Friday, March 16, 2007

Hello Cleveland

So my first little stint at SecondLife building is done. Really I just helped together with KayDeeKay, Lief, and Willi on this little corner of the UNC Campus. I had some fun with lighting and then whipped out my sweet tobacco sunburst Stratocaster for a bit of Little Wing...It's a cool place to hang out, especially at night. I hope to see a lot of campus tecchies and geeks hanging out somewhere around the virtual campus. The effect of virtual worlds is, somewhat counter-intuitively, having a positive impact on getting to know some of my professional peers better in real life, and in making new connections as other higher-ed technology types drop in from the sky. Anyway, thanks go to Yohiro, Uskala, and KayDeeKay for giving me the chance to participate!

I went to see a talk on campus by Bob Sutor, the IBM Vice President for Open Source and Open Standards. This was sponsored by ibiblio, SILS, and IBM, and hosted by the ubiquitous Paul Jones. The tie in is that for the second time in a short span, I'm hearing, from serious industry people, about Second Life as a harbinger of change. Recall that RENCI had Dr. Wladawsky-Berger on campus a few weeks ago, which I blogged here.


Bob Sutor's talk was an interesting wake-up call about the role open source is playing in the industry, and not just in small start-ups. IBM seems to be taking the tack that open source participation is a way to help promote open standards across the industry. Open source changed IBM's game, and now IBM is learning how it can steer technology towards open standards by being a good player in the game. Eclipse, and open office formats were two examples of open source and standards as game-changers. How will Visual Studio and Office compete against free (and really good) software in the future? It was observed that the newest generation is much more comfortable with free software that comes down from the web. In fact, the newest generation is getting pretty comfortable with keeping and editing documents on the web, a-la Google Documents.

The open-sourcing of Second Life came up in the IBM presentation, and helps tie this all together. While Second Life is engaging, it really, really needs to grow into a pluggable architecture, such as Eclipse. Instead of uploading images and scripting a prim to view a PowerPoint, why not have open documents plug into the virtual environment? That's just one example. Open API for things like identity (OpenID) for example, and good support for interacting with web2.0 and SOA services, Jabber, you name it. Just imagine what this place could be like! Was the IBM lecture implying that the forces that shaped Eclipse will play in this virtual space? We'll have to see.

And, oh yeah, wouldn't it be great to have SecondLife LSL and animation tools in Eclipse?

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