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Contact Consortium Early Events

Consortium Formation and Brainstorming Weekend

June 30-July 2, 1995, Soquel California
Design and Applications for Inhabited Digital Worlds

The Consortium held its official
formation meeting and brainstorming session on June 30-July 2, 1995 in Soquel, California. The form of the organization and its goals were set down and founding members inducted.

Brainstorming Areas

Using our background with the SolSys Sim MUD, created by Dr. Reed Riner of Northern Arizona University for six years as a learning tool, we looked into the future, when many two and three dimensional graphical worlds for social interaction have been up on the Net. We considered many technical and social aspects and considered emerging culture and community within these digital spaces. An important output of the brainstorming session was the visual SolSys white paper. This seminal document set the framework for much of what we now see emerging.

Worlds Reviewed

At the time of this brainstorming session, the following virtual worlds were available for review:

    WorldsChat (live demo to the group)
    Starbright World (video from launch in L.A.)
    Ubique (from article)
    WorldsAway (from article about upcoming launch)
    VRML (from its launch at Internet World in April)
    DragonSpires (from web page)
    DIVE (from webpage)
Topic Areas

The following key topic areas were discussed. See the white paper for more details.

Applications for this technology: beyond socializing
    Applications in Business: is the Real Virtual Conference Room Coming?
    Applications in Education: shared virtual learning spaces SolySys MUD, a case study
    Applications in Entertainment: is networked DOOM the only model we have?

Near Future Worlds
    Implementing behavior in a virtual world: the walls have nerves
    Broader Bandwith Worlds: when will voice, video enter the picture? Starbright World, a case study

Digital Communities and Culture: What makes a community work?
    Anthropology and its relevance to building successful digital communities
    What is Good and and what is Bad behaviour in digital space?
    The Digital Primatologist: observing Homo Sapiens in the Digital New Guinea

Designing user interfaces for Inhabited Digital Worlds
    Avatar motion, points of view, navigation aids, (are roads really necessary?)
    Coming up with some standards for manipulation and motion
    Appearance of spaces, building block objects
    How much of the Real World is really useful in digital space? (abstract versus real: Neuromancer vs. Snowcrash views)
    Associated UI: pulldowns, menus, marrying 2D and 3D metaphors

Avatar design
    how important is facial expression, body movement and gestures?
    Avatar design kits and methods
    Distributing custom avatars: the challenge of numbers

    First Consortium Symposium: NASFiC 95, Atlanta Georgia


    Author Clifford Stoll joins Jim Funaro and other Panelists
    in a memorable debate

    Sessions were held on virtual avatar worlds, artificial life, and alien contact.

    The Consortium and 24 Hours in CyberSpace

    Conversation in CyberSpace

    Feb 8, 1996: Conversation with Avatars at the ground zero for 24 Hours in CyberSpace

    Our thanks go out to Worlds Incorporated and Russell Freeland.

    Contact Consortium Innaugural 1996 Symposium at CONTACT XIII
    held in Milpitas, California on Friday March 8, 1996
    where the following exciting program was presented:

    1) Contact Made (in Digital Space)

    Description: the Consortium presented a demonstration of Internet-based 3D worlds wherein people choose a digital avatar and fly around in the space, interacting through text or voice. We showed AlphaWorld, where there is a series of cities under construction including over 200 blocks of buildings, gardens and roads which have been put up since August of 1995. The Consortium discussed its recently initiated Sherwood Forest community which is designed to experiment with Cultural Contact made in Digital Space. AlphaWorld has 25,000 registered citizens and is a significant experiement in virtual community which builds on some of the experiences in MUDs and MOOs. The panelists considered the cultural limitations and possibilities of this new medium and its impact on humanity. The audience had extensive interaction with the panel on these issues. We hoped that this symposium might stimulate interest in the CONTACT community for another Bateson/COTI project.

    2) Building Cyberspace Worlds with Avatars and Interaction

    Description: this young team of innovative world builders showed their latest VRML (Virtual Reality Modeling Language) worlds, including a virtual convention built for Nippon Telephone and Telegraph. This was the first VRML world which had avatars and behaviour. Wide acceptance of VRML will enable and explosion of 3D world servers to flood the internet just as 2D Web servers have in the past 2 years. This presentation was open for the audience to ask *how to* questions on building worlds in this new medium.

    We hoped this would be the first in a series of get-togethers, demonstrations and brainstorming sessions the Consortium can create to help in the birth of this new form of CONTACT!

    The Contact Consortium at CHI96 in Vancouver Canada, April 14-18, 1996

    At Work in WorldsChat studying social interaction for CHI96

    We presented a formal demonstration at the ACM SIGCHI CHI96 conference in Vancouver in April titled: Inhabited Digital Spaces. This will be the first time technologies like AlphaWorld have been seen at a major academic conference.

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