Sun’s virtual office space

November 3, 2007 at 7:04 pm (conference notes) (, , , )

Something i heard about at Internet Librarian this year:

MPK20 is Sun’s virtual office building.  It looks a bit like Second Life, visually, and it’s like being in an office building, with offices and presentation rooms.  The difference is that it’s a closed network, a 3D intranet, so employees are able to discuss proprietary information, and find other coworkers in their offices.  It also keeps a sense of place for the people who work at Sun.  Unlike Second Life, employees are able to be have their own name in the VR office.  Potential future:  employees have multiple versions of their avatar, so they can attend multiple meetings at the same time (like when people IM several of their friends at once and hold several conversations that way) and record them, ping you when you are directly addressed or when a topic of interest to you is being talked about.  I think this makes a lot of sense in the virtual setting – a lot of time can be wasted waiting for people to type their replies, especially if the topic is complex, or one that needs elaboration.  Meetings in this case could be a little on the dry side, with dead air while everyone reads substantive remarks made by someone else.  If you could be in several meetings at once, you could easily be reading and responding in several different instances at once.

This is getting into the scifi cyberpunk realm, but it’s really real – as the interface gets better, and the immersion gets more complete, what’s that going to do to people’s minds?  Until now, we’re always only in one place at a time, perceptually.  With multiple chat partners on IM, multitasking online, all that stuff, people are developing the ability to split their attention amongst several ‘locations’ at once.  Is that going to be the neccessary job skill of the near future?  It makes my head swim just thinking about it…

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