Here Comes the Immersive Internet

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Herefollows my summary of Chapter 1 of Learning in 3D – Adding a New Dimension to Enterprise Learning and Collaboration.

This forms part of a collaborative exercise designed by Hans de Zwart, Learning Innovation Manager @ Shell to which I have been invited. Hans blogs at:

My approach to this this excercise has been as follows:

  1. Orientation
    Examine the reference definitions presented on p343-362
  2. Skim-read all chapters
    Pick-out initial points of interest
  3. Examine interconnections and relationships with parallel/converging references
  4. First-read chapter one
    Consolidate points of interest
  5. Mindmap excercise
  6. Test interconnects & practical work: engage in 2nd life activity
  7. Second-read
    Select key points for summary


In order to fully engage with the topic, it was important to me to begin to unfold a clearer understanding of ‘immersion’ as a term and, furthermore, what the intrinsic value of it could be in a wider context.
My ‘chapter 1′ position on this is as follows:

a)’Immersion’ is not simply a matter of additional dimensions or sensory stimuli.

b)The elements of immersion that are of particular value/interest to me are:

  • Agreement/colusion to suspend disbelief
  • Narrative (as defined by Roland Barthes’ Introduction to the Structural Analysis of Narrative –
  • Story
  • Context
  • Engagement/enchantment
  • Meaning

c)It is possible to create a highly complex, media-rich, 3D, digital experience which fails to ‘immerse’ its audience.

d)There are examples of highly effective meatspace immersion e.g. a story, well told, engages its audience fully who, to all intents and purposes, are fully immersed in the content. Indeed, this immersion can be all the more thorough as the images, sounds and spacial content is generated by the most powerful simulation hardware & software engine known: the brain & mind.
It is this that we need check against when designing and implementing our digital equivalents.
In my own case, having worked on many 3D projects, I have been susceptible to be dazzled by the technology aspects at the expense of focus on the underlying core values.

One of the most pleasant surprises thus far has been some key reference material for an ‘architecture of wisdom’ in which I have been pursuit for some time. But more of that later.

With that out of the way, let’s dive in…


Here we have presented a key spur for the progression toward an immersive approach to learning:

‘In learning, we spent years implementing learning management systems that are essentially prisons for learning content. …we missed the point about learning’.p. xi

It is clear that the learning technology approaches adopted thus far need to change: 
‘… data does not give us meaning’ p.xii
‘Human interaction is what gives us meaning’ p.xii

We have witnessed the journey of Internet from ‘digital billboard’ to  a ‘place‘ for meaning to be found and interaction to occur.(p.xii).

The legacy practises within some organisations which do not foster place, context, collaboration & meaning are criticised as ‘deeply dysfunctional’ p.xii.

Clearly, there is need for change.


P.xv Kicks off with a case for the value of a architecture/framework when approaching the creation of immersive learning experiences, drawing an analogy with building architecture.
Whilst setting out its stall as a reference text for organisations designing ‘meaningful’ 3D worlds, the text reveals that it is coming from a traditional pedagogical perspective ’ guidelines… for someone teaching in a 3D virtual world’.p.xix
I am not sure if the pedagogical-over-dialogical approach is due more to the need for the text to not be proposing disruption to existing training archetypes in order to be more readily accepted/adopted by organisations.

Chapter 1

The first chapter kicks off with a great example of realtime collaboration via social media (facebook) which illustrates well the potential for dexterity and flexiblity of people and tools to respond to a threat or opportunity.

The Invisibly Pervasive Web p.4

The chapter begins the journey that it is going to take through on the development of the internet and its impact to people and organisations, using as its starting point the introduction of the Mosaic browser in 1993.
It makes an interesting assertion that what is occurring is an ‘acceleration of the co-evolution of society and technology’ (my emphasis). Also making the observation of the internet as ‘a pervasive and expanding ecosystem whose central purpose is to facilitate collective action, learning & growth’.

Welcome to the Webvolution p.7

A story of the phases leading to the present internet age: 

  • Web 1.0 was focussed on connecting “TO” the web;
  • Web 2.0 is focussed on connecting “THROUGH” the web;
  • Web 3.0, which is happening now, is focussed on connecting “WITHIN” the web.

There is a very useful diagram on p.8 that includes a description of the changes in value proposition for the three phases above, ranging from ‘Access’ for Web 1.0 through to ‘co-create’ for Web 3.0.

A number of examples are given of specific businesses and services that illustrate the changes between the three phases.

Key themes here are: 

  • The journey for users:
    From passive to active
    From consumption to production 
  • The need & potential for business to change to adapt to/exploit the changing landscape :
    ‘Instead of working for eBay, eBay works for them’.
  • The revolution and value-creating potential of collaboration & co-creation.

 The Immersive Internet: Collaborate and Co-Create

Gaming platforms are introduced as successful examples of the 3D internet – World of Warcraft and Second Life.
Also introduced are the significant economies, virtual and meatspace, that have grown-up around them.

On the impact that such environments will have on future working patterns, Wharton professor Dan Hunter is quoted: ” I confidently predict that my kids… will end up working in one or more of these worlds.”p.14

Social Production Comes of Age

This section focusses heavily on the democratising impact of the 2nd & 3rd phases of the webvolution and the changes, amongst other things, from traditional ‘employee’ roles to ‘entrepreneur’ roles.
There is a useful diagram on page 15 that illustrates this.
This section cites that individuals now have a much greater degree of autonomy over what they are engaged and the extent to which they are engaged in it.
It also observes that entrepreneurial start-ups are exploiting social production much more than traditional enterprises.

The Immersive Internet Singularity

This section first highlights the connection between the development of enterprise IT architecture and the progression toward the ‘immernet’ – ‘the delivery of the immersive characteristics of the 3D environments over the internet’ – P.17

The achievement of the ‘immernet’ is also described as a ‘singularity’ e.g. convergence of ’4 discrete software arenas’:

Convergence Point 1
Integration of 2D collaboration tools with knowledge management systems.

Convergence Point 2
User-tagging of content.
‘More tagging means more knowledge accidents of both the people-to-people and people to information kind.’

Convergence Point 3
Integrated 3D Social Networking
e.g. MySpace to become ‘MySPACE’

Convergent Point 4
Immersive 3D Immersive 3D Learning Experience
‘Immersive experience that drives sustained engagement’.
Dissolution of formal structures.
‘The Future might consist of a billion one-person enterprises- people who act as free agents moving freely and frequently from project to project as their skills, focus and passion shift.’ 

Business Unusual

This for me is the crux of the chapter and the point to which it has been leading as the launch pad for the chapters that follow.
The fate that awaits an enterprise that fails to change sufficiently rapidly is illustrated using the analogy of a balloon within a pressure chamber whereby, if the molecules inside the balloon move slower that those that surround it, the balloon will collapse. 

So, this really is the point. Innovation requires collaboration, experience, knowledge, feedback, learning, sharing and as high an incidence as possible of collisions between these and opportunity.
“knowledge accidents” & 
“The magic moment wherein expertise collides with opportunity” p.21 

As we have seen above, it is the power of the immernet and the potential of the webvolution to enable people and organisations to gain better understanding and interaction with information and other people through narrative, context and meaning.

To do this, ‘organisations will be challenged to rethink their business and academic models from the ground up’. p.22

During our call, I would like to explore our experiences, understanding and potential of context, narrative & meaning within enterprise learning and the extent to which 3D immersive learning could potentially exploit this.

‘Innovation drives profitable growth..Insights are generated from serendipitous knowledge accidents- magic moments wherein expertise collides with opportunity’online survey

It is possible to accurately measure business value of Immernet-based learningsurvey software


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