Friday, 24 December 2010

Museums need to enter the 21st Century

Museums in the 18th Century and Before

I'm not a museum expert, I love the things, I never miss the opportunity to enter one and gaze at the exhibits and the stories behind them. Always using my imagination to think about what it was like for the people back then, what would they think of our world just now.

But when the Museum industry started to take off it was for the express purpose of bring the exhibits to the people. Allowing the people to use their imagination and learn about not just the past, but the past that effected all of us.

The most famous and large museums were, of course, found in the capital cities of all the major countries. People would flock to them, well when I say people I mean those either living in these cities or who could afford to get there and more importantly people who wanted to see them.

Countries "borrowed" relics from other countries. Take the Elgin Marbles, its fair to say without Lord Elgin taking them the world may have lost an amazing part of its history, however now Greece is a 21st C entry Country, should they not have them back? We'll I'm not caring either way, I just want to point out at the start of the Museum craze it was the big boy stole from the little boy.

So we now have Museums all over the world with relics from all over the world. Sometimes they put them in exhibits with other relics from the same area, to give us a feel of the place they were taken from.

Museums move into the 20th and 21st Centuries

I was in New York recently where, of course, I headed to the New York Met. I seen some of the most amazing art pieces in the world. Then I came home and spoke to my son about it. I spoke long (I could tell cause he looked bored) about the Egyptian temple/tomb they had taken from Egypt and rebuilt inside a lovely modern glass structure.

I found it amazing, yet he pointed out that wouldn't it have looked better to leave it where it was, surrounded by the real pyramids, the sand and the Nile. I thought to my self, need to watch what I say here, don't want my son growing up hating Museums.

I said that people couldn't get to Egypt, and thus it would not be seen by as many people. So more people see it, more people love it.

And the imagination of a child, "The do it on the computer?".

Its true, and simple. I don't want to PAY (yes I mean pay, I mean my taxes) for a museum in London with Egyptian art which I may have seen once in my lifetime, my son has never. I want it accessible to me here, at home. And I want it better!

Museums 21st Century and Beyond

Museums need to use technology or they will be left behind. I see more an more museums using technology within their walls, well that's great! For those lucky enough to get to that museum. I see the Science Museum has all these wonderful interactive experiments. That is great for those kids that can get there, but if you look a the science museums web site its like watching paint dry. Boring and set up like a School.

No kid is ever going to say, "hey joe, when we get home from school lets go in the Science Museums web site!"

Web sites need to be interactive, social, immerse and educational. More educational that the actual museum could ever be. Here are some examples:-

You have created the best exhibit possible with your limited budget and limited size. Forget that, build exhibits as large as a city, as safe as a kids bedroom, Let your imagination RUN. If your an adult and you've thought "mmm it would be better if I had...X Y or Z" then think what it must be like for a child. They still have their imagination on full power, they are likely thinking "This is boring, I want to play my PS3!".

Whats the chances of you taking every kids from a class to Egypt and teach them in front of the great Pryamid? Slim to Zero? Well what about you taking the class to a Virtual Egypt as it was 3000 years before, walk round the Great Pyramid AS ITS BEING BUILT. With a class of 20 kids from all over the world. As you walk you tell them to look at X and explain all about it! Now you can't tell me kids wouldn't love that... and LEARN from it!

Virtual worlds opens up so much to Museums, but in the present climate I understand the financial problems. But here is a way to make more money. Some examples.

You could have areas where only subscribers could access, or charge access by the minute. Have your experts do lectures and presentations to hundreds of people without the cost of them going anywhere.

The limits for Museums is their imagination.

Monday, 20 December 2010

So what have you been working on Mark?

Yes I know my readers want to know.

Well like many SME companies we go through cycles. We create, then sell, then create then sell and at this moment we are about to come out of our create part.

We have been working on something (can't go into too much detail just yet) that we hope will put all our technical problems (Firewalls, Voice, Hosting) behind us. Allowing much more easier access to virtual worlds and hence more use.

And more importantly take the next step in virtual worlds.

To give an idea we are putting the final tweaks to "modifying your avatar", "voice communication", "Marketplace" and much much more.

But the most Wonderful thing is the graphics. The image at the top is just a very small snippet (still trying to hide as much as we can) of what is possible.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

OpenSim, IT and Firewalls - The BANE of my existance

Sorry all, I've been away, well I mean dug in deep in a development cycle.

I want to talk, again about a problem, a problem that does not exist, however it is a problem and its stopping the spread of Virtual Worlds.

This problem is corporate IT.

I've worked in IT for 12 years, I've been IT Manager of a SME and have worked in IT departments with 100+ staff. IT has and always will be looked upon as the servant of the company, the poor ginger step child that no one wants. Yet! Without IT your company would be dead and you would all be poorer.

To the IT Manager, you will always be the ginger step child, that will never change. I had to accept it (I was the only head of department not invited to the CEO's meetings) I bet there are meetings you think you should be at, but are not, it won't change.. you have to accept it.

So there you have it. IT you are a service, IT you have to accept that.

But alas, it doesn't always work like that.

CEO > "IT Manager, I've seen this wonderful virtual world system, it could make us millions! But I can't access it, I've spoken to those wonderful people at Second Places and they inform me that our firewall is restricting access, would you be so kind to open the firewall."

IT Manager > "I'm sorry boss, but opening the firewall port in question would leave us open to attack. And that attack could cause the company major financial problems!"

CEO > "Oh my, Second Places never mentioned that! The swines that they are, let me speak to them!".

10 minutes pass

CEO > "IT Manager, I've spoken to Second Places. The system only needs opening to one IP address, and if we are using decent firewalls we can even set it up so the port is opened from the inside and only when in use! Is that not wonderful, so when can I have it opened?"

IT Manager > "oh sorry boss, but that is a lot of work, it will take us months and I don't have the man power to do it!"

CEO > "Months? Oh my, those swines in Second Places said it was easy! Let me speak to them."

10 minutes pass

CEO > "IT Manager, they insist it is easy, in fact they will send one of their own people down and if you supply them the firewall password "

IT Manager "Boss, let me stop you there. Give a third party our firewall password, never! that will allow them access to everything!".

All the while when this is happening, idiot Joe in accounts is accidentally deleting all the accounts files for the past 10 years, while hacker Mick from America is hitting the firewall's port 25 (which is always opened for email) with a DoS attack and some ex-prince from Nigeria is sending an email to the head of HR asking for his bank account numbers, which he freely gives!

The worse example was after 3 months of debate with the IT Manager, we go in to open the port only to find the FTP port open with a server allowing anonymous user access to upload and download.

So I always say to the IT Manager, "hey mate, I know it sucks, and no one loves you, but just open the firewall ports, please! Our clients range from BP to Dominos Pizza UK, each will likely have much, much more to hide, are much, much more likely to be targeted by hackers and have opened their firewall ports without a thought."

You are special, your company is special but firewalls ports are not there to stop hackers, and (like Accees and Amazon this week) its the firewall themselves that is the target, opening certain ports in the high 9000's is NOT going to help a hacker, they are not going to search for a open firewall port up there when they know port 25 is open, port 80 is open and port 443 is open.

So there you have it, until there is a virtual world MMO that does not need a firewall port open, then come on Boys and Girls of IT, stop scaring the boss and open those ports PLEASE! x