Summaries of Trial Runs

This section provides summary reports of the groups that have been run as well as provide progress reports on current group activities.

The First Attempt - April 1997
The Second Attempt - In Planning Stages

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The First Attempt

The first attempt was begun in mid April, 1997. Members were solicited from the NetPsy listserv. The group members were to create a distribution list containing all the member's email addresses and group communications began by e-mailing messages to the distribution. Initial group business was conducted in this way and was to continue until the group met at the virtual group site. That attempt was instrumental in pointing out several areas which needed to be addressed more closely for subsequent groups. Overall, there were two major problem areas; overcoming the technology and building group cohesion during the initial planning and scheduling phase of the group.

Fighting Technology

The software was easily installed however configuring it often posed a problem for some. The virtual reality site itself turned out to be quite troublesome as well. OnLive Technologies maintains several sites on their servers which are very heavily used. Consequently, connection to the servers could take several minutes to complete giving the impression that the PC has locked up triggering the user to initiate a reboot. Another consequence of the heavy use is the servers would often reset throwing everyone off unexpectedly. It must be stated here that these problems are not software problems but simply the result of overloaded servers. The technical staff suggested a couple of sites that could be used that were relatively unused. Due to the need to maintain confidentiality these sites were not suitable as they were open sites and not password protectable. Several members reported having difficulty with establishing their Internet connection at the appointed time.

Getting the show on the virtual road

Due to the unprecedented nature of the project, it was decided that the group should start with only a few members then as more experience was gained more members could be added. A smaller group could better deal with any obstacles encountered along the way. There were many persons who requested to be a part of the group but had to drop out for various reasons such as improper hardware or operating system, conflicting commitments, and technically challenged among others. Once the number of members was reached, other requests were placed on a waiting list. Many of those on the list never responded when they were called to replace another who dropped out.

Since this was going to be done in realtime, the group membership had to be able to meet at a time which was convenient for all. In this situation having members in adjacent time zones clearly creates the least amount of conflict. The east coast/west coast time difference became an annoyance to be dealt with pointing out the importance of trying to stay within adjacent time zones. It was very difficult to reach a consensus on scheduling and rules and members stopped responding to the email so the group never actually materialized. It was apparent that there was a lot of frustration for many of those who participated in this attempt which no doubt led to their subsequent departure from the project.

Group cohesion never occured as members were unable to simultaneously meet. There was also very little e-mail traffic directed to the group as a whole despite the initial call for the creation of a distribution list of group members. Members did not or rarely interacted.

My thanks!

Finally, for those of you who were so brave and willing to participate in the great unknown, I give you my most sincere thanks for your efforts. Let's try this again soon.

The Second Attempt

The second attempt is currently in the planning stages. Keep watching for further developments.

Next - The Future of Avatar Training

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