Wednesday, October 31, 2007

de-activ8 Nestlé

One of the new entries in Second Life earlier this month is Swiss dairy mogul Nestlé.

"Nestlé is a multinational packaged food company
founded and headquartered in Vevey, Switzerland. It results from a merger in 1905 between the Anglo-Swiss Milk Company for milk products established by the Page Brothers in Cham, Switzerland, in 1866 and the Farine Lactée Henri Nestlé Company set up in 1867 by Henri Nestlé to provide an infant food product.
Several of Nestlé's brands are globally renowned, which made the company a global market leader in many product lines, including milk, chocolate, confectionery, bottled water, coffee, creamer, food seasoning and pet foods...
...Some of Nestlé's business practices have been considered unethical, especially the manner in which infant formula has been marketed in developing countries, which led to the Nestlé boycott from 1977."


It's been a while since I've seen a good build, and beforehand I had expected a good professional build, but it was a disappointment. The first signs were good... when looking for the island I saw it was a double-sim build and there were about 25 people present. So it's generating traffic...

It's prime focus is the Nesquick Quicksk8 Park, a more or less urban style skate / ball park with a chocolatemilky river. This is what generates traffic today: The skatepark has been transformed into a cemetary with a Halloween party. Along the river you'll find the Nesquik Graffiti Wall. There's a shack where you can get skateboards and some info on milk. And that's about as Nesquick as it gets.

The build looks quite nesQuick 'n Dirty... it's a bit chaotic and disjoint. The landscaping looks a bit erratic and cheap. The rest of the double-sim venue is split up in various resorts, rentals, clubs and whatever; these are the areas I flew past:

  • Activ8 Beach Resort
  • Activ8 Nightlife Complex
  • Activ8 Martini Lounge

It's a double sim and it's just too much. It's chaotic. I'd not yet read KZero's remarks (spot on!) and expected something like Charlie's-chocolate-factory-ish or Ben & Jerry style.

Here's what Nic from KZero has to say:

But, there’s a serious problem here.

Who is the target market for Nesquik? Is it late 20’s to early 30’s (as the main age group represented in SL) tech and media savvy early adopters? Or is it young kids? Or
maybe it’s the mothers and fathers that actually purchase the product in supermarkets?

If the target is kids, then from a media planning perspective, quite simply it’s the right time but wrong place for them. There’s no kids in Second Life - try There or Kaneva, in fact, go even younger, into Whyville, Club
or Habbo.

If the target is mothers and fathers, then the treatment and execution of this project again is out of focus - ever skateboarded in Second Life? Or even wanted to?

Somebody please tell me if I’ve missed the point here!?

As the venue is called activ8, my conclusion would be to de-activ8. Sorry folks.

Anyway, if you'd like to waste your time, here's the SLURL:

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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

YSL fashion without body

The summertime has been extremely quiet when it comes to new corporate immersions. Now summer break is long gone and I'm having a hard time keeping up. There's hardly been time to do some proper simspotting. Since we've been on the television meets virtual world meme thing in the past weeks it might be of interest to see what's exactly behind the Sera Korea sims. These are a bunch that might supporting the Korean TV drama series Que Sera Sera. The Asian invasion doesn't end here, there's another heap of islands shouting the name Samsung.

Yves Saint Laurent & Elle

Asia isn't my particular interest, there's others who keep a closer watch on the devs from the Far East; I'd rather keep an eye one European and American corporations. Since I've been running a streak of Fashion and Girlworlds it seems fit to note the immersion of Yves Saint Laurent, a well known French house of Fashion.

Blogging it is also logical, because I might otherwise forget this one is actually here. It didn't impress me and may fade out of memory soon. YSL's immersion has been centered around their fragrance "Elle", or as Nic Mitham from KZero reports:

"YSL is using a fuschia-themed island in SL on a tactical basis during October to promote their new fragrance Elle.

Marketing Director of YSL Fragrances, Thomas Lalague commented:
“Elle is geared toward “an active woman who is urban and contemporary, daring and elegant, attractive and bohemian, smart and sexy. A woman who is open to the world and who wants to express her personality.”

The theme of the island is the story of Elle using audio/video of the TV spot as well as rooms containng further information."

For a casual visitor though, this story is hard to find. Yes, there this big fallic bottle in the center of the island which is hard to miss, and it has an audio outfit. But on a rather casual stroll, I didn't feel tempted to pick up one and listen to a lengthy story.

I hovered around a bit to see what the rest of this purple-sim was made of, but the hallways are rather empty. Without you taking time to listen to their story, this sim has no body. If this sim is about the expression of a woman's personality.... I think there's a bit more to most women out there.


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Fleck evolution of notecards

On the same run I ran into Wakoopa (see previous blogentry), I ran into Fleck. Now this might be one to watch. In short, Fleck is the evolution of the notecard.

Where we needed hammers, chisels, enormous walls and tons of paint to let our friends know we saw a bunch of horses in prehistoric times We had to nail our thoughts to the wall - or door, needing lots of paper, nails and a hammer and risk being burned at the stake in medieval times

At last we got rid of nails and push pins as it is no longer appropriate in our western culture that women have a red spot on their forehead, so we invented sticky notes.

Now Fleck is taking it to the next level. We no longer need to put up reminders on the edges of our screen, we can comment directly on the website that drives us to whichever thought we need to hold.

Here's the Techcrunch website sampled with Fleck's annotation bar and comments.

Here's Flecks own vision: wants to add a new layer of interactivity to the web. Fleck is inspired on a story written in 1945 by Vannevar Bush and an article titled 'We Are The Web' by Kevin Kelly. Vannevar Bush predicted a machine called the Memex that would allow people to surf from one information page to another. Some people say that Hypertext and the World Wide Web are based on or at least inspired by the Memex.
One thing that
the Memex had and the web doesn't is the ability to add new content to every page it contained. After reading the Wired article by Kevin Kelly we decided to try to add a new level to the web by adding new tools that would allow its users to add information rather than just consuming it.

Fleck allows you to interact with pages on the web just as if it were pages in a magazine. You can save your annotated page for yourself, send it to friends or colleagues or use it in your blog.

You can start using Fleck right now. It's free and what's best: you don't have to install anything on your computer. Try the search box at the top of this page or add Fleck to your browser with a Bookmarklet or Extention.

The easy part, and quite usefull is the option to add your notes on top of a webpages and other people will be able to see your remarks. These notes are freely draggable and you can add bullet points. In the bottom of the screen you'll see the Fleck toolbar which gives you the ability to blog, mail or save history.

The technique we're talking about here is annotation and Fleck isn't the first to walk this path. There's TrailFire, Stickis and Diigo that put up competition. Fleck is easier to use though, and you don't need an account. Last but not least, it's last pluspoint is that it's Dutch ;)

TechCrunch blogger Marshall Kirkpatrick has this to say on Fleck:

I can imagine myself quickly adding questions to pages on a site I’m reviewing and emailing those annotated pages back to a company. They could respond immediately on the page, with no need to download anything or start an account
with the annotation service. I like that. I also like that those collaborators would have a list of all the pages we’ve collaborated on created for them automatically.

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Yesterday I stumbled upon yet another Web 2.0 application, that looks cool, but really doesn't do much: Wakoopa. Okay, it does a few things.

Let's have a look:

"Wakoopa tracks what kind of software or games you use,
and lets you create your own software profile. Ready for you to share with the
world. Why? Because what you use on your desktop is who you are"

Wakoopa is a little program you install from a slick looking website:

Once installed Wakoopa tracks which applications you use. Why? Because what you use is who you are so the site says. Why would I want to track what applications I use? Haven't we furiously tried to ban all sorts of trackers and other malware from our PC's?

Here's the next level: I can see which programs my friends use through the Facebook Widget.

I crossed out the face of the one Facebook friend who also uses this software. He's definately geek.

For what it's worth, here are my most used apps, including my background thingies. Now, this is a business tool. My boss will make this mandatory software and see what I do all day. Can anybody tell me why we would like to use this? Judging from the usage of Internet Explorer and Firefix I'd say probably around 15.000 people.

