The Problems with Social Predictions

In the future, there is no “web 3.0” or “semantic web”. Whenever we start naming the next big thing before it even exists, later on that thing is called something completely different or it never comes to pass. Think of all the predictions made in the 1950’s that are laughably ludicrous today.

Bill Gates of Microsoft once stated, “Why would anyone need more than 640KB?”.

Its “internet” or “web” not “information superhighway”. When the mass media tries to predict the next big thing, they tend to fail dramatically and, more importantly, predictably.

“Virtual worlds” are not “virtual reality”. The key difference is that virtual reality has become culturally associated with completely immersive 3D environments. Whether talking about helmets or goggles, virtual reality as a concept is something else. Virtual worlds now imply community in virtual spaces. The original popularized concepts of virtual reality talked about the technology, not its social implications as much. What the rise of MMO games like World of Warcraft and environments like Second Life have shown is that human beings develop important relationships inside virtual environments. We are capable of becoming immersed in places that don’t require us to wear hardware.

The children that have been born in the last 5 years are growing up in a world where they will have relationships with people their own age anywhere in the world. We can extrapoloate and predict trends for the next 15 to 25 years with reasonable accuracy when those predictions are related largely to technology advances. However, trying to forsee the social actions and conventions of people growing up with completely new ways of interacting is chaotic and highly inaccurate.

The future unseen social mechanisms of the virtually connected populace will affect business to a greater degree than the adoption of the web and the internet have since the mid 1990’s.

The next time you witness a concept being pushed as the “Next Big Thing”, stop to think about the long littered history of the “Last Big Things”. Twist it, bend it, throw it in a blender with a twist of lemon, and then see if it still sounds like a world changer.

Two great new machinima videos

I was given links to two great new machinima pieces a couple of days ago. by Mescaline Tammas

This is Mescaline’s first SL video. Its a gorgeously shot and edited piece with music by Duran Duran. Mescaline is a film professional in the other life, and his skills certainly show.

The second video is by Juliet Heberle and Arabesque Choche, also known as Choucho. I honestly don’t know a whole lot about these folks, as this was referred to me by a 3rd party. One note of interest is that the vocals in the song are in Japanese, but played in reverse. Again, this information was referred so I can’t account to its accuracy 100% until I talk to the creators.

Its visually very appealing, though its rather slow and monotonous until about half-way through.The second half is both visually captivating and the music really picks up.

Second Life Eco-Tour

second life eco tour thumbnailI have been working with representatives from the Woodrow Wilson Institute for the last few months to produce a new machinima video to highlight eco-related areas and organizations in Second Life. The piece is part of a larger project with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency(EPA) to explore how computer and video game technologies can be applied to environmental issues.

This video is about 14 minutes long and highlights several different sims and programs currently active in SL oriented around ecology conservation. In particular, the National and Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration(NOAA) has an excellent collection of sims that show how oil spills are cleaned up and how tidal waves are formed and destroy the land when they come ashore, among other projects. My other favorite project is the Green Islands project. Essentially, this project lets sim owners buy carbon credits from a real-world organization called the Bonneville Environmental Foundation to offset the carbon produced by powering their sims.

I am very proud to have worked with such an esteemed organization as the Woodrow Wilson Institute on this project.

Flash version:

SD version:

HD version:

Link to Wilson Center Institute blog about the Second Life Eco-Tour: