Inventing the Future

Situation Room

Real situation rooms devote an awful lot to physical requirements.

Here’s a virtual situation room from Forterra’s Olive platform, where there is lot more emphasis on dealing with the situation.

Of course, a real operations center needs to control and interact with the physical world, pulling in not just media, but also manifestations of live data. And the participants must be able to take actions that effect the real world. See an older video of a Teleplace network operations center doing that here.

If virtualization can produce an effective result for much less money, why not apply it in business as well as government? Here’s an example from industry analysts at Think Balm.

Physical situation rooms have costly recording equipment and people to operate them. This is an area where virtual situation rooms can not only be cheaper, but better because easier-to-use means more-likely-to-happen.

Of course, the point of a situation room is to bring experts and stakeholders together to deal with a changing situation. All the participants need to be able to quickly interact with resources, without physical or technological limitation. Unlike the set-in-concrete behemoths, a virtual environment can do better than bunkers to facilitate brainstorming and bringing new ideas together.

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Inventing the Future

Because You Can

Ever since Shelly’s “Frankenstein”, the distinguishing characteristic of science fiction (as opposed to fantasy and other literature) has been the postulation that beings can change the circumstances of the world in which they live. We can alter the human condition, for better or worse. An idea of the last few decades has been that we can create an alternative reality for ourselves that is better than the one we inhabit in the flesh. For example, the movie “Avatar” has the characters access an improved natural world through a virtualized experience.

This terrific short blog applies this idea wonderfully to learning and collaboration. “The real power of a virtual immersive environment is the ability to transport the learner or collaborators into an environment that is ideally suited for the learning or collaborating that needs to take place and this usually requires an altering of the spaces.”

In principle, we can abstractly virtualize such an experience with 2D photographs, or even 1D text, but that doesn’t tend to cross the threshold of immersion that is necessary for deep learning and deep collaboration. As this commenter on the above puts it, “In most 2-D meeting tools, the data is the center of focus, not the human. Think about a Web meeting. The leader is simply showing participants slides. But the participants are not interacting with the information, nor one another.” Simply reading about nature or viewing it from a helicopter was not enough for the characters in Avatar, they had to “be” there and interact with it.

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Tales of the Sausage Factory

Congrats to Adam Thierer! PFF to Get Needed New Blood and New Ideas (But Don't Worry, We'll Still Disagree On Most Things).

Adam Thierer, long-time friend and opposite number in the Libertarian Camp, has just been named President of the Progress and Freedom Foundation, replacing Ken Ferree. Frankly, I hope Adam will bring a dose of new thinking tp PFF, since Ken Ferree has pretty much spent the last several years explaining at great length why everything the Powell FCC did was wonderful, rational, and the epitome of all that was right in public policy whereas Kevin Martin was a revisionist wanker and traitor to the Neocon Revolution. Much as I’m sure this was amusing for the participants, it did get old after a bit.

I expect Adam and I (and PFF) will continue to disagree on most things regulatory. But I have found in the past that Adam is an intelligent and engaging person willing to actually listen to what other people have to say before responding — and generally sticking to substance rather than the ad hominem or mindless talking points favored by too many here in DC. In other words, he is the sort of Free Market enthusiast/anti-regulatory advocate who makes me work for a living and is a necessary counterpoint to make any system work.

I wish him luck, but (if you will excuse me) not too much success.

Stay tuned . . . .

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Inventing the Future

How to Think

During the post-9/11 dot com bubble-bursting, I worked at a dying company that had an “offsite” guided brainstorming session on how to save the business. I think it was on a disused floor of our rapidly emptying Tech Square office building. I had heard of various bits of brainstorming methodology before, e.g., no criticism of ideas; quantity over quality of ideas, and so forth. But I had never gone through such a complete formal process like the one the facilitator took us through.

Well, just as I had heard about early adopters and s-curves long before I had read Crossing the Chasm, there are now lots of software and general business methodologies built around Brainstorming concepts. The idea is to have a somewhat reproducible process to identify and explore everything that matters in the task at hand. Agile programming, including eXtreme Programming and Scrum, have the same general purpose. The key is diversity of viewpoints about specific questions.

Now we’re seeing a sort of slow motion explosion in the use of virtual worlds for this.

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Inventing the Future

Operations Center +1

David Smith made this video a year ago, showing how you could have:

  • virtual world objects automatically populated by real world objects;
  • scripted behavior for those interactive objects that:

    • gives realtime display of real world data associated with those objects;
    • allows you to control the associated real world objects (like Swayze in “Ghost”);

  • all while functioning in a standard virtual world in which the participants can communicate with voice/video/text/gesture and spontaneously share apps, etc.

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Inventing the Future

Voting and the Emergent Value of Presence

There’s a lot of interest in voting technology for the expected record numbers of voters in the US presidential election, and voting widgets have become an expected accessory in social Web sites. But the simplest voting technology is no explicit technology. Is there a place for that in virtual worlds?

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