I wanted to take a few minutes and share some quick comments I have on a presentation that Kate Crawford, a researcher at Microsoft Research, presented at the Data Edge (http://dataedge.ischool.berkeley.edu/2013/) Conference last week: “Six myths of Big Data.” While I tend to agree with most of Ms. Crawford’s points, I believe two of the myths are open to debate at some level…

Myth 1- Big Data is New
Agree. As Ms. Crawford states the scale and prevalence of Big Data is reaching us in new ways. Big Data is only at the beginning climb of the hype cycle. With the way that the internet and social media are today as well as large organizations amassing data in great amounts, Big Data is here to stay. So, yes, Big Data has been around for some time and is only going to grow exponentially.

Perhaps one of the most important take-aways is that there are “…two prominent issues today in Big Data, display and insight […have] been around for awhile.” GisterPRO is a tool that helps solve these perennial challenges.

Myth 2- Big Data is Objective

Disagree…Big Data is objective. I think she really wants to say that the complexion or sources for a given dataset may or may not accurately describe a population as in the cited Hurricane Sandy biasing example. Thus, the person analyzing the data needs to be experienced and savvy enough to pose basic statistical questions around data capture/composition & thus validity.

Myth 3- Big Data Doesn’t Discriminate
Disagree. The people using Big Data may not be, however, be discriminating. Reporting truth is not discriminating. Correlations will be made, whether we like them or not.

Myth 4- Big Data Makes Cities Smart
Agree. I would go further to suggest that Big Data making cities smart will lead to an individual being more vulnerable to Orwellian-type abuse.

Myth 5- Big Data is Anonymous
Agree. Unforeseen correlations have repeatedly proven to lift the veil of privacy in a myriad of ways. Look out!

Myth 6- You Can Opt Out

Agree….kinda of. Think of it this way. If something is free (Google search or Yahoo mail to name just two of many examples), you are the product; you pay by giving up your privacy so they can sell stuff to you. There are options for opting out. Fodder for future posts…

Blogs are great if you treat them right! Our mea culpa is too much to do, and not enough time. So, things had to take a back seat…like blog posts.

We are coming out of two major technology advancements for both our simulation technology: F.I.S.T., and GisterPRO 2.0. Only recently have we been able to breathe a sigh of relief and look out to the real world of business development. So, thank you for your patience as we go about updating our websites and working to communicate our exciting new capabilities and relationships. Stay tuned!

No, we haven’t been living under a rock. In fact we have been busy, make that very busy. Why? You might ask. We are excited to announce that David Ostby and Ed Heinbockel (both resident Visual Purple geeks) have launched a project campaign on Kickstarter. It’s called Gooey Search and it actually is a spin off of the GisterPRO search technology. With Gooey Search they are setting out to change the way you and I search the internet (while still harnessing the power from Google) yet bringing in a creative and interactive approach to it. Oh and also ranking results better, cutting out all the Spam and serving up only the most relevant results to your search. To learn more about the campaign and Gooey search click on any of the below links.

Gooey Search Website

So maybe you are, or maybe you are not a gamer. A 2011 study by the Entertainment Software Association showed that at least 72 percent of American households actually are gamers. That number has risen by almost 10 percent in the last two years. In addition, the study showed that 42 percent of gamers are women and that women ages 18 years and older represent more than one third of the gaming population.

Parents are even getting into it, the study showed that forty-five percent of parents play video and/or computer games with their children at least once a week. The report stated that parents actually believe in the education and mental stimulation that the game brings to their child.

So much for the ‘ol board game and quality family time.

National Defense Magazine featured an article this month on Avatars invading military training systems. Interestingly enough the Army is looking into training where an avatar is created for each soldier. These digital figures would stay with the service member throughout their training career. Training would then be customized to each individual trainee by a full fledged digital representation of oneself. My thoughts are that if it can be done cost effectively and the “realness” of the avatar makes the soldier more immersed in the game then I am all for it. But if the personalization options are limited then it may be money/ time wasted and the military may be better off just training with general avatars so that the trainee can escape reality for time and become someone else.

I recently came across an interesting graphic and statistics from Gizmodo

The image is a pretty good graphical representation of what happens on the internet within a 60 second time frame. Pretty amazing how much (stuff) goes on!
• 1500+ blog posts
• 98,000 new tweets
• 12,000 new ads on Craigslist
• 20,000 new posts on Tumblr
• 600 new videos (more than 24 hours worth) on YouTube
• More than 3,000 images each minute to Flickr

It’s no wonder that it is difficult at times to find exactly what you are looking for on the web and a lot of search engines return duplicate and/ or worthless results.

A little fun factoid to ponder: In 2012, internet users in the U.S. will expand by 3.1% to 239 million, representing 75.6% of the total population.

With the ringing in of the New Year it is once again time to recap the Top 5 blog posts from 2011, click on any of the below links for the full entry. Happy New Year to everyone!

Serious Gaming in the United States Military

In an article featured in the August 2011 issue of Military Training Technology the magazine asked, “What role(s) will your company best fill as the United States military turns more to the use of serious gaming in an effort to reduce the military’s training costs while maintaining the combat readiness of the warfighter?”

Virtual Worlds for the Defense Sector

The Department of Defense has been in the news on a number of occurrences in past months highlighting the use of virtual worlds by the organization. They are utilizing virtual worlds for a host of different applications, one of which deals with post-traumatic stress in our soldiers, see this story for more details. This project is called The T2 Virtual PTSD Experience and is based in Second Life. By being based in Second Life it does allow an extra layer of interactivity as the player/ trainee is able to interact with anyone else that is experiencing the simulation. It just goes to show that the immersive nature of virtual worlds make them a prime candidate for this type of training and much more!

