Tagged: Privacy

UpNext and Other Location Apps at Where 2.0

Artur Bergman, writing on O’Reilly Radar, has a good wrap of the location-based services that were trotted out last night at Where 2.0. We posted yesterday about UpNext, about which there’s now more detail, and Artur has good insights into other services as well.

UpNext sounds pretty cool, featuring “a 3D cityscape of New York” where you can zoom around, select different data sets and mash up things like your Upcoming.org events. Plus, “You can click on any building to find out what is in it, as well as tag buildings.” It’s not avatarized nor multi-user, but otherwise sounds quite nice. Of course, it sounds like you could build similar functions for Google Earth with a little bit of effort, and the new Google Maps Street View gives you a crude approximation of the scene at street level (it actually took me a minute to recognize the facade of the building I live in when I looked it up). But UpNext sounds like — sorry about all the “sounds like,” there’s still very littile information on just how it works and what it does — it sounds like it comes ready to load up with events and people and all the rest, which means it could catch on if people dig the interface. Continue reading

IBM’s Colin Parris Dives Into Virtual Worlds

I missed the beginning of the remarks by Colin Parris, vice president of digital convergence at IBM Research, because the panels are stacked a bit back-to-back and I was on the one directly before he spoke, but the first half of his presentation consisted of laying out some of the potential benefits of integrating virtual worlds with current business processes. The second half of his remarks consisted of looking at what IBM is doing and planning in the space. I’ve transcribed them pretty well below. Continue reading

SXSW Xcript: Joi Ito and Justin Hall

Venture capitalist and World of Warcraft addict Joi Ito and lifelogger Justin Hall sat down for a conversation together in Room 9C on Monday afternoon at South by Southwest. Ben Cerveny joined them midway. Title of the talk: Online Games: Beyond Play and Fantasy.

Ito: I know everyone says this, but we’re going to try to make this as interactive as possible. Justin and I are going to talk about online games and what we can learn from them and things like that. I play World of Warcraft and mess around in Second Life, I think it’s stupid to compare them, it’s like apples and oranges. If you played text MUDs you know MOOs and MUDs split at some point. People who were into furries tended to go toward one, people who went toward the other focused more on gamplay and quests and levels. But it is interesting to compare in terms of what you can learn from them.

I play my WoW videos inside of SL and plan WoW raids in SL. SL is more for simulation for me, I do lots of ritual there, talks and things like that. It’s really not where I build relationships, although different people do that.

Shows a slide of WoW UI. Think all the way back to LambdaMOO, Pavel Curtis was saying the whole Internet will eventually be MUDs or MOOs. You can think of WoW as an evolutionary point in interface design. You can think of this as an interface to everything on the Web. You can make add-ons, there’s the Lua language for scripting that you can do. Shows his own more complex HUD with lots of add-ons. Most of the screen is in 2D. There’s all kinds of sophisticated stuff. Sometimes the 3D world is really important, but when I’m engaged in a boss fight it’s like a pilot looking at instruments rather than at terrain. A Lot of the innovation happens in the user community. Continue reading

A Deep Look At Lifelogging

A thorough look at lifeloggingScott Carlson has written a really outstanding article about lifelogging in the February 9 issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education. Not only does he go around wearing recording equipment around his neck like a lifelogging freak (3pointD’s favorite kind of freak, to be sure; see pic at left), but he also talks to people with a variety of different views on lifelogging, investigates its historical roots, and takes the time to illustrate the things that would be lost in the lifelogging age. This is possibly the best single take on lifelogging I’ve yet encountered. Highly recommended reading as we move into increasingly connected days.

SecondCast #48: Christmas Smackdown

Episode 48 of SecondCast, our weekly podcast about Second Life, is now on the air. We cover Christmas presents and game consoles and get into some of the more interesting corporate initiatives in the virtual world of Second Life, including the Grid Review, and Pontiac’s Motorati Life, both of which are great examples of promotional undertakings which mesh with and add to native SL culture. We wring our hands a bit over the hand-wringing about Second Life’s population, and Cristiano and I get into a good old-fashioned, chair-throwing smackdown over the issue of Prokofy Neva’s having been harassed over the real-world telephone by what seems to be a virtual-world nemesis. All good stuff. Happy new year.

