It has been a long time since I have blogged here. I almost forgot how, and doubt that anyone will notice. However, I ran across an early attempt at a virtual world called Habitat created by Lucasfilm back in 1986.

Check out the promotional video:


The wikipedia article has some interesting links, there is also a paper, “The Lessons of Lucasfilm’s Habitat” that, if anything else, tells us how some things are much the same, even while the technology and experience have progressed so much since the 80’s.

Stay human while being virtual

A nicely done video parable that tells us to be more human when using the web. Applies not only to email and their other examples, but also to virtual worlds, don’t you think?

Meta7 is closing

Disclaimer: I have made a number of posts here over the course of Meta7’s history, but I am not a member of the team or the LLC. I am a friend and enthusiast.

The official announcement and FAQ will have to speak for itself for the time being. I had been outlining an entirely different blog about Meta7 this week when this announcement was made. I know this is a devastating situation for the Meta7 team and their loyal supporters. There has been a lot of work, money, creativity, hope, and dreams put into Meta7. This is a sad day.

Will you eat virtually anything?

Researchers at the University of Tokyo are experimenting with augmented reality by superimposing false images and scents over a plain cookie. The “meta-cookie” (I hope they checked the trademarks on that term first) is then tasted by the subject. So far the, over 70% of the test subjects thought they were tasting the virtual flavor of cookie they chose.

What is this good for? The article suggests it may be a way to enhance food that is typically less than tasty, such as hospital food. In my humble opinion, it adds to the types of information that helps us to understand how we can use virtual or augmented sensory information to incorporate into our larger reality.

See the source article for more information in how they made this work, and a video demonstration.

I am every age

I lifted this directly from PonderAbout.com. I wanted a separate copy because there never seems to be an end to the dubious assumptions people choose to make about having a kid avatar.

The quote is attributed to Madeleine L’Engle

“Mashed” graphics from Frank King’s Gasoline Alley

If I were more original or engaged, I might not have used Gasoline Alley, but maybe Calvin and Hobbes or Toy Story characters, who are more familiar to me. Perhaps now that this is in the back of my mind, I will redo this once I find the right C&H panels or TS stills…

US Goverment Virtual World Challenge Contest

Federal VW Challenge 2011 logo

Federal Virtual World Challenge 2011 logo

We’re seeing interest from the US government in virtual worlds. You can take a look at a recent Metanomics interview with Federal Consortium for Virtual Worlds conference leader Dr. Paulette Robinson.

If you like to tinker and program in virtual worlds, perhaps you might like trying for the $25,000 (or other) prizes. The US Army Research Laboratory Simulation and Training Center would logically have an interest in virtual worlds. This year, their challenge is theme is Artificial Intelligence (AI). At their challenge website, They say “examples may include adaptive learning system, intelligent conversational bots, adaptive behavior (objects or processes)..” They also provide more “hints” that they are looking for applications that demonstrate transparency, ease of use, depth and breadth, implementation complexity, and creativity.

Virtual Choir

Screen shot of the virtual choir video

If you haven’t seen this virtual choir, you may enjoy this video.

It is not exactly a virtual world like Second Life, but it has some of the same kinds of characteristics. Of course, when I heard the sound of the choir together, I thought about any other use of home computer microphones where there is such bad acoustics and interference, and was in disbelief that it could really work. I suppose the real trick was it wasn’t in real-time, but that “untold hours” were spent editing and mixing.

Here’s one of the individual choir member’s contributions:

There’s more at the Eric Whitacre’s “how we did it” blog.

I know a choir composed of individuals on their computers in separate times and locations may seem antithetical to the nature of choral music, since I have thought that a component of choirs is joining our voices, breathing, and perhaps minds together into a resonant union of oneness. However, there is the quote from the above blog: “When I saw the finished video for the first time I actually teared up. The intimacy of all the faces, the sound of the singing, the obvious poetic symbolism about our shared humanity and our need to connect; all of it completely overwhelmed me. ”

I entered virtual worlds several years ago with a not knowing what was on the other side. I had no expectations that compare to the impact that have come through that portal. This “need to connect” and the potential to do that in virtual worlds are what make them most interesting.