Friday, January 27, 2012

Looking Forward: My New Role at ReactionGrid – Chief Learning Officer

It's been a year since I started working at ReactionGrid, and my initial role with the company was Director of Community Development.

As of this month, I'm very excited to announce that I have been promoted to Chief Learning Officer.

As Chief Learning Officer, I'll be responsible for all aspects of knowledge management at ReactionGrid, both internal and external.  My primary responsibility will be to help ReactionGrid identify, evaluate and effectively use a combination of the right knowledge management tools and best practices.  Educating our customers is also critical, so I'll be focusing a great deal on ways to help our customers learn to successfully use our products and share their strategies for success.  I want to make sure everyone has the necessary knowledge and confidence to succeed at their own goals.

I'll also be helping guide the company in feature prioritization and R&D efforts.  By listening carefully to our customers and the community at large, we can make smarter decisions about how to evolve our virtual world platforms.

Lastly, I'll be working with new clients on large-scale virtual world projects, focusing on grant proposals, project management and plenty of hands-on Jibe development work.  I've been using our Jibe platform for only a few months, but I've quickly learned how to do quite a bit with it.  To be perfectly honest, this fact is less a testimony to my own skills and more an indication of just how simple our Jibe platform is to learn and use effectively.

Taking on this new leadership role brings with it a great deal of new responsibility.  I am now part of the executive team directly responsible for helping ensure the future success of the company.  It means a great deal to me that our CEO and the rest of the management team have the confidence in me to offer me this wonderful opportunity.  Thank you.

I strongly feel that virtual world platforms are poised for broader adoption, providing new opportunities for learning and community development on a global scale.  The team at ReactionGrid is simply the smartest and most driven group of people I've ever worked with in my life (and I've worked with some very smart people in the past).  I consider it a privilege each day to be part of the ReactionGrid team.

And by working hand in hand with our community of innovative colleagues and pioneering customers, we're going to build those virtual world platforms of the future.

Together, we're going to change the world.  I'm confident that we'll do it.

Do or do not.  There is no "try."
-John "Pathfinder" Lester
Chief Learning Officer
ReactionGrid, Inc.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Islands of Enlightenment at the Virtual Pioneer History Conference (Jan 20-21)

The Virtual Pioneer History Conference is an online history conference for educators interested in using virtual worlds for immersive learning.  It's being held today and tomorrow (Jan 20 - 21) in Second Life.  For more information and a full schedule, see the conference website.

Andrew Wheelock is an innovative Technology Integrator who works with teachers and students in k-12 schools in Western New York.  At 1pm EST tomorrow (Jan 21), Andrew will be giving a presentation in Second Life about his "Islands of Enlightenment" project using an Opensim environment from ReactionGrid.

Here are the details:

When: 10:00 am PST (1pm EST), Saturday January 21.
Where: Second Life - SLURL
Topic: "The Islands of Enlightenment" (project website)
"Andrew Wheelock (known as Spiff Whitfield in Second Life) will highlight his work using a ReactionGrid Opensim environment that gives students a glimpse into history as avatars.  The Islands of Enlightenment consist of 2 islands that have been developed as historical sims.  One of the islands has the Understanding the Holocaust Project whereby students are guided through a series of activities involving the 1942-44 streets of Amsterdam where Anne Frank and her family lay in hiding.  Students can interact with the secret annex and learn from source material from PBS, Masterpiece theater materials. We may get a sneak peek at the second island which is going to be used for a Medieval Roleplaying sim for 6th grade students to learn about the life and challenges of this age."
At ReactionGrid, we firmly believe in the power of immersive environments to create incredibly moving educational experiences. Which is why we're so excited about Andrew's work!

A group of us from ReactionGrid will be attending his presentation tomorrow, and I'll be at the opening keynote presentation for the conference tonight at 4pm PST (7pm EST). 

Hope to see you there, and congratulations Andrew on your fantastic project.

UPDATED 1/21/12: If you missed the presentation, you can check out Andrew's slides or watch a recorded video stream of his presentation.

Chief Learning Officer
ReactionGrid, Inc.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The time for Tablets is 2012

This week I had to fly to Baltimore for a kickoff event with the University of Maryland, State of Maryland and the ADAA whereby we will use Jibe to develop counseling spaces for those struggling with addiction.  When deciding how best to pass through the auspices of the TSA I decided to leave the laptop at home and take 2 of my Android tablets my Acer Iconia 10.1 inch and my Kindle Fire 7 inch.

Jibe will initially be integrated via our browser based system with medical records systems and other computer services but mobile will come into play once this foundation is completed.

In addition to lightening my load I was able to worry less about battery life and bothering those in the seats next to me with a large laptop.  But would I be able to show off our virtual world platform Jibe without a traditional computer?  The answer ended up being "yes"!

After the cake cutting ceremony (there was actually a cake with the project name "AVATaR" on it) I was able to pass around my Acer Iconia Honeycomb tablet with the 3D Jibe multi-user world running on it.  I had to do no explanation of how to move your avatar around, it was just intuitive even to non-gamers and those when never logged into a virtual world before.

When discussing with counselors about the lowered barrier to entry for our web browser based deployment of Jibe and the mobile app version many heads shook in agreement that this was the easiest way to introduce this concept to new users.  People just started using it!

When combined this year with our upcoming inworld mesh building tools and the touch interface Jibe will be a compelling platform for those wanting the easiest way to create and use a virtual world.

So in terms of general computing and our own virtual world platform my load has been lightened both in weight to carry around and in the need to teach users how to interact with 3D worlds.  To me this litmus test proved that 2012 is truly going to be the year of mobile virtual worlds and mobile computing in general.

