I apparently started a new blog about a year and a half ago, posted ten posts there, then didn’t touch it through all of 2010. Well, I’m back! I’ve just put up a post there about the game that I’m making, and immediately got a chill down my spine, just a little taste memory of the heyday of 3pointD, South by Southwest (which I skipped this year for the first time in five or more years), podcasting, meetups, the whole bit. I don’t plan to jump back into blogging, etc., in the same way I did in 2006 — “blogging, etc.” is not at all the same these days — but it was interesting to be reminded of what the blogging life was like. So… if anyone out there is still listening and interested in what I might be up to or have to say (and you’re finding my Twittering a bit too shorthand), do join me at The Last Weblog and say hello. I may occasionally post here as well, I think, but hey: it’s 2011, and this place is so, well… so 3pointD!
Is Google building a Second Life-like virtual world? Google-watching blog Google Operating System thinks they might be, given that Arizona State University students will have the opportunity to test a new product that sounds very virtual worldy and that also sounds like it will require a Gmail account. Apparently to be “publicly launched later this year,” the product is developed by “a major Internet company” and, says Google Op, “there are hints that the application is related to social networking, 3D modeling and video games.” Want to know for sure? Enroll at ASU. That’s the only way to get in. You know Michael Arrington (from whom I first read this) has his spies crawling the campus already.
The crew at PC Gamer UK are without a doubt the best games writers in the business. (Put it this way: I pay over $100 a year for my subscription, and I no longer read any other games mags.) Every month, PCG(UK) provides the most sophisticated, most critical, most creative, and the funniest (without being too scatological — though they could still stand to dial back on the sexism) games writing out there. Now, a sub-crew of PCG writers — including Jim Rossignol and Kieron Gillen — as well as some friends, have launched a new site where they can range even more freely. Check out RockPaperShotgun, where there’s already some great stuff up (check out Gillen’s exclusive interview with Bioshock’s Ken Levine, for instance), and where I expect you’ll be able to find a higher level of games writing (at a lower cost) than is available from even the best games sites on the Web. (Yeah, I’m looking at you, Escapist.)
Denise Caruso and Clay Shirky opened Supernova 2007 this morning by approaching the socially networked environment of the World Wide Web from two different directions. Caruso’s basic thesis was that people needed to break out of their insular social networks and take additional risks in order to bring in a greater variety of viewpoints and push innovation forward. Shirky called for the industry to rely more heavily on love, and posited that love would be a better indicator of where the IT industry is headed than business models are. Continue reading
I missed the opening of this art show in the virtual world of Second Life, but it will apparently be up for a while, at the [KODE] Gallery in »SL’s Envy region«. It’s a solo show by Rio-based artist LÃ¶is Lancaster (aka Haemetz Mizser in SL), “a figurative digital illustrator in the real world, who is at the same time — and with the same body of work — an expressionist painter in Second Life,” according to SL resident Cobala Koba, who organized the show. Coincidentally, I’m headed for Rio this evening, to attend the wedding of a friend and to try to take a well needed break — although I’m already trying to set up meetings with various SL people there, so we’ll see. I’ll be away for a week, which means there may be some slow posting ahead on 3pointD. However, I’ve left the blog in the capable hands of our three contributors — Glitchy Gumshoe, Chip Poutine and Aleister Kronos — so hopefully they’ll be able to keep you entertained. See you soon.
As 3pointD continues on our path to world domination, we’re proud to introduce to readers a new contributor: Second Life resident Aleister Kronos, who’s been quietly blogging over at Ambling in Second Life for some time now, and doing a great job there of turning up unexplored corporate islands and other newsy tidbits from the virtual world of Second Life. A Second Life resident since early 2006, Al role-plays a technical architect for a European IT consulting company in real life, which apparently gives him lots of time to amble around SL. That’s good for 3pointD, and we’re very much looking forward to having his reports on the blog. Stay tuned for his first one shortly. W00t!
