DR. YESHA SIVAN
DECEMBER 27, 2007
ONDER SKALL: Hello everyone, and welcome to another session of Metanomics, part of
the Metaversed series of events that we hold in conjunction with Cornell University's
Johnson School. The main sponsor of Metaversed Island is the Otherland Group: Making
Sense of Virtual Business.
I'd also like to take a brief moment to thank the sponsors of the Metanomics series at all of
the Metaversed events. They are Kelly Services, Saxo Bank, Sun Microsystems, Cisco
Systems, Generali Group, and SAP. And of course none of this would be possible without
SLCN, who are the best source to talk to when it comes to working with video in virtual
Avatars across the grid at all event partner locations can join the conversation by joining the
Metanomics Group. And also remember to join the Metaversed Group for all future
Metaversed events. If you have any questions for our guest today you can send the directly
to me, my avatar's name is Onder Skall. Our guest today is Dr. Yesha Sivan, founder of
Metaversed Labs, and introducing him today will be our host, Robert Bloomfield, of Cornell.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Well, Onder, thank you very much for that introduction, and
thanks to everyone for coming to the very last Metanomics session of 2007. We're going to
come back with a good list of speakers in January of 2008, and we'll be passing details
along to all of you. Today we have with us Dr. Yesha Sivan, from Israel. Yesha, welcome to
DR. YESHA SIVAN: Welcome, and good to be here.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: So let's start as we usually do at Metanomics shows, just talking
about our guest. So you've been involved with a lot of different companies. You’re the
founder of Metaversed Labs, which is a think tank in the Metaverse. You did schooling at
Harvard. You were an entrepreneur in residence at a venture studio. Can you tell us a little
bit about how you got involved in virtual worlds?
DR. YESHA SIVAN: Sure. About a year and a half ago my kid was playing World of
Warcraft, looking at that, and I really didn't find it very interesting. So I was puzzled. How
come it's so successful? And basically I looked around and I stumbled upon a presentation
by, I think, Philip Enquiry(?) that was about an hour long, as part of the Google series. And I
looked at that and that really looked interesting, and was sort of reminiscing of the Google
D&D days. And I sort of remembered that about 20-some years ago I actually wrote a D&D
game that used computers--it was a TI58--and doing that launched my passion. Before that
I spent about ten years doing enterprise software, so you can say it's a really big change, in
many ways. But I always did relationship and knowledge, and sort of three-dimensional and
visual representations, so that all jelled together into this Metaverse world.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Okay. So you see this as pretty natural progression in the
research that you've been doing, and the business connections?
DR. YESHA SIVAN: Definitely. My previous patents were on visual presentation of
knowledge, and I actually did use sort of a concrete metaphor of a city. I also see a lot of
potential usage for the Metaverse for businesses in the future. It's clear that currently it's
mainly for fun and entertainment, and that's going to be the case for the next two or three
years but, down the road, I definitely see a lot of businesses starting to use it for real
business. Not just selling and presenting and stuff, but also for actually doing work and
creating products together and things like that.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Well, that's a natural segue into sort of where we're going to start
our discussion. And in a break from our Metanomics history over the last couple months, we
actually have some slides. So sure, SLCN will make sure to focus on those at the
appropriate times and right now, let's just walk through. There are these four major points on
the first slide we have, which has, by the way, a very fetching picture of you, Yesha. So--
DR. YESHA SIVAN: Thank you.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: And--
DR. YESHA SIVAN: I'm trying to look like my avatar, you know?
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: The first point that you make is the Metaverse will be big. And
then we can just run through these real quickly. You have a definition of the Metaverse,
which is: 3D, 3C; we're going to talk about that. Your personal interest has been very, very
heavily involved in standard setting, and so you've had some interesting thoughts about how
to describe standards, and we'll talk about that for a bit. And then finally we'll talk about a
big-money project that you are proposing to a European organization--and this is called the
Metaverse One Project--to actually develop standards for the Metaverse, and we'll work our
way up to that one. But let me start by just asking you to elaborate a little bit on what you
mean by “the Metaverse will be big.”
