Edward Castronova’s MMO, Arden, is being released today. It’s available to play, download, and modify as you wish.
His new book, Exodus to the Virtual World, is also now available. I’ve been flipping through a copy, and it looks pretty interesting. Whether or not you agree with the thesis — that game mechanics are going to increasingly influence real-world governance and society — there’s a lot of fascinating research packed into its pages.
Arden is made possible through the generosity of the MacArthur Foundation. Read more on both at Terra Nova.
To add to the fun we had at our book party this weekend, Daniel Terdiman is throwing a party of his own, to celebrate the publication of his own book, The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Second Life. If you’re around San Francisco this Wednesday (Nov. 7), crash the party at the CNET offices, where Dan works, pick up a copy of the book, and check out all you ever wanted to know about making money in the metaverse. Rather than the usual thin gloss on selling prim skirts, the book actually takes a deep dive into the process of building and running a business in the virtual world of Second Life, covering everything from laying foundations and writing a business plan, to entering the fashion world, the real estate business, the virtual construction trade, the “adult” industry and even running a business on SL’s teen grid. I know Dan worked his ass off on this one, and it shows. Check it out for yourself and let me know if you agree.
It seems like forever since we first started working on it, but at last our book about the Second Life Herald — and about the metaverse in general — is being published (in a matter of days), and we’re planning a party to celebrate the fact. In case you missed it, I’ve written a book with philosophy professor and Herald founder Peter Ludlow. It features a colorful cast of virtual characters from places like Second Life, The Sims Online, World of Warcraft, EVE Online and various other places, as well as numerous flesh-and-blood people. Titled The Second Life Herald: The Virtual Tabloid That Witnessed the Dawn of the Metaverse, the book not only chronicles the rise of the virtual world’s first and favorite tabloid, but looks as well at the increasingly important role that virtual spaces play in our everyday lives, and articulates the issues we’ll be facing as the societies now emerging in the metaverse grow in reach and influence.
It should be in bookstores momentarily, and you can already buy the thing online, but maybe the most fun way to acquire a copy would be to buy one at the party we’re having in Brooklyn on November 3. Continue reading
That’s Ludlow as in Peter Ludlow, who founded the Second Life Herald, and Wallace as in myself, who occasionally does some work over there. We’re interviewed on Episode #2 of the MIT Press podcast, which you can listen to via this link. (You have to listen through some advertisements for the podcast itself at the beginning, for some reason.) MIT, of course, is who’s publishing our book, The Second Life Herald: The Virtual Tabloid That Witnessed the Dawn of the Metaverse, which is due out any minute now — or anyway, at the end of the month. We talk about Second Life, of course, issues of governance in the metaverse, the future of metaversal technologies, and a few other things. I think we were spared any annoying furry sex questions in this one, which was nice. Check it out.
Second Life resident Dalian Hansen sends word that he will soon publish ANIMA, a novel set largely in the virtual world itself. From Dalian’s description:
Ben Tao is the avatar of a fired programmer who hacks Second Life. His goal is to profit from a false intellectual property claim. However, instead of changing the creation date for the items he has stolen, he is actually sending them back in time to the creation of the 3D world. This software exploit opens a wormhole of conflicting realities that unfold in a disjointed nightmare. Ben quickly finds himself controlled by an entity who robs him of all free will. Or is he just going insane? As the digital and real worlds merge in his mental interchange, he uncovers a secret that affects all of humanity. From this bleak future, Ben has only one chance to escape.
Cool! Dalian says preview editions will be published as a prim book in SL and as a paperback available from CafePress.com, both due July 7, with a hardcover edition available on Amazon.com as of July 27. That said, I couldn’t find listings on either CafePress or Amazon, hence the question mark in the title of this post. Looking forward to getting my review copy either way. I don’t know of another complete novel that’s been written in/around SL, so this should be a milestone of sorts. Can’t wait.
Second Life resident Forseti Svarog (aka the Electric Sheep Company‘s Giff Constable) has put together a cool collection of SL screenshots showing, at last count, 46 bridges that have been built in Second Life, including the quite beautiful example above, from the Svarga region of SL. Forseti’s looking for more, so drop him a landmark in SL if you know of any bridges that aren’t in his set. If he can find enough, maybe he’ll make a book out of them, as he’s done in the past with shots of SL avatars (a physical book) and the great builds of SL (a virtual one).
