July 30, 2006

A business meeting inside an MMORPG

Yesterday was a red letter day in my exploration of Virtual Worlds when I participated in a real company meeting inside SecondLife, an MMORPG that has been featured in BusinessWeek magazine.

When the Lotus Notes meeting invite arrived from an unknown US colleague, I had been put off by the unearthly 1:00 AM in the night ? and then I looked closely at the venue and was taken back to read location@SecondLife !!!

This was so intriguing and exciting as well that I immediately suspended my self imposed curfew on conferance calls after 9:00 PM and accepted the invitation.

Fortunately I had an avatar in SecondLife ... though it was a very rudimentary one. Basic male(!) with bare minimum clothes and through him I entered SecondLife at the appointed hour and teleported myself to the location that my company had set up.

And wow ! what a simulation ! Full 3D conferance room with attached lounge. Company posters on the walls, standard powerpoint presentations running on the screen.

It was a big room with about 30 chairs and I ( or rather my avatar ) sat down and watched as a whole crowd of similar enthusiasts started entering the room at the appointed hour. Some were as rudimentarily dressed as I was but othes were in extravagant clothes. At the appointed hour, the convenor of the meeting took a roll call and the meeting commenced and went as per the agenda circulated earlier.

We used a parallel telephone con-call system ( from our First Life !!) for the main discussion but could have used the built-in chat system as well.

All in all, a most unusual and exciting experience and one that is going to be the norm and not the exception in the future.

July 23, 2006

Blogspot is back, but what about Geocities ?

The millions words of criticism that have been written to condemn the illogical, ineffective and downright detrimental ban that the Government of India sought to place on accessing certain websites ( and associated domains )are HARDLY ENOUGH to assuage the feelings of extreme outrage that has been felt by the internet community in India.

Those who are internet-illiterate, and that would include a large percentage of the Indian bureaucracy, cannot ever hope to understand the feeling of helplessness, anguish and despair that those of us, who choose to live in cyberia for a large part of the day, had experienced. It is similar to cutting of both the daily supply of newspaper and access to the local transport system !!!

Good thing is that finally public opinion has been strong enough to modify government policy and the blogs are back again ... but what about geocities ?

Most of today's bloggers may not be aware of geocities, but those of us who had started builing websites in the second half of the last decade ( well BEFORE the dotcom boom ) have fond memories of ( and large websites located at ) geocities which along with tripod were the first that allowed us to create real websites ( as opposed ot blogs )for FREE ....

The same ham-handedness that killed blogspot has killed geocities as well. However the blogger community has been vocal enough to recover its rights.

The geocities community is much smaller and I hope that even we can fight this ban and get our websites visible again.

Finally, let us remember that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance. We need to be vigilant that such blocking does not happen again ... and finally we must not forget about those specific blogs that are still blocked ... Why are they blocked ? What did they try to say ? Who took the decision ? And is this decision correct ?

Perhaps someone should invoke the RTI to get these answers ...