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Real Government in Virtual Worlds

Agile Government, Emerging Topics
Location: Room 201
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Government workers are increasingly forming official and unofficial communities in virtual worlds for a variety of purposes; enterprise collaboration, social networking, public relations & education, scientific analysis, and crowdsourcing large scale research problems. Virtual worlds have long been used as platforms for rich user experiences and harnessing collective intelligence and this is also increasing in the “work place” for more than just gaming scenarios. Second Life is no longer just an alternate reality. Virtual worlds are more than just Second Life. Virtualization of the real world is prevalent among popular search engines’ mapping and other geospatial tools. Cross-overs are happening. A growing number of people are using virtual worlds as a platforms for synchronous and asynchronous collaboration around work and cause related topics. Establishing contact through virtual worlds is becoming an explicit part of the communications strategy for some groups. We propose to examine the use of virtual worlds in these ways by bringing together experts from public and private sectors, including NOAA, NASA, National Defense University.

We’ll ask panelists how they are using virtual worlds, particularly in Web 2.0 ways. We’ll talk about applications in government domains. We’ll explore successes and failures and highlight best practices.


Eric Hackathorn, Program Manager for Virtual Worlds, National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA)

Jeanne Holme, Chief Knowledge Architect, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA/JPL)

Pam Broviak, Co-Founder of MuniGov 2.0 & Civil Engineer for City of Geneva, Illinois

Paulette Robinson, National Defense University & Founder of Federal Virtual World Consortium

Kevin Curry, Chief Scientist & Co-founder, Bridgeborn, Inc.

Sample Questions:

Paulette Robinson: Through your work at National Defense University and The Federal Virtual Worlds Consortium, you play a central role in use of virtual worlds in the U.S. Federal Government. What is the 30,000 foot view of virtual worlds in government? Where is it in terms of adoption (# of people, organizations)? Where is it headed?

Eric Hackathorn: At NOAA, you became the first officially designated program manager for virtual worlds. What has the experience been like so far?

Jeanne Holme: As CKO for NASA JPL, how would you describe the intersection of knowledge management/sharing and virtual worlds at NASA? How are virtual worlds part of a knowledge management/sharing function?

Pam Broviak: You co-founded Muni Gov 2.0 in Second Life, but have since expanded that community beyond virtual worlds. How does Muni Gov 2.0 use virtual worlds together with what we traditionally think of as the Web (email, documents, Web portals, and the like)?

Other topic areas & questions we may discuss:
What are your use cases for virtual worlds in government?
Who else is using virtual worlds in government and for what purpose? (Examples, pointers)
How does the immersive Web fit with the Web of linked data and the mobile Web?
What does a mashup look like in a virtual world?
Where does Second Life meet Google Earth, Microsoft Virtual Earth, Flickr, YouTube, Adobe Connect, and WebEx?
Accessibility & Standards
How do we avoid creating highly specialized spaces that are not accessible by most people?
What about 508 compliance in government?
How do we avoid application “walled gardens?” What about open standards?
Identity & Security
What are identity issues in virtual worlds?
What difference does a firewall make?
Are virtual worlds secure? Can privacy be protected? How?
Who should be considering virtual worlds as part of their government practice?
How should government offices procure or otherwise invest in virtual worlds?
Where and how much are the costs of using virtual worlds?
What do you see happening in the use of virtual worlds in government in the future?
What specific initiatives will be taking place in use of virtual worlds for government in FY 2010 and beyond?

PLEASE NOTE: THIS PANEL REQUIRES BANDWIDTH. See bandwidth requirements below.

Bandwidth Requirements:

The virtual world software needs to connect to ports 443/TCP, 12035/UDP, 12036/UDP, and 13000-13050/UDP. In cases where there is a firewall you need to configure the firewall to allow outbound traffic on those ports, and related inbound traffic.

Each computer running the virtual world needs an average of 80 kbps downstream, spiking at about 400 kbps on initial connect and during “teleports.” Upstream is much lower, requiring 30 kbps on average. VOIP requires an additional 50 kbps on both downstream and upstream per speaker.

Photo of Kevin Curry

Kevin Curry

Bridgeborn, Inc.

City Camp Head Counselor, Bridgeborner, Va Beacher, Family Guy

Technology Executive with experience in information technology, product/new business development, and business management. Strategic decision maker capable of navigating near term situations while steering toward long term corporate goals. Eleven years experience from post graduate education and industry in advanced visualization, human computer interaction, data portability, interoperability, web services, and distributed computing. Pioneer in Extract, Transform, Load – Visualize (ETL-V), a category he created at Bridgeborn. Specializing around distance learning, training, business intelligence, collaboration, information sharing, and information management activities in government and commercial sectors. Hands-on product manager. Skilled writer and communicator.

