Tagged: governance

Castronova’s Arden MMO Opens, Book Out

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.

Second Life Herald Book Party, November 3

Second Life Herald book party, November 3It 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

Ludlow and Wallace on MITP Podcast

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.

$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.

Congress Hears From Entropia on VW Taxation

It looks like MindArk, the company behind Entropia Universe (whose virtual currency is pegged and freely tradeable at 10 to the U.S. dollar), is getting in on the Washington lobbying act. Congress has been looking at issues of taxation related to virtual worlds since at least last October, and the Joint Economic Committee is long overdue with a promised report. (Or did I miss this?) This week, it seems, they’ll hear from Marco Behrmann, MindArk’s CIO, who is in Washington to speak to the IRS as well, according to this post on the RCE Universe forums. [Via RCEUniverse’s Nate Randall.] I’ll be interested to see where this all ends up, of course, but the most sensible take I’ve heard on this issue comes from Bryan Camp of Texas Tech University, who noted last year that, for the most part, the legal issues are settled, it’s just a matter of figuring out (or deciding) where virtual worlds fall within them. There’s probably slightly more to it than that, but not much. For my money, a more interesting issue is the related one of whether these environments can be ruled to be public places (like some shopping malls) and the implications of such a ruling for governing them. <shameless plug>You can read more about that kind of thing in our book when it’s published at the end of October.</shameless plug>

Cold Hard Cash: Second Life Coins Available

IBM employee mints Second Life coinsGod bless IBM. Of all the big bad corporations doing business in the virtual world of Second Life, these guys — and, on an individual basis, the company’s employees — are near the top of the “most creative and ambitious” league table (mostly, I suspect, because they can afford to be). The latest: an IBM employee with his own private island in Second Life has had some coins minted that are each worth one Linden dollar. That’s right, you can now hold the Linden dollar in your hand and actually spend it — if, that is, you’re on »Tender Island«, which has been owned by IBMer David van Gent since March.

The coins come complete with an “SL” mintmark, and are “accepted as legal currency on Tender Island.” Before you get your knickers in a twist over who’s allowed to mint coins denominated in a particular currency, keep in mind that in the U.S., at least, creating your own tender is perfectly acceptable — you can print all the money you want (as long as you’re not counterfeiting dollars), it’s just a matter of whether you can get anyone to accept it. Linden Lab, of course, is not a government. But their rhetoric (“I’m not building a game, I’m building a country“) indicates there shouldn’t be anything objectionable in Tender Island coins. Continue reading

Policing Second Life: Guilt by Association

What do you do when a group of troublemakers is disrupting the operation of your virtual world? If you’re Linden Lab, which runs Second Life, you ignore the griefers themselves and simply go after the owners of the land they happen to be operating from. Big props to our managing editor over at the Second Life Herald, Pixeleen Mistral, for catching the story of southern California’s Woodbury University, which had its private region in SL deleted a couple of days ago. Why would the Lab wipe Woodbury’s investment? Because a group of SL residents who were not part of the university and who have long been accused of causing trouble have apparently been using the Woodbury land to build and test their disruptive devices. There’s definitely culpability on the part of both the griefers and the university, but LL has shown some really poor judgment in the way they’ve handled the situation thus far. Continue reading

EVE Online Raises Bar on Virtual Economics

EVE Online hires in-game economist

With the news a few days ago that MMO space opera EVE Online had hired an in-game economist, most commentators focused on how much fun he would have compared to all the other economists in the world, and how curious it would be to read quarterly reports from an imaginary universe. I think it has broader ramifications than that, particuarly when it comes to economies such as that of Second Life and Entropia Universe, which are explicitly tied to real-world currencies. Though Second Life pushes itself as a place where real money can be earned, it has consistently done a very poor job of making any useful economic information available. Its reports don’t resemble traditional economic and business reports, and in any case lack clear explanation of their methodology. They’re useful as far as they go, but they don’t go nearly far enough — which is an inexcusable state of affairs for a place that’s advertised as a capitalist paradise. The presence of EVE’s new economist should provide at least some distant motivation for Second Life to get its economic act together. Continue reading

