As pointed out by New World Notes, Second Life bloggers are being asked to do their bit in raising a "fix" with Linden Lab to raise or remove the somewhat arbitrary group membership limit of 25. If you are not familiar with this, as a Second Life resident you can belong to a number of groups. And that number is 25. Most long-term residents will tell you that this is simply not enough. Some get around it by creating alternative avatar accounts ("alts"), others muddle through by deleting less important ones.
Second Life is fundamentally a social networking environment, in which groups play an important role. They allow you to share and participate in information and activities with residents who share the same interests. They provide a communication channel for the dissemination of information to communities, and they act as part of the security and access control system of Second Life. Limiting your choice to a mere 25 of these - and believe me, you can reach that limit very quickly - is preventing effective community and is not in the interests of Second Life or indeed Linden Lab. Facebook users would find this limit laughable, and certainly a disincentive to using Second Life.
If you are a resident and support the premise that this limit should be increased (or better, removed) then please follow this link. You know it makes sense!
It's the season to be jolly.... lalalalala something.
Anyway, as the first tiny snowflakes are falling outside, it's time to get into that white christmas mood in Second Life as well.
This afternoon, or early US morning the Lindens woke up with adrenaline rushing throuh their veins as the were in for a good snowfight. Within the space of several minutes 5 sims filled up with residents waiting to snowball the Lindens.
Jolly good ! Can't take life too serious all the time.
Last but not least, snow's starting to fall at the Sogeti Netherlands island as well:
Here are my answers (from q2 onward)
2. What business goals have you set for 2008?
3. What challenges do you expect 2008 to bring for the virtual worlds industry?
As more and more companies will be disappointed in the 1st wave results it will be up to the industry to find true business integration. The biggest challenge for 2008 will be to get the metadiscussion on the metaverse going. By this metadiscussion I mean the discussion on the underlying principles of the metaverse.
We need to find suitable businessmodels. In this discussion we should find answers for the economy in virtual worlds, hardware and other infrastructure, portability and interoperability, international or metaversal law and identity management.
4. A number of new platforms are launching in 2008. What are the biggest impacts this will have on the industry?
I'm not sure which impact it will have. Half of the industry will still be on the first upward curve of the hypecycle, while others are on their way down in disappointment and a few will already start in the 3rd stage of gaining maturity.
Of the new arrivals I expect a lot from Football Superstars, but on the whole I'm not exactly impressed by the latest additions.
5. How will the above changes affect your specific segment of the industry in 2008?
Both question 4 and 1 (previous post) and to a lesser extent 2 and 3 read more or less the same: The impact it will have on my segment of the industry is simple: Native MDC's will loose their headstart in projects for the metaverse and more traditional companies with long term relationships and business analysis skills will have to step forward to mature the industry of Virtual Worlds.
In my previous post I already did some forecasting on 2008 and 2009 in terms of where the NVE industry is going. Today, Virtual World News (the guys from the VW Conferences) released a survey on the trends for 2008. In this survey some 45 industry leaders participated.
For a good overview of the contents of the 36 page whitepaper visit Fleeep's blog. My general observation is that each of the respondents is very positive about the developments of the industry. 2008 will see explosion this, massive growth that and so on. Since the majority of the respondents are either from MDC's (Metaverse Development Company) or from MSP's (Metaverse Service Provider) this positive view can be expected. I'm not sure it's fully safe to base your investment plan on their opinion.
The questionairre is simple, it's not a long list to pick and choose, but 5 open questions which makes it possible for all of us (not among the 45 chosen) to ponder them ourselves. The questions are:
Okay, past bedtime now, the other questions will have to wait.
Christmas is coming up. Which means a time to celebrate -and in the process destroy the environment by our outrageous need to light stuff up and cut down millions of trees. Fortunately our virtual Christmas setup at Sogeti Island doesn't need trees to be cut down, we just rez them.
It's been a fun year and we wanna have some fun, so we're putting up a Christmas Party at the Sogeti Island on Saturday December 22, starting at 1 PM PDT (22.00 GMT+1).
Tonight's DJ will be our Sogeti colleague Metsel Gemini, who's a regular DJ at the Fix.
Be sure to party and get your free Christmas outfit!
