Thursday, May 22, 2008

Too many cool things to share...

I am REALLY tired. So tired that I had to type my own blog address in three times before I got it right. So tired that when I hit the Google site, the graphic looked beautiful...Spring and sunshine :-) I have been once again flying coast to coast and working at breakneck speed. Too many cool things to share. So please excuse the length and seeming random nature of the delivery. One thing that made me happy upon my return were "miss you Ann" messages from my students Rafi and Jordan on my whiteboard. Good to come home.
Home. Today I keynoted at the Vermont Business Expo Technology Luncheon (I will post that and the IEEE CS presentation after compressing). Man I was nervous playing to the home town crowd. Even my friends commented on the television advertising. "Ann, I've been invited to lunch with you." All things good. When I finished the talk I realized just how much I have discovered this year. Speaking gave me the opportunity to arrange and share much of the content and thoughts I have been writing about here. The talk began with Ray Kurzweil, traveled through to the impacts technology has wrought or brought (dependent on your persuasion), introduced possible business models that make sense of the exponential change, and ended with the remarkable capabilities of this generation to accomplish and create change illustrated by the work our EMC crew has been doing.

Speaking of which, Tuesday and Wednesday America's Army, in the guise of Phillip Bossant, Matt Soares and Kevin Lee came to campus. They began working with the student teams to create level maps. If successful the maps will be distributed through the AA site—full credit given to the students. Their energy and excitement was palatable. Discussion, whiteboards, and impassioned listening were part and parcel. The AA teams were as gods—and rightly so for the knowledge of building complex yet popular levels and art assets based on reality that they shared. All comes back to the power of mentoring.

Likewise the students working on the Info Lit games, the CIMIT project and the Burlington Google Map projects are also working energetically. It is soooo cool! The atmosphere is somehow different this summer. I believe the spring green and the lack of scheduled classes have given the students the opportunity to put their heart and soul into their projects. They are learning all the same but in a concentrated manner much like I experienced as a graduate student.

Students. I just returned from the IEEE Computer Society Board of Governors' (BOG) meeting and our Technology Summit in Las Vegas. There I am on the Education Activities Board and the Awards Committee. This BOG, I hosted the Game Summit. Speakers were CTO of A2M Martin Walker, newly minted COO of EA DICE in Sweden Senta Jacobsen, Davey Jackson from GarageGames and Scot Osterweil from MIT's Media Lab. All gave incredible presentations—each very different topically from the other. I opened up the day. Project management, game engines, AI in games and what that portends and games for learning were the topics. The downside was the size of attendance, the plus it was captured via video for web distribution (visit the IEEE CS site). Biggest plus was the exchange of knowledge and camaraderie of the speakers...very cool group. An aside is how crazy LV is! Talk about addictive behavior and virtual worlds!

Back to learning. Three weeks ago, incredibly influential to me was the Digital Now summit hosted by Fusion Productions. I can not recommend it enough for those in associations. If they opened it more broadly, many corporations would benefit as well. I am very grateful to Hugh Lee and Don Dea for inviting us to participate. There the focus was social networking, Web 2.0 for connecting to community. Both a sky eye view and the in the trenches approach helped me to focus on what we should be doing for the Center and what we are integrating into projects for our partners. If invited back I would love to find sponsorship for our students to create games on site. I think that would really touch this impressive group. Check out the link in the sidebar. They have posted all of the proceedings in forms of video, slides AND notes.

Luckily students Lauren Nishikawa and Wes Knee along with our new but invaluable operations manager Sarah Jerger were able to attend. Sarah will be in-charge of applying much of that knowledge into the Center's outreach. We took Saturday and went to Epcot at Disney to celebrate Lauren's 21st birthday!!!! What a marvelous day. I am still amazed at the genius of Walt Disney, the man behind the corporation. He was virtual environments before we computerized them! Did you know that when Disney World first opened it flopped? Artist, businessman, technologist, futurist.

Lastly touching on the Games for Health conference from two weeks ago ( I have been traveling ALOT). My biggest understanding there was that the field is just opening up. Exergaming seems to be a given, as is patient motivation. What is now needed is research and for that funding. I was very lucky to get to know Leighton Read. It is a very small world. He knows Tom Malone and Tony O'Driscoll. I was hooked on his presentation to our small group of RWJF grantees. It is not surprising. He is behind seriosity, created one of the very earliest games for health and he was a doctor in Boston.

Another fun thing for me was to reconnect or meet for the first time some very interesting people. It was like old friends' week if that is possible at an event I've never attended. I was able to introduce Peter, the chief PI on the grant to Ryan - our SME on the CIMIT project! Both I could introduce to Mike Zyda (coincidently he is the first person I knew behind AA though he is not with them anymore). I was lucky to meet Jeanne and Anne, two RWJF grantees from Indiana that I hope to keep intouch with. In the small world category we would run into each other at the gym pre-start of day and they both are connected to the Lake Champlain region!

OK That is it for the evening. I will part with the quote from student Ben Gerowe's signature:
"The pages are still blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words being there, written in invisible ink and clamoring to be visible."
—Vladimir Nabako


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sarah: paper + stitch said...

Ann, this was a great post... truly capturing all of the energy and enthusiasm that is emanating from the Center! This will be a summer to remember. Great job at the Expo yesterday... you wouldn't believe all the "ah-ha" lightbulbs I saw go off in people's heads as you were talking.

Westopher said...

I’ve been so eager to see a post like this! I feel like it’s been forever since Digital Now and I had been so curious to see what you’ve been up to and how these other conferences have gone! I couldn’t agree with you more, about how beneficial the Digital Now conference was. So many theories and things that we discussed there have made it into the way I’ve been approaching these new projects, and the conference was most definitely the most exciting in regards to bringing the world of e-gaming into the business world. Not to mention all of the talk about the “Y-Generation.” I had also been excited to see you come back so you could see the monster of you’ve created =) In my own experience it’s been very exciting to work with the CIMIT group and my AA team, on these concentrated projects. My teammates have incredible impute and energy towards these projects, as well as great group collaboration skills. I agree totally with what Sarah said, this is going to be an amazing summer! I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else, and am happy that I’m not if you get my drift =)