Extreme Blue covered by BBC News

A really quick follow-up to the write-up of the Extreme Blue presentations to note that the BBC News website also has a nice report on this year’s programme at Hursley:

Every year, IBM runs a summer internship programme for the most talented young software designers and business students.

Participants are divided into groups, each of which works on a pet project. At the end of their 12 week design period, their prototypes are presented.

The UK leg of Extreme Blue takes place at IBM’s Hursley lab near Winchester. BBC News went along to see what they had dreamt up.

Read more at Cars and Cursors go Smart at IBM’s Extreme Blue.

Hursley: where innovation happens

I’m over in the US at the moment, and I was out of the office all of last week as well, but I see that the BBC has been visiting my friends and colleagues at the Hursley mothership.

The coverage is in two parts. Firstly there’s a nice article on the BBC News website which talks about the history of Hursley, some of the software developed at the lab such as CICS and MQTT, and (of course) Andy Stanford-Clark’s twittering house.

There’s also a set of interviews with IBMers such as Kevin Brown talking about the twittering Hursley minibus, in the May 5th episode of the Digital Planet podcast (here’s a direct link to the MP3). The IBM coverage starts from around about 17 minutes in to the programme.

So, if you were wondering what wild and wacky things we get up to at Hursley – we do a lot of different stuff, and it can be very cool indeed πŸ™‚

Socially Warcraft is the new golf, but golf is still coached professionally

I mentioned in my 2009 predictions that there were some exciting things I had seen going on with both social media/web 2.0 and virtual worlds and specific applications to deal with something as a whole.
One such business currently in development, that got my interest, is around the sports coaching profession. Sports coaches all around the world in every sport from amateur to elite have mandated processes from their sport governing bodies and country governments to maintain their professional standards. Much of this can now benefit from the online tools and social interaction that we have seen grow the past few years.
Peter Meli is the man behind the formation of The Global Coaches Social Network, The Coaches Centre GCSN/TCC. A business currently building prototypes and expanding on extensive research into what coaches need, what their governing bodies require and how to improve and expand on the potential of a global approach to sports coaching.
Education, training and certification combined with professional directed social networks clearly make a great deal of sense. In addition the physical and spatial nature of sport is ideal to be represented with virtual world technology, as we have shown with our experiments with Wimbledon. That can range from the sort of simulations we see in todays high end games, to the more basic needs of a business meeting of a committee, to a convention for coaches, to a coaching masterclass from an elite coach.
The project itself is for the International Council for Coach Education(ICCE) and is in partnership with Pearson Learning and ECS.
coaches centre
Image from GCSN/TCC & ECS

This project is not about one technology, or one platform but about the set of people who can benefit from it. In this case the sports coaches and hence the athletes they motivate, train and grow. It is also about global partnerships, tailoring to local country needs and hence has some interesting challenges.
It is very ambitious, but the groundwork has been done over the past few years and its ready to take the next steps.
Peter told me “The objectives are straight forward: Build and organize an online community of coaches, transition offline transactions online, create new revenue streams to ICCE member organizations”
The last element is where I am sure many of you can see the potential here. The provision of services to a known community for sports coaches in a virtual world or social media platform has elements of both professional subscription, advertising, sponsorship, content distribution, physical and virtual product sales and also elements of entertainment (fantasy leagues, coaching games etc).
If you want to know more Peter is on Linkedin and keen to talk to prospective partners and share his very real passion for where his business is heading.
Given the online games and sports and the new golf what is World Of Warcraft whilst not yet having quite the same recognition professionally already by their very nature use all the online tools to both compete, train and communicate it makes sense that the old golf and all the other sports should get in on the act.

