Posted by: pkab | 6 September 2008

The Virtual Information Technology Project

Avatar Butch Dae is George E. Kurtz III in real life. George has a background in Integrated Systems Management and IT Architectural design, and has used decision support tools such as mind maps for years to manage large data centers and ensure “that all the pieces come together.” He has made an extensive commitment to virtual worlds and Linden Labs’ Second Life (SL) in particular. He is the team leader for an SL group called VIT World Group that includes over thirty members. The group charter is to define the concept of Virtual Information Technology (VIT), a concept discussed in this article.

Butch uses Mindjet’s MindManager Pro 7 to organize a vast amount of information he has collected on virtual worlds, virtual humans, and other emerging IT concepts. A mind map, unlike a wiki, has an enforced visual hierarchical structure. Mindjet’s product “enables companies and individuals to work smarter, think creatively, and save time by organizing the way they visually capture and manage information.”

To make his mind map more accessible, Butch asked builder Llanna Lane to help him bring his 2D Mindjet map into SL. She developed three representations of Butch’s mind map including an interesting 3D tubular display. The display lets avatars get the “big picture” and read node names in the static map using a 3D tube browsing tool. Avatars can actually fly around the information in the tubes.

Exploring the 3D mind map at the VT World Group headquarters in Second Life. Quiricosta (218, 90, 108)

Exploring the 3D mind map at the VIT World Group headquarters in Second Life. Quiricosta (218, 90, 108)

The management, analysis, and interpretation of massive streams of data requires a new perspective. The technological applications derived from this process are likely to result in new patterns of living—possibly even a difference in what we see as “life.” These changes point to a coming “refresh” in the way we work, interact, communicate, collaborate, and play. I refer to this process as Virtual Information Technology (VIT).

Developing a mind map helped me build the hierarchical structure of VIT. Using the mind map, I can examine the relationship of all the components and by grouping the like components; I can identify the emerging patterns and sequences in today’s rapidly developing technologies.

The VIT group is an effort to stimulate development and promote collaboration within the Second Life, to anticipate the coming refresh. We are currently exploring the 2D Web to define and map virtual information. We believe we currently have the largest collection of information on virtual topics in the form of a 2D mind map. It has about a thousand nodes and thousands of links to websites, articles, videos, conferences, and other resources. We are adding between one to twenty-five new items to it per day. And we are looking for the next big thing. Where is the big money going to be made? Who are what will be the next Google or Microsoft? We use the mind map’s knowledge base as a research tool to learn from.

There are a lot of smart people in the world. The VIT group would like to know what are they thinking and doing. We want to build upon their research and ideas. We are looking at all the new things coming online. We are defining all the components that make up Virtual Information Technology because everything boils down to information.

Currently, the VIT group is developing new ways to visualize information in our 3D version of the 2D mind map. Both the 2D and 3D versions can be seen at VIT World Group, Quiricosta (218,90,108). Our objective is to find better ways to find, view and collect the information and from that information extract knowledge faster.

The team believes strongly in the concept that one can do anything with the correct information and that “knowledge is king.” Ray Kurzweil, inventor and pioneer in the fields of optical character recognition (OCR), text-to-speech synthesis, speech recognition technology, and electronic keyboard instruments, explains this concept in his book, The Singularity is Near, “Knowledge is precious in all its forms: music, art, science, and technology, as well as the embedded knowledge in our bodies and brains… intelligence selectively destroys information to create knowledge.”

A mind map reflects the way the brain stores information in the cortex and how we learn. Jeff Hawkins’ book, On Intelligence, provides us with some excellent insight into how the brain stores information and why the key to understanding the neocortex is to understand its hierarchical structure. I believe the same concept applies to the understanding of any idea or concept. A good way to organize complex, networked, hierarchical material is to build a mind map.

This is why I created a knowledge base in the form of a mind map. I use it in the research and development activities of the VIT project. The quantity of available information is huge. Especially today, there’s a real danger in being myopic in one’s thinking. And there is a lot of truth in the old saying, “You can’t see the forest for the trees.” I have learned that it’s best to stand away from your corner of the world and look at the “big picture.”

Today, no one invents anything completely new. What’s new is the packaging of the components into a cohesive whole. The components of a new idea are floating around out there somewhere, just waiting to be discovered. This is why the notion of building a “big picture” view is so important. If you too are curious about the future of things, join The VIT World Group in Second Life as we continue to define and build Virtual Information Technologies.

For more information, IM or e-mail Butch Dae in Second Life.

Source: The Seventh Sun



  1. […] Read the rest of this great post here […]

  2. […] The Virtual Information Technology ProjectBy: Butch Dae Avatar Butch Dae is George E. Kurtz III in real life. George has a background in Integrated Systems Management and IT Architectural design, and has used decision support tools such as mind maps for years to manage large … […]

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