Tagged: avatars

$5,000 Reward For GoPets Avatar Bill of Rights

GoPets CEO Erik Bethke is set to break new ground in the area of virtual worlds by proposing to turn his service’s end-user licensing agreement and terms of service document into a plainly written bill of rights. [Via GamePolitics.com, pointed out by Nate Combs.] In a recent LiveJournal post, he offers $5,000 for help in drafting the document, but sets out 16 points for discussion, starting off, rather remarkably, with a right of due procedss and habeas corpus. If Bethke can get all this in place, it will represent a great step forward for virtual worlds and massively multiplayer online games. In his post, he mentions Raph Koster’s Declaration of the Right of Avatars, which <pimp alert>Peter and I reference in our book.</pimp alert> There isn’t a terms of service doc out there that comes anywhere close to this. But if virtual spaces are to have a real, robust future, they’re going to need much better governance structures than they enjoy at present. Bethke’s new style of ToS, if it can be implemented, would be a big first step down that road.

Face to Face With CyberExtruder

avatarisl-01-3d.jpg

Are you a Second Life resident who is fed up with your appearance? You’ve scoured the shops, looking for an avatar face that would be unique to you; something that captures the very essence of you — or at least, the persona you wish to project in Second Life. But you just can’t find it. Frustrating isn’t it?

You could opt to make your own, but most of us lack the skills to create something convincing, realistic and actually worth showing in public. Now, though, this need not be a bar to personalising your avatar — after a fashion. CyberExtruder provides a quick and relatively easy solution to your personalisation dilemma. Using a passport-style photograph, their automated conversion software will generate a realistic Second Life face in about a second. Whether you opt to use a self-portrait, or an image of someone else, is entirely up to you, though you might want to think carefully before pursuing the latter route.

The CyberExtruder service is a nice convenience for SL residents who want a more photorealistic face for their avatars, but the results can sometimes be a bit startling. Continue reading

MapJack Looks Like Google Street View in Focus

MapJack looks like Google Street View in focus

MapJack.com is a new Web site offering the kind of street-level views that Google Maps‘ Street View feature does, only in better focus and with a more interesting interface. MapJack only has San Francisco, for now — and only part of that city, to tell you the truth — but if they can add more streets and cities and find a way to capture users’ attention, it could become a useful or at least entertaining tool — more entertaining than Google’s feature. MapJack splits your browser window in two, as seen above, with a satellite street map in the bottom and a street-level photograph above (of better quality than Google’s; see comparative screenshot after the jump). You can place “Jack” on any of the blue dots on the map, and you can also click on the dots in the photo to move him around. Since he’s a tiny little articulated avatar, you can also see which way he’s facing. Continue reading

Tencent Tells its Story at Virtual Goods Summit

David Wallerstein of Tencent began the Virtual Goods Success Stories panel at the Virtual Goods Summit with a presentation, mostly to demonstrate what Tencent is doing in China: Chinese Internet penetration is only 10.5 percent. Wireless is 35.2 percent. Roughly 40 percent of Internet usage in China takes place in Internet cafes. Tencent currently has more than 4,000 employees, with roughly 30 percent R&D staff. Tencent has five leading online platforms:

• QQ.com is the #1 portal in China
• QQ games portal is the #1 mini casual games portal in China
• QQ IM, #1 IM service provider in China
• They also have a leading wireless portal
• Qzone, the #1 blog site / MySpace in China

Revenue has grown from RMB250 million in Q1 2004 to RMB750 million in Q1 2007. The largest share, 65 percent, is Internet value-added services. 25 percent mobile, 10 percent advertising. Continue reading

Destroy TV Directors Cut Now Available

Destroy Television directors cut now available
Ceedubs (in red t-shirt) looks out from the virtual gallery and through the screen, while Destroy, housed in the real version of the virtual kitchen cabinet at center, looks on, and the real CW (not pictured) looks in from outside. Confused? Good.

