CETIS Informal Horizon Scan – March 2009

In March 2009 we conducted an informal Horizon Scan as an internal exercise in identifying areas of work to prioritise in the coming year. A public version is now available.

As the caveat at the start of the document notes, this was not intended to be a thorough or robust process but feel free to comment with any burning issues that you think we missed…

7 thoughts on “CETIS Informal Horizon Scan – March 2009

  1. I appreciate it’s easy for me to say “You missed [my favourite technology of the moment]” :-)

    But I was surprised to see no reference at all to the “linked data” approach to sharing and integrating data on the Web, which I notice you mentioned here a couple of posts back, and which I think will become an important consideration for “repository” systems of various flavours.

  2. I’d say in the (internal!) report’s defence that:

    (a) nothing significant seemed to be happening in virtual worlds worth highlighting f – “second life continues to exist” is not really a useful thing to note! If we missed something new and important, please let us know so we can track it for future planning!

    (b) Linked data is something its fair to say that while it has been kicking about a while, it bubbled up significantly in importance in the last few months – this effort was completed before March. I think we didn’t anticipate it getting so much momentum so soon, but rather thought it might putter along for quite a while before it started to go anywhere.

  3. Well, my guess would be that there is more activity in the UK HE/FE sector under the general heading of virtual worlds than many of the topics mentioned.

    Yes, SL continues to exist and there has been a focus in the past year on improving both stability and induction of new users with business and education touted as primary markets (as witnessed, for example, by a new series of case studies). There are commercial developments in terms of web integration (Immersive Workspaces) and behind-the-firewall options (Project Nebraska). A number of third-party tools have been developed that assist with interfacing to Moodle and Blackboard and with authoring procedural simulations. Progress has also been made with accessibility, e.g. virtual guidedog. Linden Lab have been running meetings for registered developers under NDAs about future plans that have attracted rave responses from cognoscenti.

    Attention is widening to encompass other VWs, notably the SL-like OpenSim (at least two UK universities with their own grids; ReactionGrid targetting education and providing its own Nebraska-like solution), Project Wonderland, Croquet-based peer-to-peer tools such as Edusim and Qwaq, and the commercial 2.5D Metaplace which now runs in-browser using a Flash plugin. This raises issues of movement of avatars, information and content between grids. The US Federal Consortium for Virtual Worlds appears to be working towards establishing VW standards for use by US government agencies (probably Web3D/COLLADA-oriented).

    Although Google pulled its 2.5D VW Lively, it has been taken on by the community (mainly Asian afaik) and Google itself appears to be developing in-browser VWs based on O3D. Microsoft has unveiled Project Natal which seems be aiming at alternative camera-based interaction with VWs (LL has something more down-to-earth under development) and greatly improved bot AI.

    It is also important to view VWs as one component of the Metaverse Roadmap which also includes augmented reality, mirror worlds and life-logging. Integration of these activities will become an issue in due course.

  4. Thanks for the comments.

    Yes, in retrospect we probably should have spotted the Linked Data. I think probably so many in CETIS are so used to talking and thinking in very similar terms that we somewhat missed its rising significance. That is effectively what I was alluding to by “objects in this mirror are closer than they appear”.

    On the VW front, I think our historical records speak to earlier identification and our current view is that there is nothing new that warrants CETIS activity (why compete with others if we wouldn’t add value). This is not to say it isn’t relevant to HE/FE. See for example CETIS conference topics/speakers for some “historical records”:

    2006 at http://wiki.cetis.ac.uk/CETIS_Conference_2006

    2007 at http://wiki.cetis.ac.uk/Conference_2007_Programme

  5. “Why compete with others if we wouldn’t add value”. Fair enough, you’ve finite resource like everybody else. Who are the “others” you have in mind though? It would be useful for the community (well, me anyway) to know who (if anybody) has the lead on this.

  6. OK, in the absence of a response (maybe you’re on vacation) I’ll assume by “others” you mean third-party commercial and open source developers, government agencies, formally constituted standards bodies and international consortia such as Immersive Education Grid. Let me know if I missed anyone out.

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