Today Massively made it into my RSS feed. There's really a couple of cool Second Life residents blogging over there now. This time it's Moo Money that brings up some juicy gossip from Second Life as she writes on the ESCapists:
In a shocking blog entry today, Jeremy Flagstaff noted that the Electric Sheep Company has laid off approximately one-third of their staff, or about 22 people. It has been previously noted that ESC had to cut back on the number of islands for CSI: NY, and now both AOL Pointe and Pontiac are pulling out of Second Life. This news should come as no surprise, but it's still heartbreaking to hear that it
happened so close to Christmas.
While it is not known at this time exactly why the layoffs occurred, Jeremy speculates that they will be focusing on technology like OnRez. Joel Greenberg, whose job status is unknown at this time, announced on Twitter that ESC is shutting down their virtual ad network project. In a prophetic blog entry written last week by Rez Menoptra, he speculated on how long builds will last in virtual worlds and who will remember them.
Massively will update you with the latest news on this topic as we hear it. Stay tuned!
Most of these people we will never know, but we've seen Jeremy himself move away from the Sheep earlier this year as well as Jerry Paffendorf. Is the negative trend for Second Life we've seen in Europe now crossing to the US as well? Are we close to a dotcom-burst in the virtual world industry? I don't think so.
In november I quickly mentioned AOL's departure from Second Life, now Pontiac is joining the list of departing companies. How should we read these signs: Is it true that Second Life has proved itself unfit for business? In the case of Pontiac / Motorati I think it surely didn't.
The thing I keep saying to our clients is this: Right now Second Life is the ideal platform to experiment. It is open, and it's present, which means you can start up exploring the metaverse at relatively low cost. Try to get a feel for the technology, explore opportunities, chase ideas. Second Life makes this possible because it's free to sign up and you can put in almost any kind of data. Second Life is as open as the gates of heaven to whom believes. The feeling I get now is that most of the departing companies are not going out of business, they're moving. It's just as much tribal migration that we see in social networking sites. You explore, then find a site that better suits your needs. A lot of these companies gained experience from Second Life and are now preparing for dedicated themed worlds, based upon enterprise technology on platforms like There.com
It is a moving business we're in. The past year has seen an extreme usergrowth in Second Life, and an enormous commercial / PR drive for companies to enter virtual worlds. Now it's time to check the balance. All in all, as I wrote in my previous blogpost on the Millions of Us venue for Splenda; "It's Dozens of Them" meaning right now it's just too much of the same. We're creating presence for companies. There's an occasional immersion that goes beyond simple presence and really adds something to the industry.
Millions of Us, Lost in the Magic Forest, Electric Sheep Company, Virtual Italian Parks, and many many other MDC's have mastered the skill of building in Second Life. What they haven't got is the skill of Business Analysis.
It will take skilled consultants to translate core business to virtual representations. It will take experience and time for us to be able to build virtual venues that are fit for business and will form an extention to our daily operations. 2007 has been a year in which Second Life and virtual worlds have been a toy for marketing and communication departments, 2008 will probably see NVE's as a playhouse for IT departments and 2009 will probably be the year in which the NVE potential really sinks in, the time when the Business takes over and will use it as a medium for its core processes.
I'm a regular citizen of Second Life; I'm handsome and smart ;) No really, I am. In real life I'm in my 30's and I work in the IT industry. The massive arms and broad shoulders of my virtual alter ego have gone in real life, its mass dropped a feet or two, just over the waist. Like many geeks and gamers I spend too much time sitting behind my computer, being immersed and drinking coffee or cola to stay awake. Eating too much pizza and working out too little. I'm probably the ideal person to talk to when you work at Splenda which deals in artificial sweeteners. And so they do. They have immersed in Second Life.
Their virtual setup is oh so sweet to look at, it's candy colored and cartoonesk like Ben and Jerry's, just a tad softer. Splenda hired Millions of Us to work up this virtual presentation and there are a few nice details.
I like the details on the cafe best, which is an overturned coffee-cup. It took a few second before I realized the terras in front of it resembled a pool of coffee flowing out of the cup. It's these little details that makes MoU one of the big names around - when it comes to building.
By themselves, each part of the island is carefully shaped. There are a number of things that go for entertainment, such as the milkshake-slide and the Lemon Ferris Wheel.