Controversy Over Anshe’s IMVU Virtual Goods

Anshe Chung causes controversy over virtual goods in IMVUVirtual worlds entrepreneur Anshe Chung seems to have inadvertently caused quite a stir on the 3D avatarized chat platform IMVU, where she (she is really two people, a husband and wife) makes 3D objects that IMVU members can buy for their virtual environments. Anshe apparently lowered prices on some assets that other people had incorporated into their own products — a move that, given the vagaries of IMVU development, seems to have affected the derivative products by allowing competitors to introduce lower-priced virtual goods. Judging from forum traffic and comments on a recent 3pointD post, a lot of people over in IMVU are mightily pissed off. Anshe has apologized, but as usual, people seem to believe what they want to believe. Anshe has been a polarizing figure in the virtual world of Second Life over the years, so it’s hardly surprising she’d attract similar controversy in IMVU. It’s an interesting question, though, of whether she’s attracting more controversy being a user who has accumulated developer-like weight over the years, or whether a similar cock-up on the part of the developer would attract more ire. Hopefully, we’ll get a chance to discuss these kinds of things at the Virtual Goods Summit this Friday, where I’ll be moderating a panel.

Exploring the Future Virtual Cosmos With IBM

ComputerworldUK has a nice article up about the possibility that different virtual worlds will one day support a standard that would let users travel freely among them. This is an idea I’ve been hot on since even before starting this blog, so it’s nice to see other people supporting it — especially when they’re people like IBM vice president of standards and open source Bob Sutor, who’s quoted in the piece. Sutor has been putting up a nice series of posts on his blog since the beginning of June, detailing his basic requirements for virtual worlds, his desire for more VW artificial intelligence, some scenarios for moving assets, information and identity among virtual worlds, and the need for worlds to run on multiple platforms. (Sutor will be at a virtual worlds event at MIT’s Media Lab this Friday, apparently, though I can’t find a link.) A lot of what he’s talking about in those posts, if you ask me, points toward the broader future of virtual worlds. But feel free to poke holes in my arguments below. Even if it’s only to complain about the great length of this post. Continue reading

D-Briefs: State Dept. in SL, 3D Printing, More

3pointD briefsA couple of events to briefly note today, including a new presence in the virtual world of Second Life, the U.S. State Department. Also, 3D printers are getting cheaper, but even the “home” versions remain prohibitive. Plus some microelectronics that could prove awfully cool someday. Continue reading

MacArthur Ponders Virtual Philanthropy June 22

Jonathan Fanton, MacArthur Foundation president, to speak in the virtual world of Second LifeMacArthur Foundation president Jonathan Fanton will appear in the virtual world of Second Life on June 22, at 9am SL Time (noon Eastern), for a conversation with Linden Lab CEO Philip Rosedale on the role of philanthropy in virtual worlds. 3pointD hears that the appearance may be precursor to the MacArthur Foundation establishing a more permanent presence in SL in order to explore native, in-world culture. Regardless, my sense if that when Fanton is talking about “the role of philanthropy in SL,” it’s the in SL bit that’s important. As Fanton puts it on the MacArthur site, “I believe that the importance of virtual worlds may be less about their growth as economies, and more about their capacity for collaboration and human development. Activities in virtual worlds already are supported by MacArthur and other foundations, but we have much to discover about the right role for philanthropy itself in virtual worlds. We are interested in learning about virtual worlds and how to operate within them. We look to the residents to help us determine how to be helpful and are eager to share our on-going work in such areas as affordable housing, urban renewal, and human rights and international justice.” Continue reading

EVE Online to Get Player-Led Oversight Panel

EVE Online to launch player-run oversight committeeHonestly, I had no idea. When I blogged yesterday about the possibility that EVE Online players might soon get new governance tools, little did I know that Seth Schiesel would have an article about it in today’s New York Times. And indeed, the announcement today is that EVE players will soon be able to elect a player-staffed oversight committee that will be regularly flown to Iceland to “audit CCP’s operations and report back to their player-constituents.” To insure the elections are free and fair, “CCP says it will call in election monitors from universities in Europe and the United States.” Pretty brilliant. (And thanks to empeekay for the screenshot.) Continue reading

EVE Online to Get New Governance Tools? [+]

