A dialog of thoughts and ideas about software, usability, and products, with random science and wacky ideas thrown in for good measure.

Remember 2006? That was a fun year. The airlines introduced discount carriers, like Song and TED (the airline, not the conference) and JetBlue, that had TVs in every seat (on Song, you could even play trivia with other passengers) and awesome snacks - I'm so thankful that JetBlue is still around. Also in 2006, SecondLife came to life. Virtual reality seemed a bit closer to reality. Companies like Adidas and Toyota, universities like Ohio U, and conferences like JavaOne would even create in-world representations to widen their appeal and reach out to new customers, learners, or attendees. Virtual advertisements were big, and people made real money from selling virtual goods.

I logged into SecondLife occasionally (before its software exceeded my video card capabilities - I can be such a Luddite at times), but I don't think I actually enjoyed it. There wasn't a whole lot to do. And the things you could do may have looked fun, but really weren't. I remember going to a dance club. To dance, you'd click on your avatar, select a dance script, and watch your mini-me jitter away. How fun. Another time, someone took me for a ride in their dune buggy. Had this been Real Life, that would have been very fun! But watching my avatar ride around was quite unfulfilling. I remember typing, 'Wheeeeee' without really feeling it.

But someday, SecondLife could be really exciting. What if to dance, you actually dance, and your Project Natal sensor bar (or something similar) converted your physical movement into your avatar's movement? Ooh, and what if you could get actual advice on how to improve your dancing, because an algorithm could see your movement, and recognize that you're not doing that twirl quite right, but if you could just time your arms slightly differently... there, now you can do it! You could learn all sorts of things: Dancing, tae kwan do, yoga, piano, guitar - the list is limitless. I'd like to call this idea Computer-Assisted Performance Instruction, or CAPI.

In the past, I would enter SecondLife, and leave minutes (seldom hours) later, not feeling any better for the experience. But what if I could enter a virtual environment and learn something, or perfect something, or (and this will require its own spin-off blog post) engage in meaningful relationships with people who have actual knowledge, experiences, wisdom, or friendship to share (and aren't dressed like 6-foot-tall furry squirrels)... now that would be something that could augment my life!
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