Virtualizing Life and Sharing Experience:
An Ecology of Interfaces

Mon, Jun 11, 2007


Metaverse Meetup at Jerry’s Loft – A Generation Y Think Tank

Jerry Paffendorf’s loft is a true Generation Y think tank, tingling with orgone energy radiating from a new cosmos of connectivity, social networking and mobility, where immersive virtual worlds are a natural habitat.

Generation Y – 20 to 35 years old [a.k.a the 3pointD generation], are living demonstrations of the potentiality of digital and electronic media in supporting/shaping our social environment (Wonderlust).

Current metazens of JLoft include Metaverse Architect Christian Westbrook a.k.a Christian Prior, rising Machinima star Pierce Portocarrero, who has recently come to town to work on his upcoming machinima sitcom for Virtual NBC, and the legendary Glitchy – a contributor to 3pointD who “stands astride a number of virtual worlds.” Mark Wallace notes, Glitchy is “a card-carrying member of the 3pointD generation.”

This was the setting for a Metaverse Meetup, last Thursday, on the topic of Global Online Cities: Trevor F. Smith and Ogoglio. The meetup was packed with metarati listening, questioning, and giving Trevor F. Smith feedback on his new metaverse technology, Ogoglio (click here to listen to the whole talk).

Ogoglio is inspired by car free city design – city planning based on human scale space. Ogoglio takes ideas of city planning online to create virtual cities by dropping 3D spaces into the web where they can connect using existing patterns of web development.

Satchmo Prototype a.k.a. Chris Carella – the Creative Director, Electric Sheep Company, and Becky Carella, Software Developer at The Electric Sheep Company, Hiro Pendragon a.k.a. Ron Blechner, CTO of Infinite Vision Media, and Murat Aktihanoglu of Holoscape, creator of Unype – the multiuser Google Earth experience, and Donald Schwartz, Image Link Productions, and many other movers and shakers of the metaverse listened and asked important questions about Ogoglio.

While this post is going to focus on this real life Metaverse Meetup in Jerry’s loft, I would like to point out that thanks to the miracle of Second Life you don’t have to live in the New York area to participate in a full on Geek Meet. Nick Wilson has organized The Metaversed Geek Meet:

a weekly networking event where we discuss the weeks business and technology news, make new friends swap blog and twitter urls and more. Join us today at 11am SLT/PST at the this landmark!


Dreaming Up A New Social/Virtual Environment – First Some Back Story to A Metaverse Meetup


The ideas of Tuftedubbed the Leonardo Da Vinci of data – are resonating with the 3D generation. Tufte is famous for his analysis of the shortcomings of Power Point that “disrupts and trivializes,” and whose poverty of information he points out has not only turned business meetings into arenas of excruciating boredom, but contributed to calamities like the Columbia Shuttle disaster in 2003.

As new ideas of virtualizing reality are integrated into immersive worlds and reworked in 2.o thinking, mirror worlds, or whatever you want to call them, are going to become rocking places to hang out in.

To get a glimpse of some of the ways the high end technology is developing see Photosynth. Photosynth combines the Seadragon technology which obliterates limitations of screen resolution with 3D photo tourism, allowing people to create immersive 3D worlds from hundreds of thousands of different photos and form interconnected user generated environments.

A Multi-User Google Earth

Will avatars soon appear in Photosynth worlds? Unype (Beta) is creating a mutli-user Google Earth. Murat Aktihangu of Holoscape, creator of Unype, was at the meetup. And, I have asked Murat for an interview for a future post.


From Lifelogging to Generative Story Telling

Jerry Paffendorf’s Fake Wello project explores the new frontier of virtualizing our lives and experiences through generative story telling. Notably, Jerry does not depend on expensive technology only available in Universities and R&D labs to innovate. In this project, as in Destroy TV, he uses Flickr for the Wello experiment in generative entertainment, (see also Jerry’s comments about Flickr’s origin as a virtual world called Game Never Ending in my previous post).

I want it to become more like, here are a bunch of pieces of our lives and interests piled together and suddenly they’re alive and changing and telling us things about ourselves that we never saw before or wouldn’t have said, and it’s happening without us doing anything once we’ve flipped the switch. But, we will start with junk and fabboo, if that’s where it starts.