EVE Online to get new governance tools?I was just over in Iceland, visiting with CCP Games, makers of my favorite massively multiplayer online game, EVE Online. I was there to swap wisdom with some devs and attend CCP’s tenth anniversary party. We heard about a raft of new developments EVE has in the pipeline, most of which have been previously reported. One, though, was merely a tantalizing hint from CEO Hilmar Petursson, though it merits closer inspection, if you ask me. EVE and CCP have been hit lately by a raft of accusations that close ties between players and devs have made it easier for some in-game groups to dominate. In a blog post, the company acknowledges that a previous accusation has merit, while denying more recent claims. I haven’t followed the issue closely enough to have an opinion on either side, but it has certainly rocked the community and had a big impact within CCP itself, where there is now an Internal Affairs team to look into such allegations. It also sounds as if EVE may be in store for some new governance tools at some point in the future, tools that could help players resolve these sorts of conflicts for themselves. I’m basing that only on comments from Hilmar that “something big” is in store in that area, but considering that it’s EVE, that something could be very interesting indeed. [UPDATE: EVE will indeed get a player-led oversight committee.] Continue reading

MindArk’s Chinese Virtual World: Business First

The new virtual world that MindArk, makers of Entropia Universe, are developing for China will focus on business transactions and avoid politics, according to an Assoicated Press story.

David Liu, chief executive of Beijing-based Cyber Recreation Development Corp., compared the upcoming Chinese virtual world with a three-dimensional eBay, where users can shop online through a more visually appealing interface.

(CRDC is backed by the Beijing government and is responsible for the project.) Continue reading

CNN Heads to the Future, 3pointD to California

June 13 will see cable new network CNN kick off something it’s calling a Future Summit with a “landmark television event.” Why does 3pointD care? Because the series, which looks like it will unfold more on the Web than on the air, starts with Future Summit: Virtual Worlds, featuring everyone from Linden Lab CEO Phhilip Rosedale to Flickr founder Stewart Butterfield, Funcom CEO Trond Aas, and people like EA co-founder Trip Hawkins, Jimmy Wales and Nick Yee, among others. There’s precious little information on the site about just what’s happening and when, but it sounds like it should contain a lot of information of interest to metaversal types. Continue reading

Court Rules Against Linden Lab Terms of Service

According to a court brief I’ve just been emailed, a Pennsylvania court has allowed a lawsuit filed against Philip Rosedale and Linden Lab, makers of the virtual world of Second Life, to move forward despite Rosedale’s motion to dismiss the suit or have it arbitrated. The decision is significant in that the court has judged the SL Terms of Service to be insufficient to the job of adjudicating this particular dispute, and the judge in the case went so far as to characterize the ToS as a contract of adhesion — a contract that isn’t necessarily enforceable because it has more or less been forced on a party with weaker bargaining powers (i.e., the SL user) on a “take it or leave it” basis. The brief itself is linked from this Web page. The decision could have important ramifications for the way in which many virtual worlds come to be governed, possibly giving more rights to their residents than they have enjoyed before. Continue reading

Mitch Kapor Speaks on Ending Bias Tonite in SL

Mitch Kapor, an early investor in and board member of Linden Lab, creators of the virtual world of Second Life, will give a talk this evening in SL, all about the Level Playing Field Institute, where he also sits on the board and which “promotes innovative approaches to fairness in higher education and workplaces by removing barriers to full participation,” and about philanthropy in general. Mitch’s talk at last year’s Second Life Community Convention was a really informative and insightful look at how disruptive technologies happen (something Kapor knows a lot about, having helped make computers useful for large numbers of people). If he can have the same effect on reducing the kind of subtle bias in education and the workplace that holds people back without many people even being aware of it, it’ll be a great thing. Mitch’s talk goes off at 8pm SL Time (11pm Eastern), and you’ll be able to listen to it at »Sheep Island Auditorium«, »Crayon Theater«, and »Reuters Auditorium«. The late time unfortunately puts it out of reach of most European SL members, but hopefully the talk will be archived somewhere on the Web.

