The ARCH


Wikitecture 3.0 Wins both Founder’s Award and 3rd Place!

courtyard

From Studio Wikitecture blog:

It is with great pleasure I bring you the news that Studio Wikitecture’s entry in the Open Architecture Network Challenge was awarded the ‘Founder’s Award’ as well as ‘3rd Place’ for our design of the Nyaya Tele-Medicine facility in Western Nepal. The announcement was made this morning.

Architecture for Humanity  awarded its Founders Award to the third place Asia challenge finalist, Studio Wikitecture, for embracing a truly collaborative way of working using online crowdsourcing and Second Life as a way to create a highly participatory design approach. Source

I want to direct a big ‘congratulations’ to those individuals that contributed, on whatever level, to the ultimate success of this entry. Well done! In particular I would like to thank the following for their dedicated contributions.

Jon Brouchoud – (Keystone Bouchard in SL)

Roger Wellington-Oguri – (Omei Turnbull in SL)

Roberto Carretero – (Otrober Breda in SL)

Michael DiTullio – (Far Link in SL)

Simone Riccardi – (Turboy Runo in SL)

Ethos Erlanger in SL

Chip Poutine in SL

I would also like to thank the programming gurus at i3dnow for helping us develop the 3d-Wiki technology we used to help facilitate this whole process. With all the contributions made throughout the process, it would have been a virtual impossibility to build a consensus without it.

And finally a shout out to Kirsten Kiser from arcspace for generously donating a large part of her Second Life island to this project.

We’ve definitely come a long way since asking the question: Can the design and production of architecture learn anything from the open and decentralized methods of production demonstrated in projects such as Wikipedia and open-source software. We certainly learned a lot since the early days of Wikitecture 1.0 and 2.0. I have no doubt Wikitecture 4.0 will prove just as successful.

Thank You, Again.

Ryan Schultz

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Casting Shadows

These past few months have brought about a rather exciting surge of announcements and renewed energy around the OpenSIM project, the open source virtual world platform. Though it is still alpha level code, the future potential is obvious, especially for those of us anxiously awaiting the ability to import 3D models created, textured and rendered in external applications like 3D studio, Blender, etc. This ability brings with it the promise of several game-changing opportunities, not the least of which is establishing a dynamic link between Building Information Models (BIM) and virtual environments.

Some of the most visible and promising new features cooperating with OpenSIM are coming from a Finnish group called realxtend. The actual look and feel of OpenSIM is very similar to the Second Life environment, but the realxtend client/server combo includes several enticing new items. For one thing, the File menu now contains an ‘Import 3D model’ option – and it works!  Also, under the prim-editing menu, you’ll find the ‘cast shadows’ option. Yeah, seriously… ‘cast shadows’… can you imagine?

What’s more, even a technical newbie such as myself can download their server code, and open your very own sim running on your own home computer. Better still, you can invite others into your sim to see what you’ve been up to. If you want to go beyond basic exploration, you can host the environment on a more powerful server for less lag and a smoother experience. Visitors to your personal sim can even teleport to and from the Second Life grid, and to other OpenSIM grids as well.

Within just a few hours, I had my own little world running on my computer. Shortly thereafter, I had imported my first 3D models created in 3DStudio. I suddenly had that same sense of urgency and excitement I experienced when I first started working in Second Life. My imagination ran wild!

You might think this experience would lead me away form Second Life itself, but I actually feel quite the opposite. I’ve never felt so confident and comfortable with the time and energy I’ve spent learning and promoting Second Life. It isn’t just OpenSIM either, but none of the new emerging platforms I’ve tried so far show anywhere near the same promise, in my humble opinion, as the combination of Second Life and OpenSIM.

Speaking purely in terms of professional/business applications, or as a platform for architectural practice and collaboration, I’m not convinced that Linden Lab shares the same vectors of interest as the more ‘platformist’ professionals who often think of it as a tool instead of a place, nor should they. The community, and the economy are vital, yet incredibly fragile components of Second Life – a combination that doesn’t lend itself well to liberal new-feature testing. Just like Philip Rosedale emphasized at SLCC last year, Linden Lab can only operate like a ‘lab’ for so long before they have to pull back a bit on experimentation and turn more attention to the ongoing challenges of performance and stability.

