Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Second Life Revamped

It's been a while since I last visited the world of Second Life. At the time I left, recession was kicking in, not only in the real world, but doubly in Second Life. It was not only the credit crunch, no, it was the Gartner Hypecycle kicking in with a bite.

Companies were disappointed in the 'marketing' options of Second Life, and it was too early to get a solid business case for immersion. Now, Second Life is gearing up again. They've changed their marketing campaign for Businesses and revamped the website.

Now, the revamped website is a pretty neat thing. It's no longer the plain old promotional website, but it has grown into a SLMS, or a Second Life Management System - which I already suggested back in 2007,

Highlights of the new secondlife.com from Torley on Vimeo.

Now the new attitude is promising. Back in 2007 and 2008 Second Life was bustling with Corporate activity, but after some exploration, allmost all companies left to do real 3D business elsewhere, like ABN Amro or Wells Fargo for instance. Second Life was not secure. Second Life management at that time did not really make an effort to support companies in Second Life, but I think now they've seen business drop and some part of 'reality' (i.e. cash) kicked in. There's money to be made from big clients, so I'm curious to see where it goes. Will have to see which companies have arrived since December 2008 and which have left since then top give a quick update on the Second Life Real Life Company Guide.

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Top of the Blogs

Suddenly a couple of new links to the MindBlizzard blog appeared on my Technorati Ranking, which off course I don't mind at all. First of this set of links was Who's The Biggest? Redux by the Second Effects blog who compiled a list of the Top 100 blogs on Second Life.

No surprise I found myself somewhere down the middle, just one spot below "Ambling in Second Life" by my good chum Aleister Kronos, who's at number 61. That was some comfort... or not?

Well, there is one problem with the list...

A number of these blogs have been out of order off late. To see a list of who's no longer blogging anymore read this blogpost from November last year in which I list some of the blogs which haven't been updated in a while. Most notably the 3PointD blog, the once leading Second Life blog which has produced absolutely zits in the past year and a half and still neatly ranks number 52.

We all know that Technorati ratings are a wee bit iffy at times. A lot of people noted this and ArminasX has just updated the blogroll. In this second version the MindBlizzard blog dropped to spot 82. I can't say this is an error, as I must admit I have not been blogging on Second Life much off late. As said, MindBlizzard and Ambling were on the 61 and 61 slots in the first version, Ambling now dropped to 88, which is also quite amazing since it hasn't had a single blogpost in over three months. So despite the tweaking, the list will probably never be perfect.

We can work out intricated queries, tweak and reasses the quantitative rankings of the blogroll, but there is no way we can measure value, or quality in these blogs. I myself have not blogged Second Life as there was nothing special to blog from my point of view, no new companies entering Second Life, but I could have blogged myself to death in spotting every new inworld fashion designer, which just isn't my thing.

A second link I'd like to mention comes from the notorious GoFugYourSL which produced A Dandy List of SL Blogs, an alternative blogroll, without judgement or ranking, just alphabetically sorted.

I'm going to give you the entire 585 long Redux blogroll though, with the ranking included. Browse them to see which ones you like and dislike without paying attention to their ranks. In BOLD you will see some of my (still active) favorites:

# 1 Massively# 2 Official Second Life Blog# 3 iheartsl.com Second Life's largest community blog# 4 New World Notes# 5 VintFalken.com# 6 Torley Lives# 7 Not Possible IRL# 8 Fabulously Free in SL# 9 Free*Style# 10 Ana Lutetia inSL# 11 Dusan Writer's Metaverse# 12 Rezzable# 13 Prokofy Neva# 14 Second Style Fashionista# 15 Shopping Cart Disco# 16 Gwyn's Home# 17 UgoTrade# 18 Kzero# 19 SL iReports: Your news of a virtual world - Blogs from CNN.com# 20 Achariya.net# 21 Virtually Blind Virtual Law# 22 Alphaville Herald# 23 The Click Heard Round the World# 24 What Is This Crap?# 25 Fashion Victim# 26 Slmen# 27 The Metaverse Journal - Australia# 28 Mermaid Diaries: Natalia Zelmanov's Second Life Adventures# 29 Aviatrix :: Zoe Connolly# 30 El Opinador Compulsivo# 31 Living in the Metaverse# 32 Second Effects# 33 The Electric Sheep Company: Blogs# 34 The ARCH# 35 Corduroy# 36 Men's Second Style# 37 DIP's Dispatches from the Imagination Age# 38 It's Only Fashion# 39 maitreya# 40 Your2ndPlace - Comments# 41 Closet Crisis# 42 casa del shai# 43 CodeBastardRedgrave.Com# 44 Ewing Fashion Agency# 45 Botgirl's Second Life Diary# 46 Ch'know?# 47 Are we not men?# 48 Alliance Virtual Library# 49 Verbal Stew# 50 Hibernia on the Skids# 51 Designing Nicky Ree# 52 3pointD.com# 53 Prim Perfect# 54 The Heliograph# 55 FUTURE-MAKING SERIOUS GAMES# 56 Geta# 57 Be Less Stupid!# 58 Tuli's blog# 59 Girl Wonder Speaks...about Second Life# 60 Soign# 61 Second Arts# 62 Ivalde`s Heim# 63 Kitty Witchin# 64 SL Fashion Notes# 65 SL Fashion Police# 66 Fleur Skins# 67 'Kota's Knickers# 68 :: Dutch Touch :: Outlet - Second Life# 69 M is for Myg# 70 caLLie cLine# 71 An Engine Fit For My Proceeding# 72 Ophelia Drowns# 73 Second Stindberg# 74 CeN's Two Cents# 75 My SLife on the D List# 76 GION PROJECT# 77 CommonSensible# 78 Canimal.# 79 APLINK - itsReal# 80 artilleri# 81 Uma's Style Diary# 82 MindBlizzard blog# 83 Clyde# 84 The News from BardHaven# 85 Ryker Beck dot COM# 86 Reading Radar# 87 Kyoot# 88 Ambling in Second Life# 89 chignon - a Virtual Style Blog# 90 Fashion Consolidated# 91 Second Life of Dreams# 92 Phasing Grace Social Architecture and Virtual Worlds# 93 SL Fashion Avengers# 94 More Than Meets the Eye# 95 SLOG# 96 -Ana Lutetia-# 97 GoSpeed Racer a Second Life Avatar# 98 Brooklyn is Watching# 99 GoSpeed Racer a Second Life Avatar# 100 Through my eyes..# 101 ~silentsparrow~# 102 Long Awkward Pose# 103 Around the Grid# 104 Half Arsed# 105 Tenth Life# 106 SL FASHION DIVA# 107 Dedric Mauriac# 108 Philotic Energy# 109 Fashion Labyrinth# 110 Another blog!# 111 Digital Image# 112 Carissa's Closet# 113 Discursos do Outro Mundo# 114 Dwell On It# 115 Eladrienne's Other Life!# 116 Grid Expectations# 117 Nexeus Fatale# 118 Aspire Model Management# 119 Mui Mukerji# 120 Draconic Kiss# 121 r u n w a y + k i d z# 122 The Realm of the Red Rose# 123 SiniStyle Decapitated# 124 cognitive dissonance# 125 My Second Closet# 126 Radio Riel# 127 Ingmann Design Group# 128 GuRL 6# 129 *ICING* Second Life Vintage inspired Fashions by Miko Omegamu# 130 Koreshan Pointe# 131 SugarCube;Memoirs of Second Life# 132 Veyron's Adventures in Second Life# 133 Looker Lumet# 134 { Zaara }# 135 SLimply the Best# 136 JUICYBOMB All the Juiciest in Second Life!# 137 A Stroll Through Caledon# 138 All Ears in Second Life# 139 Alysha's Second Life# 140 Architecture +# 141 Lucas Lameth (luc) Fashion Jewelry# 142 On Your Toes# 143 starley.com# 144 MONTA# 145 PERSONA's Blog# 146 Business Communicators of Second Life# 147 adam n eve# 148 Fallobst# 149 *AnnaH*# 150 LaBicyclette# 151 Muse Fine Jewelry# 152 Ravishal Ramblings# 153 bijouaholic# 154 Cylindrian's Grace Notes# 155 CronoCloud Creeggan, Virtual Fashionista# 156 Rheta# 157 Studio Wikitecture: Opening Architecture# 158 SLShop-a-holic# 159 Songs from The Nightingale# 160 ~flirt~# 161 Pandora's box# 162 Less Than 3# 163 Whole Lotta Rosie!# 164 Rebel Hope Designs, Inc.# 165 My Digital Double# 166 She's So Unusual# 167 セカンドな日常 - livedoor Blog(ブログ)# 168 SySy's# 169 Tres Blah# 170 UberNoggin# 171 What *IS* Willis Talking About?# 172 Timothy's Second Life Experience# 173 Muism# 174 The Minor Mishaps and Adventures of Skusting Dagger# 175 DARK EDEN PLAZA# 176 Mischief# 177 Second Tense# 178 Royal Blue# 179 Shoshana's Musings# 180 Punch Drunk# 181 What's New ?# 182 Red-Headed Step-Child# 183 Just me, dinee# 184 Alienbear Jewelry Design# 185 MG fashion# 186 Exiled in SL# 187 Mimikri hot couture# 188 Chey's Second Life Blog# 189 Metaversal Arts# 190 Unique Needs!# 191 Aenea's Second Life# 192 Harajuku Box# 193 Refuge# 194 Hey Girlfriend# 195 BEWITCHED HAIR# 196 Virtual Silks and Fantasy Review# 197 All Things Tiessa# 198 Fashionality# 199 How's your world?# 200 PixelDolls...# 201 Second Life Male Style and Fashion# 202 Tori's Blog# 203 Wrath Paine# 204 The Journal of Dr. Darien Mason# 205 House of Nyla# 206 Sascha's Designs - Elegant Ballroom Gowns# 207 Diversity Hair# 208 Lady Adventuress# 209 Loki's musings on first and second life# 210 amiko*amikino# 211 Evans Avenue Exit# 212 The Winged Girl Blog# 213 ShopArmidi.com# 214 Tao's Thoughts on Second Life# 215 glamourazzi# 216 The New Observer# 217 Dot in Second Life# 218 GRIDSTYLE.COM# 219 My Virtual World# 220 Content Confessional# 221 -Analise-# 222 Best of Both Worlds# 223 Poid Mahovlich# 224 Bitter Thorns Blog# 225 First Impressions# 226 KessKreations# 227 Berry's Blog# 228 Designing Insanity# 229 Truth# 230 Virtually Dressed# 231 Diamonds and Rust Podcast# 232 Honour's Post Menopausal View# 233 Alienbear Gupte Virtual Life# 234 *AC Aphrodite Creations*# 235 Inspired - Kawaii Fashion in Second Life# 236 It's A Scaggs Life!# 237 Sin Trenton# 238 Ramblings of a Red Headed Kitten# 239 Second Life: Music, DJs, Nightlife, Art and Creativity# 240 http://snatch-sl.blogspot.com/# 241 Vanity Universe# 242 Virtual Neko in Second Life# 243 Willowing Wisps# 244 iCandy# 245 SLink# 246 STELLAR by Lexi Morgan# 247 The Rummage Box# 248 The Connolly Telegraph# 249 A Second Look# 250 Bliss Beningborough Couture# 251 Experiments with Avatars# 252 Avenue Models# 253 avocatio virtualis# 254 #NAME?# 255 PXL Creations# 256 Ambergris Deadly Fashions# 257 Imperial Elegance# 258 Oh, hush!# 259 Passionate Neko Dreams# 260 ArtsPlace SL# 261 Charity Dogsbody's Booke of Sensible Advice# 262 CONNIE in a SEC# 263 secondguru# 264 The Life of Abigail Raymaker# 265 Fallobst# 266 Zippora's life# 267 Nyte'N'Day Official Blog# 268 The ramblings of Violet# 269 The Winter Market# 270 Y Me digitally encoded genetic machismo# 271 YABU SIM# 272 Proceedings of the Royal Society# 273 Free Speerit# 274 Genevieve Lutetia# 275 Nimil# 276 Second Wave Fashion# 277 Punk Shack# 278 La Sylphide# 279 Emery# 280 Phantom's Republic# 281 Second Life Shopping Sherpa# 282 Beth's Second Life# 283 Decoy# 284 Lo Lo# 285 overcooked# 286 Popfuzz# 287 Shep Korvin - Blog is the new Black# 288 everyday second life# 289 Miss Cornelia Rothschild# 290 Moonshine Clothing# 291 The Lady and The Tramp# 292 Woo's!# 293 Lick, Don't Bite# 294 CREAMSHOP# 295 LF Fashions# 296 Pedro Meya Marty - Agentur f# 297 Second Life Stylewatch# 298 The Dressing Up Box# 299 Vitamin Ci# 300 Crimson Flow# 301 Omega Point A blog by Catherine Winters# 302 Sunn's World# 303 Moggs - a second life# 304 Glamorpuss# 305 Blunt Fashion Sense# 306 L o s t A n g e l . H e a d q u a r t e r s# 307 ma vie d'avatar: ma vie sur second life# 308 SLC# 309 Novocaine# 310 Beta Technologies# 311 IYan Writer in virtual worlds# 312 Little Gems from My Second Life# 313 ::eLDee::# 314 Curious Kitties Island Update Blog# 315 LaynieWear# 316 ::ANA_Mations::# 317 DEVILISH CUPCAKE# 318 Digital Dragon Designs# 319 Digital Eyes# 320 imagendivine.com# 321 Kathar.in# 322 Meet the Petermans# 323 Pix3lizeD Th0ughTs# 324 The Diary of a Caledonian Baroness# 325 500 Year Diary# 326 Accessories by Eolande# 327 Honey Wendt in Second Life# 328 Ingenue# 329 Kabalyero# 330 Solange! Fashions# 331 A Piece of Candy# 332 DragonFly Designs, Inc.# 333 Alphamale# 334 Kryptonia's Weblog# 335 Ai Baroque on Wordpress# 336 DrFran Does SL# 337 I Make HUDDLES# 338 The Fashionable Heart# 339 Eyana Yohkoh's Blog# 340 Metaverse Law# 341 Sensual Designs# 342 Digital Knickers# 343 Mela's# 344 Posh Pride# 345 Ravenwear: The Anti-Trend# 346 Scripter Syndrome# 347 Sio's Second Life# 348 The Cindy Kesey Show# 349 Eloise's thoughts and fancies# 350 Second Life's a Drag!# 351 The Virtual Version# 352 Trudeau Classic Sailing Yachts# 353 Winter Moon# 354 Eclipse# 355 Hairapy# 356 theshadow's Alternative Second Life Fashions# 357 VictoriaV Fashion# 358 Vidal's Dolly Realm# 359 World of IBIZARRE# 360 Aether Chronicles# 361 EarthStones# 362 DollyRock: Second Life Clothes# 363 I'm a Gracie Girl!!# 364 Freda's Fine Fashion Magix# 365 :The Cute Institute# 366 The Bon Mots of Phineas Matova# 367 BijouxOr Gold Jewelry# 368 =^.^= Neko Gear =^.^=# 369 The Excellent Second Life of Chartreuse Muni# 370 [CRAP] Fashion# 371 Awesome Designs# 372 Catt's Creations# 373 Gwendolyn Cassini Creations and Scripts 'r Us# 374 Illuminati Designs Updates# 375 Just fine# 376 MAU's# 377 Niki's Notes# 378 Rustica# 379 SubliminaLuminations# 380 Argent Eyes# 381 CTK# 382 Fashion Predator# 383 Frequency's Oscillations# 384 Jolie's Boutique# 385 Material Squirrel# 386 Ookami Ningen# 387 Ribbons Learns to Swim# 388 Serenity Mercier# 389 comme il faut - by Moire Georgette - virtual fashion# 390 Hexed (Formerly Escape)# 391 Second Life - Notizie e Commenti su Second Life# 392 Second Life Games# 393 Subtle Submission# 394 The Antiquity Gazette# 395 The Chilbo Road Press# 396 Viva La Glam.# 397 Comments for Yxes Muses# 398 Glass Earth# 399 Izzyisms# 400 Livin# 401 Not Your Typical Lady# 402 Project Q/Gematria# 403 SinSkins# 404 SlCoolMag# 405 Soda - Bubbly Fashions# 406 Cala - Transgender in Second Life# 407 2nd Lifer# 408 Mascha Boa's Fashion# 409 Prissy Pixels# 410 Reaction - a Surfers Revolution# 411 *~*HopScotch*~*# 412 Bewitched Designs# 413 Cailyn's - Classic Jewelry# 414 Dings Digital's Diary# 415 First Flower# 416 good deeds of a sailor to be# 417 JetDoll# 418 Kyra's Kloset# 419 Mashooka Designs# 420 pixie dust and tantrums...# 421 Rich Desoto# 422 Second Life at hand# 423 Second Mirage# 424 Selling in Secondlife# 425 Calico Ingmann Creations# 426 enkythings - Virtual High Heels# 427 Larue# 428 Machinations of an Evil Tiny Kitty# 429 Newbe's Steam Powered Blog# 430 Steamjunk# 431 Studio Sidhe# 432 Taunt# 433 TimeForce 10# 434 Tuli's Favorites# 435 !TM Hair Styles by Tami McCoy# 436 Daikon Forge# 437 Liquid Velvet Studio Designs# 438 rosemary galbraith# 439 Second Life Conceptual Creations# 440 The Velvet Room# 441 Torrid Tales of a Compulsive Swooner# 442 AMACCI# 443 FETISH FASHIONISTA# 444 Beq's adventures in second life# 445 Fortunate Productions# 446 A2NZ : When creativity goes global# 447 deadaswe's weblog# 448 Interests of Isolde Flamand# 449 Vignette# 450 ~Serenity Style~# 451 Beats n' Pieces# 452 Burroughs Jewellery and Eyes# 453 Caledon Early Bird Social Club# 454 Dreambits# 455 E.Laval Fine Clothing# 456 Fetch Alternative Blog# 457 Forceme Silverspar's adventures in Second Life# 458 House Of RFyre# 459 INDIRA BEKKERS - Second Life Fashion# 460 Samantha Speaks# 461 sf design - avatar clothing by swaffette Firefly# 462 **THE CLOSET**# 463 Explorations of the White Foxx# 464 Gideon Television Superstar# 465 Iron Raptor# 466 Nicola Escher - Journal# 467 Sparkle-Skye# 468 Tamed Frustration# 469 The Family Jewels# 470 Virtual World Business.com# 471 Warm Winter Nights# 472 Woolly Wildcat Writings# 473 Angie Mornington# 474 For All Your Household Needs# 475 From the Flames# 476 Jana's Classic Designs# 477 Make Money Online With Richard Palace# 478 Marion in Wonderland# 479 Mirrorlabs: Skin Studio Blog# 480 Quarter Life Crisis# 481 Soliel Snook# 482 The Llama's Den# 483 The Second Life Great Expedition# 484 Veronique's Second Life# 485 Wild Thing - Male Clothing# 486 Meta.Live.Nu# 487 Skidz Partz On Secondlife# 488 Contest Central by Impressione# 489 powers of creation# 490 Hair Solutions# 491 MRO SHOW ** LIVE **# 492 secondfluid# 493 :!:Lavish Style:!: by Katy Angel# 494 [Poptart]# 495 Acedia Diary# 496 Asri Falcone Originals# 497 Derek# 498 Diary of an avatar# 499 Elegance Hats# 500 Goto Desoto# 501 LDinSTL says:# 502 Mael's Mindforge# 503 Oh no Crippy Oh# 504 Ordinal's Cabinet of Ephemera# 505 Rave Nation Blog# 506 .: Na# 507 ~KorvinKreations~# 508 A NEKO's LIFE in SL# 509 AudSLife# 510 Balderdash- Bagatelle and Trinketry# 511 Baronial Notations# 512 Diva Designs# 513 Eye Candy Designs# 514 Fae Designs# 515 Fashionably Dead# 516 From The Eye Of The Storm# 517 Frontier's Horizon# 518 Fuel# 519 Ki-Squared# 520 Makeda Cole# 521 Mal Burns Annex# 522 Moriash Moreau: My Second Life# 523 My Second Life is the New First# 524 Paw Prints# 525 RaceSL# 526 sezmra.com# 527 Something Different# 528 SYD: Style Your Destiny# 529 Taffy Apple Designs# 530 Tea Monster# 531 Through the filter of a Victorian Aesthetic# 532 TorridWear# 533 trash palace - electronic music club# 534 Treasured Visions# 535 Tully in Second Life# 536 Tweaktocracy# 537 Violet Voltaire# 538 Wildefire Walcott's Mistressy Musings# 539 Your Godless Goddess# 540 Anti Cute Clothing Second Life# 541 BiancaF# 542 Brigid Ashwood Fantasy Artist# 543 Caliburn Susanto# 544 Essentia# 545 Handbags# 546 Mannon's Fashion# 547 Mircat# 548 Mollster's# 549 OOpS# 550 Random Acts of Style# 551 Return to Secondlife# 552 Ships of the Line# 553 Khaos Klub Information Website# 554 Blog of House of Lu; Paper Couture# 555 Caliente Express# 556 celtgrrl# 557 Ephemeral Creations# 558 Flower and Willow# 559 ICoN# 560 Inside Second Life# 561 Life by Proxy# 562 Made for No Reason# 563 Metaverse Week in Review# 564 Miriel in the Metaverse# 565 newly born# 566 NPSL: Nonprofits in Second Life# 567 Riven's Nest# 568 Savoir Hair# 569 Second Life Blogosphere# 570 Second Life Fashion Addict# 571 Second Spice# 572 ShenS Blog# 573 Skin Within# 574 Stella's Mall on Stella Isle# 575 Sweetest Sin# 576 Technopaideia# 577 The Agile Mind# 578 the Artists' tea party# 579 The Source of Power# 580 Trin's Tantrums# 581 Voodoo Style# 582 Welcome to the Train-Wreck Love Life# 583 Women of Second Life# 584 Yoshino's Second life blog# 585 Zagoskin Haute Couture