I must say: The website looks cool and slick, very professionally web 2.0. As far as website technology goes, it's a sound piece of work. The technology behind the app... the tracker is pure evil in my opinion. I'm going to ban this sooner or later.... (like the first time I'd start up strip-poker or some other 'private' application I don't want my wife or boss to know about - but probably sooner)

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Saturday, October 27, 2007

First European Machinima Festival

Right after the Virtual World Conference (10-11 october) there was the European Machinima Festival in Leicester ( 12-14 october). No less than 3 Second Life production went home with a price:
  • BEST COMMERCIAL: ‘When the postman spits twice‘ (SL-Inworld Productions)
  • BEST TECHNICAL: ‘Machinima Island‘ (la.interactive)
  • BEST SERIES: ‘The Grid Review‘ (ILL Clan)
‘New World Wonder‘ byPlanet Video and ‘Everwind‘ by ARFV Productions were also part of the official festival selection. This year Second Life is rapidly gaining ground in the machinima business.
Number of Award winners by platform:
  • Second Life: 3

  • Sims II: 1

  • MotionBuilder: 1

  • Halo II: 2

  • Half-Life II: 1

  • 3D Game Studio: 3 (same machinima)

With 3 awards the machinima 'Stolen Life' was the big winner of the festival. The machinima's initials SL haven't got anything to do with the platform it was produced on. 'Stolen Life' was produced by the Australian company Nanoflix.

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CSI (6): Zuiker explains

CSI (5) The Aftermath

It's saturday night. Just a few days ago we were all watching the grid with great anticipation to see what would be the outcome of the first CSI:NY goes Second Life show. There's many blogs out that that voice an opinion, but I'd pick out Ambling in Second Life over almost any other blog.

Here's Aleister's views:

As the hubbub starts to subside on the whole CSI:NY thing, I thought I would record some of the stuff that’s been rattling around in my head over the last few days.

My first reaction when I read all the hullabaloo coming out of the Virtual Worlds Conference was: “Meh.” However, folks with a far keener interest and knowledge of the entertainment and media industry were at pains to assure me that this was groundbreaking stuff, and that is was “game changing.” I thought I should wait and see. The impression given was that this represented a real leap forward in the pursuit of convergent media, and is the way of the Future. To quote Mr Zuiker, proud owner of the CSI franchise: “What’s the future of television? It is as follows: TV, online, mobile, and gaming.”

As for Linden Lab, CEO Phil Rosedale’s take, as quoted at Ugotrade was: “I think it is a great project. We don’t look for traffic for Second Life in general we more look for opportunities to present Second Life to people in a more obvious way to people who don’t understand it, or haven’t experienced it.”

So… a major leap in convergent media – and good exposure for Linden Lab.What could possibly go wrong?

The big risk we all knew about was grid overload, but so far (touch wood) this has not happened, in part because the invasion of newcomers simply has not happened on anything like the anticipated scale.

However, what I think has gone wrong is, frankly, the whole shebang. What I’ve noted, rather than a magical blending and blurring of the lines between reality and virtuality, is simply the co-opting of Second Life to act as a games
platform. A role for which it is particularly inappropriate – and for which CSI has no need, since such platforms exist already. Now, I’m not trying to be precious about SL here. In the whole wide metaverse there is clearly a large need for entertainment and, indeed, for gaming. But to be blunt, Second Life cannot offer the level of gameplay that seasoned gamers have good reason to expect.

And this leads to my next point. TV is an illusion, where it is necessary to tweak reality (and in this case, virtuality) in the interests of entertainment. CSI was not out to make a documentary about Second Life, and was bound to present it in a way designed to extract the maximum entertainment value. And this has led to 2 basic lies. First, that the Second Life virtual world is smooth, fast and beautifully detailed. This would be fine if newcomers weren’t then invited to come and try it out. The gulf between the TV version and the horribly laggy, grey, slow-rezzing virtuality cannot, to my mind, be called
“good exposure for Second Life”. The second lie is that Second Life is a sleazy game, populated by players. This lie was not necessary to the plot, and is the one with which I have the single biggest issue.

In common with many of the readers of this blog, I spend a great deal of time in Real Life extolling the features and benefits of Second Life and virtual worlds in general. Through this one piece of unnecessary scripting I feel like I’ve been thrown back a year in my own evangelising efforts; back to the days of: “Second Life? It’s just a game isn’t it? Full of sleazeballs and geeks.”
Again, how this view of Second Life can be viewed as “good exposure” I am at a loss to explain. This might also explain the less-than-impressive uptake of new accounts.

On a lighter note – I was tempted to call this piece: CISCO:NY. As I have mentioned previously, the grossly over-the-top “Ciscofication” was – to me at least – a complete turn-off.

I think Linden Lab have done themselves no favours here. It is not true that “all publicity is good publicity.” I am dismayed at the short-termism shown by Linden in going along with this farrago. Also, in handing over the source of the viewer to Electric Sheep we have the interesting situation where the open source code has been re-skinned, a few neat, new features added, and the whole thing seemingly locked up again as a proprietary product. Well that’s what I think.

So what did I get wrong?

The ciscofication maybe was a bit over the top, but here in Europe with tv stations like the BBC and public broadcasting companies in the Netherlands we do have a slightly different opinion of such blunt advertising. But seriously,

There's several blogs that have been negative over the amount of traffic generated by the CSI show. Well, it was aired in different timezones, people came in in several runs. And in the days after. True enough, these 16 million viewers didn't push the SL headcount from 9 to 10 million overnight, but it's too early to tell. There's a lot of speculation on how many came in. Prokovy Neva states (on the first timezone run):

"But the numbers of people on those sims, for the three
hours I watched them before, during, and after the CSINY show, couldn't have beat 5,000 concomittant, and no more than 20,000 max total arrivals. In fact, it's probably far lower."

For exact numbers we either have to wait for CSI or the Electric Sheep Company to come with traffic stats and onRez viewer downloads and compare them to next weeks' Headcount by Tareru Nino. I do believe though that the average number of concurrent logins is higher these days. I'm not saying it was a smashing success. The massive number of islands, the fuzz upfront made us expect a lot. Again, too early to tell. There may well be ROI's made, but not sure which. I hope it'll continue though. Haven't had time to start solving the murder yet, but I for one like the concept. Me liking something isn't a guarantee that it'll make you millions though.

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Virtual CosmoGirls goes

I just received a comment on The Office stars Second Life by an author of the Dutch "up the vortex" blog. I followed the link and took a peek. One of the most recent articles features another upcoming Girl-World: CosmoGirl. The American teenmagazine, which is also available in the Netherlands is partnering with Makena Technologies to build their virtual hotspot on Teen worlds seem to be the fastest growing in the industry.

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A number of telecom providers have immersed in Second Life in the past year, including (Dutch) KPN, Vodaphone and T-Mobile. Now we've got Orange. As Orange is somewhat the national color of the Netherlands, some think it's another Dutch company. Here's a little from Aleister who sorted it out:

The company history is somewhat convoluted, but it was acquired as the mobile phone (cellphone) arm of French communications giant, France Telecom, in 2001. Since 2006 it has taken a broader role, as the global brand in front of many of the parent company's services - in particular, internet.

The folks over at Metaversatility are responsible for the build, and it shows. It is of superb quality. It is a double sim build which is very open and green. If I'd list the features of this island, you'd say it's nothing special, nothing new.

In this build you will find the usual stuff: Auditorium, workspace / meeting room, some info spaces and some spaces to chill. The quality of this build is that it's not all jammed together in a real-life office building but uses the option that a virtual world has to offer. The spaces are set up in an outdoor scene with lots of trees, water and small hills. You won't find a rooftop here and you can just fly in to wherever you want to be. For those who are still a little awkward with flying around, there are also paths that lead you to the various spaces.

There's a few things that are worth checking out. There's a massive sound sculpture blocking your path (should you choose to walk the path). There's also a hangglider if you don't want to navigate yourself.

The Orange venue opened up just yesterday with the following launchparty:

8:00 am SLT - Exploration of the island

10:00 am SLT - DJ Doubledown on the Lower Plaza

11:00 am SLT - Slim Warrior

12:15 pm SLT - Clint

For more on the orange buid there are excellent pictures at KZero and also a good story at Aleister's Ambling in Second Life.


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The Office stars Second Life

Earlier this week (24th) we saw the worlds largest television enterprise, CSI, immerse in Second Life. On the 25th another popular television show featured second life: The Office

The Second Life Insider wrote this in anticipation:

Well ... at least Dwight is coming. Photos and info can be found on Just Jared including images of Dwight playing his identically dressed avatar. In fact, you can find the Dwight Shelford's avatar in search featuring a profile that proclaims his love of a variety of NBC Universal movies and shows, and his desire to "calculate the exchange rate between Schrute bucks and linden dollars."

