Tuesday, July 3, 2007

An IBM briefing in Second Life

Recently, I attended an IBM Developerworks session on Second Life, last thursday. I blogged about it in Dutch on our company Domino Weblog, but a short translation here seems appropriate. So here goes.

The session was held two times; the first session in IBM DevWorld, which was repeated Second Life, all avatars have a label, a name tag, hovering over their head, telling other avatars what your name is and to what active group you belong. In the most recent version of the SL client, that's also where your chat text appears: in the name tag. With dozens of avatars in attendance, no one was able to really follow conversations or see the slides, unless you blocked out the name tags. In the SL user preferences, you can set "show names" to "temporarily", which helps a lot in cases like this. Only when a new avatar appears in view, the tag is shown, or when that avatar is typing text.

One IBM host didn't entirely get that concept. He stood in front of the slides, and started talking with other participants during the presentation. His name and chat balloon was constantly blocking the view for many participants. He was called on to move to the side, or to the entrance of IBM Kearny, but he didn't get that message or didn't understand it.

Fuzzy slides
There's a downside to working with slides, as well. In 2006, if you viewed a jpg picture (any picture) in SL, the picture was loaded entirely, instantaneously. With the hectic growth of late 2006, this proved to be too big a performance hit for the SL grid. Linden Labs decided to initially do only a partial load, which gives you a blurry picture, and to load the rest of the pic only if you keep focused on it for a while.
Thursday evening, the presenter would change to the next slide, and start talking about the content of the slide immediately. But I couldn't tell what was on the slide, because I only had the partial load at that time. So, the presenter was talking about content I couldn't see. If you're presenting in SL, and you're using slides, be aware that your audience may not immediately see what's on the slide!

Fuzzy slide:

Sharp slide, after a minute or so (notice the guy I talked about, blocking the slide with his chat):

Afterwards, I had an interesting talk with Jaymin Carthage, an IBM guy I first met when I accidentally discovered the then soon to be unveiled LotuSphere 2007 buildings in Second Life. IBM had not yet made any announcements on those, and I discovered them while wandering about IBM Land. Jaymin was, at that time, constructing the Dolphin lobby in SL, and we talked about it for some time. Here, we met again, and I noticed he had a Sametime HUD on; apparently some sort of integration between Sametime and Second Life. Of course, there already was an article about that on IBM Developerworks, but this was different. As it turns out, Jaymin and his colleague Nicholas, author of the article I just mentioned, are cooking up all sorts of creative bridges between Sametime and Second Life. Jaymin hopes to publish this stuff on the Sametime code exchange someday- stay tuned! He's also blogging for IBM: Seeking business value from investment in virtual worlds on the 3D internet. Interesting stuff!

Some more screenshots of the meeting, illustrating the points above, can be found on my website.

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