Like the first lecture, this is just an outline.
Contrary to say, Jaron Lanier, designers of NVEs have to take into account human factors like any other software designer.
Lots of research has been done into CSCW and CMC (Computer Mediated Communication). Don't ignore it because it isn't VR.
For the same reason, research from the 60's, 70's, 80's is still just as valid today. Your Pentium 4 may be a zillion times faster than the computers back then, but the human beings trying to use your software have the same capabilities.
There is no new generation of computer users with a magical understanding of technology. Kids today may have grown up with computers, and are therefore less or not at all intimidated by them, but that doesn't mean they understand your design any better than anyone else.
In fact, having grown up with smart toys and game consoles with superbly designed user interfaces and interaction, they are likely to be less tolerant of bad design than those who learned to use older and more painful systems.
Essential for CSCW, including NVE, because the impact of each bug or crash is multiplied.
If given application crashes about 1 day in every 100, and lose 5 minutes each time:
Runs every working day, will crash about every 5 months,
= about 15 minutes per year
If group works every day, now crashes 1 in 10, every fortnight.
Each crash loses 50 minutes since failure of one affects whole group.
= 22 hours per year, not two and a half from just multiplying individual loss by number of users.
And this is assuming that it is still as reliable when ten copies are interacting with each other rather than just a single user!
Internet survives component crashes because there is no centralised essential point of failure. Empirical evidence that it is very dangerous to have everyone running the same distributed software:
On Oct 27 1980 (see RFC 789) the entire ARPANET crashed, since every router on the network (then) was identical. One failing router transmitted a corrupt packet that not only crashed all the others, but kept circulating when they rebooted.
On Jan 15 1990 two-thirds of the North American AT&T phone system exchanges crashed due to another software propagation error. The other one third had not been upgraded.
Jonathon Grudin, Microsoft, 1988: In any kind of CSCW, those doing the work should be those who benefit.
Counter example: networked calendars. Everyone had to fill them in, but only senior managers gained any advantage - and they had secretaries to manage their own calendars.
How to persuade people to start using CSCW?
Moving an existing group online is easier. Email started with ARPANET computer scientists, most commercial companies introduced local email before connecting to the Internet, even the WWW started as a local distribution mechanism in the CERN physics centre.
Getting students to use it doesn't count (Frederick Brooks). They tend to be enthusiasts (geeks), or have no choice.
If you can get students in another Faculty to use it, that's a good sign. If you can get staff in another Faculty, even better.
Just because you can create a virtual model of the real world doesn't mean you should.
Good: simulators. Both military and airlines need highly realistic VEs.
Bad: forcing people to walk everywhere in virtual environments. MUDs and MOOs allow teleporting directly and instantaneously to any given location.
Example: signposts in VE.
Real world signposts are often difficult to read due to angle or darkness. In a VE they can be billboarded so the signpost is always facing the user, no matter where they are.
Example: Mac desktop for navigating file system.
Command line interfaces relied on user memory and symbolic commands. The Apple Mac introduced a 2D spatial layout for the filesystem, so users could rely on recognition instead.
This is breaking down for todays huge internal hard disks, and doesn't work for the far more complex WWW.
Lots of companies tried/trying 3D version of WWW, "cyberspace."
Real solution to the unthinkable complexity is Google, which isn't even 2D.
Here we will look at CSCW type software: a team of people who (probably) know each other and who have come together to perform some real world task. The NVE is frequently used for CMC (Computer Mediated Communication) but there may be other tools such as telephones involved.
Task is why people are in NVE.
Channel is how they communicate
Task types: (very broad overview):
How rich a channel is how expressive it is in conveying not just ideas but also emotional context.
The more important the task, the richer channels should be.
Identity and role are the basis of
A real world individual may have multiple online identities, or multiple roles for a single identity depending on the task. Example: brainstorming vs financial meeting.
Online CSCW theoretically removes gender/status imbalances that exist in the real world. Unfortunately, the richer channels put them back! Hope for future (from Donald Norman) is real time special effects generation, which will allow anyone to speak or look how they wish over video/audio.
NVEs are also created for as public access systems, museum/installation art pieces, and in particular MUDs, MOOs, and MMOGs. Often these people have no initial knowledge of each other except through CMC.
It may not be "work", but this does not mean that users will accept an inferior system or be less emotionally involved in tasks. Since they are paying to use the NVE rather than being paid, they often have much higher expectations and commitment in time or money.
Online identity is virtual, "constructed", and very changeable. This can be disconcerting to those used to the real world where identity is fairly stable.
Gender swapping - males online as females or vice versa - is very common in NVEs.
Avatars are the visual/aural/whatever representation of your identity in an NVE. Your avatar need not have any resemblance to your real world appearance, and participants will expect a great deal of control over the appearance of their avatar.
Guidelines, mostly from Brenda Laurel:
Example: Sony EverQuest sale of virtual things.
In traditional RPG games you must struggle and bleed to achieve rank, property, or possessions. This is also how you are "supposed" to behave in EverQuest.
In the real world, you can buy stuff without having to go through all this. So people now buy, with real money, EverQuest virtual property and possessions, even in some cases whole identities.
Sony try to crack down on this, because they regard it as "cheating." More sensible to set up another virtual world where it is allowed and take their money.
MUD player types from Richard Bartle:
Player behaviour survey from Habitat:
Very close to 25% in each of four possible combinations.
These different perceptions of online identity can cause severe problems. If I regard the avatar (online identity) as me, acting as myself, I will be deeply offended if I am virtually killed by another player who regards avatars as someone else and not bound by real world behaviour. They, however, won't understand what the fuss is about.
Written by Hugh Fisher
|See the "Links" link above to find out the sources of the proposed informations
Pascal Vuylsteker / eScience / Computer Science / ANU
|Last modified: 27/7/2003
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