Two stories out of Sweden in today’s D-Briefs, plus a charity in Africa, a party for a book of watercolors and one for Second Lifers in Europe, and eight job openings — all happening in or around virtual worlds.
â€¢ SL.UK07, Europe’s annual meetup for Second Lifers, now has a date: it’ll take place 23 June, starting midday (that’s noon if you’re American) till “rather late,” at a place called the T-Bar, located in the Tea Building, Shoreditch High Street, London E1. RSVP to Nick [at] riversrunred.com. Machinima or video submissions can be sent to Eddie Escher in SL, music submissions to Neil [at] riversrunred.com, and art gallery submissions / video projections to Rosie [at] riversrunred.com, all of which must be received by 16 June. Places are limited, RSVP early.
Amy Wilson has been painting really nice watercolors illustrating her travels around the virtual world of Second Life for some time. Now, she’s published them in a 32-page book, available on Lulu.com. If you dug Giff’s Avatar Expression, you may well dig Amy’s work. The paintings are lovely, and the idea of using a virtual world as the source material for a painting is one that interests me a great deal. Painters have long used the real world around them as their subject matter; why not do the same with a virtual world? Does that mean Amy is painting from life? You can chat about that and other topics of art and virtual worlds at an opening in Second Life being thrown in Amy’s honor on June 2. More details on the where and when of that event when I get them.
Giff 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.
I’ll be blogging as usual for the next few days, but I’ll be doing it from Berlin, where I’m headed this evening to spread the gospel of 3pointD in the form of a talk on virtual worlds I’m to give to a room full of advertising execs, creative directors and other marketing men and women. (Justin Bovington of Rivers Run Red will be there too, it looks like.) Berlin, of course, has some cool metaversal stuff going on lately, and I’m hoping to make contact with some of the people who are hooking it up. If you’re in Berlin and you want to get a coffee or a drink, drop me a line at themetaverse [at] gmail [dot] com, or SMS me on +1-917-749-6185. (I probably won’t have Twitter going on my mobile, just to save on international charges, which are stiff.) I’ve always wanted to go to Berlin, which first capitivated me something like 20 years ago in the form of a book by the artist Jorg Immendorf (on which the sculpture above is based), accompanied by a remarkable poem by the artist and printmaker A.R. Penck. And to my surprise I’ve just found that you can read the entire book online! It doesn’t have anything to do with 3pointD, of course, but it’s one of my favorite books, so I highly recommend it. See you in Berlin.
If you dig the suspensful thrills of novelist Dean Koontz, then log in to the virtual world of Second Life tonight at 6:00pm SL Time (9:00pm Eastern), for the premiere of Bantam Dell‘s Authors in Second Life series (which we stumbled on last month). Koontz will read from his upcoming book, The Good Guy, then take questions from the audience. (Ask him about Odd Thomas, which sounds like it has more to do with the virtual.) Audience members will also have a chance to win a first edition of The Good Guy, which they’ll receive two weeks before it hits store shelves. Continue reading
It looks like the Electric Sheep Company (sponsors of this blog) are getting ready to bring authors from Random House’s Bantam Dell imprint to the virtual world of Second Life. I was poking around the Grid today and dropped in on Sheep Island, where I spotted a Bantam Dell building just outside Sheep Tower. The inside is all set up for what looks like a reading or Q&A, the featured author being best-selling thriller writer Dean Koontz. While this could just be a test build, the Bantam Dell logo is slapped all over everything, and the place looks ready for a bunch of literary-minded avatars to show up and pelt Koontz with questions. I don’t have much information other than that, just a few screenshots, which you can check out after the jump. Continue reading
Click image for JimmyJet Fossett’s Flickr set from the event
No, not the official guide to promoting Second Life. Second Life resident JimmyJet Fossett snapped a bunch of good pictures of last night’s in-world author appearance promoting the book Second Life: The Official Guide, which I wrote two chapters of, and he was kind enough to send along a link to the Flickr set where they’re posted. There were a few great avatars in attendance, so they’re worth checking out. No good griefers, unfortunately. Continue reading
Yup, we’ll be in the virtual world of Second Life this evening for a meet-the-authors event to promote the official guide to Second Life, which came out a couple of months ago and has been selling like hotcakes since then, I hear. The event starts at 6:00pm SL time (9:00pm Eastern), and will take place at the amphitheatre in one of Joi Ito‘s sims, »in Kula 1«. The Wiley store can be found »in Furu«, though I’m not exactly sure what’s going on there. Show up early for your seat, it should be a fun evening — depending on the quality of griefers we get, of course.
