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Metanomics transcript june 9 2010
 

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    Metanomics transcript june 9 2010 Metanomics transcript june 9 2010 Document Transcript

    • METANOMICS: FEDERAL CONSORTIUM FOR VIRTUAL WORLDS JUNE 9, 2010 ANNOUNCER: Metanomics is owned and operated by Remedy and Dusan Writer's Metaverse. ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Hi. I'm Robert Bloomfield, professor at Cornell University's Johnson Graduate School of Management. Today we continue exploring Virtual Worlds in the larger sphere of social media, culture, enterprise and policy. Naturally, our discussion about Virtual Worlds takes place in a Virtual World. So join us. This is Metanomics. ANNOUNCER: Metanomics is filmed today in front of a live audience at our studios in Second Life. We are pleased to broadcast weekly to our event partners and to welcome discussion. We use ChatBridge technology to allow viewers to comment during the show. Metanomics is sponsored by the Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University. Welcome. This is Metanomics. ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Hello, everyone, and welcome to Metanomics. Today our guest is Paulette Robinson, assistant dean for teaching, learning and technology at National Defense University's iCollege. And, really, the reason we have Paulette here is that she is the founder and director of the Federal Consortium for Virtual Worlds, which is really one of the most clearly forward-moving organizations in the Virtual World industry. So, Paulette, welcome to Metanomics. PAULETTE ROBINSON: Thank you very much, Rob. It's a pleasure to be here. ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Yeah, and I guess we should say welcome back to Metanomics since this is actually your third visit. So one of the things I want to do is explore what has changed and what has developed on the governmental side over the last, let's see, I think you here first, in January of 2008, on Metanomics. I remember it because it was the last show that I did with Metaverse and Nick Wilson producing. Anyway, I thought maybe we'd start with a little context for listeners who are unfamiliar with National Defense University and the iCollege. Can you just talk a little bit about those organizations? PAULETTE ROBINSON: Sure, be delighted. The National Defense University is the premier joint professional military graduate program in the world. We have students from all over the world. It's a stepping stone to being a Flag Officer, like a General. The students have to be a Lieutenant Colonel or above. For all the other, we have the 1
    • National War College, the Industrial College for the Armed Forces. And the iCollege is just one of five colleges. The iCollege is focused on the information portion of national power so ours is strategic communications or strategic application of IT in the Military and in government. So we do have people from across government. We have about 30 percent of our students come from all over the government, and those are from GS13s and above. So it's more like senior managers and more senior officers that come to the college for graduate-level courses. We have programs for CISOs, which is Chief Information Security Officer; CFOs, Chief Financial Officer Academy that just started within the last year. We have certificates in IT project management. And we're in the process of getting a Masters degree for a Government Strategic Leader. So we've got quite a broad scope in the iCollege. The National War College really is on strategic studies. The students come for ten months, and, at the conclusion, they have a Masters degree at the Industrial College of the Armed Forces. It's really more of a strategic degree in logistics types of things. And then we have CISA, which is the College for Information Security Agency. So they do security studies, and many of those students are from other countries so kind of broad-brush approach at the university. ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: And last time you were on Metanomics, it was not the iCollege, but it was the Information Resources Management College. What's behind the name change? PAULETTE ROBINSON: Well, Information Resources Management College, we still have that in our title because it takes almost an act of Congress to change the title. But the iCollege is more reflective of what we do. We really are about information, information technology, and Information Resources Management is really more of an older term before technology has taken the bent that is has, so it's more reflective of what we do in the iCollege, captures it better. ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: And what got you personally inspired to start the Federal Consortium for Virtual Worlds? PAULETTE ROBINSON: At first I saw that Virtual Worlds were an incredible environment for education and training. Anybody that does anything to do with education gets it right away, how powerful and immersive the environment is. I began to explore this environment for our particular college and discovered that there was no way that we could ever get into this--use Second Life for example because of security and couldn't get it on our desktops. So when I got involved in the environment, I found out about Eric Hackathorn at NOAA, and so I went out to Boulder to visit him and see what the possibilities are about working in Virtual Worlds because he was a forerunner at the time; he still is in a lot of ways. I said, "So how do you know who's in these Worlds?" "Well, really don't know, except I 2
