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
To add to the fun we had at our book party this weekend, Daniel Terdiman is throwing a party of his own, to celebrate the publication of his own book, The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Second Life. If you’re around San Francisco this Wednesday (Nov. 7), crash the party at the CNET offices, where Dan works, pick up a copy of the book, and check out all you ever wanted to know about making money in the metaverse. Rather than the usual thin gloss on selling prim skirts, the book actually takes a deep dive into the process of building and running a business in the virtual world of Second Life, covering everything from laying foundations and writing a business plan, to entering the fashion world, the real estate business, the virtual construction trade, the “adult” industry and even running a business on SL’s teen grid. I know Dan worked his ass off on this one, and it shows. Check it out for yourself and let me know if you agree.
It seems like forever since we first started working on it, but at last our book about the Second Life Herald — and about the metaverse in general — is being published (in a matter of days), and we’re planning a party to celebrate the fact. In case you missed it, I’ve written a book with philosophy professor and Herald founder Peter Ludlow. It features a colorful cast of virtual characters from places like Second Life, The Sims Online, World of Warcraft, EVE Online and various other places, as well as numerous flesh-and-blood people. Titled The Second Life Herald: The Virtual Tabloid That Witnessed the Dawn of the Metaverse, the book not only chronicles the rise of the virtual world’s first and favorite tabloid, but looks as well at the increasingly important role that virtual spaces play in our everyday lives, and articulates the issues we’ll be facing as the societies now emerging in the metaverse grow in reach and influence.
It should be in bookstores momentarily, and you can already buy the thing online, but maybe the most fun way to acquire a copy would be to buy one at the party we’re having in Brooklyn on November 3. Continue reading
That’s Ludlow as in Peter Ludlow, who founded the Second Life Herald, and Wallace as in myself, who occasionally does some work over there. We’re interviewed on Episode #2 of the MIT Press podcast, which you can listen to via this link. (You have to listen through some advertisements for the podcast itself at the beginning, for some reason.) MIT, of course, is who’s publishing our book, The Second Life Herald: The Virtual Tabloid That Witnessed the Dawn of the Metaverse, which is due out any minute now — or anyway, at the end of the month. We talk about Second Life, of course, issues of governance in the metaverse, the future of metaversal technologies, and a few other things. I think we were spared any annoying furry sex questions in this one, which was nice. Check it out.
Just got this press release:
UK rock band Oasis is opening its official online space in the virtual world Second Life (SL) this Monday, September 24, and is kicking off with a preview of its latest release, a feature-length-plus, limited edition double DVD entitled â€˜Lord Donâ€™t Slow Me Downâ€™. The facility â€“ built for Oasis in Second Lifeâ€™s â€˜New Horizonâ€™ business park â€“ is a joint venture between SL developer New Business Horizons and SL media producer Phoenix Film & Television.
From Monday, visitors can watch the DVDâ€™s trailer as they browse around the space, pick up free goodies such as a virtual t-shirt and coffee table book, have a look at stills from the production and pre-order the double DVD itself for real world delivery by Amazon. The real world release of â€˜Lord Donâ€™t Slow Me Downâ€™ is scheduled for October 29, 2007 by Big Brother Recordings in the UK and Big Brother Recordings/Universal internationally. Continue reading
Recently I posted about one of several sites in the virtual world of Second Life commemorating those who died in the attack on the World Trade Center in 2001. It brought home to me how an immersive 3D environment can be used as a powerful visualisation tool, providing focus for contemplation.
Shortly after writing this piece I was contacted by Second Life resident, Evian Argus (in Real Life Robert Egan of Meme Science), to tell me about another memorial. Timed to open in November to coincide with the 25th anniversary of its original dedication, Meme Science are building a replica of the Vietnam War Memorial, commonly known as The Wall, in Second Life. The Wall lists all 58, 253 US service personnel killed or missing in the Vietnam war.
This is one of the most bitchin’ add-ons for the virtual world of Second Life that I’ve seen in a while. Our fellow Brooklynites at Cruxy, who run a site that lets musicians, filmmakers and other artists promote (and earn from the sale of) their work, have released a music map for Second Life that lets you see which Cruxy artists are being played at which locations in the virtual world. Cruxy offer a Second Life player that lets you listen to Cruxy artists while you’re in-world. Their new music map of SL shows you what’s being played where, lets you filter by a particular artist, and just generally looks cool. Rock on. (And yes, that’s me interviewing Suxanne Vega if you scroll down the Cruxy home page. That was fun. And you can listen to the entire interview if you like. Well worth suffering through my questions to hear what such an interesting artist — and long-time New Yorker — has on her mind these days. Her new album is awesome.)
