VLENZ Update, No 162, February 04, 2010


Aussie court  loss for Media Moguls

may bring pirate ‘bloodbath’ closer

Are our “children” safe?

Is this what Hollywood wants to do to Downunder pirates now…

Well, it looks like   Hollywood’s attempts to beat the film and music pirates, at least Downunder (in Australia),  just got that much harder.

Asher Joel noted in  Sydney Morning Herald today that  the Australian ISP iiNet has slain  those who own the film industry in a judgment delivered  earlier in a landmark  Australian Federal Court piracy case.

“The decision has the potential to impact internet users and the internet industry profoundly as it sets a legal precedent surrounding how much ISPs are required to do to prevent customers from downloading movies and other content illegally,” Joel said in his report.

In a summary of  the 200-page judgment  delivered in the court, Justice Dennis Cowdroy said the evidence established that iiNet had done no more than to provide an internet service to its users.

“iiNet is not responsible if an iiNet user uses that system to bring about copyright infringement … the law recognises no positive obligation on any person to protect the copyright of another,” Justice Cowdroy found.

According to Moses, Neil Gane, executive director of the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft, which brought the case on behalf of the Hollywood studios, arguably owned mainly by Media Moguls, said  AFACT would review the decision before deciding whether to appeal.

You should read the report and video here if you haven’t yet read it from the link above and look at the video here.

But whether  an appeal proceeds one  thing seems  certain  the studios are going to come gunning  for the individuals that use BitTorrent and other file-sharing applications, now they cannot get the ISPs.  Whether or not you support piracy you can expect the blood of  Mister and Master and Mrs and Miss Everyman on the floor.

That could mean all our kin, or at least some of them. Who doesn’t know somebody who  illegally downloads music or movies?

There is no doubt in my mind  that none of us will have the money or guts to fight the Media Moguls  once High Noon arrives. Perhaps it is up to us to see that our kith and kin desist from this illegal practise. But will we?

It’s also interesting that Australia, the onetime home of Rupert Murdoch, was chosen for this battle.

The studios involved included:  Village Roadshow, Universal Pictures, Warner Bros, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures Entertainment, 20th Century Fox and Disney, and the Australian Seven Network.


ThinkBalm provides  worthwhile

new decision-making aid …

What immersive internet will you choose?

Although it came out a little while ago ThinkBalm’s Erica and Sam Driver’s latest opus, “The Enterprise Immersive Software Decision-Making Guide”, deserves a place on the hard drive of anyone contemplating moving an enterprise, business or educational  use  into a Virtual World. It’s a quick, easy  read, being only 29 pages long, but a lot of what the ThinkBalm principals say  makes sense, despite the fact that I have disagreed with some of their ideas in the past.

Erica Driver

Executive summaries are not everything, but the Drivers point out in this one  they have created their use case-based guide, No 4 in a series, for “trailblazers” in virtual worlds – and there are still plenty of those  still out there along with the naysayers who will use any stumble to pull them down – to aid them  in the enterprise immersive software selection process.

“We present “if/then” scenarios and highlight good-fit vendors for common situations,” say the Drivers,  who define  the immersive internet as “a collection of emerging technologies combined with a social culture that has roots in gaming and virtual worlds.”

“While immersive software can be applied in many ways, this report focuses on the most common use cases: meetings, conferences, and learning and training,” the Drivers say.

They note that the key question is, “What business problem(s) are you trying to solve?”  with all other  questions flowing from this one.

The report offers guidance on how to: 1) ask core business questions to frame the discussion, 2) choose a research-and-demo, do-it-yourself, or combination approach, 3) identify requirements based on your use case, and 4) filter your options based on important limiters.

Sam Driver

To develop the decision-making guide, ThinkBalm analysts held structured briefings with 19 enterprise immersive software vendors and conducted interviews with 15 Immersive Internet advocates and implementers.

As the result of these briefings and interviews they have  constructed a number of recommendations which they elaborate on.

These include: Build a list of use case-based requirements and rank their importance; Scan the full vendor landscape before making a decision; Take a use case-based, portfolio approach and select one or two preferred vendors; Look for reuse opportunities; Prepare for market churn in 2010;  Turn to services providers and system integrators for turnkey solutions; Get as much hands-on experience as possible before making a vendor choice.

To know the rest you will have to read their Report. Better still join their community in Second Life, in ReactionGrid  or on the Net

The SLENZ Update – No 112, July 09, 2009

ThinkBalm makes data live

This machinima should be  in

everyone’s SL PR toolkit …

One of the most difficult things to explain to  virtual world neophytes or non users – particularly  if one is seeking funding from them – is just  how useful virtual world technology can be in conveying information in a practical, easy-to-understand, entertaining format.

Those virtual world residents who have already taken the guided tour or walked through    ThinkBalm’s Data Garden, an experiment in data visualisation in Second Life, will already understand just how data can be made to come alive.DriverErica

For those  who are not yet residents or are neophytes to virutal worlds  the new nine-minute video from  ThinkBalm’s Erica (pictured right)  and Sam Driver makes it very clear.

Erica says in her blog “a tour through the garden is an interactive next-generation ‘webinar’ experience.”  She is right.

