from DSSResources.com

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                      DSS News
               D. J. Power, Editor
        July 15, 2007 -- Vol. 8, No. 14

     A Free Bi-Weekly Publication of DSSResources.COM
              more than 2000 Subscribers

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  Check Hugh Watson's Reflections on Decision Support at 
                     DSSResources.com

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Featured:

* Ask Dan: What are the best Second Life resources
for communications-driven decision support?
* Upcoming Decision Support Related Conferences 
* What's New at DSSResources.COM
* DSS News Headlines

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    Register for Jim Courtney's Planners Lab tutorial
   at AMCIS 2007, Friday, August 10 from 10:30 - 12:00, 
                in Keystone, CO. Check
         http://www.biz.colostate.edu/amcis07

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Ask Dan!

What are the best Second Life resources for 
communications-driven decision support?

by Dan Power
Editor, DSSResources.com

Second Life (secondlife.com) from Linden Labs is a powerful
multi-user visual simulation. Since May 20, 2007, my goal has been to 
explore if and how Second Life can be used to support management
decision-making. This column is the second in a three-part series
summarizing my findings and conclusions.

On approximately 15 occasions, I have participated in meetings and 
conferences using Second Life. These have been both small and large
group meetings and two "meetups" have involved voice, one with a shout
caster and the other with the new voice client.

All of the tools needed for holding decision-making meetings, 
brainstorming conferences and planning meetings are in place and ready
to use in Second Life. Exploiting Second Life effectively remains a
challenge. My goal in this column is to summarize the valuable
resources for holding meetings, conferences and even small conventions 
that I have found in Second Life.

On Friday, July 15, 2007, Manpower Inc. launched Manpower Island with
a panel discussion on virtual work. Manpower executives think that
"virtual work has become a powerful way to connect skills and demand, 
regardless of the distance between them" and that Second Life is a way
to support virtual work. Manpower joins a list of important companies
like IBM, Cisco and Intel with a significant commitment to Second 
Life.

During the past 2 months, I have made some new friends and business
associates in Second Life. Six of them are very involved with using SL
to provide communications-driven decision support. Collectively the 
seven of us have formed the the Second Life Meeting and Convention
Bureau (SLMCB). The purpose and charter of SLMCB is to promote "the
effective use of Second Life for team meetings and larger gatherings,
conferences and facilitated sessions. We help make virtual meetings a
success." Member of SLMC include me, Leinad Meriman (owner), TonyEMS
Heying, Samson Francis, PaulC Beck, Emil Weissenberger, BadWolf
Bracken, and Jay Clarke. I belong to three other groups in SL related 
to supporting meetings, TechTalk@SL owned by Emil Weissenberger, the
SL Meeting group owned by Chime Bellman and the Meetings & Events
Meetup group owned by don Babcock. So far I have not met or IMd with
either Chime Bellman or don Babcock. Emil Stoyanov (aka avatar Emil
Weissenberger) and I have become friends. You can read more about
TechTalk@SL below.

So what are the best SL resources?

In Second Life, Alpine Executive Center is currently the best overall 
environment for meeting support. It is owned and operated by Anthony
R. Adams (avatar TonyEMS Heying). For information on Tony and his
company check www.groupvision.ch and www.meetingsupport.com . The
island is a quaint alpine ski village surrounded by snow-covered
mountains with skiing and ice skating. Inside the mountain is a
sophisticated meeting facility. At the executive center, real-world 
activities can take place in a virtual environment, supported by
expert facilitation, powerpoint slides and voice technologies. Tony
Adams believes Alpine Executive Center "is a place where a sense of
fun and adventure is created at the same time as building team spirit 
and a sense of community within the visiting groups. All this while
real work is being done. Participants will log off their computers
feeling like they were indeed 'there', leaving a mental image of the 
event as a future reference point." During a day long retreat
delegates often have time to explore, play, go ice skating or just
have fun together riding the chair lift and using the timed downhill
and slalom ski runs. Following the event a visit to the disco and 
lounge in the lower level of the mountain complex is a great way to
network and unwind. Participants receive a personalized name tag so
others know who you really are and can see your real-life name. Name
tags eliminate some of the confusion associated with avatar names. 