Electric Sheep Christian Westbrook reports that he has now posted a downloadable series of the adventures of Destroy Television in the virtual world of Second Life. (Downloadable series of enormous files, that is.) Destroy, of course, is the multiuser avatar who lifelogs her every virtual moment on Flickr. But because she’s taking a screenshot every five seconds, ceedubs has been able to cut these all together into a very cool series of short films. The films are taken from the ten days in which Destroy was on display at the Fuse Gallery in New York City, and includes the 683MB monster I’m downloading at the moment — downloading because I want to see how much of our wedding Destroy managed to capture. It sounds all good fun and games, but there’s a serious side to it as well: consider what Destroy’s up to in the context of things like Justin.tv and Ustream. The original plan (not sure if it’s still the plan) was to embed clickable information into Destroy’s home movies, using a service like Click.tv, which seems to be dark at the moment, but which lets you embed links and comments at any point in a video clip, displays them as an overlay on the clip, and lets you click directly to that point. Imagine that kind of digitized information overlaid on your own lifestream, complete with whatever other information was embedded in the environment around you. Second Life constitutes an excellent testbed for that kind of service. Useful? Not at the moment, but it will be.

Alternate Reality Games or Fiction of the Future?

Virtual wedding ring by Elexor Matador, bought by Walker Spaight for Destroy TelevisionThe virtual world of Second Life got a little bit stranger for me this week. I went over to see Destroy Television the other day at the gallery where she’s hanging out at the moment, and my avatar, Walker Spaight, ended up marrying her! (That’s Destroy’s rock at left.) Now, if you know me and you know my Second Life, this is slightly unusual, since for me there’s very little space between myself and my avatar(s) in the virtual world. I use Second Life as simply an extension of my first life; there’s nothing virtual about it. But here I was role-playing the lovestruck journalist to Destroy’s hard-to-get videographizing vixen. Walker even started a Tumblog about his romance. The formal ceremony was yesterday afternoon (Walker was all nerves — though he didn’t show it), and you can view images of the happy couple together on Destroy’s Flickr stream.

It struck me at some point that what I was doing — along with Annie Ok, who was driving Destroy at the time, and Jerry Paffendorf and Christian Westbrook, who conceived Destroy and brought her to life — was creating a little Alternative Virtual Reality Game, in a way. I don’t write a lot about alternate reality games (ARGs) — i.e., narratives that involve audience participation, which usually have some real-world component, and which often feature a prize or reward at the end — mostly because I don’t really roll with them as a genre. Things like Perplex City and World Without Oil are very cool, to be sure, and I’ve been fascinated to see how this stuff is developing, but I’ve always found myself rubbed the wrong way by this “alternate reality” moniker. But it wasn’t until I started getting my alternate reality on, via Walker, that I realized why. What’s going on in all these cases looks to me less like “alternate reality” than it does like fiction, and fiction being formulated on the same level as broadcast media like television — i.e., it’s just the same kind of fiction that’s happening in a TV show like Law & Order, for instance, only with the audience involved in writing the story as it goes along. From some angles, it looks like there isn’t any such thing as an alternate reality game at all — there’s only the fiction / narrative / media of the future. Continue reading

Japanese Child Avatar Portraits from Second Life

Eva and Franco Mattes' Annoying Japanese Child Dinosaur portaits from the virtual world of Second LifeEva and Franco Mattes, the Italian artists and pranksters who put on the 13 Most Beautiful Avatars show in February, have another series of portraits on display, starting June 2. This time it’s Annoying Japanese Child Dinosaur, a portrait series featuring avatars constructed in the virtual world of Second Life to resemble Japanese children. (I.e., residents’ avatars, not avatars constructed specially for the show.) The title of the show is apparently taken from a James Patrick Kelly novella titled Mr. Boy, which is “the tale of a genetically stunted 12-year-old who literally lives inside his mother, who has turned herself into a three-quarter-scale model of the Statue of Liberty. And his best friend, Stennie, is a child-dinosaur,” according to Franco. Very Second Life. The February show in New York was fairly gorgeous. This show, at Dockswiss in Luzern, Switzerland, is not to be missed if you’re anywhere nearby. There’s an opening reception for the artists on Friday, June 1, from 6-8pm. If you miss them there, you may be able to catch them on »Cosmos Island«, where they’re reenacting Joseph Beuys 7,000 Oaks as part of a series of Synthetic Performances, or reenactments of historical performances by artists like Vito Acconci, Chris Burden, and Valie Export inside synthetic worlds such as Second Life. Definitely worth checking out. Be grateful that two such creative minds as Eva and Franco are working in SL. They push the boundaries of art and performance in the real world; it’s interesting to see how they approach the same task in Second Life.

UpNext Launching Virtual Neighborhood Search

UpNext launches virtual city search serviceUpNext is in closed beta, but it sounds like it could be very cool. According to Mashable, it provides “a 3D virtual cityscape, providing users a way to explore cities. UpNext will offer ways to search visually online to find out what’s going on in their city, or cities, on a local level.” Very cool, very metaversal, very 3pointD. The team (seen above), which has just started a blog, is launching the service tonight at Where 2.0. If this works, it could be close to the virtual Williamsburg that the Electric Sheep Company‘s Jerry Paffendorf is always on about. It doesn’t sound like it’s avatarized, though we won’t know until tonight. To tell you the truth, I’m a bit surprised that no one has combined these ideas yet: a 3D representation of my neighborhood, links to the Web, and all in an avatarized, multiuser space. Coming soon, I imagine. In the meantime, we look forward to seeing what’s up next for UpNext.

Playboy Magazine Enters Second Life

Playboy Magazine Enters Second Life

If you check out the latest ad buy on 3pointD’s cousin publication, the Second Life Herald (see the right sidebar, top), you’ll see that the inevitable is finally about to happen: Playboy Magazine is entering the virtual world of Second Life. No word yet on what form Playboy’s presence there will take, but it would seem to be the perfect place for them. After all, constructing a sexy avatar for yourself is just an extreme version of the airbrushing that often goes on in the pages of higher-end skin mags like Playboy. The possibilities, of course, are very interesting: in-world girlie mag to compete with Marilyn Murphy‘s Players? A Playboy mansion where a virtual Hef and the bunnies will hang out? (Second Lifer’s won’t have any trouble finding things to do in the Grotto.) If there are virtual bunnies, will Playboy take as good care of them as they take of the real ones? RL Playboy Playmates are pretty much set for life; Playboy offers them jobs (albeit they’re usually jobs as professional cheesecake) and often does stuff like help pay for their education. In return, the organization gets a steady supply of buxom women to decorate their parties and functions with. Working as a virtual fleshpot is already a popular pursuit in Second Life; why not get paid a decent wage for it? And while it’s still exploiting the female image, you can’t say it’s exploitative of the women being photographed or hired, since you don’t know whether there’s a woman behind that curvy female av. All very interesting. The ad says Playboy won’t hit SL until June, but you can already sign up for email updates. The shape of things to come? We’ll see.

Etsy Considers Crafting Its Own Virtual World

Etsy Labs headquarters near the Manhattan Bridge in BrooklynIt was just over a year ago that I first blogged about Etsy, the online community for makers and sellers (and buyers, of course) of crafts of all flavors and kinds. Because they’re here in Brooklyn and because they have their metaversal aspects about them, I thought I’d go and pay them a visit recently. The metaversal aspects of Etsy are mostly the doing of the company’s highly talented Flash programmer, Jared Tarbell, and prove that you don’t necessarily need a Z axis to have a good time. If you’ve poked around the site at all, you’ll have seen hints of them, in the form of the various “ways to shop” found on the front page. (Try time machine, and definitely check out the color page, which is slightly too awesome for its own good.) Where Etsy really comes alive, though, is when you become part of the community and start doing things like attending classes and town halls online. Jared’s cool interfaces give presence to your “avatar” (who’s nothing more than a square uploaded image) in a way few Web page have managed to. And now, Rob Kalin, Etsy’s founder, is thinking about putting Jared’s mad Flash skillz to work in a Flash virtual world that would be an online bazaar for Etsy crafters. More on that (and a couple of other interesting developments) after the jump. Continue reading

Zwinky Builds Virtual World For Toolbar Avatars

Zwinky toolbar avatars get their own virtual world in ZwinktopiaWith 4.7 million “active users,” Zwinky lets you create and share avatars, emoticons, cursor icons and other stuff that teens seem to love, all from your browser’s toolbar. Now, IAC, the company behind Zwinky, hopes to lead those millions of users into its new virtual world. Known as Zwinktopia, the world “will provide Zwinkies a social community with 29 unique locations and dozens of games and activities,” including shopping, chat, games, events, and hanging out in dorm rooms. As in worlds like Club Penguin, users can earn a virtual currency, called Zbucks, and buy clothing, furniture, etc.