The Uncanny Valley

The blog post title may have you scratching the top of your head a little bit…The “Uncanny Valley” is a phenomenon that leads to a reaction from an all ‘but-not-quite-right’ simulated human form, whether it be robotic or animated. The term was invented by roboticist Masahiro Mori to depict the negative emotional response ‘real’ humans exhibit when a robot (avatar) seems practically human. Appearance and action are the two biggest factors that could potentially lead to this phenomenon playing out while one is immersed in a virtual world. Thus the overall quality of the avatar is paramount in any type of training simulation, the worst thing you can do is lead the player to possess detachment from the training. The human brain never ceases to amaze me.

Virtual Learning Environments- A New Trend?

Elearning! Magazine recently came out with a report on Virtual Learning Environments: Trends and Insights. The report outlined that virtual learning environments are one of the fastest growing solutions for learning. According to the report “In a June 2010 study conducted by Elearning! Media Group, 64 percent of all corporate respondents have implemented virtual learning within their organizations, and 18 percent more plan to add them. The same study reports virtual worlds for learning will grow 250 percent over the next year to 21 percent of enterprises. At the same time, social learning and collaboration is exploding, with 77 percent of enterprise using or planning to use these tools for learning.” Let me summarize that for you in case you weren’t paying attention…64 percent of respondents have implemented virtual learning within their organizations!

What Role are you Looking to Play?

An often-overlooked critical aspect of simulation training is the best manner in which to train: individual or collectively. Visual Purple offers three modes:
1) Single Player, Single Role – The trainee will always play one role; synchronous interaction with live players not supported or desirable due to intelligent simulation world.
Available: Decision-Based, Virtual World, Hybrid, Embedded

Greetings all VP loyal blog followers! Our apologies for not being consistent in our blog posts as of late…new offices, new technology, an expanding team have kept our ops tempo up! Most exciting is our game-changing technology released in September… years in development, GisterPRO is a cloud-powered Exploratory Search technology. Huh? What did you say? Below is a quick overview of GisterPRO. It is a revolutionary new approach to search inspired by many factors not the least of which is our core competency in understanding analysts needs and processes from years of producing intelligent training sims in this domain. We get it that analysts need better tools especially when it comers to being more effective in OSINT (Open Source Intelligence).

A GisterPRO SaaS Exploratory Web Search starts in the Amazon cloud. An army of Drones (Intelligent Web Crawlers) read all results- tens of thousands of documents- from fifteen search engines carefully selected to cast a wide net. Only the best results (Gisted Results) are presented for rapid review and sorting.

Gisted Results include thumbnail snapshots and metrics generated by precisely reading unstructured data from web pages and documents in an automatic, unbiased manner. This assures the user that their search terms will be in the returned pages and documents while rejecting search engine optimization strategies and profit biasing of results by search engines.

Rapid filtering of Gisted Results is achieved by sorting a unique and powerful reporting metric: Closeness Factor. This is an amalgamation of factors that report on how significantly the search terms are related to each other in a specific document.

Discovered Entities, automatically extracted terms of interest, are displayed with concepts and linkages on an interactive Globe, encouraging easy search exploration and refinement by clicking Globe terms. Simply put, GisterPRO both helps to construct the question, and rapidly reveal the best answers.

Discovered Entities are both listed and intelligently grouped (Automatic Disambiguation) on the Globe presenting the best data picture available from the entire text corpus acquired by the search. This projection- the story of the data- often reveals important or actionable intelligence and empowers the user to drill down.

September 2011 marked the official release of the production version of GisterPRO as both Software as a Service (SaaS) and customized for clients with special considerations and requirements, in both the OSINT World and the Enterprise. You can learn more information about GisterPRO by downloading the Product Overview below or visiting the GisterPRO website at www.GisterPRO.com to sign-up for a 14-day trial.

And don’t worry… We haven’t lost our simulation roots. We continue to do three worlds of custom-built simulation training for select clients and licensing of our authoring technology.

My how time flies… We are quickly approaching the end of 2011 which reminds me that it is once again time to reflect back on a prediction that I have mentioned in past blog entries. Way back in 2007 Gartner predicted that “By the end of 2011, 80 percent of active Internet users (and Fortune 500 enterprises) will have a “second life”, but not necessarily in Second Life“, according to Gartner, Inc. Where do we stand now with this?

Multi-user 3D environments once held so much promise, the idea just may have been ahead of its time. Back in December of last year I wrote about the hype cycle provided by Gartner which shows a timeline of 5 to 10 years for mainstream adoption of public virtual worlds. Funny that three years after the fact of Gartner saying virtual worlds would have 80 percent of all active internet users that just last year they said another 5 to 10 years for mainstream adoption. According to a post on Hypergrid Business Virtual worlds gained 214 million new users in the second quarter of 2011“, according to virtual worlds research firm KZero Worldwide. It was the largest quarterly increase since the company began tracking these numbers in 2008.” Second Life has 27 million registered users, so they say. How many of them have actually logged in within the last 3 months is unknown to most.

I believe that since the growth of mobile computing and the sea of apps that 3D virtual worlds might just once again have a chance. So let’s not completely write them off- perhaps Gartner should extend their prediction and also expand it to include some other popular virtual worlds of today rather than yesterday’s world of Second Life. I believe that 3D virtual worlds (with purpose) still have a lot of unreached potential to capitalize on in the future.