Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Article: When is a virtual world not a virtual world? When it is a document

I have just had an article published on the Technology Management Portal about using Virtual Worlds as documents, not just as cloud servers. Not really an academic piece, just me thinking out loud about the business usage of Virtual Worlds.


Sunday, March 28, 2010

Idea: Games that Change the World

Slightly left field, but thought provoking TED talk here by Jane McGonigal about using games to solve world problems. Her thesis is that games teach people heroic behaviour, and excellent team work skills.

She also points out the great amount of time people spend in these environments, and how they are an intensely motivating medium, due to the sense of being a better person in game, than outside. She also briefly details her peak oil simulation game, which intends to produce potential solutions to peak oil problems via gameplay.

I think her ideas have much merit. For the first time, we can create synthetic environments with the ability to model complex scenarios as gameplay, and thus apply the computational power of humans to major world problems, to explore solutions that are not obvious unless many skills are brought together, all with the pressure and productivity of competition that gameplay produces.

I think this approach could be applied to business process problems as well. Ironically, a lot of the worlds problems are related to business, especially in the area of resource usage and its links to the economy. Maybe an unexpected outcome of educating people about business processes via games, would be their improvement via the same gameplay. Food for thought.


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Techtip: Digital Content for OpenSim Servers

One of the things about Second Life is its walled garden policy regarding digital content. In many ways this is understood; people do want to make a living from their creations, and allowing for exportation is basically an opening for piracy. But, it does leave the content challenged, such as myself, a little left out when we set up Open Simulator servers.

This situation is now being at least partially rectified at the following sites I received on an email list I subscribe to in Australia - source Twitter:

CFP: Virtual Worlds as Information Systems: A Special Issue of ISJ on Virtual World Technology and Information Systems

Information Systems Journal (ISJ)

Virtual Worlds as Information Systems

A Special Issue of ISJ on Virtual World Technology and Information Systems

Special Issue Guest Editors:

Ross Brown, Queensland University of Technology, Australia

Andrew Hardin, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, USA

David Kreps, University of Salford, UK

Jan Recker, Queensland University of Technology, Australia

Virtual worlds have garnered unprecedented profile in both the media and academic research. Many IS Managers in their thirties have gained experience with 3D environments via gaming, and the appearance of game ready commodity hardware means that virtual worlds are now feasible as an Enterprise-wide Information System rollout. 3D virtual world interfaces are now increasingly used across a company as complementary information spaces, to web-based and other system services.

This strong momentum in IS practice, however, has not yet been matched by an intense academic focus. In particular, what is lacking is an in depth analysis of these worlds as potential business information systems interfaces, and their relevant design and use consequences.

The aim of this special issue is to provide a forum to present and discuss the emerging role of virtual world technology in the information systems community. The special issue explicitly advocates multi-disciplinary approaches that expand and integrate the current isolated research efforts in this exciting new area of IS research.

The special issue specifically aims at reporting on and discussing empirical and theoretical research in the use of Virtual World technology in Information Systems. In particular, we hope to provide a picture of the present state of international research with regards to how virtual worlds can shape the design, analysis, use, or management of information systems in organizations.

We encourage submissions that report on the use of research methods including experiments, surveys, case studies, focus groups and/or other empirical methods for the discovery of insights in the deployment, uptake, use, success or failure of Virtual World technologies in enterprises. Research contributed may range through various aspects of virtual world information systems, from development and integration, to impact studies on users.

We especially would like to encourage submissions on atypical usage of such worlds for Information System domains, in order that new and novel research may be brought to the attention of the international IS research community. In addition, we welcome papers that present, introduce or discuss novel approaches to emerging virtual world research, as this new domain will inspire different investigative approaches.

Contributed papers may deal with, but are not limited to:

- Social networking and communication in virtual worlds

- Virtual teams, collective cognition, and group performance, in virtual worlds

- Entrepreneurship in virtual worlds

- Virtual World technology and Interactive Systems Design

- System demonstrations and simulations

- In-world Information System modeling

- Human Computer Interaction

- Interfacing and integration of virtual world technology with other Information Systems

- Representations of Information Systems as virtual services

- Virtual world technology in IS education and training

- Adoption of Virtual World technologies and systems in corporate practice

- Diffusion of Virtual World technologies in social networking systems

- Virtual World technologies and co-creation of IT value

Submission Guidelines

Manuscripts should not normally exceed 7000 words and should be submitted online at Authors will have to select Special Issue Submission as the manuscript type. Author guidelines are available at ‘author guidelines’ at

All submissions will be peer-reviewed following the double-blind review process of ISJ. The objective is to apply very high standards of acceptance while ensuring fair, timely and efficient review cycles.