Finally, there's the current Second Life meme-thingP: a contest [sorry closed as of november 30] to draw in the crowds. The good thing about it is that it does work about it, and Spleda set up a splendid site to support it.
The bad thing about it is that it's Dozens of Them. As far as corporate sites go, there still isn't much variation in the set up. There's the cafe, the auditorium, the infostand and a fun gimmick, a slide through a milkshake straw, but no interactive display of its core business.
This setup would have had an impact when it had a storyline, interaction with the visitors, not about Splenda branding, but about its business: Keep your avvy healthy and fit.
For instance: Create a virtual game in which your avatar can replay his daily routine, log it, calculate the calories consumed and burned and extrapolate that to adjust the avatar size (aging, weight, disease).
The official reading is that Corey thinks its time to look for a new challenge after a couple of hectic years at Linden Lab. The word on the street however says that he disagrees with the man upfront on the future of Second Life. This disagreement could lead to a departure on friendly terms, but judging from an email that popped up at Massively the general consencus is that he was fired:
Trying to sum up 7 years of work at Linden is an impossible task. All nighters at the Linden Street office. Gaining 20 pounds but then losing 70. Flying 350,000 miles on Linden travel. Recruiting and hiring many of you. Creating a programming language that now had 2.5 billion lines of code written in it – note to self, next time spend more than one night designing language. Changing the world.
It has been an absolute thrill working with all of you on Second Life. When Philip looked across a rickety card table in November of 2000 and told me that we would do more than build a great product, we needed to build a great company, too, I knew it would be a wild ride. Through the peaks and the valleys, Philip's ideas challenged and inspired me. They often led to solutions I would never have considered and helped to make Second Life what it is today.
I continue to believe in both Second Life and Linden Lab, but Philip and my visions for the future of Linden Lab are divergent enough that he decided to lead in his own way. While I will miss all of you, I have confidence in
engineering - in all of you - to adapt and excel going forward. You are a phenomenal collection of talents and I know that both Linden Lab and Second Life will be hugely successful.
Valleywag, which first reported on the separation on Tuesday, says that Ondrejka was fired over the same differences of opinion that Ondrejka mentions in his email (especially the last paragraph).
"I can confirm that Cory Ondrejka, CTO, will be leaving Linden Lab at the end of this year, in order to pursue new professional challenges outside the company. I wanted to take this opportunity to publicly thank Cory for his tremendous contribution to the company and to Second Life, in terms of its original vision and ongoing progress.
As it grows, the needs of our company are changing, and
the role of CTO, or technical lead, has also evolved. herefore, Cory and I are in agreement that our paths, at this point in time at least, lie in different directions.
During Cory's tenure the engineering team has grown tremendously, and given the breadth and depth of our technical expertise, we do not foresee any impact on our development plans. Together, we've produced great things in the development of Second Life, and I know Cory will go on to achieve excellence in his chosen field."
8:47pm EST] I have obtained a copy of Philip's email that he sent to his employees, which you can read after the jump
...Cory is going to leave LL. He has been with us for 7 years, and was the fourth person to join. So this is a big deal. Cory has been a huge part of the company, having
designed big parts of SL, hired many people, contributed greatly to the culture, and given a powerful voice to SL and LL. Among other things, he had the original design idea for the love machine, single handedly wrote the scripting language, and got us all doing A&Os back in 2001. Losing him will be hard for the company. I will miss him a lot.
What's worse is that ultimately his leaving is my decision.Cory and I have differences in how we think Linden should be run, differences that in the past few months have become irreconcilable. These are tensions that were more manageable when we were smaller, and there have been times that they have helped us do great work together. But now, as we change and grow as a company, I feel that we need a different set of strengths in engineering leadership.
I strongly believe that this is the right decision, although not without pain, for both LL and Cory. Of course, I'm not going to go into the details of these differences. This is one of those times when, in having me as your leader, you will also have to trust me in my decision. I will hold a brown bag as soon as possible to talk about this with anyone who would like, and will schedule time both in-world and in person here in San Francisco.
Please send any external questions you get about this change to Robin who will make sure they get answered.
