ThinkBalm’s blog has moved

ThinkBalm finally has a grown-up Web site! We’re still at www.thinkbalm.com but our blog is no longer at WordPress.com. We hope you’ll update your feed reader; we’re now at http://www.thinkbalm.com/blog/. If you want to subscribe via RSS, the feed for our blog is http://feeds.feedburner.com/ThinkBalm.

New video: Aug. 4th ThinkBalm Innovation Community professional networking event

by Erica Driver and Sam Driver.

On August 4th 2009, we held a ThinkBalm Innovation Community immersive professional networking event. A new community work product is now available: a  four and a half-minute video about the event.

Hats off to the following contributors: Jeff Barr for the location on one of Amazon.com’s islands in the virtual world of Second Life; Jeff Barr and Joel Foner for footage and images; Keely Algiere for music; and Jonas Karlsson for the Poinky’s Pods speed networking tool. A very special thanks to all the presenters: Bill Krebs, Christopher Bishop, Christopher Simpson, Claus Nehmzow, Florence Chan, Jeff Barr, Jeff Bush, John Westra, Michael Sarchet, Paul Zonca, Peter Mills, Randi Kopp, and Richard Hackathorn.

The purpose of this professional networking event was to facilitate connections among Immersive Internet advocates, implementers and explorers. We designed the event to be fast-flowing and highly engaging. We held it during the middle of the workday eastern time. More than 70 people registered from all over the US as well as from Canada, the UK, France, Spain, and Hong Kong. We experimented with a new event format:

  • 13 five-minute presentations. We invited attendees who had something to share (e.g., their resume or a job description) to sign up in advance to deliver a 5-minute talk about the work or talent they were seeking. Each presenter had their own presentation station. Event participants walked or flew from one station to the next on a structured tour. Each station had the presenter’s name on it with a link to their LinkedIn profile. Each presenter was permitted to use one image or 3D object as a prop. 
  • Speed networking. We held a half-hour speed networking session using a tool called Poinky’s Pods built by ThinkBalm Innovation Community member Jonas Karlsson. The tool seats participants with one other person for a five-minute exchange, after which all participants are automatically shifted to another random seat.

This was our first attempt at an immersive professional networking event and we learned a few lessons. The event took a lot of planning and preparation but it was well worth it. The two and a half hours flew by and feedback from participants was overwhelmingly positive. On the down side, most of the people who participated were looking for work, rather than offering work – which was disappointing to some. Also, during the speed networking session the “cocktail party effect” was a bit too loud. People could overhear the voices of others in nearby pods and this was distracting. But overall the event turned out to be a very fun, engaging, and valuable way for people to make professional connections.

© ThinkBalm, 2008-2009. All rights reserved.

We’re keynoting 3DTLC!

by Erica Driver and Sam Driver.

We are proud to announce that we’ve been invited to deliver the opening keynote at the 3DTLC conference, taking place on September 23rd and 24th in San Jose, California. Our session is titled, “Crossing the Chasm, One Implementation at a Time.”Conference speaker doughboy 

Before work-related use of the Immersive Internet can reach the early majority phase of adoption we face a wide chasm filled with barriers. This can be overwhelming when looked at as a whole. But the barriers – as well as the benefits – depend on why and how this emerging technology is put to work. Across industries and company sizes, hard-working project teams are applying immersive technology to burning business problems in eight major areas. In this session, we’ll share our research into the business value of the Immersive Internet and offer a set of good practices for knocking down the barriers to adoption.

Here’s where you come in! We are kicking off a new research report digging into how Immersive Internet advocates and implementers are overcoming – or not – the barriers to adoption. We expect to publish this report, which is a follow-on to the ThinkBalm Immersive Internet Business Value Study, Q2 2009, on the opening day of the conference. We would like to interview you if you have been part of an Immersive Internet project team and have a story to share about overcoming (or avoiding) barriers like target users having inadequate hardware, corporate security restrictions, getting target users interested in using this emerging technology, or user training taking more effort than you expected. Please contact us at info@thinkbalm.com.