    • kind of run across them." And I said--because Second Life wouldn't give us a list. And then I said to him, "Well, do you guys get together for anything?" And he said, "No." I said, "We really kind of need some kind of consortium or way to meet." And so I went back to the university and brought together some friends, with not only Eric, but Bill May from the State Department and Erika Brooke from NASA. We all got together, and I said, "We've just really got to start something." So when Eric came to town in July, we had 40 people--at the drop of a hat, we had less than a week to prepare, and 40 people and ten organizations. And then we had a couple of meetings, and now we gave an annual conference, and we have over 1,600 members of the Consortium, and this year's conference, including the virtual participants, was 3,500; 330 here at the campus, but we broadcast out to the world so we had six different Virtual Worlds we were broadcasting out to and also to live video streams. So all together there was 3,500 that participated. ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Oh, that's quite a success really for any venue. So congratulations on that. PAULETTE ROBINSON: Thanks. ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: At some point in the hour I'm probably going to want to go back to a little more of the early history, but let's talk about the most recent conference that you had, what was under a month ago. What do you see as being the biggest news of the last year since the last time you were on Metanomics, shortly after the '09 conference? What do you see as being the biggest achievements? PAULETTE ROBINSON: Well, first of all, it's the collaborations that have formed. I think they've been forming over the last two years. Certainly SciLands has been around for a little while. In this last year or so, MilLands, which is the Military group of islands. I think there's about 44 Sims involved. But the most important one, and I think one of the most exciting ones that I'm involved in is the vGov project, and that project is designed to set up a Virtual World environment so not just one Virtual World, but an environment that's behind the firewall, that will be a secure environment for all of government to do training, meetings, rapid prototyping, continuity of operations, all those types of things. The CIO from UDSA is a co-leader on the vGov project with me, and we put out an RFP in February, and it was awarded the 16th of April. ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: For proposals, right? PAULETTE ROBINSON: Yeah. Sorry. ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: For those of us in the private sector. PAULETTE ROBINSON: So we did a Request for Proposals, and it was a multiple-year contract with multiple awards so four different Virtual Worlds were selected as part of 3
    • that process. We're real excited because we have Teleplace, WebAlive, VastPark and OLIVE, which, for those of you who remember Forterra, SAIC has bought Forterra, and so it's called OLIVE. ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: And so let me just make sure I understand the nature of these proposals. It's not the World, like for example in the case of WebAlive. And I think that's now owned by Nortel, so it's not that Nortel themselves came to you and said, "We have this great product," it's another company that came and said, "We're going to use this product to do something that the Federal Consortium for Virtual Worlds would like to see done." Is that-- PAULETTE ROBINSON: That's right. So there has to be distinction made between the Federal Consortium for Virtual Worlds and the vGov project. So the Federal Consortium for Virtual Worlds is really a group of people, almost like a community of practice for the government, that has government industry academics all together trying to solve the problems of Virtual Worlds for the use in the government. The vGov project is a very specific project that was sort of born out of the Consortium, but is specific to USDA and the partners that have started it, and our hopes are that it'll be across government so it's kind of a distinction to make between them. The people that applied for the Request for Proposal, who submitted proposals, really are larger umbrella companies than just the Virtual Worlds because the Request for Proposals really required some training, some other kinds of skills in backup that a company that was larger really could provide bigger services since many of these Virtual Worlds are pretty much small companies. So for example, OLIVE came. SAIC bought them, and they're a larger company so they proposed. Assyst, A S S Y S T, is the company that proposed to use VastPark and several other pieces of software, like Green Phosphor, for example. web.alive, Avaya owns web.alive, and so they are the ones that submitted for that particular one. And Teleplace, the submitter was ThreeWire, so it was a larger umbrella company that could pull together other support features that were asked for in the RFP. ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: And can you talk a little bit about the intended uses of these proposals? Is each one designed to address a specific problem or provide a specific service? PAULETTE ROBINSON: The RFP was fairly broad, and they gave four case studies or use cases as examples of ways that we were looking for the functional requirements for the government. We came up with a list of functional requirements that a number of us helped to participate in building. So that went out in the Request for Proposals. The four use cases are those four initial partners, and we're now accepting other partners. USDA is accepting other partners to be part of this, but each of the partners in the project, to start with, have a use case. And there's a World, in their opinion, that meets those function requirements the best. All of them can meet them at some level, except maybe web.alive, which is more of a jump-in and jump-out meeting space, I would say, because it's got a browser-based kind of interface, and it's not as robust. 4