Anshe to Launch Inter-World Financial Market

Virtual entrepreneur Anshe Chung will launch a virtual world-spanning financial market in early June, according to a news release on the Anshe Chung Studios site. The service will “allow direct capital flow and investment across virtual world boundaries,” and will link the markets of Second Life, Entropia Universe and IMVU. Anshe Chung Studios — which is run by German citizens Ailin and Guntram Graef — will provide “a virtual financial market, financial products and a set of services” linking the three worlds. Among other things, the service will allow Second Life residents to invest their Linden dollars in things like malls and other locations in Entropia. Second Life land funds and similar instruments would be available for investment by holders of IMVU and Entropia currency, and IMVU fashion businesses might receive investments in L$ or PED (the Entropia currency). It remains to be seen whether there’s much of a market for such inter-world investment, but Anshe has a very interesting take on the possible effects of making financial borders more porous: Continue reading

iCommons Dubrovnik To Get Second Life Arm

iCommons Summit in Dubrovnik to held in parallel in the virtual world of Second LifeThis year’s iCommons Summit, the annual gathering of 300 leading thinkers working toward a free Internet for all, will be held in parallel in the virtual world of Second Life, according to the summit’s Web site. The summit, which takes place this year in Dubrovnik, “will be run in parallel in Second Life,” according to the site. In addition, “all iSummit keynote addresses will be streamed into Second Life, and video and artwork from the Summit’s Artists in residence programme and some parallel sessions will also be available on the USC Center on Public Diplomacy’s »Annenberg Island« in Second Life,” where the summit will be hosted. (The USC site also has an announcement regarding the event.) Held this year on 15-17 June, the summit is a three-day meeting of “300 of the world’s leading intellectuals, authors, lawyers, artists and technologists on the cutting edge of Internet policy” who meet to talk about “the importance of a free Internet for free culture, new rules to keep the internet free, how to build free culture communities and the lessons we can learn from pirates.” I’d say this is valuable stuff to make available through Second Life. Last year’s summit, held in Rio, was apparently quite the hot event. What will be more interesting is when the organizers bring the two realities together, so that the virtual event isn’t held in parallel with the real-world event but is simply another part of a single whole. This’ll do for now, of course. Anyone planning to attend, in either reality?

Entropia News: MasterCard Deal, RL Bank, More

Entropia cash cards to get MasterCard brandingA small raft of news emerged from the virtual world of Entropia Universe this week, including tie-ups with MasterCard and a real-life bank, and a new awards show being put on by virtual entrepreneurs Anshe Chung and Jon “Neverdie” Jacobs.

First up, MasterCard. Entropia has been trying to implement a real-life card for some time. A year ago, it gave its customers the ability to deposit real money to their game accounts via a bank card used at an ATM. Cash was withdrawn from your real-world account, converted on the fly into PED, Entropia’s virtual currency (which is fixed at 10 to the U.S. dollar), and deposited into your Entropia account. Entropia also has a reloadable debit card that you can deposit your PED to, which is then available as real-world cash at ATMs. Now, the company has struck a new deal with a financial institution that can give its cards MasterCard branding, Entropia says: “The new card will be cheaper to use for our customers, and have more functions including MasterCard branding which will allow the card to be used in retail outlets as well as traditional ATMs.” [Via RCEUniverse.] Continue reading

Romanian Political Leaders Invited to Second Life

On May 19, Romania will hold a referendum on whether to impeach its suspended president, Traian Basescu, who has been charged with violating the country’s constitution. Before that time, members of the Romanian community in the virtual world of Second Life would like to hear from him and other Romanian political leaders in a virtual venue that’s been built out for the purpose. The two-minute video above provides a tour of a nice build that’s apparently designed to host a debate between real Romanian political leaders, should they care to put in an appearance. The »debate hall« looks fairly accomodating, and comes complete with voting mechanisms and a press room that’s apparently wired to provide television feeds. The video cites 20,000 Romanian Second Life users, and says around 800 a day are visiting the in-world location. Of those polled, 95 percent say they’d like to participate in an electoral meeting in SL. Continue reading

SecondCast #59: Teens of SL, Unite!

Alex Harbinger holds a teen grid debate on intergrid commerce in the virtual world of Second Life
Alex Harbinger holds a teen grid debate on intergrid commerce in the virtual world of Second Life. Photo courtesy of Lucky Figtree.