The 3DTLC conference team is offering a $200 discount to attendees who mention this discount code when they register by August 14th: SPEAKERVIP. To register go here: http://www.3dtlc.com.

 © 2009 ThinkBalm. All rights reserved.

Speaker lineup set for ThinkBalm Innovation Community professional networking event

by Erica Driver and Sam Driver.

We are pleased to announce the speaker lineup for the first-ever ThinkBalm Innovation Community professional networking event, scheduled for August 4th. We are near capacity for registration for this event, so please let us know immediately if you plan to attend. This professional networking event is designed for people who are passionate about work-related use of the Immersive Internet and are looking for work, looking for someone to fill a position, or simply curious about their options. 

Map of location

Speaker lineup

Logistics info

  • When: Tuesday, Aug. 4th from 11AM-2PM EDT / 8-11AM PDT (which is the same as Second Life time, or SLT). Here is a link to the Time Zone Converter Web site, should you need it.
  • Where: Amazon Developers island in the virtual world of Second Life (thanks to ThinkBalm Innovation Community member Jeff Barr)
  • Why: Make valuable professional connections, connect people with meaningful work, and gain experience using immersive technology 
  • How to RSVP: email us at rsvp@thinkbalm.com 

Event format

  • 17 five-minute presentations. We invited attendees who have something to share (e.g., their resume or a job description) to sign up in advance to deliver a 5-minute talk about the position or staff they are seeking. Each presenter has their own presentation station in the event area. The station has the presenter’s name on it with a link to their LinkedIn profile. Each presenter is permitted to use one image or 3D object in support of their presentation. Attendees will walk (or fly) as a group from one station to the next on a structured tour.
  • Speed networking. We will hold a speed networking session using a tool called Poinky’s Pods built by ThinkBalm Innovation Community member Jonas Karlsson. The tool seats participants with one other attendee for a five-minute exchange, after which all participants are shifted to another random seat. You never know who you’ll end up talking to! 
  • Document repository. We are using box.net, which is integrated with LinkedIn, as the repository for resumes, job descriptions, and images people will be using to support their presentation. We invited all registered participants for whom we have email addresses to access this box.net site.

© 2009 ThinkBalm. All rights reserved.

My brain recalls information in 3D — not hierarchical lists

by Erica Driver.

I frequently am tasked with recalling specific data points from the ThinkBalm Immersive Internet Business Value Study, Q2 2009 for client inquiries, presentations, press calls, and blog posts. I can’t remember the exact numbers — my memory is sieve-like — so for the first week after the report was published I would go to the 36-page PDF and do a word search. Because it would take me too long to navigate my computer’s file system to get to the correct folder where the PDF is stored, I found that the easiest way to get to the PDF was through our Web site. But opening the actual PDF from the Web site took too long and I got frustrated.

So I tried going to the PowerPoint file containing the data charts from the study. But navigating my file system to find the PowerPoint deck, and then doing a word search or flipping through the charts one by one to find the chart I needed was also frustrating. I have several versions of the PowerPoint slides that were created for different purposes, and there are all the old drafts to contend with.

After the ThinkBalm Data Garden went live in the virtual world of Second Life, displaying data from the study, I immediately began to go there whenever I was looking for specific numbers from the survey. This is the way to go.

