IBM to Patent “Not Bumping your head on a Virtual Ceiling?

For the consideration of  Design professionals and educators of design methodolgy for a century.I’m sorry for the format, it’s a simple cut/paste from an ongoing LinkedIN Groups Disscussion. I assume public..and not a Wikileak, but then again, seeing how my POV is being distorted into “picking on IBM” , I’m not so sure I wont have to soon color my hair oddly and join Assange in a secure mansion in Europe.;)-  thats a satirical joke for all the techies who will read this.:)

HenryStop Following Follow Henry
IBM Learning Commons : Virtual World Design Principles
Hypergrid Business has just published an article detailing specific design principles incorporated into our “IBM Learning Commons” virtual world learning environment.

With no solid walls or traditional buildings to speak of this environment is really about connecting people and social learning.

It’s a radical departure from what designers usually start building when they first get into virtual worlds. Instead, we’ve left out real world elements that didn’t provide any significant value to the user experience. The exception of course is when you are trying to provide a contextual environment for learning. But this doesn’t need to be a whole office tower or city block. In this case we bring the right-sized environment to the learner and instantiate it on demand when it’s needed.

Sound interesting? Take a moment to read the article and let me know what you think.

– Henry

3 days ago

IBM’s principles of virtual design – Hypergrid Business

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Larry Rosenthal • “Radical” and “patents” are strong “specific” words from “IBM”;). Maybe some prior art research is in order. The “design principles” you are speaking of have been used by many for 20 years in “online” 3D environments and are much older in environmental design work in general.

2 days ago
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Lisa Laxton • Interesting approach but I have to agree with Larry about similarities to early efforts by folks in the 3D community. I am glad you found a way that works for you – keep up the good work to promote Virtual Worlds! Collaborative research is a good idea – we can all help each other. Let me know if my team can assist you in your endeavor – I believe we can bring value to the effort

2 days ago
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HenryStop Following Follow Henry
Henry Watson • Ok, you got me on the dramatic “radical” comment :), but my point was that most of the learning builds I’ve encountered (and apparently those encountered by Hypergrid editors too) over the past few years do not exhibit these design principles.

The patent mentioned was actually in reference to a methodology for designing virtual spaces in general and not those particular design principles discussed (I can see that wasn’t so clear in the article).

Although the design principles may have been around for years as you say, unfortunately they aren’t applied as often as they could be to improve user and learning experiences. I hope to see more thoughtful design in virtual learning environments and would be interested to hear of examples where you’ve seen similar principles applied.

1 day ago
• Reply privately• Flag as inappropriate • Flag as promotion . Larry Rosenthal • What youve encountered (as well as what Maria looks for in topics/encounters) is up to you both to explore. PR and declarations of “firsts” and ” radical” new, are of course, old in the digital media pr world. That said:

A general patent on designing virtual spaces? Again an idea that I would think concerns many designers who exhibit careers and works going back way beyond 3 years of IBM interests and Second Life projects.

Seeing is more common than hearing today, and we live in an age Im told when one dosent need to wait monthly for a design journal to be published, or for a car trip to a library to see, hear or touch, many examples of virtual worlds expressed via online means.:) One can only hope your patent officer assigned has discovered this brave new world:)

Heres just one article on 2d/3d Virtual Design Principles published and republished many times online since 1996. Once for the DUX Confernece as requested for an event night presentation on such matters.

Please be free to click over to the works done by myself with Cube3 since the early 90s. The principles and the actual resulting projects/products have been for the most part, presented or written about publically for 15 years or so. I spoke many times about these works and the reasoning behind them at both of the Web3D sigs I founded over the years,

I also produced a website for Showtime/ New Media Festivals/Labzone in 2001 all about web3d projects and designers/artists/ etc. I would say most of them applied similar principles to their works. In my position as editor, it was such applied principles that usually gave me cause to choose their works as valueable to others and warrent publishing.

The attempt to make “good design methods” a patented – single controlled entity -“technology” is I believe why “unfortunately” will contribute to the continued lack of “thoughtful design” in virtual environments. Method patents are not quite what they “used” to be, for that, neither are we.

Once… less was more. 😉 today Im always reminded that more means less.

23 hours ago
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AmyStop Following Follow Amy
Amy Groves • Hmmm. Just to correct one point, IBM’s been involved with virtual worlds for waaaay longer than three years.

Also, I do think that you have to really be able to dive into the specifics to be able to see what’s unique about this particular learning design. This is about more than how buildings are designed and constructed; it’s about how the design is driven by learning best practices suggested by research. The key word here is probably “learning,” not “building.” The sponsoring organization for this project was IBM’s Center for Advanced Learning.