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Saturday, February 28, 2009

IBM still diggs Metaverse

Earlier this week I wrote about Ian Hughes departure from IBM. So did half of the blogosphere. Sillicon Valley Insider also thought about what's next for IBM:

Earlier this week, we wondered if the departure of IBM's (IBM) "Metaverse Evangelist" means the company is scaling back its interest in virtual worlds and Second Life. We haven't heard much from the group in months, which only added to our speculation. IBM reps finally got back to us, and they let us know they're still in there

Read the full article here. The question however, is not if they still digg the metaverse, but if they still grog it.

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Edge and Beyond: Predator on the loose

In the past three years or so, the world of Second Life, and probably half of the entire Metaverse have been propelled and fueled by the power of IBM. In Second Life they have had over fifty island for example which shone like a beacon to other companies. Half of the projects in the Metaverse seemed to have a blue streak to it. The Metaversal force of IBM was not the 6,000 strong community in Second Life, or the weight of the 300K employees worldwide or the assumed millions of dollars they brought in. All this time it has been the energy of a single supernova that's been feeding the edge IBM had in the Metaverse.

This supernova in the Metaverse is the 2008 Virtual World Innovation Award winner Ian Hughes , or better known as epredator. This digital predator has hunted virtual worlds by the score, grabbing the available technology, devouring it and has been an inspiration to many people out their. Last monday Ian left Big Blue after a tour of duty lasting 18 years in search of new territories and a new prey. Ian announced his resignation on the Eightbar blog.

Today is a day of mixed emotions. Today I resigned from IBM having been there for 18 years, 19 if you count my year out from university.In all that time I have worked with some great people, and felt a tremendous sense of belonging.

Its been quite a journey, both in technical education and in personal growth. It is the extent of that growth and the speed that has not always been kept up to pace with by the system that I worked within.

Not surprisingly, the predator has already set his teeth into a new project and launched Feeding Edge, a consultancy company which is "Taking a bite on new technology so you don't have to". I have no doubt that the immense drive, the sheer energy and enormous creativity of Ian will get the Feeding Edge up and running.


From this place, Ian, I wish you all the best.

One tip though, at IBM you had the weight of an immense company, with all its rules and regulations holding you back. Be carefull that, as you're on your own now, you don't rush out as an avalanche thundering through the metaverse at lightning speed without us keeping up.

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Friday, December 12, 2008

A Cool Virtual Yule

It's that time of year again, not only in this world, but the entire metaverse is gearing up for christmas. Time to put up the Christmas Tree and turn on the snow on Sogeti island in Second Life.
Here are some images from other virtual worlds getting ready for christmas:


Christmas in Runescape

Christmas in Club Pinguin

The worlds largest 3D chat, IMVU, is known for heavily advertising its service throughout the web, so small wonder they've put up special christmas ads.
Christmas in World of Warcraft


Through email I received a christmas teaser from Twinity

Also in the World of Entropia things are getting dressed up for christmas. In the Entropia Forum (clothing section) I found a number of christmas pants, jackets and hats.

No doubt christmas will be celebrated in more worlds. Please send your images to veejay [at] mindblizzard [dot] com to have your christmas posted here and a link to your site.

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Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Meta Crunch Continues: Reuters bails out too

After the global Credit Crunch, recession kicks in in the metaverse as well. We've seen this one coming a year ago though. After the media hype in 2006/2007 brought dozens of companies into the virtual world of Second Life, the brain drain started in august 2007 when wanna be hotshot marketeers failed to digg how Virtual Worlds worked and companies bailed out of their virtual ventures.

Last week we saw Google pull the plug on its shortlived Lively project and this week saw the bankrupcy of Sun, a Japanese Second Life development company and the Register reports that Reuters pulling out their embedded reporter Adam Pasick. The Reuters Second Life website has been silent since september 30th. This probably won't be a big surprise. The buzz in and around Second Life has died down over the past months. Even I find it hard to find Second Life related news to blog and am straying away to other worlds and I'm not the only one. Here's a selection of my former reading list:

  • Ambling in Second Life has been quiet for four weeks now.
  • Digado has been dead for two months as well.
  • The Belgian Second Life Crew has made its last post in July.
  • Second Life Blogo, once operated by Second Life Development Company Lost in the Magic Forest has even ceased to exist.
  • Dutch SL Community site NL0031 (formerly known as Second Life NL) has been silent since July.

A number of CEO's from virtual worlds have said to me that Second Life may have done the Virtual World industry a bad service while trying to ride that wave of media and corporate attention which now results in not just a fading hype, but the start of a real Meta Crunch. They may have a point, but in my opinion this is a needed shake-out. The space is getting too overpopulated with hundreds of startups trying to get a piece of the pie without bringing innovation into the arena. We've passed the "Yet another Social Network" stadium and moved into the "yet Another Social World" phase. Somehow the picture of the "Dungeon Master" came to mind, a wise old game-guide. We might need one to show us the way in the Metaverse and help us out of trouble.

It's turning into a grim story now, with the Metaverse being sucked up into a black hole. The universe had a big bang, exploded, expanded and now contracts again and diminishes into yet another very very niche market. Chris Williams at The Register put it quite boldly:

Last one to leave, turn off the flying penis

I don't think it is that drastic. It's time for a good old shakedown. Get rid of the cowboys that dream of getting rich faster than you can make instant coffee. There's tons of schools, universities and other institutions out there in the Metaverse (including Second Life) who are still exploring, still paving the way for the masses in finding cool, real and usefull applications of Virtual World technology. We just have to be patient. Explore, accept failure, rejoice in small victories. Keep it going. We'll get there, but have a long road ahead in which we must innovate.

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Sunday, September 21, 2008

New Metapage: SL Shop Directory


On the main MindBlizzard website I've created the MetaPages a while back which basically is a list of links to virtual worlds, metaverse development companies and the well know RL Brandlist of Real Life companies in Second Life.