Just Jared gives us a quick synopsis of the episode:

Check out new The Office stills from episode “Local Ad” Synopsis as follows:

“When the Scranton branch is asked to participate in a Dunder Mifflin ad, Michael seizes his chance to exhibit his creativity. Meanwhile, Dwight explores the online world of Second Life.”

Looks like JAM get it on this episode. And be sure to check out what’s on Dwight and Angela’s computer screens!!

The Office episode “Local Ad” airs on Thursday, October 25 @ 9PM on NBC

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Friday, October 26, 2007

Defining the Virtual World Industry - input needed

Last week Nick Wilson started to try and define the virtual worlds. It's a pretty hard job to try and categorise this stuff. Currently I'm writing a few chapters for a (Dutch) book on Web 2.0 and emerging trends and am faced with the same question. Could you help out in making some educated guesses?

Defining the worlds

Here's some of the definitions I'm using:

Web 3D seems the most applicable generic term, but there is no such thing as a universal format for Web 3D and it comes in various guises, some more and some less likely to be used as a business platform.

Terms which are most commonly used are Virtual Worlds, Metaverse and NVE’s (Networked Virtual Environments). Virtual Worlds are not 3D by definition, there are many 2D platforms which are also considered as virtual worlds.

A virtual world is a computer-based simulated environment intended for its users to inhabit and interact via avatars. This habitation usually is represented in the form of two or three-dimensional graphical representations of humanoids (or other graphical or text-based avatars). Some, but not all, virtual worlds allow for multiple users.[1]

The term NVE was first used by Gartner in a quick study on Second Life, but residents of various virtual worlds prefer to call it the Metaverse, as coined by Neil Stephenson in his 1992 cyberpunk classic ‘Snowcrash’

Another section of web 3D consists of the socalled Paraverse, sometimes also dubbed mirror worlds, since this world is most akin to our own reality.

The Paraverse Parallel Universe is a virtual environment that is based on real
world data such as GIS and satelite information that is overlayed with 3
dimensional objects representing the objects in the real space. Examples of a
paraverse include Google Earth, Microsofts Virtual Earth, Nasa's World Wind and

A large and booming business in the web 3D environment are the online gaming worlds, the socalled MMORPG’s (massively multiplayer online role plaing games) such as World of Warcraft, Runescape etcetera.

Finally, there are all sorts of variations and hybrids such as:

  • Interverse A term used to describe a globally integrated NVE, accessible through a single common client and integrated by a common back plane.

  • Intraverse A term to describe the 3D equivalent of the intranet, a private or corporate NVE residing on an internal network and accessible to users within that network environment only.

  • Extraverse A term used for the 3D equivalent of the extranet which is privately or corporately owned and resides on a private network but accessible by one ore more organisation, but not by the general public.

    [1] Virtual Worlds definition by Wikipedia

    [2] Paraverse definition by Wikipedia

Sizing the worlds

Now it's time to get into numbers. A first excellent start by doing a raw headcount of registered users was done by Christian Renaud at the Virtual World Conference. Now let's see if we can split up some other things:

  1. Networked Virtual Environments can be split up 2 ways: Online Gaming and Social network worlds. How are they divided? 50-50%?

  2. They can also be divided by 2D and 3D, what's this pick 40-60%?

  3. How much of Online gaming worlds are 2D, is that 40%?

  4. How much of Social Network Sites are 2D, is that 50%?

  5. What is the division between Metaverse / Interverse, Intraverse, Extraverse and Paraverse?

    I'm using Extraverse as term for corporate sites, like themed sites, Laguna Beach etc.

  6. I'm also looking at our usage of the web. Like web 2.0 stuff we use it at three levels:

    1. Personal (like gaming)

    2. Social (like Second Life)

    3. Business (like Qwaq or dedicated training platforms)

      What's the spread for these in Virtual Worlds?

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Go Supermodel

Last week I already mentioned the fashion vw goSupermodel in the article virtual Girlpower. Today I ran across a YouTube promo. Here it is.

All said and done, now you don't need to check out yourself ;)

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Thursday, October 25, 2007

CSI (4) The Show

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

CSI (3): Flying High

The CSY-NY virtual scene has been set up on a 4 sim base, 2 orientation sims (east and west) and two crimescene sims (north and south). This setup is repeated about a 100 times to be able to hold all these CSI addicts coming in tonight.

At this early hour there were quite a few people walking around already and it took a little while before our gray selves colored up and we could proudly fly our virtual colors again. This doesn't bode too well for later today, after the show.

Here's the Crimescene:

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CSI (2) Down the Rabbit Hole

Wednesday, October 24, 10pm et/pt

In this episode CSI New York is all about finding Venus Game:

On October 24, Detective Mac Taylor chased a murderer, Venus, into Second Life. She's on the loose, and her virtual body count is rising. Track her down before she kills again!

CBS has finally opened up their website to support tonight's multimedia show. Also in Second Life the sims are ready to rock. The CSI-NY - Electric Sheep Company gang put in an amazing 416 islands, good enough to hold about 20.000 concurrent logins.

From their website you can immediately sign up for your new flashy virtual alter ego. Of course not necessary for those already having their Second Life avatar. However I took a little peek and I must admit, I didn't go further than the avatar selection, but the Electric Sheep Company did a good show on the graphics. It has a slick look and feel.

I skipped the registration part and went on to step 3: Downloading the new 34 Mb On-Rez viewer, available from this location. The first addon to the default Linden Lab viewer is that aside from English and Korean it now has German and Japanese language support.

Okay, time to immerse

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CSI (1) D-Day for Second Life

It's october 24th, which means D-Day for Second Life stability. Today's the day that CSI New York will immerse into Second Life. Among the Second Life establishment the hour of truth brings about mixed feelings.

Everyone with a media background is looking forward to this event with great anticipation and anxiety. By putting Second Life (and virtual worlds in general) right in the spotlight of the world's largest (US$ 6billion) television show, bringing it to the homes of 16 million people at once today is a day that could potentially change the future of both the entertainment and the virtual world industry.

Everyone with a background in testing, infrastructure and risk management is looking forward to this event, while holding their breath or saying their prayers (except risk managers don't pray, they'd have fall-back scenario's) questioning if Second Life is ready to perform today. A normal will see about 45K concurrent logins. What if an additional 25K out of the 16 million viewers decides to check out Second Life within the hour after the show has ended?

As usual, the early bird catches the worm. Here's part of Aleister's thoughts on tonights moment of truth:

There's not much to say about this really. In my view, it is an interesting experiment but the lack of maturity and stability of virtual worlds like Second Life means this is happening far too early. Perhaps in another 12-18 months.

We will see.As I don't follow the show, or have any interest in it, I am not best positioned to judge the merits or otherwise of the gameplay - which looks fairly
straightforward to my eye. I have to say that the in-yer-face shameless promotion of Cisco I find particularly jarring. But then, I like to be seduced by advertising, not beaten about the head with it.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Proky Soap: Episode Metaversed

It's the Proky show again. She (yes she) is getting a habit of getting herself banned for carrying her heart on her tongue (which often is quite sharp and critical)

Here's Prokofy's account on Second Thought:

Nick Wilson (57 Miles) in Second Life, IM'd me during the IBM/LL
Interoperability meeting today and told me that he was canning
my podcast, and banning me from his
island, group, and site. I had "gone too far" yesterday in telling a heckler to
fuck off in group IM, he hadn't liked my last podcast critical of the Sheep, and
I "wasn't good for his business". He couldnt' really point to any *content*;
just his own nervousness about the optics of Like the Linden
said, who confessed that I hadn't actually violated the TOS when I was banned
for calling Aimee's name "like a cheerleader," it was "a business decision".
Nick offered to give me the domain name he had registered and offered to put out
a cover story that he was cutting the podcast because "he had no time" lol.

Now, I don't fear Proky's life here is at stake, since she's always gotten through and keeps her course (which some may think to be a head-on collision course with disaster) and nodoubtedly will continue to put her worries to blog on Second Thought.