That having been said, thanks for the link to the Cube Productions article. Looks like interesting reading.

20 hours ago
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John Jamison • It’s nice to see the continued effort of IBM to take a serious approach to virtual environments…when many others remain outside. And it seems to me that what is described in the article, while not exactly ‘radical’, may be a very sound approach for IBM, and the uses of the v-world that it anticipates for it’s culture.

But as out here in carbon-based land, it is going to be extremely difficult to agree on a common set of design and usage guidelines that will translate to all groups. I have been active in research and development in v-worlds for about six years now, completed my PhD research on virtual environments, all focusing primarily on development options for education and training. We hold meetings, develop interactive simulations, create authentic assessments…along with a range of other activities, looking at how to “do” learning in new ways made possible in the v-environment.

For our needs, our list of guidelines would look different than those of IBM. While ‘connecting’, and ‘social learning’ are certainly a wonderful part of the virtual environment, the over-riding focus for us is using the environment to create unique and meaningful “learner experiences”….which may or may not include social interaction…depending upon the situation and objectives. The virtual environment lets us manipulate so many modalities and sub-modalities that we can engage learners as never before. For our needs, we’re not focusing establishing guidelines about whether there should be ceilings, walls or chairs, or consistency. These are all good things, and apparently fit IBM’s needs very well. That’s outstanding.

But we are looking the environment as a responsive place in which we can create authentic interactions with new learning, and when it contributes to learning, interactions with each other.

It’s a great time and place to be involved…keep up the great work!

John/Virtual Bacon

19 hours ago
• Reply privately• Flag as inappropriate • Flag as promotion . Larry Rosenthal • Hello Amy.

“3.5- 4 years” was the articles “Hamilton’s” assertion. not mine. In terms of “web3d” media ( virtual worlds can mean another thing imo) I do remember working with IBMs “hot media? metal” back in the 90s.;) with an author on a book about web3d media.

Again I have no knowledge of what IBM plans to attempt to patent or not, only the article and comments here to react to.

I do know that “learning” and “design” are broad terms, and that “best practices” are usually considered with marketing terms rather than patents.

Interface design using real-time 3d media has been around commercially and in academia for 20 years plus. I’m sure certain aspects people have used may be called unique, as to the strength of /or business politics of particular patents, either granted in the past or future, one can only confront them, when they’re public or an issue to a concerned party.

I’ll end with “Education”, and specifically “the educational results” using 3dmedia does demand us to do better, since the majority of experiences presented using the medium has come tangentially from the game and entertainment industries for the last 20 years.

thanks for the further info.

19 hours ago
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DavidStop Following Follow David
David Miller • Hmm, I think amphitheatres pre-date IBM . .

Okay, sorry, it is far to easy and tempting to pick on IBM. IBM has poured 10’s of millions into virtual worlds and are a big reason we have working hypergrid teleports in OpenSim. Thank you IBM for the resources, both in money and talent, that have furthered virtual worlds overall.

It is very tempting to build in traditional ways and that is often rationalized as helping to “suspend disbelief” for learning scenarios. Good virtual world building means taking into account those factors in virtual worlds taht affect user experience. Things such as ceiling heights. Unless you change some debug settings, walking into a space with 8 foot ceilings without being in mouselook is terrible. Same for landing areas and what Henry was pointing to.

Of course, the purpose of your environment is the latgest driver for design. I do middle school science work so a desalination plant needs to approximate a real one to an extent.

Even with 4 years experience with 19 sims in Second Life and now a private OpenSim grid, I still want to base my builds on pseudo-real architecture. I have a fully floating lounge 200 metres up that I built two years ago and I still struggle with the concept of it in my head!

Hats off to you IBM for continuing to research and develop virtual worlds and contributing to my enjoyment of them!

4 hours ago
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AmyStop Following Follow Amy
Amy Groves • David, thank you a million times for pointing out how easy and tempting it is to pick on IBM. I can’t tell you how challenging it can be sometimes to engage in meaningful public dialog without sinking into defensiveness. Ultimately, what we’re really trying to do here is share our work with people so that it will do some good.

Your example of the eight foot ceilings was interesting to me because it’s a really good example of what I think Henry was referring to when he wrote that Learning Commons is “a radical departure from what designers usually start building when they first get into virtual worlds.” I still think Henry was correct in his statement. To this day I still see new builders putting in eight foot ceilings. Learning Commons has almost no ceilings or doors, except in certain very specific cases in which we require a realistic environment for staged role plays. I think the trick here is to provide the correct degree or verisimilitude for the type of learning that is being offered.