What will be the effect of this sudden departure? The large majority reads it as a bad omen. Tateru Nino writes:
If you asked me this-morning, "Who can Linden Lab least afford to lose" my answer would have been simple: Cory Ondrejka and Robin Harper. At least (sitting on the outside here), every other member of staff seems to be replaceable.
I tend to disagree and go with the other reading, which was clearly voiced at Ambling in Second Life:
As a friend of mine put it, small companies need uber-hackers - they ignite the process, build innovative solutions and get you up and running quickly. I may be doing Cory a disservice, but it seems to me he fits into this category. However, once you have a large (and largely successful) implementation on your hands, your focus shifts from rapid innovation and heads more towards Quality of Service and effective service delivery. The skills for
this sort of role are quite different, and this may be where Rosedale has identified a key weakness. God knows, most of us are aware that this has been a key weakness!
Second Life has exploded over the last year, from 500K registered users in August 2006 to 11 million now. Scalability and Stability of the grid has been an issue and resulted in the Project Open Letter initiative, a call for more stability by hundreds of residents. Linden Lab has done a good job on these issues in the last six months though, as the grid capacity for concurrent logins has been doubled from 30 to 60K and with Havok 4 to be implemented on the main grid soon, the issue of stability will be largely addressed as well.
If this would do the trick for Second Life, it would put Corey into the driving seat. But when you put it into the perspective of Mark Lentczner's (Zero Linden) vision for Second Life, it falls short massively:
(Headlines from Zero Linden's office hours, posted by Dizzy Banjo on Soundtracking Virtual Worlds)
To achieve this, it seems pretty obvious that coding Second Life needs a different approach. With Linden Lab slowly turning away from that cowboy TAO approach and slowly implementing a more structured approach to avoid the issues that have angered the crowd in the past there would be no room for a rogue-programming approach to Second Life.
Now the speculative part. Would Mark Lentcner be LL's new CTO? I think he would be a good choice, as he is actively communicating with the Second Life community he has credit there. The only problem is, what is it with Second Life and Eastern European names? (Ondrejka out, but Zdanowski and Letcner and whathaveyougot...)
Yesterday's speaker was Adjiedj Bakas, one of Europes Megatrendwatchers who gave us a view into the future. He adressed some 9 megatrends ranging from a 'world without oil' to a 'shift in power'. Here are just a few thoughts from that presentation:
One of the trends we're going to see in the near future is a shift in balance. Geographical nations will change into new communities. National identity will shift to corporate identity as we will see the growth of some stellar companies. In many ways this trend reminds me of the dystopian society of Gibson's Neuromancer.
Technology drives us forward, be it for good or bad. The world has changed through technology:
It is sold to us as extra service while the business actually crowdsources its workload to the consumer. We are getting prosumers.
Under pressure, everything becomes liquid. Although we've only used about a quarter of our oil reserves yet, we do have an energy and environmental problem. We'll see new technology in the very near future that will reduce energy consumption.
Do not underestimate the power of the Asian world. Just being statistical: China has more high-IQ kids than the US has kids in total. For every 20 kids born in the USA, about 250 are born in China and 350 in India. Do not overestimate the power of China either: Up till the industrial revelution, China has always been good for about 30% of the world economy. They just had a dip and are working their way back to where they belong. Yet in these times, when China had 30% of the world economy, the Netherlands still managed to have its Golden Age. We just have to do the right things.
A random thought (I forgot which trend it belonged to)
If you read the New York Times you'll get more information in a week than the average guy got in his entire lifetime in the 18th century. This year we're producing about 1.5 exabytes of information, which is more than we've done in the past 5,000 years.
When we talk about games we talk about a variety of games. It is not only hardcore shooters.
NL Most popular games 2006:
Most popular games in the netherlands are relatively innocent games, only GTA could be considered as agressive.
Why use games:
Ingredients of a good game:
In a good game these ingredients are well balanced.
Fields of application :
Making a serious game:
The better the graphics, the more attention you pay to realistic behaviour. You have more freedom to act outside the storyline, but then the world doesn’t act the way it should anymore. (E.G. Destroy a complete shop in Oblivion and there’s no reaction from the shopkeeper, steal a feather and you will get arrested.)
It's been a while since I've visited a good corporate build. I have to be mild nowadays since our own Sogeti island opened up. On the other hand, that was a DIY job and we didn't hire a big MDC. Alcatel Lucent did, as they brought in Millions of US to immerse in Second Life.
