Monday, January 14, 2008

The SLord moves in mysterious ways

2008 holds a promise...



That was about the last line of my previous blogpost. And it does. One of the most promising new startups is Clever Zebra, an initiative by master builder Lordfly Digeridoo and the guys from Metaversed and others (among which a bit of Sogeti).

But aside from this promise, there is something funny going on which makes me think the SLord moves in mysterious ways:



Clever Zebra, Stupid Metaversed?


Although the Clever Zebra project has my sincere sympathy, there's a thing nagging me, and that's Metaversed. Early 2007 57 Miles was blogging like crazy on the Metaverse, doing great stuff and turned it into a business. A sponsored blog with sponsored events. That's when trouble came to town. First there was a break-up with Prokofy Neva on the Second Rant, and now Metaversed is going down to provide space for Clever Zebra. I wonder how the Metaversed Sponsors will feel about this. What will happen to the MMI, the Metanomics and the Virtual Business Innovators. Projects like the Grid Safari and the Geek Meets weren't long lived either.

Onders Skall writes:

How can you close Metaversed?
We covered business in virtual worlds like nobody else. There wasn't a better place to go for coverage of this stuff. We just loved it.

Along the way Nick and I compiled a huge amount of information about business in virtual worlds. We studied the phenomenon like few have ever had the opportunity to, and our imaginations were constantly ignited. More and
more of our days were spent discussing what could and should be done in virtual worlds to help business. We began designing plans to change things and make them better.

We soon realized that we'd rather create products people want to talk about instead of talking about products others were creating. The thing is, you can't often make things happen by telling stories. You make things happen by...
well... going out and making them happen. So while we came across as much news and met as many incredible people as we had before, news reportage became an afterthought. We were chasing a dream: bringing change to the virtual world.

I can agree on this, but why tear down Metaversed? It isn't too smart to burn all your bridges before you've crossed to the other side. A whole lot of tantrum is created now about the Clever Zebra start up and the Metaversed blog has died a slow death over the past months. Fortunately, the guys over at Metaversed also see this:

Why part with a popular brand?
Yes, Metaversed became a beloved brand. That's why we had to close it. Without publishing regular news, it was becoming a shadow of its former self. There's nothing worse than a brand that was once great and has lost its shine. If it's a name to be remembered, it should be remembered as something great.

Some feel we could have kept the name and switched the business model. The problem with doing something like that, though, is that it's a bit disrespectful of the readers. Metaversed is a blog about business in virtual worlds. If it suddenly becomes an open-source virtual world company, well, it's no longer the same company. We'd by lying if we said it was, and we respect our readers far too much to do something like that.

Wello 3PointD Horld

Much of the same is going on at 3PointD, a former leader in virtual world news, where Mark Wallace is letting the blog beed to death posting Glitchy Links for months now without blogging anything usefull and working on a gigantic new start up, Wello Horld with metaverse guru Jerry Paffendorff. His sponsor, Electric Sheep Company probably can't be bothered at this time though as they seem to be focussing on a whole new industry according to the word on the street.



The naked sheep


The word on the street is that the Sheep are (co-) developing a new platform which will be a true adult world (i.e. Porn, XXX). I wonder what CBS and the producers of CSI:NY will think of this. Would they be willing to be associated with a company that's in the porn industry?

Now what is it with these companies in changing their objectives? Is it short term profits, or are they just Metaversal Cowboys that jump on every opportunity?

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Monday, December 10, 2007

Metaverse Update November / December

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:


Ambling in Second Life

Aleister has been quite busy in the past weeks and blogged on a wide variety of topics, here's a few picks:

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.

3PointD Crash

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 metaversal marketing news

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:

You've been Metaversed

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"

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Saturday, August 04, 2007

Pinguin Gibson Stephenson and Metarati

Somehow I've written and deleted the first line of this article about 10 times in the last hour.


What I had in mind was a short blog on William Gibson, acknowledged metarati and author of (a.o.) Neuromancer.


No Maps for these terrirory


Alas, sometimes even visionairs are ruled by their publishers, and so it seemed on this feat. A few weeks ago there was a screener of a documentary called No Maps for These Territori, which is a 90 minute film about Gibson, and is praised as the Documentary of the Year by the LA Times. This was a good and glitchless performance so a 'reading' wouldn't be too hard.