ETL-V, visualization, human-computer interaction (HCI), distributed systems, web services, data portability, interoperability, W3C standards, SOA, Web 2.0, collaboration, systems architecture, OOP/OOD, AJAX, web development, technical program and product management, capture planning, proposal writing

Photo of Eric Hackathorn

Eric Hackathorn

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Eric Hackathorn started with his first computer before he learned to ride a bicycle. His father was kind enough to allocate him 100 KB of the family’s 10 MB hard drive: one of the first commercially available of its kind. Since that time, he has spent a majority of his time dabbling in all things computer related. After graduating from high school, he started working for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in Boulder, Colorado. At the same time, he attended and then graduated from the University of Colorado majoring in electrical and computer engineering. He continues his work at NOAA today as a program manager.

Eric has taken a back seat to his much handsomer counterpart Hackshaven Harford. Hackshaven is Eric’s avatar (a virtual representation of himself) and exists only in the virtual world known as Second Life. Together they have been busy designing a public 3-D space to highlight the research NOAA performs. In addition, they recently formed a company “Maya Realities” to explore 3-D virtual world metrics. In essence, helping to gauge the return on investment for companies creating beach heads in virtual worlds such as Second Life.

Eric Hackathorn’s Specialties:
web design, virtual worlds, graphics design, computer security, network administration, procurement, data visualization, web metrics, outreach, education, second life

Jeanne Holm

Jet Propulsion Laboratory, NASA

Jeanne Holm is the Chief Knowledge Architect at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), California Institute of Technology. Ms. Holm leads NASA’s Knowledge Management Team, looking at how to access and use the knowledge gathered over the many missions of the US space agency to support missions and to drive innovation. As a lead for the award-winning NASA public and internal portals, she was at the helm of NASA’s web during the largest Internet event in Government history—the landing of the Mars Exploration Rovers on the surface of Mars. As the lead implementer for technologies supporting project managers at NASA, her team’s solutions are helping to drive how people will manage space missions in the future, learn virtually, and share lessons learned. Her latest activities involve the transformation of NASA into a learning organization through innovative techniques in developing communities of practice and ensuring lessons are shared and embedded across the organization. Ms. Holm chairs groups in the international aerospace community and for the US government on knowledge retention and human capital. She also serves on several international standards and conference boards.

Her bachelor’s degree is from UCLA and her Master’s, in the Management of Information Systems, is from Claremont Graduate University, where Ms. Holm is completing her doctoral program. Her dissertation examines using rapid application development methods for knowledge-based systems. She is an instructor at UCLA and Pepperdine University and her online and ground-based courses focuses on KM strategies. She has been awarded numerous honors, including the NASA Exceptional Service Medal for leadership (twice), the NASA Achievement Award for her work on the Galileo and Voyager spacecraft, three Webby’s from The International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences, Competia’s 2003 Champion of the Year, and a best practice from the APQC for “Using Knowledge Management to Drive Innovation”.

Designing and implementing knowledge architectures, system design and integration, knowledge management practices and systems, knowledge-based engineering, e-learning, instructional design and delivery, business analysis and system design, inter-agency and inter-organizational knowledge sharing

Photo of Pam Broviak

Pam Broviak

City of Geneva, Illinois

Licensed (Illinois) professional engineer experienced in municipal engineering and public works. Also interested and experienced in virtual worlds and online tools and communities and working to help others explore how these tools can enhance the engineering/public works industry. In pursuit of this endeavor I publish an online magazine, Grid Works, that explores how Web 2.0 and virtual worlds are used by the engineering and the public works industry.

Paulette Robinson

NDU/IRM College

Dr. Paulette Robinson is the Assistant Dean for Teaching and Learning for the Information Resources Management College at the National Defense University. As part of her position, she is also responsible to review all student assessment plans and create evaluation capabilities for College courses and programs. She is also manages technology for the College. In this position, she manages a distributed learning instructional design group, oversees technology purchases, reviews emerging technologies for inclusion in the innovations and simulations lab, implements technology and facilitates instructional use of technology for the College. In addition, she is the leader for the Federal Consortium for Virtual Worlds. A group of over 1,000 from government (federal, state, local and international), industry, and academia who are interested in the use of virtual worlds in government, confronting and solving common issues, as well as sharing best practices.

Before joining the Federal Government, Dr. Robinson was the Assistant Director for Academic Support in the Office of Information Technology at the University of Maryland where she managed an instructional design team specializing in e-learning, mentored faculty in the appropriate use of instructional technologies in their courses, investigated as well as recommended emerging instructional technologies, and consulted with the Center for Teaching Excellence on student assessment through faculty workshops and campus-wide presentations.

Dr. Robinson has over 20 years experience working in higher education as an administrator and faculty member. She focused her doctoral studies within higher educational policy, planning and administration in the areas of curriculum, instructional technology and e-learning. She has given over 50 presentations at national conferences and is the author of several book chapters and journal articles.

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