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.
The Guardian had not a bad story the other day about the potential for virtual worlds, focusing mostly on business uses. In contrast to some other recent takes on this in the press, the Guardian story seems more balanced to me, acknowledging that things are still at an early stage, and also tipping their hat to a wider universe of worlds than only Second Life. The article also calls out one of my favorite subjects: the convergence of virtual worlds and Web 2.0, which is still at a nascent stage. Judging from who’s quoted there, the article seems to have been inspired in part by the upcoming Virtual Worlds Forum Europe (more on that here), which takes place October 23-26 in London. I’ve been hoping to make that, but it’s looking less and less likely. There’s an excellent roster of speakers that are going to be on hand, though, so if you’re in the area, go for it.
Susan: How do you guys estimate the size of the overall virtual goods market?
Dan: It’s easily a billion dollar [secondary] market. Consumers have told us these things have value, the industry now is trying to reconcile that with their business model. Continue reading
Denise Caruso and Clay Shirky opened Supernova 2007 this morning by approaching the socially networked environment of the World Wide Web from two different directions. Caruso’s basic thesis was that people needed to break out of their insular social networks and take additional risks in order to bring in a greater variety of viewpoints and push innovation forward. Shirky called for the industry to rely more heavily on love, and posited that love would be a better indicator of where the IT industry is headed than business models are. Continue reading
One 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.diumâ€™s technology, by tracking peopleâ€™s behavior, could become valuable to advertisers looking for more ways to target ads.” Continue reading
I checked into the virtual world of Second Life tonight for a sneak peek at two islands that were just opened by Amazon Web Services as a community-building effort for AWS developers. According to SL resident Jeffronius Batra (aka Jeff Barr, Amazon’s senior Web services evangelist), »the islands« — which are an official Amazon project — will not only provide resources for developers but also link to and show off what the AWS development community has created inside Second Life. (Jeff mentioned Jnana as an example. You can read more about what they’re doing in SL on the AWS blog, or just visit »Jnana in Second Life«.)
The virtual architecture, by Joshua Culdesac (who lives in France), is very handsome, though some of it was too tight for my camera. Jeff did the terraforming. Amazon took delivery of the islands in December, Jeff said, though planning had been going on before then. Amazon’s virtual estate is near an IBM island (and not by accident; Jeff invited them to buddy up), but there’s a mysterious island named Innovation that intervenes. Jeff hasn’t been able to get into it yet to find out what’s going on there. The Amazon islands aren’t quite done yet, Jeff says, but from what I could glean in my visit, they seem to have succeeded in being “very SL-friendly, not overly corporate,” as Jeff says they were intended. Amazon has been poking around in Second Life for something like a year now. Nice to see them finally get something going on an official level. Continue reading
Pete Cashmore’s excellent Mashable has featured a couple of interesting sites in the last few days that are moving closer to the kind of identity-building tools I’ve been thinking about lately, including the identity-information aggregator I Twitter-predicted for epredator: OtherEgo and YouGetIt let you aggregate your social networking-style identities on a single page. MobileOX is looking to do the same thing. While this isn’t a revolutionary idea (all three services sound like a home-page builder with easy plugin tools), it’s significant that the process of collecting your disparate content and identity information in one place is becoming easier. A technology that’s been around for a while only begins to have a broad impact once it becomes broadly adopted, obviously, and these are just the kind of tools that could lead in that direction. Continue reading
No April Fool’s joke this: 3pointD turned one year old today! It was in the early hours (early minutes, actually) of April 1, 2006, that I posted my first Hello, World! here. Something like 1,400 posts later (can that be? WordPress must be over-counting) and our mission remains the same: “At its most fundamental level, itâ€™s about connecting people in new ways, and about giving them the tools to get more out of not just the Web but out of the real world around them.”
That’s still true, but in the year since then, the 3pointD space (aka the metaverse) has begun to resolve itself a bit — which is perhaps not surprising, since the word didn’t actually mean anything a year ago. What I’ve been trying to describe over the last year is the general direction of the future of connectivity. I still feel, as I wrote last March on my old blog, Walkerings, that “Web 2.0 is over like a hipster neighborhood when The Gap moves in,” and that there’s a new neighborhood to be colonized. That’s of course an overstatement for effect, but I don’t think it’s off the mark. Over the next several (many?) years, the most exciting developments in technology are going to be those that leverage our ever-increasing digital access to places both real and virtual to develop better connections between people in various ways.
