Tagged: metaverse

Engage Expo in NYC: Last Day For Discounts

If you’re planning on heading to New York for the Engage! Expo (formerly the Virtual Worlds Conference) on March 10-11 — as I am — you can still get an early-registration discount today. (Prices go up tomorrow.) My co-conspirator Jerry Paffendorf will be jowboning there, and it looks like I’ll be moderating a panel as well. The conference has undergone a name change, but it’s still one of the most interesting gatherings of metaverse-related personages going. Join us.

(And don’t be surprised if you see more 3pointD posts here in the near future. I know, it’s been a while and there’s a lot of cleanup to do, but I think things may be picking up speed, if not here then in a related location. Stay tuned.)

Metaverse U, February 16-17 at Stanford

I’ll be out in California for a few days in mid-February, mostly for the Metaverse U. event that’s being held at Stanford. This is a spin-off or evolution of the State of Play conferences that originated at New York Law School, I believe. Should be some very interesting brains there, all trained on virtual worlds and what goes on within them. Details after the jump. Official announcement below:

ANNOUNCEMENT: Metaverse U Conference at Stanford University

* WHERE: Annenberg Auditorium, Stanford University
* WHEN: Saturday the 16th and Sunday the 17th of February 2008
* WEBSITE: http://metaverseu.stanford.edu Continue reading

Mike Liebhold at Nov. 8 Metaverse Meetup

Mike Liebhold was one of the participants at the original Metaverse Roadmap Summit last year, which produced the Metaverse Roadmap Overview, and I remember him as one of the more forward-thinking and impressive presenters. Now, he’s presenting tomorrow at the first Metaverse Meetup at Stanford University, talking about “3D data for real world virtual worlds.” Definitely worth checking out if you’re in the area — and you can also attend via the virtual world of Second Life Details below, from organizer Henrik Bennetsen: Continue reading

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.

Join the Visionaries at Virtual Worlds 2007

I’m off Monday for the Virtual Worlds 2007 conference in San Jose next week (online registration ends tomorrow! see below), where I’ll be moderating what should be a very cool roundtable on the future of virtual world platforms. We go on Thursday at 11am, on the strategy track, with a very flattering title: Visionary Panel: Where the Platforms Are Going Next. The panel features Christopher Klaus, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Kaneva; Raph Koster, President, Areae, Inc.; Michael Wilson, CEO, Makena Technologies; Hui Xu, Founder & CEO, HiPiHi Co., Ltd; Stephen Lawler, General Manager of Virtual Earth, Microsoft; and Corey Bridges, Co-founder, Executive Producer, & Marketing Director, The Multiverse Network. Should be some pretty fascinating talk flying around about what’s going to happen in the near and far terms, and where all of the things these people and others are working on are headed.

As noted, online registration for the conference (of which 3pointD is a media sponsor) ends tomorrow, Friday, October 5. The online reg price is only $795. After Friday, you’ll be able to register onsite at the show beginning 7:30am, Wednesday, October 10, for $995. Reg now and save your cash for drinks with Corey!

Google Virtual World Back in the Rumor Mill

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.

Metaverse Summit 2007, Berlin – December

Despite the cancellation of at least 2 virtual worlds conferences in Germany this year, it seems there is still optimism among event organisers. I recently received a notification about Metaverse Summit 2007, to be held at the Estrel Convention Center in Berlin, on 6th and 7th, December. The notification, from Helmut Reul, the organiser, reads:

The Metaverse Summit is a two day conference focused on the emerging Metaverse and 3D-Web. One purposes of the summit is to bring together business leaders, venture capitalists, technologists, and industry participants to spend the two days discussing the present and future of the Internet. Estimated attendees, speakers, moderators are up to 500 from all over the world.

The recently published Metaverse Roadmap Overview looks at four key elements of the Metaverse future. According to this evaluation tracks of the summit are the four key elements:
+ Virtual Worlds
+ Mirror Worlds
+ Augmented Reality
+ Lifelogging

As with other events of this type, vendor space will be provided in which companies can promotes their various wares.

If you want to know more, or participate as speaker or sponsor, then head on over to their website.

[UPDATE: As Bridget points out in the comments below, the summit is not associated with the original Metaverse Roadmap Summit. The Berlin summit lists some findings from that meeting, and gives them proper credit, but the two are not associated.]

Metaverse Roadmap to Singapore

The fifth annual State of Play conference on legal and social issues in virtual worlds is under way this week in Singapore. I had to cancel my trip out there, which is a shame, since SoP is consistently one of the most interesting gatherings of VW thinkers. Jerry Paffendorf is there, though, and reports that the chin-wagging is already gathering steam. Other reports form Singapore have the local government excited over the metaverse roadmap that was recently release (an effort Jerry led and I was one of the contributors to). I’m not sure, but I think the Singaporese government helped fund the conference as well. That’s some pretty future-forward thinking. Wish I was there.

CMP Launches Metaverse Services Division

CMP Technology has become “the first global media company to be certified by Linden Labs as a full-service content developer in Second Life,” according to a press release. (Though maybe Linden Lab should be careful that their certified devs at least spell the name of the company correctly.) CMP, of course, runs the annual Game Developers Conference and the Austin Game Developers Conference (which leans more toward MMOs and virtual worlds), as well as a number of Web 2.0 and other tech events, and publishes sites like Gamasutra and publications like Game Developer and Information Week. CMP is now bringing the virtual world into its media offerings: “CMP’s metaverse division will work with customers to create unique builds and events that promote deep engagement and nurture community. The division will integrate Second Life and the web to reach global markets while leveraging CMP’s trusted brands to acquire highly-qualified audiences and bring them inworld.”

Does this spell the beginning of stiffer competition for outfits like the Electric Sheep Company, Millions of Us, Rivers Run Red and others? It has seemed to be only a matter of time before big media companies got into the metaverse services space in a big way; CMP’s entry may be the early sign of a coming wave. Other firms with global reach (Edelman, for one) are already operating in Second Life (despite the “first” claim in CMP’s release), and it seems logical that such firms would expand their operations to produce campaigns for this new medium. It will be interesting to see how the “native” firms react to increased competition. I’m still waiting for a big media company to absorb one of the main metaverse services companies. If the market holds up (a big if, but not huge one), I imagine it’s only a matter of time before that happens. CMP’s entry into the space could well accelerate the process.

10 Percent Off Virtual Worlds 07 Fall Conference

For those of you who are headed out to San Jose to join us at the Virtual Worlds Fall Conference and Expo, you can get 10 percent off your registration fees just because you’re reading 3pointD! That’s a savings of $60 to $100, depending on when you take advantage of this. Details after the jump. Continue reading

Two New Virtual “Worlds” For Kids

WebbliWorld, a new virtual world for kidsWith the success of Nicktropolis and even more so WebKinz, Club Penguin, and things like GoPets and more (Animal Crossing, anyone?), virtual worlds for kids have become the hot ticket this summer. Two new ones are on their way: one an educational 3D theme park, the other a cool 2D “world” designed in part by Aardman Animations, the outfit behind the excellent Wallace & Gromit cartoons.

The Aardman offering is known as WebbliWorld, and is populated by all kinds of avatars and features beginning for the most part with W- or Webbli-. That’s WebbliWallace above, the avatar I created by sticking together the bits and pieces on offer. Not really an immersive multiuser world, as far as I can tell, WebbliWorld instead offers a range of Flash games and activities designed to educate young ‘uns and inspire them to take on real-world activities like sports or mucking about in the garden. You can view other Webblis profiles, but communication seems limited. Continue reading

Getting Social: Connecting in Virtual Worlds

I won’t be able to make this, unfortunately, but what sounds a really interesting panel will be held this Thursday, July 19, in the virtual world of Second Life. Kicking off at 6pm SL time (9pm Eastern), the panel will be a “Virtual Roundtable,” discussing “what drives the virtual human connection.” Moderated by Giff Constable of the Electric Sheep Company, it features some great speakers: Susan Wu of Silicon Valley venture capital firm Charles River Ventures, Beth Coleman of MIT, Robin Harper of Linden Lab, and Chris Carella, creative director of the Electric Sheep Company. Continue reading

AjaxLife: Browser-Based Second Life Viewer?

I couldn’t get this to work yesterday and I still can’t today, but one of the Electric Sheep got it working and it sounds fascinating. Someone (said to be a teen) has created an Ajax-based client for the virtual world of Second Life. Is this the start of browser-based SL use? That’s a potentially revolutionary idea. From the original post describing AjaxLife:

Due to some combination of boredom, wanting to talk to people in SL, and inspiration from a vague memory of something Interfect Sonic did, I decided to start work on an AJAX based SL client.

It’s still under heavy development, but the result so far is an application/page/site called AjaxLife.

It now works on the MG (I think!)

* Basic map
* Teleports
* Accepting/declining teleport offers
* Local chat, instant messages (partially — you can’t start them except with online friends)
* Inventory received notifications
* Friend on/offline notifications
* Balance change notifications, etc.

It also correctly logs you in and out, and notifies you if you were disconnected for any reason.

Let us know if you get it going. [Via Vint Falken.]