This weekend I've made a start with a new page; the SL Shop Directory, which now is a list of about 140 links to websites of well known Second Life shops.

As usual, updates to the list are welcome, through reply on this blogpost, but better yet, why not register at the MindBlizzard website and be able to suggest links directly.

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Friday, August 22, 2008

Why Virtual Worlds don't work....yet (part 1)

Two years ago I jumped enthusiastically into the Metaverse, with Second Life booming and media were eager to cover every company entering this particular Virtual World. The past year we've discovered -too the disappointment of many - that we were living the Gartner Hypecycle curve. At the close of 2007 I've pondered what was going on and what the challenges for 2008 would be. Due to family circumstances I've stepped back from the Metaverse for almost 6 months now and found some time to reflect on the industry. The title of this blogpost has been in my head for months, but only recently I was triggered to actually start writing it.

Virtual World Innovation

The trigger was the announcement of the Virtual World Newsforum and VW Conference Organisation announcing the introduction of the Virtual World Innovation Award. Although my good friend Christian Renaud (CEO TechIntelGroup) is on the jury, I have to be sceptical if I look deep down into my heart.

The thing is... There hasn't been any real innovation in this business for years.

Innovation in my book is a big thing. New breakthrough technology, new insights, exciting new products. When I look at the Virtual World Industry I see a whole lot going on. I see hundreds of new startups over the past year but truth is, I don't see real innovation there, despite the billions of dollars invested into the industry. If I were to nominate candidates for the Virtual World Innovation Award, there would be only three true Metarati: Neil Stephenson, Tad Williams and Ron Britvich , the guy from WebWorlds.

Stephenson, Gibson & Williams

Neil Stephenson is an obvious candidate. In the early 90's he wrote the novel 'Snowcrash' in which he pretty much invented the metaverse. I doubt there is anyone questioning the nomination of Neil Stephenson. A second name, often mentioned in the same breath, is William Gibson, author of the cyberpunk classic 'Neuromancer'. 'Neuromancer' was innovation, it was the start of cyberpunk, but it doesn't deal with the Metaverse, so despite popular believe, I wouldn't count Gibson in with the Metarati but rather fill that spot with the nomination of Tad Williams, author of the 'Otherland' series.

Both the novel 'Snowcrash' and the 'Otherland' series have created the image of the Metaverse and still hold some very interesting ideas, key elements that in my opinion could well open up a new window on Virtual Worlds. From these works we can learn what might work and what won't. Although both are quite dystopian in their full setting (a thing that happens a lot with novels dealing in the future), they do hold a promise, and in their dystopic setting a warning at the same time.

Dawn of the Virtual Worlds

Aside from the ideas presented by Stephenson and Williams, the first breakthrough in the field was in 1994 when Ron Brevitch created WebWorlds, predecessor of Active Worlds.

In the summer 1994, Ron Britvich created WebWorld, the first 2.5D world where tens of thousands could chat, build and travel. WebWorld operated on the Peregrine Systems Inc. servers as an 'after hours' project until Britvich left the company to join Knowledge Adventure Worlds (KAW) in the fall of that year.

In February 1995, KAW spun off their 3D Web division to form the company Worlds Inc. Britvich was eventually joined by several other developers, and the renamed "AlphaWorld" continued to develop as a skunk works project at Worlds Inc, internally competing with a similar project known internally as Gamma and publicly as Worlds Chat. While AlphaWorld was developing a strong cult following due in large part to Britvich's open philosophy of favoring user-built content, Worlds, Inc. favored Gamma for the company produced contract projects for Disney and others.

On June 28, 1995, AlphaWorld was renamed Active Worlds (from Active Worlds Explorer) and officially launched as version 1.0. Around this time, Circle of Fire (CoF) was formed to create content for the Active Worlds universe. This company played a pivotal role in the future of the product. [Wikipedia]

The creation of WebWorlds was innovation. Everything we've seen between 1995 and 2008 is merely spin off.

In this series of articles I'll try to explain why I haven't seen any real innovation and why I call everything since WebWorlds a mere spin-off, What the challenges of NVE's will be for the (near) future and why Virtual Worlds don't work yet.

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Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Reviews on Hypecycle Keynote

It's always nice to get quoted, or get good critics. Yesterday I stubled upon two articles on a presentation I did back in February this year. It was at the Virtual Worlds convention at the Hogeschool van Utrecht, where I held a presentation on how virtual worlds are subject to Gartners Hypecycle and how to navigate the hype.

First article is from a well established blog, TweePuntNul (2 dot 0) and reads:

Door middel van een analyse met de zogenaamde “hype cycle” werd Second Life als case besproken. Het blijkt dat Second Life nu in de Enlightment-fase zit, na een periode van teleurstelling. Een zeer uitgebreide analyse die in een korte tijd werd gegeven.

Aan deze twee keynotes zullen we aparte posts besteden, aangezien ze zeer de moeite waard zijn. Simpelweg omdat de rest van de keynotes voor ons oude koeien waren, en we denken dat deze ook voor de gemiddelde TPN-lezer zullen zijn.

In English it comes down to this:

VeeJay gave a very extensive analysis of virtual worlds in a very short
time. This keynote will get a dedicated blogpost instead of a summary as this
one was very interesting

The second one is from Rico DB blog on Marketing and Communications thought the presentation I gave was a very clarifying view of the future of VW's as it wrote :

Johan Vermij van Sogeti presenteerde een verhelderende visie op het voortbestaan van de Virtual Worlds.

The article (in Dutch) has a pretty good summary of the keynote I did.

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Friday, May 09, 2008

Dutch Banker goes Supermodel

Dutch Triple A rated bank Rabobank has been fiddling around with gadgets, widgets and virtual worlds a lot in the past years. Their first metaversal experience came from Why Robbie Rocks and in april 2008 the bank hit the typical avatar-based 'girlworld' goSupermodel targeted at a 12 to 17 year old audience, loosely styled like Habbo Hotel.

goSupermodel has about 250.000 unique visitors a month, which log in about 200 times a month and spend 22 minutes each session. Rabobank has launched a chatbot, called Yvette. Through the chatbot Yvette you can ask questions about finance. This financial coach is also reachable through SMS, MSN, Hyves and Live-spaces.

Actual numbers from the first week of operation are promising:
  • 5.881 mails to Yvette
  • 25.901 chatsessions with the girls
  • 44.305 visits to the Rabobank office

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Civilisation IV - Beyond the Sword

Not feeling in the mood to explore the Metaverse, I've spend some time playing the latest Civilisation game, one of my old time favorites.


The first Civilisation game (which came in a 3 floppy disk edition) was an instant classic when it hit the market in 1991. I remember playing the game untill way past bedtime during college. This first edition was of course pretty basic in graphics and gameplay. You had a world, a number of civilisations you could play and so on. After a little while Civilisation II hit the market, and Sid Meier started exploring new Civilisations. This 2nd edition centered in the near east, primarily adding the Carthagens to the game. I really missed out on the big world map so I was happy when Civ III was released and we were back to normal gameplay again.

Civilisation IV (by Firaxis Games) is the 2005 release of the game and has been severely upgraded, not only in graphics, but also in a number of other areas:

The concept of religion is new to Civilization IV, where in previous games players built generic temples and cathedrals to contribute to happiness and culture. There are now seven distinct religions in the game: Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism and Taoism. Each religion is associated with a specific technology on the tech tree; the first civilization that gains the technology founds the religion. The four later religions (Christianity, Confucianism, Islam, and Taoism) begin with a free Missionary unit for reasons of game balance; missionaries can later be trained at a city that has constructed an associated monastery. Other than this, there are no special traits or bonuses associated with any particular religion
in order to avoid controversy.

Religion factors into a number of existing game mechanics. Civilizations that share a common state religion will find themselves more agreeable in their diplomatic dealings; conversely, civilizations with differing state religions will not be as close diplomatically. The religion's founder may also receive an economic benefit: if that civilization expends a Great Prophet at their religion's holy (founding) city, they will construct that religion's most sacred building, and it will generate 1 gold per turn for every
other city that hosts said religion. Once a religion has spread to a city, there is no way to remove it from said city. Finally, if a civilization has a state religion and owns that religion's holy city, they will receive 'line-of-sight' in every other city hosting that religion.

The new civics model of government also has a strong effect on religion. Players can found a state religion, declare religious freedom, restrict non-state religious adoption, or take other actions that have profound impacts on the religious lives of their subjects. These civics can provide a great incentive to spread a state religion throughout one's empire, as the best bonuses will only be applied to cities in which the religion is present." (Wikipedia)

Another new feature of the game is that you've got more civilisations to chose from, and a number of civilisations have more than one leader to choose from, each with their special traits and special units.



The main concept of the game is to build your nation: explore, found new cities and build them into little paradises for your population. In Civ - IV there are a ton of new buildings to build, like groceries, forges, drydocks etcetera.




An important gamefeature is the ability to build World Wonders. These wonders bring extra happiness, culture, productivity or other benefits to your nation. In Civ IV the number of world wonders has been expanded drastically as well. There are new additions such as the Statue of Liberty, the Eiffel Tower, and a whole range of religious and Asiatic world wonders.




When you work your way through history, it's unavoifable to run into a war at times. In this case I got dragged into a war two times because vassal nations decided to hammer eachother, drawing me in as well. Fortunately, World wonders such as the United Nations, or the Apostolic Palace give you tools to declare worldwide peace soon enough.



In the early Civilisation editions the world was cramped. You had to expand fast to secure your place in history. To speed up your development it's vital to share knowledge with your neigbours before trying to reinvent the wheel everytime yourself. In the old games, you had to have a little luck there, it largely depended on which continent you landed on. Sometimes, the civs on the other content had a faster development rate and you fell behind. In Civ IV every civilisation starts on the same continent, and there's a second continent (If you play world-like map) called "The New World" which has to be discovered and colonised as well.


Not being a big fan of "Shoot 'em up" games, I prefer to win by technological dominance, rather than destroying my opponents. This time I was way ahead of the competition and started building my spaceship when the neighbouring countries were researching how to build Railroads. On earlier occasions, the spacerace was a closely contested project and needed numerous sabotage efforts to stop the competition for achieving this victory before me.



And victory is there... We've gone where no man has gone before and started a colony. Here ends the 'Normal' Civilisation game, now let's have a look at the "Beyond the Sword" expansion pack.



This release of Civilisation comes with a number of expansion packs, such as "Warlords" and "Beyond the Sword" which bring a number of new features to the game as well as a range of scenario's to play.

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Saturday, March 29, 2008

Brussels Airlines: Subtle and Smart

Hundreds of companies are trying to understand the Metaverse and find a use for 3D environments that has meaning to their business. Most of them have failed... for now.

Last year I stumbled upon the website and blog B-Places, which basically is a guide to the toprated places in Second Life. Second Life residents rate the places they've visited and the website shows the sims to visit. An excellent move, even more so if you know that B-Places is powered by Brussels Airlines, a Belgian airliner.

The B-Places formula fits neatly into the corporate communications which uses the B-.... terminology a lot (see inset of b-flex economy) and what do you do when you're an airliner and get down to the Metaverse?

Exactly, an airline's core business is to bring people from place to place. In the virtual world however, you don't need transportation. You can just teleport. Airliners have become obsolete. Yet Brussels Airlines knows that bringing people from place to place is just a means to a goal. It is actually about people going to destinations. So if you can't do the transportation part, focus on the destinations. That's exactly what the B-Places directory does.

Here's a short promovid on YouTube:




Here's a snapshot of the website:


Toprated places in Second Life are the Botanical Gardens, but also Rezzable's Greenies and the Caribbean are among the citizens favorites. To me this is a very succesful and creative way to experiment with virtual worlds. It isn't outright branding, but subtle and smart.

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Friday, March 21, 2008

More more more worlds

After writing on the new Beta launches for RipLounge and Magi Nation I noticed a number of posts over at the KZero blog which also report on new teenworlds getting ready for launch. What is it these days that one after the other company releases their world?

The answer is probably very simple. A number of these worlds have been targeted to open up in 'early 2008' and didn't make the deadline in januari, but the prime reason for this sudden onrush is the Virtual World Conference, the industry's largest stage for promotion. The spring edition of the conference will be held in New York from 3 - 4 april and has a dedicated track for Kid and Teen Worlds.

Lego Universe

One of the most interesting new releases probably is the Lego Universe. Most interesting probably because of old-times-sake; Which one of us didn't grow up with Lego? KZero adds:

"Maybe they’ll also launch a Technical Lego version for us older kids"







Cartoon Network: Fusion Fall

Next in-line is a Cartoon Network release named Fusion Fall. You'd expected this one to spring next fall, but its scheduled for release this Spring.... maybe they've got their seasons fused.








Build a Bear

The youngest segment of the market, the under 10s also is a highly competative corner of the industry. Largest in this segment is NeoPets and now there's a bear world: Build a Bear Ville.







The Build a Bear world has the advantage that it already has a number of fans out there in the real world, as the brand has been around for some 10 years now.

Since 1997, at Build-A-Bear Workshop® we have created a safe place where your child can play, express their creativity and use their imagination. Please be assured that we bring these same qualities you value and trust about Build-A-Bear Workshop in the real world into our new virtual world of
buildabearville.com™

In this competative market it will be very hard for a truly new kid on the block to make a major stand, and it may well be that this will be the way to go for a number of 'established' toy companies.

VizWoz

Last in Line this week is another fuzzy name: VizWoz. It's probably best to quote KZero at this one:

"With phrases such as ‘the next big virtual community’, ‘Set to become the most dynamic virtual world’ and ‘virtual reality in its most realistic form’ Vizwoz sounded like a pretty exciting place"


But then the presentation went a little wrong...

So, I turned up and logged in at 4.55pm to beat the rush. First impressions, a standard 2.5d flash-based UI with click and glide avatar customisation. Ok, so what’s the differentiator here? How does this world plan to stand out from the (growing) number of MMOG’s and VW’s aimed at kids? What’s the revenue model? And where is everyone else?

