[N.B. About 15 people from the Greater IBM Connection joined the 3D Jam, a virtual offshoot of IBM's recent InnovationJam. Based on the strong interest, Greater IBMers will be invited to meet and greet via the "metaverse" once or twice a month- Jack Mason, Greater IBM Executive Producer]
Chuck Hamilton, IBMer, Center For Advanced Learning (CAL) – Solutions Leader
On September 12, 2006 a small volunteer community thought we would try an experiment involving IBMers and a 3D virtual space which we felt looked and felt a lot like the next wave of web based collaboration. We called the event the ‘First Ever IBM 3D Jam’. Since many of us were already proposing similar applications as part of the first phase of the IBM InnovationJam, we decided to tie our 3D Jam event to the main Innovation Jam and see what happened.
We put out a simple and unfamiliar looking invite to about 40 people. We warned them that we were experimenting and that they might experience a few road bumps along the way. We asked people to sign up, develop a virtual 3D character (an avatar), and then attend a virtual meeting as their character in SecondLife.
The original 40 person invite yielded 388 positive responses, spreading virally in just four days. In the end, around 150 alternate personas from around the world managed to make the virtual meeting event. Some characters stumbled and hopped in, others flew in gracefully and landed near their seats. They came in all shapes and sizes, excited, (and some) frustrated, but all ready to participate.
Participants were spread across four virtual IBM islands (under development by various IBMers for over a year) distributed by an overwhelmed ‘greeter team’, transporting back and forth like space travelers, taking in the sites and events. Visitors listened to renowned experts like Larry Johnston from the New Media Consortium and IBM’s Jeanette Horan,
VP Business Process and Architecture Integration, speaking to the role of play in our work lives and how environments like these, were going to become increasingly more available to all of us.
Audio was simulcast across all IBM islands as people multitasked through various worlds.
After the introductory chat, people simply wandered around, chatted live, instant messaged, took navigation instruction from peers, explored exhibits, tried math puzzles, went to the NMC museum, talked to robots, picked up free tee shirts or got themselves tossed out of cannons. Long after the scheduled event people mingled and dialogued about what had just happened to them.
In just a few short hours, people were ripped into a future world, old timers still frustrated with cuurent browser usability issues flew about next to younger upstarts who were up and running in ten minutes. A buzz began.
This buzz then flowed into the IBM InnovationJam, which became the next attack point for participant comments. New comments streamed into the space dedicated to ‘Real Markets for Virtual Worlds’ which became one of the most active threads of the entire InnovationJam. This was followed by requests and proposals to integrate this sort thinking into our business and numerous media requests.
On Tuesday September 19th Irving Wladawsky-Berger, Vice President, Technical Strategy and Innovation will be speak to the world about the innovation emanating from these spaces with live demo in London England. IBM’s newly formed Virtual Universe Community (which meets weekly in Second Life) is still sorting through the deluge of requests and the new to do list we have generated through our after action review.
This entire event was managed by a cross section of the IBM community, numbering around 15 or so people, volunteering their skills and ideas. No one was really in charge, we just assumed roles, without a hierarchy, doing what we could and helping each other with any holes we encountered. It was tiring, but well worth the effort. While most people were pleasantly surprised, some were simply shocked by the activities they saw. Another group simply gave up, frustrated by the barrier to entry they encountered. Yet this simple experiment has yielded a wealth of knowledge about IBMers and the future of remote collaboration. Our team will be grappling with lessons learned from this event for quite some time.
But here is the real kicker: The cost of this entire experiment was ‘zero’. Outside of the time people offered up to participate, there was not cost to IBM for this deeply immersive 3D, virtual meeting of 150 people. Let that number wiggle around in your head for a while and think about what is possible from a community building and collaboration perspective across IBM.
We launched and watched innovation happen this day and IBM was a wondrous place to be! We employed a new work model that is certain to be at least part of the future of our work and frankly we are not sure what we’ll do next. But stay tuned!
Some Comments from the Virtual Event
“I am getting buried in Sametime questions, meeting invites and emails on this. The timing was perfect aligning the community launch, the 3D jam and the innovation Jam. I could not believe the number of people collaborating in the Innovation Jam on this”
“Wow this is a very cool idea. Is it real?”
“This is the coolest thing I’ve seen IBM do in a long time, whose paying?”
“I was able (with difficulty) to get into the Second Life. After the experience, I know why it is we hear about guides for the next life :-). And…I think I understand a little better what Alice felt like when she fell down the rabbit hole. It was not intuitive….starting with the email invitation that had extremely limited instructions (e.g. “set up avatar” and “install software”)…would have actually been easier to fall down a rabbit hole!!”
“It was incredible! You cannot imagine what I had experienced!”
Some IBM Virtual Places in Second Life
Almaden PUBLIC 106.164.25 http://slurl.com/secondlife/Almaden/106/164/25/
IQ PUBLIC 148,136,24 http://slurl.com/secondlife/IQ/148/136/24/
Jessica PUBLIC 47.53.27 http://slurl.com/secondlife/jessica/47/53/27/
Innovation Jam Wiki http://wiki.globalinnovationjam.com/collaboration/jam/pages/viewpage.action?pageId=55
Greater IBM alumni Second Life