Talking Lifelogging at the Movies (Shhhh!)

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

Lifelogging With the Four Eyed Monsters

Four Eyed Monsters panel on lifeloggingIf you’re free Thursday night and in New York, drop by the Four Eyed Monsters screenings at Cinema Village, where I’ll be on a panel about lifelogging, along with Susan and Arin, who made the movie, and Jerry Paffendorf of the Electric Sheep Company (who are, of course, kind sponsors of this blog). If you’re not in New York, you should be able to see it in Second Life soon enough, which is very cool. The film is ace, all about a young couple (Susan and Arin) who meet on MySpace and document their budding relationship in great detail. Read more about Four Eyed Monsters and lifelogging in this post of mine from back in September. Should be an interesting evening. The panel goes off between the 7:25pm and 9:35pm screenings.

Whither Virtual World Research?

As previously noted, I spent much of Friday and Saturday at the joint State of Play / Terra Nova symposium at the New York Law School. I’m always happy to spend a couple of days talking virtual worlds with a lot of smart people, and the symposium was no disappointment in that regard. Great panels were held on governance, methodologies of study, diversity, taxation and learning, but what was hardly touched on were the putative topics of the meeting: “How did we get here?” and “Where now?” As revealed below, however, there was much to be learned about both those topics at the symposium. Continue reading

Sustaining the Metaverse: A 3pointD Think Tank

As mentioned previously, 3pointD held its first Think Tank event last night in the new »Dirty sim« to discuss issues of sustainability as they relate to the broader metaverse. We had a gratifying turnout of 40+ people, with around half staying more than two hours until the proceedings were done. Thanks to everyone who showed up and contributed ideas, or just showed up to listen. A handful of really nice ideas came out of the meet. You can read a full chat log of the session, posted by SL resident, SignpostMarv Martin, but I’m going to sum up and extend a couple of the ideas that came up below. And look for our next Think Tank coming soon! Continue reading

Privacy vs. Transparency in Valley of the W-Hats

W-Hat build from Something Awful immigrants in Baku sim of the virtual world of Second Life
Factory in Baku sim, where the W-Hats churn out alleged griefers (click for larger image on Flickr)

In the wake of recent attacks on the virtual world of Second Life, it only makes sense that Linden Lab should move against those it holds responsible, banning them from its world. But the action raises serious questions about community, privacy, transparency and even art, as well as the delicate task Linden Lab faces of maintaining its service while also attempting to build a “world.” One of those may have to fall by the wayside, and you can guess which it’s likely to be. [UPDATE: See below for response to an earlier email I sent to Linden Lab asking for more detail. A heartening response at that.] Continue reading

60 Second Life Users Banned Over Grid Attack

Linden Lab, the company behind the virtual world of Second Life, banned 60 accounts this week over what amounted to two distributed denial-of-service attacks perpetrated on the same day. The attacks, which involved seeding the SL Grid with self-replicating objects which soon choked off processing power, forced Linden Lab to disable much of SL for long periods on Monday. Past attacks have shut the Grid down altogether. Linden Lab CEO Philip Rosedale, reported the banned accounts in an audio Town Hall meeting held Tuesday. Continue reading

LonelyGeeks, LifeLogs and Four Eyed Monsters

Four-Eyed Monsters, LifeLogging and LonelyGeeksA few of us from the Brooklyn metaverse crowd went to see Four-Eyed Monsters last night, a very interesting feature film about a young New York couple who end up documenting their every move via videotape and handwritten notes, only because they’ve decided not to actually speak to each other. While the film is not a documentary, it was made by the couple who it’s about, and their real lives and dramatized lives do begin to converge toward the end of the film. While it’s a movie about relationships (you know, the kind where two people “slowly start to meld into one beast that has 2 mouths, 4 eyes and 8 limbs and takes up 2 seats on the subway!!!”), it’s in greater measure a movie about the act of recording itself, and what it means at a moment in history when you can store, play back and share as much of your life as you like, with as many people as are willing to pay attention. In this case, Susan and Arin have created a virtual version of their real life together, and it’s interesting to ask what the differences between the two may be, if any — especially in light of similar trends in things like lifelogging, and in the fictionalization of a life like lonelygirl15‘s. And if you stay with this long-winded post all the way to the end, you get to think about how this kind of logging of our lives might help enhance them in some future 3pointD world. Continue reading

Second Life User Data Compromised

Hackers gained access to the user database that governs the virtual world of Second Life this week, according to an urgent security announcment from Linden Lab. Though the exploit was shut down on September 6, shortly after it was discovered, a “detailed investigation over the last two days confirmed that some of the unencrypted customer information stored in the database was compromised, potentially including Second Life account names, real life names and contact information, along with encrypted account passwords.” No unencrypted credit card information was stored in the database that was hacked, but Linden Lab is requiring all users to reset their passwords. Oddly, it seems that no notice was sent to users flagging the problem. Continue reading

Fallback Candidate Mark Warner to Visit SL

Former Democratic governor of Virginia and possible presidential candidate Mark Warner to visit the virtual world of Second LifeMark Warner, former Democratic governor of Virginia and likely “fallback” candidate for president should Hillary Clinton not run in 2008, will visit the virtual world of Second Life today for a chat with New World Notes’s Wagner James Au, at 12:30 SLT (3:30pm EST), in an event produced by Reuben Steiger’s Millions of Us (a sponsor of James’s blog). The idea for the visit seems to have come from within Warner’s Forward Together political action committee itself, according to an interesting interview Au has with Nancy Scola (SL resident Nancy Mandelbrot), whose job at Forward Together consists in part of trying “to connect with the technology/geek community.” While there have been local political candidates in SL before, this certainly marks the highest profile politico to visit this (or probably any other) virtual world. It also raises interesting questions of what’s public and what’s private in a place that (on the surface) is primarily governed by a Terms of Service rather than by a Constitution. [And see update below.] Continue reading

SecondCast #30: Privacy and Private Jokes

Johnny “Jazz Hands” Ming is back, with the latest episode of Second Life‘s favorite podcast, SecondCast. In Episode #30 we talk to Mark Barrett, who created the SLStats.com site, which has caused no small amount of controversy among SL residents. SLStats, until Mark altered the site, tracked how much time you’d spent in Second Life, where you’d been and who you’d met there. But community pressure over privacy concerns led Mark to scale down the functionality. It’s an interesting discussion over privacy concerns in general, and how they manifest themselves in virtual worlds in particular. We’ve been on a bit of a hiatus lately, but stay tuned for more — including SecondCast’s first taping in front of a live audience, at the recent Second Life Community Convention. Fun stuff.

Smile, You’re in The Sims 2

The colorfully redesigned we make money not art links to an interesting experiment that was conducted recently at the International Symposium of Electronic Arts in San Jose. SIMVeillance brings passers-by on the plaza in front of the San Jose Museum of Art, where the festival was held, into the 3D virtual environment of The Sims 2 video game. Continue reading

Mapping SL’s Teen Grid

Map of the Teen Grid of the virtual world of Second Life
Second Life’s teen grid

I was browsing Cristiano Midnight’s Second Life snapshot site SnapZilla last night while we were recording SecondCast and came across the picture above, which is a screen grab of SL’s in-world user interface showing the map of the known Grid — only in this case it’s the Teen Grid, where users age 12-17 must start out before graduating to the 18-and-over Main Grid of SL proper. (If you’re under 12, you’re out of luck.) I post it here simply as an interesting insight into life on the Teen Grid, which doesn’t produce a lot of news, for various reasons (including issues of privacy). In fact, we’ve interviewed a teen Grid resident before on SecondCast, which made for an interesting show. Despite the fact that the size and population of the Teen Grid is much smaller (exact figures aren’t available from Linden Lab), the teens get up to much the same things the adults do. Although Barry Joseph of Global Kids, one of the few adults with access to a portion of the Teen Grid, has great insights into how life in the sister worlds differs in this episode of SecondCast.

