Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Cisco Demo

Out here in rl, communication is hard. It isn't easy SL either. Right now I am attending a press conference in sl where Cisco is showing off how their new phone system will find people wherever they are, and "interoperate," I think that means work together, with different systems.

There is a great deal of geek being spoken. But what I am here to look at is the way a large corporation makes its presence felt in Second Life. The future of SL, one way or another, is that corporations will pay for much of the environment, getting attention in return for it, and then they will leverage that attention into sales of products. SL is not working as an economy of small shopkeepers. Too many people want entertainment to be free, and that means not really free.

The press conference itself was a product, I haven't seen enough of them to know whether this was good or bad in its folksie tone that mimicked a few guys showing their projects off. There was a good deal of ironic self-deprecating humor, and a rather simple demo of their system. The focus of the products is on "mobility" which they define as making the network ominpresent for customers, suppliers, employees and anyone else who is part of the fabric of a corporation or institution. It certainly seems like a step forward in creating a fine and indissoluable mesh of a workplace team.

The building that Cisco has contracted for is designed to look like a campus, of the relaxing kind, presenting the impression of being a friendly place to work, more like a concert venue than anything else. The builder is Banana Stein, whose style is simplicity, with a few very focused highly detailed focal points.

But what is going on here is an attempt at people networking and entertainment, and from that perspective, I think that the key lack is that this is an attempt to render, an extremely good one, an experience in the real world which is limited by factors of cost. This is something that actually touches on some rl experience I have. Conferences, displays, exhibitions, are limited by the costs of putting them together, wood, steel, assembly times. The look that we associate with them is the best look you can build, show and take apart quickly.

Sl has different limitations, and as a result the same look does not make full use of the facilities which are here. While very well done and the product of a great deal of skill, what we got was not entertaining, and as teh minstrel of the mish said "Here we are now, entertain us."

On walking in, the first thing that was missing was that while the building is first rate the greeters looked like they were one visit to freebies warehouse from orientation island. The second was sl content to go with the rl content. We could have, and many did, watch the stream elsewhere.

What should have been done? I know that Cisco has spent well on getting the CEO's icon. This is a very smart move. However, they needed to redo the avatars, as well, for their other people. These would not have to be realistic or "as life," but they could have, with a small amount of time, have been up to usual standard, and wearing better company gear.

The second is a larger stroke, the simplest thing to do would have been to make an sl gadget that does something similar to what they rl gadget does. The simplest would have been a media textured cellphone looking device which would set stream to cisco's stream, and return it to the previous stream. Or perhaps a more complex device that would capture the IMs that come in on your chat and save somehow so they don't evaporate.

But something which said "sl".

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