I can see the layout of the ThinkBalm Data Garden in my mind's eye
I can see the layout of the ThinkBalm Data Garden in my mind’s eye

 A few observations:

  • I can find what I need more quickly in the 3D environment than the old way. I launch my client software, log into the virtual world, press “Page Up” to fly, and within 2 seconds am standing in front of the exact data chart I need. I know what direction to fly in probably because I helped build the environment, have given dozens of tours, and helped produce a video tour about it. I can picture the entire tour loop in my mind.
  • Recalling information in 3D relieves mental stress. When I really tune in while meandering through a hierarchical file system to find a piece of information I need, I am aware that I feel mild stress. I’m an organized person, but I don’t always know ahead of time how my files should be organized and their organic growth doesn’t always make it easy for me to find stuff when I need it. The same is true for file and folder naming. I try to be organized and give things logical names. But what made sense at the time doesn’t always make the most sense later.
  • It’s not just me! I mentioned my observations to Sam Driver and he said that he finds information from our study the same way: he visits the ThinkBalm Data Garden. Today I mentioned my observation to a couple of visitors who stopped by the data garden and both understood exactly what I meant. One of them — Rob Muhlestein, an IBMer I respect very much — said he does the same thing. He visits the island when he wants to recall a data point from the study.
  • The human brain recalls information spatially, in 3D. Finding the data I need this way feels natural. My brain is used to understanding information in 3D. Despite that I’ve been doing it for more than 20 years, my brain is not skilled at navigating hierarchical, alphabetical text lists of folders and files, and then skipping linearly through a bunch of document pages to find the information I want. One of the people I mentioned my observations to agreed, “Our brains are designed to process 3d data quickly and intuitively. It’s how we can walk around in a 3d world without bumping into things.” She hit the nail on the head.

This has profound implications for work-related use of the Immersive Internet — especially for the learning and training and collaborative 3D data visualization use cases. Lesson learned: find engaging, visually stimulating ways to create data experiences and one of the ways it could pay off is through productivity improvement and increased job satisfaction. Yes, on a micro level — but still. I think I’m onto something. 

© 2009 ThinkBalm. All rights reserved.

New video: 9-minute tour of ThinkBalm Data Garden

by Erica Driver and Sam Driver.

A new video is live: a 9-minute tour of the ThinkBalm Data Garden, which is an experiment in data visualization. The ThinkBalm Data Garden is open to the public on ThinkBalm Island in the virtual world of Second Life. A tour through the garden is an interactive next-generation “webinar” experience based upon the findings of the ThinkBalm Immersive Internet Business Value Study, Q2 2009. This video is a ThinkBalm production, with special help from ThinkBalm Innovation Community members Eric Hackathorn, Jeff Lowe, Jonas Karlsson, and Keely Algiere.

© 2008-2009 ThinkBalm. All rights reserved.

Immersive Internet professional networking event

by Erica Driver and Sam Driver.

Mark your calendars! We have a date and venue for the the first-ever ThinkBalm Innovation Community professional networking event!

  • Who: People passionate about work-related use of the Immersive Internet who are looking for a job, looking for someone to fill a job, or simply curious about their options 4 blue doughboys talking PNG med size
  • What: First-ever ThinkBalm Innovation Community professional networking event 
  • When: Tuesday, Aug. 4th from 11AM-2PM EDT / 8-11AM PT 
  • Where: Amazon Developers island in Second Life (thanks to ThinkBalm Innovation Community member Jeff Barr
  • Why: Make valuable professional connections 
  • How to RSVP: Please email us at rsvp@thinkbalm.com. You can also RSVP to the event notice on LinkedIn here and we will follow up with you directly.

Preliminary format for the event (subject to vetting — feel free to post comments here):

  • Attendees who have something to share (e.g., their resume or a job description) will sign up in advance to deliver a 5-minute presentation. We’ll use a virtual gong (yes, a gong) to make sure we stay onDoughboy holding Excel chart time. Each presenter will be allowed to use one image or 3D object in support of their presentation. 
  • We will have a rapid networking session using a tool called Poinky’s Pods built by ThinkBalm Innovation Community member Jonas Karlsson. The tool seats you with another person for a five-minute exchange, after which all participants are shifted to another random seat. You never know who you’ll end up talking to! 
  • We’ll have some kind of solution for people to upload resumes, job descriptions, presentations, etc. . . . and it will all be integrated with LinkedIn.

More details TBD. Hope you can make it!

© 2008-2009 ThinkBalm. All rights reserved.