For comparison, a shot of the map of the Main Grid after the jump. Continue reading

Interesting New Mobile Alert Technology

The All Points Blog flags this InformationWeek article about the wireless crisis alert system that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is building. As All Points points out, one of the technologies under consideration is especially interesting because it doesn’t need to track users’ locations to tell whether they should receive a message. Instead, an application on the device simply filters out messages that don’t apply. Continue reading

Stopping Notecard Spam in Second Life

Second Life resident Torley Linden (formerly Torley Torgeson, until she became an employee of Linden Lab) has a post on her blog yesterday about how to stop notecard spam — i.e., the repeated delivery of notecards to your avatar from an automated object — in Second Life. While Torley notes that the problem is occasionally unintentional, it raises an interesting point. Podcaster extraordinaire John Swords (producer of SecondCast and the Metaverse Sessions) has a theory that no software platform can be called truly successful until people start writing security apps like spamblockers for it. The thing is, though, that SL’s in-world communication tools are fairly crude, so building a spamblocker may not even be possible. And we’ve yet to grapple with the problems and solutions that will arise as more and more SL functionality becomes Web-based. By John’s measure, though, notecard spam may be a good sign. Does Torley’s post mark the beginning of SL’s maturity?

Will Identity Issues Shape the Desktop?

Lili Cheng of Microsoft, who formerly ran the Social Computing Group there; Tom Ngo, CEO of NextPage; Chris Thomas, chief strategy officer at Intel; Gary Bennitt of Goowy; and Kevin Lynch of Adobe spoke about the future of the desktop at the Supernova conference during a lunchtime roundtable. Much of their discussion revolved around whether data would be centrally stored in future, or stored locally in a number of locations. Interesting privacy and identity issues came up (they start about halfway down this post), and panelists’ remarks also shed some long-term light on how the 3pointD world might become more mobile and distributed, and just how long that might take. Continue reading

Big Brother in Cyberspace

The BBC has an interesting story from Friday how Big Brother’s presence will manifest itself in the metaverse, looking specifically at what companies are doing with the massive amounts of detailed data they’re able to farm from virtual worlds. Though it may seem trivial at the moment to wonder about whether your activities in a video game should be observed by the game-maker, these will be very important issues going forward. What rights to privacy do we have in virtual worlds? Are these public places, in which certain rights are protected? Or are they merely corporate applications? Even in company towns in the real world, though, residents enjoy certain rights. As virtual worlds become more closely knit with our real-world activities, a determination on these issues will weigh heavily on what we can and can’t do in the metaverse, and who will make those decisions. Not to be taken lightly.

Property Law in Cyberspace

About a month ago, I posted about a meeting of the American Bar Association’s Cyberspace Law Committee, where a fellow named Henry Judy, who currently co-chairs that committee’s Internet Law Subcommittee, made some interesting remarks to the effect that cyberspace — a concept encompassing more or less everything that happens on the Internet — “was better explained through a property law analysis than the long-standing presumption that there is such a thing as a ‘virtual’ world.” While this may rub some virtual world residents the wrong way, it seemed to me that there was real weight behind it; Judy comes to many of the same conclusions as portions of the geek community (on things like open-source software and privacy, for instance), but gets their through the lens of established law, rather than having to invent new methods. In any case, why should the virtual world be any different from the real one? The virtual world is part of the real world, after all.

Judy explains it better, and has sent along a draft paper of his ideas, which I’m more than pleased to present after the jump. Many thanks to him for getting in touch. Continue reading

How Much For My MySpace Friendship?

