- Phillip Linden: Linden Dollar Economy Announcement – “Stability of the L$ economy reduces pricing problems for creators and consumers of in-world content.“
- Jonathan Schwartz: The Rise of the General Purpose System – “I’d like to personally apologize to all those poor UPS, DHL and FedEx drivers….”
- SimTeach: Information and Community for Educators using M.U.V.E.’s – Multi-User Virtual Environments.
- Greg Linden: Starting Findory: In the Beginning – “I believed in the value of applying personalization to information. I wanted to see it happen. While I thought it was inevitable that everyone will be doing personalization of information over the next 5-10 years, I wanted to see it sooner. I started Findory to make it happen..”
- New Porsche All-Wheel Drive 911 Targa – Time for an upgrade?
- Eric Rice: Home run kings: MLB, ESPN, Second Life, & The Electric Sheep – ““Tonight, a bunch of friends and I went to a baseball stadium, bought some hats and jerseys– some of us got some bling jewelry (Go RED SOX). Naturally, we had big foam fingers, hot dogs, beers. We talked smack, we cheered, we chatted it up.”
- Does Your Life Suck? – An oddly named yet worthwhile introduction to Second Life.
- The Educational Possibilities of a Massively Multiplayer Virtual World – “Our goals are to increase your awareness of current developments in computer games and simulations and to help you begin considering the educational possibilities of these emerging technologies, But most importantly, we want to encourage you explore virtual worlds, like Second Life, so you will be prepared to teach with this technology as it continues to mature.“
- Innovation Happens Elsewhere – Open Source as Business Strategy – “This book is intended for anyone considering using Open Source. It describes what open source is, discusses business reasons for using open source, and describes how an open source project works in a day-to-day manner.“
- Metaprogramming Ruby – Domain-Specific Languages for Programmers – “programming your programming.”
In my copious free time I have been working on a prototype for a developer relations “outpost” in Second Life. Here’s what I have so far. As you can see from the pictures, I have virtually no artistic or architectural skills. This outpost is intended to be a proof of what can be done, and will undoubtedly be a lot more polished and sophisticated when I am able to do it “for real”.
Walking down the street:
This is definitely a mixed-use neighborhood:
Hmm, something interesting coming up on the right:
Amazon, what the heck are they doing here:
Let’s have a closer look:
Hmmm, this looks kind of interesting. Let’s go inside:
Some books are for sale on the right. Clicking on them opens up a browser on the Amazon detail page for the book:
Looks like we have screen shots of some AWS applications on the other wall:
Walk to the front:
Stand at the podium:
Turn off the lights:
Then turn them back on:
Sit in a seat:
Zoom in a bit, to make the presentation a bit easier to read:
The presentation is starting (too bad that the presenter is sitting in the audience :
Go through a couple of slides:
Hmmm, this looks pretty decent. Cyberspace can be fun:
Let’s walk up to the second level:
Turn around. It is midnight, a good time for a Web Services presentation:
Now it is daytime. This is definitely not the best neighborhood, but we have to start somewhere:
Fly above the outpost:
It used to be pretty easy to be a practicing software developer. First you would go to school and study computer science. You would learn about math, data structures, algorithms, object-oriented programming, project management, and perhaps take a course or two in computer graphics. Armed with these basic skills, you could think of yourself as an “engineer”, and build interesting things out of raw bits for a living.
I am rapidly coming to realize that those basic skills aren’t enough anymore for people who want to spend their working lives building things out of bits.
To do a credible job as a developer these days you also need a whole bunch of other skills:
- You need to be a lawyer, so that you can read, understand, respect, and perhaps even write license agreeements and other contracts.
- You need to be an artist, so that your products use nice colors and proportions, and exhibit a sense of style.
- You need to be a marketer, so that you can get some attention for your work.
- You need to have some business skills, so that you can make deals and negotiate contracts.
- You need to be an architect, so that you can create credible 3D objects in virtual worlds like Second Life or Croquet.
Did I miss any skills?
In the past, project teams were large, and it was possible to create a team with a bunch of developers and other people with the requisite skills. These days, thanks to better programming tools and high-level platforms and services, very small teams can have an incredible impact, but only if that small team includes enough people with all of these skills. Instead of specializing, it is better to be a jack of all trades.
Some food for thought, late on a Friday night.
Update 1:: There’s some great info in the comments, so be sure to check them out. I’m embarassed to admit that I missed some stuff that was so obvious (stuff that I do every day), like hardware technician, database administrator, and system operator. Not to mention writer / communicator.
Update 2:: I really like what Santosh said: “Ouch, I spent 6 years of my life studying computer science ! What is made extinct is the idea of large teams of developers with support groups that carry these other skills (refer to “The Mythical Man Month” to see where the idea of support and specialization within teams is documented).“
- Robert Scoble: Business Card Best Practices – “A good business card starts a conversation.“
- New Release of Wamp Server – Install PHP5, Apache, and MySQL on Windows in one fell swoop.