The question is, What’s that going to look like? I hate making predictions, but as my birthday present to the blog and its readers, I’ve just spent the evening going out on a limb. You can read the details below or you can jump directly to a brief, fun scenario at the end of the post. Enjoy. Continue reading
The Second Life Drupal Group has an interesting piece of news: a Drupal framework is apparently in development that would allow Drupal modules to interact with objects in the virtual world of Second Life. There’s no code on the project page at the moment, but it’s coming “Real Soon Now,” according to a comment made today by the developer (assuming it’s not an April Fool’s joke, which I don’t believe it to be). 2bits, a Drupal consulting and development company, initially announced the “release” of the framework about a month ago, but that announcement seems to have been premature. If it is, in fact, in development, it will be interesting to see what users make of it, and it could be a nice marriage of Drupal’s open-source content management system with Second Life’s semi-open-source platform. Another small step toward integrating virtual worlds with the wider Web?
The L Word build in the virtual world of Second Life (created by the Electric Sheep Company, sponsors of this blog) has apparently generated quite a following, and is reportedly one of the more successful corporate VW communities in Second Life. Now an interesting thing has happened: Fatty Cardiff, one of the earliest L Word in SL members, has put up a MySpace page for her avatar (including an amusing rap song about the place). According to Electric Sheep Chris Carella, Fatty has been in The L Word in SL from its first or second day, and was founder of the Lesbian Mafia group [UPDATE: see below for a correction], a very large and active user-created group in SL. Fatty is not the first avatar to have a Web-based social networking page, of course, but I love that the in-world L Word community (three times fast) is pushing itself onto the Web in this way. If nothing else, it speaks to the fact that Second Life users want more powerful tools of social networking and self-expression than SL can currently provide. Worlds like Kaneva, Metaversum and Sony’s PS3 home may go further, but based on how those have been described, I’d bet we won’t really be happy until there’s a really deep integration between 3D virtual worlds and some of the social networking services that already exist on the Web, like MySpace and Flickr, to name only two.
After I saw the I-D Media team in Berlin, I met up with Jeremy Snyder of the Berlin-based Metaversum, which I learned is currently working on a virtual world that will feature Web 2.0 integration that sounds along the lines of what’s being done in Kaneva, though perhaps with some extra features. Metaversum’s world has been in development since July of last year, and currently has about 40 people working on it, Jeremy says. (There’s also a hiring notice on their site.) First, though, the company is building out the social networking piece of things, a service known as Yumondo. This is described as “a Web 2.0 platform that will integrate with the world,” and will feature social networking, photo sharing, collaborative event planning and perhaps some other features that have yet to be decided. Look for that in April or May, with any luck. The world itself will be coming “later this year,” and will integrate with the Yumondo platform. The world will feature user-generated content, but it doesn’t sound like it will be quite as free and flexible as that found in Second Life. (Perhaps more like Sony’s PS3 home service? Remains to be seen.) However, it looks like importing of 3D models may be supported, which would be a nice feature. Continue reading
The presentation I gave in Berlin on Thursday was ostensibly on “virtual worlds, media and identity,” but as I’ve been going over it I’m finding it’s extending itself into a small picture of what the next generation of virtual worlds might look like and how we might get there. A lot of it was stuff that’s probably pretty basic to 3pointD readers, but it might be worth going over anyway. And since it marked my first PowerPoint presentation (and hopefully my last), I can even paste in some slides below. (If you want the full set, send me an email.)