Alcatel originally is a French telecom hardware company doing a lousy 18 billion Euro a year. They make pretty good stuff too. I've worked with Alcatel stuff before and a friend of mine just told me last week he purchased the Alcatel Unified Communications suite for his company.
Millions of Us did a very good job on the build again... at least, the quality of the build lived up to my expectations. Great texturing, quality stuff, but lacks innovation. If you hire a big name in the industry, I'm sure you've got the intention to build a community in Second Life; which in this day and age means you have to have gadgets and entertainment. That I didn't see at Alcatel Lucent.
What I saw was a purely functional build, with corporate information and an auditorium. If it is functional though, the engagement has to come from events, but there wasn't a schedule to be found. The only community-gathering-tool used here is a competition to do xtreme innovation (more at the bottom). So in short, a class act by Millions of Us, but not one that I'm about to revisit
Imagine it is the year 2017 and you have the power to create the ideal technology and devices that would fit your lifestyle in your virtual and real-world lives. Technology that would allow you to socialize, communicate, entertain yourself and your friends, get and share information and content, and/or manage appliances and devices in your home.
The Alcatel-Lucent Second Life Island is all about imagining the future and making it happen now. We are opening up our sandbox to the residents of Second Life to inspire them to come up with the future of what the next generation of wireless can bring. This is a call for Xtreme innovation!
Enter our “Next Generation Wireless Design Contest” for a chance to come up with the future and a chance to be noticed. In addition, you can win up to 50,000 Lindens. Your entries can be submitted to Alcatel-Lucent in accordance with the following guidelines. By submitting an entry, you agree that the official contest terms and conditions, which can be viewed at [enter web address here], will be applicable to and govern the contest and your submission.
Winning entries will be displayed in our showcase center on Alcatel-Lucent Island.
Submissions can be dropped to the pod post box or given to Hilary Millionsofus.Confirmation will be given within 24hrs.
Crowdsourcing is cool. Crowdsourcing means you draw ideas from the crowd, the general public. This isn't crowdsourcing anymore, this is a rip off. If you've got a great idea about the next generation computers or mobile phones, find yourself a trusting partner and have your intellectual rights properly documented and legally recorded, and don't sell them off for a lousy 200 USD from which Alcatel could make millions of USD (no pun intended).
A few months back we saw the alien arrival of the Greenies in Second Life, which was a very cool experience by Rezzable. One of the strong points about the Greenies is the avatar marketing bit. Avatar Marketing is mobile marketing as the avatars spread around the grid bringing your brand to the community instead of you having to organize event that will bring the community to your sim. Another cool MDC (Metaverse Development Company) which understands the value of this is the V3 group which brought us the hovering Orb and the Transformer avatars.
Avatar marketing is one, lifestyle is another. We've got some pretty weird people walking the face of the grid. Many subcultures like Goths and punks are present in Second Life and then there's the furries. Furries are animalish avatars, often furry skinned with long tails. These might be rather funny and adorable to the general public, but gets a little twist if you know there's quite a bunch of people out there in the Real World that have a furry fetishism too.
The Second Life Herald reports a new race has entered Second Life; the Purrsnickety's. Here's the SLH report:
"Yesterday Second Life witnessed the birth of a new race of virtual critters – Purrsnicketys. Their basic design is due to Phoenixxx Dragonash, who in RL is Ashley Speranzella-Evans, a free-lance fantasy artist.
They are built and scripted by our good friend and uber-elf Wayfinder Wishbringer. Below the fold are some screenshots and the purrsnickety propaganda."
From the purrsnickety note card...
WELCOME TO THE WORLD OF PURRSNICKETYS!
(To give a Purrsnickety as a gift, please read at the bottom of this notecard)
In a world that has forgotten magic and rushes time, they live above the clouds. Dragon-kitties once chosen to be Guardians of the Earth and magic, they failed to protect it from man. They have become jaded and skeptical, and definitely have attitude. But they have not given up! They have returned to the earth to try one last time to bring back what has lost. Are they the scourge of the skies... or destined to become heroes? Purrsnicketys... adorably wicked.