As a virtual world, Zwinky looks like nothing special. But it’s interesting that creating at least a 2D Flash-based multiuser environment like this has now become simple enough that you can just add such a service on top of one that’s already been adopted. Are these kind of virtual world services going to proliferate? What will be more interesting is when Web sites start to have these kind of “presence-based” services associated with them, almost like a Gabbly with avatars that an move around. I don’t think I’ve seen one yet, though Me.dium comes close.

Physical Book of Second Life Avatars On Sale

Buy a real book of portraits of virtual avatarsGiff Constable of the Electric Sheep Company (aka Second Life resident Forseti Svarog) has published a book of avatar portraiture from the virtual world of Second Life that’s now available not just in a virtual edition but as a real, old-media paper book as well. Out for about a week now, Avatar Expression gathers “56 color photographs revealing personality across a range of beautiful, exotic, humorous and even abstract” avatars. It’s available in its virtual edition for free »in Second Life«, or you can order one for $13.68 (the cost of production) at Lulu.com. A couple of dozen copies of the phyisical book have sold since publication was announced a week ago, Giff says, so hurry and get ’em while supplies last. Actually, they’re printed on demand, so there’s no hurry, but pick one up anyway; physical documents recording the history of virtual worlds are few and far between.

Destroy Television Returns for NY Art Exhibit

Just when you thought it was safe to watch lifecaster Justin.tv, or broadcast your own life with Ustream, along comes a virtual life you can not only watch on the Web but take part in controlling, a kind of collaborative stream of avatar consciousness — and one that’s going to be on display in a real-world art gallery from May 23 to June 2. Curated by the excellent Annie Ok of the GHava{SL} Center for the Arts in the virtual world of Second Life, the show will be designed by Electric Sheep Jerry Paffendorf and Christian Westbrook, and will involve Destroy Television, the interactive avatar-bot designed as a research project of the Electric Sheep Company, who streams live images of Second Life to her Web site (although that seems to be dark at the moment). Just what form the exhibit will take has yet to be revealed, but the show will take place simultaneously at the Fuse Gallery in New York (at 93 Second Avenue, between Fifth and Sixth Streets), and in SL at the GHava{SL} Center for the Arts, which is run by Annie’s SL self, Xantherus Halberd. Continue reading

New Barbie Dolls to Interact With Virtual World?

Barbie Girls may link to virtual world

Unless I’m much mistaken, it looks like Mattel’s new Barbie Girls, to be launched later this month, will be a physical doll that can interact with a virtual world, and should be a very interesting new experiment in that kind of crossover entertainment. BarbieGirls.com is a multi-user isometric browser-based virtual world just launched by Mattel for fans of the company’s Barbie dolls. It’s pretty simple stuff (see screenshot at end of this post), but it looks like it could be tied to the company’s physical dolls in interesting ways. The Barbie Girls concept is due for a broader launch on March April 26. Mattel isn’t saying what that involves, except that “the toy blends fashion doll play, the Internet and music,” according to the L.A. Times. But clues can be found in the Barbie Girls world, where you can visit with friends, shop for clothes, earn B Bucks by playing games, and do many of the other things that are fast becoming standard in virtual worlds. If you’ve been to Habbo Hotel or CyWorld, you know what I’m talking about.

As usual, it’s the shopping that’s interesting. When I tried to buy the rather attractive pair of pedal-pushers pictured above for Walkerette, I was told to “Connect your Barbie Girl to buy this fabulous fashion!” (The “Tell me more” link, however, is blank at the moment.) That indicates to me that the physical Barbie Girls dolls will be interactive with the virtual world on the Web site. That’s a pretty interesting concept, especially if you can buy physical clothes for your Barbie Girl that match the ones she’s wearing in the virtual world. Maybe you get extra B Bucks if your physical Barbie Girl meets up in the real world with her virtual friends. Stuff like that, and more. Very cool. I’m looking forward to hearing more about this. I may even have to get myself a Barbie Girl. Uh-oh.