Another thing that we see new builders doing all the time, and which I think continues to be a danger and a bother even to experienced builders, is overbuilding. In Second Life it’s so easy to build that we become our own worst enemies. With Learning Commons, we looked at requirements gathered from over 40 different internal learning programs and pilots, distilled them into a set of common basic requirements, and built from that. What we found is that by making our spaces highly configurable by the learning facilitators or instructors, we could satisfy 85-90% of the instructional designers’ requirements within only two contiguous regions, not a lot of prims, and a limited texture library. People have noticed that IBM currently maintains only a fraction of the 40+ regions that we once maintained. It’s not because we’re less interested in virtual land; it’s because we have finally learned what to do with it — particularly for adult corporate learning.

Our build is uncluttered, in keeping with our desire to minimize cognitive overhead. At the same time, our design conveys a sense of openness because we wish to encourage the social and informal learning which is such a big part of how adults learn in a corporate environment. It takes a lot of meetings and a lot of field testing to get the balance just right.

There’s a video on YouTube about one of the courses that’s conducted in Learning Commons. This course is atypical in that these learning designers did much more customized building than any others have elected to do. Nevertheless, it does give you some views of a little part of Learning Commons.

1 hour ago
• Reply privately• Flag as inappropriate • Flag as promotion . Larry Rosenthal • Please. Give us a break. Picking on a multibillion dollar corporation? One that today has it’s employees publically posting about Patenting the obvious fundamentals to the design processs that trained designers for a century have passed on as ” free Knowlege and eperience or as formal education” not Patent licenses..I dont expect much agreement on forums like this anymore, thus isnt that the real problem with this meta “virtuality” that we have- ahem IBM? to be “grateful for” ?

This thread was started by an IBM employee. Asking for thoughts.Too bad My thoughts were about the “patent” statements in the article as well as “radical” aproaches that clearly are not radical or new for professional designers.- and thus the patent statement seems to be “one” of business politics, and not any “faux altruism” for others, even those like David.

“Think! “used to be IBMs “motto” I guess with todays employees it’s “be grateful and don’t pick on us.”

14 Responses to IBM to Patent “Not Bumping your head on a Virtual Ceiling?


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  3. Ener Hax says:

    lol, taht’s our subQuark in the last answer!!! David Miller! go subbie

    that LinkedIn thread is just a proud IBMer who is thrilled that they were written up in Hypergrid Business! lol, he’d probably wet himself if i published him on my blog! i get about a third the readership and am known in the VW community

    so no, i don’t think they will patent anything and like subQ said – te amphitheatre has been around since before the Greeks!

    • cubicspace says:

      Hello. Well i didnt want to drag Dave Miller’s thoughts into the disscusion really. He’s welcome to any thoughts he has and can thank anyone he likes for his “virtuality” enjoyment. Im much more concerned with the IBM representatives comments and more importantly the outcome if “patents” on virtual design principles as they have described them publically within the article and thread, occur.

      Entertaining the “egos” of Linden Labs/its cult members, etc. for 6 years has been trying enough for those who have spent years working within this design disipline and with this medium. To have to endure more “patent” scares from corporations the size of IBM, is not exactly a good omen for that “virtual worlds” future that you and so many blog daily/ faithfully about.

  4. cubicspace says:

    Just for the “millionth time”.;) . Originally Published in 1996.

    2D/3D design principles for interface/ (virtual worlds)..- created without ‘ lots of IBM team testing in SL” just experience and training.

    Of course to “validate” if any of these “principles” have ever been “expressed in artifacts- real or virtual” I offer many of the entries in this blog and the website as examples.

    Plus David Colleen of Planet 9 has offered many good references within his post in the continued thread at the linkedin forum.


  5. Prokofy Neva says:

    I find IBM appalling in this discussion — they’re the bullies, and for them to be crying “foul” about somebody banging on them rightfully is just disgraceful. They’re a huge multibillion dollar transnational company, and what, we can’t criticize them in our virtual world?

    Their builds are boring corporate lounges that are silly notions about how people “should” learn. They fall prey to all the politically-correct geeky bullshit about how we “have” to get away from the meat-world and not have ceilings and we “can’t” have clutter and people shouldn’t be “distracted” by textures.