Anshe Chung Studios, which produces digital content and services for virtual worlds like Second Life, IMVU and others, has drawn a round of funding from New York venture capital firm Gladwyne Partners, who were early investors in the Electric Sheep Company. Sources at Gladwyne tell 3pointD the investment closed today, but wouldn’t reveal the amount. Gladwyne should be quite happy to have found another play in the virtual world sector; they’ve been looking very closely at the space since hopping into the Sheep pen. From the sound of things, they’re continuing the due diligence they’ve been doing throughout the space for the last year or two, so look for more, although it remains to be seen how soon. And congratulations to Anshe (or rather, to the husband-and-wife team behind the avatar), who has built an unparalleled “native” virtual-world brand over the last four years or so. Such companies should be under pressure from bigger, more established production houses, but none seem to have made significant in-roads. Anshe also has the advantage of having outsourced much of her studio’s work to employees in her native China, which may have made a difference to Gladwyne. In any case, it’s interesting to see just how far you can go with amateur content-creation, which is where Anshe started. Nice to see Gladwyne concentrating so heavily on the space, as well. We look forward to more.
2007 has seen a trend (dare I say “meme”? No, perhaps not) for real world cities to be replicated in the virtual world of Second Life. This trend has been particularly prevalent in Northern/Central Europe – with Germany and The Netherlands vying for the most virtual cities. Today, while passing by the World Trade Center Memorial again, I espied an island called Â»CPHÂ«, and finding it open, went to have a look. It seems that the trend has moved North a tad, as this is virtual Copenhagen. But is it “wunderbar, wunderbar?” Continue reading
Terrific. I’m quoted in an article about Second Life in tomorrow’s New York Times. Which of the many topics covered in the interview am I quoted on? That’s right, cyber-genitalia and virtual McMansions. On the whole, though, the article is a pretty good deep dive on why people value such virtual goods, and what utility they derive from them. Check it out.
There have been several examples of the twin towers being rebuilt in the virtual world of Second Life, but with the anniversary of that awful day with us once again, I would like to bring to your attention a site that I feel deserves a special mention: the World Trade Center sim. As I write this, it is still being finalised, ready for an official opening to coincide with the time the first plane hit. What singles this site out is that it does not attempt to undo what has happened. Rather, it commemorates those from many. many nations who died in that dreadful and tragic atrocity. Continue reading
While many residents of the virtual world of Second Life have taken themselves off on a short break to Chicago for Second Life Community Convention (SLCC) 2007, I have had to settle for a virtual holiday instead. Courtesy of German travel company, TUI, I have been rafting, scuba-diving, and exploring wrecked pirate ships at their virtual beach resort in Second Life.
The TUI AG group is perhaps the largest holidy tour operator in the world, and includes brands such as Thomson in the UK. This Second Life presence, spanning 4 islands, is intended to advertise their German tour operations. These are classed under 3 major “sub-brands” which are reflected in the names of their islands. TUI SchÃ¶ne Ferien (classic seaside holidays), TUI Weltentdecker (city breaks and circular trips) and TUI Premium (high-end holidays). Continue reading
Are you a Second Life resident who is fed up with your appearance? You’ve scoured the shops, looking for an avatar face that would be unique to you; something that captures the very essence of you — or at least, the persona you wish to project in Second Life. But you just can’t find it. Frustrating isn’t it?
You could opt to make your own, but most of us lack the skills to create something convincing, realistic and actually worth showing in public. Now, though, this need not be a bar to personalising your avatar — after a fashion. CyberExtruder provides a quick and relatively easy solution to your personalisation dilemma. Using a passport-style photograph, their automated conversion software will generate a realistic Second Life face in about a second. Whether you opt to use a self-portrait, or an image of someone else, is entirely up to you, though you might want to think carefully before pursuing the latter route.
The CyberExtruder service is a nice convenience for SL residents who want a more photorealistic face for their avatars, but the results can sometimes be a bit startling. Continue reading
The German Second Life Community Convention 2007, planned to be held in DÃ¼sseldorf from 21st to 23rd September, has been cancelled. This is the second cancellation of a German Second Life event, following the recent announcement about SL Conference 2007 in Berlin.