    • So for our college, we are doing a community of practice, doing knowledge management and analytical workspaces, though, of the ones that were selected, the one that fits us the best and the one I'm interested in exploring is VastPark because it's built on a dot-net frame. It calls from libraries. There are some interesting things that we're going to be able to do with that particular software, so I got really excited about seeing what VastPark could do. The USDA is going to be a continuity of operations for their IT data center, and they are going to be using Teleplace. Teleplace handles really well live data feeds, and the Navy has done some interesting work with Teleplace, so USDA is going to try using that particular platform for that use case. ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: What do you mean by continuity? PAULETTE ROBINSON: Continuity of operations is sort of--if their data center went down, how would they manage the center? If for some reason it's the flu or whatever could be the problem, that they could enter remotely from another place. So normally what they do is, they go to an offsite. IBM has an offsite somewhere in Colorado that they go to, and they ship their whole staff there to do this exercise, to work with their data center in an exercise that simulates that it's down. Which costs more money than doing it in a Virtual World so they're going to give that a--that that's their use case. DHS is doing two cyber-security vignettes. All the employees in the federal government have to take cyber-security training, and I haven't seen one that's interesting yet. They're all pretty boring. And so what this will do is find an interesting and immersive way to do cyber-security training, and that's what they're experimenting with. The possibility for that one is, once they create cyber-security training, the whole entire federal government would be able to take a training in one place, and we can do something really quality and immersive. And they're going to be using Teleplace. The last one is the Air Force. They wanted a very, very realistic environment with specific kinds of physics, and so they're going to be using the OLIVE platform, and they're going to be recreating Fort Sam Houston, and they're building a facility to be the educational facility for all medical education for all of DOD. So there's no longer medical education in each of the branches of the Service. It's going to be in one place. Initially they're going to use it for onboarding and orientation. They're building the base where people can walk up and down the streets, kind of get a sense of where things are on the Base. And then, in the building itself, you go out a particular door, enter a door, there'll be a simulation that'll go off from the door. So it's going to be building out that space so it's truly an immersive learning environment. So those are the four use cases. We're hoping to bring others into the project this year, before the next fiscal year starts or even after, to create new use cases and then, the ones that are already there, to expand on what they're already do. So that's the process at the moment. ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: We have a question from a viewer, Joey Aboma: "What resources are there for companies that need to show return on investment to get heavily involved in these projects?" Do you provide support for companies and governmental 5
    • organizations that are trying to make the case? PAULETTE ROBINSON: Well, I think some of it--you can use some of the models that, for example, IBM has used or some of the others that are using Virtual Worlds as integrated as part of their business processes. Certainly return on investment would take into consideration travel expenses, time away through travel, greened foot--carbon footprint is another one I've seen. So there's been some metrics that have been developed, in terms of return on investment. I know last year we took our Virtual World Conference and were able to extrapolate that we saved the government almost $3 million by streaming it out to six different Virtual Worlds because, in the Virtual Worlds, they not only did not have to travel to Washington and incur those kinds of costs, but they also didn’t have to pay registration fees. So we didn't go into carbon footprint and hours saved in travel, which would add another layer of dimension. I think some of these return on investments--some of it's obvious, and I think we're going to get more and more refined. For example, in training, you can immerse people in training in ways that, in the classroom, you can't do it. So I think there's going to be a variety of metrics that are going to evolve. I think Tony O'Driscoll's book on 3D learning is going to be really helpful in helping to do that. ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: One Virtual World platform is notably missing from the list of those funded through the vGov proposals, and that's Second Life. Can you talk about why that is? PAULETTE ROBINSON: Well, I have to be careful what I say because of the process of selection. The RFP was very specific on what it was looking for and what vendors needed to propose. And Second Life was present in the proposal process. They came in with a much larger company, and, unfortunately, the proposal didn't meet the needs or wasn't--clearly meet the needs of the RFP. So that's the only reason. I mean there were several people really discouraged that Second Life was not there, especially the Enterprise, and it may be in the future, but, in this initial round, it was not. ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Okay. Wait. I am being told that we have some technical issues, and we are going to take a very short break, just two or three minutes. While we do that, let me just encourage people to take a look at the PR newswire press release that I pasted into chat a minute ago, and I will now paste it again as well: http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/linden-lab-restructures-to-generate- efficiencies-and-support-investment-in-new-platforms-95982564.html We'll take a quick break. Welcome back to Metanomics, and we're here with Paulette Robinson of National Defense University's iCollege and the Federal Consortium for Virtual Worlds. When we took that quick break, Paulette, we were talking a little bit that there wasn't a proposal that the vGov group accepted using Second Life as a platform. I just wanted to clarify so my understanding is it's the use case that's being proposed, as well as the platform that 6