Second Life resident Forseti Svarog (aka Giff Constable of the Electric Sheep Company) has begun a search for the greatest architectural wonders of the virtual world of Second Life, which he plans to collect in Volume 2 of Great Builds of SL, a virtual book you can pick up in the »Bisque region« of Second Life. So if you have one in mind, drop him an IM in-world, or email him at forseti.svarog[AT]gmail.com.
I love the idea of a virtual picture book on Second Life (such as this one). The only way I’d love it more were if it were real. (Who knows, maybe that’s on the way as well.) I actually think it’s important to keep these kind of documents updated, since SL is so mercurial, and great builds rise and fall practically overnight. I’d love to be able to look back on the best, rather than have to lament that they’ve been lost to the pixelated mists of time.
Now that the Official Guide to Second Life is out (with yours truly as one of the authors, don’tcha know), it seems Wiley has more SL books in the works. Coming up this summer is The Official Guide to Advanced Content Creation for Second Life, by SL residents Aimee Weber and Catherine Omega (aka Catherine Winters outside of SL). My feeling is that Wiley is making a pretty substantial bet on the continued success of Second Life. But it’s also a bet that itself contributes to the viability of the platform, by providing some important documentation that will make it more accessible to a broader user base. More good reading on the way. [Via podcaster and architect Lordfly Digeridoo.]
My latest guest post for Terra Nova deals with the excellent massively multiplayer online game NationStates, which was created by Australian author Max Barry, loosely based on his book, Jennifer Government (which I read last night; good read). Check out the post (and the game) for more details about how it all works, but the point is that the game incorporates some interesting mechanics of player governance. Of course, the game is all about governance, so that’s not surprising, but the point is that I think there are lessons there that could be applied to 3D online environments as well. Continue reading
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?
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.
Philip K. Dick got me through my teenage years. I read all of his novels, many of them multiple times, but among my favorites was always A Scanner Darkly, the twisted tale of a drug-addled officer assigned to spy on some drug-addled layabouts, with mind-addling results. (I also really dug Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said, as well as any number of others, on up to and including Valis. Plus, it’s really worth checking out his non-science-fiction fiction, like Confessions of a Crap Artist. But I digress.) Now the DVD of the recent Scanner Darkly movie — a cool, rotoscoped experience starring Keanu Reeves and Woody Harrelson, which is actually pretty good — is getting a release party in the virtual world of Second Life, kicking off next Monday, December 18, from 6:00pm to 10:00pm SL time (from 9:00pm Eastern). Sounds fun, too: “There will be music and a lot of imagery and visual experiences reminiscent of the film or trippy to the point that a Pokemon level seizure isn’t far behind,” according to a flak. (Pokemon seizures in Second Life? I’m so there.) There will also be audio and video clips from the film, and a few surprises. SLurl on over on Monday. And don’t forget to check out the advert in the Second Life Herald sidebar for a cute quip from the movie, heh.
Well, it’s official. Actually, it’s the official guide to Second Life, out now (or rather, as of this Wednesday) from Wiley. I’ve paged through most of it already and it looks like a pretty good guide for finding your feet in the virtual world. Why do I have a copy already? The same reason it’s kind of hard for me to give it a terribly unbiased review: I wrote two chapters of the thing. So go buy it now! To be honest, though, I’ve already learned a couple of things about inventory management and stuff like that from it. The thing is, Second Life changes so quickly and so much, even the software behind the world, that it remains to be seen how useful the book will be over time. All part of a nefarious plan to sell multiple editions, I imagine. One thing valuable about grabbing this edition: There’s a lot of good history in there, and a record of current builds and communities that are archived on no other pages (except here and there around the Web). In any case, I recommend a purchase, not least because some very small portion of it will go to support 3pointD.