    But people like to have a transition to virtuality that has a comfort level, and some versimilitude. People can fly and could be perching in trees or on rocks to chat, and yet in SL, they enjoy going inside a space, even with a ceiling, sitting in a chair in front of a fireplace to chat, etc. etc. *And that’s OK*. This idea that they have achieved something “optimal” because they’ve had 1,000 corporate training meetings with their dull corporate objectives is just absurd. They haven’t. They’re the non-imaginative nuisances that kept bitching that there wasn’t PowerPoint in SL and kept trying to make PowerPoints — as if that’s something we should be replicating and taking with us into the future — like…it’s really the point to come on a virtual world, rich with interactive possibility, and sit paralized, dumbed down, strapped to your chair, gazing and some idiot’s PPT on your screen.

    In fact, people might find a rich interactive environment that they can explore at their own pace quite useful for learning, and do in fact use such spaces for learning all over SL. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. You don’t have to have the Taj Mahal or a prim box to sit on as the extremes, you can have different builds for different purposes.

    That Linked In discussion of virtual worlds is something I usually avoid. I see it filled with pompous, fatuous jerks who are hawking their own platforms and not really saying anything much of value. It’s often dominated by Maria Korolov of Hypergrid pitching her own product, and recently we had to endure Himoff from Rezzable gabbling about his new browser thing. It’s like a sales meeting. I have a rule in my groups in SL that you can’t post sales pitches. Too bad they don’t have that in the Linked in group and then have something like this pass as “thinking” and “philosophy” when it’s just IBM engaged in territorial pissing.

    • cubicspace says:

      The issue of the resources/scale of a group at IBM suggesting I was bullying them was silly. But i do think the questioning the “patent” issues is valid and should not go away. A design solution SHOULD be based on the problem, so whats a “simplified immersive interface” and what’s an “ornamental replication” should differ based on the needs of the users. It’s been commonly known for years that the main purpose of “virtual reproductions” is either for “role play suspension of belief needs” or “simulation replicas of reality artifacts”. Sales and PR are “all fine” as well, and linkedin is certainly now showing the “reality” and real story of the limits of “everybody social networking” as a “business method”. I guess most techies never read “Death of a Salesman”;) and soon I fear we’ll have a renewed super meta Willy Loman as the overload of the culture.;)
      Rezzable lost me when they offered to dump a copybot tool into the closed market they were about to leave. SL. And that after “talking up” a “professional creative” stance and having- financially- sponsored- built up- others like Bettina T., who followed their lead into such horrid anti – individual creative designer rights directions. Their need to control all vr design business and its direction became evident. I’m thinking their “new browser” will be just another single entity experience which has been the past of most “web3d” browsers.
      Maria like others is the blogger press. Not as fact checked, or historically accurate or edited, as well as those who remember the myth of “non commercial speech”, but her efforts are OK too. I’ve interacted with her numerous times, and from my POV, as long as she continues to be “press” and not “turn around next tuesday” to then offer the same business services as those she interviews for new ideas..(clever animals have been known to do that;) then Its all fine. Hopefully as/if resources grow for sites like her’s, the quaility of the “reporting” will expand as well… Such are the problems of being small on a huge fast web;) One that demands you always DO..and DO fast… and offers very little time or place to THINK.
      As we now see…:)

      • Wait a minute. Isn’t Maria Korolov a consultant that has a business helping other businesses on Hypergrid and Open Sims and whatnot? I don’t think she’s merely a blogger at all. That’s not accurate as far as I can see, but she has a huge cloud of associations and links and references on all her various blogs and it’s hard to actually pin down what she really does to make her living.

      • cubicspace says:

        Yes. same one.:) And yes, blogs-resources sites- opinion articles etc. etc., and it looks like a consulting biz ( more asian markets it seems than just 3d media) and yes some “web3d consultant reports, and a speakers bureau… all the typical mix that makes up a “meta” today. Yes , im not positive of each of these relationships etc..etc.

        Unlike some of the others who “do all this” I will say so far( my experience) she;s been at least one fo the “grown ups” and has never asked for anything that ended up repacked as her own. Past the “new” fresh car smell of many of the “opinions” and article “facts” that show up on the resource site. – which all have some place – but shouldnt be everything- in the world.- the site offers a good place to go to get a quick rundown around web3d media and the current business atttempts to use it today.