I started out by comparing what can be conveyed via traditional communications media, or rather, what tools are at our disposal when we work in various media. In SMS text messaging, of course, we’re very limited in how we communicate (despite the fact that a lot can be communicated via SMS). In instant messaging, we have a little more leeway, and in email yet more. Voice adds a great deal of breadth to the channel, video conferencing expands it further, and of course the broadest channel through we communicate is face to face, since we have access to facial expressions, gestures, proximity and other “messages” at a higher “resolution” than in any of the other media in the chart. I actually thought this would be pretty unremarkable to most people, but more than a few audience members were quite excited to see things arranged like this — which means I’m going to stick with my habit of pointing out the presumably obvious; sorry, guys. Continue reading
Three services we brought you recently that mash up the virtual world of Second Life and the (also virtual, in its way) World Wide Web, have had new versions released in the last few days. Sloog, TwitterBox, and SLateIt, (originally blogged here, here, and here), are three instances of one of my favorite things: they’re real 3pointD apps that make the 3D world of SL interoperable (to a small extent) with the 2D world of the Web, and in a social, Web 2.0 way. Their initial release was very rough and beta, but now all three have new versions out that have made them easier to use and/or increased their functionality. Excellent news. Full descriptions below. Continue reading
I’m in the Austin airport on the way back from South by Southwest (my flight of course delayed by snow in New York [and actually, I’m home now]), and I just snapped this vaguely Sesame Street-like picture of the number 18. Not just any 18, though: It’s a Helvetica 18, brought to my attention by a fantastic documentary I saw as part of the SXSW film festival, titled simply Helvetica. The typeface celebrates the 50th anniversary of its design this year, but the film does much more than simply celebrate the typeface — which, if you glance around, you’ll realize has become the ubiquitous choice for “clean” design in the period since the second world war. What’s great about Helvetica (besides the fact that it’s beautifully shot) is that it does a terrific job of illustrating how design shapes our lives and who we are as human beings. And in a remarkably 3pointD twist, the film even winds up talking about Helvetica and design in the context of Web apps like MySpace and how those things contribute to who we are, which is the only reason I even dare blog about it here. Continue reading
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
Regular readers know I’ve been making noise lately about an idea factory that would seek to leverage (sorry, Ordinal) the skills of anyone who cared to participate in an effort to create any or all of a list of wish apps that had also been created by the community. As previously noted, I had to miss last Saturday’s jawboning session on the topic, but Bill Ward and a couple of other people who were there have been kind enough to send me some notes about what was discussed (including a fantastic handwritten page, from which I’ve clipped the chart above, which you can view in its entirety on Flickr). I’m going to try to tie all those notes together here into a vision of a metaversal idea factory (which I’m still not convinced shouldn’t be called an idea farm — or insert your good idea for a name here), and will try to keep you posted as things develop. Keep in mind that this is my interpretation of the state of things; it seems a fairly complex undertaking, so I may have gotten a few details out of place. In any case, though, it’s a very cool project which I’d love to see take off. Continue reading
I’m going to go ahead and call Sloog the best Web 2.0-style site for the virtual world of Second Life that I’ve seen yet. Sloog lets you tag locations in Second Life, storing them in the Sloog system so you can access them later on the Web. It’s a bit like del.icio.us tagging or Digg-ing virtual places, and it’s not a new function for SL users, but this is the best implementation of it I’ve seen yet. Continue reading
Second Life resident Koz Farina, creator of the very popular BlogHUD tool for blogging from within SL, is developing a system to allow you to cross-post your BlogHUD posts to your account on Twitter, the hot new social site that lets you miniblog along with your friends. Koz is already feeding all BlogHUD posts to a Twitter BlogHUD page. This is just the latest entry into a growing pool of Twitter-to-SL mashups from people like Ordinal Malaprop and Kisa Naumova, among others. And in fact, there’s been a huge flowering of ancillary Twitter apps since the service launched last fall. Why? Because Twitter is incredibly compelling, for a number of reasons. One of the most important, in my opinion, is the almost complete lack of button-based features that Twitter offers to its users. (Although I’d love for someone to build the wish app described at the end of this post.) Continue reading
I’ve been looking for an excuse to blog about my new set of Moo.com cards, and Adam Pasick (Reuters’ correspondent in the virtual world of Second Life) provides it: he reports that Moo.com — which makes mini business cards from your Flickr photos — is now offering cards made from screenshots uploaded directly from Second Life. According to Moo’s SL page, you can email your SL snapshots directly from within SL to secondlife[AT]moo.com, and then have Moo’s very cool business cards made from them. Nice. My cards (a few of which can be seen above) are made from the 3pointD pool on Flickr, since I upload all the images that appear on 3pointD to that pool (and because there are often images from outside SL on the blog). The great thing about Moo is that it automatically puts the photo title and a redirect URL on the back of the cards. Love it.
