May 18, 2010

State of Affairs 2010

As I gaze outside my window, I see the many droplets of rain grazing the leaves of the forest and trickling down to the ground. Through the cold and gentle cleansing, I am reflective and find wisdom in what I see.

At first glance, the rain seems like it is merely random and without purpose, but upon deeper consideration, that very randomness results in a greater purpose overall. It is with this observation today that I begin the State of Affairs address for 2010.

Another year has passed, and the Andromeda Underground has continued to push ahead. While the membership herein has fluctuated with the loss of some and the introduction of others, we remain around the same membership count as we began with two years ago. Programmers have come and gone in these two years, as the complexity of the task at hand was severely misunderstood. Those that began here as programmers have moved on to other things, while those who were not explicitly programmers have taken on parts of the component structures inherent with the over all system.

Of note, the Crossroads FTP system was started and continues to evolve over the course of the past year and going forward. With nwasells and on occasion Epsilion at the helm of development on this front, some progress continues to be made despite real life concerns and interruptions.

Also in the past year, we have seen the rise of Pixel Labs in Second Life. With members of Andromeda Media Group participating in virtual environment projects which are changing the nature of application within a virtual environment. Pixel Labs also serves as a virtual environment front for Andromeda Media Group and the Andromeda Underground, in that members who participate here also participate in Pixel Labs and Andromeda Media Group within Second Life (or are encouraged to).

From that occurrence, Pixel Labs has evolved under Andromeda Media Group as a holding, and now has financial backers in the form of Directors in order to oversee the continued progress of the group while removing the potential poison from the well which existed prior. On the Pixel Labs island in Second Life, there exists Pulse Point Marketing, a real life marketing company with Second Life experience for large universities and corporate interests. Also on the island is artwork from one of our Directors (a cast member from the show 1st Question). Pixel Labs also contains a custom designed building for Pixel Labs members themselves to act as a showroom and meeting area.

What would we do with a showroom, you may ask? Well, in the past few months, Pixel Labs has created and released a number of in-world products; some of which are highly sought after and have attracted the attention of large corporate interests and smaller business alike. For example, the book Tablet (as designed and created by nwasells and myself) continues to leave people in awe at the usefulness and modular design it encompasses. The koios Presentation system left an audience at ViO business center completely ecstatic when we used a prototype for our presentation.

But the news isn't entirely good, as the past year has also seen the severe degradation of health for one of our most intelligent individuals, Strapples (Alin). Unfortunately his medical condition continues to worsen, and doctors are unable to truly understand the cause of it. It is disheartening to see his body continue to worsen over such short periods of time, but we continue to send our thoughts and prayers to him - and revel in the courage he has to continue unabated despite his condition. He continues to be an inspiration to all, and if anything, should give us hope to face the biggest challenges in life.

Over the fall of 2009, I have contributed to an academic book to be released this July, entitled Virtual Worlds and E-commerce: Technologies and Applications for Building Customer Relationships in which I had the honor of writing the final chapter entitled The Future of Virtual Worlds and E-Commerce.

All of this adds up to a very busy year for Andromeda Underground and Andromeda Media Group.

Over the past year, Andromeda Underground has made a number of predictions about the state of virtual environments - many of which are beginning to come true today. From discussions concerning how best to integrate the web with virtual environments, down to how Andromeda3D as an interface should be designed, those ideas and discussions have been mimicked outside of our domain here in the virtual environment industry. In that we were discussing and designing them well before the mainstream industry mimicked them only shows us today that we are still well ahead of the entire industry with what we know and can see as the future.

Time and again, over the past few years and even reaching back to 2005, those associated with either VR5 Online, Nidus and later Andromeda Media Group have made countless predictions on the state of virtual environments and where they will be going. There have also been predictions on the nature of Social Media in that services such as Facebook would eventually fall to the wayside in much the same manner as what caused the collapse of Myspace.

These are incredibly important observations in the industry, simply because we see a trend that the industry has yet to understand. What we see happening today with virtual environments and social media tend to be things we have discussed in depth a year or more ago before these steps were taken by those companies. As a result, one may wonder what that actually means in terms of Andromeda3D and related projects, and I would like to make that connection for you today in the State of Affairs 2010 address.

Despite being starved for time and resources, as a group we remain years ahead of the industry overall.

This doesn't mean, however, that our accomplishments are directly visible overall or that they can directly translate to a finished product known as Andromeda3D no more than we can point to a single drop of rain and know exactly what plant it helps to grow. We do, however, understand that many drops of rain lead to growth of the forest, even if each drop of rain seemed to fall on something unrelated to the plants we wish to focus on. In the end, it all trickles back and makes the overall forest stronger and more vibrant as a result.

One thing I had noticed after our first year was that we had spent a great deal of time focused entirely on Andromeda3D to the exception of the metaphorical forest around it. As a result, it should have been no surprise that doing such would have been the equivalent to growing a flower in the desert. While it is possible, the odds of successfully doing so are much lower than dropping a seed in a forest and knowing it will sprout with ease even if ignored.

In the second year of Andromeda Media Group and Andromeda Underground, I decided to focus on the forest around our plant, by nurturing the network, respect and visibility of our project and related abilities, thereby creating an environment whereby the plant that is Andromeda3D could indeed flourish even if left alone.

It is by this reasoning that it may seem that we are neglecting this project, while in reality we are doing so much more to allow it to truly flourish. It's the ability to see the forest for the trees, and know how everything relates to each other in an ecosystem.

With this, I bring you the state of affairs for 2010, and I look forward to many years to come filled with reward and respect for all.

Will Burns
Project Leader


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