coaches centre
Image from GCSN/TCC & ECS

Understanding the use of social media by the next generation

BoingBoing has an article linking to danah boyd’s now public PHD thesis on Teen Sociality online.
What I have read so far has been very interesting, I was looking forward to seeing it as I got to meet danah at the Handheld learning 2008 event where she made some great points around the evolving of the generations coming through with social media as part of their discovery of who they are in the world.
Why is this relevant? Well for anyone who is a parent understanding the difference and the dynamics of social media in the context of teenage development should be understood. Also for those in business the emerging workforce will have experienced what danah has researched. To look upon all social media (and include virtual worlds) as irrelavent friend gathering frippery misses the point that the socialization of these young people is occurring in these environments. To extrapolate some of the conclusions for the enterpirse audience. They are not places to be demonized (as were the physical spaces when we were growing up) fill in you own parents worst nightmare, snooker halls, discos, amusement arcades, shopping malls, skate parks. The reason being that these virtual places, and the skills to understand them, negotiate and establish social norms will also be the skills of enterprise 2.0.
danah also makes the point that people are growing up with these environments, it is how they establish their pecking orders and social mobility, as opposed to many adults who are busy trying to translate their current order into the current social media.
Anyway, just as with the byron report I suggest you have a look at this serious piece of research, combine it with tribes and Tapscott’s grown up digital. Then start to work out what that is going to mean for us all.
danah has been snapped up by Microsoft Research (which had already happened back when I met her), so I wish her good luck in her career there.

So there’s nothing going on in Virtual Worlds?

I did seriously have someone (in fact more than one person) suggest that there was not much happening in virtual worlds these days. I think they may have been referring to less press based “me first” stories. Of course I should not mock as if people’s touch points dont see whats happening and if they dont engage with the mass of social media it pretty unlikely to know anything.
It is therefore good to see such a bug roundup, even of one week such the last one just past as the one Caleb Booker has done on his blog.
You will see in there small, medium and massive funding announcements, things new to PS3 Home, Nortel’s elounge/Lenovo project, Entropia spin off etc etc. Obviously many of you reading this are in the know on many of these, but its the breadth and depth of all this that we need to share to help push the industry even further.
I just twittered “I do wish I was an investor. seen some great opps for business that need a little push and look very profitiable, worthy and interesting!” as there are obviously projects that have not made it to the light of day yet that that will add to this list over the next year+. Though clearly with the starting premise of this post being some people not realizing this my/our work is cut out still evangelizing all this to people who dont know what they are missing out on!

Dogear-nation podcast takeover

It may sometimes seem as if eightbar is taking over dogear nation, but the founding two Michaels(Martine and Rowe) are honoury eightbars anyway, so Andy Piper doing the recording and editing for the show is not quite so bizarre.
Anyway this weeks show features your truly as a guest. I almost missed out the podcast in my web evolution, but I am circling back around and finding it a very good way to explain my passion for all things. The only fly in the ointment being my broad Norfolk accent, but the other guys sound great πŸ™‚
Yes I did do a Clarkson impression, and I did mention my disdane for Vista so it was not all virtual worlds!
So thankyou Dogear-nation for having me guest. Enjoy the programme let us know what you think its on itunes and everything :).
For those that don’t know tag things of interest on delicious.com with dogear-nation and it can become part of the running order for discussion on the show.

Reaction time is a factor in this test – serious games

During a recent twitter exchange @Renzephyr tweeted an @slhamlet post on GigaOm about the 10 potentialy game changing games for 2009. The list is in part compiled by David Edery so it is worth take note of.
Of course many people will see games and 2009 and think about more driving, shooting, puzzle games etc. and may not pay attention. However there are some very significant elements in this list.
One of the very interesting elements is an isurance company looking at using a reaction test serious game for older drivers in order to offer cheaper insurance. That, as Wagner James Au says, will herald the incorporation of gaming elements in many other business. Not just the sort of virtual worlds real leaders that we often share or simply business meetings and education and training. The game becomes part of the channel, and clearly much of that will reach into virtual worlds, and not solely be stand alone mini games. The brand/business is also immersed in the game or across other channels.
Also of note on the list is the Augmented Reality pet on PS3 but I will let you read the article and enjoy the near future.