But when you combine the vital core elements of community and commerce with the features possible in OpenSIM-based grids, it seems a win-win combination. Despite the never-ending flow of criticism and complaints, I think Linden Lab is doing an outstanding job with Second Life, and I think they’ll be very hard to catch. But I’m excited and glad that the more specialized interests can now have their freedom, their privacy, their security, and any new feature they have the wherewithal to invent. I think Giff Constable said it best, “if something needs to be fixed, you can roll up your sleeves and fix it rather than crossing your fingers and waiting for someone else.”

Cory Ondrejka suggested in a great post today that “Attempts to strongly separate “play” and “work” virtual worlds will stunt the growth of both. Communities that play together work together better. And vice versa.” I think that statement reinforces the notion that the combined effort of SL and specialized OpenSIM places is a healthy mix. I might “work” in my Crescendo Design OpenSIM island, meeting with clients and bask in the greatness of prims that can ‘cast shadows,’ but it will surely get lonely in there. I’d be constantly checking my mini-map for green dots, and missing out on all the great stuff Second Life has to offer as a place, and not just a tool. When its time for a break, I can teleport back to SL, and enjoy the best of both worlds.

The combination of features I think are requisite for a virtual world explosion in professional practice are a tricky, yet inseparable kit of parts. For this reason, I don’t have a lot of faith in the other platforms aimed at surpassing Second Life. Just importing 3D models, or better graphics alone are nothing without a rich and diverse community.

Even if you include model-imports and community, what about object permissions? For 3D collaboration to work, you need a fairly robust permissions strategy, and a lot of the new platforms currently overlook this feature completely. I think most of us completely underestimate the genius and power of the prim system and in-world building tools. In fact, by the time you carefully prepare a 3D model with enough detail to look passable up-close in a virtual environment, you end up spending a comparable amount of time on it as you would if you had built it with prims in the first place. Furthermore, once you import it – its essentially frozen, since you can’t modify any part of it without re-rendering it and re-importing it. It would be a disaster for virtual collaboration if we lost that ability.

The community is equally critical. Even if, for example, Autodesk were to introduce avatars into Revit, they couldn’t possibly deliver as diverse of a community of non-architects. If you aren’t convinced that a public, global and diverse community is important in the future of architectural practice, keep an eye on Studio Wikitecture. That’s just the beginning.

I could be wrong, but when I add it all up, I still haven’t seen another emerging platform that includes both in-world building tools (with permissions system) as well as 3D importing, alongside an incredibly robust community and economy. Even if there were a potential competitor, they are nowhere near as far along as Second Life at solving the plethora of challenges and nuances of successfully running a virtual world (which happens to be yet another area I think many of us totally misunderstand and underestimate). By the time a competitor catches up with where SL is now, SL will be that much farther ahead.

In conclusion, I’m confident that Second Life is still a very safe and smart investment of time and money. I’ll admit to knowing very little about the back-end underlying this technology, which is why this post could be all full of baloney. But from what I can tell, the combined trajectories of Second Life and OpenSIM are a winning combination, and hold the underpinnings of what I think will be the next major technological evolution in the design and creation of the real-life built-environment.

Keep an eye on Ugotrade for further reviews of OpenSIM (including this post), and be sure to check out realxtend’s site for a description of their upcoming event in Second Life where you can learn more about the current technology, and their plans for the future.



3D Wiki, Demo and Tour Tomorrow (2/8) at 10:30 AM SL-time

Join us tomorrow for a demo of the 3D Wiki (the Wiki-Tree), and a review of the designs submitted so far for the OAN Challenge we’re working on for Wikitecture 3.0. The competition deadline is February 29, so there is still time to provide your input!  You don’t have to be an architect!

Here’s the SLurl. See you there!



Wikitecture @ Metaverse U
February 2, 2008, 1:43 am
Filed under: metaverse roadmap, metaverse u, studio wikitecture, the tech

I am sincerely honored to have been asked to present at the upcoming Metaverse U at Stanford University, February 16th and 17th. I will be demonstrating the Wikitecture concept, and I am confident that the presentation Theory Shaw and I have put together will be quite compelling – complete with a live demo inside of Second Life at the virtual design/build site.