We recorded a great SecondCast this past Wednesday with two residents of Second Life‘s teen grid, Lucky Figtree and Alex Harbinger (both 15 years old). They’re leading the charge (or at least, Alex is) to unite the teen and adult grids, or at least to let them overlap to a certain extent. Along the way, we discuss Cristiano’s open letter to Linden Lab, and give away a couple of books. (There’s still time to enter the giveaway, actually.) Plus, listen for the dulcet tones of Starr Sonic, who joined us from the Second Life Cable Network as a special guest host. Definitely check out SLCN.tv’s news archive and live broadcasts. Starr’s doing it right.

Anshe Chung Wins Entropia Banking License

Nate Randall of RCE Universe sends along the news that Second Life mogul Anshe Chung has won one of five banking licenses recently auctioned in the virtual world of Entropia Universe. Though billed as “banking licenses,” they really give their holders the right to use the in-world interface and non-player characters to make collateralized loans and collect interest, which is an interesting way to go about it. Entropia notes, of course, that “Should an interested party hold a real banking license in the real world, many more services and features can be added.” It doesn’t appear any of the winners meet that qualification, although they are listed only be avatar name, so you never know. It’s an interesting prospect.

Randall seems to have scooped Entropia itself, which is still running the auction announcement. According to Randall’s figures, Anshe seems to have been almost the shrewdest bidder, winning her license for PED600,000, or US$60,000 — the Entropia currency trades at a fixed 10 to the U.S. dollar — while the other winners bid PED590,608, PED900,002, PED950,001, and PED999,000. The auctions were held in the in-game auction system, Randall reports, where bidding was fierce in the final minutes. Continue reading

Second Life Complaints Bring May 3 Meeting

Linden Lab, maker of the virtual world of Second Life, announced on Monday that it would hold an impromptu town hall meeting with chief technology officer Cory Ondrejka to address the concerns of the almost 3,500 SL residents who have thus far signed on to Project Open Letter, a list of five complaints about the Second Life platform that have long gone unanswered. The open letter is an initiative of Second Life snapshot baron Cristiano Midnight, who’s also one of our co-hosts on SecondCast, and has been a member of Second Life for several years now. The project was started “after I read yet another open letter in a third party forum begging Linden Lab to fix myriad problems that have been going on daily for more than a year, in some cases extending years,” Cristiano writes on the project site. He goes on to point out that LL has closed down all the centralized venues of feedback, such as the company-sponsored forums, that had formerly been available to residents. A bug-reporting system is in place, but LL has not been as responsive to that as many residents would like. In the wake of the letter, LL appears to be listening harder, but it may not yet be hard enough. The platform remains vulnerable; read on for more details. Continue reading

STA Tests Time-Share Dorm Room Model in SL

STA Travel opens time-share dorm rooms in the virtual world of Second Life

Rik Riel has a good post on a project that opened last week and launched on Friday, built out by the Electric Sheep Company (3pointD’s sponsors). It’s STA Travel in Second Life, which seeks to do in SL more or less what it does for college students in the real world: point out the most interesting places, and provide a way to get there and an instant community when they arrive. With no lodging requirements at SL destinations, however, STA is instead providing free dorm rooms for people to hang out in — but the really interesting aspect of these is that they’re provided on a shared basis: you can claim and customize a room, furnish it from an in-world menu, and even drop some of your own items there, then save your settings. If you leave, the room reverts to a blank space ready for the next occupant. Come back to any of the many other dorm rooms and you can load your old settings from the service’s memory. The dorm service is in closed beta at the moment, though »STA’s sim nearby« is open for business. The shared room model is an interesting approach to scaling in Second Life, and could be a good way to reduce the resource needed to service a global audience (i.e., one that’s not all online at the same time). It’s hard to see that this scaling solution will scale significantly itself, but it feels like a technique that will have its uses from time to time. No doubt there’s some more technical version of this that’s in common use elsewhere; if so, please enlighten us in the comments thread.