John Swords and I recorded a couple of new Metaverse Sessions while we were down at South by Southwest, one with Ethan Zuckerman of Global Voices Online and one with Jamais Cascio of World Changing. Johnny has just posted Ethan’s session (incorrectly labeled #9, even though it’s #10), and there’s some really interesting stuff there. Ethan talks about how Google Maps was used to heighten political awareness in Bahrain, how LiveJournal has become the blogging tool of choice for politically active adults (not kids) in Russia, and the “cyber-utopian dominant narrative” in which everyone gets along in the same online place. We also explore some interesting question of how cultural backgrounds inform the use of technologies, questions that don’t get much discussed (or thought about) in most our metaversal questions. A really cool guest to have for the Sessions, and highly recommended listening.
Second Life resident Koz Farina, creator of the very popular BlogHUD tool for blogging from within SL, is developing a system to allow you to cross-post your BlogHUD posts to your account on Twitter, the hot new social site that lets you miniblog along with your friends. Koz is already feeding all BlogHUD posts to a Twitter BlogHUD page. This is just the latest entry into a growing pool of Twitter-to-SL mashups from people like Ordinal Malaprop and Kisa Naumova, among others. And in fact, there’s been a huge flowering of ancillary Twitter apps since the service launched last fall. Why? Because Twitter is incredibly compelling, for a number of reasons. One of the most important, in my opinion, is the almost complete lack of button-based features that Twitter offers to its users. (Although I’d love for someone to build the wish app described at the end of this post.) Continue reading
The always-awesome Ordinal Malaprop is developing an interface that will let Twitter members post and receive updates from within the virtual world of Second Life. Go, Ordinal! It sounds like there’s already a working version, though it’s in an early stage of development. I want one. I’d love to be able to Twitter my wanderings around Second Life. I like Koz Farina’s BlogHUD system, but I don’t use it because (a) I want to reach people outside Second Life, which I can’t do using BlogHUD from the chat line, and (b) cross-posting to 3pointD from BlogHUD involves composing an unwieldy notecard, which I don’t see the need for. A Twitter interface would combine the ease of posting short Twitters from the chat line, and the range of broadcast that Twitter already features. Totally ace.
So I’m just back from the metaverse meetup and I wouldn’t normally be blogging at this hour, but I’m trying to find out just how I’ve screwed up the site (there’s supposed to be a strip of red buttons just below the header image now; it shows in IE but not Firefox, for some reason), and whether a new post might knock things loose and get it working again. (Don’t laugh; it’s happened.) The meetup was a hoot, with a bunch of geeks packed into the back room of Planet Thailand, as well as a few more-or-less normal people along for the ride. Jerry and I each made presentations from the top of the stair once we’d gotten back to his pad, and a nice hot debate ensued, which I’ll recount later. The assembled crowd (of 40 or so?) was great, consisting of a few meetup newbies as well as the usual suspects. More details on the actual proceedings will have to wait. The prize for best effort, though, has to go to Negin and Kimmy, who spent all night working their asses off on a second installment of their excellent Nerd of the Week, a series of clips to accompany (or possibly become part of) the movie they’re working on, Nerdcore Rising. They interviewed everyone in sight (I got lav’ed no less than twice), and spent at least eight straight hours working. I was tired of hearing myself talk by the end of the night, so I can only imagine how they felt.
I’ve seen this YouTube clip before, but I was finally inspired to install it after 3pointD contributor Chip Poutine sent me this link. It’s a very cool screensaver that renders all the blog posts coming from everywhere in the world in 3D on a 3D globe. Unfortunately, something in my system seems to be preventing it from working (which is plaguing a lot of my day today, frustratingly). I get the cool globe, but no posts show up. In any case, I love the idea. Download it yourself and tell me what I’m doing wrong. [UPDATE: Ooh, nvm, it’s working now! \o/ Very cool. And yes, you can click through to the posts themselves on the Web. (Sorry for the double-update.)]