The data garden is based on the findings of the thought-provoking  ThinkBalm Immersive Internet Business Value Study, Q2 2009.

For people like me – the mathematically as well as time challenged – it gave new insights into the findings of the Value Study and what  data can mean for those who are considering virtual world uses for their educational institution or business. It is especially useful for those who have little virtual world experience but are involved in virtual world funding decisions.

Although only a primer it gives one an understanding of both the data and the possibilities of virtual worlds. It should be in every immersive world booster’s public relations/information toolkit.

Meanwhile the first ThinkBalm Innovation Community professional networking event is scheduled for Tuesday, August 4, from  8am-11am SL Time on Amazon Developers Island in Second Life for  “people passionate about work-related use of the Immersive Internet who are looking for a job, looking for someone to fill a job, or simply curious about their options”.

The 250-member ThinkBalm Innovation Community has been set up “to advance adoption of work-related use of the Immersive Internet”. Since late 2008 it has evolved into a mix between a social network, collaborative laboratory, and guild. It is focused exclusively on work-related use of the Immersive Internet — virtual worlds and campuses, immersive learning environments, and 3D business applications.

ThinkBalm,  is a Rhode Island-based company which offers independent IT industry analysis and strategy consulting services.

The SLENZ Update – No 94, June 2, 2009

Yes Mildred, MUVEs do pay their way …

Another take  on  the  real value

of immersive technologies


Just what is the business value or ROI (Return on Investment) of using immersive technologies in the marketplace?

It’s not a question that would immediately spring to the mind of most educators and academics  but the answer to it will determine just how great the success or otherwise of the  burgeoning  virtual world environment  will be and  whether it is a flash in the pan like Videotex and Betamax  video cassette recorders  or a platform for the future.

Two highly skilled credible researchers in the immersive field, Erica (right) and Sam Driver (lower right), of ThinkBalm, have just endeavoured to answer the question in a survey of  66 organisations, including Microsoft, IBM, BP, BAE,  and government and non-government organisations, focusing on the value to businesses of adopting immersive internet technologies or virtual world environments.

Their detailed 36-page report, ‘Immersive Internet Business Value Study 2009’,  should give heart to promoters of the value of immersive worlds – although the critics will again be dismissive. It is available here for free download.DriverErica

They point out, however, that not everyone who’s been implementing immersive technology in the workplace can — or even expects to — quantify the business value of the investments they’ve made so far.

But, that  said, various data points collected via survey and interviews indicated that investments in immersive technologies in the workplace are yielding value.

“As just one example, BP expects to deliver tens of millions USD in business value from its investments in immersive technology,” they said. “The company has already recouped the cost of many of the Immersive Internet investments it made in 2008 and 1Q 2009, according to Brian Ralphs, a director in the IT chief technology office.”

They found that more than 40 percent of those surveyed (26 of 66) saw a positive total economic benefit from investments in immersive technologies in 2008 and first quarter 2009, and more than 50 percent of respondents (34 of 65) expected to obtain a positive total economic benefit in 2009.

“Quantification of this value was all over the map, ranging from less than US$10,000 to more than US$1 million,” they said. “The number of respondents who expect to obtain economic benefit of US$25,000  or more in 2009 is more than double the number who indicated they achieved this level for 2008 / 1Q 2009. “

On the other side of the coin they found though that many who had been implementing immersive technology in the workplace did not expect to achieve a return on their investment.

Other key findings included:

  • 94 percent of those surveyed reported some level of success  (” or feels like a success”).
  • 74 percent said they would or might expand their investment this year or next while almost  30 percent of survey respondents (19 of 66) said their organisation recouped their investment in immersive technologies in less than nine months.
  • Learning/training (80 percent, 53 of 66) and meetings (76 percent or 50 of 66) were the most prevalent uses.
  • The top motivation for preferring immersive technology over alternatives were enabling people in disparate locations to spend time together, increased innovation, and cost savings or avoidance of costs.DriverSam
  • Biggest benefit – enabling people in disparate locations to spend time together, followed by opportunity to show innovation and cost saving
  • Immersive technology won out over a variety of alternatives primarily due to low cost and the increased engagement it delivered. The level of engagement meant that “Immersive meetings are more like real meetings than they are like web conferences”.  The leading alternatives were Web conferencing and in-person meetings, followed by phone calls.
  • Work-related use of the Immersive Internet is in the early adopter phase. Before it can pass into the early majority phase, practitioners and the technology vendors who serve them must “cross the chasm.” The most common barriers to adoption are target users having inadequate hardware, corporate security restrictions, and getting users interested in the technology.

Erica Driver, a co-founder and principal at ThinkBalm,  is a leading US industry analyst and consultant with 15 years of experience in the IT sector. She is quoted in mainstream and industry trade press including the Boston Globe, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, CIO, and Computerworld. The other co-founder, Sam Driver, is an inventor and entrepreneur whose take on the Immersive Internet is heavily influenced by science, game theory, and science fiction. At the University of Massachusetts Medical School, he was part of a team that discovered RNA interference (RNAi) which was awarded the 2006 Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine. He founded Qik Technology to develop intellectual property (IP) holdings in functional genomics as well as Evil Minions Games, an IP and product development company.