    • matters, and so it's not necessarily a concern about Second Life as a platform, but just that there wasn't a proposal that did something vGov wanted to fund. Is that about right? PAULETTE ROBINSON: Or that met all the requirements of the proposal. That's more to the case so the Request for Proposal came out with some very specific things that whoever wrote the proposal had to meet, and there were some issues with that. They got the feedback on it and understood why. ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: I would like to talk a little more broadly about these platforms because, from where you sit, it's true that the federal government is going to have some fairly idiosyncratic needs, but you're also one of the biggest possible purchasers of Virtual World technology and applications. I'm curious first, I guess: What do you see has happened in the technology, that you guys are looking at, that seems most promising over the last year or so? What changes? PAULETTE ROBINSON: Well, I think one of the critical changes is the input devices. I'm really not a gamer so the gaming joy sticks and that type of thing doesn't work very well for me, and I find that the arrow keys are not very granular, in terms of their approach. So I truly believe, when the input devices become more intuitive, and they're right there actually, they're right on the cusp, that this whole technology is going to take off in a way that the web will be 3D. We'll actually walk around on the web and interact, just like when the GUI in the web was possible, the websites took off. So at the conference, the fact I was able to try Emotiv. I don't know if you've ever tried it. But the headset you put on your head, and green lights go on, on the screen to let you know you've got it positioned correctly. You train it, in terms of movement. You think where you want to go, and then you train this ball in the center to go there. And then the Army has set up Emotiv to work with Second Life, which is really interesting. ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: And it's reacting to what, your head movements? PAULETTE ROBINSON: No. Your thinking. ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: No kidding! PAULETTE ROBINSON: So you think forward, and you go forward. That's pretty interesting. ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Brain waves. PAULETTE ROBINSON: That's right. And so the Army brought it up to the Federal Consortium for Virtual World Conference, and they had fixed it to work with Second Life so it was real interesting. Last year they brought up the Wii Fit, and you're able to navigate through Second Life with the Wii Fit. So those types of input devices are going to be critical--or even using cameras like Project Natal is using, once that can work with these Virtual Worlds. It's intuitive with how I move my body as it represents myself in a 7
    • Virtual World. I think those are going to be the key, and we're seeing better and better possibilities each year. That's moving pretty fast. The gaming industry is our best friend in terms of that. The other thing that I'm finding interesting is 3D analytics. I'm particularly interested in having analytical workspaces where I can take live databases, be able to put them in different 3D immersive ways of processing the information and then being able to collaborate on those documents and information, and that's getting much, much better. Green Phosphor is real interesting to me, in terms of what they are able to represent in 3D, that I can walk through the data. They've done some mashups for us, which I find interesting. I've told the CEO that I would be very interested in seeing where they've been taking live numeric data; I'd like to see relationship data almost like social media stuff. So they're working on some of those representations and incorporating artificial intelligence as far as representing the data. I think that immersive technology piece is becoming even more interesting. Ann Cudworth, who does a lot of her work in Second Life, gave a presentation on using art as a representation of data, that was absolutely incredible. I'm just amazed at what she's been able to do. So I think that particular area of Virtual Worlds is going to be interesting. So I'm finding that collaboration and the ability to immerse yourself in various ways and very creative ways is what I'm finding the most interesting, in terms of development. ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Now both times you've been on Metanomics, one of the big discussions and the big sticking points that came up was security and just the ability to access a Virtual World and have cross-governmental agency interactions where two people from different agencies can log into the same World, using the same technology. Are you guys making progress on that? PAULETTE ROBINSON: Well, that's what the vGov project's for. So it's in a secure place. It's in the USDA Data Center. They're using [EF aNocation?] level 2, which is a NIS standard. So who you are is going to be verified both with a picture ID and you in person or else a series of secured digital signatures to verify who you are so that we can do the business of government. We're also really working on--one of the security issues is not only who is in there so that that can be trusted, but also the number of ports that had to be opened in the network. Unfortunately, Second Life has a little bit too many ports, in terms of its public space, for CIOs to be will to open up access from the desktop. The Enterprise version is better. And so what USDA is doing will be a trusted source hosting. That's the critical piece, the security piece, so trusted source hosting in a Virtual World environment, so we'll have more than one Virtual World in this environment for the federal government to use. I'm seeing this, should it be successful and I don't see any reason why it won't be, this will be a federal government communication space or infrastructure space that we just don't have at the moment. There is no space where all the government can go to do work together and particularly this kind of robust space. So the "snowathon" that 8