        I too believe that many of the “educational” conversations around web3d reported on the site are both misguided and naive about how and what wil create a market for rt3d to be used in education at many levels……but thats the “market” speaking…today. and she also can support that group as she sees fit… same here… i tried with some cube3 products… Ive been told theyre not “cheap” enough..”free” enough so i’ll leave “that” market to them…. lol;)

        actually Im supposed to be “interviewed” about this current thread tommorrow… i was invited to write an article…800 worlds aprox. but as ive said. i hate to write for the web and attempt literacy as its a lost cause and a no win scenario.:) but id do a skype call.:)

        you said it, all speech is commecial speech today..and all blogs political..or at least with agenda…
        so far as they go in web3d now online… maria’s site, to my mind, is ok by me. I try so hard not to be binary;)

  6. Ener Hax says:

    hi cubicspace – the big issue, like you point to, is the area of patents. anyone placing patents on open source derived concepts (business processes can be patented i think) can kill the entire project

    i hope know one, IBM included, starts to patent process related aspects of OpenSim for that reason

    Crista Lopes wrote elegantly about the plead top not have patents filed:

    i appreciate the work and value that IBM added to VWs in general but that certainly does not mean i adore them, just like i am thankful to Bill Gates for creating a platform that has allowed me to make a living as an adult. it does not mean i think Microsoft is the greatest thing since sliced bread – far from it – but i am thankful for what it has allowed me to do

    thanks for bringing up the patent issue because it is one that most people have no clue about but should have an idea of possible repercussions

  7. David Miller says:

    I almost feel important! I think Henry was just excited at seeing his “baby” featured in Hypergrid Business and I would suspect he is relatively new to building.

    I remember when I started in Second Life in 2006 and the “ah ha” of figuring out that large openings or no roof made for easier access. Or large landing areas and so many other things that make for an easy user experience. But those “principles, as you stated here, are for specific cases – such as shopping malls or where n00bs congregate, such as the learning spaces IBM was heralding.

    Ener has a 250 metre high pod neighborhood that looks very similar to the HG post’s snapshot but she does not go on and on about it being anything special because she is a seasoned builder (ooh, she also is good about using phantom prims to reduce physics-induced lag).

    As you write, suspending disbelief can be a very important part of a build. Ener has built a nice airport for our Enclave Harbour, an virtual science field trip grid, where “expected” details exist to help students that are new to virtual worlds feel more at home. Right down to building internal wood framing for a welcome sign for those so new that they are camming into everything. Leaving that sim is done via a suspension bridge with enough detail to seem somewhat real.

    Eight foot ceilings are critical for engineering and architectural firms and Ener also wrote a great article about how to work efficiently in that type of space.

    As far as patents go, it would be pretty sorry if IBM tried to patent anything building related. But stranger things have happened like that group of Australians who patented the wheel a few years ago! Fortunately, that was later over turned!

    I personally think IBM has added to the image of virtual worlds and have created some nice examples that make talking to others about virtual worlds maybe a bit more realistic. What I mean is that they have some uses of virtual worlds that people will accept rather than just thinking virtual worlds are for nuts (I would consider myself a nut). Their Centre for Innovation was a great concept that allowed retired engineers to stay in touch with their old departments and contribute ideas. It gave those retirees something to do and IBM profited from their knowledge.

    IBM examples also illustrate some of the potential power of VWs such as when some of the Italian IBM workers went on strike and caused an uproar in Second Life. Their demands were reconsidered as a result.

    Thank you for bringing this discussion out of LinkedIn where it was only seen by a few people.

    *waves to Ener*

    • cubicspace says:

      thanks for commented both of you.

      1. Im not against IP.:) Ive been a strong proponant of creator rights for many years. Im not against IBM claiming patents. or Patents per say. I do question the damage being done by the degeneration of the patent process in terms mainly of the “method process” type patent, especially when applied to “virtual” reproductions of processes and done as software.

      2. Patents take time and money to get, and like everything else today are now a machine’s medium for offensive and defensive commercial practices. Such resources to “own ” them are also now fully entered into the world of scale and speed that offers the system way too many advantages over the individual person. A single person, a bully? to a billion dollar /million man organism- corporate or state?…. a Stupid thought, one that has always ended with many of that “persons” deaths.
      Google human history….:) and the things “enlightened” people have done to balance that fact of medium.

      3. Its not as simple as about using “clear windows” or ” 8 foot ceilings ” that I take the IBM machine to task with, in fact , its these more “abstract” (but not;), issues about the larger virtualized medium and who controls it, that is truly the point of why I write any of this online.

  8. Ener Hax says:

    great point and it makes me think of registered trademarks as well, such as something like trademarking words and letters (ie, SL and just do it). such as Nike, how does one register that so strongly when it is the name of the Greek Goddess of Victory?

  9. cubicspace says:

    Trademarks are graphic images as well.. I beleive its the nike SWOOP, thats TM, not the word “nike”. though “together” as a font/swoop image/ they form the TM NAME of a SHOE MANUFACTURER. and thats the protection they get.

    You can name a product NIKE. – a car per say, and not be liable I believe. Just dont attempt to confuse a buyer into thinking the car could be/ or is/ a licensed NIKE sneeaker product.

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