might look like - but that it was not 3D internet itself. I'm not sure, but following the subsequent discussions, some people may nevertheless have left thinking it was (and that it was clunky and a bit crap).

Despite these criticisms/observations, it was a really useful session - especially for those who had not been exposed to the full potential of SL before.

No comments: