How World of Warcraft Could Save Your Business and The Economy

John Seely Brown: I would rather hire a high-level World of Warcraft player than an NBA from Harvard.  Why is a game, a massive multiplayer game that has maybe 12 million people or more playing it like the World of Warcraft, so important at both the individual level and maybe at the corporate level?  

To understand these massive multiplayer games like World of Warcraft, do not think about it as just game play but look at the social life on the edge of the game.  A typical night, there will be approximately 15,000 new strategic ideas created around the world.  If you want to compete that night or the next day, somehow you have to appropriate in your own play what 15,000 new ideas mean to you in order to go into this high-end raid.  Most of these high-end performance groups in World of Warcraft create guilds; you have to have a guild to do anything because it’s a fundamentally collaborative game.  These guilds will be sometimes 100, 200 people.  Guess what?  They don’t have a bonus structure to guide them to incent them.  Only passion, only interest works.  And what you have to have is find a way to turn this guild structure of several hundred people into knowledge refinering groups.  And so basically, self-organizing to some extent, things start to happen, particularly groups go off and say, “I’m going to study this." "I’m going to study this." "I’m going to try this idea out and by tonight I will have consolidated . . . this class of ideas about how this particular new magic potion might actually work to re-heal you faster.”  Blah, blah, blah. . . .   

And so what we’ve done is we’ve turned this entire kind of social organization into an ideation structure and an idea-refinement structure, all as more or less self-organizing groups.  I mean, show me anything that happens in the corporate world that has 15,000 new strategic ideas.  Possibly biotech does, but no world I know about in the corporate world.  We think about ten new ideas already overloading us.  You know, 10,000 is unthinkable. 

When we look in to the social structures and the knowledge capability, refining and generation capabilities of these guild structures, there is something going on here.  These are not just self-organizing groups.  Basically every high-end guild has a constitution.  The leaders of these guilds also have to do dispute adjudication all the time.  They also have to be willing to say, “Let’s measure ourselves.”  These guilds are truly meritocracy-based.  And so even if you are the leader of this particular high-end raid, at the end you do an after-action review, and the after-action review each person is open to total criticism by everybody else.  You can replay the whole thing because basically its all computer-meditated so it can be captured. 

But equally interesting to me is you can’t play in these complex worlds without building dashboards.  And these are dashboards that are measuring you, are measuring your state of being.  They also measure all the things happening around you.  Now, let’s step back a moment.  Every corporate situation I’ve ever been in has dashboards.  These dashboards are measurements that are superimposed on you by your manager.  So we live in a world of measurement and basically it's famously said, "If it’s not measured, it won’t get done."  You’ve probably heard that before by many people you discuss.  And isn’t it interesting that all those measurements are decided by your boss, applied to you?  In World of Warcraft you invent a dashboard for yourself.  So this whole idea of thinking about how do I build measurements to facilitate my own performance for me and me alone becomes very interesting.  And in fact, in the World of Warcraft, there’s a simple mantra I encounter all the time: if I ain’t learning, it ain’t fun.

Now let’s think about re-designing the workscape for the 21st century.  What would it mean to have each of us in a workscape define our own dashboard, our own source of measurements?  Suppose we actually then built little groups whose sole job is to accelerate learning in our particular interest group inside the corporation.  How do we start to completely turn the whole notion of what the workspace is about, or the workscape, I’m going to call it, about into something that becomes a talent accelerator for myself to pick up new ideas, to be able to learn faster with doing things with others and so on and so forth?  These are the practices that you’ll pick up in World of Warcraft if you are in one of these high-performing guilds. 

And so it is an amazing learning environment with powerful learning tools that I think we in the education world can learn a hell of a lot about and we in the management world can learn a lot about.  But it gets back to this notion of passion, it gets back to this notion of curiosity, and it gets back to this notion that this is an interest-driven phenomenon that unleashes exponential learning of a dimension that’s almost unimaginable any other way. 

Directed / Produced by

Jonathan Fowler & Elizabeth Rodd

 

 

Learning guru John Seely Brown is not being even slightly ironic when he says that he’d hire an expert player of World of Warcraft (the massive multiplayer online fantasy videogame) over an MBA from Harvard.

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This article was originally published on our sister site, Freethink.

China wants to build a mini-star on Earth and house it in a reactor. Many teams across the globe have this same bold goal --- which would create unlimited clean energy via nuclear fusion.

But according to Chinese state media, New Atlas reports, the team at the Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) has set a new world record: temperatures of 120 million degrees Celsius for 101 seconds.

Yeah, that's hot. So what? Nuclear fusion reactions require an insane amount of heat and pressure --- a temperature environment similar to the sun, which is approximately 150 million degrees C.

If scientists can essentially build a sun on Earth, they can create endless energy by mimicking how the sun does it.

If scientists can essentially build a sun on Earth, they can create endless energy by mimicking how the sun does it. In nuclear fusion, the extreme heat and pressure create a plasma. Then, within that plasma, two or more hydrogen nuclei crash together, merge into a heavier atom, and release a ton of energy in the process.

Nuclear fusion milestones: The team at EAST built a giant metal torus (similar in shape to a giant donut) with a series of magnetic coils. The coils hold hot plasma where the reactions occur. They've reached many milestones along the way.

According to New Atlas, in 2016, the scientists at EAST could heat hydrogen plasma to roughly 50 million degrees C for 102 seconds. Two years later, they reached 100 million degrees for 10 seconds.

The temperatures are impressive, but the short reaction times, and lack of pressure are another obstacle. Fusion is simple for the sun, because stars are massive and gravity provides even pressure all over the surface. The pressure squeezes hydrogen gas in the sun's core so immensely that several nuclei combine to form one atom, releasing energy.

But on Earth, we have to supply all of the pressure to keep the reaction going, and it has to be perfectly even. It's hard to do this for any length of time, and it uses a ton of energy. So the reactions usually fizzle out in minutes or seconds.

Still, the latest record of 120 million degrees and 101 seconds is one more step toward sustaining longer and hotter reactions.

Why does this matter? No one denies that humankind needs a clean, unlimited source of energy.

We all recognize that oil and gas are limited resources. But even wind and solar power --- renewable energies --- are fundamentally limited. They are dependent upon a breezy day or a cloudless sky, which we can't always count on.

Nuclear fusion is clean, safe, and environmentally sustainable --- its fuel is a nearly limitless resource since it is simply hydrogen (which can be easily made from water).

With each new milestone, we are creeping closer and closer to a breakthrough for unlimited, clean energy.

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