Barbie Girls browser-based virtual world
Walkerette at home

Lacoste Seeks SL Avatars For Modelling Shoot

Preppy French fashioneers Lacoste have put out an open call for models from the virtual world of Second Life. From now until May 2, you can submit a photo and description of your avatar at the Lacoste Web site (warning: contains highly annoying Flash, resizing and unturnoffable music). Internet users will then have the chance to vote for the 100 most beautiful avatars, from which three male and three female avs will be selected by Lacoste to take part in a virtual photo shoot — and share in L$1 million. The winning avs will be featured on the Lacoste site and in a gallery in Second Life, starting May 17. Lacoste is already getting noticed for the program Women’s Wear Daily, while Amanda at PSFK finds the notion “pretty ridiculous and somewhat pointless.” It’s not exactly groundbreaking stuff, but I kind of like the idea. But what I’d really like to see is Lacoste extend their brand itself into Second Life, and let those SL models leak out into print ads in some form. That would be an entirely more interesting experiment.

New Identity, Lifelogging and Presence Tools

Pete Cashmore’s excellent Mashable has featured a couple of interesting sites in the last few days that are moving closer to the kind of identity-building tools I’ve been thinking about lately, including the identity-information aggregator I Twitter-predicted for epredator: OtherEgo and YouGetIt let you aggregate your social networking-style identities on a single page. MobileOX is looking to do the same thing. While this isn’t a revolutionary idea (all three services sound like a home-page builder with easy plugin tools), it’s significant that the process of collecting your disparate content and identity information in one place is becoming easier. A technology that’s been around for a while only begins to have a broad impact once it becomes broadly adopted, obviously, and these are just the kind of tools that could lead in that direction. Continue reading

3pointD Turns 1: On The Metaverse Ahead

No April Fool’s joke this: 3pointD turned one year old today! It was in the early hours (early minutes, actually) of April 1, 2006, that I posted my first Hello, World! here. Something like 1,400 posts later (can that be? WordPress must be over-counting) and our mission remains the same: “At its most fundamental level, it’s about connecting people in new ways, and about giving them the tools to get more out of not just the Web but out of the real world around them.”

That’s still true, but in the year since then, the 3pointD space (aka the metaverse) has begun to resolve itself a bit — which is perhaps not surprising, since the word didn’t actually mean anything a year ago. What I’ve been trying to describe over the last year is the general direction of the future of connectivity. I still feel, as I wrote last March on my old blog, Walkerings, that “Web 2.0 is over like a hipster neighborhood when The Gap moves in,” and that there’s a new neighborhood to be colonized. That’s of course an overstatement for effect, but I don’t think it’s off the mark. Over the next several (many?) years, the most exciting developments in technology are going to be those that leverage our ever-increasing digital access to places both real and virtual to develop better connections between people in various ways.

The question is, What’s that going to look like? I hate making predictions, but as my birthday present to the blog and its readers, I’ve just spent the evening going out on a limb. You can read the details below or you can jump directly to a brief, fun scenario at the end of the post. Enjoy. Continue reading

L Word in SL Pushes Itself Onto MySpace

L Word in Second Life's Fatty Cardiff's MySpace pictureThe L Word build in the virtual world of Second Life (created by the Electric Sheep Company, sponsors of this blog) has apparently generated quite a following, and is reportedly one of the more successful corporate VW communities in Second Life. Now an interesting thing has happened: Fatty Cardiff, one of the earliest L Word in SL members, has put up a MySpace page for her avatar (including an amusing rap song about the place). According to Electric Sheep Chris Carella, Fatty has been in The L Word in SL from its first or second day, and was founder of the Lesbian Mafia group [UPDATE: see below for a correction], a very large and active user-created group in SL. Fatty is not the first avatar to have a Web-based social networking page, of course, but I love that the in-world L Word community (three times fast) is pushing itself onto the Web in this way. If nothing else, it speaks to the fact that Second Life users want more powerful tools of social networking and self-expression than SL can currently provide. Worlds like Kaneva, Metaversum and Sony’s PS3 home may go further, but based on how those have been described, I’d bet we won’t really be happy until there’s a really deep integration between 3D virtual worlds and some of the social networking services that already exist on the Web, like MySpace and Flickr, to name only two.