I was given the wrong URL, no big deal. So, a quick logout and login took me back. The founder was set to arrive at 5 to give a tour of Vizwoz. Excellent I thought. And a chance to ask some questions beforehand. Even better. I managed
to ask five questions before he had to leave.

  1. What’s the target age range? Dan said 11 - 14. I actually asked this question to the PR agency before hand and they said 7 -14.
  2. What’s the gender split from the beta? 47% boys
  3. How many people were on the beta? 5,000.
  4. What’s the business model? Premium, was the answer. Premium what?

My fifth question was the one I was most interested in - differentiation. I managed to ask it but unfortunately Dan had to leave at this point. This was a shame, but one should remember that the site had just gone live to the public.
He did briefly give me the answer of ‘have you seen the GUI?’. Yes, I saw it, but that’s not differentiation - it’s a means to an end. The overall experience is good, it’s smooth and the interface works well but I still a feeling of something missing.

Read the rest of the KZero review here.

I guess we'll have to see how it turns out, but making a first impression like this might end any chance of success even before the world actually sees the light of day.

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RIPlounge moves into Beta

Earlier this week I got word that there's yet another Virtual World to be launched into beta. This time it's Riplounge. Now, I've been getting used to typical web 2.0 names like flickr, tumblr, xing and ning and so on, and virtual worlds do have their own peculiarities when it comes to finding an available url.... but RipLounge ?


You may think "Quod Nomen Est," but Riplounge. It immediately has several associations, like R.I.P. and Rip off, but that will probably not be the intend of the producers, Wyndstorm Corporation. If you look at the the typography in RipLounge and note the capitalised RL.

With this new platform Wyndstorm is trying to add more social web 2.0 functionality to the realm of NVE's, and thus make the crossover from the Metaverse to RL (real life), perhaps that explains the naming and typography. This is a sound business plan in itself. 3D Social Networking will be the mashup for the next few years. The question is, will it work out in riplounge?

RipLounge opened up for beta signup this week (and so I registered) and is to open early april. The only thing we've got to go by is the promo video out on the web:



Riplounge.com Demo - video powered by Metacafe

It's a little early to tell which way it's gonna go, but judging from the promo I'd say Virtual World is a big word. It looks more like your avatar will be confined in a limited number of rooms, much like Stagespace for instance.

The world is set up around music and clubs, and is aimed at the more grown-up audience in the range of 25 to 35 year olds. Year end 2007 we saw an enormous increase and focus for (girl) teen worlds, and RipLounge is setting itself a difficult challenge as this agegroup is much more critical and not easily satisfied with a few gimmicks. In this agegroup the world has to attain some level of persistance. RipLounge promises to showcase independent music artists and offers advertisers “in-scene” advertising in order to attempt this persistance.

From a graphics point of view RipLounge doesn't seem to offer new and improved stuff either, probably best described by Tech Crunch:

"Having not yet tested the service it would be perhaps unfair to make an assessment based on the demo video, however why avatars waddle around like penguins in each scene was not made clear. Maybe it’s a special feature…or maybe not."

However, within the limited are (judging from what we have now) and the quality of the graphics, RipLounge will have a mountain to climb to grab a bit of the market.

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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Life 2.0 in Wonderland

One of the prime Technology events is Dr. Dobbs Life 2.0 Conference. Today saw a series of talks in Second Life as well. Unfortunately I didn't have time to drop in. The good thing was that I was kept up to date through the Metanomics group IM on today's keynote;

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

9:00 AM PDT - 10:00 AM PDTKEYNOTE:
Project Wonderland - 3D Toolkit for Building Virtual Worlds. Nicole Yankelovich, Principal Investigator, Collaborative Environments Project, Sun Microsystems Laboratories

Project Wonderland is an open source toolkit for building 3D virtual worlds for business and education collaboration. Within a Wonderland virtual! world, p s, interact with team members, and have chance encounters with colleagues, all using natural voice interaction. Most importantly, real work can be accomplished with Wonderland's support of X and Java applications as well as innovative telephone integration. With application sharing as the default, people can create, edit, and share documents within the virtual world.

Wonderland is built on top of the Project Darkstar game server platform, which provides enterprise-grade scalability, reliability, and flexible integration with other enterprise systems.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Surprisingly enough, synchronisity strikes again. Thursday I have to give a presentation on collaboration and project management in Virtual Worlds, and one of the options I will discuss is the Wonderland project as it is one of the most advanced platforms when it comes to collaboration at this point in time, I think.

Perhaps we have to clarify a bit on the names used, as it sometimes causes some confusion.

  • Darkstar: (also referred to as project ~) The game server platform which is the foundation of the technology
  • Wonderland: (or project ~) The open source virtual world produced by Sun, which is built on top of the Darkstar platform.
  • MPK20: The wonderland version Sun uses as its own private development VW.


Some bits and pieces on Darkstar / Wonderland from the speech:

Darkstar permits users to participate in one space without sharding. In addition to Darkstar they use jVoiceBridge for audio. It also permits interacting with telephone systems. They are also trying to get their artwork to be open source or CCL. Part of Wonderland includes collaboration capability that can be extended to enterprise software.It can interact with business data. Darkstar also scales down...an instance with 2-3 users can run on a laptop

There are external worlds live today: and some coming up fairly soon. They have tested some already. Small wonder; Wonderland is not planned to interact with SL... However, except maybe in the interoperability space (transportable avatars, etc.) and they will cooperate as much as possible.


For a complete schedule of the Dr. Dobbs Life 2.0 conference in Second Life click here.
More info on the Wonderland click here.

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Mercedes (B) Enz SL Adventure

In skimming the blogosphere a post caught my eye, which read: Mercedes-Benz ends Second Life test run with positive findings.

The article in question was posted earlier today on the Mercedes Benz SL blog which had been quiet since august 2007. Seeing the inactivity at the blog for the last 7 months, this isn't a big surprise, but it doesn't mean Mercedes has been inactive in Second Life during these months.



The remarkable thing that they end their test run with positive findings. The blog reads:

"A little over a year, Mercedes-Benz opened its dedicated presence in the virtual world of ‘Second Life’. Since the launch of the brand’s virtual island, we won several vital insights and received plenty of positive feedback, especially for our unique communications policy. Over the course of the year, our brand avatar ‘Mercedes Milestone’ led more than 10,000 inspired dialogues.

We truly enjoyed developing this new, innovative communications platform and would like to extend our thanks to all those who visited Mercedes-Benz Island and demonstrated interest in our virtual outpost.

Our ‘Second Life’ stint will draw to an end on March 18th 2008 – as of this day, you will no longer be able to access Mercedes-Benz Island. This brief and exciting foray into virtual communities brought us several essential realisations and the conviction that 3D worlds play a vital role as engaging communication channels. We will continue to monitor this theme and keep you updated on any new developments."


Well, Mercedes has new insights. Good for them. It is still a withdrawal from a virtual world, and the umpteenth withdrawal from Second Life which makes it very clear that companies still have a very hard time in making a usefull and persistent presence in a virtual world and that Second Life desperately needs to improve if it wants to play a role as a business platform.

Since august 2006 Second Life has been the premier platform for companies to start experimenting with the Metaverse, which worked for a year or so. It's key attraction point has been the relatively low cost its ease of building and its economy. Due to this immersion Second Life has seen an enormous growth between august 06 and august 07. Since august 07 the corporate exodus has begun as the initial advantages are getting outweighed by its disadvantages, such as:

  • Lack of security
  • Lack of real collaboration tools
  • Lack of interfaces

Take heed Linden Lab

No doubt Linden Lab will state that they're not worried by the exodus of companies. There's still hundreds left, and more coming. Yet these initial pioneers have greatly aided in the growth of Second Life with the attention they received. Linden Lab is probably focussing on making a better world, but if they can't provide for these companies, if they can't make the tools work that companies need then there's only one conclusion possible:

Second Life will degrade to being just another pimped 3D chatroom, a game with bad graphics or a chaotic placeholder for a surplus of user generated content no one needs.

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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Big Blue starts to Jam

Blue Note is one of the well known Jazz labels in the world. Now it's Big Blue that starts to Jam. Last week I received an email by IBM's Rick Reesen with an update on Jazz, Open Sim and lots of other stuff. I never got round to blogging it , but as IBM's "Power Up" has been hitting the blogoshpere in the past days I'm going out of sync.

The most blogged IBM event was the launch of "Power Up - the Game" which basically is a game about powering up, i.e. energy.

Power up is an educational world, named Helios (Greek for Sun - no competition intented probably) for teens with a focus on energy and climate Al-Gorish hypes. Teens can explore and work in this virtual plant to save the us all from disaster.

A more interesting release though was the opening of Jazz which basically is a software development project, which was publically announced at January 14:

ARMONK, NY - 14 Jan 2008: IBM (NYSE: IBM) today unveiled new software and research innovations aimed at improving the way employees across an organization collaborate in a globally integrated enterprise.

The challenges of globalization are forcing companies to become more nimble, using an increasingly geographically-dispersed and virtual workforce to remain competitive. In the world of software development, this means 24x7 collaboration with specialized teams around the globe to pick up where another left off. IBM is also examining
how virtual worlds can help software development teams break down the barriers caused by globalization.

IBM is announcing it is opening up its development platform based on Web 2.0 technologies for developers to collaborate and contribute to software under development at www.Jazz.net. Jazz.net is an open, commercial community designed to help companies globally and transparently collaborate on the development of Jazz-based technology.

More on Jazz (such as a promo) can be found in Second Life on IBM's codestation.

IBM's involvement in the Metaverse:

Somehow I keep running into IBM-ers working with virtual worlds in some way or the other. It doesn't matter if it's a Sogeti event or a VW Seminar or Symposium, but they're always there... and they're evangelising the metaverse. Some have asked me if I know what their budget is. Somewhere I picked up a figure of 100 million USD, but no doubt it's huge.

The IBM SL community holds about 6.000 members, which is impressive. What I've learned though is that only a few of these are paid to explore the metaverse and that the vast majority consists of enthusiasts which contribute in their spare time, which puts it all into perspective. For companies like mine (Sogeti) or Capgemini, most of the virtual world attention and development is still a spare time excercise of enthusiasts trying to figure out ways for their employers to coin in, or find meaningfull use of metaverses. Taking in the total population of IBM worldwide, one might even say that Sogeti's community in Second Life is even bigger (percentage wise) with over 90 members in a total of 3.000 employees in the Netherlands. Alas we don't have full time funding as ABN Amro has had over the past year.

UgoTrade

One last thing that is nagging me about the email I received is the mention of the UgoTrade blog as a reference. I've been reading Tish's blog over the past year with great pleasure as she really writes good indepth stories on technology in Virtual Worlds. But when companies like IBM start to use it as a base of reference for their work in VW's I'm getting a wee bit hesitant.

Tish, please don't turn into a corporate blogger....

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Saturday, January 26, 2008

It's Corey's Turn

MyTurn is the name of a new metarati column on the Virtual World News site. Yesterday it was Multiverse Executive Producer and Co-Founder Corey Bridges' turn, and he was pretty bold and blunt.

"This is no time to go wobbly," Margaret Thatcher once famously said. That's especially pertinent advice right now. Second Life and its owner Linden Lab are going through tough times. And, nascent as the virtual world industry is, many
people confuse it with Second Life itself. To the less informed (and even to some people in our industry who should know better), Linden's current difficulties speak directly to the viability of the medium of virtual worlds.

They're wrong, of course; for those of us who work on other worlds and platforms, business has never been better."

True, Second Life has gotten more media attention than any other world and it has entered the hypecycle ahead of the flock, but I'm sure other social online worlds will start to experience this in the coming year. The more storyplay or gameplay a world has, the less affected it will be by this hype though.

"Here's some of the news that should make us all bullish on the future of our industry: according to a recent Forrester Research report, in a mere five years virtual worlds will be just as important to businesses as the Web; the ever-staid Gartner Research predicts that in four years 80% of Internet users will have avatars; and, as a sign of industry maturity, there are now many participants in each market segment of our industry--from platforms to service agencies to users of all stripes."

That's not the whole truth there Corey. Gartner has adjusted that prophesy in later researches and also, the Forrester Research report (as discussed here) also drops a few stitches.

"But it's undeniable that dark clouds have gathered over Second Life and some of the companies that have relied on it. I don't think I need to recount all the ominous stories from the last few months, but the bottom line is that many
companies and consumers are now avoiding that world. Linden Lab is going through some internal turmoil and may be on the verge of lean times itself. Even staunch Second Life cheerleader IBM has people wondering if it's hedging its bets by
mocking virtual worlds (the second article)."

Except for calling ePredator a cheerleader (can someone photoshop this?) I pretty much agree. However, I don't read Corey's column as the words of a thoughtleader in the industry. While naming a few very valid points, its tone is too agitated in my humble opinion.

Electric Sheep Company COO Giff Constable jumps on the train and steps up in defence of Linden Lab (never bite the hand that feeds you):

"It is true that Linden Lab has quite a list of challenges ahead of them: general stability, performance and usability issues… they are handcuffed by early architectural decisions (physics on the server rather than the client; many artificial constraints that limit flexibility such a sim size, spatial privacy, group limits, etc; the performance hit that comes with prims; enforced last names; centralized asset server; a limited and laggy scripting system, etc). They have announced many technical improvements with great potential but which never made it into production. Linden Lab also has many strengths, some of which I laid out here, and I think they will be around for a good while yet. Their platform has weaknesses, but it has some unique selling points which cannot be dismissed."

Giff has to conclude that Corey has a point though:

"I agree with the root of Corey’s message, however, which is that the virtual worlds industry is not in crisis. There is a lot of interest out there, and many really exciting projects."

I really hope ESC's portfolio is filled to the brim, but I doubt it as they laid off 20% of their employees just before Christmas. True, the NVE industry is not in crisis, social worlds have taken on a challenge to prove themselves fit for business.