DR.YESHA SIVAN: First of all I don't have the proof yet, but it’s basically, you know, a deep
feeling. But I distinctly remember that I was sitting in my office 15 years ago and I got my
first Internet connection. And I was running the first browser, and looking at the Vatican site,
and the MIT site, and things like that. When I looked at Second Life, I had the same feeling
because I think it's really fundamental change in the way we are communicating, doing
work, learning, etcetera. I think there is a collection of factors that really makes this thing
Let me also say that we are basically just starting. You know, what we have now in Second
Life, is like the gopher of the Internet. We don't have the Metaverse yet. You know, if we had
to spend two hours, almost, to get ready for this presentation, it means it's not really yet
there. If only 40 people can participate in this call, and if we cannot really talk to each other,
then it's not really what I mean when I say full Metaverse.
But we're definitely getting there. I mean, I definitely see lots of new technologies, both in
servers, clients and, most importantly, networks that will allow the Metaverse to become
what it needs to be.
It's not only about the technology and about what can be done with the technology, it's also
about the needs of society. And I see a tremendous growth for communication, and the
simple [claim is?], you know, lots of old people in [Florida?]. These people, and the people
that are now playing with ICQ, and doing chess will be old in ten or 20 and will need to
exercise their lives in a certain way.
It's not as big a problem in the U.S., but it's a huge problem in Europe. The population gets
old and the cost of treatment is tremendous. So such technologies are going to do wonders.
So we have a combination of both a need and a technology that can solve that need. So I
look at it as a huge opportunity.
And the second point, really, is about the society. Because I think if you think about it, one
could create virtual businesses, but for real. I mean, it takes a lot of energy to do these
things today but with such three-dimensional technologies and the ability to communicate,
and the ability to jointly structure things in a three-dimensional environment--you know, one
could have a girlfriend in India and a helper somewhere in Africa. And so I see it as a great
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Yeah, well, I'll say this show, Metanomics, itself, is remarkably
global operation. SLCN is from Australia. I'm in Ithaca. You're in Israel. And then, let's see.
Ander/Caleb, is in Ontario. And Nick, who runs the island and sort of oversees the larger
efforts of Metaversed, is in Denmark. So we did pull together--
DR. YESHA SIVAN: Wow.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: --people from just about everywhere. So some of your vision, at
least, is realized, although I--we have a number of people who seem to appreciate--I'm
looking at the Metanomics backchat, and people are appreciating your reference to Gopher.
So for people who are under 30 in the audience, can you just describe a little bit of what
Gopher was, and why you see the comparison?
DR.YESHA SIVAN: Okay; I'm sorry.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: No, that’s [terrific?].
DR.YESHA SIVAN: So and actually I do like to use a lot of historical examples, because I
think we are really going through the same path in merging technologies. So before we had
the Internet, and before we had html, and before we had browsers, we had Gopher. Gopher
was basically like a browser but instead of links, you had menus. Really. That was it. So if
you wanted to navigate through things, you'd do it through links.
And actually, you could do a lot with just menus. And, you know, with the menus, you could
see different texts, and you can navigate--there were some advanced commands that would
not be [real?] menus, but sort of reference menus, which was sort of preminiscing for the
links. And people worked that way. And people were happy. And they never knew anything
And just to use the analogy, once we had sort of a something that was just a little bit better--
you know, the links--we had an addition of visuals, of pictures. That created something
which was completely new. It was augmented by a much more sophisticated PCP IP, and
DNS, so core technology behind the scenes, and that really launched the revolution.
Although please bear in mind that it took Google ten years to emerge as the player that it is.
You know, we had Alta Vista at the time, and everybody thought, you know, search was
over. And that's it. So even if you have the technology in place, you don't necessarily have
the application; it takes time for people to build them. So there's a lot of hope for the
Metaverse despite the fact that Second Life doesn't work.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: You never know if our overlords are going to edit that sort of
Now let me follow up. You've tossed around the word “Metaverse” a few times, but I haven't
yet pressed you to define it. And I know you have a definition, and it’s rather controversial,
because I saw you present it to a large group of people who were actually creating a variety
of different platforms. Not all of them agreed with you on your definition. But we actually
have a slide here, and let's see, yeah--
DR. YESHA SIVAN: You're wanting to--okay.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Let me just make that change. So your definition of the
Metaverse is you have a requirement: 3D, 3C.
DR. YESHA SIVAN: Right.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: So can you just walk us through what these elements are and
then, in this slide, you can talk a little bit about where you see these different existing worlds
DR. YESHA SIVAN: So first of all, let me say a few things here. You know, before you
delve into a new domain, one has to actually define the domain and say, "Look, this is what I
am doing." One cannot do everything.” And that, I think, is a good practice for anybody who
wants to be in a certain industry, especially in an industry that is just developing. So that
was the sort of rationale why I had to develop this taxonomy, really.