Purrsnicketys are some of the most complex, heavily-scripted (but very low-lag), fun, tiny avatars ever!
- Purrsnickety Avatar (copy/nomod/notrans... copyable so you can pull a new one out of the box in case of inventory loss!)(To give a Purrsnickety
as a gift, please read at the bottom of this notecard)
- A special Purrsnickety toy (an extra item specific to your Purrsnickety)
- Scripted wings open when flying
- Swishing tail* 72-function HUD, including...
- 68 custom sounds (no freebie sounds here!)
- 14 all-original animations (even the "tiny" animations themselves are new and tweeked), including:* Scripted tongue for cleaning
- Cat-like "run"* Fun "jump"
- Improved "sit" and "groundsit"
- Dance synchronizer (dance in time with your Purrsnickety friends!)* Cute. Real cute. (never underestimate the power of cute. Fells strong dragons and ogres and melts the hearts of warriors).
PURRSNICKETY CHARACTER INFORMATION:
- Baby Ree: Calico, curious, and pudgy.
Don’t be fooled by the cuteness of this little baby she will sneeze fire on you
if you aren’t careful. Likes buttercups and fireflies and her stuffed toy “Remmy”.
- Bitters: Black, skinny and Melancholy. Always seems to have a rain cloud over his head. Loves,well he dosent’t love anything.. except for a rainy
day and only because it spoils everyone else’s fun, maybe mud puddles. Older
brother of Chitters.
- Chitters: Pink, happy and talks a lot, though only the other purrsnicketys can tell what she is saying. Loves lollypops and unicorns and baking pies for the gang. Kid sister of Bitters and has a crush on Jeepers (but don’t tell him).
- Creepers: Large, green and agitated. Loves dark damp places and mushrooms. Oldest and Leader of the Purrsnicketys, big brother to
Jeepers. Arch nemesis: Mr. Wiggles the very elusive and clever mouse dragon whom Creepers can never catch.
- Critters: Brown, sweet and earthy. He loves all kinds of creatures and can often be seen playing with the mice in the castle (in a friendly way) Likes walking in the clouds and strawberries.
- Flitters: Yellow, scattered and artistic. He creates beautiful rainbows in the sky and paintings for the castle. Constantly looses everything because he is so focused on his art. He can be seen covered in paint muttering to himself in his room. Likes new paint brushes and dragon flies.
Last weeks have been either too busy to blog or too quiet (i.e. I'd taken some days off to spend some quality time with the RL family), so I've lost track of a couple of new metaversal releases. Here's a couple of tidbits from the other blogs:
Another report from Ambling in SL is titled "AOL Pointe RIP", and reads:
AOL opened their AOL Pointe island in Second Life around the start of the year. I rather liked it, as I wrote back in February. However, I heard quite a lot of sniping about the site thereafter, and rarely saw much sign of an emerging SL community. By the end of the Summer I was hearing the damning "ghost sim" in relation to it. So perhaps it should come as no suprise to find that AOL have pulled out of Second Life.According to this AOL blog:
AOL Pointe was built to provide a fun and engaging place for the Second Life community. We created this experience to learn more about virtual worlds and what people like and don't like.
It has been a fun and rewarding ten months, with streaming music (Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Linkin Park, etc.), Sticky Wall contests, and Friday nights at Club AOL. We are grateful to the avatars who attended these events, as well as took advantage of places like the Centrifuge Skate Park and the Quiz Time Lounge.
We've gained a lot of insight from our participation in Second Life and we're now refocusing our efforts in virtual worlds. While we have closed AOL Pointe, you will soon be seeing more of AOL products and content across the metaverse. So stay tuned to aol.com for more information about when and where.
AOL are not the first company to follow this route, and certainly won't be the last. I would be curious to know the real story here... or rather, the full story. And what of the future? Will we see AOL3D next year? Or more dabblings in other virtual worlds, such as There or (if you want to go global) HiPiHi?I still liked the AOL build and am sorry to see them go.
AOL isn't the first company to leave Second Life but it's good to know they're still game for virtual worlds.
Another departure is even more stunning, as the one time leading metaverse blog 3PointD has collapsed without prior notice. I mean I've been bad at blogging for some time now, but Mark Wallace used to be a paid blogger. I'm wondering how the 3PointD sponsors (Electric Sheep Company) feel about their investment and publicity engine gathering metaversal dust.