I fully agree with Corey's last lines though:

"But the medium is much larger than any one company. To use another British turn of phrase (I've been doing a lot of business in the U.K.), "Keep calm and carry on."

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Friday, January 25, 2008

Real Work in Virtual Worlds

One of the questions that have crossed my mind a lot in the last year is on how to make virtual worlds fit for business. So when I received Forrester's thoughts on this in the report "Getting Real Work Done In Virtual Worlds" (January 7, 2008) I was anxious to know how they would answer the question.




Here's the Executive Summary:

"Virtual worlds like Second Life, There.com, and more business-focused offerings are on the brink of becoming valuable work tools. Major companies and public-sector organizations — such as BP, IBM, Intel, and the US Army — are investing heavily in virtual world technologies. But it’s still early, pioneering days. You’ve practically got to be a gamer to use most of these tools — setup can bearduous, navigating in a 3-D environment takes practice, and processing and bandwidth requirements remain high. But within five years, the 3-D Internet will be as important for work as the Web is today.

Information and knowledge management professionals should begin to investigate and experiment with virtual worlds. Use them to try to replicate the experience of working physically alongside others; allow people to work with and share digital 3-D models of physical or theoretical objects; and make remote training and counseling more realistic by incorporating nonverbal communication into same-time, different-place interactions."

For me, the Executive Summary doesn't answer the question. The summary doesn't provide answers to how we should go about business in virtual worlds and why it is important. The table of contents holds a good promise though:

  1. Much Of Today’s Technology Leaves Communication Problems Unsolved
  2. Now Entering: Virtual Worlds As A Real Business Tool
  3. Virtual Worlds Can Reduce Costs And Improve The Work Experience
  4. Lots Of Fantastic Efforts Are Going On “In World”
  5. What’s Holding The Business Use Of Virtual Worlds Back?

You can find the Executive Summary and order the full report here.

To get into a little more detail: The problems of today's technology are challenges, such as working together in real time while in seperate locations, expenses and climate stress while traveling to conferences and events and training on complex equipment and hazardous environments are topics that could well be adressed by virtual worlds.

However, the future of Virtual Workspaces is not in naming the obvious. I think there won't be many people that see a 3 dimensional space as an added value to, let's say Real Estate development or as an extra medium for automotive companies to play with prototypes and receive user feedback.

The Forrester report offers quite a list of 'practical' situations in which you can use Virtual Workspaces to conduct business:

  • Holding new and improved virtual meetings
  • enhancing military training and simulation
  • providing therapy, counseling and medical information
  • recruiting from a worldwide labor supplu
  • conducting virtual trade shows and conferences

The report actually names a dozen more suggestions, and gives explanations, but you'd have to order report yourself to find out which ;)

The report doesn't tell me how we can conduct down to earth business. For example, in which way would Virtual Workspaces enhance logistical services, construction, food & beverage, law firms etcetera. When virtual worlds get more direct api's to office software (charts, spreadsheets, word processing) it seems the Virtual World has a lot to offer for every part of companies except the actual workfloor where the products are made.

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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Feed Out - Feed in

Every morning I wake up I stumble towards the coffee maker for a cup of coffee, then turn on my screen to have a look at my launchpad, a netvibes portal. Default tab is metaverse news.

After several weeks, or months of producing glitchy links 3pointD has been removed from my startpage. A great blog has died. Another blog I removed was Metaversed.com. Sad but true, it no longer produces the information I'm interested in.



At this moment there's only one blog that came to mind in replacing these two: Roy Cassini's Digado (Digital Adaption) who has a great blog with a broad interest in the metaverse with a focus on the marketing side of life.

So, two feeds out on my daily starting page, one blogfeed in. Means there's an empty spot. Which blog should fill that empty space?

Also, a number of additions have made it to my Del.icio.us list and will appear in my blogroll (once I fixed the max count in the template) on the left (if you use IE):

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1st Metaverse Meetup - Amsterdam

At exactly 0.00 I returned from Amsterdam where I attended the first Metaverse Meetup (Amsterdam Edition) in "De Balie" which was initiated by Joja Dhara and Ze Moo.


As this was a first meetup, apropriately themed "Meet the Avatar", the most timeconsuming event was the introduction round, but on the other hand it was nice to know who was who. We saw representatives from several MDC's such as Jeroen Frans, Executive Director of the Vesuvius Group (the guys that brought us Google in SL), Damian Simmons of Lost in the Magic Forest (Content, Essent, Aegon) and Up the Vortex (blog), and on the corporate present there was 'moi' for Sogeti, and people from ING (Our Virtual Holland), KPN and Philips Design, researchers from EPN, bloggers like Roy Cassini from Digado and excellent freelancers such as Ollie Kubrick from Unreal Design.


And off course, Bart DutchX, Founder of the Dutch Echange was present. I seem to run into him at about every metaverse related event these days. The Linden Lab banking ban doesn't seem to affect his business, as it is still expanding and they're hiring new people and adding new payment methods continuously.


As it was the first meetup I won't do an assesment of the contents of the meetup, as it was primarily a networking event tonight. I hope we'll get to discuss hot metaversal topics in the future.

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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Exodus ain't gonna happen

Yesterday I picked up a BBC News story on people flocking to Virtual Worlds. The article is a little outdated, it dates back to december 11 2007, but I tend to disagree here. Here's part of the newsstory:

'Exodus' to virtual worlds predicted

Will real pubs empty as people head for virtual watering holes?The appeal of online virtual worlds such as Second Life is such that it may trigger an exodus of people seeking to "disappear from reality," an expert on large-scale online games has said.

Virtual worlds have seen huge growth since they became mainstream in the early years of this decade, developing out of Massive Multiplayer Role-Playing Games.

And the online economies in some match those of real world countries.

Their draw is such that they could have a profound effect on some parts of society, Edward Castronova, Associate Professor in the Department of Telecommunications at Indiana University, told BBC World Service's Digital Planet programme.

"My guess is that the impact on the real world really is going to involve folks disappearing from reality in a lot of places where we see them," he said.

(read more)

Edward Castronova was one of the speakers at the VW Conference in San Jose (october 2007) and made regular appearances on the Clever Zebra, formerly known as Metaversed Metanomics sessions and usually has some pretty smart things to say. In this case I thinks he's off by miles. There won't be a mass exodus for a long time to come I think.

The only thing we have to go by is the number of subscriptions to these worlds. Not all worlds are giving out these stats as freely as Second Life, nor do they provide information on activity in these worlds. Cisco's Christian Renaud did a quick scan of the industry for his keynote at the VW Conference and came up with 450 million registered users in about 30 NVE's, (online gaming as well as social worlds). After the conference we hooked up our info and I did a survey of about 200 of these worlds. As far as public data goes, I could barely find another 10 million registered users in other worlds.

The percentage of active users in the gameverse is a lot higher than in the social metaverse, more like an 60% tot 10% division, so going by these numbers we could assume there are about 100 million active NVE users out there. Then there's the definition of how much activity you need to have before being active. Linden Lab defines Active as spending 1 hour a week.

Then we have to take into account that there are a lot of body doubles. I myself have accounts in a dozen virtual worlds and there are other geeks, bloggers, journalists, trendwatchers etcetera who are active in several worlds to keep up with technology. The supposed 100 million than has to be devided by maybe 5 accounts on average so we end up with 20 million users worldwide which spend about 1 hour a week in virtual worlds. True, that's more than the whole population of the Netherlands, but globally speaking still a niche market.

When we look at social websites, like YouTube, MySpace etcetera and add up all the registered accounts we have about 3 times as many subscribers as there are internet connections worldwide. What I do think is a trend is the new digital Tribal Migration where users move from one world to the other as usability and functionality are still evolving.

A last thought on why this Exodus isn't going to happen anytime soon is that we've seen the number of registered users explode last year, while social NVE's were going into hype-modus. 2008 will probably see a downward trend in user activity, as most social worlds will not be able to meet expectations (gameverse is another story). This will last a while untill we find real corporate use and means of business integration for Virtual Worlds.This will happen though, but then again, when it really goes mainstream and NVE's become a Business Tool, still there won't be an exodus. There will be millions of new subscriptions and active business users, but on the whole the social part of these worlds will still struggle in keeping the attention of most users.

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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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Saturday, January 12, 2008

Levi's Extraverse

In October Jeans tycoon Levi's launched its own extraverse, Levi's World, in Hong Kong, a branded virtual world dedicated to Levi products. It's first live hours saw over 6.000 registrations with eager fashion addicts and pretty soon we'll see the English version go live.





The campaign for Levi's World has been created by TEQUILA Hong Kong (TBWA) and OMD. Their view basically comes down to:


"Are you fed-up of Facebook, sick of Second Life? If so, then you may be interested to know that Levi’s are claiming to have ‘disrupted the convention’ of such social networking sites with the launch of the first ever (do they really think so?) branded virtual world. No prizes for guessing what it’s been called, though"

Levi's weren't the first to go extraverse, but it is a logical step. Throughout the Metaverse you see people paying a lot of attention to their avatars, with clothing being a hot marketing item.


First images do not show this world as able to create realistic avatars and environment, but a bit more cartoonesk graphics. The world is aimed at 15-25 year olds and has a free membership model. However, economy and marketing comes into play as you're able to buy your Levi stuff and can obtain vouchers which can be used at Real Life Levi stores.

Here's a YouTube movie about the launch:

To go from scratch to a dedicated extraverse is a giant leap, but Levi's has got several years of experience in the Metaverse which they started to explore as early as 2003. Along with Nike, Levi's was one of the main sponsors that pushed the launch of There.com.

"27,000 There
There launched its beta-test form -- 27,000 users have already entered the There world -- in January, with Nike and Levi Strauss & Co. among marketers who partnered with the firm to see how their wares fared in a virtual marketplace. Both brands will continue their relationship with there."

Full There.com launch article here.

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Friday, December 21, 2007

More Forecasting on 2008 (part 2)

Two days ago I din't get beyond answering the first of the five questions that the Virtual Worlds News site put up.

To avoid clicking to an fro, here are the questions once more:
  1. What are your top 3 trend predictions for 2008?
  2. What business goals have you set for 2008?
  3. What challenges do you expect 2008 to bring for the virtual worlds industry?
  4. A number of new platforms are launching in 2008. What are the biggest impacts this will have on the industry?
  5. How will the above changes affect your specific segment of the industry in 2008?

Here are my answers (from q2 onward)

2. What business goals have you set for 2008?

  • Have total commitment inside the company I work for (right on schedule)
  • Write a book on NVE's (if my co-author finds time to brainstorm)
  • Organise several techmeetings in Second Life
  • Transfer 10% to 20% of our corporate training to a virtual environment
  • Completing 5 real immersive projects.

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.

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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

More Forecasting on 2008

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 Questions


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:



  1. What are your top 3 trend predictions for 2008?

  2. What business goals have you set for 2008?

  3. What challenges do you expect 2008 to bring for the virtual worlds industry?

  4. A number of new platforms are launching in 2008. What are the biggest impacts this will have on the industry?

  5. How will the above changes affect your specific segment of the industry in 2008?

The Answers

  1. What are your top 3 trend predictions for 2008?
    At this moment I don't have a clear top 3, I see a number of scenario's and trends emeriging this quarter though, here they are:
  • In 2008 we're going to be disappointed in Virtual Worlds. As I've pointed out a few times in the past weeks on this blog the current setup is it's Dozens of Them (which by the initials DOT is probably heading for another dot-world crash). What I mean by this is that we've seen about a hundred big companies immerse in Second Life, all with pretty much the same content: Information stands, auditorium and some entertainment stuff. While these are created with great skills by the MDC's it's pretty much the same stuff over again. Right now, most of these virtual enterprises are Marketing & Communication department babies and they're going to be disappointed as they don't bring USP's and ROI's. From this angle we have to differentiate between type of immersion, like:
    - mere presence
    - branding
    - crowdsourcing
    - engagement
    and forget about Business Development.
  • As a result of this disappointment, more MDC's will have to cut down capacity like ESC, or bring in different expertise. 2008 will see a slight shift from the current MDC's to more traditional IT companies like Sogeti or Capgemini who have longterm relations with their clients and a proper supply of Business Analysts who know their clients core business and have the ability to translate that core business to IT and VW solutions.
  • The former means that 2008 will focus on integration, creating API's and mashups, providing data-mining tools etcetera.
  • From a social point of view there will be disappointment in Virtual Worlds as well, mainly produced by lag and hardware power. 2008 will be a good year for NVidia, Intel, AMD and other hardware producers as both the Gameverse and the Metaverse will require a boost in sheer graphical and processor power. Another fundamental part of this new univerese will be the availability of bandwith as worlds like Second Life use streaming technology and are producing over 8 Gbps in data traffic. It will be up to Internet2 / Lamdarail to put their 100 Gbps network into full production (which will probably be beyond 2008) to service this bandwidth need.
  • The Metaverse in general will concentrate in general on the Extraverse, the branded or themed worlds. Since we do not have the ability (in most cases) to translate our core processes into virtual representations, the NVE industry will still be an instrument in marketing media in 2008.
  • As far as extraverses go, they will get more and more aimed at specific groups, for instance girl worlds like Barbieworld and GoSupermodel will grow rapidly. 4th quarter 2008 might see it's first VW specifically aimed at 50+ agegroups in beta.
  • The majority of funding will be coming from governemental organisations exploring virtual worlds in serieous gaming ventures.
  • Social Worlds will lean heavily on the gameverse to find the key to upgrading registered users to active users. This will mean that more and more storylines will be implemented in the Metaverse and offer new handles for interactive media (convergence with television a.o.)
  • Another challenge for Social Worlds will be the mashup with social networking sites like linked-in, Facebook and the likes. This also brings in the all important question of Identity Management (and in its wake interoperability and portability).
  • On the part of Second Life we will see improvement in stability as Aric Linden's QA team will be finalising their tests on the new Windlight client in January, making it the most stable release Linden Lab has ever produced. Havok 4 will be implemented somewhere mid 2008 as physics engine.
  • Aside from taxlaws and other governmental regulations the industry will gain some significance for retirment funding and insurance companies as more and more people will earn their living in virtual environments.
  • A huge issue will be the "What if I die" scenario: What happens to my second life and my virtual assets when I'm no longer there. When I'm gone, who owns my identity, will there be successionrights?