The other thing--and, you know, we used that when I was in the venture capital firm in JDP.
We basically use that tool to distinguish between what is a Metaverse and what is not a
Metaverse. I mean, there are good things out there that are not Metaverse. And that's fine.
They should continue to do their stuff. But if we believe in the Metaverse, and if we want to
go forward we need _____ identified.
So if I may just talk about the definition, first, basically, for something to be a true
Metaverse, it needs to have high levels of these four things. And what are these four things?
The first is 3D. One should have a three-dimensional environment, and a controllable three-
dimensional environment. It means that you can walk in it, you can change the location of
the avatar. Perhaps you can even--and this is something we have not seen yet, but it's
definitely in the cards--we can actually see a fourth dimension where you can actually zoom
into the past. One can actually see this island as if it was just created and handed from God.
And one can actually sort of zoom and see how things were created. So that is controllable
The other three factors have to do with community, which is basically real people. But it is
not just the fact that they're real people, it is the fact that there is a whole system here that
allows [AUDIO GAP] and the community to be created. I mean one of the major
achievements of Linden Labs is this very elaborate structure of groups with all the
permissions, and the rights, and the ownership, and the officer, and the owner, and the fact
that you can name that. That's a very, very, very, advanced environment. You know, it's
almost an operating system level--set of tools.
So when you have a structure community you can actually start creating these things. And
just to use our example, using a specific group to discuss what we're talking right now and
probably publish the fact that we have talked. So it's old tools that are available in this
particular example of the Metaverse.
Creation is very important. You know one way to talk about creation is to say, you know, it's
like we're at 2.0 thing. You know, people can actually build stuff. And I think this is very
important because that really unleashes the creativity that is out there. And again, you
know, _____ Second Life on an amazing achievement in allowing people to build stuff, both
on the visual presentation with the objects, as well as in the scripting, you know, Colleen
Jacob(?) did an amazing work on that thing. It's really high level, in terms of the flexibility
and the stuff that we can see.
Last but not least--and this is very, very important--the fact that commerce, and real
commerce, you know, real money is actually structured into the world. That is a key factor
for a true Metaverse.
Now, notice that in this table I have a scale, one to five, which is--I completely invented it
just yesterday--because we talked about it, you know--to explain this. It doesn't have to be a
five, right? However, it needs to be a two or three at least. And again I'm talking
theoretically here. So let's talk about World of Warcraft for a second as an example. You
know, the most successful game ever created. That little thing generated $1.5 billion a year
to Blizzard. So they are making a lot of money on that. Now is that a Metaverse? So
obviously it's a good thing. People were using it. And the company's making a lot of money.
Three-D? Absolutely. Absolutely. The quality is amazing, the flexibility is amazing and now
that you have maps and stuff and you can actually fly in the sky, that's even better. So
clearly five stars.
Community? Definitely a very good one. You know, they don't have all the little things that
you can do in Second Life, but definitely they have that. Creation is very minimal. You know,
you can select your shield; you can change clothes. But that's very, very minimal. It's
nothing like we are familiar with in Second Life.
In commerce--you know, I was generous when I gave them one star, although you cannot
really do anything with the gold. Of course that's not really true, because you can actually
sell it in the black market. And one could really ask why Blizzard is not permitting that, and
there's a whole discussion about that.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Yes, yes, I could. Let me just ask you a few questions about
some of these specific items. So first of all, can you talk a little bit about on 3D, why Second
Life only gets three starts compared to World of Warcraft's five?
DR. YESHA SIVAN: Graphics in Second Life sucks.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Oh, okay. So it's basically the quality of the rendering, the--
DR.YESHA SIVAN: It’s the quality of the rendering, the speed; it's the number of times that
avatar gets rendered. There's _____. It's gray stuff. Now, granted, doing Second Life is
much more complicated than doing World of Warcraft. You know, one has to remember that
all the textures in World of Warcraft are downloaded into your computer and stay there. And
they can actually do that because they already know what the textures are going to be.
Unfortunately, because you have the creations in Second Life, you cannot do that. So you
need the completely different technology. So when we talk about the Metaverse, it's
important to look at all the factors and, because of all these factors, you many need to build
your technology in a different way. And that is the reason I admire Second Life for what
they've done, because they're actually trying to attack all these fronts. It's not--well, it's an
easy task to do something that doesn't have creation.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Okay. Now on the commerce side where you give World of
Warcraft only one star--
DR. YESHA SIVAN: Right.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Now, within the world there's a very active commercial community
that is buying and selling things, but it, as you mentioned, it's restricted. It's not real life
trade. They have largely successfully banned that. And so I just want to clarify when you talk
about commerce, you just don't really count what goes on in World of Warcraft?
