Political power, economics and the 3D Web

June 6, 2010
   These are some thoughts I have been pondering. The rate of technological change in the world is starting to hit exponential rates of growth. We now have students who start a program to learn a technology that is obsolete by the time they graduate. It is not enough to know what the current trends are; you need to gather information and speculate on the future. Sure, it can be risky, so can doing nothing.
One view of the future.
    The economy is changing. The way we make money in the United States is less ‘smoke-stack’ and more ‘server-rack’; our paychecks are increasingly tied to a transition to a digital economy. The digital revolution is reaching into every corner of our lives. The food we eat comes increasingly from farms using digital tools along with the plows and harvesters. We do not pass a day without this technology influencing our lives.
Microsofts vision of the digital future.
    Our political leadership is also influenced and defined by our economy. The politician who grasps this new technology can best shape our economy. So as November gets closer I am watching our politicians and waiting to see who has a grasp of the future?

Memorial Day 2010: Ode to the P2V Neptune

May 30, 2010
    I’ve had to spend a lot of time lately working on the Facebook page for our commercial operation in Second Life. I don’t want anybody to think I’ve forgotten the Booming Prairie Chicken. The fact of the matter is I can do and post things here that would be difficult to post on our Facebook page.
    This post is one of those things. My dad died when I was thirty years old. That would be over 20 years ago now. He died doing something he enjoyed; he died in a motorcycle accident. It was a very sudden death and a shock for our whole family. One moment he is laughing and heading out on his bike; a few hours later a Highway Patrol officer is coming to your home to tell you he is gone forever.
    My dad was a veteran of the United States Navy. He didn’t talk a lot about what he did in the service but was incredibly proud of it. I didn’t learn a lot about what he did until he died. I then met some of the men he served with. They were all wearing gray hair and sometimes would get oddly thoughtful looks in their eyes. It was through each one of them I learned a bit about those short few years my dad went from being a Minnesota farm kid to member of a patrol bomber aircrew.
   These were the years of some of the darkest period  of what we think of as the ‘Cold War’. It wasn’t always cold; the struggle between Communism and the West would have periods of incredible violence and tragedy. I remember my dad had scars from his days in the Navy. I only today really understand what  these physical scars came from. It makes me think of all the kids we send into harm’s way and the sacrifices they sometimes have to make.
   I remember another thing about my dad. He loved machines; didn’t matter what it was but he had a fascination with the technology we rely on. One of the things he respected was the plane he flew on during his days in the Navy: the P2V Neptune. This plane is not as well known as other historic aircraft but it definitely was a workhorse of freedom. I found this video on Youtube that is sort of a tribute to the plane:
Most of this video features pictures of the P2V.
    It all makes me pause to think of the sacrifices so many men and women have made in insure our freedom. Some made the ultimate sacrifice and we especially remember them on Memorial Day. Others made sacrifices that might not be so readily apparent. Many bear their scars and memories quietly. This was what my dad did; he didn’t want to talk about what he had seen and done. I think it only mattered to him that the price he and others had paid was not lost on future generations of Americans.
    On Memorial Day I make a special point to remember my dad and those who chose to stand in our defence…

Zeppelins and Airships

May 17, 2010
    My latest historical interest is actually a return to one of my oldest historical passions. I was fascinated by zeppelins since my high school days. Back in those ancient days I saw a movie about the Germans using a zeppelin for an elaborate commando raid during the First World War. The movie was fictional but the fact that the Germans used zeppelins for military purposes is quite true.
‘Zeppelin’, the movie that inspired my passion.
    The zeppelin left a lot to be desired as a weapon of war. The German zeppelins particularly suffered from the fact that the gas that lifted them was highly inflammable hydrogen. The British didn’t take long to make incendiary bullets to exploit this weakness. The Germans still found uses for their vulnerable behemoths. They used them for everything from transport, to reconnaissance, to strategic bombing. They gained an odd notoriety for their use as bombers; the initial attacks they made on England inspired more terror than the actual damage they inflicted. It bothered the English civilian population horribly that an enemy could finally strike them in the scant security of their homes. The British army was forced to deploy substantial resources to counter the perceived threat of the zeppelins.
  Zeppelins on the attack!
    My fascination is with this period of airship history during the First World War. Zeppelins lumbered on in history for almost 25 years after the war. The United States Navy would even experiment with them as combat vehicles.
 Go Navy!
    I am convinced this technology might still make a comeback today. This time we will be using them to lift large payloads for transport. Today the dirigible – airships without a fixed frame – are already making a return as radar platforms for national security. I’m sure the versatility of the airship platform has not been lost on aviation thinkers.
Lockheed-Martin is showing some interest.
   In ‘Second Life’ there are a wide variety of zeppelins and airships hovering around my sims. Some are historical models, some are highly whimsical builds. Some have real world physics scripted into them so that you can virtually see the strengths and weaknesses of the vehicles. In a virtual reality environment it is possible to experiment with some ideas without the costs or risks associated with real world experiments.
    Then you have me; I just like zeppelins over my sims…

