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8. Physical Virtuality: Instantiating the Virtual in the Material

B. Joseph Pine II Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

In October 2009 LEGO Systems A/S of Billund, Denmark, updated its website with a new feature: LEGO Design byME. A refreshing of its prior mass customization capabilities, known as LEGOFactory, the new Design byME allows kids (and not a few adults) to design literally anything they want—a vehicle, an animal, an architectural wonder, an event, whatever it might be, in facsimile, replica, or newly created, imaginative form—and then after purchase have LEGO package up the exact bricks it takes to make that design and send it to them. Each set comes complete in a box whose image the customer can also design themselves and with a Building Guide that details how to build the design, brick by brick, on the family room floor—or, in our parlance, instantiate the virtual design in real space and actual time.

At the core of the offering is the LEGO Digital Designer, which can be downloaded from the site for free. As the designer, you select from almost 2,000 different elements (not just bricks, but minifigures, wheels, bases, tools, trees, and on and on they go), across over fifty colors (not all elements come in all colors, of course), and then decide exactly where to place each one, in the orientation and configuration you want, with such tools as cloning, hinging, hiding, coloring, and grouping that enable you to get what lies imaginatively in your head out figuratively onto the computer monitor. So you can plan, draft, tinker, and finally perfect your brick-based creation before ever lifting a physical element. Moreover, you can save templates and groupings to refer back to again and again, and even store completed designs to your private gallery on LEGO.com or display them in the Public Gallery. In this way you can show off your designs, which others in the greater LEGO community can find, download, modify, purchase, and build. (Family-friendly LEGO of course examines every design to ensure customers do not infringe trademarks or offend sensibilities.)

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6. Virtuality: Crafting the Most Imaginative of Experiences

B. Joseph Pine II Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

.RUN ADV11

WELCOME TO ADVENTURE!! WOULD YOU LIKE INSTRUCTIONS? YES

SOMEWHERE NEARBY IS COLOSSAL CAVE, WHERE OTHERS HAVE FOUND
FORTUNES IN TREASURE AND GOLD, THOUGH IT IS RUMORED
THAT SOME WHO ENTER ARE NEVER SEEN AGAIN. MAGIC IS SAID
TO WORK IN THE CAVE. I WILL BE YOUR EYES AND HANDS. DIRECT
ME WITH COMMANDS OF 1 OR 2 WORDS.
(ERRORS, SUGGESTIONS, COMPLAINTS TO CROWTHER)
(IF STUCK TYPE HELP FOR SOME HINTS)

YOU ARE STANDING AT THE END OF A ROAD BEFORE A SMALL BRICK
BUILDING. AROUND YOU IS A FOREST. A SMALL
STREAM FLOWS OUT OF THE BUILDING AND DOWN A GULLY.

GO IN
YOU ARE INSIDE A BUILDING, A WELL HOUSE FOR A LARGE SPRING.

THERE ARE SOME KEYS ON THE GROUND HERE.

THERE IS A SHINY BRASS LAMP NEARBY.

THERE IS FOOD HERE.

THERE IS A BOTTLE OF WATER HERE.

Thus begins the very first computer adventure game in the world, Colossal Cave Adventure, created by Will Crowther in 1976.1 As crude as such a text-based game seems today, notice its salient attributes that continue through to the most wondrous of computer adventures today (which all owe this first game a great deal of debt):

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1. Cosmos Incogniti: Introducing the Multiverse

B. Joseph Pine II Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

Recall the maps of old where less-than-intrepid mapmakers marked unexplored territory with the words terra incognita: unknown land. This boundary, usually indistinct, marked the known frontier and separated it from the unexplored—that which was beyond our knowledge. Recall also that apprehensive phrase “Here be dragons” accompanied by drawings of fearsome beasts thought perhaps to inhabit such territories, providing a clear warning (or at least an expression of doubt and fear) of what lies beyond. It is hard to imagine such a need today, so thoroughly have we explored the earth and mapped it out (save perhaps the deep, dark depths of the sea, where—who knows?—fearsome creatures may still prowl).

A frontier remains, however. The digital frontier. Comprised of zeros and of ones, it leads us—unlike the earthbound frontier of old—to places entirely of our own making. It lies at the boundary of our imagination, where beyond it stretches out entire worlds not just to be explored but to be created! Think of what lies beyond the digital frontier as (if you’ll excuse a slight abuse of linguistics) “cosmos incogniti,” a phrase we believe captures the essence of the possibilities that exist at the intersection of technology and the fertile ground of the mind’s eye: “worlds unknown.”

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10. Multiverse Excursion: Reaching through the Realms

B. Joseph Pine II Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

So there it is. The eight realms of the Multiverse in all their glory, defined, diagrammed, and copiously explained, with sets of guiding principles that we trust already have you thinking about what it means for your business. The next step is to operationalize what you have learned—to step out into the unknown to explore what possibilities, amid the infinite directions in which you could go, would create the most economic value for your business.

On any journey of exploration into the unknown, it is a given that we cannot know ahead of time what we will discover. But if we can in advance determine at least the nature of what we seek, we can heighten our intuition, tune in our mental receptors, and focus our eyes on the form a discovery may take. When we then move into cosmos incogniti, we will be better equipped to see the possibilities that lie before us. The Multiverse should thus provide you with a new lens, a focused way of seeing and making sense of what you discover on your expedition into the unknown.

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12. Third Spaces: Fusing the Real and the Virtual

B. Joseph Pine II Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

You walk up to a whiteboard and begin drawing a diagram to share ideas with colleagues. They hear everything you say and see everything you draw, but they are not there, at least not really. Rather, you see them only virtually, represented as avatars through the clear whiteboard. At their individual locations, they, in turn, see you—strike that; they see your avatar through the whiteboard, and you see whatever they draw or write on it as you collaborate together. You gauge each other’s reactions not only by what your colleagues say but by seeing where their avatars look, their facial expressions, and their gestures, which all mirror their own bodies.

So that’s Mirrored Virtuality, yes, just like telepresence? Well, sure, in both you see the others virtually in real time via digital technology, but with telepresence you see the actual person’s picture, not an avatar. And you can’t draw on the digital image; here, your real-world activities affect the virtual collaborative space via Augmented Virtuality—but for your colleagues this appears as Augmented Reality, because for them your virtual actions affect their real-world space!

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