After the metaverse meetup we held recently, Jerry and I and several others have been pondering how to help some of the ideas that were kicking around there take shape. On Saturday, Jerry got together with several interested parties (I couldn’t make it), to discuss some approaches. I’d been talking about an “idea farm,” but what seems to have emerged from Saturday’s jawboning session was the idea of an idea factory, which is described very well by Bill Ward:
. . . An “Idea Factory” to leverage the newfound connectedness of society towards solving problems of all sizes. . . . [A] combination of social networks, semantic markups, peer review, incentives, and “knowledge visualization” could improve the effectiveness of ad-hoc collaborative teams. We’d like to harness the power of the community. . . . [We] covered ground related to facilitating open idea exchange, ranking those ideas, and mapping their relationships in a format which would facilitate the sort of ad-hoc collaboration that thrives in the open source community.
Murat Aktihanoglu, who I met at the recent metaverse meetup, sends words of a mashup he’s developing that will make Google Earth into a multi-user application with the help of Skype. Needless to say, this is the kind of thing that excites 3pointD, and is in fact something we’ve been looking for for some time. You can download an early version at the somewhat oddly named Unype site. Unype lives between my Skype and yours, and between Google Earth and Skype on both machines. Fire up Skype and GE, click to connect your instance of Unype to them, click to connect to a friend within Unype, and then have your friend click Unype’s “follow” button. Then, when you navigate in your Google Earth, Unype automatically navigates your friend’s Google Earth to the same place. That’s cool as far as it goes, but there’s more coming, Murat says. Continue reading
The above YouTube clip, from Minneapolis artist Phil Hansen, doesn’t appear to be all that 3pointD, at first, but appearances can be deceiving. It’s a full five minutes of some really nice action painting with a unique twist (which I won’t give away; hit the Play button already!). In an unbelievably fortuitous moment of technological serendipity, I happened to be listening to Bob Dylan’s Subterranean Homesick Blues on iTunes when I was watching this, and had the YouTube soundtrack turned down. All of which engendered a small epiphany about the history of lifelogging and the origins of the mixed(-up) media we enjoy today. Read on, if you dare. Continue reading
Call me Mad Dog Winters. (I’ll explain in a sec.) The Mini Cooper, everyone’s favorite cute little British car, is teaming up with Reuben Steiger’s Millions of Us to bring a cool-sounding promotion for the new Cooper S to the virtual world of Second Life. The thing I especially like about this project is that it offers a contest/game that’s played not just in SL, but on a handful of Web 2.0 sites as well, which, as regular readers know, is one of my favorite kinds of mashups. Continue reading
The »IBM CODESTATION« island I blogged about just now does indeed include a library of open-source objects and LSL code — though not quite in the way I’d hoped. What IBM has done is create a repository of scripted objects and scripts themselves — things like a clock, a teleporter, a mailbox, an object that rescales on click, a door, radar, poseball, etc. — very much akin to what’s available on the LSL wiki (wherever that resides these days). Continue reading
Boy am I glad I stumbled on Aleister Kronos’s Ambling in Second Life blog today, since Aleister himself stumbled on IBM CODESTATION island in the virtual world of Second Life a couple of weeks ago. I just had a visit, and I’m happy to say it includes one of the coolest projects I’ve seen in a while: an »open-API mazebot« that users are invited to take and modify in various ways. This is something I’ve wanted to see in Second Life for a while (and was hoping for in the Lego Mindstorms project), and while any full-perm item you get in SL is of course modifiable, IBM has done a nice thing here by defining some parameters and setting out a task for users to work on. Continue reading
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
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
Kitten Fluff has noticed a plugin for Firefox running on your Windows machine that gives you a Second Life-related browser toolbar. While the download page itself gives precious few clues as to why you’d want to use something like this, the toolbar seems to have a ZDNet download page that gives more information. The toolbar apparently comes pre-loaded with interfaces to a number of SL search sites and other SL-related resources. (Description after the jump.) That page only went up five days ago, but I haven’t heard anything about this tool before, which leads me to ask, Is this legit? The keylogging possibilities are too great to get me to download it without more information, which is hard to find — at least in English. Continue reading
Trevor Smith, who’s been hard at work on his open-source 3D platform, Ogoglio, has begun a SourceForge project, where he’ll eventually make the code available. While there aren’t any file packages yet, you can browse the repository if you want to get a look at the bits of code Trevor has made available so far. You can also take a look at this YouTube clip, which is Trevor’s fifth screencast in which he describes the state of Ogoglio affairs. As you’ll see, the world is working — if crudely, at the moment. But you can already import .obj files and see them in one of the browser-based worldlets that Ogoglio creates. That’s an apartment building in the pic here that was imported from 3D marketplace TurboSquid into Blender, and then on into Ogoglio (where the default red robot avatar is looking on). This is basically still early-alpha technology that’s more 3D Web than virtual worldy, but it’s one to watch. [Via Hugo Junot.]