There is a small amount of good news for anyone who had registered for the Berlin event. Cocoate.com have worked out a deal with IQPC, organisers of Achieving Real Business Growth Through Second Life, being held in London on 25th and 26th Septemeber. The deal provides a substantial discount to registrants who want to switch over to the British event. Check the SL Conference website for more information.
I am waiting for an opportunity to talk with one of the organisers of the DÃ¼sseldorf event to find out what has happened since Thursday — when it was “all systems go” — to cause the cancellation.
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.
God 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
I hadn’t heard of Mappa Novus until someone dropped it in the comments here. The Mappa crew is doing interesting work creating maps of the virtual world of Second Life that seem to be mashed up with the Google Maps interface, and overlaid with data layers about population, land sales, etc. On top of that, they’ve layered some advanced edition maps that you can subscribe to for $7.95 a month or $19.95 for three months, which give extra data about land sales. The whole deal seems to be able the real estate business, as there’s also a land search tool available. They also have printed maps available for sale. Continue reading
The Electric Sheep Company (which sponsors 3pointD) yesterday launched its new shopping site for the virtual world of
Groups are a standard feature of the virtual world of Second Life. They provide communities for avatars with mutual interests, and can range across every interest or specialization known to avatar-kind. Within Second Life an avatar can be a member of up to 25 groups. Sometimes they are used to restrict access to specific areas, but more often they are used as a communication medium, as it is possible to send messages to all (online) members simultaneously.
A couple of months ago a new group was founded by Nick Wilson (aka 57 Miles in Second Life) of the popular Metaversed blog. It was called “Things To Do” and was based on the simple premise that Second Life is a social environment in which it is enjoyable to share activities with people, and make friends. Things To Do has since grown into both a popular group and an effective communications channel. But it also illustrates some of the limitations of social tools in Second Life, and raises some interesting questions about how to reach and manage large communities of people within the virtual world. Continue reading
Check out the mobile wizardry of Second Life resident Wrestling Hulka, who has a limited version of the virtual world running on the Nokia n800. [Via Metaversed, from whom I’ve stolen the pic above.] Cool stuff. Recall there was another mobile client for Second Life that was developed earlier in the year. 3pointD hears that others may be working on similar apps — although I’m not sure I need an “immersive” experience on my mobile device. What I definitely would like, however, is the ability to interact with people who are in the virtual world via my phone and functions like instant messaging, my virtual currency account, etc. That’s far more useful, but is apparently less sexy and more difficult, since I don’t hear as much about people developing these kinds of functions. We can only hope.
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
The YouTube video above is a very cool way to leverage the expressive capabilities of the virtual world of Second Life, if you ask me. It describes the Second Chance Trees reforestation project, which was designed and built out by social media communications company Converseon, in partnership with Plant-It 2020, a non-profit whose business it is to plant and maintain indigenous trees around the world. For each virtual tree planted »on Second Chance Trees island« in Second Life (at a cost of L$300, or about US$1), Plant-It will plant one tree in the real world. Now, the Second Chance Trees project has a chance to be funded to the tune of one to five million dollars (and plant a corresponding number of real-world trees) through the American Express Members Project, where Second Chance Trees has made it into the round of 50 finalists. Vote for the project if you dig what you see.
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.
Itâ€™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
* Accepting/declining teleport offers
* Local chat, instant messages (partially — you canâ€™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.]
Virtual worlds researcher Aleks Krotoski, who’s been working on a Ph.D. about social networks in virtual worlds, has posted about some of her findings, which are available in the form of an excellent video presentation you can find at the Subject Centre for Information and Computer Sciences (scroll down). You can also download the accompanying PowerPoint presentation. Aleks is doing very interesting research measuring the ties among people in the virtual world of Second Life, and is farming results from an opt-in survey she made of 10,000 SL residents. What’s to be learned here? According to Aleks, you can discern several things: Continue reading
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
The YouTube video above comes to 3pointD from Birgit Frenzel of I-D Media, whom we last met in Berlin, back when the Lifecrawler team had begun to offer client services in the virtual world of Second Life. The video features some new hacks the German team has apparently been cooking up, including the ability to jog through Second Life via a treadmill, and to steer with the D-pad on a Wiimote, which was hacked up by Gideon May back in March. The video is cool — get fit while navigating the virtual world! — but of course we have to give props to our neighbor in Second Life’s Louise sim, Moriash Moreau, who had the same thing going almost a year ago. Then again, the Lifecrawler one is a bit smoother and not so DIY, but hey, Mori’s a pioneer. The Lifecrawler team has also made good strides (sorry) on the Destroy Television-like technology for which they’re named, which is now working pretty smoothly, judging from this cool YouTube video. 3pointD hears that the Lifecrawler team may soon provide a virtual video streaming service not unlike Ustream that would let any SL resident stream their second lives to the Web. Watch for it.
