122707 Virtual Interoperability Metanomics Transcript


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122707 Virtual Interoperability Metanomics Transcript

  1. 1. 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 worlds. 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 Metanomics.
  2. 2. 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
  3. 3. 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
  4. 4. 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 unique. 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
  5. 5. 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 equalizer, too. 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
  6. 6. 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 else. 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.
  7. 7. 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. [CROSSTALK] ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: You never know if our overlords are going to edit that sort of comment out. 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.
  8. 8. 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 lining up. 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.
  9. 9. And one can actually sort of zoom and see how things were created. So that is controllable 3D environment. 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.
  10. 10. 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
  11. 11. there's a whole discussion about that. [CROSSTALK] 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.
  12. 12. 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. [CROSSTALK]
  13. 13. 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 information. 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
  14. 14. 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. [CROSSTALK] 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
  15. 15. 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 now? 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
  16. 16. 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
  17. 17. 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 standards. 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
  18. 18. 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 define restaurants.
  19. 19. 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, specifically. ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Right. Except that we can go through this list and look at where
  20. 20. 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.
  21. 21. 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
  22. 22. 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
  23. 23. 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
  24. 24. 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? [CROSSTALK} 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
  25. 25. agencies. 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,
  26. 26. everybody's happier. 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 process?” 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 else. (INAUDIBLE).
  27. 27. ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: We have them and, when we see them, we don't like them. [CROSSTALK] 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--
  28. 28. 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
  29. 29. 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 on Metanomics.
  30. 30. 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 there. So Happy New Year, Happy Holidays, and we will talk again in January. Bye, bye. [END OF AUDIO] Document: cor2015 Transcribed by: http://www.hiredhand.com Second Life Avatar: Transcriptionist Writer