Changes in the Booming Prairie Chicken

May 16, 2010
    Laurie and I have been making a lot of important decisions in the last couple of weeks. Last week, for the first time in years, I did not do my weekly update of this blog. The fact of the matter is that we are setting up our own commercial operation within ‘Second Life’. This has made some new demands on our time and resources. The fact of the matter is that we both now believe so strongly in virtual world technology that we are now willing to make these commitments.
 Hello Facebook…
   One of the inescapable facts about the internet today is that Facebook dominates all the social networking technologies. It has almost 400 million users the last time I checked. I don’t see it as a threat to 3D immersive virtual worlds; the fact is a lot of users of everything from ‘Second Life’ to IMVU are setting up Facebook pages for their avatars! It has just become an additional social networking interface for people who are already using virtual worlds on other platforms.
      So we set up our own Facebook page to support our efforts within ‘Second Life’. Let me introduce you to my avatar:
Bernard Broono
    You will probably see less about ‘Second Life’ here as we move our inworld commercial operations onto this Facebook page. You will still see links on the Booming Prairie Chicken going to our operations within ‘Second ‘life’. The three entities will be increasingly coordinated with each other.

A real-world battle over virtual-property rights

May 2, 2010
Second Life ‘residents’ pay genuine cash for online real estate. Some are suing its creator, saying it has quietly removed the idea of ownership and confiscated some property without compensation.


    I have actually been following this lawsuit closely for awhile now. I don’t know how far they are going to get in their case against Linden Labs. I’m not sure how far their ownership extends if the server their virtual property is on should be shut down. This is not the first time the law and Second Life have been involved with each other. The whole topic of your virtual rights seems to be gaining more notice from the legal community.


Interesting lecture on the law and Second Life.


This is apparently  a class of future lawyers learning about Second Life.

Virtual worlds recede, but

Second Life keeps growing


Retailer tapping into virtual shopping market


Business lessons from the

success of Second Life


I’m actually a bit of a fan of King Phillip.

    My personal concern is that the success of Second Life might also be the undoing of Second Life. As business becomes more successful within the virtual world there will inevitably be people who will try to benefit from it without regard to the overall consequences of their actions. This would make the virtual world all to real in legal terms.

Charles Babbage and his Difference Engine

April 25, 2010
Difference Engine #2
    I have wondered how different the world would be if the British government had built Babbage’s machine in the 1840’s? What if the British Empire had the power of computing to further support their interests at this time? This would have been one hundred years before comparable machines would show up. It could have potentially helped accelerate the development of other technologies. It makes me want to imagine a considerably different world entering the history books.
    In Second Life several thousand people have considered what things might have been like. This the community known as the  steampunks. They affectionately pursue an alternative history in which the first computer was powered by steam and electricity remained something of a toy. Here the British Empire never went into decline. It is a place where Victorian society is merged with advanced technologies; some whimsical, some very rationally derived.
 New Babbage
    The sims that Laurie and I operate celebrate history in the Victorian era. We have a portion dedicated to the Old West. There is a part of one sim that reflects quite a bit of our historical research on what life was like in Deadwood in the 1880’s. We also have a larger portion of our sims devoted to other research projects. We are bringing our views of history and the paranormal into Second Life. I am finding an incredibly receptive and warm community among the steampunks. These are people with open-minds to all the possibilities.

UMass’ Second Life: Do virtual worlds hold the future of online education?

April 23, 2010
    I’m amazed it has taken some so  long to catch on. The same technology that distracts can also be used to attract; what entertains can train. Teaching needs to move from chalkboards and classrooms to digital screens and virtual environments. This is the future.
Air Force to Give All Recruits Second Life Avatars
    I’ve told this story before and it is back again. The United States Air Force ‘Gets it’; they are learning to be cyber-warriors as well as air warriors. The national security of our country depends on many things but we have not paid enough attention to our digital future.

Distance learning gets ‘Second Life’

April 19, 2010
    Another school sets up a virtual campus within Second Life. If my numbers are right a new school sets up in Second Life every 48 hours. Each school is then exposing even more people to  this technology. It is only a matter of time before this sort of educational application of 3D immersive worlds migrates into other areas.
   I’m not completely sure why the news release from Rutgers is even news? They have been in Second Life for more than a year now from what I can tell. Maybe it is that they seem to be expanding further into Second Life? This would seem like more of an indicator to me of the success of this technology.

Bernard Broono is now on Facebook

April 18, 2010
    I am amazed how many people using Second Life also set up Facebook pages for their avatars. The number also appears to be growing on a daily basis. This is not people leaving Second Life; they are bringing their virtual reality identities into a different virtual platform. It makes me wonder how many people prefer their virtual lives to their real lives?
   I really don’t have a problem with living in what we call the ‘Real World’. I’ve been doing it for almost 52 years now with a reasonable amount of success. I have to admit I do enjoy my virtual world life. I don’t appear to be alone either judging by recent estimates at over 100 million people world-wide using this technology.
   This all brought me to the decision to set up my own Facebook page for my avatar Bernard Broono. I really don’t have a lot of reason to use Facebook otherwise but it does seem to have a following; it is hard to discount 360 million users.

Virtual Reality Makes Real-World Cash, Boosts Self-Esteem

April 17, 2010
     ABC News takes a look at how people are  starting to use this technology. The numbers of people entering Virtual Worlds is growing rapidly. I just chose to use Second Life because of the creative potential of it.