London Virtual Worlds Forum, Oct. 24-25

The latest entrant to the raft of virtual worlds conferences planned for this year is the Virtual Worlds Forum that will take place in London on October 24-25. I’m going to try to make this, even though I’ll have been in California two weeks earlier for the autumn edition of Virtual Worlds 2007 (which we reported earlier), which takes place October 10-11. The London forum is already featuring an impressive list of confirmed speakers, including Corey Bridges of Multiverse, Mike Wilson of There.com, Raph Koster of Areae, Richard Bartle of MUD1 (the first virtual world), and many more. Registration should open later this week; we’ll try to give you a heads up. Text of a recent press release after the jump. (Pay no attention to the first word of the headline.) 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

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

LifeLike Conference, Copenhagen, Sept. 26

Book your tickets to Denmark. There’s yet another virtual worlds meetup in the works, this one being held by Copenhagen’s Innovation Lab, home of past metaverse meetup attendee and Terra Nova guest poster Peder Burgaard. The Lab will hold the LifeLike conference on September 26 [UPDATE: The conference is just on the 26th, not 26-27, as previously reported]: “Looking at the prevailing trends and technologies, the virtual worlds seem to be a natural effect of a series of causes: the game industry is perpetually redrawing the boundaries for graphic prowess; and their turnover has long since passed that of Hollywood. Social networks are forging virtual bonds between several hundred millions of people. Today, the sharing of digital properties, such as e.g. sound and images, constitutes the majority of all Internet traffic. Web 2.0 and open source are labels conveying a much more interactive exploitation of the Internet as a tool. Concepts such as CustomerMade and Crowdsourcing express a net-based and extremely active user involvement, where products or -– in case of virtual worlds, entire worlds -– are created by the users themselves. All this leads to an unavoidable and natural consequence: our lives are becoming virtual. LifeLike is an international stocktaking of the aspects and perspectives of the virtual worlds.”

Lifelogging and Identity in the Metaverse

Lifelogging service Me.dium wins $15 million Series B fundingOne of the great things about lifelogging is that it takes a bunch of data that formerly had been in the hands only of companies and the government, if anyone, and puts it back in the hands of the individual. At the moment, Amazon.com knows enough about me to recommend Infotopia, but unless I care to do some clumsy screen-scraping, what I buy on Amazon stays on Amazon; there’s no way for me to combine that Amazon data with a Netflix history and my Zappos purchases to build a more detailed profile of myself. That’s a shame, but we’re now approaching the point when something like that should soon be possible. Already, there are services and applications out there that can record my browsing history in more or less detail, including stuff like Google History, Justin Hall’s Passively Multiplayer Online Game, Slife, Me.dium and several others. Me.dium, in fact, has been able to leverage the attention data flowing through its Firefox plugin into a $15 million Series B round of funding. This very perceptive blog post (which is excellently titled — and from which I’ve stolen the image above) starts to get at why lifelogging services like Me.dium could become very valuable as the broader metaverse takes shape: “Me.dium’s technology, by tracking people’s behavior, could become valuable to advertisers looking for more ways to target ads.” 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

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.

DoMyStuff Launches Wish Market For Chores

DoMyStuff.com actually launched in April, but it represents an interesting dovetail with some of the ideas that knock around among some of the younger metarati. In particular, a few people have been talking about wish markets: marketplaces that let buyers announce what they’re looking for and receive offers from vendors, rather than the normal course of commerce as we’ve come to know it, in which vendors announce their products and receive offers from buyers. Wish markets are cool not only because they tend to promote competition if they’re broad enough, and thus lower prices (as on Priceline), but also because they allow you to shop for the thing you actually want, rather than having to choose from the limited number of things that are already out there. You can tell a wish market that you want something that might never have existed before, and if you’re willing to pay enough for it, the market will create it for you. Just like having a wish fulfilled (for a price, of course).

DoMyStuff has created what’s more or less a wish market for chores and other small tasks. It’s not terribly unlike Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, where employers crowdsource small tasks, for small change. But DoMyStuff services involve either “local tasks,” which include stuff like Clean My House and Do My Laundry, and Yard Cleaning, or “global tasks,” which are more like Upgrade My WordPress Blog and Find Me Clients, that can be done from anywhere (similar to several sites that list small jobs for programmers and designers). The listings are essentially RFPs, or Requests for Proposals, and are even referred to as such in the php script that runs the site. What that means, of course, is that competition for jobs drives the price down, instead of competition for products driving the price up in an auction market like eBay.

My favorite thing about DoMyStuff, though, is not necessarily the market mechanism. That’s been seen before, here and there. It’s the fact that this market is designed for face-to-face meetings, to create a more dynamic market for chores, of all things. (Isn’t there a Cory Doctorow chapter about a similar system?) Continue reading

Destroy Television Gallery Show Opens Tonight

Destroy Television art show opens with a Metaverse MeetupDon’t miss the Metaverse Meetup this evening at 7pm, where we’ll be back at the Fuse Gallery (93 Second Avenue, between 5th & 6th Streets, through the back of Lit Lounge) for the opening of Destroy Television‘s gallery show, which I blogged up a week or so ago. More information from Jerry in several recent blog posts. Should be a hoot, as usual. See you there.