    • happened in February was a dramatic example of how the federal government needs this kind of space to do our work should something happen where we can't come to work here in Washington. ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: How much of your efforts with the Consortium are making pitches to people who don't really know anything about Virtual Worlds? And what type of pitch do you make? PAULETTE ROBINSON: I'm making pitches all the time. I probably do two or three a week at least. It's interesting this is accelerating. I would have to say, about a year ago, I would probably do one a month or so; now I'm doing at least a couple a week in various ways. There seems to be momentum and an understanding. I don't know if it was the movie Avatar or what it was, but, really, I got lots of requests after Avatar. I'm finding the most appropriate way to do this that--I used to just do PowerPoint slides and talk about it and have a few pictures. What now I'm doing is, we have a series of videos from a variety of different applications of Virtual Worlds within government and in places where it makes sense, and so I show the videos. I show about four or five videos, and then they catch it, and then their imagination starts. And that's where I can then answer those types of questions and discuss what the possibilities are for their organization. ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: What are the big sticking points? My guess is they're probably familiar, but do they seem to have changed over the last couple years? PAULETTE ROBINSON: Well, security never changes. That's the big one. I think what's going to shift, and I have a Steering Committee for the vGov project, from across government. I think our next issues are going to be interesting ones about intergovernment processes, procedures and ways of sort of ground rules and how we're going to work together, how we can share content and access. It's going to be a real interesting experience to work through those pieces, once the World's up and running. So there's some initial pieces. The first piece is getting CIOs at the agency and organizational level, to put clients on their desktops. So it's just like Second Life needs a client. All of these, except web.alive, need a client. And since the CIOs control desktops, that's one thing. The second thing is, if there's ports to be opened, even though it's a trusted government source, you have to convince the CIOs on the security, so that's one of the other issues. So once that's accomplished, it's then really finding the expertise to build the Worlds. Remember when the original websites went up or the internet went up for the GUI interface, those people that created websites were golden. They really could make good money, and they were golden. Well, creating in 3D spaces are going to become really golden, in terms of animating, artificial intelligence, scripting, all that stuff is just going to be really golden. ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: There were some federal agencies that were involved in creating a Virtual World. I seem to remember it was the National Guard and Defense Acquisition University. 9
    • PAULETTE ROBINSON: Uh-huh. ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: What's been happening with that process? PAULETTE ROBINSON: Well, I'm not sure if they've launched at DAU. That was their intention to launch. The World that the National Guard created has not really ever launched publicly. They've shown what were possibilities, and they were building in functionality. Where that's going to make its big debut, I think, is in DAU. There was also a second Virtual World--I don't know if you know--that was built by DARPA, RealWorld, which was built more for small teams and sort of mission kind of ideas. It's no longer in DARPA because DARPA only sponsors things for five years. So Dan Kaufman was involved in making sure that piece got developed. So there were those two pieces, in terms of possibilities, that were established by the government. We found, for the vGov project, the four Worlds that were selected from the proposals that were submitted were the best ones for this particular point, given the proposals we received. ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Okay. I see there are a couple questions coming in on cyber-security supporting interagency processes. I gather there is a presentation. I don't know vmalloy CSC and Joey Aboma, but they're wondering about your interest in presentations and discussions on cyber-security for interagency processes. PAULETTE ROBINSON: I think that's critical actually. The cyber-security is a real vulnerability in the United States, and one of the reasons we're setting up a Virtual World for a virtual environment for the government so we have a place to work that we know is secure, and we're doing our very best to make sure everything is certified, accredited. All that stuff's going to be happening in this particular space. I mean it's going to also have to go in a couple of directions. There will be a classified version of this at some point, and then I personally would like to see down the road that this would be a doorstep to the citizens to interact with government, that the services could be provided securely for citizens to talk to IRS agents, for example, or that type of thing. So I see it expanding in two different directions. There's an interesting identity framework that was just approved by the federal CIO Council this summer. It's called the ICAM Identity Framework. It's ICAM, and, if anybody's interested, they can go on Google: ICAM, and put GSA, and they'll find a whole page on it. And that's going to establish security protocols for identity and management of it anywhere from the citizen and anyone anonymously looking at websites that are government, all the way to classified. So that particular system will be put into the vGov project, I imagine, within the next year. ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Okay. We have a couple more questions. Jennette Forager says, "I understand that the Air Force now issues you an avatar when you enlist, and it stays with you throughout your service. Can you comment on their plans for this?" PAULETTE ROBINSON: Yeah. Well, that paper came out in 2008. It was the brainchild of General Lessel, who is now retired. And it's still a vision for--it's called MyBase. And it's still a vision for that. It still has not come to be, but that's the direction. I have to say it 10
