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.

Drop in and visit during our 3D office hours

by Erica Driver and Sam Driver.

We are running a new experiment for the next couple of weeks. We will hold office hours in a variety of publicly-accessible immersive technologies. This is a great opportunity to learn more about ThinkBalm — meet the analysts and pick our brains about Immersive Internet trends and technologies, in an informal environment. We’d be happy to share with you findings from our research and update you on ThinkBalm Innovation Community activities. This is also an opportunity to gain some experience with immersive technologies you may not have used before, like Altadyn 3DXplorer, Nortel web.alive, ReactionGrid, and Second Life.

Stop by the virtual office

Office hours schedule

Sam or Erica Driver will be available in our virtual offices during the following times EDT. Here is a link to the Time Zone Converter Web site, should you need it. Please drop in!

  • Thursday, June 25th, 11AM-noon EDT in Altadyn 3DXplorer with Skype for voice
  • Monday, June 29th, 11AM-noon EDT in Nortel web.alive, using built-in voice
  • Thursday, July 2nd, 4-5PM EDT on ThinkBalm Island in Second Life — (Erica’s avatar name is Erica Burns and Sam’s is Samm Larkham), using built-in voice
  • Monday, July 6th, 10-11AM EDT on the ThinkBalm region on ReactionGrid, using built-in voice

© 2009 ThinkBalm. All rights reserved.

Just added: ThinkBalm Data Garden tour for our friends in Asia-Pacific region

by Erica Driver and Sam Driver.

We are pleased to announce our public tour schedule for the next few weeks for the ThinkBalm Data Garden on ThinkBalm Island in the virtual world of Second Life. Think of this tour as a next-generation webinar where you’ll learn about our findings and analysis from the ThinkBalm Immersive Internet Business Value Study, Q2 2009, which was published on May 26, 2009. The core question we set out to answer in this research was, “What is the business value of using immersive technologies in the workplace?” We’ll take you on a tour through a memorable, interactive data visualization experience.

Data display showing the economic benefit survey respondents got and expect to get from their immersive tech investments

ThinkBalm Data Garden public tour schedule for June

All times listed below are Pacific Daylight Time (PDT), which is the same as Second Life time (SLT). Here is a link to the Time Zone Converter Web site, should you need it. Admission to the tour is first-come, first served so it’s a good idea to arrive a little early.

  • Wednesday, June 10th from 8:00-9:00AM PDT (in the past)
  • Wednesday, June 17th from 8:00-9:00AM PDT (in the past)
  • Wednesday, June 24th from 8:00-9:00AM PDT (in the past)
  • Just added: Monday, June 29th from 6:00-7:00PM PDT — scheduled especially for our friends in the Asia-Pacific region of the world. Here is a link to the Time Zone Converter Web site.

Please join us!

© 2009 ThinkBalm. All rights reserved.

The ThinkBalm Innovation Community is expanding to LinkedIn

by Erica Driver and Sam Driver.

Since its launch in August of 2008, the ThinkBalm Innovation Community has evolved into a mix between a social network, a collaborative laboratory, and a guild. The mission of this community, which currently has more than 280 members, is to propel work-related adoption of the Immersive Internet forward. With the ThinkBalm Innovation Community, ThinkBalm industry analysts Erica Driver and Sam Driver are fostering a productive, marketing-free zone where professionals can collaborate and communicate about the Immersive Internet, sharing experiences, collaborating on experiments, and identifying best practices that advance work-related adoption of immersive technologies.

Professional networking is a hugely important aspect of life in the community and lately we’ve fielded lots of requests to create a LinkedIn group for the community to make it easier for people to get and stay connected. The people have spoken, and a ThinkBalm Innovation Community LinkedIn group is now live. It is available from the groups search function at LinkedIn, and we’ll be sending out invitations to current ThinkBalm Innovation Community members. We encourage anyone with an interest in work-related use of immersive technology to request membership in the group.

Here are links to some ThinkBalm articles and reports that reflect ThinkBalm Innovation Community activity:

© 2009 ThinkBalm. All rights reserved.

Join us for public tour of ThinkBalm Data Garden

by Erica Driver and Sam Driver.

We are pleased to announce a public tour of the ThinkBalm Data Garden on ThinkBalm Island in Second Life on Monday, June 8th from 11:00AM-noon EDT, which is 8:00-9:00AM PDT and Second Life time. Here is a link to the Time Zone Converter Web site, should you need it. Think of Monday’s tour as a next-generation webinar. Via an interactive data visualization experience, ThinkBalm analysts Erica Driver and Sam Driver will share with visitors the findings and analysis from the ThinkBalm Immersive Internet Business Value Study, Q2 2009, which we published on May 26, 2009. We think we’ll have room for about 20 guests, so please arrive early.

The "swarm of alternatives" display at the ThinkBalm Data Garden

© 2009 ThinkBalm. All rights reserved.

ThinkBalm Data Garden is live!

by Erica Driver and Sam Driver.

ThinkBalm has launched a new experiment on ThinkBalm Island in Second Life. The ThinkBalm Data Garden is a data visualization experience built around the ThinkBalm Immersive Internet Business Value Study, Q2 2009, which we published on May 26, 2009. The ThinkBalm Data Garden was designed as a proof of concept for the next-generation “webinar.” Creation of the data displays was a collaborative effort between the two of us and several members of the ThinkBalm Innovation Community, including Jeff Lowe and Jonas Karlsson. Please come visit!

Data display showing the important benefits of immersive technology

 

ThinkBalm Data Garden display showing whether survey respondents recouped their investment

© 2009 ThinkBalm. All rights reserved.

ThinkBalm Innovation Community leaderboard is in 3D

by Erica Driver and Sam Driver.

One of the elements of the InnovationSpigit(tm) software that ThinkBalm uses to run the ThinkBalm Innovation Community is a leaderboard. The leaderboard displays the leading ideas, prediction markets, and community members (see Figure 1). Because the ThinkBalm Innovation Community is all about immersive environments, we recently hired OpenSim guru Chris Hart, CTO of ReactionGrid, to bring three of the most important elements of the leaderboard into 3D (see Figure 2). Our 3D leaderboard displays the top ranked ideas, the users with the highest reputation score, and the most popular posts. The leaderboard, which updates hourly, is on display on the ThinkBalm region on ReactionGrid. Come check it out!

The ThinkBalm Innovation Community leaderboard

 

Elements of the ThinkBalm Innovation Community leaderboard are in 3D

 

© 2009 ThinkBalm. All rights reserved.