GeoCommons to Hit Public Beta 28 May

GeoCommons lets you create dynamic map mashupsGeoCommons is a cool-looking service designed to let you “explore, create and share geographic data and intelligent maps.” That is, it’s a map-mashup-maker. But this one comes with the built-in ability to publish your maps through a variety of channels, and provides access to “geographic information beyond anything Google Earth is producing right now,” according to an email I just got from a PR dude working on behalf of FortiusOne, the company behind GeoCommons. The service goes into public beta on 28 May, to be introduced at the Where 2.0 conference. The Web site description is promising, with talk of a large number of data sets to choose from, plus the ability to add your own, support for various kinds of tagging and metadata, and map sharing, syndication and social networking tools. Continue reading

Icarus Launches Next-Gen World-Building Tools

Icarus Studios, which makes tools for building 3D massively multiplayer online games, virtual worlds and other similiar environments, has a new next-gen platform and suite of middleware tools out, according to a press release from the company, which you can find below. (The Icarus platform is currently in use by “two unnamed clients covered by NDAs,” as well as the forthcoming MMO Fallen Earth.) It’s interesting to note what the release says about how well Icarus-built worlds can be integrated with the Web and other external functions. Icarus will feature “integrated working browsers, dial-out to real world phones, and real-time video streaming,” apparently, and will support functionality such as “user-generated content, in-world social and entertainment activities, diverse revenue models, and in-world profiled marketing on a secure and scaleable platform.” I don’t imagine middleware solutions are generally the best way to build open, Web-integrated, general-purpose 3D spaces, but this kind of thing could move standard MMOs further toward something of the sort, and generally get more people used to the idea of a 3D world that interfaces smoothly with the 2D Web, or that’s useful as a social-networking app, thus opening the door for 3D spaces to assume more and more of the functionality we now associate with the Web. Continue reading

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?

Can Outback Online Follow Its Own Rules?

Rand Leeb-du Toit is the man behind Outback Online and its hotly awaited “user-generated spaces.” A few days back, in the wake of Cristiano’s open letter to Linden Lab, makers of the virtual world of Second Life, Rand posted his three virtual-world rules:

1. build right from the start — by which he means not “build immediately” but “build correctly from the ground up”
2. community first — “Being useful to a community beats exciting them with new whizzbangery.”
3. integrate — “Virtual world developers need to . . . integrate with what their users are already doing.”

All seem sensible, though they’re not that much of a stretch. We’ll see whether Outback can deliver on the same points. Hopefully I’ll be able to bring you some more news on that in the near future. Outback is still running very quietly, but that hasn’t stopped them from being one of the most interesting metaversal experiments in development. I’m looking forward to seeing more. Also, go wish Rand a happy birthday.

Asian Virtual-World Competition Heats Up

A screenshot from the Chinese virtual world of HiPiHi
A screenshot from HiPiHi

The stiffest potential competition for Second Life seems to be coming from Asia these days. First it was HiPiHi, the Chinese virtual world “created, inhabited and owned by its residents” (I’m glad it’s inhabited by its own residents; things could get tricky otherwise). There was a nice interview with HiPiHi’s founders in April, as well as an account of the author’s first days there. The creators say it isn’t a clone of SL, but check out the screenshot above; that’s very Second Lifelike.

The latest entrant, though, is a world named Splume that hails from Japan. Splume sounds somewhat less sophisticated than either SL or HiPiHi, according to this Japan Times article, but is more narrowly targeted at the Japanese market, and so could have an edge over SL there (where the Japanese localization recently went into beta), or perhaps be competing for different users altogether. It’s not necessarily a zero-sum game in any case; it’s still very early in the adoption curve of virtual worlds, and there should be room for new entrants to experiment and help push the space forward by fostering competition for some time now.

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

Virtual Worlds 07 Audio Files Now at RezNation

If you missed the Virtual Worlds 2007 conference, don’t worry: now you can close your eyes and it’s almost like you’re there. John Swords has now posted most if not all of the audio files of the conference sessions over at RezNation.com, home of SecondCast. You can find all the files under the Metaverse Sessions tag, even though they’re not, really. What they are is good, informative listening. You can catch a case study of Pontiac in Second Life, the Electric Sheep Company‘s Sibley Verbeck giving a keynote speech, IBM‘s Colin Parris talking about his company’s plans for virtual environments, my own blatherings on a fun panel about the future of these things, and more. Happy listening.