DR.YESHA SIVAN: Yeah. It's not monopol--
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: No monopoly money. Okay.
DR. YESHA SIVAN: Yeah.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Now another question is--actually we have a number of people in
the Metanomics chat channel asking about this. Is for HIPIHI--
DR. YESHA SIVAN: Yeah.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: --the Chinese world. You have a couple question marks.
DR. YESHA SIVAN: Well, I think all of us have question marks.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: How do you see their commercial orientation right now?
DR. YESHA SIVAN: Well, it all boils down to the fact they're a 100 percent copy of Second
Life. Not 100 percent; maybe 95 percent. So if they want to go this route, they will have
money. They're not fully out there yet. And also there's another question which I'm unclear:
what's going to be the policy of the Chinese government in this? China is well known for
setting up very quickly all those rules and regulations to certain things. So I think we don't
know. I mean if somebody in the audience knows we definitely would like to get that
We did meet. Actually, I think both of us met the founder of the HIPIHI in the conference in
San Jose, and he seemed very bullish about actually, you know, doing everything. So I
simply don't know.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Yeah. And certainly they have a very different regulatory
environment than Second Life has in the United States. I know the Chinese government has
expressed a variety of concerns about the--what were they? The QQ dollars. And then of
course, there's the question of intellectual property rights, which are notoriously difficult to
enforce in China right now.
Okay, let's move on a bit. I do want to mention--just because I'm watching the backchat
here--and I do want to mention that this is just an abbreviated list of worlds that you
categorize here and that we know there are many, many worlds out there. You know I'd also
like to mention--just since we were talking about the real money trading in MMOs--a
company called Livegamer just had a public announcement today on their business plan.
And what they're doing is they are partnering with MMOs. They have contracts with a variety
of clients who run the MMOs, and they're going to be providing plug-in capabilities so that
you will be able to engage in real-money trade right on the gaming platform.
DR. YESHA SIVAN: Interesting.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: --through NIGE. And so I wonder, if this Livegamer business
model becomes successful, then we're going to have games that are--and just looking
across where we have WoW, they're probably going to be high on the 3D, high on the
community, low on creation, but high on commerce. You still wouldn't really view them as
part of the Metaverse as you see it?
DR. YESHA SIVAN: Right. But that's the reason I sort of put Google Earth in the bottom.
Apparently, a lot of people are starting to use SketchUp to create objects, and that is
becoming sort of a standard environment to build, at least, objects. Now object is not yet
programmable object, which is obviously what we are looking at, but I think the distance is
not too far. So I've actually seen a few companies that are doing stuff that takes Google
Earth objects, or sort of SketchUp objects, and simply you can furnish your home with those
objects. So the point is that, you know, we may be seeing in the future standard tools to
build up products. So that'll be cool. That will actually be the same tool that allows people to
add commerce with. So you may get external tools that will turn games into full Metaverses.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Okay. Let's move on, and I am going to see--yep, we have our
next slide up now. And this one is on standards. And here, as I understand it, we're getting
to the heart of where you expect to be spending your time over the next however many
years in pushing the Metaverse forward, and that's in creating standards over the different
key elements that underlie the Metaverse.
And so before we talk about specific standards, I guess, wow, I can tell I'm getting old
because now I realize this paper is seven years old. But you wrote a paper on the five
dimensions of technological standards, so I'm wondering if you can just walk us through
what these five dimensions are and perhaps where you see us being in the Metaverse right
DR. YESHA SIVAN: Sure, sure. And if we connect that to what we said earlier, and what
we're going to say in ten minutes. Basically, we will not have a full Metaverse until we will
have common standards. What we have now in the Metaverse is basically separate islands.
We have Second Life, we have _____, we have HIPIHI. They're not connected with each
other. That is the model of game, you know, where you had World of Warcraft and you had
the server and the client, and everything from Blizzard. It's a separatist approach.
What we want to have is more of an intimate approach, where you have a very defined
stack--you know, that's an IT term--where you have clients and you have servers and, along
those things, things develop. Now this is not just to allow avatars to go from one world to
another; this is mainly to enable innovation. Because if you have a clearly defined stack, you
suddenly have a market and you have incentives for companies to develop core
technologies. That is what you--
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Actually, so if I can interrupt for a minute, when you talk about the
stack, can you, just in layman's terms, give us a sense of what you mean?
