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Virtual Innovation

This is the English summary from Innovation Lab’s work report 2009:
To assist clients with Second Life projects Innovation Lab builds on knowledge from the user-driven innovation methodology and overall approach and framework. Early on, Innovation Lab had Lab Agents explore virtual worlds, providing a natural stepping stone to instantiate research, networking activity (national and international) and build the ‘House of Horizons’in Second Life before launching a phase two of client activities. The research phase comprised of desk research, communication with researchers, actively blogging about the topic, participating in a cross industry study of metaverse scenarios and attending national and international conferences. Client activities where constructed from the collection of knowledge during this first phase. Client activities in phase two comprised of lectures, workshops, building offices and providing overall insights to the phenomenon Second Life (and to a greater extend virtual worlds in general).

The workshops were of both an open and closed character, leaving great insights of what happens with a mix of people from multiple disciplines and businesses versus a closed workshop for a single client. A workshop had between 10-12 participants, 2-3 facilitators and began prior to the actual scheduled date by asking participants to create a Second Life account and avatar. Though, the basic in creating an avatar was covered beforehand, much time to customize was still allocated due to demand. Relevant insight was one participant whom insisted on a naked avatar since it was not a human being. Later that participant revoked his position while climbing the steep learning curve and archiving a level of familiarity with the environment, that being naked felt embarrassing. Another interesting position among workshop participants was their preference of reality. Should Second Life strive to mimic the real world or a fantasy world? And equally interesting was their position on anonymity as a prerequisite for successful virtual world interaction or not. Overall Innovation Lab has applied many different user-driven innovation techniques, in accomplishing client projects, and gained much experience as a content provider. During the period of Second Life engagement, many questions rose regarding utilization of ethnographical methods in virtual worlds. The question that rose in particular was that of data validity and if stakeholders were the avatar or user behind the screen. The agreed solution to this dilemma was context dependency in selecting a focus.

A perspective view of Second Life in alignment with Facebook, which has over 1.600.000 million Danish subscribers, is that both services use of avatars. Second Life is 3D avatars while Facebook utilizes 2D avatar profiles. And both services have a social purpose despite different ways of experiencing it. Analogies can also be made to South Korean CyWorld and Japans Mobage Town as the future of social media where social network and virtual world has converge into a 2.5D webpage of virtual rooms, equally accessible on laptop and mobile phone. This convergence of format and platforms will be interesting new research areas as this similar services are soon ripe for market entrance in a Western context.

Read the full report (only in Danish, unfortunately)

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