KZero's Nic Mitham must have been bought. His attention and anticipation of the arrival of Football Superstars has been incredible. Another FS snapshot series can be read here: Latest player and environment imagery from Football Superstars.
But there's more to be read at KZero:
Where 3PointD crashed, stocks are going upward for Nick Wilson at Metaversed.com. After a hugely succesfull start up of the Things to Do group (spring 2007) there was the more or less succesfull Grid Safari (summer 2007) and a promising podcast series (Second Rant with Prokofy Neva - which sadly went down the drain. After a slight dip Metaversed came up with another smash hit, the Metanomics sessions (fall 2007) on virtual economy (allthough some argue that this is a sponsor event and you get all sorts of economy and financial hotshots telling you all about how it should be without ever having been in a virtual world themselves).
Latest addition to the Metaversed event line-up is the VBI sessions, the Virtual Business Innovators (winter 2007) which focusses on the native metaverse content creators and innovators, the "Virtual Brands" as KZero would call them. Too bad I missed the first session.
There's a downside to this though, as there's no longer room for fun sessions like the Geek Meets (not even the Gadgeteer sessions) because it's no longer attractive (sponsorwise). That's a problem when you have to make a living of blogging and depending on sponsorships. I can blog, be critical, have fun and not wonder if I can buy dinner tomorrow. Anyway, it just takes away a bit of the fun and puts a slight ? behind "objective journalism"
It's been dead quiet on the MindBlizzard blog for a couple of days. This was first and foremost due to a short holiday we had with family and secondly because of the Name of the Wind.
Next wednesday, December 5 we celebrate Sinterklaas in the Netherlands, the original non-coca-cola invention that commercialized christmas. On December 5 we celebrate the birthday of Saint Nicholas, bishop of Myra. That means we get our presents a little earlier. Since we were with family, we celebrated it last saturday resulting in a sort of catatonic state for me.
One of the presents I got was Patrick Rothfuss' debut novel "The Name of the Wind". Here's the introduction:
"My name is Kvothe, pronounced nearly the same as "quothe." Names are important as they tell you a great deal about a person. I've had more names than anyone has a right to. The Adem call me Maedre. Which, depending on how it's spoken, can mean The Flame, The Thunder, or The Broken Tree.
"The Flame" is obvious if you've ever seen me. I have red hair, bright. If I had been born a couple of hundred years ago I would probably have been burned as a demon. I keep it short but it's unruly. When left to its own devices, it sticks up and makes me look as if I have been set afire.
"The Thunder" I attribute to a strong baritone and a great deal of stage training at an early age.
I've never thought of "The Broken Tree" as very significant. Although in retrospect, I suppose it could be considered at least partially prophetic.
My first mentor called me E'lir because I was clever and I knew it. My first real lover called me Dulator because she liked the sound of it. I have been called Shadicar, Lightfinger, and Six-String. I have been called Kvothe the Bloodless, Kvothe the Arcane, and Kvothe Kingkiller. I have earned those names. Bought and paid for them.
But I was brought up as Kvothe. My father once told me it meant "to know."
I have, of course, been called many other things. Most of them uncouth, although very few were unearned.
I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I burned down the town of Trebon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my life. I was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in. I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during day. I have talked to Gods, loved women, and written songs that make the minstrels weep.
You may have heard of me. "
In this genre it is hard to be original, and there were several things that triggered memories, like the Waystone Inn (Wayward Inn, Dragonlance Chronicles), the main character (orphaned like Elof Valantor in Winter of the World), the bad guy reminding me of the Nine Riders (Tolkien) or the Myrrdaal (from the Wheel of Time series). As I said, it's hard to be original in this genre. A lot of fantasy writers spin tales that are just shades of Tolkien's Middle Earth or another classic. Others spin superficial tales without real depth or mystery.
Only on rare occasions you encounter gems, great tales that are heroic and intriguing; tales that have an original approach to magic and evil, tales written in an excellent style; tales which need to be read non stop. The Name of the Wind is such a tale. I read all 600+ pages within 24 hours barely taking time to eat or talk to my wife. It is a very promising debut and I can't wait for the other parts to appear.