DR. YESHA SIVAN: Again, let's take the example of the Internet. We have a browser--you
know, there are several browsers out there. We have [AllPro?], we have Internet Explorer,
we have Microsoft, we have Firefox. We have servers. We have several servers, right? We
have one for Microsoft, one from Sun, and Apache, which is open source. We have HTML,
which is a standard--you know, that's the language that controls the relationship--and we
have lots of other standards. There are over 500 different standards to run the Internet. We
have DNS, and PCP IP, etc.
But that allows different companies to work with. You know, Cisco, Juniper, are developing
the networks. And Microsoft, etc. developing this and that. And you know, CNN is doing
content. And, you know, big players are sort of putting their energy, and doing it. We don't
have that in the Metaverse today. What we have is Second Life, and what we have is
_____. It’s very limited. If you're Anche Chung’s studio in China, you have to do everything,
you know, two or three or four times. The same chair, you have to build it four times for the
four worlds you want to work with. This is not allowing innovation; this is basically
hampering. And that's the reason we have only 150,000 users in Second Life. These are
crazy enough people that, you know, they want to suffer.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: I'll try not to take offense.
DR. YESHA SIVAN: Right, right, right, right. I'm counting myself in. But it's really not what
we want to have; we want to have millions of users. And to do that we need a much larger
set of developers and companies that are actually in the business. So every time we have
such a case, the standard solution for it--and forgive me for the pun--is to develop
Now standards is very interesting topic. People love it. You know, the famous joke is that
what's nice about standards is that there are so many to choose from. And apparently, it's a
complicated matter. It has its roots in many disciplines. But what I did in this work was
basically to look at the various dimensions of standards. And every time somebody has to
make a decision on a particular standard, whether they want to adopt a particular standard,
or whether they want to develop a standard, or whether they want to develop a competing
standard, they can actually look at this framework and make a decision.
So I will just go quickly on this, and sort of explain this. So first of all there's the set of the
level. The level basically says you can have a standard for yourself, you can have a
standard your own organization, you can have an association of companies or organizations
that are doing something together, you can have a national standard, and you can have an
international standard. So these are the different levels, and every standard--you know, html
is an international standard, but the way I write my meetings and my calendar is my own
standard. And the way the university organizes the classes is an organizational standard.
That's the level.
Purpose is a very interesting, I would say, axis, because this dimension talks about the
different purposes that one can have for a standard. And apparently one can talk about
several things here. Simplification. Simply doing things in a simple way really helps.
Communication. Both communication between people, and communication between
machines, and people and machines.
Homogination is a little more complicated. It has to do with how different systems
communicate if they're not compatible. You basically harmonize the system. You have some
kind of different way to translate from one system to another. Another purpose for a
standard is basically protection. And here's an interesting example. You know, Second Life
creates a separation between the teen grid and the adult grid. That is really for the
protection of the kids. It also takes the energy to make sure the kids are not on the adult
grid, and that's for their protection. That's an example of that.
Now, last but not least--and again I don't want to go into the whole theoretical structure
here--but variation is the fact that you can actually create value by saying, “You know, this is
good." And again, it all depends on the point of view, but sometimes you use standards to
say, "Yeah, this is good. This is what we want to have." You know, when you rank
restaurants, you basically say, "This restaurant is good." You are creating a language to
The third dimension has to do with effects. And this is actually an interesting thing because
sometimes standards are creating problems. Sometimes they are negative. And sometimes
they're not only negative, they are creating destruction when it comes to innovation. And
again you have to look at the history of standards to look at that, but you may have a
standard that is simply too strong and prevents efficiency. Now, the classical example is the
keyboard. You know, the arrangement of the keyboard, scientifically, is not the most efficient
arrangement. Yet nobody's able to change that, because it is just so common. So we have a
negative effect. The same goes for an operating system. When it's so broad then you have
something [in economics?] we call externality, which prevents people from coming up with
innovations, so you need a complete paradigm shift to take out of that.
Fourth dimension has to do with--it's called sponsor. It's basically who is in charge or who is
pushing the standard. Devoid, meaning nobody's there. This is really our current situation
with the Metaverse. We just see some people who are thinking about it. And we have a few
other levels, here. And the stage is where the standard, or the need for standards, is in life.