This is cool. You can visit »a small flipbook museum« in the virtual world of Second Life. There’s not all that much to do there, and lag prevents some of the exhibits from working the way they should, but it’s a nice tribute to an art form that you’ll never be able to keep from picking up. The flipbook pinwheels outside (shown above) are especially neat. Yes, it’s basically a promotional build for Flippies, which will build you a custom flipbook, but how cool is that idea? Send along a series of shots of your av being collared and you’re golden. Anyway, how can you blame someone like Jeffrey Kay, Flippies’ president, when he calls flipbooks “one of the earliest forms of interactive multimedia on record.” Totally! Continue reading
The UK’s enjoyably left-leaning daily newspaper, The Guardian, flags the emerging publishing and literary scene in the virtual world of Second Life in an article on the Guardian Unlimited site this week. The piece mainly revolves around Penguin’s entry into Second Life with the virtual sampler of Snow Crash they published a while back with the help of Rivers Run Red. The article, however, notes that Penguin is “now developing a virtual bookshelf of other Penguin titles for the Second Life resident.” The piece also flags what sounds like a nice build, a replica of the Shakespeare & Co. bookstore in Paris. The books on the shelves there apparently provide links to their counterparts on Amazon.com, although there are plans to publish original works by residents. The Grid is down for an update at the moment so I can’t give you a location for it, but I’m looking forward to checking this out and seeing how it matches up with the real thing — especially whether the proprietor will be offering young literary avatars a place to bunk in a threadbare upstairs room, as George Whitman, the real store’s proprietor, has long been known to.
For those (like me) who haven’t already checked out Wired magazine editor-in-chief Chris Anderson’s new book, The Long Tail, or who just want to know more about it, straight from the author’s mouth, you can see Anderson give a talk about hsi vision of the future of business this Friday at 10:30am SL time, when Wagner James Au will interview him at the new Wired installation being built on the Millions of Us sim. Yes, Wired too is coming to Second Life, and will probably throw themselves a more proper party on Saturday, I hear. The big question: Is there room enough in the sim for both Wired and CNet? Or will Chris Anderson and Daniel Terdiman soon come to virtual blows?
Snapzilla, the Flickr-like site for the virtual world of Second Life, has released a two-volume “Best of” coffee table book set to celebrate a recent milestone: as of Tuesday, SL residents had uploaded more than 100,000 Second Life screenshots to the site. The books are available only in-world at the moment, but here’s hoping there might one day be a way to see hard copies. It seems inevitable; if Second Life continues to grow, we’ll doubtless be thumbing through A Day in the Second Life on the tables at Barnes & Noble at some point. Can’t wait. For now, head to the ANOmations store [< -- SL link] in Second Life to pick up your virtual copies. Continue reading
It looks like Linden Lab, makers of the virtual world of Second Life, have quietly gone and found someone to write an “official guide” to getting around their corner of the metaverse. [Via Tony Walsh and Aimee Weber.] Due out in mid-December, the volume “explores in detail every aspect of Second Lifeâ€™s rich and multilayered virtual world, explains how it works, and offers a wealth of information and practical advice for all Second Life residents.”
The book was written by Michael Rymaszewski, who in the past has penned official guides to such popular video games as Age of Empires III, Zoo Tycoon 2, Rise of Nations and others. On first blush it seems an odd choice, since game guides usually focus on getting from start to finish as easily as possible and uncovering hidden corners of the game in question. But Catherine Smith at Linden Lab tells me that it was the publisher who approached the company about doing an official guide. In addition, “LL has had lots of input into the content, the look and feel and the writing of the book,” she says. The volume promises more than just min/maxing tips, to be sure. Continue reading
Virtual-world services company Rivers Run Red is busy these days. Having recently announced they’d be bringing hit pop band Duran Duran to the virtual world of Second Life, the news is now that they’re bringing the metaverse back home, so to speak, by working with publisher Penguin to create a virtual version of Neal Stephenson’s sci-fi novel, Snow Crash, to be distributed in Second Life, a world largely inspired by the book. Virtual copies of a portion of the book should be available starting next week. Continue reading