Also interesting to note: My discovery chain for this story consisted of a single Twitter update. Nice. Continue reading

Second Life Nerds On Now at Nerd of the Week

As Jerry notes, Negin and Kimmy’s latest Nerd of the Week has been posted, this one examining the Second Life Nerd in detail, based on interviews conducted at our latest metaverse meetup with all your favorite Second Lifers. (The interviews are actually interesting, FYI.) If you haven’t seen Nerd of the Week, check it out immediately. Negin and Kimmy turn out to be excellent filmmakers, and their short NOTW episodes are definitely worth your while. And if you’re interested in the metaverse meetups themselves, there’s one happening this Friday in Manhattan, open to all. Read more details here. [UPDATE: Added Revver link so Negin and Kimmy can make some coin from this.]

Three Second Life-to-Web Services Updated

Three services we brought you recently that mash up the virtual world of Second Life and the (also virtual, in its way) World Wide Web, have had new versions released in the last few days. Sloog, TwitterBox, and SLateIt, (originally blogged here, here, and here), are three instances of one of my favorite things: they’re real 3pointD apps that make the 3D world of SL interoperable (to a small extent) with the 2D world of the Web, and in a social, Web 2.0 way. Their initial release was very rough and beta, but now all three have new versions out that have made them easier to use and/or increased their functionality. Excellent news. Full descriptions below. Continue reading

Will Collaboration Be Enough For Qwaq?

Qwaq Forums service offered on Croquet platformQwaq, a company I blogged about last June, has been planning to “enable a rich ecosystem of interlinked Croquet spaces, that is as easy to navigate and extend as today’s Web.” News from the company yesterday flags its first product, Qwaq Forums, which offer customizable “virtual spaces for real work.” The spaces are built on the peer-to-peer open-source Croquet platform, which was demo’d to great effect last fall to a bunch of metaversal types, but which we haven’t heard much from since. It sounds like Qwaq is a custom build-out of a Croquet implementation, tweaked for the needs of a specific business. It would offer multi-user interactivity, and a persistent 3D work environment. And because of how Croquet handles external applications, it should be relatively easy to drag something like an Excel spreadsheet into a window in Qwaq, and then let anyone in the space edit it. Continue reading

SXSW Xcript: Avatar-Based Marketing

Overheard at the panel on Avatar-based marketing: “It’s fun, you can sit down, make out with people.” I got most of this panel, including a couple of the audience questions.

Moderator, Tony Walsh of the Clickable Culture blog
Panelists:
Paul Hemp, senior editor Harvard Business Review
Linda Zimmer, CEO of MarCom:Interactive
Eric Gruber of MTV, helped launch Virtual Laguna Beach and vHills
Lauren Wheeler of Three Rings

Hemp posed a question: How does a marketing message aimed at a consumer get refracted when it passes through the intermediary of that user’s avatar? Does the avatar act as a prism that changes in some way a real-world marketer’s messge. While a little conceptual, the question is pretty important. Some would say it’s really a meaningless question because the user behind the avatar has the real-world wallet. What’s the avatar have to do with it? My thought is that the avatar represents something about that consumer that is important. Advertising has always targetted consumers’ alter egos, the smiling happy terrifically popular person just waiting to emerge from the consumer’s psyhce with the help of the consoumnres’s product. Here the marketer doesn’t have to hunt for that, it’s on display in the form of the avatar, and can be segmented, terageted, and help understand the consumer behind it. Continue reading

SXSW Xcript: Where the F is Mapping Now?

Dan Catt’s mapping panel was a very cool session that was difficult to synthesize at the speed it went by, but I think I got most of what the panelists said. All very 3pointD.

Moderator: Rev. Dan Catt, from Geobloggers.com and Flickr
Panelists:
Tom Carden from Random Etc.
Aaron Straup Cope from Flickr
Jerry Paffendorf from the Electric Sheep Company
Ian White from Urban Mapping Inc.

Catt first asked everyone without laptops to stand up and shake their hands in front of them in order to wake up, then groan quietly like a zombie, then louder than the person next to you. Two questions before you sit down: Who objects to swearing, say boo. Those who don’t object to swearing, say Fuck Yeah. (You can imagine which was louder.)

