Challenges in End User Led Innovation
It has been awhile since I provided an update, but don't worry the work has continued. Much of what has been produced up until now are the pieces that create the underpinning for the technology components.
In as much as Cultural Fusion- Art as Philosophy is an art series, it is also a research context. It is not only the planned events which serve this end, but the process itself.
Among the major challenges identified in this work are:
1) Those with the quality of attention, intention and understanding desired and experiences to contribute to this series are often not especially technically inclined.
2) People who have an interest in this work, but not the technology are too frequently deterred by current user interfaces
3) Personal language and culture are not side issues and are central to understanding the real meaning and purpose imbued in words, even when the words used seem familiar
4) Creativity does work as a bridge for technology and addressing social issues in a meaningful way (dealing with root causes instead of symptoms), but it creates a quantum leap which stirs fear, a different approach to user interfaces can greatly reduce this resistance/anxiety.
My survey of the Cultural Fusion members through various networks has confirmed the above and validated my ideas about this area of inclusion in ICT/FOSS development. This is especially of interest for deploying tech that will support communities and individuals in addressing the real problems at the level where they can be most effective....personal responsibility and engagement of those with the most significant contributions to make.
The assumption, historically, has been that this would be found in institutions, however my finding has been this has value but in a limited way. The reason being that it has simply resulted in what I have come to call "knowledge silos" which then is replicated and expressed through the solutions developed. My critique of that is not the point, however the value of what I have termed "Radical Inclusion" is and one who does not have an experience of seeing value in unexpected places may not grasp how important this is.
Although art may be just the context to bring these issues together to the fore to be addressed, the technology enablers are not separate from the rest of the creative process. Therefore, the project has expanded to see development of the tech solutions as software art with business or community functionality.
In addition, this provides an opportunity to see how the intangible can be integrated into a technology solution expressed through software art as part of a larger work or series.
Progress has been made.
My conclusion is that this work will pioneer the integration of more engaging and intuitive UI with a system architecture that will bring multiple site tools from different sites together under one solution. This bundling can be done to deliver a streamlined end user experience that is also remarkably intuitive in comparison to what currently sets the standard for such.
In that endeavor the Association of Virtual Worlds, of which I am also a member, has helped clarify my plans of linking an exciting web based entry point, with a metaverse and the other web based tools that are accessible by mobile device. This is key to the augmented reality components to be explored to link real world destinations with virtual ones, actually allowing the different groups of participants to play and collaborate within the artworks as a contextual platform. The opportunities for private sponsorship within this series is simply staggering.
The iFOSSF island provided the first lab or "sand box", which will link the above with Second Life. I am happy to report that I have learned a few basics of 3D building and this is about to get kicked into high gear.
Inquiring with team leader, Kyle Gomboy, about the organization's focus and contributions to virtual world deployment, application and integration he shared, "I am currently in a program that the IBM, Microsoft and Linden Labs virtual worlds teams are working in tandem with testing moving from the massive Second Life grid to any OpenSim based grid. This has become a reality just this week and is the beginning of free flow movement between Second Life and any OpenSim grid. G2 is working on a system to allow you to use single sign on options like OpenID or MS Live ID so you can use those accounts to login without needing to create another account."
A clear indicator that the Cultural Fusion vision of integrated solution systems is not as far fetched as it might have seemed when first expressed a few years ago. The "place" context for the virtual components is critical to the project and has faced a few hiccups in its emergence. Personally, the lesson for me has been that being true to my artistic inspiration and intuition is paramount to advancing the related though diverse concepts.
I have finally gotten inspiration for the design of Hotel Infinity, which is totally different from the lobby pictured on the page. I don't mind telling you it awesome! Integrating my architectural influences, my passion for sustainable development/living with an interest in new materials of the eco-friendly variety, and my own artistic vision :-)
In addition we are working with another AVW member who specializes in 3D virtual worlds delivered via web browsers that do not require big downloads, only java. The long and short of it is that the Cultural Fusion of using virtual worlds no longer means the digital divide (consideration for the "bandwidth poor") is the obstacle it once was.
I am very excited about what this means for the orphans we will be collaborating with to develop several of the new pieces, engaging them in the solutions which will benefit them and delivering expressive therapy solutions that can imbue their lives with new purpose beyond the limitations and challenges they face daily.
This is the start of solutions that put the end user and beneficary on center stage instead of sidelined. I feel this may be one of the most significant contributions that Cultural Fusion makes to IT/ICT/FOSS and science in general.