The thing is that Metaversed has been gaining a lot of momentum in the past 6 months, becoming one of the leading blogs and discussion panels on Second Life and the metaverse in general, partly due to the effort of Prokofy and her sharp analysis on the podcast show. Now, will Nick be able to keep up, or will this have a shakeout?

What sticks out is: "I didn't violate the ToS when calling out Aimee's name like a cheerleader". I wish I had been there. Prokofy seems to have a deep grudge against Aimee, as being top of her envied/hated Feted Inner Core circle and I can't imagine her actually 'supporting' Aimee like a cheerleader. For the record... you just don't go out there calling Aimee names. That's just not done.

Proky's FIC-list is a list of Second Life celebrities whom she calls haughty, arrogant and whatever. Aimee is many things, but certainly none of the above, at least the way I have gotten to know her over the past months.

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Real Life Cities (11): Copenhagen

Huh? It's empty!

I really was under the impression that somewhere someplace I read something about Copenhagen having it's virtual counterpart. Am I getting clairvoyant?


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Does Robbie Rock?

There's a platform out there that has some attraction to corporations, but hardly known in the regular Virtual World Business, named Why Robbie Rocks.

Now it's pretty hard to define what exactly is a virtual world (see this discussion at Metaversed), but I think Why Robbie Rocks should be considered one, except... it doesn't really show. There's quite a bit of preformatted avatar pimping, but that's about it.

A feature on the website is the Elle Girl shop / site which uses WRR. As for serious business, also Dutch banker Rabobank (one of the few triple A rated banks in Europe) runs WRR and the latest is the Dutch One Campaign version.

The fun parts though is that there's web 2.0 integration. You can put your avatar on the (Google) map, push it to MSN spaces, MSN Messenger or embed it on your website or as a gadget on the ruling Dutch social network site hyves.

I haven't been able to see the full potential of Why Robbie Rocks, so tell us, why should we sign up?

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Dragons of Autumn Twilight

It's not World of Warcraft, not even a virtual world or online gaming experience, but a plain animation that caught my eye today.

This is the Paramount announcement:

"Dragonlance fans -- We’re sorry that it has taken this long to get a trailer
out. We had been waiting in hopes that we could show you the final trailer but
unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances (i.e. key talent issues etc) we
have not been able to cut the final trailer together and get 100% approval. Ever
since we showed this piece at GenCon and DragonCon there has been a huge demand to see the trailer so we figured it’d be best to show you the rough version
instead of having everyone wait even longer. We appreciate your patience.

It's been a while since I read the Dragonlance Saga by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman, must have been somewhere near 1999 while I was working on my thesis "the Alternate Word" a study in correlation between bible, mythology and fantasy literature. It'll be fun watching the tale again. Really looking forward to it.

Also from a virtual world and gaming aspect I've been keeping an eye on Margaret Weis as she's got a new startup, MWP (Margaret Weis Productions - obviously) which is bringing the Battlestar Galactica roleplaying game.

see also the Dragonlance website here

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Monday, October 22, 2007

Smirnoff meltdown

After a hard days work I needed a drink. Usually I turn to whiskey, but tonight I was invited to grab one of the last available Vodka's by Smirnoff.

The above picture was taken by TerryAnn Antonelli when the sim was complete. Now it's slowly fading away as global heating devours the ice. Only the ice castle still stands, but no one is really sure for how long. Today, tomorrow or next week this build may be gone completely.

The Smirnoff sim has been around for only a month or so, originally set up for the sole purpose of making a machinima (which isn't out yet I believe) and now melts away just as many many other things come and go in Second Life. At least in machinima and some blogs a bit of its memory will survive.

More pictures by TerryAnn Antonelli


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Armani drops more than a stitch

On august 9 I wrote this:

Next stop on the mediterranean tour is the rumours of Armani coming to SL, supposedly at this island. If it's true, they will have to compete with several 'impostors' as there are many Armani, Emporio and other related groups and shops in Second Life.

Well, my guess was right. Armani has immersed at that location a little while back. This time I went to see what it looked like. The Armani venue is based upon it's Milanese main store on the Via Manzoni. The build looks solid, yet somewhat empty. It's only the Armani store, no further context. Even the subway entrance is there, but that's about it. Underneath no spectacular fashion show, just a big black hole.

Upon entering the store my line of sight was sometimes a bit blocked by various columns and walls. Even though the store seems quite large and well build, I'm under the impression that the scale is a bit off for a virtual world, perhaps a tad larger than the real life venue, but too small for this virtual world.

Now this is nitpicking of course. Every bit of criticism would have been out of the question when you could come to Armani in Second Life and buy top of the bill clothing. In the Real World, Armani is a wanna have commodity. In virtual world, clothing is considered to be a valuable commodity as well. Armani would probably have made it to the top of the traffic lists when it had opened up shop in Second Life instead of show. Buying exclusive Armani clothing to dress up your avatar would have worked. No other real life commodity has as much value in a virtual world than clothing.


NB: Allesandro Manzoni was a Milanese poet and author of several tragedies.

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virtual Girlpower

One of the most targeted audiences for Virtual World and general online advertising has become the teen and tween girlscene. In the wake of tv-programmes like (America's) Next Topmodel and various makeover series this group has an appetite for fashion and beauty.

doll 2.0

By the end of october Red Chocolate will come with doll 2.0 which will have to put this Dutch startup ahead of compeition. Doll 2.0 has been developed with the watAgame software. This Danish enterprise is also responsible for girlcommunity goSupermodel, and recently received an additional 3,000,000 euro in funding. goSupermodel now has about 1,5 million unique visitors worldwide.

Girlz'own City

Another Dutch girlpower developer is CiC Mercurius which teamed up with Mindscape. Last june saw the beta release of Girlz'own City. Mindscape backs up the technical aspects and CiC Mercurius powers the look & feel from a marketing point of view.

Girl Classics

Other specialised Girly sites are Cartoon Doll Emporium, Stardoll, Girlsense and Barbiegirls.
Another Dutch site dealing with fashion and dressing up is Why Robbie Rocks which brings a beauty shop and an ELLE-girl special mashup.

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Sunday, October 21, 2007

New York and Virtual Entertainment - it's a Meme Thing

Every so often I pick up on a common theme running across Second Life. In the past it's included "German cities" and "virtual recruitment". These themes or memes (as I prefer to misuse the term), though no doubt long in the conceptualising, seem to burst forth in a spookily synchronous fashion at a number of locations. Perhaps the hottest meme of Autumn 2007 is also the most complex that I've seen to date: New York and Virtual Entertainment.

Within the space of only a few weeks, 2 of Second Life's major construction and consulting companies - Electric Sheep Company (ESC) and Millions of Us(MOU) - will have launched 3 different models of New York to vie for your attention. Furthermore, each of these is tied in with the glitz and glamour of the entertainment industry.

So let's consider the options:

New York #1

First up, we have ESC's "I Am Legend" site, designed to tie in with a movie of the same name, that is due for release by Warner Bros in mid-December. The movie trailer suggests to me a remake of the old Charlton Heston sci-fi classic(?) "The Omega Man," though it seems both are derived from a 1954 science fiction novel by Richard Matheson. In the new movie, Will Smith plays the last surviving human in New York following the release of a rather nasty man-made virus. His only companion is his faithful pooch. Unfortunately for him, the city is also populated by mutants, who are not that keen on him having the run of the town. It's a classic "man vs mutant" tale.

As part of the marketing for the movie, ESC and Warner Bros have launched the biggest (movie tie-in) game yet seen in Second Life. It has its own orientation zone for newcomers, together with a game orientation zone where you can opt to play human, dog, mutant or mutant mutt. You should then undergo a set of training exercises before you reach the bridge that takes you over into the game zone of New York itself. Being a self-confessed coward I made my excuses and left at this point. No SLURL for this - but if you use MAP SEARCH and look for "IAL" you won't go far wrong. Oh... nice textures by the way... if a bit laggy.

New York #2

Next, and also from ESC comes the interworld game / programme / entertainment behemoth of CSI:NY. This was blasted all over the recent Virtual Worlds 2007 Conference, and launches in Second Life on 24th October. Bookies are still taking bets on the exact moment that the grid will crash. In an Omega Man kind of way, I may be the only person left on the planet who has not seen, and is not particularly interested in, CSI:NY. However, this is ground-breaking stuff for virtual worlds, where the linear narrative of the Real Life TV show intermingles with the gameplay and narrative in Second Life to produce some kind of Ultimedia extravaganza.

