September 2007

Monthly Archive

Second Life and Other Virtual Realities

Posted by on 30 Sep 2007 | Tagged as: Future of Technology, Games & Simulations

I was introduced to Second Life last year and found it very intriguing but, I never really felt like it was something I’d spend a lot of time doing. To me it was just a neat tool; however, for some it is a money-making business. I’ve read two articles in the last few weeks on Second Life and other virtual realities. Security in Virtual Worlds: Blurring the Borders and Griefer Madness: Terrorizing Virtual Worlds Both talk about the idea of making money in a virtual reality such as Second Life. This really made me stop and think about this phenomenon in a new light. Someone can make real money in a world that doesn’t exist. How completely bizarre!! And yet, this is where the future of these technologies is heading.

But, like any new technology, problems have arisen. Both articles also discuss the security issues that have come to light in these worlds. First of all, there’s the small problem of those “people” that don’t play well with others. In Second Life, those are called griefers. Basically, they go around wreaking havoc on the virtual world. Just like in the real world, the virtual world has to deal with vandalism and petty crime. However, unlike the real world there is no virtual police…at the moment. Could this be where these virtual worlds have to turn in the future…actually having a legal body to deal with these types of issues? If the problems get much worse, they may have to.

In addition, there are bigger issue that have come up in these worlds. There is always a security risk when you type personal information into a website. These virtual worlds are no different. The potential for identity theft is real. People steal this information to use for crime in the real world. Since real money is exchanged, many users have credit card information in their Second Life accounts which could end up in the wrong hands and cause serious financial problems.

Finally, there is the problem of fraud. As the articles point out, there is no regulatory body in these virtual worlds. There is no good way to track the money changing hands, nor to know who is receiving that money; therefore, transactions could be happening in Second Life that no one knows about. This could also present serious problems in the real world.

So, what does this mean for the future? Well, security may become tighter in these worlds; regulations may need to be established for money exchanges; and for all intents and purposes the reason for using a system such as Second Life may change. This may become more than just a game for many people and those that just want to play, may find that these security measures are too much to deal with. The whole dynamic of this other reality may change into a marketplace for corporations to do business, rather than a place to just get away from the real world for a few hours.

The World Is Flat – Part 1

Posted by on 23 Sep 2007 | Tagged as: The World Is Flat

So, I have finished reading the first third of The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the 21st Century by Thomas Friedman and I found it very interesting and very relevant to our field. The first chapter of the book discussed the flattening affect of the world in the last few years. One quote says that “In some eyes, homesourcing and outsourcing aren’t so much competing strategies as they are different manifestations of the same thing: a relentless push by corporate America to lower costs and increase efficiency, wherever that may lead” (pg 35). I found this to be the core to the flattening affect…corporations are trying to produce more at a lower cost than they are currently doing so they find new methods to doing business, including moving their operations to different countries. This idea extends to training development and people development as well. If a corporation is trying to work at peak efficiency and save time and money, then they won’t want their employees sitting in training sessions all day. They want employees who know how to find information and how to use that information right then. They need performance support tools and smaller segments of information that are just-in-time training instead of long coursework. Another quote that promotes this same sentiment is from pg. 45 “I loved the concept of a company with only two offices – ‘everywhere, and right next to you’ – because it captured perfectly the way the flattening of the world allows companies to be more global than ever and yet, at the same time, more personal than ever.” Isn’t that what companies want in their training also? They want the information where they are, when they need it, and tailored to their individual needs.

The second chapter discussed the 10 forces that flattened the world. I never really thought of the Berlin Wall collapsing as a flattener to the world. I have to wonder if this is in part due to how young I was when it happened. I remember it, but it didn’t feel like it actually affected my life. However, in hindsight it probably affected my life a lot more than I thought. On pg 58, Friedman says that “the political constraint on individual reach collapsed with the fall of the Berlin Wall…and the practical constraint on individual reach collapsed with the rise of the Apple and Windows-enabled, modem-connected IBM PC.” Both of these events led to the world we live in today…a connected world where we can work with others in foreign countries without fear of oppression. There are still barriers of course, but the bottom line is that it’s possible and wouldn’t have been otherwise. I guess I take for granted what the world would have been like if the Berlin Wall had not fallen.

Continue Reading »

Wii and Motion-Oriented Gaming Systems

Posted by on 19 Sep 2007 | Tagged as: Games & Simulations

So, the other day I had a conversation about the Wii game system and how neat it is because it’s “motion-oriented”. Then, I read a blog today about the same system. This got me thinking about the way we could use gaming systems like this in a training environment. I think something like this would be a great way for somebody to learn how to perform a function with a machine or even a new system of sorts. Because the person would actually have to perform the function using the remote controller, it would be a more effective learning tool, very much like a virtual reality situation. However, unlike a virtual reality system, this seems like it would be significantly cheaper and still have a great effect on the learning of the new machine or system. Immersive simulations would take on a new meaning if the user actually had to move while learning instead of just answering questions about a situation.

Social Networking

Posted by on 15 Sep 2007 | Tagged as: Social Networking

I was scanning the blogs I have subscribed to and ran across this short Captivate video on how an organization is using social networking to connect their members before a conference. As I’m watching this many ideas start coming to mind about how people could use this in their companies, in their college programs, and in other organizations they’re involved in.

In work settings: I was thinking about the fact that many companies have people spread all over the country, as well as the world. How great would this type of technology be for all of those employees to connect to one another. They could share ideas about what is working and what isn’t. They could share best practices about everyday activities. They could even connect with another employee near them if they have a job they need help with.

In addition, I thought of international conventions that many companies have. This type of social networking could be used with all of the participants for that conference in the same way that it’s used with this organization. It could help employees network before even coming to the convention.

In school settings: The most beneficial idea I thought of for an educational program is to help people network with each other before coming to the program. It would be a great way for students to get to know each other before actually meeting each other. For any education setting, the first day or even the first few weeks, it’s sometimes difficult for people to feel comfortable speaking out in class when they don’t know the person sitting next to them. (I know this from my experience being a teacher.) Because of this, discussions sometimes lag and not as many ideas are voiced. A social networking technology could help with that problem. If people are talking and have at least been introduced before walking into the classroom, there is more of a chance they will express their opinions and insights on a particular topic to the class at large.

Other organizations: In the same fashion as this organization has used a social networking technology, so could most organizations, especially those that expand to the far reaches of the world. I would love the opportunity to get new ideas in the world of training from more experienced trainers in different parts of the world if the organizations I’m involved with used something like this. It would be an incredibly beneficial learning experience.

Dilemmas: However, there are some dilemmas I’ve thought of as well. The largest hurdle any organization has to overcome is the fact that some people are resistant to new technologies. So, there would need to be much thought involved in how to present and roll this out to any type of group. Another deterring factor is the amount of time it takes for users to feel comfortable with not only a new technology, but this whole idea of making information about yourself available to someone you’ve never met. There has to be some time alloted for people to get used this new way of connecting and networking. Most people are used to networking in face-to-face situations, so if they have never used any kind of social networking tool before, there will be an adjustment period.

Despite the dilemmas and hurdles that would need to be overcome, a social networking technology such as this one, would help people grow and build relationships that would have never formed if this application were not available.