Really effective: There’s nothing virtual about virtual meetings

voiceoverip meeting

Amanda Van Nuis, Enterprise Marketing Director at Linden Lab, wrote about her first virtual meeting experience with her colleagues in Second Life and about how she „wasn’t 100% convinced that working in virtual worlds really works.“ It sounds like an authentic record of her experiences and some commentators have contributed little stories about how valuable immersive environments for meetings and brainstormings are for them. While it seems natural that people working in the virtual world industry use their own products in their everyday office life many people from the most innovative industries still don’t „see“ how virtual meetings with the third dimension add any value.

Dennis Shiao posted a list of efficiencies he’s seen with virtual office meetings (please read his article where he elaborates on every point):

  1. Lower overhead to start a meeting
  2. Facilitates ad hoc, spur of the moment collaboration
  3. Material related to the meeting is at your fingertips (or a mouse-click away)
  4. Immediacy
  5. True facial expressions

I’d add another two points to that list:

6. Social bonding (by having fun)

7. Inspiration & motivation (by having fun experiences)

Karl Kapp listed some advantages of 3D environments for learning the other day and we had a discussion about the „fun“ factor that’s an important ingredient in any learning situation. I believe this is true for meetings in an immersive environment, too.

In addition to the social „water cooler effect“ 3D environments (and in some cases even 2.5D) add value because people are having fun with it. Here’s why.

Laughing together not only builds a better rapport and therefore improves the corporate climate, but it also motivates and inspires people. Since people tend to loosen up in virtual meetings (try not to if you’re sitting across a giant turtle – your graphics designer – or the Wizard of Oz, who happens to be your technical director) and things get a little more playful if you’re able to „magically“ materialize anything you have in mind (or on your desktop). Psychologically speaking those are the basic ingredients for new ideas, group inspiration and motivation.

What’s astonishing even for me is that these effects also happen in 2.5D spaces.

Just yesterday I evaluated the Meetsee.com beta again and I invited a colleague of mine, who is working in another city. Meetsee is a virtual office solution with 2.5D or isometric views. My colleague is no geek and she refuses to use Second Life; a web browser is as far as she would go.

Usually we Skype (with and without video) but now I tried the web-based Meetsee solution with her. She was in-world within seconds after I sent her the link and scribbled a note on the virtual blackboard before we even said a word. So we have zero accessibility issues here (in stark contrast to Second Life or others). We had one of the most productive meetings in a long time. It was almost as effective as our face-to-face meetings but without even leaving our desks and driving for 6 hours. And that was no thanks to Meetsee’s technical features because the most basic stuff like a whiteboard, voice- and video conference didn’t even work (it’s still in beta).

UPDATE: Their staff has seen this post and in fact fixed the video conferencing and whiteboard feature – thanks to Nikki Santoro (Meetsee CEO)!

The reason was that we both had the sense of being there together, pointing at important information like we’d do in a real meeting room and having fun by using the emoticons to get our message across. At one point we even discussed a new layout of chairs (by moving them around together in the virtual room and try-sit on it) for our next workshop. Now that is something you can’t do in WebEx or Go2Meeting. The only thing that would have topped this would have been the true sense of proximity that you only get in 3D environments with real individual avatars and real three dimensions. Well, like in real life 😉

Meetsee

Simple virtual office solution for classrooms, meetings, web conferences or panel discussions. If video, audio and whiteboards would work, that is. Meetsee still has to work on its technology and become much more reliable and stable. If you want to meet me in my offices to try it out please IM me at LaConsiliera on Skype.

Advertisements

PlayStation Home – just for gamers or a huge 3D social network with a pre-installed user base?

Short preview of Sony’s upcoming 3D virtual meeting space „Home“ by Greg Miller, a beta tester.
See his blog post with video here: IGN: PlayStation Home Preview >>

Sony Playstation Home is still in closed beta but promising a real stunning kind of second life to PS3 owners.

It’s going to be the home of all PS3 players worldwide, where they can chat, hang out and play their favorite Sony games on virtual consoles – together. You’re not into games? Me neither. But it’s not just about games, but a platform with more than 14 Million units out there. I am in the new media and training/education business, and Sony’s PS Home is nothing less than a stunningly realistic looking 3D virtual world where millions of young people will socially connect for a reason (in this case: playing games together). More than one study revealed:  Gaming is not for loner’s, gamers are more social than non-gamers (and here’s a recent German study „Freunde auch in virtuellen Welten wichtig„).

Meaning: this will be something like an instant, huge 3D social network consisting of people who like to consume.

Getting any ideas about that? While I am not into selling virtual goods I am thinking: those players will not only sit at their console all day/night, they will be sitting in their office at some point of their life and they will have adapted totally different social interaction and user interface standards than former generations did – everything is 3D, realistically into the last detail, playfully designed and international. I don’t think they like the flat web (what you’re using this instant) very much and that’s why I am insterested in what Sony, Nintendo, vMTV, Linden Lab, Google (Lively) and so many more are doing.

Multiverse Places is another example of the Gestalt the multitude of 3D virtual online worlds are taking on: It’s all about socializing and integration with existing social networks and user generated content.

Multiverse Places – just another virtual world. I rather dislike the avatars. Runs only on Windows XP or Vista (Mac/Linux is on the roadmap)

Mein deutscher Beitrag zum Thema Social Gaming vom 22.7. >>

Conformity magic in action: Elevator Psychology and The London Underground

Conformity (group pressure leads to actions against rational judgement) can do pretty spooky stuff, and if you think that today is any different than the fifties: find an elevator which has two doors, take some friends with you and do your own psychological experiment.

Elevator Psychology and The London Underground (via feedly)