Thursday, July 05, 2007

Kaneva Expedition

Who thought Second Life was just a hype at the start of 2007 has to rethink. Yes, perhaps Second Life is a little hyped with an absurd amount of media attention, but 2007 looks to be the year that Virtual Worlds are going mainstream in the Western World (emphasizing Western, since Cyworld already seems to be a bare necessity in Korea)

Among the many Metaverses there's Kaneva, which I visited today.

Registration was quite easy and since there are no family names, like in Second Life, I was able to register myself as VeeJayBurns.

After the registration it's time to download. The first download, the install wizard is just 2Mb, but then the full engine is downloaded, 250 Mb, after installation about 500Mb.
One of the great features of Kaneva is the personal homepage that you get as a resident - a good start to integrate Web 2.0 and Web 3D into one environment. Think of the power of integrating Second Life with Flickr, Blogger, YouTube, Twitter/pownce and Facebook all in one!
Character creation is very limited, compared to Second Life, same pretty much goes for content creation.
Uploading textures, or patters works from webpages, which is actually a better interface than the inworld upload that Second Life offers.
Another great thing about Kaneva is, besides you getting your own 'homepage', you also get your own 'home'. That does bring back memories of First Land in Second Life (which I missed out on :-( )
A thing that surprised - in a good way - was the speed of Kaneva. Movement was quite fast. On the downside, as in SpaceStage I did not meet any people or found an easy way to wander around the world.

Kaneva does have some benefits to offer, some addons that may help to create a Metaversal identity, but is lacking in other parts compared to Second Life. For instance, Second Life really has the upper hand when it comes to content creation and the openness of the world. Also the 'mandatory' orientation island exerecises may seem to be a bit overdone, but when entering a world for the first time - without any practise, does leave you at a loss sometimes.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Metaversecrawler

The Electric Sheep Company is getting ambitious. They've launched a new search service for the virtual world of Second Life today, at search.sheeplabs.com,. The service doesn't depend on users adding their products to the searchengine, but is actively crawling the metaverse for content that is listed for sale. This immediately causes nightmares for those premium account members that couldn't get a hold of a speck of First Land because it was always snatched away by the dreaded landbots.

The service allows avatars to opt out of the system, or to list all items they own, and doesn’t crawl private islands. Results are returned with a teleport link, price, object creator and owner, and description. According to the Sheep, it also puts less load on the system than a single avatar, so it shouldn’t create much lag.

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Friday, April 13, 2007

Reclaiming land from inactive Residents

Here's something to keep track of (from the official Linden Blog)

Reviewing Inactive Resident Parcels
Monday, April 9th, 2007 at 7:20 PM PDT

Recently, we have received a number of requests from the Second Life community to seize land from long-term inactive Residents on the Main Grid. While we are unprepared to reclaim land from Residents who haven’t logged recently, we’ve decided to embark on a different approach, one we feel will produce more palatable results for both active and inactive Residents. Keeping your concerns in mind, we have reached out though e-mail to Lifetime Residents who own land and yet haven’t logged during the past 12 months.

It goes without saying that we would all prefer to see those Residents return and participate again in the Second Life community. In this vein, we invited them to rejoin. In the event that those Residents are unable to return and in keeping with our commitments to active Residents who would prefer to see unused land folded back into the larger SL community, we have offered to auction inactive Resident land and deposit all L$ proceeds into the corresponding Second Life L$ accounts. We hope this approach satisfies all parties involved, and we will keep the community apprised of further developments.

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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The Tao of Linden

After Linden Labs announced it descision to stop with the First Land program a friend of mine mentioned the Tao of Linden, the LL philosophy on life (http://blog.secondlife.com/2006/07/25/the-tao-of-linden/)

Linden Lab has a different and better way of doing work. It relies on the idea that if the level of transparency (everyone can see what everyone else is doing) can be made high enough, you can stop managing people by explicit authority or delegation. Instead of being told what to do, you choose your own work by listening to your peers, making good strategic judgements, taking risks, and surfing a huge amount of information.

As one of a very few pioneers in doing things this way, there is still a lot to learn. We make mistakes. But the things we have gotten right are impressive: Linden Lab has, in 6 years, had almost zero employee turnover, and our productivity, in comparison to other similar sized teams, is off the charts.

In short this could well be another way of saying: We'll develop features, or fix bugs when we feel like it, regardless of the contractual promises we made to paying members.

And what will happen to work that nobody wants to do? Some thing just have to be done in order to keep the engine running.

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First Land program to end

Tuesday, February 20th, 2007 at 1:12 PM PST by: Jack Linden

Effective immediately, the supply of cheap First Land parcels by Linden Lab will cease. Premium accounts will still be able to own up to 512m of land as part of their Premium membership package as they do now, the only change is that we will not be supplying the discounted parcels as we have done in the past. The website and knowledgebase will be amended to reflect this change shortly.

The First Land program was put in place to encourage land ownership for those moving up to Premium membership. Increasingly we have found that these cheap L$1 per meter parcels were not benefitting those people as intended. Because of the low price, they were being immediately sold, or bought via alts, purely for profit.