The virtual world of Second Life is often compared to the annual Burning Man festival in that both are a place where fantasy becomes reality and almost anything goes. But SL resembles another, more mid-90s slice of festival culture as well, at times, and never more so than this weekend, when it takes on the guise of a field in Hampshire (extra credit for catching that reference) with the three-day SecondFest that’s about to kick off, sponsored by the Guardian newspaper and Intel, and organized by Rivers Run Red with promotional help from the ever-brilliant Aleks Krotoski, who writes for the Guardian. The festival gets underway tonight with DJ sets from people like the Glimmer Twins and Tom Findlay, according to the schedule, and wends its wooly way through to a Sunday-evening set from none other than the Pet Shop Boys. Taking place over no less than nine sims (»start here«, and see map after the jump), and with multiple stages, screens and, of course, tents, and too many acts for me to bother to count, it sounds like SecondFest could actually be some kind of landmark entertainment event in Second Life — if no more than 500 people want to get in at the same time. Sounds like fun in any case. Check it out. Easier to park, and just as much chance for muddy casual sex — if you like your muddy casual sex virtual, that is. Continue reading
New media marketing firm crayon kicks off a series of monthly “thought leadership” panels in the virtual world of Second Life today, and guess who’s moderating the first one. Yep, I’ll be »on crayon island« from 9am SL Time today (noon Eastern), for a chat with some of the people who’ve been doing branding in SL, including:
The number of universities entering the virtual world of Second Life never ceases to amaze me. One that I have been keeping an eye on for some time is Princeton. It has been closed to casual strollers while construction proceeds, but following a bit of string-pulling, I was able to get an advance preview earlier this week. I have only one small problem: the amount of information I now have is so huge it is going to take all of my ingenuity — and thereâ€™s precious little of that — to prune it down to the bare essentials. The sim will not formally open to the public until the next academic year, but much of the work is now complete.
Incidentally, aware that I over-use the term “iconic” I have opted in this post to go with “signature” instead. Time will tell whether this is a sensible move.
My tour guide was the charming and ridiculously well-informed (not to mention often downright hilarious) Persis Trilling, who, apart from heading up the Princeton in-house IT education support services, is something of an expert on the History of Architecture and is overseeing the build in Second Life. Continue reading
Ceedubs (in red t-shirt) looks out from the virtual gallery and through the screen, while Destroy, housed in the real version of the virtual kitchen cabinet at center, looks on, and the real CW (not pictured) looks in from outside. Confused? Good.
Electric Sheep Christian Westbrook reports that he has now posted a downloadable series of the adventures of Destroy Television in the virtual world of Second Life. (Downloadable series of enormous files, that is.) Destroy, of course, is the multiuser avatar who lifelogs her every virtual moment on Flickr. But because she’s taking a screenshot every five seconds, ceedubs has been able to cut these all together into a very cool series of short films. The films are taken from the ten days in which Destroy was on display at the Fuse Gallery in New York City, and includes the 683MB monster I’m downloading at the moment — downloading because I want to see how much of our wedding Destroy managed to capture. It sounds all good fun and games, but there’s a serious side to it as well: consider what Destroy’s up to in the context of things like Justin.tv and Ustream. The original plan (not sure if it’s still the plan) was to embed clickable information into Destroy’s home movies, using a service like Click.tv, which seems to be dark at the moment, but which lets you embed links and comments at any point in a video clip, displays them as an overlay on the clip, and lets you click directly to that point. Imagine that kind of digitized information overlaid on your own lifestream, complete with whatever other information was embedded in the environment around you. Second Life constitutes an excellent testbed for that kind of service. Useful? Not at the moment, but it will be.
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
A 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