Tom Samson (aka Samson Francis) is President and CEO Teamwork
Dynamics. He operates innovative meeting labs in Second Life. Teamwork
Dynamics works with the executive leaders of organizations in the
development of real life infrastructure and teams. Check 
www.teamworkdynamics.com. According to Tom Samson, "In our Second Life
home office we are developing team tools and processes that maximize
the capabilities offered by this virtual environment. We believe that 
Second Life provides an excellent environment for teams that must
develop skills and processes that allow them to engage in the vigorous
debate that leads to powerful action plans developed through
collaboration, individual commitments and personal accountability." 
Tom is "excited about the potential of this technology platform that
allows teams to work effectively in a virtual world and extend their
efforts to enhance their RL team results. We believe this virtual
world is the beginning of a new era in organizational communications,
collaboration, and teamwork that will be the basis for our future
global economy and lives."

Hyperstring.net is a major full-service provider of facilities and
services in Second Life. This group has excellent meeting capabilities
and they provide SL development and building/object construction, SL
marketing, SL video creation, Custom Avatars, Land Security, 
E-commerce Stores, hosting of private Islands, custom scripting,
connecting websites to Second LIfe, and office rentals. My friend Paul
Clevett (aka PaulC Beck) is CTO of Hyperstring.net . Hyperstring sells
SL whiteboards, operates a shoutcast server and has hosted a
convention in SL with over 1500 participants in a 24 hour period.
Hyperstring Island also includes some recreation for meeting goers. 
The mountain has a nice hiking path and once you reach the top you can
parachute to the airfield below. The airfield has a wide variety of
historic aircraft. The island also includes an art gallery and office
space in addition to various sized meeting spaces.

TechTalk@SL focuses on technology talks, workshops, and spontaneous
tech chats. Emil Stoyanov, a Ph.D. student and independent IT
consultant focusing on Software Architectures, Technology Reviews and 
Prototyping, operates the facility and group. TechTalk@SL is a
beautiful venue with both an indoor and an outdoor meeting area. Emil
schedules regular discussions, talks, presentations and demos related
to technical topics including general IT, computer science, virtual 
reality, communications, software engineering and system integration.
For notification about events, please join the TechTalk@SL group - it
is open and free of charge. The archive of chat logs and additional
information is at http://www.opentechtalk.org .

Finally, IBM Kearney Theatre Complex is an impressive facility in
Second Life that straddles 4 islands so that 300 avatars can attend a 
single meeting/event. I can't create an SLurl given the permission
setting, but teleport to IBM 1 coordinates 117,4,23. You can also find
meeting facilities for rent at Liventura Island and Silicon Island.
Jay Clarke is our IBM contact.

So the resources are available and are useful, but problems must be
overcome. An anonymous reviewer at TIME magazine online recently
called Second Life (SL) one of the "5 Worst Websites" on the Internet. 
Of course SL is not a website, but the critique pointed out some real
problems with SL and neglected some others. Sadly the author clearly
does not see the potential of multiuser visual simulations for
decision support. The SL client software is sometimes slow to load, 
sometimes there is lag when too many avatars are in the same region,
there is a steep learning curve for new users, and there are some
"crazy people" who sometimes disrupt meetings. Second Life also has 
virtual sex, slavery, gambling and violence. Some changes are needed
and Linden Labs seems to be responding. More than 150 new servers are
being added weekly to handle the increasing load, the number of
concurrent users is often above 40,000. New versions of the client are 
regularly released that fix bugs and improve performance. The Help
Island tutorials for newcomers are now available for all users and the
tutorials have improved.

To fix the other major problems, the solution is to further segment 
Second Life. Linden Labs has already created Teen Second Life and it
is now time for Linden Labs to either open source the simulation
engine server software or create both a Business Second Life and an
Education Second Life. Both of these new worlds need user verification 
and authentication and avatars should have the actual first and last
name of the user. Business Second Life or my DecisionSupportWorld.com
can provide a venue for managers to work, interact, collaborate and
transact real world business in a more controlled, secure environment. 
The TIME reviewer of SL writes "The corporate world's embrace of the
place as a venue for staff meetings and training sessions does seem to
lend Second Life a layer of legitimacy. But maybe it's a case of some 
CEOs trying too hard to be hip." A Business Second Life will be a
powerful tool for real life business activities and decision support.
Help make Business Second Life a reality.