Okay, past bedtime now, the other questions will have to wait.

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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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Friday, November 23, 2007

Sogeti Sunset

This week the island of Sogeti Netherlands removed the access restrictions. We've been working on the final release of the island after a year of exploring the metaverse and tinkering in a sandbox. We've decided to go functional and not provide a themepark for metaversalists. So don't expect gadgets and funrides.



It will take us some time to get it all finished, we still need to work out some details, but untill then you're welcome to enjoy a WindLight sunset at our beach.









SLURL: http://slurl.com/secondlife/Sogeti%20Netherlands/128/128/0, and to the north you'll find Sogeti Sweden, also under construction, but open for a good chat.

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Thursday, November 22, 2007

Your expectations of the Metaverse in 2007 (2)

Yesterday I blogged about my expectations for the Metaverse in 2007 in answer to Rick's question. His reply to my answer (part of it) was:

"My problem is that, imho Second Life isn't a business platform at this moment
in which these goals can be achieved."


and

"Then it comes to waiting for the next 'killer app' which really draws the
crowd into the metaverse. However, I'm having difficulties in formulating the
needs in which this 'holy grail' should provide. Is it mass collaboration, the
digital long tail, outsourcing or will the virtual economy grow to such an
extent that retail goes 3D because of efficiency? In other words, what is your
vision of a businessmodel that goes beyond the limitations of Second Life, which
added value can a 3D environment have for entrepeneurs and how will crowds be
involved?"


These are easy questions, much like "Why are we here? How does the universe work?" The answer is similarly hard. If I had a straightforward answer, I'd probably be a millionaire soon.
It's the X-million dollar question.


As a Metaverse Evangelist, or sr. Networked Virtual Environment Consultant I could talk about the potential of metaverses forever. To be honest though. We have to be realistic.



  1. We're at the early stages of the industry. Many companies are still having difficulties in understanding web 2.0; seeing blogs and wiki's rise but don't know how to implement it in their corporate strategy, let alone we can convince companies to adapt to the Metaverse overnight. It's a process.
  2. There's a couple of industries that can make quick wins with metaversal presence (like real estate), but not every product is suitable for a 3D environment (like mortgages)

Desinging the Metaverse Killer App

When it comes to designing the metaversal killer app I'd say it's too early to tell. We still don't have a web 2.0 killer app. Every day new sites, new worlds and new functionality emerges. The killer app will have to be a mashup of the best of both worlds; 3D Facebook, Google virtualisation or whatever. I've got tons of unformulated thoughts on this but what it comes down to is that we have to move from technology driven design to social design; step out of the binary limitations and explore the realms of psychology and communication to understand human needs for interaction and information and only then move on to functionality on demand. 2007 is a year of options. We see variation, we see diferent platforms, technologies and cultures emerge. Now is the time to explore, the time of veni vidi vici. Observe, Asses and Implement (though by by trial and error). To Incorporate, that's 2010 and beyond for the majority of companies.

Time for bed now. A few more points need to be addressed tomorrow...

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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Your expectations of the Metaverse in 2007

This evening I took some time again to skim through my Linked-In network and browsed the questions from my connections. There's this lad, Rick, who's working on a thesis on Second Life and the metaverse. He posed this question:


Has Second Life in 2007 raised or lowered your expectations for the
Metaverse?
Since the big hype in October of last year those who have been watching the Virtual World of Second Life have seen the hype come and go. But what have we learned from the most successful metaverse up to now? Has it raised or lowered your expectations for a social virtual world?

Now I had a bit of a fight with Linked-In tonight. My answer was too long (apparently 4000 characters max), I tried adding the last bit by clarifying, tried editing and finally deleting and start over again. However, that didn't work either as it said I had already posted. So here's my answer:



Early 2007 I said that the age of the Digerati was gone and that 2007 was the beginning of a new era, that of the Metarati, the visionairs that bring us the metaverse. It truly has begun. It's not just Second Life, but the whole industry.


The year isn't over yet and we've seen over 2 billion US$ in investments in the Networked Virtual Environment Industry. It's not just SL: It's platforms like Qwaq springing up for business, it's Neopets going 144 million subscriptions strong, it's Hipihi, Novoking and the other Chinese booms, it Football superstars and Barbie Girls boosting the extraverse (branded worlds) and it's Sony Home or Eve Online with the new Crytek engine bringing us superior graphics


Over the past year Second Life has drawn more media attention than any other virtual world, respectively positive and then later ill-informed negative publicity has driven the world of Second Life into a hype cycle, especially in the Dutch Press after the Dutch PCM Web (Personal Computer Magazine) picked up a story by the LA Times that companies are getting disappointed in Second Life.


It is another sign of old media living in total oblivion of what is going on.


"After an enormous hype om Second Life more and more 'experts' are getting sceptic on the added value of Second Life to business. Online visitors aren't big shoppers, but are mainly looking for entertainment" reads the introduction. Where did this come from? There's hardly a real life company to be found in Second Life that's actually selling stuff. If it ain't on offer, we can't buy it.
"Successfully promoting your company inside the virtual world of Second Life shows to be harder than expected. More and more marketing departments conclude that Second Life residents feel like visiting their online stores. "Actually there isn't any convincing reason to be present in Second Life" says Brian McGuinness, a Hotelchain bigshot in the LA times, and thus his company left Second Life"


Most of these 'marketing departments' probably have never seen Second Life from the inside. Many companies just use Second Life as another medium for corporate communication... without understanding it. It's back to the early 90's when serious companies launched crappy (excuse me) Frontpage websites.


In most cases there wont be a ROI (return on investment) indeed for the year to come, or even the year after. When will companies see that Second Life is not a commercial, a product flyer?
There are companies that dig SL though. Have a look at Intel and Cisco giving tech meetings and classes on Java and other skills. take a look at Philips taking surveys, or at ABN Amro organising sponsor events for non profits.


One of the most telling lines in this article is the following quote: "Analists from Forrester (yay, the big reasearchers) have calculated that at prime time there are only about 35,000 to 40,000 visitors in Second Life" Okay, prepare for another research paper (usual rates about $ 1.000,- US dollar / hard cash) telling you the same the counter on this webpage -an many many other websites - will show you every single day. The good news is: You don't even need to pay me L$ 1,000 to get this info. (Concurrent Logins as per june 07, now over 50K)


Now the Dutch seem to have been in the grips of hypecycles for several years now, on a range of subjects. The nation is becoming governed by the whims of media. The point is that most companies don't really have a clue either to what they want from a virtual world like Second Life. It still seems like many companies establish a presence in Second Life because everybody does so (that's no longer valid). It's like users: If you register for SL and have no idea what you want to do there, you're likely not to return. You're at a loss. Companies should have a goal in Second Life as well. Innovation, Exploration, Crowdsourcing, User Acceptance, Branding, Sponsoring whatever, just make up your mind and set some goals...


Aside from the misperceptions I have seen the virtual worlds grow. Many new startups stir up competition, challenging each platform to innovate and stay at the top. There’s the promise of new and converging media with projects like CSI:NY, The Office, Gossip Girls and the Korean Que Sera adding interactivity to television, which make me believe we are making progress on making these worlds fit for business. So yes, sofar 2007 has definately raised hopes of making the metaverse fit for business. Virtual Economies are the fastest growing economies on earth. Advancement in terms of stability and scalability are made in rapid succession. It's an enormously varied landscape though, different cultures, people and habits. A wide variety of engines are used to drive these worlds. Some are java-based, some are desktop applications that connect to grids and some are using streaming technology. It's almost impossible to try and define these worlds, let alone find ways for identity management unified communications, interoperability and portability for the sector. These are the steps we have to make these worlds an integral part of our daily work or leisure time.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Halting State

In real life I had a day off. Not to lean back, but to take care of the kids who were down sick. This afternoon when they were asleep I just had time to immerse and join the Information Week session on Dr. Dobbs island where Mitch Wagner, a.k.a. Ziggy Figaro interviewed SciFi author Charles Stross.

Stross has always known he wanted to be a Science Fiction writer and started writing in his early teens and sold his first bit of wordplay in 1986. After a few stories sold, the dip came and Charles went back to University (Bradford) and did a postgraduate in computer science and hopped from techjob to techjob slowly crawling towards Edinburgh and suddenly went into web consultancy - This was right about the time of the dot com crash (if not the cause to it). He managed to establish himself as a proper Linux and Free Software journalist until...

"Even more implausibly, after fifteen years of abject obscurity, his fiction
became an overnight success in the US, with five novel sales and several Hugo
nominations in the space of two years. "

Charles, or Charlie, talked about the world of 'Halting State', a world set in our near future where Metaverses and augmented reality are part of our daily routine. Mitch Wagner says:

It's really hard to predict the future on the scale Stross does. Imagine yourself in 1996. Back then, would you have predicted the ubiquity of smartphones, user-generated content on the Internet (blogs weren't even invented yet), Facebook, MySpace, the massive American entertainment industry grinding to a complete halt over a dispute over Internet video, and post-9/11 geopolitics? Could you have imagined, in your bones, what it would be like to live in that world?

One of the things Stross sees is that in a few years from now it'll be mobile all the way. A large percentage of the computers on the world right now are already cell-phones. In a few years they'll have gigs of bandwidth. As Dr. Dobbs was quite maxed out with visitors, we were all yearning for that extra bandwidth as Second Life almost came to a halting state with clothing taking its time to download, or just plainly go missing.

Unfortunately I had to take care of one of my kids, so couldn't keep track of all the exciting things and visions Charles shared with the crowd, you'd best check out the Ugotrade blog in a few days to find a smashing recap.





Read more on this session at Information Week here. Now I have to run to be on time for my own presentation on Second Life (in Dutch) at the NGI island (slurl).

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VeeJay's Rez Day

Yesterday I celebrated my Rez Day in Second Life. Well... celebrated, I'd actually forgotten as we were quite busy building the new Sogeti Island. So it was a small party. Last year has flown past and am looking forward to a new year of exploration in the metaverse.






















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Friday, November 02, 2007

Charting the new Worlds

UPDATE: The numbers in this blog are old. There will be an update shortly.

This blogentry was posted first at the Virtual World blog powered by Sogeti Sweden. As it is a new blog I gave an outline of the market we're dealing with. Several bits and bytes have appeared on this blog before - VeeJay



It's a brave new world out there, the question is which world? We've seen the industry of virtual worlds explode in this past year with billions of dollars of capital funding, takeovers and corporate builds. Over the past year Second Life has drawn more media attention than any other virtual world, respectively positive and then later ill-informed negative publicity has driven the world of Second Life into a hype cycle (as defined by Gartner).




Networked Virtual Environments

There's more to it though. There's not only a brave new world out there, it's an entire universe. It was also Gartner who did a short report on virtual worlds in december 2006 and introduced the term NVE, Networked Virtual Environments as an overal term for the industry, their definition:



An NVE is an online platform in which participants are immersed in a three-dimensional representation of a virtual space. Other, analogous, terms for
NVEs in the market are metaverses and virtual worlds.


It's not a 100% definition as the industry also includes 2D spaces. I'd like to use it as a term for the entire universe whereas I would reserve the usage of the metaverse for a specific section in the industry.



So how big is the market we're talking about?

A very good kick off was given at the Virtual World Conference in San Jose (10-11 October 2007) by Christian Renaud. He put in some good effort to come up with a list of about 75 Virtual Worlds with subscription numbers.





This subscription pie is based on the number of subscriptions per virtual world. Adding up to a grand total of 465.000.000 registered users. Wow, that's huge. That's the entire population of North America, or the entire population of Western Europe. And this is not even counting the Asian (Ralph Koster estimates the number to be close to 2000!).


This might be an unbelievable number. We have to put that into perspective. People do sign up a lot, then drop out. The current number of registered users in Second Life is about 9.2 million of which close to 2 million are active. Christian Renaud estimates the total number of active virtual world residents to be close to 50 million. Still, the number of signups is impressive. Let's take a look at the Social Network list on Wikipedia; it gives a list of 85 community sites totalling 1 billion registered users. Like web 2.0 sites, we do travel a lot. We sign up, play around and then move to the other world / site. And there's people like me. I'm registered at about 15 Virtual Worlds.



A division by Universe

This is the division of the NVE's I'd like to make




How do we use these worlds?


A quick and easy split up is to say we use these worlds for social activities (i.e. Social Network Worlds) and for personal recreation (online gaming). But we also start to use these worlds for business purposes: online meetings, training, simulation, promotion, recruitment etcetera. Where does the business fit in? There's a number of platforms out there that could be considered as being typical business environments. Like Qwaq with office applications and Forterra which focusses on training and simulation. And then there are the intraverses. These have a business oriëntation as well. The chart below shows the division by usage focus. There is business on Second Life, but Second Life is not focussed on business.







What is my audience?


Each world has its own culture and its own demographics. The chart below gives an overview of agegroups. It's not a demographic of the VW residents but an overview of worlds focussing on a specific agegroup. Teen Worlds are growing fast in the sector. There's no world yet that has a focus on elderly people yet. The virtual residents are generally young people. But there will be a market for elderly people, I'm sure. One of the problems of a lot of elderly people is a lack of social contact. We'll be seeing our first virtual elderly home in a few years time.