This picture from The Other Here:

The generative hotties in WELLO (left to right that’s Graham Roberts, Mini Christian, Shadow Wallace, Baba (on my shirt), Glitchy, and Tim Moenk)

Quite aptly the event that led to Trevor F. Smith’s coming to Brooklyn was Jerry’s blog post on “the theme song for the internet of things”(Bruce Sterling), “Remind Me” by Royksopp (see Bruce Sterling’s blog).
Jerry posted “Remind Me” and wrote:

This is what I plan to work on in the future: virtual worlds, mirror worlds, whatever you want to call them, that graphically show people, things, and systems in the real world.

And Trevor in the comments:

I’ve wanted that exact thing since the day I read Tufte. Count this toolmaker in.

So the connection was made and Trevor to came from Seattle to Brooklyn to present Ogolio at the Metaverse meetup.

Ogoglio – Populating and Connecting Districts In A Global City


Trevor explained some important aspects of the Ogoglio concept that may not be entirely clear from a visit to the Ogoglio site (Trevor says this will change). Ogolio applies ideas from urban design to online spaces to create a “dense populace place for people to do creative work together.”

How the virtual spaces and districts get linked and populated will be the same as for http, i.e., through search engines and metagames. Bloggers have of course prototyped the use of metagames for linking superbly. If you are unfamiliar with the multitude of blogger metagames check out how bloggers on MyBlogLog create links. e.g., Brown Thoughts, and Steli. Dosh Dosh, in particular, reports on blogger metagames, and has initiated many.

A Different Niche From Second Life

Ogoglio began 1 1/2yrs ago. Trevor collaborates with Nic Ducheneaut from Xerox PARC, who helps on the city design, and, Ian Smith at Intel Research, “a fantastic engineer and technology architect.” Trevor says Ogoglio is probably a couple of years away from being a commodity.

Ogoglio fills a very different market niche from Second Life. This is a 3D space with no big client that integrates into the context of a web page. As Trevor points out, a Second Life avatar face is bigger than all the Ogoglio files put together.

The question and answer session was intense. This was a room full of metaverse architects with a great depth of experience. Ron Bechner a.k.a. Hiro Pendragon, who has discussed many interface issues re Virtual Worlds and Second Life on his blog, made a number of interesting suggestions which go beyond the scope of this post to explain in detail. But, he saw the possibility of a Slogoglio – a platform that would look something like Second Life and Ogoglio.

Cross Space Avatar Teleport in Ogoglio

Chris Carella, ESC, raised the issue that is, perhaps, one of the biggest challenges for Ogoglio development – cross space avatar teleport. I went over this question with Trevor afterwards in an email exchange to be sure that I had Trevor’s answer clear:

The core idea is that when you enter a space on some new server your client will hand the server a URL and some permission tokens which it will use to fetch data about your avatar from your home server. OpenID is an example of this sort of system and I hope to get enough people interested that avatar profiles will be a standard extension for OpenID.

After Hours In Jerry’s Loft: Interfaces that Create A Great User experience:

As the meetup wound down the conversation drifted to after hours themes, in particular, the red hot new dating site iminlikewithyou. This site, still in beta, combines dating with Twitter like – in their simplicity – user generated one-liner games. The user interface is a lean mean flirting machine – very, very clever, great sense of repartee, playful, totally enchanting to the ear and eye, in short, totally irresistible. You just can’t tear yourself away.


The idea is to post one liner games and interested parties bid to win your game. You are then free to contact the winner, flirt and whatever……. There is already a pretty big Generation Y community on board and getting down with iminlikewithyou.

It is impossible not to get taken by the charms of this site. And, after I did some over enthusiastic twittering, Aleister Kronos got concerned and suggested the launch of an another site was in order.

But, Aleister seems to have got the knack for this clever new URL design. This kind of URL creation neatly sidesteps the utter scarcity of good short names by using a long viral phrase that sticks in your brain. Anyway, check it out, young San Franciscan’s are reshaping our social environment again.