Managers can benefit from using a multiuser, visual simulation for 
decision support, but big players in SL like IBM and Cisco need to
pressure Linden Labs to either open source the sim engine or create a
Business Second Life. As always your comments, questions and feedback
are welcomed. 

SLurl links

SLurls provide direct teleport links to locations in Second Life. If
you have Second Life installed, clicking on the link in a web browser
will automatically teleport you to that location in-world. 
DecisionSupportWorld.com will have the best SLurl links soon.

Alpine Executive Center,
http://slurl.com/secondlife/MeetingSupport/124/42/21

Hyperstring.net Island,
http://slurl.com/secondlife/Hyperstring%20Island%201/83/183/26

Liventura Island, 
http://slurl.com/secondlife/liventura%20Island/70/104/27

OnlineMeetingRooms.com,
http://slurl.com/secondlife/Silicon%20Island/225/91/30

Teamwork Dynamics Leadership Center,
http://slurl.com/secondlife/JONES%20BEACH/214/227/22 

TechTalk@SL, http://slurl.com/secondlife/Norfolk/75/204/23

References

Linden, Torley, "I, for one, welcome our new avatar overlords," July 
12, 2007, URL
http://blog.secondlife.com/2007/07/12/i-for-one-welcome-our-new-avatar-
overlords/.

Business & Education page, Second Life, URL 
http://secondlife.com/businesseducation/ .

Sites to Avoid: Second Life, TIME.com, URL
http://www.time.com/time/specials/2007/article/0,28804,
1638344_1638341_1633628,00.html

Power, D., "Can multi-user visual simulations provide real world
decision support?" DSS News, Vol. 8, No. 13, July 1, 2007, URL 
http://dssresources.com/newsletters/193.php .

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         Check the interview with Tom Davenport 
      "Competing on Analytics" at DSSResources.COM

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Upcoming Decision Support Related Conferences

1. AMCIS 2007, Americas Conference on Information Systems, 
Keystone, CO USA, August 9-12, 2007. SIG DSS mini-tracks.
Check http://www.biz.colostate.edu/amcis07/ .

2. DaWaK 2007, 9th International Conference on Data 
Warehousing and Knowledge Discovery, Regensburg, Germany,
September 3-7, 2007. Check http://www.dexa.org/ .

3. Pre-ICIS SIG DSS Workshop, Sunday, December 9, 2007,
Montreal, Quebec, Canada, papers due Monday August 20, 2007. 
Check release http://dssresources.com/news/2052.php .

4. IFIP TC8/WG8.3 DSS Working Conference, Toulouse, France,
July 1- 4, 2008, papers due November 16, 2007. 
Check release http://dssresources.com/news/2093.php .

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Link to Dan Power: http://www.linkedin.com/in/danpower

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What's New at DSSResources.COM

07/06/2007 Posted Hugh Watson Reflections on Decision Support.

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DSS News Release Headlines - July 2 - July 13, 2007 
Read them at DSSResources.COM and search the DSS News Archive

07/13/2007 Survey: challenge and opportunity in web-based
communications as human resource commitments lag monetary investments.


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the Windows platform.

07/12/2007 Manpower Inc. launches island in Second Life with live
panel discussion on the evolving world of virtual work.

07/11/2007 Wine industry experts uncork revamped WINEANSWERS.COM.

07/11/2007 Oracle(r) Database 11g helps customers innovate faster.

07/10/2007 New Analyzer 2007 facilitates implementation of pervasive
business intelligence.

07/09/2007 TheraDoc(R) awarded patents for Expert System Platform(R) 
and interface technologies.

07/06/2007 Teradata wins Data warehouse/CRM Project for Hyundai
Department Store group.

07/02/2007 TIBCO unveils new version of business process management
software.

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