Genderspecifics


In a virtual world there probably is no discrimination by gender. For example. Construction is an industry in which we usually find very few women. Perhaps it's prejudice, but the genereal thought is that women can't carry a load of bricks. Physical inhibitions don't count in virtual worlds. Another point is that we use avatars, representations, choosing whichever form we like. I know enough men dressing as women or vice versa in Second Life. Likewise, most worlds are open to both man and women without specifically aiming at a gender. There are a number of worlds however that are specifically targeted at teen girls. I've called them Girl Worlds. They're usually running on an extraverse, being brand driven. Examples of these are



Here's a chart of the marketshare these worlds have:




Finally, it's an enormously varied landscape. Different cultures, people and habits. A wide variety of engines are used to drive these worlds. Some are java-based, some are desktop applications that connect to grids and some are using streaming technology. It's almost impossible to try and define these worlds, let alone find ways for unified communications, interoperability and portability for the sector.

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What's interoperability?

This afternoon I spent over an hour on the phone with Chritian Renaud, Chief Metaversal Bigshot at Cisco. Yes, that's right on the phone.... media 1.0 so to say. As I was on a sogeti-issued IBM T43 laptop I couldn't get Second Life to work (Ian please tell me this can be fixed) and also Skype failed.


After a good personal update (the us, timezone issues, busy schedules, kids, traffic jams, Prokofy Neva and stuff) we got down to business discussing the Metaverse and one of the VW Conference's buzzwords interoperability.


It remains hard to define the industry of NVE's, Networked Virtual Environments or virtual worlds. There's a mega grey area. You just can't categorize it straightforwardly. And yet we're trying. I'm doing so, Nick Wilson over at Metaversed is doing so, Christian is doing so and KZero is attempting much of the same.


It gets even harder when you get to discussing interoperability and some sort of unified communications or standardisation between these worlds. There's a few worlds out there that have a positive attitude towards the initiative, but others don't (see this post). What exactly is interoperability? Do we just throw all virtual worlds into a blender, find a common denominator, standardise it and run the risk of us all walking around in milky white avatars with jelly-green shirts and denying us all to use the potential of individual platforms?


Christian did quite a good blog on this over at Cisco: "Ode to Interoperability" It's truth, perhaps not the whole truth. It's a discussion. We're not there yet. What it all boils down to is that one of the key-elements will be Identity Management on the web. Christian tried to voice this in his piece, much of the same, not for virtual worlds, but for everyday web usage I run into every day, just like in my previous blogpost. I do have some thoughts to add to this discussion, but that'll have to wait. Bedtime now.

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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
TerrainView.[2]






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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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 metaversed.com 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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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

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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Saturday, August 25, 2007

Businessweek cracks business code for Second Life


In the past weeks the Second Life blogosphere (me included) has complained a lot about 'Old Media' being cranky on Second Life and not understanding it. There's one notable exception though, which is Business Week, where Mitch Wagner posted an excellent article, Five Rules For Bringing Your Real-Life Business Into Second Life, which probably sums it all up.



Mitch wrote:

"Second Life is one of the most controversial technologies to hit the Internet. Praised last year as a platform that would turn the net upside down, this year it's being dismissed as an overhyped fraud and a waste of time and money.



The truth is somewhere in between last year's hype and this year's backlash. Second Life is revolutionary, but the revolution will take a few years to play out. For now, the virtual world is rough around the edges, and at times very difficult to use.



Nonetheless, you can get a lot out of bringing your real life business into Second Life. You can use Second Life for effective marketing, building relationships with customers and partners, and creating business value."


Then there's his Five rules:

  1. Do Like Captain Picard Said: Engage
  2. Add Value To Second Life's Communities
  3. Don't Believe The Backlash
  4. Be Smart About Keeping Out Trouble-Makers
  5. Think Of Second Life As Beta Technology


This article was also the input for last thursday's Metaversed - Live session



"On this week's Metaversed Live, Metaversed.com's weekly business and technology talkshow hosted live in Second Life and on Talkshoe, Cisco Systems Christian Renaud, SLNN's Aliza Sherman and UgoTrade blogger Tish Shute join Metaversed Nick Wilson to talk about what the second wave of businesses coming into the virtual world are going to have to do to succeed, and hear how Cisco turned around their entire virtual worlds strategy based on hands on experience in Second Life. "









The podcast from the session is available here at Metaversed.

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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

2007 sees multibillion dollar investments in 3D environments

Triggered by the 3PointD article Conduit Social Gaming World Gets $5.5m Round on another capital venture investment in 3D initiatives I've made a quick survey of 2007 investment news on the aforementioned 3PointD blog and the Metaversed blog.

Just coming from these blog is 1.651 Million in investments in the year 2007 to date. Surely, they've missed out on many private investments, startups and corporate investments.


Reports on BBC, MTV and Disney investing in new startups and others virtual startups like Stagespace, Metaversum's Twinity, 3D City (ABKsoft), VastPark (Worlds Collide), Ogoglio, Sony's PS3 Home and Mattel's Barbieworld come without figures.


Awomo (a world of my own) is, said to be worth 1 billion euro according to Virgin Records mogul Sir Richard Branson.

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Saturday, August 04, 2007

I can has cameras and stuff

I believe I can fly - or I can has camera's?

Yesterday was a quiet day at the office and we had some nice talks on Second Life. There was quite a fun discussion going on about building our Sogeti presence in Second Life.

At some point in the discussion we were al making fun of staircases and escalators in Second Life. "Who needs escalators... you can fly man." One of my colleagues thought himself to be a great, well-metaversed, explorer and never walks in Second Life, only flies. However, our good friend Damanios Thetan once said: "you fly? I never fly. I move my camera..."

Just a small example of how we all have to adjust to the metaverse.

I can has good ranking

Earlier today I took a peek at Technorati to see if their were any new links to the Mindblizzard blog. Bummer. No new fans. Looking at the rating I'd say there must be something strange going on...



Mindblizzard blog rank 1? That's an error. Or do I misinterpret? World no 1. blog surely is I CAN HAS CHEESEBURGER.

Teva Shoes logo

Last week we bought new shoes for my daughter (nearly 3 years old). They were sandals of the Teva brand. Nothing special, nothing fancy, but just good quality of a fairly well known brand. It wasn't until yesterday I noticed their logo... Looks familiar, dunnit?

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Friday, August 03, 2007

Intergalactic News update

Time for another blogosphere-update of the metaverse. Some nice newsbits passed by last week. So here's another hails from the VERSE

KZero reports:

Secondlife Blogo gives a nice addition to the metaversemap with an overview on VW's 4 Kids:


They also report on the article from the New York Times saying that Club Pinguin has been sold for 350 Million USD, with another 350 Million to follow after certain requirements are met.

Nick Wilson over at Metaversed reports:

  • Multiverse v1.0 Released!
    The long wait is finally over. After years of planning, volumes of hype, and the input of thousands of beta developers, Multiverse has finally released v1.0 of its platform. The Multiverse Platform is "a comprehensive software solution that gives development teams the technology, tools and assets to create virtual worlds for almost any purpose, including games and business tools." Basically, you can make worlds with it...
  • The XTR 3D Human Machine Interface
    A company called Extreme Reality (XTR) announced last week the creation of XTR 3D Human Machine Interface, an advanced motion tracking software designed to work with a regular commercially available webcam. Head and arm movements would be tracked automatically, and no more complicated equipment is needed other than a relatively blank wall behind the user. It even detects when the user reaches forward, toward the camera...

3PointD reports:

Last but not least the Belgian Second Life Crew reports that where Linden Lab bought Windward Mark to boost graphics, they're outdone by MindArk, producers of the Entropia Universe who incorporated the CryEngine2.

Here's the Mindark press release:

"Entropia Universe, the safest virtual world utilizing a real cash economy, has signed a license agreement to use the stunning high-tech game engine CryENGINE 2®, from German developer Crytek, creators of “Far Cry®” and upcoming “Crysis®.” This will make Entropia Universe the closest-to-reality looking massively multiplayer online game ever seen. The transition to an Entropia Universe platform built around this new technology is expected to be finished by mid-2008, and will be available to all Entropia Universe partners. Creator MindArk PE AB’s CEO Jan Welter Timkrans explains, “The upgrade of Entropia Universe will be built around the spectacular features supplied by CryENGINE 2®, offering a complete and immersive experience to Entropia participants. It will create synergies between the proven and safe Real Cash Economy backbone, the Entropia storyline with colonists fighting to establish a new world, and the very life-like visuals supplied from CryENGINE 2®.” He continues, “When we saw what the engine was capable of, we immediately understood that it would be perfect for Entropia, as both MindArk and Crytek are pioneers in their respective fields.”


Avni Yerli, Crytek’s Managing Director says, “We are thrilled to have been chosen by such a well regarded and successful industry leader as MindArk to be their future engine provider for Entropia Universe. We think the combination of our CryENGINE 2® technology and their extremely popular virtual playground will result in a new kind of rich and immersive experience that has not been possible until now. It will also expose a wide new audience to the stunningly realistic graphics, environmental physics and believable animations which are made possible by the award winning CryENGINE 2® together with some of the most recent advances in PC hardware and operating systems.”"


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Monday, July 23, 2007

Intergalactic News for July

Here's some newsbits I didn't have time to blog in the past weeks:

Second Life Blogo reports (in Dutch) on:

The Belgian Second Life Crew reports (again in Dutch) on:

3PointD seems to be too busy to keep up blogging, but a few interesting posts did come through:

Nick Wilson at Metaversed seems to be gearing up in Challenging 3PointD as the buzzplace and reports on:

KZero reports on:

Finally, Scobleizer -who's not been in Second Life for over a year now, did a blog on SL again; Second Life is trying to get rid of the nasties, which turned out to become a lively discussion between Robert Scoble, Spindoctor Eric Rice and Information Week's Mitch Wagner.

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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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Thursday, July 19, 2007

Advanced Content Creation

Two days ago I remarked on this blog that I hadn't heard a lot on Alyssa LaRoche a.k.a. Aimee Weber lately. Almost instantaniously she proved me wrong. Here's the comment left on the blogpost:



"Thanks for the interest in Aimee Weber Studio. I've actually been so busy, I haven't had time to update my website. Since the last entry on the AWS website, Aimee Weber Studio has done the following:



  • Worked as Project manager for NBC's treelighting ceremony along with Bedazzle and Electric Sheep.
  • We built the House of Horizons build for IBM.
  • Created Bild-T's island for the SL tabloid The Avastar.
  • We created the Yak Shack for the charitable organization Save the Children.
  • We are currently working on the in-world press kiosks for PR Newswire.
  • We are also working on several projects that we are not yet able to announce including a major automotive company and restaurant chain.
  • Finally, I'm the lead author for the Official Second Life Advanced Content Creation textbook entitled "Creating Your World" due out in October and I have been speaking at shows such as Computerworld.
Aimee Weber Studio has never stopped growing and has recently been hiring full time employees and providing health and dental.I hope this is enough. If I did anymore I would collapse. :D But I will be sure to add a website update to my daunting to-do list!!"



Following on this post I had quite a long IM session with Aimee. On this blog and other blogs there have been lots of comments on old style media that are currently in a negative swing on Second Life. In the regular 'print' the current reading is that companies are getting out of Second Life, have second thoughts, or are very much disappointed. This certainly is not the case for Aimee Weber Studios.



"Not on my end. There are certainly lots of inquiries. I am sure the bubble burst will happen eventually. Which I don't think I mind. I enjoy projects that use SL as an educational platform as much as the advertising stuff. Not that a bubble burst would indicate the irrelevance of SL as a marketing platform."



We were quite in agreement right now SL is offering more freedom than any other platform. Maybe in 5 years SL will be overtaken, but for now it's the ideal environment to explore the Metaverse.

One of the projects Aimee has been working on is a new book on advanced content creation, titled "Creating your World" which will be available at Amazon shortly. As far as I could tell from the previews the book is completely in style with the official Guide to Second Life, giving it that familiar touch and will be an interesting insight into virtual creationism.



"I tried to avoid simple "how-to" explanations in favor of providing a deeper understanding of what is going on behind the scenes. Not just how to build with prims, but WHY different kinds of prims act the way they do." says Aimee.

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Sunday, July 15, 2007

Metaverse Map v1.1

Here's the updated Metaverse Map with an overview of 2D and 3D virtual worlds.

The large image (1024 x 1024) can be found here.

Use the map freely, links will be appreciated though ;-)


In alphabetical order:

  1. Active Worlds
  2. Areae
  3. Croquet
  4. Cybertown
  5. Cyworld
  6. Deamville
  7. Disney Toontown
  8. Dubit
  9. Eccky
  10. Entropia
  11. Everyscape
  12. Forterra
  13. Frenzoo
  14. Gaia Online
  15. Google Earth
  16. Habbo Hotel
  17. Hipihi
  18. Immersive
  19. Kaneva
  20. Manor, the
  21. Microsoft Virtual Earth
  22. Mini Friday
  23. Moove Online
  24. Multiverse
  25. Muse
  26. Nasa World Wind
  27. NGI World
  28. Ogoglio
  29. Open Sim
  30. Outback Online
  31. Palace, the
  32. Planet VM
  33. Playdo
  34. Questville
  35. Second Life
  36. Shanda Entertainment
  37. Sims Online
  38. Sony Home
  39. Sparter
  40. Stagespace
  41. There.com
  42. Towerchat
  43. Trion
  44. Uonenet
  45. Virtual Ibiza
  46. Virtual Magic Kingdom
  47. Virtual Worlds SIG
  48. VP Chat
  49. Vzones
  50. Webkinz
  51. Weblo
  52. Why Robbie Rocks
  53. Whyville
  54. World.com
  55. Worldbridges
  56. Worlds Unlimited

I know I left out Club Pinguin and Three Rings (couldn't find any good logo's) and probably missed out on a few barbie-worlds....

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Saturday, July 14, 2007

Metaverse Map

The metaverse rollercoster keeps on rolling. Next week I've got to do a presentation on Second Life and the metaverse. I've been looking around a bit and decided to throw in a few logo's of Web 3D / Metaverse initiatives.
Which ones did I miss?

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Saturday, July 07, 2007

SLCC dispute

Second Life seems to be at the center of debate these days. This time it is no legal argument, no violation of the ToS but the SLCC (Second Life Community Convention) that's infuriated many residents and bloggers.