So August 2nd would have been the day to meet one of the cyberpunk and metaverse metarati on a heavily piblicized official Pinguin public reading, but I missed out due to the spectacular (official) opening of the Greenies.

However, through several friends I heard I hadn't missed out on much, as the event was far from smooth. Metaverse Territories reports (and also kindly provides the image above on the No Map Screener):

"...but marketing ploys like Penguin’s organized, very publicized reading by William Gibson is another case altogether. Events like this must go smoothly in order for the world to become a credible place for business AND art, fun AND work. First of all, for SL users who came, it is as much an investment of their time and energy, which for me, was a wasted one (started late, the feed didn’t work until 10 minutes into his reading, didn’t know where to go, never actually saw the avatar etc. etc…). "

According to Gibson's blog he himself was left with a peculiar feeling as well. This should be amended!

Pinguin Presence

Being present in the metaverse these days requires a presence with a mission, or a message. It is going from pages to places in a quest for immersive and shared experience. Pinguin's line of thought isn't a bad one, when it comes to public readings. It just needs work and a fullscale programme (and maybe a few other things).

However, their speck of virtual land doesn't hold much that will draw crowds:

Second Life is an excellent platform to experiment. Even for publishers. A few months ago I wrote some thoughts on that in a post on the Amsterdam Public Library;

"In this new metaversality it would be a challenge for libraries (and publishers for that matter) to explore new formats that would draw back readers to good books.

Neil Stephenson, one of the metarati, is most famous for his novel "Snowcrash" in which the concept of the Metaverse is explored, but another excellent work is called "The Diamond Age" in which the future of reading and publishing is explored."

Here's another thought. Perhaps it would work for Pinguin to setup a giant ancient bookprinting press, have their books (f)lying about like old press letters and create an experience about books.

... just a thought, not a guaranteed success.

The Cyberpunk Metarati

Earlier this week I blogged on the Infocalypse project, a decorum for cyberpunk stories, of which Nexus Prime is one. I didn't check my numbers and linked it to the sim Nexus. Wrong! It should have been Gibson of course. Reading the firts part of the blog entry, it sounds pretty obvious why a cyberpunk-sim is named Gibson. When I first got there (sometime 2006) there ironically was placed a Neil Stephensons' Snowcrash promotion by Pinguin books. Now it's gone though, and replaced with a neat Gibson Spook City promo.

However, since the reading left Gibson with a peculiar feeling, there should be another change for the metarati to explore and experience the metaverse in all its richness and creativeness. I'm not sure who will take up the glove, but here's a proposal.

Geek Meet Challenge

What I'd like to see is Gibson and Stephenson to get a guided tour of the Cyberpunk cities, thrown in with some new Kowloon and steampunk Caledon to see the world they've envisaged and then settle down for a good panel discussion on the metaverse at the weekly Metaversed (and Dr. Dobbs and Information week) Geek Meets.

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Friday, August 03, 2007

Geek Meet - the Celeb Edition?

Another Geekmeet Friday with a show packed with Second Life goodies went down at Dr. Dobbs island again. Tonight's lineup:


  • MSo Lambert and Sensual Casanove from Synthetic speaking on the Subscribe-O-Matic.
  • Navillus Batra, aka Jacob Sullivan of i3D demonstrating the brand new LSL unit testing tech that Linden Lab commisioned his company to build.
  • Felix Wakmann and Diva Canto of the SLBrowser giving a demo of the new 2.0 version.

Since this was a first (full) voice edition, it was a bloggersnightmare, but a great show once more.

The Subscribe-O-Matic is basically tying to work about a couple of problems business owners face when trying to use groups to stay in touch with their customers, or potential customers. It is a networked system of devices that sellers can use in their shops, which customers can simply touch to "subscribe" to their Subscribe-O-Matic list


The best way to say something on the Unit Testing done by i3D is by giving a quote from Metaversed:



"Scriptors will be able to plug individual units of code into the system and stress test and debug with verbose reporting. They'll even be able to track individual functions performance within different units, helping to narrow down bug hunts, and tune performance of complex apps. "



read full piece here




The final stand was made by Felix Wakmann on the SL Browser, which is to some extend a mash-up of the Metamart hud and the Electric Sheep Search Engine.