[Via Glitchy:] The Prefix magazine blog has an entry about the band Arctic Monkeys and the fact that their MySpace profile reportedly fetched more than $2,000 on eBay. The eBay auction had apparently been invalidated and removed from the site by the time I clicked through from Prefix. The sale (or attempted sale) is part of what’s been a recent surge in sales of MySpace profiles that have a large number of friends, which are apparently being farmed by marketers looking for new ways to reach potential customers. What’s especially amusing in this case is that (a) the Arctic Monkeys themselves seems to have little idea of who or what MySpace is, and (b) MySpace is said to have been partly responsible for the band’s rise to the top of the UK charts. More interesting from a 3pointD perspective, though, is the financial value of a broad friends network, and the privacy implications of such a sale. If I link to you, are you free to sell my link to someone? How much am I worth as a link, anyway? The Arctic Monkeys’ friends — all 49,450 of them — were valued at about 4 cents apiece. Surely I’m worth more than that?

Is Your Friendster Friend a Clone?

Wendy Rockett of New American Media writes here about having her Friendster identity “stolen.” In fact, she was cloned, in a practice that’s been going on in virtual worlds like The Sims Online for years: rather than hijack Wendy’s profile by stealing her password, someone created a profile that looked very much like Wendy’s, then simply tried to pass themselves off as the original.

In trying to assume my life, this “Wendy” was making a complete mockery of it. “Wendy” had pictures of me on her site, my approximate age, astrology sign, and meticulous (and correct) details, such as the publisher I worked for in New York before moving to San Francisco. Otherwise, everything else about this “Wendy” was not me. I would never say something as cheesy as, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” My favorite movies are those of indie Hong Kong director Wong Kar Wai. Fake Wendy likes the Indiana Jones series.

Continue reading

Love in the Age of Facebook

There’s a nice piece in the Columbia Spectator titled “Facebook Official,” all about how the “Relationship Status” field on Facebook profiles is affecting users’ offline relationships. This is another good example (see this earlier example) of how small things in software design can have larger social reverberations for the people who are using the tools.

The writer, Miriam Datskovsky, quotes the Urban Dictionary definition of the term:

Facebook Official
The ultimate definition of a college relationship – when on one’s facebook profile it says “In A Relationship” and your significant other’s name.

“are adam and courtney dating?”
“i don’t know, they’re not facebook official yet.”

Continue reading

Hide and Go Seek Some Free WiFi

Om Malik and Niall Kennedy’s latest podsession deals with geolocative services provided via free WiFi like the stuff Google wants to do, starting in San Francisco. Malik has concerns over privacy — free WiFi may mean that not only can companies and government entitites know who you are, they can know where you are as well, due to the GPS services that are increasingly layered atop wireless broadband as well as cellular phone networks. Geolocation over WiFi should definitely add capabilities of various sorts, but what are we giving up in terms of privacy, security and the costs (in terms of targeted advertising getting pushed at the user, among other things) of access? Grab the podcast here.

Steal This Identity

One of the oft-overlooked issues that’s going to crop up more and more as the 3pointD world evolves is that of identity. Who are you, in various online contexts, and how can you secure and protect — or make public — the various features of those various identities? There’s no one good solution at the moment, but a number people — including Microsoft and host of others — are working on solutions they hope will become standards, or at least plug into the identity protocol layer that’s being discussed as a necessary addition to the Internet. The subject is too vast to cover in a single blog post, but for more information, you may want to think about showing up to the “grassroots” Internet Identity Workshop being held May 1-3 at the Computer History Museum, in Mountain View, California. Continue reading

Is Cleanliness Next to Emptiness in MySpace?

Now that MySpace owner News Corp has begun cleaning up the all-ages social networking site — removing 200,000 profiles recently that contained “objectionable content” that might have scared away potential advertisers — some observers have begun to question whether the service will continue to enjoy the wild popularity it has been met with so far. The site has some 66 million profiles on it, but some feel censorship will lower that number drastically. “Teens and twenty something will likely say “screw it” to News Corp’s attempts at cleanliness and move to other social media spaces or create ones none of us has heard of yet,” says ad-watching blog AdRants. Continue reading