Ebbe Altberg at VWBPE 2018: video, transcript and audio

VWBPE 2018 banner. Courtesy of VWBPE

On Thursday, March 15th, 2018, Linden Lab CEO met with a group of invited participant for the Above the Book events at VWBPE 2018. Lasting some 80 minutes, the conversational  Q&A session was livestreamed for its first hour to the main auditorium at the conference. Also in attendance at the event was  Brett Atwood (Brett Linden), Senior Manager for Marketing at Linden Lab, was also in attendance.

The full transcript of the session, including a number of “after stream” questions not in the official video is available here. When reading, please note:

  • The transcript notes don’t follow the chronological flow of the session, as I’ve attempted to group subjects by topic for more concise reference.
  • Audio of responses to questions are provided for each section of the transcript.
  • Questions are given in bold.
  • Comments from Ebbe Altberg are prefixed EA; comments from Brett Atwood are prefixed BA.

The video of the session is embedded at the end of this piece for reference and for those who would prefer to watch it. My thanks to the VWBPE stream team for providing it.

The Short Form

For those who prefer,the following is a bullet-point list of the core questions asked, gathered into the same topic headings as the transcript notes. Links are given to the relevant part of the full transcript for those who would prefer to read / listen to the complete answers / comments.

Note: due to the nature of WordPress internal text anchors and scrolling, you may have to scroll up a little after jumping to a specific topic, in order to see the question.

The Lab and Education

  • Education is, and remains, an important element of the lab’s thinking, both with Second Life and with Sansar. Jump to topic.
  • For educators interested in engaging with the Lab, the best way to do so is by reaching out to Brett Linden, who himself is an educator with 15 years experience (and who currently teaches a course as Washington State University) and who sees himself as a advocate for virtual worlds in education.
  • To help educators promote their endeavours, Brett suggests looking at SL Place Pages as a means to self-curate a web presence for in-world activities. Jump to topic.
  • The Lab is willing to work with educators on putting together documents / information addressing the value proposition, safety, security, etc., of using virtual space in education which can be used by educators to help inform their administrators and IT experts. Jump to topic.
  • The Lab is also willing to consider ways to make SL more attractive to the education market, preferably with a list of prioritised ideas from the education community, which can be compared with other requests for features / improvements, evaluated (technically and in terms of value / ROI, etc). Jump to topic.
  • It’s unlikely that LL will, in the near future, provide a dedicated resource to the educational / non-profile community. However, the recent re-alignment of the Second Life and Sansar team structures means there is now a dedicated SL marketing resource, lead by Brett, to help and support SL communities such as the educational / non-profit community. Jump to topic.
  • What has been the educational uptake with Sansar?

Product Accessibility and Ease-of-Use

  • Access for the disabled:
    • Sansar is too early in its development to offer much in the way of ease-of-access for the disabled.
    • The Lab would like to hear of specific instances where more could be done to help with accessing Second Life by those with disabilities.
    • Jump to topic.
  • What is the Lab’s position on speech-to-text, text-to-speech?
    • There are 3rd party tool already available, which the Lab might not look to directly integrate into their platforms.
    • However, major players like Microsoft, Google and apple are developing capabilities which the Lab might look towards integrating in the future.
    • Jump to topic.
  • Providing a plug-in architecture for SL / Sansar to allow third-party extensions (text-to-speech, etc.), has been suggested.
    • Not n the current roadmap, as SL client already provides a lot of open-source extensibility.
    • Possibly something TPVs could implement / contribute.
    • For some services, would have an associated cost involved, adding complexity, simply because third-parties charge for their services.
    • Jump to topic.
  • More broadly, Sansar has offered accessibility for people to be able to create and publish their own VR experience to the world without the need to develop their own platforms on which to run them. Jump to topic.
  • Will Sansar have easier access to content tools? Jump to topic.