It's missing, currently in the Metaverse. Maybe it's now emerging, but this new project we
are doing, or some other projects that are out there to set standards, etcetera.
So that's basically sort of an overview of a much larger paper which people can take off the
Internet to read about standards, per se; it has nothing to do with the Metaverse,
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Right. Except that we can go through this list and look at where
we are currently on Metaverse standards. I guess I'm looking at dimension five [missing?].
Let me ask you--so Terra 50 is chatting in the Metanomics backchat channel, and she is
saying that, “Standards aren't going to be just handed down from the ivory tower, that
they're going to come from the people who are working on the ground, day to day, making
this happen. So what do you see your role as an academic being in the setting standards for
the development of the Metaverse?”
DR.YESHA SIVAN: Okay. First of all, standards is a big business. You know, big
companies are well aware of the power of standards. And there are several bodies out there
that are actually--you know, that's their job. That's what they do. There are several hundred
bodies--you know, the entire Internet is being controlled by IATS, which is engineering task
force in _____. So there are all kinds of these names that are actually responsible for setting
these standards. And the process is very, very, rigid. You know, there is proposal, and there
are the comments, and there are decisions, and there are tentative standards, and there are
complete standards, etcetera, etcetera.
But it all starts with some momentum; it does not start with just lots of people talking about
it. It needs to have a specific momentum and a specific set of forces that push it forward. So
about a year ago I happened to be in a conference in Europe that was a meeting of about
200 of the research labs, both academic and industry in Europe, under something called
ITIA(?), which is similar to the NSF(?) in the U.S.; it's basically sort of a grant agency. And
they're sort of collecting ideas for interesting things that need to happen. And what I
proposed there was something called Metaverse One. And we can actually move to that
slide. Yeah, you got it.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: And then I lost it. Look happy. There, I think we're all set.
DR. YESHA SIVAN: So well, I guess I don't see it. Now I see it. Great. So what is
Metaverse One? So Metaverse One is a standardization effort. It's a proposed project
under the ITIA(?) hat, and what we want to do is something like a combination of GSM and
Linux. And let me explain that explain that a little bit. I don't know how many of you are well
aware that the entire modern mobile phone system is built on a standard called GSM that
started in Europe about 15 years ago. And we brought up SNS and voicemail and all that
stuff. Now it's a very complicated standards, you know, over a thousand pages that define
what this system works, but it really made this industry what it is today. It's not that we didn't
have anything before. We had some things, but that sort of created a lot of value, and a lot
of new companies were created, etcetera.
Of course that example is very important to Europe because it came out of Europe. Now, in
terms of the process GSM was very much led by industry. It was companies that were into
that process, and they wanted to push it. If you want to have that's sort of in-between GSM
and Linux, Linux is more of an open-source development process. Again, we're not talking
about how to sell this stuff. we're talking about how we develop it.
So we want to sort of combine the GSM, and the Linux to build up. It's basically almost a
three-year project. Currently, we have about 50-some companies in it. It's led by Phillips,
with major players like Californica(?) and Alcatarusen(?). And the idea of the project is
actually to do three things. First, is to do the standards themselves. It's actually to map what
is out there--it's called SOTA, State of the Art--and map what is out there, make a decision
about what is important, what's not important, what's important now, what can wait for later,
to call for standards, etcetera, then build sort of prototype that will demonstrate the use of
the standard. And we're talking about something called “Cities of Europe” as what we want
to do. And then on top of these cities build several applications that will actually demonstrate
a full Metaverse in the making.
Now, the outcome of this project is basically _____ standards. So what we have here is
funded effort to actually jumpstart the process. And hopefully, that will probably, with some
other projects that are ready starting out there, be a leading force in this area. So that's the
idea behind Metaverse One. I'm sure you have lots of questions, so go ahead.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Yeah. Well, my first question, actually, is you did talk about the
cities, and using cities as, I guess, the virtual city metaphor running throughout Metaverse
One. Can you tell us what that metaphor is, and how you see that plan?
DR. YESHA SIVAN: It's basically when we talk about virtual environments or Metaverses,
you know, there are two distinct ways to look at it. One is sort of fantasy world, like Second
Life. And the other one is real world, what we call Mirror World. You know, you take the real
world of Paris or Jerusalem or whatever--New York--and you model it. And you start selling
apartments in this island, but in New York and in Paris and in places like that, and you really
see the stuff that is out there in the virtual environment.
