Ron Yanovsky introduces the program for the Symposium – which is New Boundaries, or No Boundaries? by noting that social computing is often “anti-institutional” and that there is room for questioning how mature that attitude of socialness is. One way of reading the new technologies is that they eliminate the boundaries of institutions – people can find and join dynamic communities themselves, without institutional help, using outside systems that we have no control over. “We’re intermediaries – we’re getting dissed”.
But our background in higher ed of building communities move this discussion of social computing right into higher-ed’s sweet spot. New boundaries, instead of no boundaries. New technologies make the communities more responsive and agile. The question is how we take advantage of the opportunities that the new technology present?
Michael Macedonia is the VP and General Manager of Forterra Systems, which provides private virtual worlds. He gave a presentation of virtual worlds, along with a demo of some of the virtual worlds that they’re working with at Forterra.
The roots of today’s virtual worlds lay in developments that started 40 years ago. Where will we be in another 40 years?
His experience is in the military – we can embed experiences and memories in people that will enable soldiers to survive in combat, learn a new skill, or save a life in crisis – they call that training. The Army Science Board in 2001 found that the new soldier craved interactivity and experiential learning.
Where is this all going?
Army realized they need to develop first person thinkers, not first person shooters, who can think about when not to shoot.
Virtual worlds will become many people’s workspace. Mobile simulations will become prevalent.
University and research use – Eric T. Lofgren and Nina H. Fefferman – Lancet Infectious Diseases – use of WOW to study infections.
William Sims Bainbridge, NSF – Science 7/27/07 – Online virtual worlds as instrumented social laboratories.
Maryland I-95 project – modeling highways with Forterra software.
Stanford Med Center – modeling mass casualty exercise.
Appalachian State and Clemson have formed a virtual world consortium – Dick Riedl at Appalachian State.
They demoed a CPR event in a virtual high school class, where the high school building had been modeled from photos, and featured interactive audio, then moved into an auditorium and then a virtual Stanford Medical campus, and then a jungle.
The emphasis of Forterra is on massive environments where lots of people can interact. There are also efforts, sponsored by IBM, to create interoperable virtual worlds. The economics aren’t right for it just yet.