- Game Developers Guide to Pwning Second Life – “One resident named Games Prototype, for example, created and runs a franchise of hugely popular SL casinos and by his estimate, clears $2,000-3,000 monthly for about ten hours of weekly work.“
- Caveat Emptor: Buying and Selling in Second Life – Lots of good posts here, and descriptions of some scams perpetrated within Second Life.
- Weblog Wire: Connecting the PR World to the Blogosphere – “Thousands of bloggers are waiting to hear from you…“
If you are sick of hearing me talk and write about Second Life you might want to skip this post. I see something valuable there that I can’t quite put my finger on just yet, and I want to figure out exactly what it is. My friend Dave Schappel is mystified; I want to make sure that smart people like him understand what’s going on here and why it is worth their attention.
I was definitely a “space geek” as a kid. I followed the Apollo missions, I read the paper every day for news, and when other kids would use chairs and blankets to play “fort”, I would lay the chairs on their backs and play “astronaut.” I even ate those miserable Space Food Sticks once or twice.
On July 20, 1969 I sat on the floor in front of the TV and watched Neal Armstrong step out onto the moon as part of the Apollo 11 mission. I’m not sure if anyone was watching with me — my siblings were all pretty young and I don’t recall my parents being all that interested. I was thrilled by what I saw, but I was essentially alone. I didn’t get to cheer at what had just transpired, I didn’t get to talk about it with anyone, and I couldn’t ask (or answer) any questions. The “Apollo Fan Club” was made up of people like me, most of us isolated from each other and unable to find each other, much less to connect.
On September 28, 1988 I was at a meeting hosted by the Open Software Foundation. Out in the lobby, one of the monitors showed the Space Shuttle Discovery as it returned to space — this was the first flight after the Challenger disaster. Even in this crowd of technically sophisticated geeks, the launch drew a few cheers and a bit of discussion, but that was about it.
On July 4, 2006, things were different. I sat at my keyboard, once again the only space geek in the house. I was, however, sitting inside of Second Life at a place called Spaceport Alpha. I wasn’t the only space geek in attendance:
As the launch neared, more and more people showed up, to the point where all of the chairs were full, people were standing around, and the “sim” was at capacity. I believe that 70 people were there. We had an amazing chat as we waited patiently for the launch. Given my advanced age I was sure that I would be the oldest one in the room. This was not the case, however — several people noted that they had watched Mercury and Gemini launches, marking them as at least a few years older than me. Lots of questions were asked and answered. Someone wondered about the delays in the countdown, and we explained the concept of a programmed hold to them. There was a lot of excitement, and more than a little anxiety in the crowd. For the first time I was in the company of fellow space geeks.
The video feed was very clear, projected into Second Life via an inset QuickTime panel. As new people arrived they picked up on the excitement and were quick to register their positive impressions of the experience. There was virtual coffee in the Spaceport gift shop, and people longed for freeze-dried ice cream.
Finally, it was time for launch. We each held our breath (but didn’t stop chatting) and watched the launch:
There were virtual cheers all around as Discovery cleared the pad:
I am pretty sure that everyone there found this virtual event to be almost as good as actually being in the physical company of fellow space geeks. For me it was more than just pixels on a screen, it was a chance to watch and to enjoy something along with other people that were similarly inclined. We had a very intense shared experience, mediated and made possible by our virtual presence within Second Life.
So what’s the magic? Perhaps I could have found some like-minded friends online and we could have agreed to watch the launch while sitting in a chat room. We would have had very little sense of each other, and we probably wouldn’t have been fully engaged. This presupposes that I could even find these people in the first place — certainly not a given.
Within this virtual meeting place, there was a strong sense of shared purpose, some individual identity, some personalization (in fact we had to ask some of the avatars to turn off their computationally expensive “bling”), and (to me at least) a feeling that we were really “there”, immersed in this virtual environment.
It looks like the Space Shuttle will launch today!
I’m sitting inside one of the coolest places I have found inside of Second Life. It is called Spaceport Alpha, and it was apparently built by NASA employees and some other interested parties. There’s some more information on the New World Notes blog.
This “build” (as they say) is quite amazing and I don’t understand why it isn’t jammed full of people. I’m writing this post to draw more people in.
If you have Second Life installed, simply visit Spaceport Alpha (that’s a SLURL, or Second Life URL — a link into a location within Second Life).
If you don’t have it installed, well go for it. Download the client, create your Avatar, and then come back to this post and click on the SLURL.
Here are some screen shots to entice you. Note that the video projection screens in the presentation area are real — they are showing NASA TV, by means of some QuickTime magic.