Full initial paper submission deadline: 30 August 2010

First Review deadline: 30 November 2010

Revised paper submission deadline: (if required) 30 January 2011

Second Review deadline: 15 March 2011

Camera-ready paper submission deadline: 30 April 2011

Publication of special issue: mid-2011

Guest Editors:

Dr Ross Brown

Information Systems Discipline

Queensland University of Technology

Office 508 / 126 Margaret Street

Tel: +61 7 3138 9481

Fax: +61 7 3138 9390

Brisbane QLD 4000, Australia



Dr Andrew Hardin

College of Business
Department of Management Information Systems
4505 Maryland Parkway Box 456034
Tel: (702) 895-0447
Fax: (702) 895-0802

Las Vegas, NV 89154-6034

Dr David Kreps

Salford Business School

University of Salford

43 The Crescent

Tel: +44 (0) 161 295 5884

Fax: +44 (0) 161 295 5999

Manchester, M5 4WT, United Kingdom



Dr Jan Recker

Information Systems Discipline

Queensland University of Technology

Office 510 / 126 Margaret Street

Tel: +61 7 3138 9479

Fax: +61 7 3138 9390

Brisbane QLD 4000, Australia



Friday, March 19, 2010

Video: Talumis Airport Processes

Dutch firm Talumis has some interesting software for manufacturing simulations. Their Youtube videos include a demonstration of checkin processes at Airports.

System looks good, and offers a lot of discrete time simulation capabilities regarding passenger flow. They also use a similar format to my work, involving minimalist visualisations incorporating a floor plan and elegantly sufficient modelling of relevant process artifacts. However, their approach does not incorporate some of the BPM ideas that I have been pursuing.


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Techtip: Avatar Creation with Your Image

Have finally got around to creating a recognisable avatar for myself in Open Simulator. The process is simple, just download a nice tool like AVMaker, which uses a simple webcam image to generate a texture that is mappable to your avatar's head. You should then carry out the following steps.

First step, is to take an appropriate passport style image with your webcam. See below.

Then use something like AVMaker to generate the texture image to be applied. See below.

The next step is to fire up the viewing client (in my case Hippo), login to the grid you want to upload your appearance to, and then modify the appearance of your account avatar. To do this, right click on the avatar and select Appearance, and then select Skin. To make your face appear on the avatar, you must upload the face texture as a "Head Tattoo." See the image below.

Once you get out of the appearance menu, you should then have an avatar with, ahem, something like your appearance. See below.

I will now work on my hairstyle and clothes, as at the moment my avatar looks like a cross between Groucho and Harpo Marx.


Link: BPMRedux Minority Report

Theo Priestly has a great article here about Minority Report style Process Modelling interfaces. Accenture even offers a product around this space. Such spaces are indeed, as Theo suggests, a good 21st Century replacement for Postit notes, scissors and glue.

However, these interfaces are limited due to the absence of a spatial juxtaposition of the users connected via networking. What is needed is the ability to give a view of the networked collaborators shown working on the process model. My impressions of the remote collaborative capabilities of these spaces are that they cannot handle such remote collaboration well, especially when dealing with concurrent collaborative modelling. We still need to do some work on giving people easy remote access to modelling spaces, that give people a real 3D sense of the other people working on the model concurrently.

This is where I think Augmented Reality systems will come into great effect, as it enables the merging of synthetic networked spaces, with real physical spaces for collaboration purposes.


Sunday, March 14, 2010

Video: SSCRC Project Preliminary Video

This video shows an example of the latest version of our middleware linking the YAWL workflow engine to Open Simulator. We have created a simple example of an accident victim being brought into a Hospital to be processed.

The preliminary interface to the YAWL accident treatment workflow is shown as a worklist on the left of the image. The tasks are presented to the avatar via this interface, in a similar manner as done in web based workflow systems. Objects in the simulator are instrumented with a complex knowledge base, that enables the validation of actions within the world, to make sure that tasks are carried out correctly. This is particularly useful for process training.

NB: this movie is quite long in length - ~7 mins.

This project is supported by the Smart Services CRC. Publications will proceed from this preliminary work, and will be duly reported on in due course.


Monday, March 8, 2010

Report: ThinkBalm 3D Virtual World Vendor Choice

ThinkBalm is well known in the Virtual World business for providing excellent business reports on this growing field. They have an excellent report here, that formalises the process of choosing 3D Virtual World vendor products.

Well worth the read, even if only to obtain an overview of vendor product functionality, especially in the conference, training and collaboration application domains.


Saturday, March 6, 2010

Video: Auckland University Hospital Sim

Scott Diener, a Virtual Worlds researcher at University of Auckland, has a great Hospital Sim he and his team have developed on the Long White Cloud region in Second Life. The full version of the video is found here. He is also part of an Open Sim grid being operated by New Zealand Universities.