If you want a more complete story about this, you are best off popping along to Ugotrade, which has reams of top notch info for you.

Not only will there be orientation zones and game sims, but to make life easier for newcomers to Second Life, the Sheep are also launching their own, browser-based viewer: OnRez. Personally, I might give CSI:NY a miss - but I'm looking forward to trying the new viewer. For many of us this might solve some of issues we have with the standard Second Life viewer. A number of my colleagues, for example, are unable to run SL on their work-supplied laptops owing to issues of memory and, more often, graphics driver compatibility. This might be the solution.

New York #3

The third version of New York comes courtesy of MOU. This is a virtual version of 7 square blocks of the Upper East Side, and has been built as a tie-in with "Gossip Girls" on behalf Warner Brothers and the CW Network. This is described as a teen drama, based on a novel series of the same name. An article in wikipedia describes it thus: "Gossip Girl revolves around the lives of socialite young adults growing up on New York's Upper East Side who attend elite academic institutions while dealing with sex, drugs, and other teenage issues." Yeah...well... whatever.

The show first aired in the USA on 19th September, 2007 - followed a day later by its launch in Second Life. In a blog post dated 20th September, MOU boss, Reuben Steiger, said: "[soon] we will start a very interesting social game that will take place in the city." More recently MOU announced The Gossip mobile, a heads up display that lets you to see the style, coolness rating and status of the people around you. Here's a video tutorial if you find this to be this season's must-have accessory. Hmmm...

So there you go... 3 New Yorks for you to explore, play in and reach your own conclusions.

First posted at Ambling in Second Life.

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Monday, October 15, 2007

New VW tech

During the Virtual World Conference 2007 (Fall edition, San Jose) lots of companies were showing off at the Expo. Platforms like Active Worlds, Multiverse and, had a stand. Then there were lots of complimentary tech stands as well, ranging from avatar creating, 3D Modelling to motion capture. Here's the Icarus Studio stand:

From their website:
Icarus Studios is focused on helping our clients launch online virtual worlds,
MMOGs, simulators and 3D collaborative and educational products. We enable our
client's vision with our unique combination of next generation technology and
services, making Icarus a comprehensive resource center for those tasked with
quickly creating all or components of these initiatives. From complete project
development, platform and tool licensing to studio services and library
resources, Icarus will work within our client's time and budget constraints to
quickly create a quality product that meets their objectives.

Another very well visited booth was the stand that IBM had rezzed

Here's what Epredator / Ian Hughes had to say over at Eightbar:

Our stand we had both SL, Active Worlds and the IQ Metaverse (the torque based
one). We also have Jacques from the SMB media and entertainment and the guys
from Vivox there. There was another part to the stand over with Icarus and that
was where Peter Finn set up shop with his alpha demo of blending virtual worlds
with a browser. That needs a whole post in its own right of course.I had a good
chat with most of the stands, though it is amazaing how little time you end up
having when you are talking to press, analysts and bumping into the metarati
that you know from in world and on Twitter.

And certainly the meterati were there. Not all of them, and not all those present considered to be on the official metarati list (but some will make it there I think as the list needs updating.)

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Friday, October 12, 2007

Gibson: Really bad hair and really cool shoes

I've blogged about William Gibson in Second Life before and the attempts to make a movie of hist bestselling cyberpunk cultnovel Neuromancer, but here's an interview with him commenting on Second Life

Produced by: Darren Alexander and Ian Daffern

"An interview with author William Gibson about his recent encounters with virtual worlds, following a publicity event in Second Life for his book Spook Country"

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Virtual World Conference wrap up

It's friday and the conference is over. Still got tons to blog though. '

I'm noticing I'm going quite randomly through my notes and don't really put up the speaches and notes in the presented order. Just browse on for the ins and outs of the conference.

All in all, the conference was a success I think, from a VW point of view, as well as a personal and business point of view. I've finally met lots of people on my twitter and linked-in list, and established several new connections and got tons of inspiration to dwell on

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Best Practises for employees

Thursday, 1:30pm - 2:30pm

Best Practices for Employees in Virtual Worlds

With companies issuing avatars to large groups of employees what are the best practices required to create a smooth operating environment for those individuals. What standard operating procedures should be implemented to create the best experience a company projects when sending employees into public virtual worlds?


  • Bob Ketner, Creative Director, Studio SFO
  • Adrienne Haik, Metaversatility, Inc.

Bob gave a pretty fast ramble on best practises, kind of hard to keep up with taking notes. Here's a few tidbits though:

Why is doing Business in a VW a good idea?

  • Employees are already there
  • It can solve problems
    - I can't reach you
    - too little time to come over
    - info retrieval
  • Gamers are doing it better
    - Gamers focus on getting the job done (single action focus)
    - Gamers are selforganising folk
    - Your new (young) employees are aleardy gamers
    - Are using PC's a lot more effectively

Work can be a drag. How many of you say "Hey I can't wait to get to work on monday", and how many say "I can't wait to play World of Warcraft tonight".

IBM is currently looking into World of Warcraft Guilds, as it takes Guildmasters a lot of experience and compentence to manage all these guildmembers. These Guildmasters are actually people that distill and manipulate digital info in an advanced way. So which skills are involved?

The Avatar as a Uniform

Metaversatility's Adrienna Haik gave an insight as to how serious business in a VW can get.

  • It's important for employees to understand they are in a virtual workspace, and not a game.
    -Let your people take it serious and avoid them flying around during discussions and stuff.
    - Visible clues like chairs, desks and other office furniture may help.
    - Set up different spaces for different forms of communication and interaction.
  • Interaction guidelines, rules of engagement for the natives
    - How do you react to weird encounters? Your clients my come in as Furry's. A client new to SL can go ballistic if he's shocked by some appearances.
    - Take time for clients and new employees to acclimate. Take them shopping for instance.
    -Respect the community. You're on their turf.
  • Your avatarname is associated with your business.
    - Like with email, use a personal and business avatar.
    - Think about sexual harassment by avatars representing your brand
    - Your employee is your best marketing instrument inworld. Have them take the brand serious and advocate it.

There were several things in here which I didn't agree on. Especially the private and professional avatar distinction. I've only got one avatar as the lines between work and play are blurring. We're in a global business now and shifting timezones lead to business encounters at many different hours. Nor do I see the leaders of the industry, like Ian Hughes (IBM), Jeff barr (Amazon) and Christian Renaud (Cisco) have different avatars.

When speaking to Jeff Barr on this after the session was done he came up with several good reasons. First of all, these are community leaders. They've got a very professional attitude towards second life and have to build relations on their reputation. Switching Identities makes you have to build multiple reputations. Another thing (which at least goes for Jeff himself) is that they've probably all had PR training and know what they can and can't say. A third reason why you may not consider switching avatars is by self-protection. For some people there might be tempting stuff in Second Life. If you want to stay away from that, it's a strong motivator if you've got a reputation to think off.

It might be different though for regular employees who come into a virtual world to do some work then go off again. They have a completely different precense than their community leaders.

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Big Business Money based on trust

Thursday, 4:30pm - 5:30pm

Virtual Currency / Virtual Business = Big Business Money

(Virtual currency) exchanges promise the opportunity to stimulate virtual economies not just throughout individual virtual worlds but across worlds. Join us for a discussion on what the future will look like as these exchanges take off and how users will conduct commerce. What does it take to build and foster a thriving virtual economy?

John Bates of Entropia was double booked, so he started off with a little insight on Entropia. This virtual world is the only one that has it's currency really pegged with the US Dollar at an exchange rate of 1 USD to 10. Entropia is a mixed world with gaming and social elements and when things cost you real money, it changes the came. Buying guns and bullets that cost you (even if it's nano-payment) makes the game take on a new dimension.

Anshe Chung Studios now is one of the largest of 45.000 profitable companies in Second Life, with total assets going up to the region of 800 islands / sims. What would happen if they withdrew all their assets at once? Both John Z of Linden Lab and Guntram Graef aren't afraid it would blow the economy. Linden Lab is putting on about the same amount of servers every month. Stop that for a month and the economy will stabelize.