Two new applications out recently — Yahoo! Pipes and IBM’s QEDWiki — contain much promise for the 3pointD world. They’re basically mashupmakers (mashuppers? mashers?), GUI-based systems that let you create your own mashups without having to get too deep into code. They’re still a bit beyond my ability to really check out without spending a whole day on them, but they definitely make mashupping (I’m going with “mashupping” for the moment) available to a broader set of users. What does this mean for the 3pointD generation? More mashups, of course. But more importantly, it means greater, more widespread power to make the virtual world a more useful place. Continue reading
This isn’t specifically Second Life-related, but it’s a project that a Second Life resident is helping to run and it’s very cool, so I thought I’d mention it here. SL resident Jeremy Neumann helped bring excerpts from the seminal metaversal novel Snow Crash to Second Life last August. Now, in the guise of his real-world avatar Jeremy Ettinghausen, Digital Publisher at Pengiun Books UK, he’s created and launched a very interesting collaborative novel that’s being written by many people at once on a wiki. Anyone can contribute, and anyone can edit anyone else’s writing. The novel has been seeded with contributions from a team of MA students, but over the next six weeks anyone will be able to contribute, after which, it sounds like, pages will be locked and the novel “published,” at least in Web-based digital form. The progress will be chronicled on the Penguin blog. Already the wiki site has proved so popular that high volumes of traffic are forcing Penguin to switch in some heavier-hitting servers. No one at Penguin is making any claims for the quality of the finished product — they just want to see what will happen, and explore the results of crowdsourcing an artisitic work like a novel. I’m all for it. I’d love to see this kind of thing in Second Life, as well, whether it’s something made from words or prims. How can we make that happen?
An experimental three-way conversation about the future of virtual worlds is taking place among Clay Shirky, Henry Jenkins and Beth Coleman, the first round of which is now complete with Beth’s recent post. I find myself reluctant to even blog about this, as most of the conversation leading up to this point (kicked off by some tendentious posts by Shirky over at ValleyWag) has been counter-productive for those who actually want to make some kind of even-handed inquiry into what’s happening with 3D online technologies. But the present round of blog posts from Shirky, Jenkins and Coleman seems more balanced, including Shirky’s. Unfortunately, the result is that not all that much is being said that’s really new, at least, not to my eye. Shirky is right to question Second Life‘s adoption numbers (when he can put aside the vitriol he’s directed against the press; that’s a separate issue), but they’ve been questioned many times before. Jenkins’s post is interesting for putting virtual worlds in the broader context of participatory culture. I think Beth Coleman’s, though, does the most to push the conversation forward. Instead of arguing over which part of the elephant is the right one to examine, she pushes some ideas out to us for adoption and/or consideration, including the need for a standard measurement of usage, whether such world will be created in our image, and the need for interoperability and stronger communications between virtual worlds and the other technologies through which we communicate and manipulate information. This last section even includes a line that sums up my own view about virtual worlds and about what I’m doing here on 3pointD: “What virtual worlds promise is an augmentation of human-to-human communication.” Win.