If you can’t make it to San Jose, the conference is slated to be streamed live to the web, free of charge. After the conference, these videos will be archived and made available on a Stanford University website, to become part of a global conversation on virtual worlds. Bravo!

I am also very excited to be attending the Metaverse Roadmap workshop on the 15th, and will be heading over to The Tech museum on Monday to see the ‘real life’ space of their collaborative exhibition design project I have become very fascinated with. Should be a pretty exciting trip!

Here are the details for Metaverse U:

“On Saturday, February 16th and Sunday, February 17th, 2008, Stanford University, in conjunction with the Stanford Humanities Lab, will host the Metaverse U conference. Technology leaders, artists and academics will come together and exchange ideas in a public forum, about the hot topics of virtual worlds and Second Life. Conference highlights will include virtual art galleries and a Saturday afternoon panel discussion with three of the leading thinkers on virtual communities: Howard Rheingold, Cory Ondrejka and Raph Koster. Metaverse U aims to challenge traditional conference models with collaborative and inclusive opportunities for participants, both virtual and corporeal.

“Virtual worlds have garnered tremendous interest since their recent proliferation, both in the media and in academia. Given Stanford University’s prime location in the heart of Silicon Valley, we think the time has come to explore the cultural, technological, legal, and economic issues surrounding virtual worlds.” Henry Lowood, Metaverse U conference organizer and curator for history of science & technology collections and film & media collections in the Stanford University Libraries

Discounted advance admission rates, (corporate $400, academic $200, student $100), are available through February 11. Registrants will have access to all conference activities, including networking events, and lunch on both days. Tickets will be sold at the door for $500 (cash only) and no student or academic discounts will apply.

To ensure that its impact extends well beyond the actual conference, video from Metaverse U will be streamed live to the web, free of charge. After the conference, these videos will be archived and made available on a Stanford University website, to become part of a global conversation on virtual worlds.

Metaverse U falls between two other major events in the Bay Area: the next Metaverse Roadmap workshop, hosted at Stanford University on Friday, February 15th, as well as the 2008 Game Developers Conference that starts on Monday, February 18th. Accordingly, seasoned academics, journalists, and industry leaders in both virtual worlds and games will be flooding the Bay Area.

Sampling of participants:
Jeremy Bailenson (Stanford)
Jon Brouchoud (Wikitecture)
Beth Coleman (MIT)
Parvati Dev (Innovation in Learning)
Wagner James Au (New World Notes)
Brewster Kahle (The Internet Archive)
Raph Koster (Metaplace)
Daniel Huebner
Kari Kraus (University of Maryland)
Rob Lanphier (Linden Lab)
Mike Liebhold (Institute for the Future)
Howard Rheingold
Rebecca Moore (Google Earth)
Jerry Paffendorf (Wello)
Byron Reeves (Stanford & Seriosity)
Christian Renaud (Cisco)
Jeffrey T. Schnapp (Stanford)
Reuben Steiger (Millions of Us)

RELEVANT LINKS:
Metaverse U homepage:
http://metaverse.stanford.edu/

Conference Schedule:
http://metaverse.stanford.edu/agenda/metaverse-u-schedule

Koster, Ondrejka & Rheingo profiles:
http://metaverse.stanford.edu/koster-ondrejka-rheingold

Registration:
http://metaverse.stanford.edu/registration/register-now

CONTACTS:
Corrie Goldman, Stanford Humanities Outreach Officer
Office (650) 724-8156 or mailto:corrieg@stanford.edu

Henrik Bennetsen, Metaverse U Conference Chair
mailto:hbe@stanford.edu


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Collaborative City Planning, Urban Design and Architecture in Second Life – Machinima

Here are two demonstrations of collaboration in Second Life. The first shows how city planners, urban designers or members of the community might use virtual worlds to describe, discuss and even co-create design concepts. The second shows how multiple contributors can work together simultaneously on an architectural design concept.

Of course, it is evident that something is missing in this collaborative process. It is not yet ‘wiki’, insofar as people cannot return to previous iterations, or evaluate the effectiveness of other contributions. Conflicts of opinion cannot be easily resolved, and input from the other contributors must be synchronous. What this means is if all of the contributors are not on site at all times, the design can take on a completely different direction based on extensive work by a single designer without group consensus. Furthermore, there is no easy way to resort to a previous iteration should such a conflict of opinion occur. Commenting on the success or failure of another designer’s contribution is left to synchronous chat, with no easy way to discern the opinion of the entire group at any time.