SecondCast, Live at TalkShoe Tonight (April 4)

Tune in tonight to SecondCast, the podcast Prokofy loves to hate, if you want to give us a piece of your mind: we’ll be recording live on TalkShoe.com, which I guess lets you do stuff like that. If you’re logged into TalkShoe, you oughta be able to click this link to hear us stumble over our tongues from around 10:15pm Eastern time (7:15pm SL time), and Johnny’s going to open up the lines and take questions and comments about halfway through the show. Possible topics of conversation include the recently wrapped Virtual Worlds 2007, the SL framework for Drupal that’s said to be in the works, the Second Life Community Convention, and BanLink, which Prok thinks is going to be brought into the Second Life client at some point soon, and which is sure to inspire a deep philosophical discussion of SL’s evolution from tiny little podunk cow town to the huge metaversal metropolis it is today. Give us a shout.

U.S. State Department Considering SL Project

I had lunch yesterday at Virtual Worlds 2007 with a couple of guys from the U.S. Department of State, who told me the State Department is considering launching an official project within the virtual world of Second Life. Specifically, this would be an initiative of State’s Public Diplomacy wing, which is headed up by Karen Hughes. Before we go any further, I should note that your tax dollars were not used to feed 3pointD; my tasty lobster salad was kindly picked up by a venture capitalist who was also at the table.

Though any State Department project would at first be very small and include no persistent State Department presence (I don’t think State has budgeted any money for SL yet), it sounds like the public diplomacy department (essentially State’s outreach and PR arm) is considering Second Life and virtual worlds in general as a potentially powerful new communications channel, and that if early experiments go well, it could mean an expansion of their activities there. This is potentially a great way to make more information available about the State department, and get more people engaged in the workings of government, which can’t be a bad thing. We don’t really hear enough from most government bodies in a way that’s palatable; one wonders how some longtime SL residents might react, however.

[A note before we go on: I’m not talking the week off from blogging because of the Kathy Sierra affair, but I am going to try to mark all my posts today with a message like this, despite the fact that some other people have a blogging boycott on today. I’m not sure a boycott is the right thing for me, but I don’t mind interrupting a few posts for a public service announcement about an insult culture that has run right off the rails. Now back to our story.] 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

Danish Bank to Offer Real-World Services in SL

I missed this on Friday, but it makes a nice fulfillment of something I was pondeirng a couple of weeks ago: what if a bank started offering real-world financial services through the virtual world of Second Life? Reuters’ Adam Pasick has the news that just such a thing is coming: “Denmark’s Saxo Bank plans to offer Second Life residents the ability to manage their real-life financial portfolios from within the virtual world, and may eventually create a market to trade the Linden dollar against real-world currencies,” he writes. It’s still in an early stage, but it sounds like Saxo will allow people to access their real-world trading accounts from within Second Life, and perhaps eventually give them the option to receive a portion of trading profits in Linden dollars. Saxo sounds interested in creating a forex market for Lindens as well, though it won’t do so at the moment because of serious doubts about how the L$ is managed. Having real-world financial institutions get into the services market, though, should help push the Linden-dollar economy forward. This will be an interesting one to watch.

A Missive From the Crossroads of Second Life

I received a nice note from Cory Ondrejka, chief technology officer at Linden Lab, makers of the virtual world of Second Life, in response to my looong post of Saturday entitled “Linden Lab Approaches A Crossroads.” I won’t quote from it, as it’s not an official LL response, but I’ll raise a couple of the points Cory mentions in order to give a differing viewpoint on a couple of things. Continue reading

Linden Lab Approaches A Crossroads

In the space of two days, Linden Lab, maker of the virtual world of Second Life, has made three separate announcements that indicate trouble may be on the horizon for the company — if it hasn’t already arrived. Two of them have raised renewed alarms about the platform’s scalability. Though CEO Philip Rosedale blithely assured the world last summer that Second Life could “scale to inifinity,” he seemed to be the only one who believed such an absurd claim. The skeptics are now being proven correct. And instead of concentrating all of its firepower on solving the current problem, the Lab is also casting about for ideas on how to beef up its 2D Web interface — despite the fact that any number of developers large and small are already working on the same thing. Is trouble ahead? It sure smells like it. Read on for our conclusions as to why. Though this post may be overly alarmist, to a certain extent, we’re looking at serious issues here. Take it with a grain of salt, but not too big a grain. Continue reading