Second Life: Development, Land Cost and Fees

  • The Second Life team numbers just under 100 people (engineering, support, operations, customer services, and not including finance, compliance, etc.). Jump to topic.
  • Key focuses for SL are: enhancing the platform, growing  the user base and trying to re-balance the economic model away from a reliance on land fees.
    • Costs of involvement in Second Life remain a concern for the Lab, which is taking a high-level look at trying to pivot revenues away from the land model potentially towards more of a transaction-based model, while at the same time trying to reduce at least some of the burden of land costs (e.g. the 2016 private region buy-down offer and more recently, the Mainland price restructuring).
    • Jump to topic
  • In time it is hoped that transitioning revenue away from land might lead to a further reduction in land costs to educators. Jump to topic.
  • Other areas of focus include making SL more scalable, secure and performant. Jump to topic.
  • The Lab will soon be publishing a roadmap announcement of improvements / enhancements to Second Life. Jump to topic.

Developing Second Life and Sansar

  • Linden Lab has more clearly split the Sansar and Second Life teams; there are no longer people “floating” between the two and working on both.
  • The Lab see a lot of overlap between the two products, with customers potential using both for different purposes.
  • However, each has its own potential markets / its own selling points for those markets, allowing them to co-exist.
  • The Lab believes that with 15 years of SL notwithstanding, the potential of virtual spaces has only been scratched, and both second Life and Sansar can do so much more.
  • Jump to Topic.

Second Life and the Cloud

  • Huge engineering effort, still in early stages, which will take “all of this year and then some” just to get transitioned and working.
  • Benefits to the Lab:
    • Reduced capital investment and maintenance costs.
    • Potential to dynamically scale consumption, rather than having simulator servers always on.
  • Potential benefits to users:
    • Potentially more flexibility in products and tiers, possibly defined by a mix of region use and use-case (e.g. high-powered, high capacity servers for popular events; more moderate, lower-cost servers for residential use).
    • Might add the ability to geographically locate simulators closer to dedicated audiences (e.g. regions serving South American communities could have their simulators running out of cloud locations in South America, reducing issues like latency for customers).
    • Not something that will happen immediately, as the Lab will need to transition services and then refine operations and investigate option.
  • Jump to topic.

Second Life and VR / Browsers

  • VR remains a challenge to implement in Second Life due to the high run-time frame rates required. As such, it is not something the Lab plans to pursue or re-deploy.
  • Streaming Second Life to a browser / mobile devices has been tried by third-parties (OnLive with SL Go and Bright Canopy from FRAME).
    • It’s not something the Lab is actively pursuing at present, so they are leaving it to third parties.
    • As the cost of cloud-base GPU technologies come down it might be something the Lab re-examines in the future.
  • Jump to topic.

“After Livestream” Questions

Note some !after stream” questions and comments are also addressed in the sections above.

  • Will the Lab bring back the Teen Grid as “the Education Grid”?
    • Not at this time, as it doesn’t fit with current plans to move away from dedicated infrastructure and to the cloud.
    • Might be something to be considered after the move to the cloud: presenting grids for unique audiences.
    • Jump to topic.
  • Can educators be given more control over their regions?
    • This would need indication from educators as to what is required (prioritised list again).
    • Jump to topic.
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VWBPE 2018: March 15th-17th – preview

VWBPE 2018

The 2018 Virtual Worlds Best Practice in Education (VWBPE) conference takes place between Thursday, March 15th and Saturday March 17th, 2018 inclusive. A grass-roots community event focusing on education in immersive virtual environments, VWBPE attracts 2200-3500 educational professionals from around the world each year.

I recently gave a brief overview of this year’s conference at the end of February, so this piece is intended to provide a little more meat for potential visitors.

As with recent years, the conference is focused on the 8 core VWBPE regions in Second Life, centred on the VWBPE Gateway.

Event Calendar

The best way to keep abreast of the full schedule is via the VWBPE 2018 event calendar. By default, this displayed in posterboard (shown below), but can easily be switched to agenda, month or stream views via the drop-down menu in the top right corner. Individual events can also be added to a number of personal calendars – Google, Outlook, Apple – making it even easier for attendees to track the events and activities they particularly want to attend at this year’s conference.