I am occasionally asked by reporters interested in the Second Life Herald (where I’ve been an editor for two years now) what the appeal of doing journalism in virtual worlds is. In an attempt to locate a pithy soundbite for them, I sometimes say it’s like being a foreign correspondent without having to leave your desk (though this is not, in fact, the whole story; read on). So I was interested to spot this post by Ethan Zuckerman (via the Business Communicators of SL blog), which contains some thoughts on similar topics, inspired by a conversation with Pitchfork’s Chris Dahlen for Dahlen’s latest column. Dahlen wonders whether the Internet is up to the challenge of providing information about places like Africa, since it looks like you can find a lot more detail on the Web about Buffy than about the Somalian Union of Islamic Courts, for instance. Which touches off a thought on Zuckerman’s part: “I find it deeply odd that journalism is expanding into these illusory spaces while itâ€™s shrinking in the real world. I think the answer may be that these new spaces — whether SecondLife, World of Warcraft, the culture of fanfiction or machinima — are far more coverable than many events in the real world.” While both those statements are true, to an extent, I’d argue that there isn’t the causal link between them that Zuckerman sees, or at least that that link is not as strong, and that there are more important factors at work. Continue reading
MIT’s Henry Jenkins has a great interview with our Muckraker-in-Chief over at the Second Life Herald, Peter Ludlow (aka SL’s Urizenus Sklar). In fact, it’s the first part of a two-part interview, the second part of which should be coming tomorrow. [UPDATE: Read part two.] There’s great stuff here on the importance of “local” or “community” journalism to virtual worlds. Tomorrow we’ll hear from Peter on the current debate that’s raging over Second Life, and more on governance in virtual worlds. Recommended reading.
Most 3pointD readers will be familiar with Terra Nova, which is probably the best blog out there for deep thinking about massively multiplayer online games, and one of the best on non-game virtual worlds. (I have to maintain my own-horn-tooting of 3pointD as the topper, of course.) So I was quite pleased recently (pretty excited, to tell you the truth) to be invited to be a guest author there for the month off February. My posts there will likely be more game-focused than the usual fare here (though I may do a VW post there as well), so there shouldn’t be a lack of news flowing through 3pointD. In fact, since I’ll link my TN posts here, you might get an extra tidbit or three this month. My first outing looks at the many game guilds that have sprung up around members of the Something Awful forums, and the interesting ways in which they bring Goon culture to the virtual worlds they inhabit. Fun!
This isn’t specifically Second Life-related, but it’s a project that a Second Life resident is helping to run and it’s very cool, so I thought I’d mention it here. SL resident Jeremy Neumann helped bring excerpts from the seminal metaversal novel Snow Crash to Second Life last August. Now, in the guise of his real-world avatar Jeremy Ettinghausen, Digital Publisher at Pengiun Books UK, he’s created and launched a very interesting collaborative novel that’s being written by many people at once on a wiki. Anyone can contribute, and anyone can edit anyone else’s writing. The novel has been seeded with contributions from a team of MA students, but over the next six weeks anyone will be able to contribute, after which, it sounds like, pages will be locked and the novel “published,” at least in Web-based digital form. The progress will be chronicled on the Penguin blog. Already the wiki site has proved so popular that high volumes of traffic are forcing Penguin to switch in some heavier-hitting servers. No one at Penguin is making any claims for the quality of the finished product — they just want to see what will happen, and explore the results of crowdsourcing an artisitic work like a novel. I’m all for it. I’d love to see this kind of thing in Second Life, as well, whether it’s something made from words or prims. How can we make that happen?