There are some companies out there, including a very interesting company in Israel, that
specialize in three-dimensional scanning of the city, and putting it in place. And apparently
there's some claims out there that this is very appealing to certain people. You know, the
fantasy is nice, but it's not for everybody. People will be connected to this if it's something
that they know, or if it's something that they want to be. So there are many more people who
want to go to Paris, who have heard about Paris, and heard about the Eiffel Tower and want
to see it, than just people wondering in some island that was created.
It also leads to some very interesting applications. Starting from the _____, to education, to
language training, to, you know, just real estate, and things like that. So that is a whole new
range of applications that seems very interesting.
So what we're going to do is find two or three cities, map them--yeah, we're not mapping the
entire cities, kilometer over kilometer, which is less than a mile over a mile--and use that for
an infrastructure for the applications.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: And then the idea is to bring different companies in to try to come
up with the best practice on their element of the stack that otherwise ______ virtual world?
DR. YESHA SIVAN: Exactly.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Okay. And so how do companies get involved in this? Let me put
this another way. I know you were proposing to get a bunch of money from ITIA, and then
you are proposing to dole that money out to various companies that will help in this
endeavor. And so everyone's ears always perk up when there's money being passed
around. So can you just give us a sense of who, you know, is this something academics, or
game developers, or people should be looking at?
DR. YESHA SIVAN: Okay. It's not as rosy as you present it, but the bottom line is simple.
This is basically an industrial development funding agency. They're not developing papers
and research, they're developing products and technologies.
So, you know, we have already gathered the 51 companies that are going to participate and
sort of be the leaders, or at least the initial leaders, in this effort. These companies are
coming from all walks of life. There are big companies, small companies, and, you know,
even some academia in place. When you--we sort of delved the cake, and each of these
firms are going to request funding form their own local government based on the approval of
the ITIA project. That's the way it works. That's the funding mechanism. So if your budget is
a million dollars, you will get half of that from your government. That's the idea. And there
are, I think, seven or eight countries involved. All of them are in Europe.
There's another sort of way to connect with this on basis of you're not getting funding, but
you're participating. And I think IBM is in the discussion now to participate in this. IBM can
participate both from some places in Europe, and just as an observer in this work. I think
that particular thing is going to sort itself. The project, [physically/fiscally?] is going to start in
April 2008. We're currently at the process of--you know, we got the approval from the main
office, which is in Netherlands, and we're moving forward with sort of the local granting
And as we do that we get a lot of input from a lot of companies, and we're sort of collected
together in probably second quarter, we're going to have Web site specifically for that. And
we already know about similar projects happening in some other places, and we were going
to connect with them and hopefully do it the right way and not repeat the sort of old wars like
Betamax and VHS.
ROBET BLOOMFIELD: Well, let me ask, do you see those types of standards setting wars
developing now? Because, when I look around, and see the technologies that are being
used currently, they seem so very different from one another, and so very incompatible.
Now, I'm not a tech person, but that doesn't seem like a promising starting point.
DR. YESHA SIVAN: That's always the case that way. And it is the sign of an interesting
domain. People want to be in it. We have not yet seen the big players place their bets--
Microsoft and Google and big companies that that. We know Sun has an interesting process
that they are trying to push that's going to go through the java avenue. IBM has their own
ideas about how to do things. But, frankly, it's going to happen. It's going to happen, one
way or another. If we're going to have wars and too many wars, then the market's going to
lose. Instead of having the Metaverse in five years, we're going to have it in ten. So it's for
us, and for everybody who is a producer or a developer, or a user to simply push for
standards. And hopefully, we'll be able to, you know, lead that or actually push it in the right
direction, and make everybody--and at the end of the day, if we have standards, we have
more value, more people are using it, more people having fun, more innovations,
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: So we have a comment from one of our audience members,
Mystica Demina, saying, "One of the initial goals of the Internet and html was the capacity to
share content, and link to other people's content. Seems like the direction of what we're
seen so far in the Metaverse is that people are creating their own content in their own world.
“Would you agree with that, and do you think that the goals of the Metaverse are similar
enough to the goals of the Internet that we can view the standard setting as a similar
DR. YESHA SIVAN: That's a very good question. And let me say the following. It is very
common to look at the future through the rearview mirror. You know, we drive, instead of
looking forward, we would look at the rearview mirror, and look at the past. It's not my
invention; it's basically Marshall McCluhan. And it's the same thing. The Metaverse is not
the Internet. It's not going to be the Internet. And the challenges that we have in the
Metaverse are completely different. But we already see some of the issues emerge already
in the Internet. Sharing content is very important. It's critical.