Perhaps due to the talks on i3D's testing unit the Geekmeet turned out to almost being a celeb-edition with several Linden employees attending and also Aimee Weber was sighted.



Aric Linden, Linden Labs' QA has enjoyed working with i3D pretty much:



"We've really enjoyed working with them and we're very excited to be able to collaborate with folks. We hope to be doing more of it in the future."



Aimee has told me a few weeks ago that she was too busy to keep up with stuff, but has been meaning to come to one of these events for some time now. This time she finally found some time to squeeze it in her busy schedule.


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Friday, July 20, 2007

Geek Meet Gadgeteers Edition 2

This week's Geek Meet saw a new Gadgeteer episode with a wide variety of speakers.
Fortunately there were some 'technical issues' that caused sound to be unfavorable. Fortunately since it's easier to blog this way.


First up was Giff Constable, or as you like Forseti Svarog of the Electric Sheep Company on the exciting OnRez shop that's replacing the well known SLBoutique.

"To give you a quick intro, The Electric Sheep company has long been known as a consulting company for virtual worlds, but our business goals always included building a consumer software business. Our goal is to create technologies to make virtual worlds easier to use and make information flow more efficiently. We are launching a new brand around these consumer technologies called OnRez, with the first step launching next Tuesday. Shopping has always been important to us, which is why we bought SLBoutique in early 2006, but while we focused on our consulting business SLBoutique was neglected. That changed early this year when we looked closely at the technology and decided we needed to overhaul the entire SLBoutique system. On tuesday we're launching Shop OnRez. Our goal overall is to make shopping easier wherever you are, and to make life a lot easier for the small businesses of SL."

Next up is Metamart's Robbie Kiama, a Geek-Meet regular and dedicated twitterati.


"Let me first tell you about meta mart and how it was started: First of all we are all about making solutions, I hope you will agree with me that back in 2005 it was hard to find stuff in SL because you had to Travel all the places to search for quality items and that's when the idea came - to do a Store that walks up to you and not vice versa. So In 2006 we introduced I think a revolutionary system - Store on a HUD, it was slow and laggy. Since then we have thought aA LOT, did lot of research and figured out - that Search is greatly needed.



In 2007 Januuary we introduced the first Store in a HUD that allows SEARCH, in 2007 march we thought that Comunity is extremely important and introduced MEta MArt with Comunity Ratings. So TODAY we are releasing new solution and I think this will be extremely great for the comunity. I hope you will agree with me - that one of the most fun things in Second Life is Seeing cool places and I think finding one isn't that easy of a task. So we are introducing a new service: metaTravel."


As far as I can tell, I've already got my MetaTravel-guide, Nick Wilson at Metaversed with the Things to Do group, but for people walking around aimlessly in SL, this could be another hit.


Today's third speaker was Anjin Meili, one of the Sculpt guru's of Second Life, driving home a "Sim in a Prim" message.




"When I first jumped on the Grid, I felt that having a model of a parcel I was building on to be highly valuble. My first mapping system first rezzed blocks, 1 for every 4x4 meter parcel, into a chunky lego map looking affair. This was refined to using polygons, but that took two prims for every 4x4 meter parcel. To map a full sim required 10,000 primatives... Not exactly usable for anything more then 'Woohoo!!! Check this out man!'




I recall when I heard about sculpties... I told my wife, Elzbiet, that they would solve my problem. I could use them to create the terrain! I was to young to play on the beta grid though, so had to just wait until they made the main grid. But as soon as they made it, within the first hour, we had our first sculpted maps.




I recall us popping over here to Dr Dobbs island, and using the LSL Logo sandbox to rez a mapping pod and make maps of this Island. The same day Sculpties were released to Second Life. As one cannot make a sculptie on grid, the challange was to provide an easy to use system that integrated with a backend capable of making the finished textures. We worked hard to build such a system, and made the on grid piece so simple, we feel its akin to buying a can of coke. You open the box, pop the top, and when its done, the probe dies and nothing is left but a URL to a finished map sculptie.