Use the drop-down at the top right of the VWBPE event calendar if you’d prefer to see it displayed in other formats

Note: event details pages in the calendar include a “Where” item with an apparent SLurl. These links tend to open a further copy of the event details page, rather than provide a SLurl map page. Instead, and where provided, use the “location” SLurl at the bottom of event pages for direct access to the location via a SLurl map page OR note the location name and use the event Teleport HUD in-world – see below for more.

Event Selection

The following is a (personal) selection of events those curious about VWBPE 2018 might want to attend:

Thursday March 15th

All times SLT

VWBPE 2018: Main Auditorium

Friday March 16th

  • 06:00-07:00: Morning Meet and Greet: meet VWBPE staff and volunteers, have your questions about events and the schedule answered and meet other attendees at the Social Area.
  • 11:00 – 12:00 noon: keynote: Bryan Alexander, Education Futurist: VRevolution calls for a new digital literacy at the Main Auditorium.
  • Social event highlights:
    • 12:00 noon – 13:00: Live Music with Keeba Tammas and her backup band, “The Tiny Maniacs” at the Social Area.
    • 14:00-14:50: Under the Sea Adventure: explore the beautiful underwater area of the social sim and become a mermaid or merman. Under the Social Area.

Saturday, March 17th

  • 07:00-08:00: Morning Meet and Greet: meet VWBPE staff and volunteers, have your questions about events and the schedule answered and meet other attendees at the Social Area.
  • 08:00-09:00: Blending VWs & Digital Tech. in Language Teaching: teaching immersive English literature by blending 3D worlds, machinima and other external digital tools. At Lecture Area A.
  • 12:00 noon – 13:00: Liberate Agency Amplification Via Avatar Identity: at Lecture Area B.
  • 16:00-17:00: Waiting for the VR Evolution: for many who have embraced change and have been early adopters, waiting for the rest of the world to catch up has not been easy. A discussion at the Quadrivium.
  • 18:00-19:00: VWBPE 2018 Closing Ceremony at the Main Auditorium.
  • Social event highlights:
    • 13:00-14:00: Games and Fun on the Social Plaza.
    • 17:00-18:00: Live Music with Nina Bing at the Main Auditorium.
    • 19:00-21:30: Music and Dancing featuring Lightning Production’s U2 Tribute Concert. In honour of St Patrick’s Day (19:00-20:00) followed by DJ Coz Okelly 20:00-21:30). All at the Social Area.
VWBPE 2018 Quadrivium

Getting About

VWBPE takes place across 8 regions (including the exhibitors spaces). While exploring on foot is fun, the quickest way to get to event / activity venues is via the VWBPE Teleport HUD, which can be obtained from the vendors at the VWBPE Gateway.

Simply ADD the HUD to your screen and click it when needed to open a dialogue box listing the key locations in the VWBPE regions. Click on the location you require to open the World Map with the location marked. Click on Teleport on the World Map to TP to the location. Simples!

The VWBPE Teleport HUD – click the HUD to display a dialogue box of destination in the VWBPE 2018 regions (appear top right of your screen). Click the desired destination to display it on the World Map, then click the Map’s teleport button to go to the location.

About VWBPE

VWBPE is a global grass-roots community event focusing on education in immersive virtual environments which attracts over 2,000 educational professionals from around the world each year, who participate in 150-200 on-line presentations including theoretical research, application of best practices, virtual world tours, hands-on workshops, discussion panels, machinima presentations, and poster exhibits.

In the context of the conference, a “virtual world” is an on-line community through which users can interact with one another and use and create ideas irrespective of time and space. As such, typical examples include Second Life, OpenSimulator, Unity, World of Warcraft, Eve Online, and so on, as well as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest or any virtual environments characterised by an open social presence and in which the direction of the platform’s evolution is manifest in the community.

Additional Links

VWBPE 2018: schedule, keynotes and Above the Book

VWBPE 2018

The 2018  Virtual Worlds Best Practice in Education (VWBPE) conference will be taking place between Thursday, March 15th and Saturday March 17th, 2018 inclusive. A grass-roots community event focusing on education in immersive virtual environments, VWBPE attracts 2200-3500 educational professionals from around the world each year.

