If you enjoy watching opinions take shape and believe in the wisdom of smart crowds, you may want to take a look at the Sloan Center for Internet Retailing’s eLab eXchange.
Want to help Google figure out the best way to monetize YouTube? Want to see what monetization ideas others have? Would you like to see which of these ideas get the most traction quickly? What do you think the level of online retail sales will be for the last quarter of this year? Will it increase, despite the economic downturn, because more and more of us do more and more of our shopping online? Which are the most influential social buying Web sites? Which are the most popular and influential online deal Web sites?
If you like predicting the future and think you’re pretty prescient on these topics, you can vote, predict, nominate, and see which way the predictions are going.
In fact, if your predictions are right, you might be the monthly winner ($25 gift certificate) or the quarterly winner ($500).
Thanks to New York Times’ Bob Tedeschi for bringing this site and the increasing momentum behind this new way to harness collective wisdom to our attention. As Bob pointed out in his e-commerce report on September 17th, “Competitive forecasting, where Web sites pit users against each other to determine who is the most prescient about a certain topic.....yields more accurate results because participants care much more about their answers than in a typical phone survey. Results of the best-known examples of prediction markets seem to bear this out. Cantor Fitzgerald’s Hollywood Stock Exchange (www.hsx.com) last year predicted 32 of the 36 major-category Oscar nominees and over the last three years has correctly predicted 92 percent of the major-category Oscar winners. And the Iowa Electronic Markets (www.biz.uiowa.edu/iem) often predicts election results more accurately than pre-election polls.”1
There are two kinds of winners on the eLab eXchange site: “interim market leaders” and the final market leader based on actual data. It will be interesting to see whether the reputational leaders’ predictions—the ones who seem to be leading in picking the most popular trends—are the actual leaders—the ones who actually successfully predicted the future. In the meantime, playing along is good fun and it makes you feel as if you’re “in the know.”
Using 3D Models and Gaming Environments to Make History Come to Life
When I was in 12 years old and living in the suburbs of Philadelphia, my civics teacher, Mrs. Seymour, got our class enthused about making a replica of Independence Hall in Philadelphia. We brainstormed about how we could design and build a true-to-life doll house sized replica, complete with a recorded soundscape narrative timed so that it would light up each room and describe the activities leading up to the signing of the Declaration of Independence. We even fantasized about reproducing the smells of the era. Unfortunately, our dreams exceeded our ability to execute them. The project remained a pipe dream.
Back in my hometown for a visit, I was tickled to discover a “new” trend for taking students back through history: Recreating a colonial city in Second Life. In an article entitled, “Colonial Philadelphia Reborn,” Stephan Salisbury describes a project by Drexel University students to recreate historical buildings that have been demolished and bring them back to life in Second Life. While this project is still in its very early stages (there’s no Second Life “there” there yet), the project seems to be a nice example of what’s possible in education today.
The college and graduate students involved in the project are working in a collaborative cross-disciplinary fashion (archaeology, architecture, history, computer science, digital media, education) to digitize artifacts from an archeological dig, to create an authentic 3D model of the demolished home of a free African, James Oronoko Dexter, who helped to found the city’s first black church.
As they create each 3D virtual building, the students are also creating a database of re-usable colonial building components, such as colonial windows and doors and period-appropriate brick face. “Brian Gadomski, a 19-year old freshman, has taken on the task of creating a database of 18th century house doors and windows from original historical blueprints that can be reused in the 3D models of many of the virtual buildings.... ‘I’m bringing them into 3-D and I’m tracing them in the computer, and building, based on the original drawings, a geometry that matches exactly.’”2
Other college students are engaging with local fourth graders to reenact and videotape historical scenes that will be used to bring history to life in Second Life.
I love these examples: Using tools like Autodesk Inventor or SolidWorks to create 3D models of colonial buildings to create virtual world re-enactments of historical events; Combining virtual worlds with physical dress up, role-playing, drama, and video to engage kids in learning about historical events. I also appreciate the fact that, for the primary school and university students involved in this project, the notion of creating reusable models and tools for others to leverage and extend is considered standard practice.
1) Bob Tedeschi, The Wisdom of Sales Trend Predictions, The New York Times, September 17, 2007. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09
2) Stephan Salisbury, Colonial Philadelphia Reborn, Philadelphia Inquirer, September 9, 2007, Page D01 (Requires a subscription or payment).