StoryBank – What An Indian Village Can Teach Silicon Valley Designers

But, you don’t have to just look to California hipsters to find innovation. Story Bank, a story telling project in an Indian village, creates new ways of browsing, and sharing community experience that combines touch-based interaction with engaging visual presentations, and draws on villager’s familiarity with radio listening.

Non-Textual Approaches To Browsing

While the prototype aims to overcome low-textual literacy and lack of computing experience, the alternative ways of browsing, sharing and creating audio-visual materials on both large and small devices could also provide consumers at the other end of the skill spectrum with new ways of creating and editing videos, music, and pictures to share with other users.

The project uses camera phone story authoring and access. The villagers can give and take away stories from StoryBank, via Bluetooth near the situated display which uses a touch-screen and radio knob to access audio-visual content.


One Click Entry into 3D Space


Just before I was about to leave the Metaverse Meetup, Jerry came out with the Jewel of 3D interfaces – the View-Master.

The View-Master’s only shortcoming, of course, is connectivity. On the left is what a View-Master meetup looked like back in the day (photo from joshbzin flickr stream)

View-Master Takes A Ride On The Social Media Wave


Hector Ouilhet, an interaction designer fascinated by social behaviors, technology and design has (for his thesis project) hacked a ViewMaster to create Wanderlust – a mobile service tailored for creative people to allow them to immerse in new or unexplored spaces as well to meet people with similar interests. Wanderlust enhances community behaviors by providing suggestions from people and places that can be relevant to you (ad-hoc social networking), and by using a knowledge management model. Ouilhet produced three prototypes. Wanderlust has three interfaces – a website, a mobile application, and a hacked View-Master. While this project is only in protoype, with one side of the View-Master functioning, riding the social media wave through an awesome one click 3D interface is definitely a plan with legs.


Evan Almighty on Second Life!


Well it is good to have friends in high places. I missed the screening and party on Dell Island for Evan Almighty (busy writing this post). I arrived just as the Infinite Vision Media crew, including Hiro Pendragon – CTO for Infinite Vision Media, and Fatal Raine, were wrapping things up. The whole of Dell Island including the theater was flooded! A surpirse ending to what was a fun party. But, Hiro, who I met at the Metaverse Meetup, set up a screen on The Ark just for me. Thanks! The unique clips about the making of Evan Almighty were put together especially for the Second Life event.

Hiro says that there may be another mixed reality event before the June 22nd opening. So you may have another chance to party on The Ark and in RL again. Entertainment included Second Life’s own anthropomorphic duo, Frogg Marlowe and Jaycatt Nico. And, Trinity Serpentine and Nala Galatea hosted the event, giving out prizes to the best furry or neko couple. There were also freebies (scale model arks), and prizes too, I gather. And, I think some doves were sent out to look for land after the flood!


Hiro is a polar bear for the occasion.


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categories: Augmented Reality, Metarati, Metaverse, Mixed Reality, Mobile Technology, Virtual Worlds, Web 2.0, Web 3D, Web3.D, World 2.0

2 Comments For This Post

  1. Trevor F. Smith Says:

    Thanks for putting together this summary of the meetup and posting the audio recording. I had fun meeting the Brooklyn folks and hashing out different aspects of the Ogoglio project and how it relates to other current work.

  2. Aleister Kronos Says:

    The other issues with the View-master (of blessed memory) include:
    lack of vertical scaling- only a fixed number of piccies per “wheel”, though “horizontal scaling” thru the addition of extra “wheels” was OK.
    no interactivity – you got what was on the “wheel” – a dim view was taken if you used felt tip pens to add your own customisations!

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  1. ecology » Blog Archive » Ecology Coatings to Go Public Says:

    [...] Metaverse Meetup at Jerry s Loft – A Generation Y Think Tank. Jerry Paffendorf s loft is a true Generation Y think tank, tingling with orgone energy radiating from a new cosmos of connectivity, social networking and mobility, … …more [...]

  2. UgoTrade » Blog Archive » EOLUS Makes Leap To 3D Internet On Second Life Says:

    [...] data will be important here. Tufte is famous for his analysis of the shortcomings of Power Point (see my earlier post) that “disrupts and trivializes,” and whose poverty of information he points out has not only [...]

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