The same happened with the banning of Gambling, said Zdanowski. We had to do this because of US regulations or run the risk of being shut down. Overnight the user to user transactions dropped with 40%. Was gambling such a large part? Not really. Zdanowski estimates that gambling was only up to 3% of the market. The exchange rate never dropped and within 3 weeks the stock exchange was level again. The Linden Dollar has been very stable in the past year and a half, leaving not much room for money traders and fluctiating only a couple of Linden cents to the dollar in this period.

Zdanowsky doesn't see the Linden Dollar as a real currency though, but more a licence to use certain aspects of Second Life. Residents have to have trust in the currency, it's stability, in order for Virtual Worlds to create successfull economies. Earlier this month Linden had to add VAT to their game for European Users. This also because of international monetary regulations, and the Lindens are fully aware that this puts European users, about 35% of their community at about a 20% disadvantage. User to User transactions aren't taxed though.

I asked John Z and Guntram how to make the economy safe, as in the Netherlands we've seen a story extortion and abuse over Runescape money several weeks back. Also think of money laundring between virtual worlds through the Anshe Chung Exchange. No problem here again, according to Linden's CFO. They're monitoring transactions and if there's a resident wanting to buy Linden dollars worth say 10.000 USD he'd personally invite them to fly in and find out what the heck they would wanna do with the money. This economy is based on trust. One fundamental rule for us is to know our residents. We know who makes money. It can happen that all of a sudden you're a new sucessfull virtual entrepeneur, but then I'd like to personally meet you and get to know your business. He expects the next wave of regulatory action to take place in the banking sector in Second Life and Linden have hired a hotshot laywer and former internet crime prosecutor to be up to speed with all the world wide regulations regarding this.

There is a lot of scepcis, a lot of resistance against Linden playing a strategy that's so much hands-on on the economy. Yet Virtual Worlds do take a new place in the world of global economy. They're dealing with micropayments all over the world. The European VAT regulation was never designed for this, it was designed to protect the local market in the 80's as US based companies like AOL started pricedumping their ISP services on the European market. Now Linden has to deal with it, or again risk shutdown in Europe. In my personal opinion, they're on the right track. John's solid performance was a sign of confidence on behalf of the Lindens that they're on top of the game.

Final tidbits:

  • Chung obtained an Entropia Banking Licence earlier this week

  • Chung is now implementing an interface to exchange IMVU credits

  • Chung also provides Venture Capital for virtual startups.

  • It took Peter Philips, former Linden Lab employee less than three weeks to program the Lindex

  • Entropia has a Swedish banking licence

  • Companies have to closely watch the market to stabalize it. Neither inlation or deflation is a good thing for an economy, even if it is virtual.

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VW Conference buzzwords: Interoperability and Portability

Christian Renaud's keynote this morning was generally received as an outstanding analysis of the Virtual World industry and the challenges that lie ahead of us if we want it to go mainstream.


What it all boils down to is that the web, and especially the social web is getting very confusing. We need to have multiple identities, and now there are virtual identities to juggle as well. You've gotta go nuts if you have to juggle all that. This isn't much different from what I've blogged midway june (VeeJay juggles web 2.0 chaos). Like Christian said, we've failed to get openID into place when it comes to the web, let's try to get it right for virtual worlds.

Thought Leadership

In order to get this right for the Virtual World industry, several thoughtleaders met the day prior to the VW Conference, amongst which Cisco, IBM, Linden Lab and Philips. Linden Lab and IBM put forth a press release stating they are working on interoperability and portability. Other terms to describe this are unified communications between Virtual Worlds, or setting new industry standards (is it going to be VHS or Betamax?). IBM has made no secret of the fact that they have been pursuing this for months, the only speculation and blogosphere fuzz at the moment is that it's now an official tie-in with Linden Lab.


So the market needs convergence, standards of portability to go mainstream. I personally feel this is a very, very good thing. In fact, I've been saying so for months. The real big challenges are:

  • How do you asses the value of virtual goods on various platforms in relation to other platforms
  • How do you get a sound Identity Management System in place

No consensus yet

In the beginning I said Christian's keynote was generally accepted as outstanding. Here's a few thoughts from the business

While talking to Craig Sherman on this he let me know that Gaia is pursuing its own target group and has no intention whatsoever to even start thinking about portability. pretty much the same goes for Habbo Hotel, as Timo Soininen doesn't see much chances to asses the value of goods for portability.

John K. Bates of Entropia / Mindark noted that value is generally based on user demand for goods and in a lot of instances World-specific. Like in Entropia you've got dung. Absolutely of no value if you return it to the Entropia caretakers, but a must have for landowners who need dung to fertilize their lands so they can grow monsters and tax those who come to their land to hunt monsters. So in entropia you might wanna be a dung-baron if you don't want to pay for stuff and still get rich.

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Virtual Goods, the next big business model?

Thursday, 3:00pm - 4:00pm

Virtual Goods: The Next Big Business Model

Virtual goods and currencies have become the driving economic force for a number of virtual world companies. What does it takes to build a successful company with a strong virtual goods business? What types of items do consumer want to buy and in what context are they motivated to continually buy or upgrade their virtual items? How do you grow a virtual goods business and what are the pitfalls? In what cases does a virtual goods business model triumph over advertising or subscription models?-


What kind of Virtual goods do we have out there? There's

  • Decorative
    - stuff to decorate your home, dress up etc.
    - collectible and branded decorative virtual goods usually have high ASP (average sales prices)

  • Functional
    - improved functionality like boosting your car
    - usually at a higher price than (non-collectible) decorative goods

  • Behavioral
    - user interaction driven goods, like gifts, expressing opinion.
    - highest profit margins

  • Branded

Here's some on the worlds represented in the panel:

GAIA- an online hangout for teens:

  • 2.5 visitors who spend 1hr/day on average.

  • 1 million forum posts per day

  • $ 100 K sales per day.

As for branded content Gaia especially added cars to the platform for Toyota Scion. Then they created body shops to customize the cars, then created hang out places like car parks for teens to meet and hang out with their rides.


  • Use pets as a catalyst for human social interaction, like when you walk the dog in RL you naturally start interacting with other dog-owners.

  • Your pet lives on after you log off.

  • These worlds are global, and especially for teens this can create problems when it comes to languages. GOPETS created Icu, an icon based language.

  • People love to buy trees which produce fruit, then harvest the fruit, make pies and sell those for gold and spend the gold on games


  • It's an easy to use Virtual World.

  • You can make a living trading virtual goods

  • core functionality is user generated content / rooms

  • open ended play is vital to VW's

  • Habbo Hotel supports about 170 different payment methods worldwide

  • If translated to real world goods, the annual Habbo Hotel turnover would be $600 million.


  • Started out back in 1999, so a real ancient thing.

  • Trading virtual goods only began this year

  • now 750K in daily transactions

  • Evolution of the game / world and innovation comes from listening to the community.

  • Has a forum section on when it's the best time to ask your parents to pay for things.

The virtual worlds represented here get about 60 to 85% of their revenues from the sales of virtual goods.

Selling virtual goods and using it as a business model is pretty much about making purchases as easy as possible. Stimulate impuls buying without the hassle of having to get some money somewhere first.

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Thursday, October 11, 2007

Christian's Keynote: What''s next?

Christian Renaud , Cisco – What’s Next?

This isn’t the first attempt to start virtual worlds and virtual business. This has a long history. And there are many steps to be made to get to the next level.

In 1988 there was a seminar on interoperability, TCP/IP and there were just a few attendees, five years later it was mass market.

What’s different right now is that we have all this creative energy. We’ve got mmorpgs, we’ve got unified communication tools. Taking that and combining it and slamming that together at this high speed and you can use Second Life or World of Warcraft as business tools.

It fills a need in the technology toolbox. Cisco likes to make probabilities from possibilities.

  • We have 6.5 billion people on the planet.
  • 2.3 b mobile phones (1/3)
  • 1.2 b internet connectivity (1/6)

That’s the audience for virtual worlds.

  • 465 M VW users (excluding Asia) appr. 1/12)
  • 45 M are active virtual residents, not tourists.

That’s about as big as all the early communities (compuserve, the well, aol, eworld etc) together had at their peak.

“We have to make the community grow, so I don’t have to explain what I do over and over again to the guy sitting next to me on the plane.”

We’ve failed with instant messaging. We’ve got these big walled gardens and need multiple clients to talk to all our friends. Do we need to find a standard, or do we have to have just one platform? We have to have interoperability. There has to be no switching cost. You have to be able to choose which platform gives you the best return on your investment.

