Participants in the Metaverse Roadmap Summit at Stanford Research Institute in May 2006 were asked a series of five questions regarding the future. This page reflects some of the answers to just one of the five questions. We include only the most telling responses out of more than 100 answers, so every participant is not included on every page.
Each page includes brief biographies, brief quotes and links to audio files. The pulled quotes included on the page are short snippets of longer responses. To get each person’s complete remarks in answer to the questions on which he or she provided a response, please click on the accompanying link to listen to or to save each audio file, or you can navigate to the Metaverse 2006 transcript page, which carries a print version of each person’s remarks on the questions. On this page, we collect the most telling responses to this particular question, sharing the comments of 20 of the 24 people interviewed.
“The kids growing up who have these experiences in spaces that are not tied to geography form bonds … As they grow up and they become policymakers and they hold positions of power … world peace comes from the interconnectivity of people growing up like this.”
Bridget Agabra, project manager for the Metaverse Roadmap at the Acceleration Studies Foundation, has a background in business and non-profit governance. She previously brought together game designers and researchers as a co-organizer of Ludium1 at Indiana University. She was also profiled as an online player for CNN, Newsweek, & USA Today.
“My wish is to stay in the current state of networked technologies, which is that they continue to allow people to form communities of people who are not necessarily located in the same geographical space … It’s about connecting people from different backgrounds and ensuring that they have a space to come together and form friendships that last a lifetime.”
Betsy Book is the director of product management at Makena Technologies, creators of the virtual world There. She previously developed co-branded web sites for iVillage, served as the VP of product development for the e-commerce site Flooz.com, and managed large-scale moderation and reporting programs for entertainment industry clients such as AOL, MTV, Showtime, Country Music Television, and Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. In 2003, she launched Virtual Worlds Review, a web-based guide to social virtual worlds.
“My most fervent wish for the future of networked technologies is that it becomes economically feasible for tens of thousands, maybe millions of people to get an experiment in that space … To take the power out of the hands of the huge companies and put it into the hands of individuals.”
Corey Bridges is co-founder, executive producer and marketing director, the Multiverse Network. He previously worked at Zone Labs, Netflix, Netscape, Borland, and The Discovery Channel. The Multiverse Network is a company aiming to become the world’s leading network of massively multi-player online games (MMOGs) and 3D virtual worlds. Bridges specializes in market creation and growth for new products and has built and launched a number of technology platforms. He has collaborated with tech expert John Dvorak on multiple books.
“My most fervent wish for the future of networked technology is that it just serves the people to better meet our needs. Technology is useless unless it helps people … it is really just a tool for humans to achieve their needs.”
Iveta Brigis is the former executive director of the Acceleration Studies Foundation, the non-profit organization that organized the Metaverse Roadmap Summit. She is working on her master’s of business administration at the University of California-Irvine.
“Accessibility … The internet has become such an important part of how the global culture has evolved that it’s important that we all can become participants in it. Any kinds of technologies and approaches that reduce the ability of all of the planet’s citizens to be participants in the evolution of the planet are inherently unethical. We need to increase accessibility. Period.”
Jamais Cascio, the founder of Open the Future, writes about the intersection of emerging technologies and cultural transformation. In 2003, he co-founded WorldChanging.com. Cascio has spoken about future possibilities around the world, at venues including FuturShow3000 in Bologna, Italy, and the TED 2006 conference. After several years at scenario planning pioneer Global Business Network, he went on to craft scenarios on topics including energy, nuclear proliferation, and sustainable development.
“The things that I have seen in these games that are exciting to me are the emotional connections that people make … That really is very powerful to me. It’s the game that first draws you in, but it’s the people who make you stay and want to keep playing.”
Helen Cheng, assistant product manager for Seriosity, develops enterprise software based on principles of interactive game design. Cheng’s accomplishments include leading a 200-plus-member guild in the online game World of Warcraft, building applications within and for virtual worlds, and contributing to Wired magazine. When she isn’t writing, designing or powergaming she also works as a project director for the Accelerating Studies Foundation, and she helped plan the Metaverse Roadmap Summit. She previously worked at Electronic Arts and MTV Networks.
“You have to put that in context. I have fervent hopes for the future of humanity, but not for networked technologies in particular. I really think the question is what humanity wants to do for itself, and then networked technologies can be very useful in doing those things.”
Esther Dyson is editor at large for CNET Networks, where she is responsible for the monthly newsletter Release 1.0 and PC Forum, the high-tech market’s leading annual executive conference. Dyson focuses on emerging technologies, emerging companies and emerging markets. From 1998 to 2000, she was founding chairman of ICANN (the organization responsible for overseeing the Domain Name System). A variety of government officials worldwide turn to her for advice on Internet policy issues. She is a former chairman of the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
“I have a concept I call the dynamic knowledge repository … all of the conventions and processes and skills it takes to gather all the information that’s available on a given complex-knowledge problem, and then integrate it … Going after that … is a very very key focus and very important.”
Douglas Engelbart is a winner of the National Medal of Technology and an inspiration for most if not all of today’s technology innovators. Among many achievements, he demonstrated the first computer mouse and the first use of a cathode-ray tube to display computer text and graphics, but his biggest contributions, through his Bootstrap Institute and associated efforts, come in his effort to inspire society to use innovation to tackle complex problems in ethical ways.
“(My hope is) the improvement of relationships between men. I see the current computing environment – internet being a really good example – is a great way to facilitate communications between people: to resolve issues, to perform commerce, and to generally do good works.”
F. Randall (Randy) Farmer is community strategic analyst for Yahoo!, Inc., developing and supporting online communities, focusing on next-generation identity/privacy, reputation and groups technologies and open APIs. For more than 30 years, he has been designing, building and managing online social media systems and related platform technologies. He co-created one of the first message boards, the first graphical virtual worlds with avatars and virtual currencies, the first online information marketplace, the first fully distributed virtual world platform, the first no-plug-in web session platform, and Yahoo! 360°.
“When I think back over the last century to the five or six companies that made the biggest difference … Ford, Disney, Microsoft … and when I think forward of this century, I am convinced one of the companies that will be on the list of the top five will be a company that created avatars or virtual worlds.”
Will Harvey, founder and CEO of IMVU, is a Silicon Valley entrepreneur and game programmer. He began in the video game industry when he was just 15 and still in high school. His latest work is with IMVU, an instant-messaging company. He is also the founders of There, Inc., an MMOG company. He studied computer science at Stanford University.
“I’m a believer in radical-decentralized democracy, a kind of a bottom-up, anarchistic in the historical political sense, way of people really making decisions … I think the internet makes possible – and computers and the associations they provide – make possible this very radical form of instantaneous, participatory democracy.”
Daniel James is founder and CEO of Three Rings, a San Francisco developer and operator of massively multi-player online games for the mass-market, casual audience. PUZZLE PIRATES and BANG! HOWDY are popular Three Rings titles. Prior to his work with Three Rings, he consulted on game design, toiled for many years on Middle-earth Online, and co-founded two profitable UK internet startups, Avalon and Sense Internet.
“Empowerment, diversity, creativity. I don’t believe in a future that is the centralized content creators, the big-business bodies pushing the content down. I don’t think that that is a viable business model.”
Raph Koster is a MMORPG designer and the former chief creative officer for Sony Online Entertainment. He joined Origin in 1995 as part of the original Ultima Online team. He also worked with Ultima Online: The Second Age, and served as lead designer for Ultima Online Live (the ongoing service for this online RPG) until 1999. He writes and speaks frequently on online game and community issues, and maintains a popular online website. He wrote the book “A Theory of Fun for Game Design,” published in 2004.
“I am looking forward to a world where digital data is layered across the physical world, so that every object, every place, every thing will have all of its information and associated media available in place as we move through the world … it’s now time to build a digital atlas for humanity.”
Mike Liebhold is senior researcher at the Institute for the Future,focusing on the implications and technologies of a geospatial web. He previously worked on semantic web frameworks at Intel Labs; as a senior scientist at Apple, where he led an investigation of cartographic and location-based hypermedia.; as CTO for Times Mirror publishing; and as a senior consulting architect at Netscape. He was also a principal investigator for a National Science Foundation project to bring Internet2 broadband IP networks to 70 rural, low-income communities in the US.
