Wired Magazine's recently issue talks about radical transparency as a new trend in the industry. However, I think this is more of a buzzword-rallying-piece rather than more well-known customer-driven innovation business concept. Industry congnoscenti, Patricia Seybold aptly describes some of the goals, issues and processes involved in her book last year Outside Innovation (see my book list). I stil have to find time to finish reading the last chapters of it but I think it does a great job presenting the topic in a more useful manner.
Community and social computing
I spent the whole weekend trying to get rid of some undetected virus on my machine, even to the point of upgrading to a newer version of Windows. Still no luck and our internal helpdesk hasn't gotten back to me yet. Quite frustrating after about 20 hours of this (over three days). Now, I'm just sitting and waiting for tech support to call back.
Anyway, in the meantime, I went out and picked up the new Logitech MX-5000 Laser bluetooth keyboard and mouse. This one has a much greater range, with a claim of 60 feet. I can't really test that out in our house but I'm glad that I don't have to trail an RF wireless box across my carpet so I could use my previous keyboard/mouse. It seems to work fine from at least 40 feet away so that's much better. The old one needed almost line-of-sight of maximum 4 feet.
Our home computer is hooked up to our big screen in the family room, so we can use it whenever as well as watch any online video or play music from it. This set up works to a point. The screen is a Sharp Aquos 45" LCD TV which advertises 1920x1080, but that is really only for the HD signal and not the PC signals. The PC input channel only goes up to 1280x1024. However, on top of that, since it's wide screen, the text will look squished. So pratically, the maximum resolution you can get is 1280x768. Unless you actually expect to read anything from our couch (9' away)...
To get actual practical use out of it, we have to drop the resolution down to 1024x768 (since there is no widescreen 1024x600 on this nVidia GeForce card. It's not too bad, especially when some of the games can automatically change the resolution to higher settings. The Aquos is a nice TV certainly and uses only a third of the power of a plasma screen which makes me happier. This one uses less power than our previous 27" Sony Wega CRT TV.
However, I have yet to see full 1080p on this, since we don't own a hidef DVD player yet. The closest we come is the Cable TV HD channels which are 1080i. The shows which are actually recorded in HD look absolutely stunning, especially the nature shows where they go to the trouble to get the color right. The ESPNHD channel is also pretty good, but Cox cablevision doesn't receive all the HD channels as satellite does. The digital non-HD channels really do look and sound better than the regular ones; something I had not been able to tell until we get this newer TV earlier this year. Sci-fi channel really needs to get their own HD channel if they haven't already. Battlestar Galactica on the UNIHD (Universal Studios) channel looks just amazing.
My only lingering complaints about this TV is that they still haven't gotten black down and it needs better viewing modes. The blacks still look a little grey even at the lowest settings. You don't even need special equipment to tell that. Also the viewing modes allow Smart stretch, and Zoom but what they need is a second Zoom to allow widescreen movies (from DVD) to truly take up the full height. It's annoying to have a widescreen TV and still see DVDs showing in letterbox format. On cable, the cable box is able to do the second zoom (although you loose a bit of the sides) to fill the screen from letterbox. Eventually, more videos will work straight for widescreen TVs and that issue will go away but those DVDs are few and far between.
I have to say Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion on the 45" screen looks amazing.
Whew! It's getting almost too busy to blog already this early in the year...
Ok, my thoughts on Virtual economies affecting the real world is already starting to happen...
CNet had an article on Julian Dibbell's stance on Are Virtual Assets Taxable?" brings a real question to the face of the Internal Revenue Service, the US authority that taxes everyone (even people who don't live in the US).
Julian's story is on his virtual world of Ultima Online which coincidentally was one of the first graphical MMORPGs I used to play years ago. I spent many hours of my childhood playing the single-player Ultima games, so UO was a godsend.
In any case, the same problem exists as I mentioned before, in most if not all virtual worlds, such assets can be freely created and there is no hard limit to resources. This makes it easy to keep increasing the amout of "space" and "stuff" that's all around you. Continue to sell that virtual stuff for real money essentially amounts to devaluing real dollars.
Everyone considered it an amusing diversion but chuckled because "how many players can there be actually doing that?" According to the CNet article the combined number of players already ranks in the millions and the combined asset value (in terms of fair market value) could be in tens or hundreds of millions.
If you consider the number of online gamers is simply increasing as well as the number of titles, then the possibility for continual growth in that combined asset value is also real. How long before it really matters? Does it matter when that value is in the hundreds of millions now or soon? How about in the billions? Still no? How about in the trillions? Yes, or do you still think it just ridiculous?
This brings up another point in that there are still a limited number of human players. Possibly, but the ability to create in game bots to play for you is becoming more and more intelligent. Just the same, consider those bots, familiars, servants, etc. that are collecting assets for your main character. Now it becomes easier for a (really dedicated) person to amass assets at a faster rate.