If we really want collaboration in virtual worlds to be more wiki-like, we will need tools. We hope the ‘Wikitecture Tree’ will help us take steps toward realizing an ‘Open Source Architecture’ and will be launching it soon to help the Studio Wikitecture group take on the Open Architecture Challenge.

Here’s a brief clip showing one part of the Wikitecture Tree, namely the ‘leaves’. The leaf color is based on its popularity, where orange leaves are least popular, green leaves are more popular, and a ‘trunk’ being the current community favorite – based on an integrated vote tallying system. When a new iteration is submitted to the tree, it automatically creates a new leaf. Contributors will be able to cycle through, vote and comment on each design as they rez on an adjacent platform. A better explanation is on the SW blog HERE.

Join the Studio Wikitecture group in SL to partipate in the next experiment!  Everyone is welcome.



Wikitecture 3.0 Experiment: 1st Kick-Off Meeting

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After tallying the results, the consensus for the best time to meet is: Tuesday, September 25th @ 9:00am PST/SLT. Here is the slurl link to the ‘Studio Wikitecture’ parcel in Second Life.

Although kick-off is not until Oct. 15th, we wanted to hold an early meeting to get a gauge who would like to participate as well as share some improved features projected for the new website and inworld voting/commenting system. In addition, we would like to hear your thoughts on which of the three ‘Open Architecture Network’ challenges we should pursue.

We are excited that the project the 3rd Wikitecture experiment will center around will be the competition recently announced by the ‘Open Architecture Network’. The ‘AMD Open Architecture Challenge’ is an open, international design competition. Its aim is to develop solutions for building sustainable, multi-purpose, low-cost technology facilities for those who need them most.

They have three challenges to choose from—a project based in South American, Africa, or Asia. We would like for the next meeting to get your opinion on which of the three we should pursue as a collaborative entry. The following are links to the specific competition briefs.

the South America Challenge
the Africa Challenge
the Asia Challenge
general information about the OAN Challenge

Since the OAN is an “open-source community dedicated to improving living conditions through innovative and sustainable design”, we thought it would be a perfect opportunity to submit an entry for the competition that is, in turn, designed and composed in the same collaborative and open-source fashion OAN is known for.

See you there.

What is ‘Studio Wikitecture’ Group in Second Life………………………………………………….

Studio Wikitecture is a ‘Second Life’ group composed of a diverse spectrum of individuals interested in exploring the potential of applying an Open Source paradigm to the design and production of both real and virtual architecture and urban planning.

What we’ve been doing………………………………………………………………

We have over the last 10 months been conducting Wikitecture experiments within Second Life to tease out the exact procedures and protocols one would need within a Metaverse to harness and aggregate a group’s collective intelligence in creating an architecturally noteworthy design.

Please go to this Flickr site to see the evolving snap shots from our last experiment…

Here’s a link to the program and protocol for this experiment as well…

In addition, here are some excerpts from a Manifesto written by Dennis Kaspori that outlines some of the salient points around an open-source approach to architecture.



A New Architecture Island!

The new island, formerly known as ‘Lebenswelt’ was the prize I have had the honor of being awarded in the Cntrl-Shift-07 competition for their Bienial Pacific Students of Architecture Congress held in New Zealand.

My goal for the new island is to encourage the emergence of a new language of virtual architecture by maintaining Lebenswelt Island as a testing grounds and incubator for an ongoing, dynamic, and collaborative effort in tune with the stated objectives of the competition.

Everyone who entered the competition and wishes to continue their experiments with new ideas for virtual architecture will be given the opportunity to keep the parcels and the designs they created. A large central parcel will also be assigned as the Studio Wikitecture headquarters, dedicated to experimentation and ongoing development of the Wikitecture process.

There were some truly outstanding entries that pushed the limits of what is possible with virtual architecture. I plan to post the essays and screenshots of the short-listed entries during the next few days.

Thanks again to the competition organizers, especially Sebastion Antwerp, for making this possible!