There’s a 40 million people market, and as a business you have to choose one in 40 platforms, that’s a bad choice to get your ROI.

If we had this discussion about platforms 10 years ago we wouldn’t have web. Platform shouldn’t be the discussion. It’s the content put on it.

There are too many genetics and too many usecases to get one-size fits all jacket. It’s different tools for different jobs. There’s a number of different dimensions, like mobile and peer to peer needs that have to find a place in this landscape.

It’s not my intend to be a big corporation that brings in a bulldozer and levels the diversity of the landscape and put out a huge concrete mall strip. There has to be different modalities, variation between fun and work.

Attention is the only currency left. Attention needs diversity. Howver, work needs to be fun as well. Screen, desk, a very industrial setup will have to change.

We also have to rid ourselves of stereotypes like:

  • A 12 year old girl: level 70 night elf
  • A 70 year old couple: owning 8 neopets
  • An asian businessman: Puzzle Pirate.

There’s too much overlap throughout the industry to categorise. Think of the industry and it will get bigger, don’t focus on the little piece of the pie you cut out for yourself.

There are things we can do from a technology point of view to help secure the content of VW’s. We need to have a strong concept of idendity, it’s based on trust. We haven’t been able to solve open-ID for the internet, but maybe we can do so for virtual worlds.

A strong Identity can give you credit, a reputation, a trust that helps you sell, make your business, How do we manage our presence? Let people know we are busy etc.

  • Identity
  • Reputation
  • Presence

There are things we can't do as good as we can in RL, but there are things we can do better than in RL as well. Augmentation, specific content based upon who you're talking to.

The new math:

If it's just amongst us we can throw out every number we like. When talking to people outside we have to rationalise, come with metrics. Real facts and figures. The industry has to step forward and come with universal metrics. Business needs to know where the money is.

One of the good initiatives is MMI, the metaverse market index. (spin off from Metaversed's Grid Safari's and Metanomics sessions. This is a derisking and industry building initiative.

Common Platforms:

There's work going on on interoperability. Content is core, platform flexible. Convergence over divergence will benefit the industry.

MIT Collective Intelligence:

We've gotta look for pitfalls and not stick to the "we could this" suggestions, but also consider if "we should this" element. What can we do for collective intelligence. What can we do for collaboration, for culture? What can we instrument, do to overcome deficiencies in our options in Virtual Worlds?

Wrap up:

  • Common Identities
  • Common Denominators
  • Common Platforms
  • Common Understanding

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Reuben's Keynote

Reuben Steiger ,Millions of Us – The Avatar Age

Where are we, and how did we get here?

The avatar age is a way of categorising this industry as more than virtual worlds. VW sounds isolated and niche. It doesn’t do justice to everything that’s going on.

The most primal and basic sort of human togetherness is sitting round the campfire. Surprisingly it is one of the most popular events in virtual worlds as well.

What is an avatar?

In Hindu lore it was the earthly form of a god. Now it’s an online persona. It’s an inversion. In history it was from ethereal to prosaic, now it’s vice versa.

Houston, we have a problem!

Only 25% of US residents trust conventional advertising. Over 70% trust recommendations from their friends.

User generated social communities represent the fastest growing market segment, totaling 31% of all consumer internet usage. This is not a niche thing. This is where the market is trending.

Second Life has been on top of the virtual world market when it comes to press attention, yet it represents only a small minority of those millions of virtual residents.

  • Over the next year social networks will become avatarized
  • Virtual Worlds will become more like social networks
  • Television tie-ins will increase for virtual worlds.

Virtual worlds will evolve from a Habitat (1985) to a Second Life (now)

Where did it all begin?

Philo T. Farnsworth (1928) invented the television, just across the street from 1100 Sansome street (Linden Lab HQ).

What happened to communities? Before the automobile and television we lived in small villages, architecturally build on the community principle. Over the past decades we’ve lost that sense of community. The basic civic getting together has gone. Virtual Worlds are so important because they offer the opportunity to reestablish this togetherness.

How will this stuff manifest in the potential future? (again Scion City example)

SAND – episode on Scion City, a narrative where residents are invited to solve the mystery.

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Navigating Uncharted Terrain

One of yesterday's sessions was IBM's talk on Navigating Uncharted Terrain. Here's the announcement:

Wednesday, 11:00am - 12:00pm

Virtual Worlds: The BEST platforms for Enterprise Value
An Examination of Virtual World Platforms From the Enterprise Perspective.
The number of virtual worlds platforms are proliferating from publicly operated virtual worlds to private world engines. Where does an enterprise start when evaluating a platform based on BEST: Business, Economic Value, Social Interaction and Technology? This detailed session will review the leading platforms for enterprise use, talk about the real business value being realized in virtual worlds today and have a look into the future of virtual worlds fit for business.

Speaker: Sandy Kearney, IBM Global Director, IBM 3D Internet and Virtual Business

Here's my notes:

  • Like With the internet we've explored, done a lot of things that we don't want to repeat.

  • It's uncharted terrain with new tools to navigate

  • 3D internet is everywhere, anytime

  • It took IBM 10 years to understand the e-business. It took us 8 months to understand the value of v-business

  • IBM is currently engaged with over 400 clients in v-business.

  • There's an increasing market accelleration.

  • Market trends are guideposts for pioneers.

  • Orienting goals towards Business Value: BEST
    (Business, Economics, Social and Technology goals)

  • There's an enormous value in Enterprise and consumer social platforms: Recognition, interaction, social bonding and a sense of belonging in global enterprises.

  • The IBM Intraverse runs on an Active Worlds platform. A presentation of the intraverse was given at Cornell, and was live-streamed into Second Life to the Metanomics meeting.

  • We're going do see 4D very soon. Already there are people programming their avatars to do stuff when they're long gone. VW's are going temporal.

  • As a community we need to
    - realize business value (leverage the 3D capability)
    - sustain & protect value (ensure 3D internet is fit for business and community)
    - expand value (ensure interoperability, make vw's open and available, easy to use)

  • The desire to be plugged in is growing

  • A universal and generic approach makes VW's more open and available, mass marketable.

  • We're moving from the information age to the conceptual age.

  • Identity management is going to be a very very hot issue in VW's in the coming years.

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Cry Havok

Linden Lab is working under the hood of Second Life again and is upgrading it's Physics Engine shortly. Currently they're testing the Havok 4 engine on the Beta Grid. The upgraded engine is supposed to bring more stability to the Grid and make it less vulnerable to griefer attacks.

Here's a YouTube testing

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Santa Zuiker

Here's another Keynote tidbit. Anthony Zuiker went backstage and came out as Santa Zuiker throwing candybars at the audience.

According to Zuiker the Future is like Snickers:

  • It's delicious

  • It's a little nuts and it's

  • oh so sweet.

What he was referring to is how this candybar originated when two different companies started working together, a sort of early mashup of biscuit and chocolat producers.

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Sibley's Keynote

I already blogged a few things that came by during today's convention sessions, but here's some more on the Keynotes.

The convention kick-off was presented by Sibley Verbeck, CEO of the Electric Sheep Company. Now everybody was exited about this CSI thing, but Sibley also said a few other noteworthy things.

He started with an overview of the industry. Here's a few pointers:

  • Lots of Virtual Worlds focus on special agegroups

  • Teen worlds are currently the most successfull when it comes to business returns.

  • We're still early in the game, but there are already some breakthrough sucesses.

  • Teen worlds are going to see brutal competition in the next year and a half.

  • Because of this competition and success, teenworlds are the spots where the innovation will be.

  • One businessmodel comes to taking existing teen communities and communications and add virtual components and value.

  • Other models will be build around sponshorship and advertisement

  • I'm missing VW's that take all and incorporate profiling and stuff.

  • In adult spaces a lot of technology has been developed, yet it's lagging in innovation.

  • In 5 to 10 years from now there will be more e-commerce in Virtual Worlds than on the World Wide Web.

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More on CSI

Here's some more on the CSI gig which Electric Sheep is pulling. During the future of entertainment session I asked Sibley and Reuben if Machinima were now going mainstream, and if the grid was ready. Is Second Life capable of handling this mass media attention?

There's gonna be 16 million viewers. Not all have internet, not all have the needed hardware. Some will fall out due to long downloads, some will get losts with the introduction stuff. But there will be thousands of people logging into Second Life on the 24th.