Our gadget makes these sculpted maps. Lemmie dig one out and toss it up here real quick. We have a slogan for it: Map your Sim, in just one Prim!"






That was just awesome ! This has to be the übergadget of the year in my opinion, and soon to be available on Electric Sheep's OnRez site for a lousy $L 100.. not even 50 cents in real dough

UPDATE

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Friday, June 29, 2007

Geek Meet Gadgeteers

Fridaynight - Geek meet time. This time not at the Metaversed home but at Dr. Dobbs Life 2.0 island where hip and techsavvy things are as common as bugs in Microsoft. This week brings something new to the Geek Meet as it's the first time it gets sponsored by Information Week.

First off, some snaps of the Dr. Dobbs island.
This weeks line up as announced by Metaversed:
"Alidar Moxie of Mechanized Life, makers of the popular Calendar Cogs Google API integration app for Second Life as welll as the new StatsCollector RSS app, and Vincent Shore, creator of Squawk, the Second Life Twitter / Jaiku presence and bookmarking app, will be joining Mystical Cookie, creator of the MystiTool, who we confirmed earlier at this week's Friday Geek Meet. Our regular Friday tech forum in Second Life is co-sponsored by Dr. Dobb's Journal, InformationWeek and of course Metaversed, and has quickly become the virtual worlds top regular technology and business networking event, where bloggers, journalists, new media types and tech heads of all kinds come to talk about the business and technology of virtual worlds. "

Vincent Shore - Squawk
Vincent created the popular Squawk app that that incorporates twitter, jailku and delicious into SL.
"Squawk is essentially a tool for connecting your Second Life experiences up with popular web services. It began as just a presence client for Twitter but has progressively grown in scope as time has gone on. Today, Squawk supports Twitter, Jaiku, del.icio.us and Ma.gnolia, with more services on the way.
In terms of presencing, Squawk can do anything traditional clients can do, and a bit more. Squawk can attach a geocode to your updates, allowing friends to see where you are in SL, or teleport in to check out something cool you microblogged about. If you visit Squawknest.com, those geocodes are used to visually place markers on a web map. Squawk also automatically builds your Nest profile and tags based on what you like to microblog about."
The latest addon to Squawk is social bookmarking, or gridmarking.
"Squawk is a combination of LSL scripts (housed within the virtual Squawk bracelet) and a number of intermediary PHP scripts housed on Vincents web server, which translate API calls and make the response data easier for Second Life to handle."

Alidar Moxie - Mechanized Life
Alidar received a great welcome by Nick Wilson:
"Next I'd like to introduce you to a great scriptor, one I think of as an "integration" specialist. She deals mostly in API's and RSS and other ways of bringing our 2D stuff into SL. She's famous for Calender Cogs, a Google Calendar API implementaion, but recently has released StatsCollector, which I think you'll find even more intriguing. Please welcome Alidar Moxie!"
On Calendar Cogs:
"I have two real lines of things I've worked on the first was 'Calendar Cogs' I wrote it because I was literally writing on post its on my monitor when I wanted to go to events then I said 'why not use Google's thing to do this for me. I wrote 2 objects, a Hud for personal reminders and a Kiosk for people to place on land and tell others of their events both pull events directly from the Google calendar and use them in world and Huds talk to kiosks. I think I had a similar issue to Vincent in that the API for google had SO MUCH information that I had to write a ton of scripts between the Google Stuff and LSL."
On StatsCollector:
"It simply records who comes in contact with it but then allows you to subscribe to an RSS feed of those visits and recently allows you to find out if they are credit card users, how old they are
what time of day is your busiest, etc. At the moment you can pull either graphs or HTML versions of the data in the near future I plan to allow XML downloads and I am working on my own API so that others can make their own objects to 'talk' to the systemso to speak"
The statcollector could be a breakthrough in Inworld purchase history as a vendor could be written to record who purchased an item and when. Transaction history in Second Life is only kept for 30 days, the default for the current version of Statcollector as well, due to server capacity in logging.
Mystical Cookie - MystiTool
The Mystitool app was named Metabrand no. 1 by KZero a few weeks ago and is classified as an essential tool for Second Life survival.
"After my first month in SL, i had several things on my hud.. a spatial radar, a popular "shield" after being attacked on my own first land, ao, and a few things i was playing with ..."
"...Anyway, I was learning lsl and I wanted to keep all of my toys in one place.. i also did not like having so many hud attachments, and i wanted to learn how they worked.. so i started writing my own replacements for things. i started giving copies to friends.. as time went on, i added things.. av scanner, non-physical vehicle (a pseudo shield), etc. Mystitool has several privacy and convenience features in a single hud attachment.. all easily accessible by hud menus, it was designed to consume the least possible hud real estate to keep the screen clear for play and provide certain basic functionality which is missing from the SL client.. things such as knowing who is near you.. a quick "favorites" list of locations, teleport history, and basic anti-stalker and anti-griefer tools. Mystitool has grown in features as friends and customers suggest new things to be added or improved.. i also add things as i need them and with the latest update, there is now a plugin system in place to allow other scripters to write their own mystitool plugins, which will place buttons into the main mystitool hud menus :)"
The above parts are the introductions to the products, for the tech-talk I'd advise you to read the transcripts that will be on at Metaversed soon.

