Archive for the ‘media cafe’ Category
I have visited at least two dozen virtual coffee shops; locations in SecondLife™ that use “coffee” in their name or description. I have so many mugs they get their own folder.
About a third of those places have no music, at all. Most have audio streaming, several even have a radio or other device (such as a phonograph); but, only one gives media access to vagabonds. Not one presented shared or parcel media.
Granted, I may have overlooked radio buttons here or there; and, a space like Texas State Technical College’s (image above; SLurl)—a location designed primarily for a small community—is not designed to attract traffic. Still, you want me coming back? Feed me some content. Give me some options, at least…a bit of control over the space.
It is a simple thing to let users select an audio feed. The scripts are easily found, and there are hundreds of streams if you know how to find the URLs. Or, you can just check out the list of Music Streams at the SL wiki.
BYOB (Bring Your Own Bepop)
Quite a few issues to be sorted. Is a chat-driven menu better for this than blue dialog boxes? You can choose the soundscape at your favorite hangouts from a list; but, can you load a new URL into the radio? Streams can be submitted via chat, after all. If you knew you could submit a stream URL, would you bother?
You could allow any user to load a new stream, or restrict this to members of a group. Parcel media even lets us provide different audio content to different users. If you are not using parcel media for video, why not make a self-serve, unique audio selection available to every visitor?
Everyone gets their own iPod.
If we want the synergy of sharing socially, we all have to generate some content. So, if you visit the Media Cafe…
bring your own bebop.
(It’s a Fair Exchange.)
Yesterday, I tried to describe what I would like to see in a virtual world coffeeshop. We see too many VW builds that merely recreate familiar environments. Virtual reality is not meatspace. Simply duplicating what is already known tethers the imagination. So, today, I began to build a Media Cafe in a parcel provided by the folks at OSGrid.
A good coffee shop will attract visitors, encourage them to linger, and see them return again and again. If this project plays out, the Media Cafe should 1) attract users, 2) promote interaction within the space, and 3) engage visitors to return later with media URLs of their own.
The structure of the build, its architecture, supports the first two objectives. If a user finds the building to be of interest, she is likely to investigate further. If the surroundings are pleasant once she is in the space, she is likely to look around to find something to do. Interactive content will have to bring them back again…something to explore in a later post.
For today, assembling the virtual space was the focus. I sought inspiration in a design submitted early in the Studio Wikitecture 4.0 project by Ryan Schultz (Theory Shaw in SL).
His design surprised me. There was enough of “school” or “classroom” about it to recognize it as such, but it was disconnected—virtually exploded— in a fresh and compelling way.
We should expect technology to help us transcend the familiar.
Starting with something recognizable and twisting it into something new liberates the imagination. Wandering within that exploded classroom I felt excited about what would come next, how the collaborative team might build on this model. Freeing a brick-textured block from the windows and floors left me free to see media prims that could move and adjust. I found that camera constraints were gone; those gaps in the walls let you anchor your mouse if you backed into a wall.
By taking a small—but dramatic—step away from the regular ways of putting up a wall, Schultz helped me to see how virtual worlds can reveal a new reality.
It was not just his design that inspired me, though. Wikitecture facilitated collaboration. The final design in the 4.0 challenge was the result of many designers noodling about and sharing ideas…together. (And where else you gonna have a chance to work with someone called Veeyawn Spoonhammer.)
It would be cool to see others riff on my Media Cafe. So, holler in world; or, just visit the space. You can find it in the northeast corner of SeaPrior Plaza of OSGrid. The first widget has even been installed: an interactive suggestion box with its back end in the cloud (courtesy of SL:Omei Turnbull).
But, for now, you will have to bring your own coffee cup.
Shortly after registering for SecondLife™, while still in Orientation Island, a mentor offered to teleport me to a virtual coffeehouse. Someone passed an animated beverage cup and told me how to “wear” the mug.
It was 2007, and there I was, marveling at how one could mingle with others in a simulated coffee shop. Steeped in fascination, I began thinking about the role of simulated spaces in a virtual world. Why a coffee shop? What purpose did it serve to design that space in that way?
In meatspace a coffeeshop offers two opportunities: coffee and community.
Sure, that virtual coffee shop simmered with community. In fact, the personal socializing in VWs surprised me from the start. But where is my virtual caffeine? Are we merely duplicating one environment within another?
Early last year, Prof. Ken Perlin from NYU spoke to rezidents of the Google campus about the future of Augmented Reality, imploring the audience to imagine how such technology might be employed, how it would be most useful.
“These issues…these discussions have to be very public and people have to be talking about them so that we can figure out what we all want…so that we can go keep [sic] moving ahead with our technology without everyone looking over their shoulder and mistrusting it.”
—from Perlin’s Google Tech Talk (video)
(Watch him sorting algorithms at 35:50, or the topographic mapping demo at 38:24.)
Any average avatar will yammer on about the role of technology. However, this is an Academy Award winner who teaches graphics to grad students. I mean: come on, the man received an Oscar for programming virtual reality.
“The solutions have to be: everybody gets together and says ‘What do we want as a society?’ ”
Meanwhile, back in the grid, I am thinking that virtual world design should inform augmented reality. So, regarding VW java…”Where’s the juice?”
How can we optimize the function of virtual world simulations? Dressing up at virtual shopping malls, we dance at virtual clubs. We drive digital dirigibles and slide down virtual carnival rides. But, what can be consumed in a virtual coffee shop?
Well…what if our virtual coffeehouse served up Internet media?
Instead of beverages, what if we found links to websites and blogs; in place of caffeine, information? We could meet to share links, swap perspectives, discover stories together. One user picks up a link, another drops one off. We could still wear animated mugs and mingle minds…let’s just splash some virtual books and magazines on the coffee tables.
This idea has been percolating for years. Now that I am back in the metaverse, it is time I ask…
Image by Flickr member: Stewart Black
If virtual coffee houses were media cafés
…would you pour yourself a cup?