An experimental three-way conversation about the future of virtual worlds is taking place among Clay Shirky, Henry Jenkins and Beth Coleman, the first round of which is now complete with Beth’s recent post. I find myself reluctant to even blog about this, as most of the conversation leading up to this point (kicked off by some tendentious posts by Shirky over at ValleyWag) has been counter-productive for those who actually want to make some kind of even-handed inquiry into what’s happening with 3D online technologies. But the present round of blog posts from Shirky, Jenkins and Coleman seems more balanced, including Shirky’s. Unfortunately, the result is that not all that much is being said that’s really new, at least, not to my eye. Shirky is right to question Second Life‘s adoption numbers (when he can put aside the vitriol he’s directed against the press; that’s a separate issue), but they’ve been questioned many times before. Jenkins’s post is interesting for putting virtual worlds in the broader context of participatory culture. I think Beth Coleman’s, though, does the most to push the conversation forward. Instead of arguing over which part of the elephant is the right one to examine, she pushes some ideas out to us for adoption and/or consideration, including the need for a standard measurement of usage, whether such world will be created in our image, and the need for interoperability and stronger communications between virtual worlds and the other technologies through which we communicate and manipulate information. This last section even includes a line that sums up my own view about virtual worlds and about what I’m doing here on 3pointD: “What virtual worlds promise is an augmentation of human-to-human communication.” Win.
Spotted on the MAKE Magazine blog (run by goggle-headed nutjob Phil Torrone): the new Hackszine site, developed to “promote the philosophy of Hacks as a way to gain control of the devices and systems in our lives.” I like it. Already there’s a cool 3pointD-worthy hack up on the site, a mashup that lets you map places mentioned in books via Google Maps. We look forward to more.
As you may have noticed at right, 3pointD went through a slight bit of sidebar redesign this evening. Most prominently, I’ve added a “recent comments” section, thanks to an ace plug-in for WordPress. So bring on your insights, opinions and/or invective; from now on, you’ll be able to see at least part of it near the top of the sidebar. Other than that, I just rearranged some of the sidebar elements, and got rid of my SLurlPane. I liked the SLurlPane — I liked having the big graphic element up there — but it felt too static, and it slowed down the page a lot. I’ve replaced it with a little Flickr badge — but now that’s busted! The last dozen or so page loads haven’t changed it from the L$ graph, for some reason, even after I uploaded new pics to the 3pointD pool. I suspect this may have to do with my changing one line of the badge code, but I’d done that in the old one and that one worked (until recently, actually). Any suggestions? Anyone know a good Flickr hack that would let me get a larger size pic in there (without having to use the medium size on the interface, which hangs off the edge of the page)? Or a suggestions for some other dynamic graphical element to put there?
Basically, though, let me know how we’re looking. There haven’t been any major changes, but I always like feedback. Thanks in advance!
A last-minute trip sees 3pointD out of the country this week. Given the limited Internet access I have here in Amman, Jordan, posting looks like it will drop down to anywhere from slow to non-existent until at least the weekend, when I fly back. Since slow posting always earns me inquiries from kindly readers concerned that I may have broken my posting finger, I thought I’d drop a line here to let you know I’m on an unexpected hiatus. What am I doing here in Jordan? Well, it’s nothing very 3pointD, in fact, but I’ll give you the short version of what’s a much longer story after the jump in case you’re curious. Continue reading
Graphic novelist (now there’s a double entendre) Warren Ellis launched his column for Reuters’ Second Life bureau today. Ellis’s take on the recent griefing of Second Life land baron Anshe Chung is refreshingly honest. Ellis writes of Anshe’s “desperation to drop the incident down an Orwellian memory hole” with the DMCA-like notices Anshe’s typists have been sending around. This is exactly correct; there’s no rights violation in a media outlet publishing a shot of an incident that took place in public, even if copyrighted material is contained in the image. Of course, most of the media outlets that did publish those shots (of Anshe being assaulted by a flock of flying penises during an interview with CNet) are hardly concerned. Continue reading
Second Life‘s Adam Reuters (aka Real Life’s Adam Pasick) was kind enough to drop me an early version of the new Reuters NewsHUD that will soon be released in Second Life. The new HUD not only displays Reuters SL and RL headlines, but can also display several feeds of the user’s choice (you can see recent 3pointD headlines showing in the HUD in the image above), and pulls in headlines from Koz Farina’s BlogHUD.com. One interesting feature is that the BlogHUD feed is customizable to show either all BlogHUD headlines, or headlines from the region the user is in. The HUD also has a tab showing SL financial statistics. All very nice and useful, and a good example of a nice way to pull information into SL from the outside world, something which has been difficult in the past (though SL feedreaders do exist). While the new Reuters NewsHUD isn’t out yet, it should be available in a matter of days at the »Reuters bureau« in Second Life.