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Saturday, June 16, 2007

Friday's Geekmeet: IBM-Intel-Sun

Friday's the night of the weekly Geek Meet at the home of Metaversed's 57. This weeks turned out to be übergeekmeet.

This first pic show me and Aleister sitting next to epradator, aside from us, and 57 we saw several other bloggers and journalists appear at the meeting, all curious to see what the übergeeks of IBM, Intel and Sun would have to say.
Here's a full wrap up of the crowd, filled with the Geeks, the guru's and the metapolitans.

Epradator, one of Second Life's big chieftains, heading the IBM tribe which has grown to about 6.000! members, blogger at the famous eightbar blog was to kick off the meeting giving us some inside information on wtf IBM is doing inside SL. Well, that's easy. Ian (epradator) works for the IBM CIO office, and is responsible for moving 330K people into a virtual workspace;

"the subject is using the metaverse for business and what are we up to that is not Second Life. Firstly I have to say that SL has been the catalyst for all this, many of us have tried to get things like this going for years so we are not in any way not supporting SL, but.... there is a need for corporates to be able to have secure intranets and on those intranets there is a willigness to have a metaverse now. Still some resistence of course but most of the time I get asked 'right can we have a secure meeting?' whereas it used to be 'what the heck are you up to playing games at work'. So we have moved from a skunkwork project with Algernon Spackler and I to a digital convergece emerging business unit"

IBM's ideal situation would be to create some unified communication standard between various metaverses;

"The trick then is to deal with the flow between all these virtual worlds, the underlying standards. So I think its fair to say we are less interested in building another SL, more interested in having more than one platform to then get talking to one another, dealing with property flow between the environments helping with open standards"

The second speaker was Parviz Peiravi (a.k.a. Core Stine), Intel's evangelist but SL newbie, and thus running only a short story on virtualisation;

"I think if we run SL on virtual infrastructures utilizing both virtualization and grid we will be able to handle much more audience."

Third speaker was Klaatu Niu, a Sr. Systems Engineer from Sun, who mainly tried to propagate Sun's networked.com to a crowd of SL addicts, so that was a little queer.

"What we at Sun have done is make avail to the public a large scale computational grid for anyone to run jobs on... Today.. its a batch oriented environement. but you pay only $1 US per CPU hour consumed we also allow you to publish for others to run .. and use your own applications there.. what I think . might be interesting. and something that I'm begging to investigate is ..can an SL object.. submit to our grid some processing needs and get the results back."

To the metapolitans present it wasn't a quick win, someone was quick to point out that Amazon's EC2 cloud only runs at $ 0.05 /hr and that large scale projects, such as Jerry Paffendorf's innovative Destroy Television experiment, streaming 99,000 pictures from SL to Flickr turned out to be quite expensive.

Most interesting point is that Sun tried hard to steer away from rumours over the alledged virtual world project codenamed MPK20.

I think it is pretty safe to say that Intel and Sun are still seeking a way into web 3D but still remain deeply rooted in the era of the Digerati, whereas IBM surely has moved on to the Metarati age.

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