Wishes in 3D - Second Life Predictions 2010

Oh boy! That was a nice break! Not a work break, but this kind of break we all need once in a while just to gather our ideas, clean the place from all those things you drag with you from a while and you can’t never achieve because you are too busy, too full of things to do here and there, take care about the one you love and who always complained that you are never free for a diner, a theater, a concert… just an instant of life to share.

So my time has come to wish all of you a great new year 2010, health and happiness. I wish you to keep your joie de vivre –joy of life- no matter what, because this is what keeps us going on every morning, this great energy of life that is so precious, so fundamental. And I wish you love too, for love is that unique dimension which add perspective to our lives, love without which everything is flat like a 2D cartoon!

Health, Joy and Love, this is my 3D wishes for this New Year ;) And peace of course…
I mean it, deeply, sincerely, may this year bring all of you the best, wherever you are in the world.



For weeks, I have wondered if I could write those predictions for virtual worlds, since everyone does, at least professionals. No client ask, but professional just feel obliged to say « hey, those are my predictions for the next year! ». And on the top of it, a lot of them wrote predictions for the next decade… But how many Jules Verne, how many George Orwell, hmmm

My idea of consulting, especially in my field, new medias and immersive Internet, is that you should be able to anticipate. Anticipation is the key of a concept, a product that meets desires and needs of an audience. The more the production of your product is delayed, the more anticipation is a necessity if you don’t want its release to be already old fashion when it reaches its market.

But anticipation should be the result of a strong analysis, based on a deep understanding of the past, the history, a deep feeling of the present, what’s in the air, and a wide watchfulness not only about technology but sociology and above… One can have flair, but is it enough in those days when all is going so fast, when transversality and globalism are the main keys that can modify at any instant the course of the time. In fact, I would think "trends" is more appropriate than "predictions"...

So, let’s go back now to so called “virtual worlds”.

Past


What is past for virtual worlds? Is it an addition of the past of virtual reality plus the past of video games? Or would it be the past of humanity pursuing its old dream of ubiquity, of being in different places at the same time, of belonging to different realities thru the quest for a perfect medium?

The dream of an ultimate medium driven by the ancient desire of physical transcendence associated to the search of the essential copy, has crossed the centuries until we entered into Second Life… until this very moment… until now.

Present

Which reality do we talk about when we speak about virtual worlds? Persistency? Real time? 3D? Or do we talk about this great ability we have to go back and forth to cross and leave the membrane, this magic circle that separe the physical world from the synthetic world?

When I logged in, at the beginning of my Second Life,  I used to think about Matrix (guess now Avatar would be THE reference !), because when I am inworld, my brain is totally there, with all my senses. It is not just a question of screen and mouse; it is its capacity to take me in, to set me in the state of “flow”. And when we are in the flow, we lose perception of location and time. We may reach that flow on the Internet, when a website is ergonomic, when the user experience is well done. But virtual worlds are much more immersive because they offer our brain representations and archetypes which are totally familiar, natural.


We do not see a synthetic world on our devices: we are in the world. We do not look at an avatar that we love, we see the person behind it, we feel his soul and hear his heart. All our perceptions are changed, and this is why people outside do not understand until they give themselves the opportunities to immerse, thru games, thru education, or work.

Second Life and virtual worlds, as they are now in early 2010, reflect the state of technology: quicker processors, better graphic cards, large servers and broader bands. We do not realize it because we are part of it, but slowly our experience get closer to the real thing, which is virtual reality. It is not yet there, we still can’t really teleport, smell a mimosa, or feel the skin. But we are on the way, and this is why so many people are afraid of it. The membrane gets more porous every day.

As Marshall Mc Luhan said, media is the message, and virtual worlds like Second Life are mediums which allow us to extend ourselves above physical frontiers, push our possibilities, our limits exactly like newspaper, radio or television did it. And this medium changes us. We are now ready for more.


Close Future

More, in a close future means a few different things.


More means easier: easy interfaces, ergonomic and customizable to each one according to its brain preferences.

More means more realistic (if we want it): more realistic avatars with face expressions and smoother body movements.

More means more interactivity with other applications, social, transactional, operational.

More means, that slowly slowly we forget about virtual worlds to talk about immersive internet, immersive platform which gives us more power to interact with others on private or professional matters. On this ground, I would think that virtual worlds will change name to slowly be called something close to internet 3D….


Sure, it is difficult to separate virtual worlds from the evolution of technology and of our societies.
Convergence leads the debate on a technological point of view and 3D seems to be in the center as a must for a user experience. The success of Avatar is not only due to the story itself but also to a conception that relies on 3D. 3D representation invading all other medias will changes the whole perception of the human being exactly as it did in the Renaissance times with the intrusion of perspective in painting.

The first effect of this change should be that getting use to 3D mass medias with television and movies, will slowly make people unsatisfied with online 2D conversations or representations.

Best example is to compare a browser based 2D exhibition and an exhibition in Second Life… The example of Linden Lab Solution Providers conference was a great demonstration and I will give more details of it in my next post.

The second effect, more subtil, is that watching ourselves thru 3D will reinforce hyper-ego and offer social and global movement, a gentle way to gather in real time in 3D environments as decors for brainstorming, conferencing, live-showing, etc…

Many gurus will find a way to extend their consulting offering by organizing virtual consultations or conferences in a more sophisticated personal atmosphere. Big corporate companies in need of strategies for crisis communication will invest virtual media centers where they can react in real time in a more emotional way than just press releases.

So to end with those predictions which do not want to look as predictions, what about Second Life is 2010 ?

New viewer 2.0 with the Media-API and the html-on-a-prim (expected first term)
New generation of avatars with the possibility to name them as you want
New social widgets linked to the major social platforms we all know…
New secured transactional features to make payment directly linked to a real life logistic (not linked to the internet but directly linked to the server)
Import of 3D Mesh Objects Into Second Life
New offer on land with higher speed servers for special event or businesses needing more resources
More internal meetings and the organization by Linden Lab of a mass event
Main partnerships announced with the official launch of Second Life Enterprise
An improvement of the general image of Second Life in Europe and in the world
We’ll be passing the 100 000 accounts online simultaneously on a regular basis….

Waiting for those changes which will open Second Life to other great minds like you all, once again a very happy new year 2010! 


P.S. Want to read more predictions ? And please, feel free to give your predictions ...:)


Mark Kingdon - M Linden
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