The Sundance Channel is coming to the virtual world of Second Life in January, with a virtual premiere of 3pointD’s favorite movie of recent weeks, Four Eyed Monsters, according to a press release. “Sundance Channelâ€™s SL screening room will be used to showcase films, documentaries, shorts and original series and to host unique interactive events with filmmakers and other independent thinkers,” according to the release. The Electric Sheep Company (who sponsor this blog) will be building out the Sundance presence in SL. Like their Aloft project, the Sundance build will also be accompanied by a blog, which will document the construction, provide information on SL itself, and give updates on upcoming events being held at the virtual screening room. All of which sounds very cool to me, especially the opportunity to see new films like Four Eyed Monsters in SL before they’re widely available elsewhere. And how long will it be before we start to see machinima at the Sundance Festival? See you in Park City.
As noted, I did a panel last night on lifelogging with Jerry Paffendorf and Susan and Arin of the film Four Eyed Monsters, which is playing for another week at Cinema Village in New York. I don’t know if anyone had a good idea of what they were going to talk about ahead of time, but the panel turned out to be a lot of fun for us, and seemed to be an interesting experience for the audience, who were happy to share their thoughts with us in turn.
One of the things we touched on was how one expresses identity online, through means like MySpace, YouTube, blogs or your behavior in an online world. One of the things that’s most interesting to me about the film is how Susan and Arin expressed their identities to each other in an offline context. Before they even met, they decided that they’d communicate simply through written notes rather than speaking. Though they speak freely to each other now, the film chronicles some interesting moments in their relationship: not just the moments when one or the other of them found the notes too much to bear, but just the way they unfolded themselves to each other through writing, a much slower process than through speaking, as we normally would. The written word, of course, carries a lot less information than the voice. Not only are there vocal inflections and mannerisms to read, but there’s an element of spontaneity that writing can’t capture. Susan and Arin forgo that channel, though, in favor of getting to know each other through the much narrower band of text. As Jerry pointed out, it’s almost as if their relationship took place in text chat. Continue reading
Reader Richard Hensler just drew my attention to UniveRSS, a 3D RSS feed reader for Windows Vista. My first reaction was, “So what?” But my second reaction was, “Perfect! I need this right away.” Why? Because the size and position of the icons representing each feed in the UniveRSS window is determined by the number of unread items each contains. I don’t know about you, but I have so many feeds in my reader that they’re almost impossible to navigate. A 3D representation of them, sorted in this way, would make them much more useful. My third reaction was, “Why not let us arrange them by relevance, or in some other manner?” But we can do that ourselves, since not only can you download the application, but you can even download the source code itself. Now all I need is Vista, heh.
3pointD is off for a bit of a Busman’s Holiday over the next two weeks, so expect posting to slow down a bit between now and 21 November. Where am I going? Only to Iceland for the annual fanfest of the coolest massively multiplayer online game out there, EVE Online. Picture it: 600 or so of the deepest MMO geeks in the world, gathered in one cold, dark place to chat to developers, journalists (that’s me) and each other about whether ECM needs to be nerfed, and just what CCP are thinking about with the baffling new gang system. Personally, I can’t wait. Then it’s off to the UK to do some interviews and try to relax. I’ll be posting here occasionally, but it won’t be as often as I normally do, certainly. Hopefully Glitchy and Chip will help fill the empty spaces in the metaverse while I’m gone.