The theme for the 2018 conference is VRevolutions, with the organisers noting:

VWBPE is an ecosystem of digital spaces. While the conference is hosted in Second Life, our conference features a variety of virtual and digital spaces. To present at VRevolutions, think outside the virtual space and consider how multiple available technologies and devices redefine what it means to work, create, and learn “virtually”. The VRevolution is about doing what scares you, what excites you, breaking and creating new paradigms.

At VRevolutions, VWBPE welcomes the multifaceted communities that contribute to and expand best practices in digital and virtual spaces to support practice, creation, and learning. Regardless of the community you represent, your proposal should consider how it contributes and expands the knowledge base for innovative and revolutionary change through the increasingly complex landscape of digital technology.

The 2018 event calendar has now been published, outlining the full range of events, both at the conference itself and in the days leading up to it / following it. Displayed in posterboard format by default (shown below), the calendar view can be switched easily to agenda, month or stream via drop-down selection Individual events can also easily be added to a number of personal calendars – Google, Outlook, Apple, depending on personal preference – making it even easier for attendees to track the events and activities they particularly want to attend at this year’s conference.

Stay up-to-speed with VWBPE 2018 activities through the conference calendar & add events of interest to your own calendar with ease – click the image to visit the calendar

As with recent years, the conference will be primarily focus on the 8 core VWBPE regions in Second Life, although a number of related social events will also be taking place elsewhere – sett the VWBPE calendar for the specifics on individual event locations / URLs.

 

Keynote Speakers

The Keynote speakers for VWBPE 2018 are:

  • Dr. Mark Childs, TEL Designer, Open University, UK:  his PhD was awarded in 2010 for his thesis Learners’ Experience of Presence in Virtual Worlds. Mark was the manager of the Theatron3 project from 2007 to 2009 which developed 20 ancient theatres in Second Life for performance and learning and has co-written and co-edited four books on learning in virtual worlds. He will be presenting Identity, literacy, immersion and presence; joining together the building blocks of virtual world learning on the morning of Thursday, March 15th, 2018.
  • Bryan Alexander, Education Futurist: a prolific speaker and consultant, Bryan publishes books, chapters, and articles. He created the Future of Education Observatory, including the monthly FTTE trends analysis, an on-line book club, and a weekly video-conference discussion. He has been teaching and exploring virtual worlds since the early 1990s. He will be presenting The VRevolution calls for a new digital literacy on the morning of Friday, March 16th, 2018.

Above The Book

VWBPE 2018 will again feature a special Above The Book event. Introduced in 2017, this is an invitation-only event limited to around 30 attendees who will have the opportunity to have their questions put directly to a special guest who “has been noteworthy and have, in one way or another, helped build a legacy in virtual environments: for educators, researchers, advocacy groups, communities of practice, content creators.

The Above the Book guest for 2018 will be Linden Lab CEO Ebbe Altberg.

Those wishing to attend the event must complete and submit the Above the Book application form, no later than Sunday, March 4th, 2018.

Volunteers Still Sought

There are still some volunteer slots left. If you would life to help run this year’s VWBPE, please consider hopping over to the volunteer sign-up page and completing the form there.

VWBPE 2018 regions, Second Life – click to see full size version

About VWBPE

VWBPE is a global grass-roots community event focusing on education in immersive virtual environments which attracts over 2,000  educational professionals from around the world each year, who participate in 150-200 on-line presentations including theoretical research, application of best practices, virtual world tours, hands-on workshops, discussion panels, machinima presentations, and poster exhibits.

In the context of the conference, a “virtual world” is an on-line community through which users can interact with one another and use and create ideas irrespective of time and space. As such, typical examples include Second Life, OpenSimulator, Unity, World of Warcraft, Eve Online, and so on, as well as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest or any virtual environments characterised by an open social presence and in which the direction of the platform’s evolution is manifest in the community.

Additional Links

VWBPE 2018: call for proposals

The 11th annual  Virtual Worlds Best Practice in Education (VWBPE) conference was recently announced, together with a call for proposals, which combines calls for presentation proposals, proposals for exhibits, and proposals for and immersive experiences (pre- and post-conference virtual experiences).