Cope talked about how we tell where things are. Shows a quote from Douglas Coupland’s Shampoo Planet. “History and geography are being thrown away.” Cope: This is wrong.

Cope: Geography helps set the stage for an experience, history gives an experience context and nuance. We have theselocation devices that tell you where things are. I could care less where the nearest Starbucks is. I don’r eally care about driving directions either. But if I’m at a place, I would love to be able to see what came before and have a sense of its history. Continue reading

RatePoint to Launch Second Life Ratings Service

RatePoint to launch new ratings service for virtual world of Second Life

RatePoint, which provides a way for users to rate, share, discuss and connect based on how they rate sites on the Web, will launch a new avatar ratings service for the virtual world of Second Life on Monday, according to a press release. I’ve been talking to the RatePoint crew over the last week or so, and the service seems pretty cool (note that RatePoint is an advertiser on 3pointD at the moment, so take that as you will). I especially like the fact that RatePoint will try to match people with other users who’ve rated avatars similarly — more or less like Last.fm builds a constellation of “neighbors” for you based on similar musical tastes. The question for RatePoint’s Second Life service, though, is how much uptake it will actually see in practice. Ratings systems have been a controversial thing in Second Life, and there hasn’t yet been one that’s been wildly successful. Can RatePoint break the mold? Continue reading

Multiuser Google Earth Mashup in Development

Murat Aktihanoglu, who I met at the recent metaverse meetup, sends words of a mashup he’s developing that will make Google Earth into a multi-user application with the help of Skype. Needless to say, this is the kind of thing that excites 3pointD, and is in fact something we’ve been looking for for some time. You can download an early version at the somewhat oddly named Unype site. Unype lives between my Skype and yours, and between Google Earth and Skype on both machines. Fire up Skype and GE, click to connect your instance of Unype to them, click to connect to a friend within Unype, and then have your friend click Unype’s “follow” button. Then, when you navigate in your Google Earth, Unype automatically navigates your friend’s Google Earth to the same place. That’s cool as far as it goes, but there’s more coming, Murat says. Continue reading

Rocky Horror in Second Life, March 1

Rocky Horror Picture Show to screen in the virtual world of Second LifeFinally! I’ve long thought the Rocky Horror Picture Show would be the perfect film to screen in the virtual world of Second Life. After all, it’s the original weird costumed participatory media experience, filled with sex, mad scientists and terrorized newbies — just like SL! Well, start working on your Frank N. Furter avatars, because the Pirate Cinema in Stockholm, Sweden (I think this is the link), is holding a Rocky Horror Picture Show Second Life-a-long that will pair a real-world screening with one in the virtual world.

The event is being held in collaboration with architecture students at Stockholm’s Royal Institute of Technology, who are billing it as “a night in the spirit of Piracy and architecture, an attempt to destroy the firewall between the physical and virtual, to create a fellowship without limits.” The film starts Thursday, March 1, at noon SL time, in »The Office region« of SL.

The great thing about it is that the real-life screening will be streamed into the virtual world. (The SL screening will apparently be streamed to the RL theater as well.) If you’re not a virgin, you know that this means that the SL audience will get to see not only the film itself, but the antics of Sweden’s costumed Rocky Horror fans as they prance and dance onstage, and ask questions and give directions to the actors (which the actors, of course, answer and follow slavishly). One can only imagine what the experience will be like in Second Life. (It would be great to get a regular screening going there to see how the Rocky Horror cult manifests itself in the virtual world.)

Excellent fun.

