Harry flies his avatar into a house in Linden
Labs' online environment, Second
Life. The avatar passes couches, a fireplace, and a dining-room
table complete with red-velvet tablecloth and candles. "Second
Life is relentlessly literal," Harry says, pointing out one
familiar domestic object after another.
The MIT media lab continues to produce the influential thinkers
and leading edge research in the field of digital media.
The long oval table common to a boardroom lets small
groups of people see and hear one another while sitting comfortably.
Since a virtual space doesn't need to accomplish the same goals as
a real space, Harry decided to ditch the table. Instead, his virtual
meeting room arranges people based on their allegiance. Where an
avatar stands signifies whether a person agrees or disagrees with
the position being discussed. The meeting room's other visual features
are designed to track the complexities of shifting alliances and
opinions throughout a conversation.
Friday 22nd June ‘07 8:00 am
Launching a Year-Long Exploration: Philanthropy in Virtual Worlds
With this blog post, and our launch event today, I would like to invite
the philanthropic and virtual world communities to join us in these
conversations and ongoing activities. As I mentioned in my
post ten days ago, later this morning I will step into Second Life
to host a wide-ranging discussion with Philip Rosedale on the role
of philanthropy in virtual worlds. As many of you know, he is the founder
and CEO of Second
Life, the largest virtual world in existence. For MacArthur, what
is noteworthy is not just the robust growth of virtual worlds, but
also the potential of virtual worlds for social, cultural and political
interaction and the exchange of knowledge. At the event later this
morning, Philip and I will be present both as avatars and through live
the event information page for details.
we are cautious about claims that technology can solve longstanding social
problems. We recognize that it is easy to get caught up in awe and admiration
of the new, especially something as novel as virtual worlds. As we investigate
the possibilities of Second Life and other metaverses, we also will consider
the inevitable unexpected outcomes and unintended consequences of virtual worlds.
When we first considered working in virtual worlds, we were tempted
to build a replica of our historic foundation building, located in
Chicago, in the virtual world. We now believe that the best way to
start is to participate in the virtual world by engaging in discussions
of serious social issues, working with others to act on their philanthropic
impulses, and encouraging innovation and new ideas through grant awards.
There is much to be learned as foundations develop strategies around
the opportunities and consequences of engaging in virtual worlds. We
invite you to join us in exploring how new technologies might be used
to learn more about and address pressing social problems.
Yee, a Stanford graduate who recently completed his PhD research
on social interaction in virtual environments, says that Harry's
design is on the right track. Sometimes companies try to have meetings
in Second Life, Yee laughs, and they have the same problems they
do in real life: for example, people have trouble seeing PowerPoint
presentations. "By enforcing physical embodiments and physical
rules," Yee says, "we bind ourselves to the physical
symbols and metaphors of the physical world."
The orb is my virtual alternative to the Vitruvian man.
Wired Magazine: Issue 15.08
Clive Thompson Thinks: Desktop Orb Could Reform Energy Hogs
David Rose, CEO of Ambient Devices
Virtual meeting space: Rather than
designing a meeting space that resembles one of those found in the
physical world, MIT researcher Drew Harry intends this space to track
the flow of ideas in a conversation, and to give significance to
where people place the avatars that represent them.
Credit: Drew Harry/MIT Media Lab
Harry designs virtual spaces that don't look like the familiar
world--his virtual meeting room looks more like a football field
than like a conference room.
He says his goal is to stop mimicking the physical world and start
creating a new kind of space. "It's not clear to me yet that
[virtual worlds] are actually useful," Harry says. They will
be useful, in his view, if they can take advantage of not being physical.
||Even though it's not the emphasis of this research,
the decision to make the avatars non descript fits perfectly with
my exploration and research of what promotes effective communication. st
The MacArthur Foundation announces
a series of events, beginning with a launch in Second Life today,
which will broadly consider the role of philanthropy in virtual
Today we announce support to the USC Center
on Public Diplomacy at the Annenberg School to begin a year-long exploration
of the role of philanthropy in virtual worlds. During the coming 12 months, the
Center on Public Diplomacy will support a series of discussions in virtual worlds
about the concept of philanthropy, help us share what we and the organizations
that we fund know and are doing in areas such as affordable housing preservation,
community and economic development and urban policy, global conservation and
human rights, and provide awards for in-world innovations.
Web 2.0 is addressing interactivity and a new relationship with
is Microsoft's attempt to engage users.
The Vitruvian man represents
a canon of proportions. These
standards do not reflect a virtual environment and we must move beyond
this line of thinking in order to fully realize the opportunities in
emerging new media.