10 December 2008

Is MyBase the first step into the wave of the future for military recruiting, training, and learning?

You’ve likely already seen the news blurbs about the US Air Force’s recent launch of MyBase. It’s designed in SecondLife as a recruiting tool with the goal of eventually growing into a virtual education and training site for the service.

An Army Times report this week also stated that the US Army was pursuing something very similar. The Army’s foray into this virtual land was discussed in Virtual Worlds News last week.
So is this just the military’s attempt to be “hip”? Or is it a legitimate sign of the changing culture within our leadership? Only time will really tell, but I for one am encouraged by it.


  1. The Army's and Air Force's willingness to explore virtual worlds technology is a promising sign. It's about time the military embraces Web 2.0 technologies, and I expect virtual worlds and augmented reality to revolutionize the Internet in ways we can scarcely imagine.

    My concern, though, is that the military is approaching Web 2.0 technologies with 1.0 business models. Small teams of visionary, talented individuals have brought us remarkable products like instant messaging, Facebook, YouTube, and Second Life. Rather than exploit these products, the military firewalls them and creates expensive, inferior imitations: Trooptube and Air Force Family and Friends Instant Messenger, for example.

    I've followed the MyBase project since it was first announced, and was happy to see the pioneering efforts--done on the cheap--in Second Life. I'm worried now that the Air Force is talking about custom-designing its own proprietary virtual world for MyBase. Game studios spend tens of millions of dollars creating blockbuster games, and many leading companies have failed badly at attempts to create successful virtual worlds (most recently Google, which aborted its "Lively" virtual world).

    A proprietary MyBase will be expensive, and I can guarantee it won't match the quality of comparable mainstream products--which are evolving so fast that a government contract can't possibly keep up with them.

  2. I agree with your comments, Reach 364, about how the military would best approach their entry into and use of these Web 2.0 applications. In my (humble) opinion, there is no need to "reinvent the wheel." Not only is that an extremely costly endeavor that inevitably will take funds away from other programs, we are not equipped to do such development! It seems to me that it would be absolutely more cost effective to "piggy back" on existing sites - similar to what USAF has done with MyBase through SecondLife and their video channel on YouTube; unlike what the Army has done with its launch of TroopTube.
    I believe our efforts could be better spent determining how to make our presence in existing, popular, sites the most effective as possible rather than spending time and resources on creating a new site that is similar (and, inevitably, not quite as good.)
    Additionally, if we "piggy back" on existing applications, our presence will be easier to find through search engines, etc. Creating a new site means we've got even more work to do: we must not only create the application but we must drive traffic to the site in order to build necessary search engine variables.
    All that to say ... I agree with you and I hope the military will focus more on stepping into existing platforms than trying to create their own.
    Thanks for the comments ... keep them coming.