Mixed-Reality Fashion Talk in NYC Tuesday 2/27

Daria Dorosh mixed-reality fashion event in NYCIf you’re in the New York City area tomorrow, Tuesday, February 27, and want to participate in or just attend a discussion of male fashions in both the real world and the virtual world of Second Life, drop by the A.I.R. Gallery at 511 West 25th Street, Suite 301, in Manhattan, at 5:30pm Eastern time (2:30pm SL Time) for an event being put on by Daria Dorosh, a long-time professor at New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology — and also a long-time explorer in virtual worlds. In fact, the organizers could use some help, so if you’re going to be in the area and you have some facility with Second Life, Skype and stuff like that, see below. Continue reading

13 Most Beautiful Avatars By 19,373 Artists

13 Most Beautiful Avatars show at Postmasters

Jerry Paffendorf, Rik Riel, my friend Micah and I dropped in Saturday night at the 13 Most Beautiful Avatars show at the Postmasters gallery in New York. The prints on display were beautiful 36″x 48″ prints of avatars taken from the virtual world of Second Life by a pair of artists named Eva and Franco Mattes, who together constitute 0100101110101101.ORG. I don’t know where that number came from, but it spells 19,373 in binary (unless my calculator is broken). I spoke to Franco at the show and he told me a little but about their work and the process of putting the show together, but what I didn’t realize at the time is that he and Eva and a pair of hacktivist pranksters (or “restless European con-artists,” as they describe themselves) who have engaged in some pretty formidable and in some ways very 3pointD works of art in years past. Continue reading

Real-World Gallery Show of Virtual Portraits

Postmasters Gallery in New York City mounts show of 13 beautiful avatars on February 17SLInsider reports that the Postmasters Gallery in New York City will be mounting a show of portraits of Second Life avatars on February 17. The portraits were shot by Eva and Franco Mattes, as far as I can tell, and have been digitally printed on canvas at 36″ x 48″, all of which sounds like it makes for a pretty formidable show. I’m planning to drop by for the opening, this Saturday, 17 February at 6:00pm Eastern, but the show will be up for a month, so if you’re in the area, don’t miss it. Great way to spread the virtual word to a broader audience, if you ask me.

Tyra Banks Launches Virtual World

Tyra's Virtual Studio, the virtual world of Tyra Banks

Well, it’s official: celebrity scents are over. As of tonight, you’re nobody if you don’t have your own 3D virtual world. Just ask supermodel-cum-talk show host Tyra Banks, who opened Tyra’s Virtual Studio this evening with a grammy party. “The studio is a free virtual world where you can listen to music, chat with your friends, get insider info about what’s happening at the Tyra Banks Show and just hang out,” according to the site. But you knew that already. In Tyra’s Virtual Studio, however (which is available for both Windows and Mac), “Your avatar can drop it like it’s hot.” Whew. We knew there was some added value here. Continue reading

Contest: Design Your Own Coffin in Second Life

Ghaniain Nokia cell phone coffin

Here’s the weirdest thing to hit my in-box in a while: A design-your-own-coffin contest in the virtual world of Second Life. Held by Dutch funeral company Uitvaart and coffin-makerer Bogra, the contest starts February 6, when free modifiable virtual coffins will be available at the Bogra office in SL’s »Tathlina« region. Residents then have until March 1 to trick out their personalized coffin and return them to SL resident Gwendolyn Kronsage. “The finished coffin needs to be accompanied by a notecard describing the design, as we would like to know why residents decorated the coffin the way they did and what materials they used,” according to a press release. Rather hilariously, the rules of the contest stipulate that “only biodegradable materials can be used in the design process” — though this is apparently “to guarantee the feasability of the Real Life production of the winning coffin.” Continue reading

Fox Atomic Holds SL Machinima, Photo Contests

Fox Atomic island in the virtual world of Second LifeInteractive online community site Fox Atomic is launching a machinima and photography contest in the virtual world of Second Life, with an eight-day trip to Costa Rica for two as the grand prize. Yes, that’s the real Costa Rica, not the virtual version. The news comes from a blog entry from Millions of Us, which built out Fox Atomic’s in-world presence on »Fox Atomic island« (billed as “the first movie studio in Second Life”). Your machinima entry can be filmed anywhere in Second Life, a long as it uses at least one of the free Fox Atomic avatars that are being given out on the island. You can also get machinima assistance there, and on the Web site. There’s not a lot of real information available yet. The rules, for instance, have yet to be posted to the contest Web site, and there’s no deadline given in the blog post, for instance, nor does it say what the clips might be used for by Fox. But if you’re interested in heading down to Costa Rica, start shooting. There are a few great machinimists in Second Life, but beyond that top tier the competition drops off pretty swiftly, so if you can cut together even a brief piece of entertainment, you just might stand a chance.