He has also assisted us in some of our research, with a demonstration of our process system being developed within the Auckland Sim for a book chapter we have had published. Details soon.


Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Opinion: Virtual Worlds Tipping Point?

Business analyst here, thinks virtual worlds is at technology tipping point. The argument is that we need to have lightweight technology to support low barrier to entry, via standards such as HTML 5, COLLADA, WebGL et al.

I think I have heard this before somehow from the VRML pundits, going way back to the Nineties. It still seems strange to me that installing a plugin is considered a barrier to entry, when we routinely install Twitter, Facebook and various other Games in order to engage with applications that are seen as fun and rewarding to our social interactions. Downloading and creating Second Life accounts is not such a different experience to me.

I have argued before that I cannot see the value of purely socialising in a virtual world, unless it adds something to the experience. Moving around in a 3D environment is time consuming. Keeping track of people in world is a little painful, if all you need to do is talk. I am still of the opinion that Twitter and Facebook are more effective in this area, due to simple interfaces, and ease of incorporating media content into the socialising. Games as Virtual Worlds succeed here, because the tasks given to you in-world are entertaining, engaging, and competitive (which has social constructs attached via teams).

IMHO, the only barrier to entry is simply the lack of a need to use such worlds for social applications, at this stage. Maybe something will come along and change this, but I have yet to see anything reducing my skepticism in this respect.

Education, training, collaborative design, and work-based communication/conferencing are, I believe, the major drivers for Virtual Worlds at the moment, as they are application domains that reap a measurable business benefit from the technology. Many non-ICT workers use complex IT for work because it brings perceived benefits. I believe there is no difference with Virtual Worlds. As soon as it becomes something useful to the socialising masses, then it will take the place of other socialising tools, maybe. Otherwise, it remain a very useful business tool in specific application domains, used alongside of other ICT technology.


GET 2010 Date Extension

Deadline for submissions (new date): 29 March 2010 --

Freiburg, Germany, 26 - 28 July 2010
part of the IADIS Multi Conference on Computer Science and Information Systems(MCCSIS 2010)
Freiburg, Germany 26 - 31 July 2010

* Conference background and goals
This conference aims to bring together research and practice from creative, social and business practitioners and researchers in this challenging field. The focus of this conference is on design, development and evaluation of games, entertainment technologies and the nature of play.

* Format of the Conference
The conference will comprise of invited talks and oral presentations. The proceedings of the conference will be published in the form of a book and CD-ROM with ISBN, and will be available also in the IADIS Digital Library (accessible on-line).

* Best Papers
Selected authors of best papers will be invited to submit extended versions of their papers to selected journals (i.e. IADIS International Journal on Computer Science and Information Systems - ISSN: 1646-3692) including journals from INDERSCIENCE Publishers.

* Types of submissions
Full and Short Papers, Reflection Papers, Posters/Demonstrations, Tutorials, Panels and Doctoral Consortium. All submissions are subject to a blind refereeing process.

* Topics related to Game and Entertainment Technologies are of interest. These include, but are not limited to the following topics:

- Development methodologies
- Design issues
- Controversial issues - we welcome debate and dissension, for example; games as art, entertainment as purely for monetary returns etc
- Special Effects
- Animation
- Mobile and ubiquitous games and entertainment
- Serious Games and entertainment -applications, critiques
- Philosophical issues
- Prototypes
- Social and cultural uses of/for Play
- Tools and technologies
- Skills, strategy, rules and chance
- Genre
- Immersiveness and engagement
- Research methodologies in creative practice

- Usability and playability
- User/player centered design
- Psychological, social, and cultural differences in perception and participation
- Communities, networks, social interaction and social capital
- Cross-cultural and intercultural approaches
- Assessment of exploratory learning approaches
- Emerging practices

* Important Dates:
- Submission Deadline (new date): 29 March 2010
- Notification to Authors (new date): 30 April 2010
- Final Camera-Ready Submission and Early Registration (new date): Until 24 May 2010
- Late Registration (new date): After 24 May 2010
- Conference: Freiburg, Germany, 26 - 28 July 2010

* Conference Location
The conference will be held in Freiburg, Germany.

* Secretariat
Rua Sao Sebastiao da Pedreira, 100, 3
1050-209 Lisbon, Portugal
Web site:

* Program Committee
Game and Entertainment Technologies 2010 Conference Program Chair:
Katherine Blashki, University of Sydney, Australia

General MCCSIS 2010 Conference Co-Chairs:
Piet Kommers, University of Twente, The Netherlands
Pedro Isaías, Universidade Aberta (Portuguese Open University), Portugal
Dirk Ifenthaler, Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg, Germany
Nian-Shing Chen, National Sun Yat-sen University, Taiwan

Committee Members: *
* for committee list please refer to