But on the other hand--let me just give you a hint--virtual goods to the Metaverse is like
advertising to the Internet. You know, advertising is really running the Internet. That is
what's allowing all this innovation to happen. Now in the Metaverse, we will need something
similar. Now I don't see little ads running here and there in the Metaverse; I see something
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: We have them and, when we see them, we don't like them.
DR. YESHA SIVAN: We don't like them. It just doesn't work. It doesn't make sense. When
you have textual medium maybe it makes sense, but here it doesn't make sense. So we will
see different things. So there are many challenges that are familiar from the Internet that we
will need to solve, and there are many more challenges in the Metaverse that we don't even
know what they are. Things like multiple avatars and multiple identities and complicated
issues like that. It’s taxes. You know, if it's real money, then who's going to tax it? What are
you going to do with VAP? There's a whole complicated matter that we have to solve.
Gambling, if we can gam--if the servers are in Dallas we cannot gamble, if the servers are in
Monaco we can gamble. What exactly is going to happen? So there are lots and lots of
questions, and that's what makes this whole thing very interesting, by the way.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: So we've had sort of an ongoing chat screen here in the chat
channel about the city metaphor, and I'd like to go back to that for a minute. One of the
issues that people are talking about is whether mirror worlds actually are the best, or one of
the best, directions for virtual worlds to go. Rather than jumping into that debate right away,
I just want to clarify when you say Metaverse One is going to be targeting a set of mirror
worlds focusing on European cities, that's really just as a specific thing to do--
DR. YESHA SIVAN: Exactly.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: --to develop standards?
DR. YESHA SIVAN: Exactly.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: It's not an aid in itself?
DR. YESHA SIVAN: No, no, no, no. It's just a--it's a process, by the way, we are going to
adopt. So the good, old trick of several instances, so we will be able to sell the Eiffel Tower
several times. And something we don't have in Second Life, for a second, what would be
great if we can have different instances of the same environment dynamically. You know, if
we have more than 40 advertisers in this place, so many new servers emerge, we--you and
I--are being broadcast on that server. And that's 40 more people in that particular server.
That'll be just great. That's going to solve so many problems that we have now. So we're
definitely talking about--
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: You're basically talking about creating chards--or dungeons, as
they're called in World of War Craft?
DR. YESHER SIVAN: Right. But it's going to look more like in Second Life. The transition is
going to be much simpler. It's going to be semi-automatic. At least that's the plan. You
know, we need technology to do that, but that's the plan. The technology really is out there.
Imagine that you would have rival sizes of islands and depending on the number of avatars
per island it's _____ going to separate the servers into smaller servers. You know, you can
have a lot of stuff going on, but again, one needs that type of technology to work, which we
don't have yet.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Okay. You know I see that our hour is just about up, and I'd like to
give you a chance just to give any closing thoughts you have, predictions for what we'll see
in 2008, clarifying anything that came up that you'd like to revisit.
DR. YESHA SIVAN: So first of all, I want to thank our lovely audience, and thank you and
all the team for this amazing experience. It's the first time that I'm doing it that way, so that's
kind of nice. I've talked at a lot of conferences and talks, but this is the first time for me here,
so that's great.
I think the bottom line is simple. We are just beginning. You know, this is just the beginning.
We are going to have many, many, many more opportunities, many, many more problems
and ultimately--and this is my own little thing--with standards we're going to arrive at this
market just faster, and not just wait ten years for it. That's sort of the bottom line.
On more technical terms, if you need more information--I think the first slide had some links
to my Web site and you can actually go there and you can contact me if need be. So thank
you very much.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Great. Well, thank you very much, Dr. Yesha Sivan, for joining us
I want to say Happy New Year to everyone, as this is the last Metanomics show that we're
going to have until January. However, this won't be the last time to tune in SLCN or even to
hear my charming voice. I am going to be MCing the awards night for SLCN.TV. That's
Wednesday night from, I believe, 5:00 to 7:00 SL time. So you can get information on that
from SLCN.TV, and wear your nicest, red-carpet clothes. I hope to see a bunch of you
So Happy New Year, Happy Holidays, and we will talk again in January. Bye, bye.
[END OF AUDIO]
Transcribed by: http://www.hiredhand.com
Second Life Avatar: Transcriptionist Writer