To try the simple beta demo of Jibe-Mobile click here or search for Jibe on the official Android marketplace.

See you in 3D-anywhere!
Kyle G

Syd Mead interview in Jibe-sySTEMic

Visual Futurist Syd Mead will be joining ReactionGrid in our virtual world of sySTEMic next month for an interview on technology, virtual worlds and the future.  Syd is best known for his work on the visual and technological design of movies like Bladerunner, Aliens, Minority Report, Star Trek, Tron and others.

Syd has been a source of personal inspiration to me for decades in both design and concept of future technology.  The image above shows his uncanny ability to paint with incredible detail even emulating chrome and reflections with nuance that seems impossible to do by hand.

My own design work has been heavily influenced by Syd as seen here with my Jibe "JiCycle" design for testing vehicle dynamics in our virtual world.  The above image and his work on the Lightcycles in Tron were clearly factors in my own concepts for a futuristic vehicle in terms of technology and visuals.

ReactionGrid designed "JiCycle" above.

We look forward to chatting with Syd about his own work and what he thinks about virtual world technology.  We hope to bring other technology and educational luminaries into sySTEMic this year and elicit their feedback on the growing metaverse.

You can attend this event on Mac or PC via any major browser or on your Android tablet or phone.  
Details coming on when and where...

See you in 3D friends!
Kyle G

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Hypergrid Adventurers Club RELOADED

I started the Hypergrid Adventurers Club (HGAC) over a year ago to create a venue for folks interested in exploring the Hypergrid together.  While we were working on some major OpenSim upgrades here at ReactionGrid the past few months, I decided to pause our weekly HGAC meetings.

We're all very excited about rolling out OpenSim 0.7.2 to all our OpenSim clients.  We're doing this major upgrade on a case by case basis, and one of the great new features of this newer version of Opensim is upgrading to version 1.5 of the Hypergrid.  This version is supported by the majority of OpenSim grids currently online.  Which means we're dramatically expanding the universe of interconnected OpenSim grids that our clients can explore during their hypergrid explorations.

And thanks to all the hard work of everyone at ReactionGrid, the Hypergrid Adventurers Club's home base on jokaydiaGRID is now running OpenSim  0.7.2.

Starting this week, I'll be resuming weekly meetings of the Hypergrid Adventurers Club.  The first new meeting will be Thursday, January 5th 2012 at 4pm Eastern Time.  We'll be meeting on the region "Scooter" on jokaydiaGRID.  For more details, please see this event on our calendar.

And be sure to join our Google Group if you'd like information about upcoming meetings.

See you on the Hypergrid!

Take care,
-John "Pathfinder" Lester

Chief Learning Officer
ReactionGrid Inc.

2012 Metaverse Happenings

Hello metaverse builders and travelers!  Being a new year I thought I would welcome it in with some quick, extemporaneous notes about ReactionGrid Inc. and our upcoming plans.

What's coming:

  • Jibe will expand rapidly into the mobile space on tablets and phones.  We are consulting with several clients who want to be on mobile now in order to develop a platform that is able to be used in tandem with Jibe-Browser & Jibe-Desktop but that also offers unique features germane to the touch interface and built in augmented reality tools such as GPS, Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Cameras and more.
  • OpenSim 0.7.2 roll out will continue to clients on a case by case basis allowing for better Hypergridding, mesh upload and improved uptime.
  • Jibe inworld building tools will be introduced but with some unique twists such as utilizing procedural mesh deformation for real-time mesh editing and export.  This means you can import a mesh, edit it and even export it for further manipulation.  You will eventually also be able to create mesh objects inworld from scratch.
  • A grant task force is being established to help clients find and follow through on getting virtual world grants approved.
  • More partnerships are forming with industry leaders to develop vertical market applications for virtual worlds.  If you have expertise we want to partner!
  • Improved communications and event planning will be implemented to help our community grow.
  • Robotics and sensor work will continue expanding beyond Mindstorms and simple USB devices to industrial SCADA and Telemetric applications merging the virtual and the real world.
  • Avatars in Jibe will get more customization options, inventory and easier integration with non-human avatars.
  • Efforts to link Jibe and OpenSim to other virtual world platforms will continue including our IEEE Stargate participation.
  • John "Pathfinder" Lester has been upgraded!  He is now our Chief Learning Officer at ReactionGrid Inc. and will be focusing more on making sure our clients and visitors enjoy building and traversing the metaverse.
  • WebGL work will continue with some simple demonstrations and tools and will ramp up over time.
  • JiWay & Hypergrid efforts will continue to develop to link our worlds together.
  • Vehicles are coming to Jibe in a big way.
Those are but a few highlights.  Each of our core team will be blogging about their own individual concepts and goals for 2012 in the next 2 weeks.  Some team members may focus on Jibe, some on OpenSim, some on both.  Others may talk about servers, training, support and more.

Between all of our team members and feedback from you, our friends, we will have a proper plan for 2012 and beyond hammered out this month.  See you in 3D friends...

Kyle G
RG CEO & Co-Founder.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Happy New Year to All!

As we welcome in the New Year of 2012 ReactionGrid staff would like to extend warm wishes to you all.

The ReactionGrid staff enjoyed a short holiday with limited hours last week and our now back in office to take on 2012 with fresh eyes and fresh hearts.

We hope everyone had a great holiday and that 2012 greets you with success!
Our success is measured by your success so we are determined to continue to provide great service and support throughout the year.
Our Success also rides on your feedback - so please provide us feedback on feature requests for Jibe - we do read everyone of those and use that feedback to shape our roadmap of our product for your uses.
We saw many different uses of Jibe in 2011 but 2012 we are sure we will see many more uses we have not even thought of.

Let's all make 2012 a fruitful year!