    • was one of the most forward-thinking white papers that I've read in a long time, in terms of visioning how this could be worked. The other one that I've been reading recently is the Singularity, by Ray Kurzweil, and how he sees Virtual Worlds and the Real World blending in such a way that we'll move between them and won't necessarily distinguish them, which will be an interesting future. ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: We also have a question on HEI, which is something that has interested me. We actually talked a little bit about this on a special Metanomics episode yesterday as well. And the question is, and let's see, I'm just tracking through the chat here. I think I've lost the name of who it is, but the question is: Will the federal government be holding to minimum-wage standards and other types of standards for Virtual World work? It's an interesting question because there are so many people who are in Worlds, like Second Life, who are willing to do work very inexpensively, below what you might think of as traditional wages and surely below minimum wages in the United States. So are there strict policies on hiring for government work? PAULETTE ROBINSON: Well, for the Virtual Worlds, obviously this is a whole new endeavor for Virtual Worlds, but there's procedures and processes that are used for any other kind of government work and that type of thing, and so our contractors, as part of their award contract, they also can do development work. Some of the development work is going to be done by USDA, which are U.S. citizens. They're not farming that out. And each of the proposals have development services that they're offering, and, from what I could see, they were internal. But the federal government will go out with a Request for Proposals if there's unique type of development that they want to take. The people that have been awarded the contract, if they cannot provide the services, another proposal will go out and for a particular form of money. At the moment, there is no minimum requirements, although I don't see any reason why the government would try to undercut professional people from doing the environment. It would be the regular government contracting process. ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: I also have a question on alternative technologies. How often are you debating or being forced to debate alternatives to Virtual Worlds: teleconference technology, simple websites and so on? Is that something that's always at the front of your mind? PAULETTE ROBINSON: Well, it's sort of like using the right tool for the right job so no one thing answers all the needs of the government. I think there's a place, for example, webinars. I think there's a place for teleconferencing. Teleconferencing itself now can be projected into a Virtual World so I'm finding Virtual World portals an interesting way to organize information, but I do have vendors asking me, "Well, how about this? Isn't this better?" And I really don't want to make that kind of choice. I think it depends on what your function requirements are and what you want to do. What I find exciting about Virtual Worlds, however, is that it allows us, as a government or as a group of 11
    • people--and I'm talking to the choir here--where you can immerse yourself into an environment and don't have to be physically next to each other, where I can meet with anybody across the world and across government. I don't have to try to find a parking place. I don't have to fly to a meeting. I can actually do meaningful work from my desktop or from home. And more and more I think that's what we're going to have to have the facility for, given how travel and cars adds to the pollution and the cost of operating. I think we're going to just find ourselves with more and more options. Virtual Worlds allows immersive environment that I just find appealing and interesting, where it's developing. So I did have some of those discussions, but, on the whole, all I have to do is say, "How many of you have attended a webinar?" And the audience, almost two-thirds will put up their hands. And I'll say, "How many of you were doing five different things while you were on the webinar?" And they all giggle and laugh and raise their hands. This is engaging, where I think some of the others isn't as engaging. ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: We have a question on another regulatory issue, which is Section 508 compliance. How are you dealing with trying to make all of these spaces comply with the rules for accessibility? PAULETTE ROBINSON: Well, I think that's going to be a struggle for all of us. I think one of the nice things about a vGov project is that the government will be investing in ways to make Virtual Worlds a compliant environment, where everyone will be able to participate. Are they there now? No. I think this emerging technology's just beginning to start to address it. I know there's a couple of real creative people in Second Life, trying to find different ways that can meet 508 compliance. But I think it's going to be an interesting tool development opportunity I would say, in terms of transcriptions, when people are talking, not just with chat, with voiceover IP, that kind of automatic transcriptions, ways of descriptions on objects. It's going to be an interesting challenge. I don't think it's impossible, but I would like to see some tools created that facilitate that type of access in a much better and more efficient way. ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Yeah. And I guess I'd like to just take a minute to give a shout out to Virtual Ability, which is a group that has done great work in making Second Life accessible and thinking about accessibility and also is a close partner with Metanomics and does a lot of really useful things to make Metanomics more accessible, including transcriptions and the like. So thanks to those of you out there working with Virtual Ability. PAULETTE ROBINSON: I think it's really admirable and wonderful. ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: I see there are just a little under 15 minutes left, and please do put in your questions for Paulette Robinson of National Defense University's iCollege and Federal Consortium for Virtual Worlds, since I know there are many of you out there, who know a lot more about this than I do. So please do get those questions in. I would like to come back--just seeing all the chat that's going on in my various windows 12
    • in Second Life right now about this press release that just came out, which indicates that Linden Lab is restructuring. I passed along a link on the press release itself, and then someone else passed along an article in Tech Crunch, which summarizes the same basic information that there's going to be layoffs of 30 percent of Linden Lab staff and a number of changes and also emphasizing the move toward more of a browser-based World. So I'm curious, do you see that, from your perspective, a more browser-based World as being a step in the right direction? PAULETTE ROBINSON: I think it would be great, as long as the browser-based World really has some of the fidelity and the capabilities that we see with a client. So I think it depends, again going back to--I hate to do function requirements because I get that sung in my ear all the time. If you want to do robust gaming and training with simulations, it's a little harder to do browser-based kind of capabilities than with just having meetings. The advantage of having a browser base for the government is that I don't have to have a client put on the desktop, that we're using basically the browsers that we use for our everyday work, which makes my life, much, much simpler. But if, in the tradeoff, you don't have the functionality and the robust kind of capabilities, then for many things I'd like to see with Virtual Worlds it makes it a little harder. So I'll be interested to see it progress. The ones that are browser-based at the moment, usually they have something like a Java client, that type of thing, are not quite robust enough, except for some simple meetings. So, in terms of me wanting to do something persistent, I haven't found the browser-based World to be as interesting as the ones that have clients, especially in terms of capabilities. ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Thank you. We have a question by Trey Reanimator. I'm going to read it, and then, hopefully, you can translate it before you answer it, "How will vGov dovetail with the recent RFP by OUSD P&R and Army RDECOM STCC? Does that mean anything to you? PAULETTE ROBINSON: Yes, it does. ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Sounds very, very official. PAULETTE ROBINSON: Okay. So let me just kind of translate what all that means. And I've just seen the Army one today. I haven't had a chance to read it, and I just saw the one by OSD that was put out two days ago. Because I've been on leave, I haven't had a chance to read both of them. So let me just give a little bit of background. The one from OSD is coming out of readiness and training performance. There's a group of us, through the Military, from all branches of the Military, that are using Virtual Worlds, that have come together to try to start thinking about our virtualworld.milenvironment for the particular needs of the DOD. Obviously they'll still be part of the vGov project, but there are some things they want to do uniquely. I'm trying to encourage one environment, but it may end up having a DOD environment. We'll see. I don't have control over that piece. 13
    • The second piece was piece was put out, the RDECOM STCC, which is really a research and development group down in Orlando. Doug Maxwell, who used to be with the Navy, is now with the Army, and Tammy Griffith, it's coming from them. And it was a surprise to me so I have no idea--there's a couple articles that they are quoted in about what they want to do with this. It's going to be a simulation and training environment. I'm hoping that, at a minimum, DOD comes together and has one environment, even if they don't play only in vGov, because they still will have to, because we do so many interagency things within the Department of Defense. But, if they do have an environment for training in some specific classified needs, that they come together and don't go through the silos of different Services. That's my big fear with this happening with the Army, and I sent Doug a note asking him how he sees this all fitting together. I haven't gotten an email back from him, but that would be my concern. The Services tend automatically to build their own thing, and then they don't play with each other, and then we have silos all over again. My vision with vGov is really to kind of eliminate or try to avoid the silos with the new technology and provide communication across government, without people staking out their own silos. So I'm hoping it's not going in that direction. ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: I guess that leads to a question. The Consortium really has no official power. Is that right? It's really just a venue for conversation. It's not that you actually oversee governmental or military development efforts. Is that right? PAULETTE ROBINSON: That's correct. So basically think of it like a community, an unofficial community of practice. We have a Wiki that we post information in and work together. We communicate together. We have no budget so the iCollege really supports the Consortium with my time and a woman that works with me, an assistant. We are the ones that back the Conference so that it's possible because our Senior Director, Bob Childs, really believes that it's important technology and supports these information-sharing types of technologies. So he's been incredible in making this possible, but there really is no funding and no power behind it, although there is power in numbers. And so as the interest grows, it's sort of like a virus. I've told some people that I'm a virus. I go around and infect everybody with Virtual Worlds, and the more people I infect, the more people can see it, and the more it is a possibility, and so that's what's occurring. There's a really good book by Andrea Shapiro, on organizational commitment, that takes a tipping point and a public health model for how viruses spread and marries the two. And so I see myself as my mission is a Virtual World virus. ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Well, I guess I can see that the analogy is a good one, but you might want to talk with an expert in marketing and public relations. PAULETTE ROBINSON: I'm a good virus. ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: We have a question from Joey Aboma on standards, "Do you 14
    • see NDU or the Federal Consortium playing a part in developing standards for Virtual Worlds? PAULETTE ROBINSON: I think that's really a very good possibility. I've been asked to be part--I know the IEEE is calling together a standards group for Virtual Worlds, and I've been asked if I'd be a part of it, and that's one thing I'd be delighted to do. I think standards will be something that'll be important just because of interoperability; at the moment that just isn't possible. So I'm really looking forward to being a part of that, wherever it makes sense for me to be part of it. But I certainly think standards are going to improve our ability to share content, to share artificial intelligence, to actually make the reality of a Virtual World being the interface to the web. So I think all of that will come to pass, and it's not going to take as long as some of the other stuff has. ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Okay. I see we are just about at the end of our time. I'm going to make a quick look here to see if there are any outstanding questions, but I think we have gotten to most of them. Let me give you the opportunity to make any closing remarks. Are there any topics that we haven't hit on or a point you'd like to leave us with? PAULETTE ROBINSON: It's really important, and those of you that are involved in Virtual Worlds, you'll understand what it is, I watched all the discourse that's happening about the federal government, what they do and what they don't do, and sort of this illusion that government's really not interested in the citizens or the welfare of the country in some ways. I've discovered that it is when you have a vision and you really believe and hope for some of the best things that can happen for the benefit of the citizens, because that's why I'm in government, I could be other places, that you can inspire people to think the best and to think of new and different ways of doing things. And while it's not always a smooth road, and the government's sort of a big place to try to change, it starts with one, two, three and spreads out. And that, to make a difference, I encourage all of you to make a difference where you are and encourage you to take that and just to make the government or where you are a better place. And I found Virtual Worlds as one of those things that I can do to make the government work better and to communicate better. I've found several people that are willing to come along for the ride so I give so many people in this Virtual World movement and the federal government credit. There are just a whole host of people that work really hard to make a difference because they believe that this technology and other technologies can help our government operate better and communicate with each other and with the citizens, make the government more transparent. So I encourage you to do that wherever you are. ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Well, thanks. That's a wonderful point to end on. And so thank you so much, Paulette Robinson, Federal Consortium for Virtual Worlds and National Defense University's iCollege. Thanks for joining us. I expect you'll have another conference in spring of 2011. Have you started planning that yet? 15
    • PAULETTE ROBINSON: Yes, we have. It's going to be next May. So around the same timeframe as this year so watch the website. ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Well, I look forward to having you on Metanomics again, to hear about the coming year. PAULETTE ROBINSON: It will be my pleasure. ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Let me also tell our audience we've got some interesting things coming up on Metanomics over the summer. The first one is something pretty new for us. There is a very interesting live event in Toronto taking place from June 15th to June 18th. Toronto has an event called Idea City. They have some fascinating speakers throughout. This is a live event in Toronto, fascinating speakers, authors, political writers, movie directors, performance artists, psychologists, thinkers. So I guess here the Idealist News says, "Stop the world, and kick the men off. Idea City, the best and brightest conference, turns the stage over to women who may save us all." And so it's a very interesting list of influential and thought-provoking women. We will be hosting. Metanomics will be providing a live stream into Second Life on the Metanomics Sim so we invite you to join us. I believe that this is going to be a pay event actually, but I will let people who know more about the details of this event provide the information over the coming week, and we will see you all here next week then on the Metanomics Sim, I hope. So this is Rob Bloomfield saying thanks and bye bye. Document: cor1086.doc Transcribed by: http://www.hiredhand.com http://www.hiredhandtranscription.org 16