We have discussed many methods to ensure that First Land is used as intended but have decided that there is no way to do this without significantly impacting on resident freedoms. Therefore the First Land Program will no longer be provided. It may still be possible to find cheap land for sale, for example small parcels that have been abandoned and recycled by us, but it will not be sold specifically as First Land. Our hope is that through much higher levels of mainland expansion, market forces will act to bring resale prices down over time, for example the new continent being brought up to the east.

You may ask what, without First Land, is the value of a Premium account? Well consider that the L$1200 stipend per month (around USD$4.50) plus 512m free tier per month (around USD$5.00) means that the monthly premium account essentially pays for itself. We are actively looking for additional ways to increase premium value, and we would love to hear any ideas the community has on this.

[Quote from Second Life's official blog: http://blog.secondlife.com/2007/02/20/first-land-program-to-end/]

As representative of the First Land Searchers group I truely feel sorry this descision has been made. The reasoning behind this ruling is also questionable, and probably arguable from a contract point of view.

1. Current Land Searchers, for the larger part, have seriously been looking for a parcel to own themselves.
2. The unavailability of First Land has not been the result of huge speculation, but of the incapacity of Linden to address the problem of land-bots.
3. Premium account members have INVESTED in the expanse of Second Life based upon the contractual promise to right of ownership of a parcel of First Land.

Taking into account that there are thousands of premium membership owners who have signed up to pay $ 5,- a month for the right to hold First Land, it brings thousands of dollars of venue for Linden Labs this is easy money.

Cutting on the First Land allocation in this fashion will not achieve the goals intented. On the contrarry, it will work counter productive. It leaves thousands of frustrated users who will no longer support the ideals and growth of SL, it will fend off new upgrades to Premium accounts and will only end in a new surge in landprices.

The promise of finding alternative ways to make premium interesting again is not a substantial offer. Over 90% of the users have upgraded to premium solely for the purpose of owning First Land, and the only way to compensate this would be to increase the monthly stipend enough to enable us to buy a regulare parcel.

Additional Efforts that could be taken:
1. During transition phase premium account members receive enough L$ to purchase a normal lot.
2. Linden delivers enough first land for current premium account holders to fullfil the contractual First Land promise.

Rulings that could ensure First Land usage as intended:
1. First Land buyers take a contractual obligation to hold the First Land parcel for at least 1 year.
2. During a planned transition phase only existing parcels can be traded and auctioned. New parcels can only be sold if they originate from new regions.
Let us negotiate a transition phase

I truly hope there are some laywers out there with a copy of the original terms of use and premium membership rights that will make an effort of this issue in a RL court of law.


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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

First Land killer for SL

Taken by the endless opportunities for Second Life I upgraded my account to premium about a month ago. One of the benefits is that you can trade.... and are entitled to a speck of dust in the virtual landscape, 512 sq. meter to be precise.

This 1st land comes cheap, at L$ 512,- (Linden Dollar) , so $1 for 1 mtr. whereas normal land now trades at beyond L$20 per meter, and I even saw USD$ 42 /month being asked for a tiny speck of land. So, in order to have yourself a nice little home to start out with, 1st land is a must have.

First Land Catch
However, the catch is: You're entitled to it, but 1st land is not always available. After 1 month of searching I encountered 1 piece of 1st land sofar. And it was sold before I got there. I stuck around though, and within the hour over 200 residents came looking at the speck of land, hoping for their chance to finally own a virtual yard. Each and everyone frustrated that 1st land was hard to come by, and all that sort of stuff.

Last week I spoke to this Linden guy -the one in charge of land sales- and he said that on friday 50 bits of land were made available for 1st land. The time and amount of available land varies daily. All cute and true, but on Friday I was ill and had spend about 8 hours online from bed, regularly hit the search button, but never did it return results for 1st land. In fact, I'm pretty darn sure that from friday till tuesday not a single piece of land has gone up for 1st land.

Virtual Moneymaking Machine
In short, First land is the promise of virtual land accompanied with the disclaimer that it might not be available. Thousands of members have paid for it -paid for Linden to plug in extra hardware, but they don't have to deliver. Wow, this is good marketing! People are paying for something they might never receive. Linden must make millions from idiots like me.

The Dying Grounds
Numerous frustrated paying members have now organised themselves in groups like "First Land Searchers", and are trying to get Linden to deliver. If this group gets organised and more media attention, this will surely have a downcast on Second Life. Will Linden commit suicide on First Land, or not?



Additional Resources:

From Wikipedia:

Land Ownership: Premium members also have the ability to own land (up to 512m2 without additional fees). Owning larger areas of land attracts an increasing additional fee (what Linden Lab calls "tier") ranging from US$5 a month up to US$195 a month for an entire 65,536m2 of land or individual island.[3] [4]

Land sales system: Linden Lab usually sells land in small 512m2 blocks (16 by 32 meters) through its First Land program, or as entire 16 acre (65,536m2) regions. Residents also buy and sell land to other Residents, generally intending to make a profit by selling the plots of land at a price higher than the original purchase cost.

The First Land program is used to reserve small blocks of land for first time land buyers, intending Residents to purchase their first parcel of land below the current market value.[5] This program also serves as an incentive for new Residents with free accounts to upgrade to premium accounts. A Resident pays a fixed fee of L$1 per 1m2 for a 512m2 plot.[5]

These First Land plots are frequently consolidated into larger plots when the original owners sell them to other residents.

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