Part 3 of Interview with Virtual Worlds 3D Pioneer Randy Hinrichs

Here is part three of my interview with Randy Hinrich. It was a great interview and invaluable insights.

Here is part one of the interview: part one of the interview here.

Here is part two.

Here is a link to his fascinating book about 3D virtual worlds that you should really check out.

Kapp: What do you see as the obstacles to widespread adoption of virtual worlds for learning? They have been around for almost a decade in terms of 3D graphical virtual worlds but still, the overall adoption rate seems low. How can that be changed?

Hinrichs: The obstacles are the same as always – the technology is demanding, so make sure you have good bandwidth and a great graphic card. Know how audio works – there are four configurations, the OS, the virtual world, the individual avatar, and the headset. That requires a lot of manipulation. Can you hear me now? Also, teach the culture of acknowledgement, so people talk. Virtual worlds are the new bowling alleys, the churches, the community center, the health club. It is a place where people hang out. In fact, I think it was Chris Locke in the Cluetrain Manifesto who told us the customer would be in control of the conversation. As the Internet continues to evolve as a social network and a 3D space, the adoption changes, and the obstacles go down, because people demand them to. One of my former students who works for the DoD put it so succintly the other day, he said “in the world of meetings, it seems like it is almost rude to talk, or to interrupt.

But, in a virtual world meeting, it seems almost rude NOT to talk”. So some of our advice. Teach students how to “slap me a y” as we say at 2b3d. Just type a “y” into chat to nod your head, and show your emotions, often. Use your avatar to look at who is speaking, and always add to the conversation or we’ll vote you off the island. Use Wikipedia to throw out a reference to further information, drop URLS shamelessly, play video, use Google Docs or Office365 to work office apps together, just keep it as active as any room you have to fill with people and keep interested. The obstacle is not technological, it is cultural. Getting people to acculturate to the World of Warcraft doesn’t seem to be difficult, you just invite them in and tell them they survive or die. When we use the Internet to interact, even in something as mundane as a VoIP concall, it is pretty much the same thing. The virtual world is that same way too. And believe me, the adoption rate is low in 3D interaction. You just wait and see.

The 3 killer apps for virtual worlds are X-Box, the Wii and the SonyPlayStation. People are going to demand more immersive experience because they no longer have to sit in front of a computer, and use a mouse and a keyboard to be human. I’m pretty convinced that 2012 is the year for immersive 3D. Our age demands it of us, whether we call it a virtual world or not.

Kapp: One last question, in your new book, you talk about the concept of “thinking in 3D” can you explain that concept and why it is so critical to crafting an effective virtual world learning experience?

Hinrichs: I’ve been talking about thinking in 3D during this whole interview. Thinking in 3D requires you to come into the virtual world to do you plan. Tour around everywhere and look at as many virtual worlds as you can. Interact socially with other avatars, attend events, participate in a purchase, take a class. All of these activities get you thinking, what is this space, how do I use it? What makes it work? Understand cybergogy, learning archetypes, and know the evidence that helps you think about 3D technology effectively. It’s not about how you translate the physical world into the virtual worlds, it’s about how you enhance the physical world in 3D. Things start popping up like, “do I need white noise in the space?” “what is the effective use of text?” “how do I herd cats in this place”. “what is wayfinding and how do use 360 degrees of space to capture and keep people’s attention?” “how much production is involved to pull this off?” When you think of working the space, think co-creating in the space. There is no other way.

If you co-create content, you’re working on spreadsheets in a shared Google Docs, extending your office into the 3D space. If you co-create objects, you are building things together that look like your product, or your service, and as the technology tools improve for building in 3D (as they have for building websites), the empowerment will double annually. Your workspace, and your learning space sure look different in a virtual world. They don’t loo so much like a document, or a file management system, or a menu across the top of the screen.

Finally, when it comes to implementation, thinking in 3D is about figuring out what the world looks like to others not in your culture. What is acceptable in terms of using avatars to communicate? What should buildings look like? What is the hierarchy of seating or queuing? What colors say about your culture and how do you use language in the environment in a multi-cultural world These thoughts have become a part of all web page design, as I wrote in the 90s. As we move from 2D flat spaces, to 3D dimensional spaces in the next couple of years, thinking in 3D is a combo of Tom Friedman’s thinking the world is flat, but with an x, y, z access and multimedia playing everywhere in a space not unlike the Ginza Strip. The metaverse is not very far away. Think about interoperability across virtual platforms, this too is coming because the technology is here. Start thinking about how you will think on the 3D Internet and how your storefront, classroom, home, theater, etc looks in 3D. It’s inevitable.

Posted in: 3D worlds, 3D worlds lrn3d, virtual immersive environment

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Karl Kapp
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