Q and A: ThinkBalm and the ThinkBalm Innovation Community

By Erica Driver and Sam Driver.

The two of us sometimes get questions about what we do for a living. We seem to have created a bit of confusion about the distinction between our industry analysis and consulting business and the ThinkBalm Innovation Community. To clear things up, here’s a Q&A. Let us know if you have additional questions and we’ll answer them in comments on this blog post.

Q: Is ThinkBalm the same thing as ThinkBalm Innovation Community?

A: No. We wear two hats: ThinkBalm is our revenue-generating business, and the ThinkBalm Innovation Community is a volunteer effort we spearhead for the benefit of everyone involved with work-related use of immersive technology.

  • ThinkBalm. ThinkBalm is an independent industry analyst firm founded in June, 2008. We are headquartered in Rhode Island, USA. We are two people: Erica Driver and Sam Driver. We deliver Immersive Internet analysis and consulting services to technology marketers and Immersive Internet explorers, advocates, and implementers. We publish industry analysis, good practices reports, and blog articles, all of which are freely available from our Web site at www.thinkbalm.com. The manner in which we create our reports is not business as usual; four of the six published ThinkBalm reports are issues of the ThinkBalm Immersive Internet Storytelling Series, which document ThinkBalm Innovation Community experiences and offer up good practices – and feature contribution from dozens of community members on the “with” lines.
  • ThinkBalm Innovation Community. The mission of the ThinkBalm Innovation Community is to advance adoption of work-related use of the Immersive Internet. Since its launch in August of 2008, the ThinkBalm Innovation Community has evolved into a mix between a social network, collaborative laboratory, and guild. It is made up of bright and passionate Immersive Internet advocates, practitioners, and technology providers. This community is focused exclusively on work-related use of the Immersive Internet — virtual worlds and campuses, immersive learning environments, and 3D business applications. We are interested in use cases like learning and training, meetings and conferences, business activity rehearsal, collaborative design and prototyping, collaborative 3D data visualization, remote system and facility management, and human resources management. We have approximately 250 community members in the ThinkBalm Innovation Community group on LinkedIn®.

Q: What does the ThinkBalm Innovation Community do?

A: Since its inception, the community has generated nearly a hundred ideas, some of which evolved into projects. Software tools, experimental event formats, and research reports have come out of community interactions and activities. The learning has been phenomenal. We’ve held dozens of brainstorming sessions, role-playing sessions, “un-lectures” (four short presentations, tours or demos in an hour), and other kinds of events. The culture of the community is what makes it so special: we have created a marketing-free haven for explorers to meet and learn from each other, collaboratively solve problems, discuss big picture theory, and network with an open and helpful group of people. The challenge for most of us is in finding a fellow explorer: often there simply aren’t any allies within one’s organization, and the ThinkBalm Innovation Community can provide that gang of allies.

The ThinkBalm Innovation Community

Q: Do I have to be a ThinkBalm client to be a member of the ThinkBalm Innovation Community?

A: No, not at all. We encourage anyone with an interest in work-related use of immersive technology to request membership in the ThinkBalm Innovation Community group on LinkedIn®.

Q: What is ThinkBalm’s business model for the ThinkBalm Innovation Community?

A: ThinkBalm derives no direct revenue from the ThinkBalm Innovation Community; participation is free. All activities are volunteer-driven.

Q: What is ThinkBalm’s research methodology?

A: We conduct surveys and interviews, like many industry analysts do. But ThinkBalm analysts also have daily interactions and deepening relationships with hundreds of people who use the immersive technologies we cover. As of late today, the ThinkBalm Innovation Community group on LinkedIn has nearly 250 members. Also, rather than analyzing the technologies we cover from a distance and making recommendations based on what vendors and their customers tell us; we use immersive technologies hands-on every single day. During the 13 months ThinkBalm has been around, we have held ThinkBalm Innovation Community events and planning meetings in Altadyn 3DXplorer, IBM Sametime 3D (now called Virtual Collaboration for Lotus Sametime), Qwaq Forums, our OpenSim private grid, ReactionGrid, and Second Life. We’re planning future events in Forterra OLIVE and Nortel web.alive. We administer our own immersive environments, have learned how to build 3D content (albeit in a kindergarten kind of way), and have hosted dozens of immersive events and tours. We experience first hand over and over again how difficult it is for new users to get accustomed to working in an immersive environment. We live and breathe the Immersive Internet. It has become a way of work for us. All of this gives us a unique perspective on this emerging technology market.

We hope this helps clear up any confusion. Let us know if you have any questions.

© 2008-2009 ThinkBalm. All rights reserved.

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