The SLENZ Update – No 27, November 20, 2008

Mercy killing gets Lively

Google has taken the hatchet to its  virtual world, Lively, after less than six months operation.

Initially damned with faint praise and sometimes ridicule the Lively virtual world was launched in July by Google Labs with much overhype “because we wanted users to be able to interact with their friends and express themselves online in new ways.”

Now its impending mercy killing at the end of December has been announced by Google  with little fanfare at the official Google blogspot ( http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2008/11/lively-no-more.html)  under the simple livelyheading, Lively no more”.

Whether is was ever lively is debatable, although Google Labs admit “we’ve always accepted that when you take these kinds of risks not every bet is going to pay off”.

That’s why,” Google said, “despite all the virtual high fives and creative rooms everyone has enjoyed in the last four and a half months, we’ve decided to shut Lively down at the end of the year. It has been a tough decision, but we want to ensure that we prioritiise our resources and focus more on our core search, ads and apps business. Lively.com will be discontinued at the end of December, and everyone who has worked on the project will then move on to other teams.

“We’d encourage all Lively users to capture your hard work by taking videos and screenshots of your rooms,” Google Labs said.

VW painkiller

Some of us outside the main centres of New Zealand who have often struggled with TelstraClear or Telecom’s woefully inadequate Broadband  services might not see virtual world technology as a painkiller. More like a constant pain in the butt.

But the University of Washington’ s HIT Lab created Snow World   as a virtual reality pain reduction program almost a decade ago, according to Second Life’s wellknown Dusan Writer (pictured) (RL: Doug Thompson, CEO of Remedy Communications) in his Metaverse blog (http://dusanwriter.com/)

Snow World has had remarkable results on burn patients, Dusan said. The  ‘distraction,’ as it is called, has been in frequent use at the University of Washington Harborview Burn Center, helping take the patient’s mind off of pain during the difficult wound care period.

Now, Dusan said, quoting  ScienCentral, the US military is going to study whether Snow World is applicable to soldiers who have been burned in combat.dusanwriter

Snow World is all about snow, the near-opposite of fire and heat. The world is snowy and cold and researchers say this is a great help to burn victims.

Meanwhile Dusan has also reported on the fact that paramedic students at two universities in London, UK, are using SL to aid in their learning, through allowing them to check a patient’s pulse, dress wounds and administer drugs is a similar way to what Auckland University’s Scott Diener (SL: Professor Noarlunga) [http://scottdiener.edublogs.org/] is doing on Long White Cloud Island in SL.

“The most important thing is that they can afford to make mistakes online, which they could not afford to do in real life,” Dr. Ahmed Younis, the principle lecturer, said. “”When they make a mistake, they are always keen not to make this mistake again.”

One Response

  1. On the subject of VR pain work, the guy responsible is Hunter Hoffman, and there’s lots of papers and video about this available on his HITL website http://www.hitl.washington.edu/people/hunter/

    It’s also interesting to take a look at some of the other VR therapy work he’s done, including the treatment of phobias (most famously arachnophobia) and currently, treatment of PTSD for soldiers returning from Iraq.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: