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 25 people interviewed.
“We don’t need a lot of restrictions and government impositions and we don’t need a lot of safety mechanisms. The marketplace covers that. I like age limits and age restrictions, but other than that I feel like the best thing is let the marketplace – let the demand – pull it along.”
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.
“These technologies are actually extremely beneficial … and so I would caution any policymaker about being too quick to impose too many restrictions without learning all about all of the details involved.”
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.
“Stand aside. Don’t get in the way. The most important thing, policywise, is to not create many new regulations. Protect the people who need protecting. There are going to be issues of copyright infringement and predators and things that need to be dealt with. Other than that, try to stay hands-off.”
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.
“Invest in education. You have to have educated users to make good virtual worlds or a good real world, and if you’re not investing the money to make kids aware of how the world works and teach basic skills, then you’re really not going to get anywhere.”
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.
“Support network neutrality. The strength of the internet has been its end-to-end nature … there have been a number of proposals to strengthen or to reaffirm network neutrality and I would encourage policymakers to see those through.”
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.
“A lot of consideration has to be given to control and privacy issues … If we do move toward a metaverse as a goal, (there should be) some way for a person to be able to keep their assets … Laws that can help users maintain the things they have earned that are rightfully theirs.”
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.
“(We need) a revision to the intellectual property code … go to EFF.org and read (Lawrence) Lessig’s papers on the issues associated with that. And likewise software patent reform. The current regime will discourage the creation of software to advance human causes.”
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°.
“Establish the models by which the architecture, the cyberinfrastructure, and these technologies – these converging technologies – are actually communally owned, are public domain in the broadest sense. They belong to the human community.”
Guy Garnett is the director of the Cultural Computing Program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where an interdisciplinary group is studying the forthcoming change in social, political, and economic dynamics due to the arrival of synthetic worlds on the 3D internet.
“Do nothing. We’re the experts and we have no idea what the right direction to go in is … Putting any policies in place runs the risk of crippling everything, because you have no idea what direction it should go, what the end result should be. Policymakers should sit back, relax, acknowledge that the future is extremely strange.”
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.
“Learn about it – that is the biggest challenge … It’s really important to stay in touch with what people are actually doing. Until the day when our senators are all text-messaging under the table as they’re listening for legislation, they’re not going to understand what the cultural climate really is.”
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.
“Invest heavily in education. To continue innovation online and in digital technologies and digital media we’ll need gifted, talented, and creative people … And separately, [internet regulators] should preserve network neutrality to let an open-ecosystem of services develop, and to avoid consolidating power vertically.”
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.
“Digital property rights. In current virtual worlds, users aren’t content just to consume content the major companies produce. They want to produce themselves, and so you have a conflict in all the world … If you spend a lot of time in a world, making things … you want some security.”
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.
“One of the most significant things that will have an impact on the way we view and navigate and understand the world will be this mirror-world element, where we track the real world geographically correct in real time. (We need to) make sure that countries are willing to collaborate to kind of share information across borders.”
Jerry Paffendorf is research director for the Acceleration Studies Foundation. Forward-looking writer, consultant, and project designer. Research interests include digital worlds, reality video games, the metaverse, mirror worlds, public authorship, searchable cities, and the emergence of mapspace.
“Privacy – how we deal with that as far as what we can and cannot put on the web, what laws are actually going to be important to protect our data as we put it on the net … If we don’t start protecting those properly, people are going to be afraid to actually extend their thought processes into the web.”
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.
“Keep as few rules on as possible, because rules impede commerce, impede exploration, impede human ideas. The network, really for me is a way to share ideas, and argue ideas, and discuss ideas, and image ideas … if you try to put rules on my world, that will impede my exploration.”
Robert Scoble is a technical evangelist for Microsoft and the author of the popular blog, Scobleizer. Scoble 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.
“They should be thinking about what is their appropriate role in stimulating innovation in this space – leading with vision and leading with dollars where necessary … by realizing how much they could accelerate society by having … free bandwidth available.”
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 net … is a system that continues to evolve in really interesting and valuable ways, and it’s precisely because of a lack of control and oversight that that’s been achieved. By trying to control it, by trying to direct it, they’ll basically be killing the system.”
David Smith, the principal architect currently developing Open Croquet is also CTO, for 3Dsolve. He’s been focused for 20 years on interactive 3D and using 3D as a basis for new user environments and entertainment. He created “The Colony,” the very first 3D interactive game and precursor to today’s “first-person shooters” like Quake. He co-founded Red Storm Entertainment with Tom Clancy, and Timeline Computer Entertainment with Michael Crichton. Croquet is the culmination of his work on 3D architectures for complex peer-to-peer environments.
“Be open – the metaverse in general has to be open – in the way that we have successfully been very open about a lot of the internet technologies, so that we haven’t taxed them in certain ways or have discouraged the pay-per-use model.”
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.
“Keeping the internet as open, as it’s been historically, is totally essential to ensuring the future to be what we’d like it to be. We’re already seeing instances of there being more than one internet experience depending on where you are geographically, and we need to work towards removing that if possible.”
Malcolm Williamson is a geospatial and visualization researcher with the Center for Advanced Spatial Technologies at the University of Arkansas. Since 1993 he has pursued research in geospatial applications and development and scientific visualization. He works closely with the EAST Initiative to develop new approaches in geospatial and visualization education, leading a team that supports 10,000+ students in approximately 240 schools.
“The most important thing toward a positive networked future is network neutrality. It’s essentially insuring that the networks we use are capable of carrying whatever sort of content people can invent … That’s now under threat, and that’s an enormous danger.”
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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