The Second Life Herald, which gave me my start in virtual journalism, celebrates its third birthday with a party in the virtual world of Second Life this afternoon (or tonight, if you’re in Europe). Head on over to the _blacklibrary in »Hyperborea« at 2pm SL time (5pm Eastern) and party down with myself (i.e., Walker Spaight, the Herald’s current editor-in-chief), Herald founder and editor emeritus Urizenus Sklar, new Managing Editor Pixeleen Mistral, who has done a smashing job of breathing new life into the Herald in recent months, and other Herald correspondents and friends. (
Unfortunately, I’ll only make the first hour or so of the party; real life calls, unavoidably, in this case. UPDATE: Real life cancelled! Walker parties on!) For the second year in a row, _blacklibrary proprietor Wandering Yaffle has been kind enough to host. So kind is he, in fact, that we’ll soon be setting up a new Herald HQ »in Hyperborea«, just across the way from the library. Last year’s party was a hoot, so be sure to join us.
Reuben Steiger’s virtual world services company, Millions of Us, has launched a new listening station in the virtual world of Second Life for Brooklyn-born “underground” hip-hop artist Talib Kweli, located in the company’s Millions of Us sim. Similar in nature to the one Millions built for Regina Spektor back in May, Kweli’s is a big Bed-Stuy brownstone, built out by SL architect Lordfly Digeridoo.
But as SL resident Tao Takashi points out in a BlogHUD post made from within the world, he was unable to find a link at the site to purchase a Kweli CD from Amazon or another Web-based service. Is there a missed opportunity here? It will be interesting to see what the Electric Sheep Company (sponsors of this blog) do for their project for Sony/BMG, which, according to The New York Times, “has rooms devoted to popular musicians like Justin Timberlake and DMX, allowing fans to mingle, listen to tunes or watch videos. Sony BMG is also toying with renting residences in the complex, as well as selling music downloads that people can listen to throughout the simulated world.” Continue reading
There’s a long piece in today’s New York Times about the virtual world of Second Life and the fact that real-world corporations are increasingly making their way there to explore promotional and other possibilities. Not a bad read, though of course it raises the question of how much value we bloggers can add while people like the Times and Reuters (not to mention CNet and Wired News) have their eye so closely on SL these days. Sharpen your keyboards, kids.
Whew, I just finished uploading several dozen pictures to the 3pointD Flickr pool. Heavy lifting! But you can now browse all 262 photos there, pretty much every image that’s appeared on the blog and then some, since the pool is open for anyone to upload images to. The coolest thing about it is that more than 40 of those images have been contributed by people other than myself. All the pictures I’ve added come complete with a “3pointD link” that takes you to the blog post from which the picture was drawn, so you can have a nice tour of the site just by clicking through the images that interest you. And if you really dig your 3pointD, you can follow this link to build a Flickr badge like the one in the middle column here and slap it on your own Web page. Have fun!
For those who haven’t seen it yet, you can now check out the virtual Aloft Hotel that the Electric Sheep Company (sponsors of this blog) have built out for Starwood Hotels. Just head over to aloft island, which is now open to the public, and check in to the prototype hotel. You can read about the process of creating the model as well at the Virtual Aloft blog. Part of the idea is to get feedback from visitors, so don’t forget to drop a line to frontdesk [AT] virtualaloft.com with your opinion of the build. Let us know how the room service is.
Check out the latest SecondCast, in which most of the ‘casters (I was absent with the flu) do stuff like try on pants from our “Get Philip in Your Pants” contest, and chat with a live audience in Second Life. Special guest Koz Farina talks about his very cool BlogHUD, and the podcasters generally run off at the mouth in what became a marathon after-hours session. Listen in on one of the more hilarious episodes in the SecondCast archives.
Christian of the Electric Sheep Company sends news that Linden Lab, makers of the virtual world of Second Life, will soon allow users to display Web pages in their in-world profiles. According to this blog post from one Linden developer, a new tab will soon be added to users’ profiles (as seen above) that will load from a URL field. “This feature should make it out sometime after this coming release, and to a public preview before then,” according to the post. Continue reading