Paved paradise put up a parking lot

Over at Ugotrade once again Tish has done a fantastic post about Homecamp which includes a stack of my fellow eightbars. There is also a great interview with Andy SC about all things Current Cost meter, Second Life visualizations of his automated house and Smart Planet in general.
Many threads are coming together now, a more eco minded but technology driven approach to things. Much of this has been bubbling around for ages and lots of us take it for granted people know this stuff. However, read the post and get the full vision from the leaders in this field of eco automation.
Andy’s house is currently seeking a new more official home as it was demolished from Hursley island this weekend and replaced by a Seigmancer Nino Empress Condo which is actually the same sort of thing by the same creator that was there before I cleared the space for Andy’s house.
The house becomes a condo
The house will be missed on Hursley island, a great (first!) build by eightbar alumni Laronzo Fiztgerald/Mark Alexander of Uproar Design, but look for a public place to view it very soon.
As you know I like the flow of linkages between things, back in the early days of the internal metaverse the project leader that Roo and I worked with was David Currier, he left to go and start a… Home automation company homespace integrators πŸ™‚
There is also of course our good friends and collegues over at Eolus where mirror worlds and real world instrumentation are making huge savings on running properties and facilities.
Whilst showing the linkages here I also have to say thanks to James Governor/Monkchips for tweeting “my Team of 2008 award goes to IBM’s Eight Bar at Hursley Labs. RedMonk celebrates makers and doers – these guys exemplify getting on with”
****Update James has written a whole blogpost on us, and very nice it is too. It’s brilliant to have had this sort of impact. We dont do this for fame and glory, but to start a conversation, to engage with people as IBMers in ways that they may not be used to, and then to be thanked for it. Brilliant πŸ™‚
Things coming to fruition, linkages flowing and people saying thanks do mean a great to to this humble little band in Hursley and also the wider band of eightbars across the company. One heck of a tribe I reckon πŸ™‚

Tapscott does it again – read and heed

A few weeks ago I got my copy of Grown Up Digital by Don Tapscott. I had only skimmed it initially, but recently managed to finish reading it properly. Cleary many others have too.
Netociety tweeted a few links to some articles about the book and with Tapscott’s thoughts and that discussion reminded me I needed to share some thoughts here. For any of us who have changed the way we work and play with social media it resonates. The book is primarily a prod and push to people entrenched in certain ways of working to look at what people born post 1977 do. To not try and stop the flow of conversation and actions that occur using the web, but to embrace and change to benefit from them.
Those of us outside that demographic, but who none the less have made some sort of transition know the unsettling nature of that change initially.
Given the reputation Don Tapscott has, and the depth of research facts and figures presented this really should help a few more people understand what has changed.
In many ways its the same as Seth Godin’s Tribes. Tribes is the motivational short sharp go for it book, Grown Up Digital is the much longer, evidential text book. They both say the same things we all say though.
You MUST embrace the tools(as here in Computing’s article), the style of operating with them. The top tips in that article being
β€’ Hire more young people.
β€’ Start using next-generation tools. β€œIf you are not using Twitter, Digg or blogging, it is about time you got started.”
β€’ Empower your workforce. β€œDon’t have a big master plan – let people self-organise, invest and bring their own tools to increase productivity.”
Start using, means everyone. i.e. as I keep saying Web 2 is Web do. The self organizing is probably the most scary for people to come to terms with, (back to tribes again).
The FT also has a great write up on Tapscotts book ending with “The book is a thoughtful antithesis to entrenched and sometimes alarmist managerial opposition to internet-influenced behaviours”

Personal Branding and Corporate Life, quite a challenge

A few of us seem to have accidentaly moved into an arena where we have made a name for ourselves, connected with all sorts of other people, worked the web and web2.0, delivered and shared ideas, led the way despite never being asked to. That has led to some personal branding and in the case of eightbar some group branding.
It is a tricky area for many people to come to terms with, when the have only up to now kept a local “office” reputation. People understand that, there is an order of things to that. It may be a regimented promotion and exposure process. Now of course we have suddenly been landed with the ability to share and work anywhere. The early adopters in all this typically being the ones who have not always felt comfortable with traditional structures.
So we find ourselves in a cultural place, some of the world values our reputations, much of it does not but would really like to have one, an equally large percentage has no idea its happening.
Jeremiah Owyang (of Forrester) started a thread over on his blog that I recommend you all dive in on if you have particular feelings about your personal brand, how it impacts your future career, how you protect it, how you value it and choose to use it for the good of your company.