The conference will take place between Thursday, March 15th and Saturday March 17th, 2018 inclusive.

The theme for the 2018 conference is VRevolutions, with the organisers noting:

VWBPE is an ecosystem of digital spaces. While the conference is hosted in Second Life, our conference features a variety of virtual and digital spaces. To present at VRevolutions, think outside the virtual space and consider how multiple available technologies and devices redefine what it means to work, create, and learn “virtually”. The VRevolution is about doing what scares you, what excites you, breaking and creating new paradigms.

At VRevolutions, VWBPE welcomes the multifaceted communities that contribute to and expand best practices in digital and virtual spaces to support practice, creation, and learning. Regardless of the community you represent, your proposal should consider how it contributes and expands the knowledge base for innovative and revolutionary change through the increasingly complex landscape of digital technology.

Those formulating proposals for submission should keep these ideals in mind in writing their proposal.

Presentation Proposals

All proposals for presentations should be made in one of the seven presentation tracks:  Analytic Thinking and Complex Problem Solving; Creativity and Innovation in Design, Practice, and Learning; Essential Accessibility in Digital and Virtual Spaces; Collaboration and Distance Connections; Multimedia Communication and Multifaceted Interactions; Ethics, Responsibility, and Tolerance  and VWBPE Redux.

In addition, proposals for presentations should meet one of the three conference presentations formats: Spotlight Presentations (1 hour); Hands on Technology Workshops (90 minutes) or Compass Points Roundtable Discussions (1 hour).

Full details on the seven tracks and three formats can be found on the VWBPE Call for Proposals page, together with general information on presentations and a link to the proposal submissions page.

Note that the closing date for presentation proposals is Monday, January 8th, 2018.

Exhibit Proposals

Exhibit proposals are open to those who wish to showcase their creative works in virtual worlds through artistic expression in order to promote their organisation or achievements. All exhibit proposals are reviewed by the VWBPE, and must apply to an already developed product for showcasing.

Exhibit proposals should be made in one of the eight exhibit tracks: K-12 Best Practices; Higher Education/College Best Practices; Field Practices; Games and Simulations; Tools and Products; Advocacy; Support and Help Communities and Artists, Designers and Builders.

The Exhibitor Guidelines must be reviewed prior to submitting an exhibit proposal.

Note that the closing date for presentation proposals is Thursday, February 1st, 2018.

Immersive Experiences Proposals

The Immersive Experiences category showcases locations whose main objective is interaction, immersion, and engagement for those who enter them, whether to play a game, solve an immersive problem, or engage participants in hands-on, interactive learning.

All proposals for immersive experiences should be made in one of the seven presentation tracks:  Analytic Thinking and Complex Problem Solving; Creativity and Innovation in Design, Practice, and Learning; Essential Accessibility in Digital and Virtual Spaces; Collaboration and Distance Connections; Multimedia Communication and Multifaceted Interactions; Ethics, Responsibility, and Tolerance  and VWBPE Redux.

In addition, proposals for immersive experiences should meet one of the two conference experience formats:  Wanna Play? and Virtual Worlds.

Full details on the tracks and formats can be found on the VWBPE Call for Proposals page, together with general information on presentations and a link to the proposal submissions page.

Note that the closing date for exhibit proposals is Monday, January 8th, 2018.

About VWBPE

VWBPE is a global grass-roots community event focusing on education in immersive virtual environments which attracts over 2,000  educational professionals from around the world each year, who participate in 150-200 online presentations including theoretical research, application of best practices, virtual world tours, hands-on workshops, discussion panels, machinima presentations, and poster exhibits.

In the context of the conference, a “virtual world” is an on-line community through which users can interact with one another and use and create ideas irrespective of time and space. As such, typical examples include Second Life, OpenSimulator, Unity, World of Warcraft, Eve Online, and so on, as well as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest or any virtual environments characterised by an open social presence and in which the direction of the platform’s evolution is manifest in the community.

Additional Links