Workplace collaboration on the 3D web

A news item Shel and I discussed in FIR #390 yesterday was a report in the Wall Street Journal’s Technology Blog about a partnership Linden Lab, the developer of Second Life, is announcing this week with Rivers Run Red, a developer of content, applications and tools for virtual worlds like Second Life:

[…] [Rivers Run Red] has developed software that it styles as a Web-based companion to Second Life, allowing companies to manage their 3D meetings, store multimedia information, manage news feeds and keep meeting records. Rivers says users can take part in virtual meetings even if they are not in Second Life, which requires extra software besides a browser.

The announcement was made yesterday after we recorded that FIR episode. The press release issued by both companies (read the one on Linden’s site: much easier on the eye) adds quite a bit of detail to that in the WSJ’s report.

The key announcement concerns the software Rivers Run Red has developed which is being offered as Immersive Workspaces, an offering the two firms describe in the press release as “a comprehensive virtual world collaboration solution” that runs on the Second Life Grid platform and private networks:

[…] Immersive Workspaces enables organizations to construct custom virtual work environments – including meetings rooms and design centers – that can dramatically change the way they collaborate and communicate. A set of tightly integrated web-based applications and the ability to seamlessly upload and integrate real world content – e.g., PowerPoint – brings enterprise-level efficiency and flexibility into a virtual world.

The two firms have produced a 5-minute video that offers a good explanation with examples of why organizations should be interested in this web-based offering and what people in those organizations can achieve with it.

The concept of Immersive Workspaces is compelling especially if you don’t need to install bespoke software (such as you do to run Second Life), and you don’t have to embark on quite a steep learning curve in order to understand how to use your environment, as you have to with Second Life.

Will there be big take up for this offering? If the examples in the video are any indicator of what you can do with Immersive Workspaces, there ought to be, in spite of some contrarian views.

Think of it, perhaps, as a private Second Life via the web without Second Life.

I think this presents huge opportunities for people within organizations to experiment and learn new and different ways to connect with others.

Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

  1. Nik Smit

    Thanks for this Neville – very interesting.

    I think there’s no doubt that technologies like this will become very prevalent. The only questions are around timescales, and those are defined largely by how well users adapt to them.

    For it to be effective in an actual workplace, everyone (and not just early adopters) needs to feel very comfortable in the environment. I have some doubts that that moment is very soon – while I imagine Immersive Workspaces to be engineered from the ground up to have a much softer learning curve than Second Life, many will still resist, get frustrated, or be “spooked”.

    Still, it will trickle down, and once we finally get top class, and “natural” virtual reality interfaces, this will be the norm.

  2. neville

    Absolutely, Nik, I agree with you re people being comfortable in the virtual environment. I know from my own experiences in Second Life in participating in meetings and other events that some people need a great deal of encouragement and support to be able to fully participate.

    SL has quite a learning curve which puts off many, so I imagine Linden’s and Rivers’ offering to be relatively simpler to learn.

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