This is an outstanding opportunity for the Electric Sheep Company to promote their new viewer (see Second Life Insider). Taken into account that your average SL sim is maxed out at 50 visitors, Sibley hinted at hundreds of sims being lined up to feed the masses. This hint may bear some truth and Linden Lab may be holding back capacity to blow out on the 24th. As it stands right now, the sim-auction center is completely empty, no Islands on sale at the moment.

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Cartoon Network Mini Match

At the virtual world conference I was talking to Richard Weil, Community Director of Cartoon Network. With all the fuzz about CSI and Virtual Worlds being the next key element of entertainment I was wondring when Cartoon Network was planning on doing something with Virtual Worlds....
Well, it's fresh, but they've just gone live with Mini Match, a teen VW world. There's also stuff going on with Fusion Falls, an MMO which will be released in USA and Asia shortly.

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The future of entertainment

Heavily updated.

Wednesday, 2:30pm - 3:30pm session

Entertainment in Virtual Worlds - It's Not Games. it's Not TV. It's....

With the advent of virtual worlds television networks, individual channels and individual shows can now create interactive versions of their franchises and engage fans directly, immersing them into the environment. Find out how to successfully extend a television brand, including measuring audience participation and extending the advertising business model. Speakers will discuss activities on multiple virtual worlds platforms.

Panel (r2l):

  • Jerry Paffendorf - Wello Horld (Moderator)
  • Daniel Schiappa - Microsoft
  • Reuben Steiger – Millions of Us
  • Sibley Verbeck – ESC
  • Blake Lewin - Turner Broadcasting (CNN and all the rest)

It’s not games its…

Here are my notes on the panel discussion:

Sciappa: Microsoft involved in VW’s? Have been involved from a gaming environment for some time (like Halo 3) and are pretty aggressively looking at how they can partake in this new business.

Steiger: Most important word in the industry is storytelling and how do we do that in these worlds?

Sibley Verbeck on the question "what's your most exiting VW Experience: Jerry.... well, my most exciting experiences were all things I did with Jerry...

Lewin: Turner is very interested in VW’s. The concept of the virtual space is a living network that needs programming. Turner Broadcasting is looking into Kaneva to find media consumption habits.

Places online where people have faces and at the same time talk face to face with eachother.

Sciappa (again sidecommenting CSI):The internet for the most part still is a research tool. It doesn’t offer the incredible immersive, interactive experience VW’s do.

Sciappa:I’ve never watched CSI, but I’m sure I’m gonna watch the show on the 24th and go into Second Life to be part of the team, to participate and help solve the murder.

Like the Sheep, Millions of Us also have a project up and running with a televisionshow for which they build part of New York. (forgot the name of the show). It also involves gaming and other interactivity.

Are VW’s going mainstream in entertainment?

Lewin: People wanna be engaged in creating their own entertainment. It’s flipped the industry upside down. Kaneva save for us as it is more controlled. Turner has lots of great 3D modelers, they want High End things.

Sciappa:Virtual Earth is Microsofts most advanced endeavour in 3D outside a gaming environment. MS has lots of products that have scale. Scale is the issue, the key carrier needed for VW’s to go mainstream.

Steiger: We build Scion City. Went up and down as it goes, than we let people move in, that didn’t move the world either. Now we’re focusing on a narrative, set about 500 years in the future. It’s compelling, but it’s advertising as well.

Is the grid ready to go mainstream:

Verbeck: We’ll see.. keep our fingers crossed at the 24th.

Steiger: The features will follow the crowd, rather than the other way around

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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

CSI hits Second Life.


Yesterday I shortly blogged on the new Electric Sheep Company project. Today the Second Life Insider blogged this to. The project involves a collaboration with CSI, the world's number one television show.

One of the keynote speakers of the Virtual World Conference was Anothony Zuiker, creator of CSI who told us more on the project. On october 24th CSI New York will submerge into Second Life, with Gary Senise chasing the murder suspect into Second Life. This airing will get Second Life into the homes of 16 million viewers.

This broadcast will get a follow up on february 6th 2008. It calls for action, you can join the CSI team and solve the crime. Zuiker sees virtual worlds as the next level of entertainment which will be cross platform in the future. "After 9/11 the world changed. Insecure teenagers started looking for communitieds and businesses started to think cross platform," he said. This cross platform operation started for CSI with viewer interaction by using cell-phones, now it will get multi-platform with Second Life stuff, inworld gaming and blogging. There will be a regular Murder of the Month blogpost by Anthony and you have to finish it.This will put on heavy strain on Second Life, calling for performance on the 24th. Let's wait and find out what the limit of concurrent log-ons will be.

Here a screenshot of the episode that will air on the 24th:

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Coffee with Linden

After a long touristy trip through San Fransico we (me and Ruud Latthrop) found out we'd accidentaly parked our car in exactly the best spot for the last part of our visit... just 2 blocks away from Linden Lab Headquarters.

Actually, this is their postal address. A few employees still work at this site, but most have already moved on to the new office building just down the road. This is the old warehouse where it started out being a small company.

We were a little late for our appointment and as LL is putting out a big update tomorrow, our inside man was quite pressed for time. Still we left with some good intel.

First of all is that the mono support will be up and running very soon now to provide more power to the people. Possibly C-Sharp support will come too. Another upcoming implementation is Havoc 4 to provide more stability. We've been promised to see a huge increase in stability in the coming months.

Stability and performance is also the keyword for an upcoming Electric Sheep television show which would recruit over 1 million new residents (target) in a few hours.

Well, that's about all I can share for now. Tomorrow will see the start of the VW conference and I'll be back with more tales from the metaverse.

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Tuesday, October 09, 2007

SFO touchdown

A virtual life certainly has its advantages over real life in some ways. Like travelling. Yesterday was a long and tiresome day. I'd rather TP-ed into SFO than spend hours in planes trains and automobiles.

First up was an hour traindrive to Schiphol airport, which became a two hour drive as the train broke down. Then the flight was delayed by about 1 our as well. Instead of waking up at 5.30 am I could have slept to about 7!

Then 11 hours of non-stop and non-smoking flying, check out accompanied by several forms for the Department of Homeland Security, fingerprinting and photography. Finally outside...

The weather's nice though. A lot better than I'd expected. SFO airport a lot smaller than I'd expected. Lots of grey concrete as well.

It was about midnight (according to my bio-clock, so about 3pm local time.) when we finally got into our car and drove south on the 101 to San Jose past the IBM, Microsoft offices, Stanford Bridge University and turned to the 237 for Milpitas. First stop was Denny's for a mixed lunch/midnight snack and then our hotel.

After a hot bath I hit the sack at 7pm (about 4 in the morning), totally knackered after a 22 hour day.

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Sunday, October 07, 2007

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

Well, sunday night an my bags are packed. Not much to pack though. It's just a week. Just a regular size backpack and a laptop case will be fine.
Tomorrow / Today's gonna be a train-plane and automobile day.

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Saturday, October 06, 2007

Neuromancer the Movie

Not so long ago I wrote a little something on Gibson's Neuromancer. Now I just discovered a nice little clip on YouTube:

Neuromancer... the movie. Would be cool to watch.

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VeeJay @ San Jose Conference

Real Life has been very stressfull and very very busy this last month. Since there's Mrs. V and the Kids to keep in touch with I haven't really had time to dig into Second Life, let alone blog it.

Sorry folks.

The good news is, I'm getting back up to speed, starting with visiting the Virtual Worlds Conference and Expo next week in San Jose, California. I'm really looking forward to it, especially since I've got an appointment with a Linden Lab employee on tuesday.

On wednesday and thursday you'd probably be able to catch me on these tracks:

Wednesday (10th):

  • Business Strategy & Investment --Economics of Virtual Worlds
  • Entertainment, Media & Marketing -- ROI How the rules are changing
  • Entertainment, Media & Marketing -- Entertainment in Virtual Worlds - It's Not Games. it's Not TV. It's....
  • Virtual Worlds for the Enterprise -- Applications that Work

Thursday (11th):

  • Business Strategy & Investment -- The Future of VW's
  • Virtual Worlds for the Enterprise -- Best practises for employees in VW's
  • Virtual Worlds for the Enterprise -- Creating a user community
  • Business Strategy & Investment -- Finance in a VW

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