“A networked world provides information resources to people, allows social groups to function and reinforce themselves, allows the social dynamics to create value for people in those spaces. The sum total … leads to a democracy being much stronger.”
Julian Lombardi, is a director of information technology at Duke University and one of six principal architects of the Croquet Project (along with Alan Kay, David P. Reed, Andreas Raab, David A. Smith, and Mark McCahill). He is a computer scientist known for his work in user interface design and in the design of computer systems that support collaboration between large numbers of users. He began developing computer-supported collaboration systems involving self-optimizing massively multi-user online 3D environments in the mid-1990s.
“I want to be able to have a face-to-face conversation with somebody on the other side of the world that captures the behavioral nuances of a face-to-face conversation … it will be compelling enough that I’ll feel I’m sitting across the table from them.”
Bob Moore is a sociologist in the Computing Science Laboratory at PARC and a member of the PlayOn project team. He specializes in the micro-analysis of social interaction and practice in virtual worlds and in real life. In the area of online game research, he examines the mechanics of avatar-mediated interaction as well as shared player practices through screen-capture-video analysis and virtual ethnography. He has conducted video-based ethnographies in a variety of settings including massively multi-player online games, copy shops, and survey research call centers.
“We’re going to be able to go and really accelerate the types of social interactions we have … to be able to instantly search out people of similar interests, of similar thought processes and be able to interact with them real-time … we really don’t necessarily have that yet.”
Marty Poulin is senior programmer for SCE-RT Sony CEA and the former chief of technology development for Playnet. He has worked on vehicle design and manufacturing for the disabled and is co-coordinator for the World Interfacing group of IGDA’s Artificial Intelligence Interface Standards Committee (ASIIC). He is currently working with a team of other programmers to support and extend Sony’s SCE-RT online technology supporting numerous titles on the PS2/PSP/PS3 platforms including direct support of SOCOM2/3 and First Party NextGen titles.
“I hope people can connect with each other in new ways and get over their differences, get over the social differences that are out there … to connect with each other and find some common ground where we can discuss things openly in a transparent way.”
Robert Scoble is a technical evangelist for Microsoft and the author of the popular blog, Scobleizer. He has long been known as a prominent advocate of both RSS technology and the Tablet PC. He previously worked as sales support manager at NEC Mobile Solutions and as director of marketing for UserLand Software.
“My most fervent wish is that it empowers me to be more of a natural, biological human being than my parents were, and that it also greatly empowers my digital extensions of myself. I want a both/and future, rather than either/or – either I get smarter or my machines get smarter.”
John Smart, president of the Acceleration Studies Foundation, is a developmental systems theorist. He is president of the Acceleration Studies Foundation a nonprofit community for research, education, consulting, and selected advocacy of communities and technologies of accelerating change. He co-produces the annual Accelerating Change Conference. He is a member of the Association of Professional Futurists, the FBI Futures Working Group, and on the editorial advisory board of Technological Forecasting and Social Change.
“(The metaverse) is going to be the first digital divide that I think really matters, where people who do not have access are really almost going to be on a separate planet from those who do. That’s a scary thought and incredibly important.”
Sibley Verbeck is founder and CEO of The Electric Sheep Company. A former chief scientist of StreamSage Inc. and Comcast Online, he is a leading researcher in advanced computational linguistic and statistical techniques for analyzing audio, video, and text. In 2003 he was selected as one of MIT Technology Review’s top 100 technology innovators worldwide under the age of 35. He has been an invited presenter at conferences ranging across Internet infrastructure, digital television, scientific publication, and undergraduate science education.
“My vision has to do with getting all six-plus billion people on this planet communicating with one another, and I’m willing to sacrifice a great deal of the high end to grab the pervasiveness of networked technology.”
Ethan Zuckerman, a research fellow at Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society, specializes in ICT development. His work covers telecom policy, free and open-source software, and participatory media technologies. He is a co-founder of Global Voices (www.globalvoicesonine.org), a community of citizen journalists. He works with the Open Society Institute’s Information Program. He founded Geekcorps, a volunteer group that sent tech experts to work with ICT companies in the developing world. He is also the former CTO of Tripod.com.
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