NickWilson of Metaversed reports:

"Second Life's SLCC mixed reality community event has been a hot topic of late. Since the publication of a "community standards agreement" which among other things prohibits the recording of panels, even by the panelists themselves, residents have been in uproar. The overbearing, restrictive rules being imposed upon attendees is not the only point of contention however. The question monopolization, and the "non profit" status of the organizers, Future United and their partners Phreak Radio, (who have exlusive rights to everything panelists and musicians produce at the show), was called into question today by vocal critic, Prokofy Neva."
[Read full article here]

Let's track back a while.

People have been working hard on getting the annual Second Life Community Convention on the road, making tons of arrangements. The Convention is supposed to be a big Fan meet, sponsored by Linden Labs, Millions of Us, Rivers Run Red, Anshe Chung Studios and many many more more and/or less known content creators.
Something happened on the way, as Moo Money reports in the Second Life Insider:
"With the registration of a couple of controversial Second Life residents, some are in a state of panic. Many feel that these individuals would hamper their convention experience. Another issue that has also cropped up is the entrance of "press" requesting permission to film. Due to these incidents, The Future United Group has decided to clarify their policies in a Community Standards Agreement."
This happened on June 28 2007 posted in the SLCC Community Standards - Agreement, which did not seem to calm down residents, but instead irritated a lot of people. A few days later irritation turned into aggravation with a waiver sent to performing artists.

The full text of the 'document' can be read at SL LIVE Music Blog and includes indeed an aburd requirement for artists. As SL Live author Slim Warrior rightfully remarks:
"lemme get this straight… I am asked to perform, having sent off an “audition mp3′ then, I fork out a fortune to get to this event. I also pay a registration fee and of course will be performing for FREE! but if I ‘don’t’ sign, I can resign from the line up…. Thanks for that! "
This has caused several artists to cancel, among which the turntable wizzard DJ Doubledown Tandino who commented "I, Doubledown Tandino, ain't gonna go livin' by no contracts no mo'."
From a performers point of view this is indeed a killer-contract for artists who write their own music and thus own the copyrights. They are asked to perform for free and give all their rights to Phreak Media so they can “recover a small portion of their costs’

SLCC's doomsday bells

SLCC's doomsday bells tolled when Prokofy Neva reported:
"Has everybody seen what a road wreck the Second Life "Community" Convention is? It's an accident going somewhere to happen, unless its sponsors, including RiversRunRed, Electric Sheep Company, New Media Consortium, Anshe Chung Studios and many more step up to the plate immediately and demand participation in, and accountability from, the organizers in the form of the Future United Group and Phreak Radio -- these intertwined FIC entities that have hijacked the conference process for years now, and whose chickens are finally coming home to roost."

SL's Land of the Free

Second Life is getting a lot more press than any other virtual world at the moment, though publicity seems to be on the negative side right now. This is bound to happen as SL offers much more freedom to their users than any other VW / NVE. Second Life is the ultimate virtual representation of the Land of the Free, the American Dream.
Linden vs. Bragg could never have been Kaneva vs. Bragg and Linden vs. Familes de France could never have been There.com vs, Familes de France. Linden vs. Woodbury could never happen in Stagespace.
These legal suits are inevitable and some will be won, some may be lost by Linden Labs, as Second Life becomes the testground for virtual law. They will get media attention, good or bad, but that should not influence our opinion of Second Life.

Home of the Brave

The case with the SLCC is different though. It is nog an argument between Linden and residents upto no good, or careless naive users that happen to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. SLCC is all about Enjoying Second Life. We have a mutual interest to have Second Life succeed. Both Linden and SLCC will like to see the Convention leaving positive thoughts on Second Life.
I am sure all sponsors, who have a financial interest in the success of Second Life, and all residents who invest money and/or expensive time in Second Life all wish to further Second Life's advance. With that objective in mind I would like to call on the SLCC organising comittee to take a deep breath.
Sit down together and decide a mutual course of action. Dare to rewrite and admit 'clumsiness' where possible. That would be Brave.

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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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StageSpace - Stage 2: The Return

As you may have read I registered at StageSpace after Tao Takashi's report to check it out.
As it was quite late I didn't do much exploring, but here's a brief on my return to StageSpace.

The welcome was warm, a nice lady awaited me upon my return. However, this was just when returning to the website. On my first visit, and on this second trip I did not encounter any other lifeform inside this world. After talking to Tao he'd noticed the same thing. Perhaps we should try and do a Geek Meet session in this environment to see how it handles a large audience.
The technique about StageSpace is quitwe interesting. It is Java (Webstart tech) based and doesn't need a client installation, which makes it accessible from about everywhere -and no updates! Starting the engine could take some time because everything needs to be streamed from the server, but with my empty inventory it doesn't take too long.
After starting the Java app you're inworld immediately. As seasoned traveller I noticed a lack of advice. It took quite some time before I understood how to walk and move my camera. SpaceStage is no open world like Second Life, but has only 3 parts in this alpha stage (hotel, disco and lounge). It is quite easy to teleport to the various locations, but you can't walk from one to the other. It isn't clear to me yet how to change my appearance and buy stuff, so that'll have to wait for visit no. 3.
This one I'll wrap up with some of Tao's Thoughts:
"Asked about user generated content he (StageSpace CEO Fabien Röhlinger) said that it might come in the future but most likely only a special group of users will be able to create new items as their main intent seems to be to keep the environment controlled.

And that’s also part of the business model because the StageSpace version you can see on their website is only a demo. The main idea is to manage individual branded virtual worlds for their clients. They will manage hosting of the server, billing, registration and the like. Their clients will get a controlled and branded environment in which members of their communities can interact. If there is an existing community already they will also provide a single-signon method so that users can log into the 3d part with their normal username and password. They claim that they can setup an instance for one of their clients in 2-4 weeks depending on integration work."

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Wednesday, July 04, 2007

VeeJay the Explorer

In the past months I've primarily traversed Second Life wearing an (almost) impeccable business attire. Well, surely it suits me, but does seem to be a bit out of place when sailing down the Amazon or climbing the Chichén Itza.

So I've decided to get on some outdoor kit together. Do you think it suits me?

I've been away for half an hour now before finishing this post. There's a memory that wants out.

As I said, in my current position I usually have to wear a business suit, sometimes even 3-piece. I don't have a problem with that at all, not even when its in heart of summer >30 degrees celcius. I'm quite used to it.

About 10 years ago I was a teacher, and one of the very few (and certainly the youngest) that wore a busines suit to work. However... there's this one pic in my archive that somehow seems to be model for my current avatar update.
Okay folks... don't worry, that's 10 years ago. I got rid of the earrings and the ponytail. Even shaved a wee bit.

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StageSpace - a German VW

A German VW.... Virtual World that is, not Volkswagen. Yesterday I read Tao Takashi's review of the new German Java driven Metaverse called StageSpace.

Tao, a well known blogger and respected resident of Second Life, wrote quite qn informative post so I decided to go for a quick look.
Since it's past midnight I'll stick to a few screeners:




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Monday, July 02, 2007

Metaverse news this week

Here's a short overview of intermetaversal news:

3pointD

3pointD reports on EVE online:
"With the news a few days ago that MMO space opera EVE Online had hired an in-game economist, most commentators focused on how much fun he would have compared to all the other economists in the world, and how curious it would be to read quarterly reports from an imaginary universe. I think it has broader ramifications than that, particuarly when it comes to economies such as that of Second Life and Entropia Universe, which are explicitly tied to real-world currencies. Though Second Life pushes itself as a place where real money can be earned, it has consistently done a very poor job of making any useful economic information available. Its reports don’t resemble traditional economic and business reports, and in any case lack clear explanation of their methodology. They’re useful as far as they go, but they don’t go nearly far enough — which is an inexcusable state of affairs for a place that’s advertised as a capitalist paradise. The presence of EVE’s new economist should provide at least some distant motivation for Second Life to get its economic act together."

read full article at 3pointD: EVE Online Raises Bar on Virtual Economics.

Also read on 3 pointD:
"Huge global marketing and communications company Publicis and big 3D design company Dassault have teamed up on a new plugin-based 3D browser tool called 3dswym, which will “offer a collaborative Web-based platform allowing marketers to connect directly to consumers in order to jointly create and adapt new consumer goods and new retail environments using advanced Web and 3D tools.”

read full article at 3pointD: Publicis and Dassault Dive In for a 3dswym.

Metaversed

Nick Wilson at Metaversed is keeping his eyes open as well

Metaversed reports on Cyworld
"According to GameStudy.org SK Communications, the company behind the massive online community of Cyworld recently merged with Empas, Korea's largest search engine. A quick look at SK Communications' revenue profile for 2006 shows that Cyworld is their biggest earner, having cleared them US$80 million last year. The sale of virtual assets beat out both advertizing and the sale of real-world assets via e-commerce. This is a clear demonstration of the potential of the micro-payment model in social networks of all kinds."

and on NGI:
"Network Game Interaction (NGI), a two-year old company specializing in ad insertion into both MMOG and casual games, has just secured US$10 Million in first-round venture capital funding from GSR Ventures. Currently NGI places ads in about 50 top Chinese online games, claiming a 70% coverage of the gaming populace."

read the full article at Metaversed: NGI Secures US$10 Million In VC

and even more on China:
"The most public argument for this would be Cyworld China. Since launching in June 2005 they've reached 3 million subscribers and are growing by 15,000 a day. Add to this Tencent's QQ with its half a billion registered users, and you have an audience that is accustomed to purchasing virtual items and "forming deeper connections via immersive environments."

read the full article at Metaversed: Is China's Virtual World Space About to Go Super Nova?

Ugotrade

Tish Shute has made another one of her famous lengthy and thorough reports, which as always is filled to the brim with the latest need to knows.

"I met Eolus McMillan from Implenia on Second Life yesterday. And, I heard the extraordinary story of how creative minds from different backgrounds, IBM, SAP, Wago, Zumtobel and Implenia amongst others, have come together to make a major leap towards 3D internet. The fruits of this collaboration will be unveiled on July 6th, on Second Life. The picture above shows a birds eye view of EOLUS One on Second Life."

Read the full article at Ugotrade: EOLUS Makes Leap To 3D Internet On Second Life

Ambling in Second Life

Finally there's a nice message at Aleister Kronos' Ambling in Second Life blog -again on the Virtual World business in China -
"I came across an article in the Asia Times, that you might find interesting. It concerns the burgeoning appetite - and market - for 3D virtual worlds in China. Rather than focusing on the Mindark deal, which will see Entropia entering the marketplace, it looks in more detail at the (for me) more intriguing prospect of HiPiHi. This is a "home grown" Chinese virtual world, still in Beta test, that apparently bears uncanny similarities to Second Life (although no decision has yet been taken concerning the implementation of an inworld currency)."

Read the full article on Ambling in Second Life: China and Virtual Worlds

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Friday, June 29, 2007

Geek Meet aftermath

After today's official Geek Meet was over several interesting discussions came by on other Metaverses and SLCC convention 'standards'- or rules of engagement whatever you wanna call it.

Especially noteworthy was Moo Money's emphatic speech on Teen Grid.

"It's a sad state of affairs over there, they're the forgotten grid with a terrible economy. The Lindens rarely visit and there is barely any teen owned islands. I had to get an educational sponsor, Global Kids, to say it was okay to be on their island and then I had to submit to a FULLLLL background check, including 10 year address history.

They can buy 3x the amount of items for what we pay for one here. This leads to teens stocking up on items before they transfer over and selling them for profit which makes me so sad, it breaks my heart.

I don't know about the rumors of TG joining MG, BUT once age verification is in place, LL basically opened the back door for them to come in. I spoke with a few that have said that if their friends all migrate over, they'll have no choice but to do it as well. They don't want to be alone.

They keep their inventory, but their friends list is wiped, as well as calling cards, groups, and landmarks. Some of the teens are just as good or BETTER at building and yet they can't even make a decent profit on their furniture."

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Coca Cola releases Trademark in SL

From Metaversed:

"Though there's no mention of any kind of legal document to support it, and the information is coming from a third party, it does appear at least that Coca Cola, who's virtual thirst campaign in Second Life asks residents to create a vending experience in the virtual world that captures the "spirit" of the brand, have released their trademark to residents.

My friend Vint Falken reports that she received the following message from SLX, a web based shopping engine for the Second Life: "We have spoken to Coca-Cola and they have released their trademark to SL Merchants. Therefore, any of your items that were disabled on June 7, 2007 have been retrieved….". The email was in follow up to a take down of a "coke suit" Vint had made and put up for sale on the site."

Once again this proves that Second Life has a strong impact in the world of big business. The Coca Cola company has been untouchable in the Real World, but it seems they have to follow the laws laid out in Second Life as well. This might be a very interesting case-study for business-law and Intellectual Property.

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Monday, June 25, 2007

Metarati Blogwars !?

Since Moo Money noticed the metarati paparazzi (or metarazzi) on twitter there's been a stir over it. People started looking at me, hence my waver yesterday, now conspiracy theories are getting about. Some seem to be thinking Jerry Paffendorf to be responsible since there's gossip he's leaving ESC (nah).
  • Here's Nick's piece of mind:
    Eric Nails it on the Metarati.tv Shite Those fuckwits over at Metarati.tv remind me very strongly of a few 'pro bloggers' im aquainted with. I so hope it's not who it looks like, cos that would be a dark day for the Mertaverse. Eric Rice summed it up nicely here: Red flags everywhere!
  • Spindoctor Eric's post:
    It’s 3 am, I’m exhausted and JUST learned about this nonsense with Metarati.tv. I started to write a post about my thoughts on it (and trust me, it was not pretty at all), but I can’t organize paragraphs anymore at this hour. So here’s the ultra short version– the longer one will come after I get back from a day at LEGO Land...

Ordinal Malaprop is of the opinion that we shouldn't pay any attention to it at all, which should probably be the way to go... but I hope to see who's behind it anyway. The Spindoctor seems to have a few leads and I'm waiting to see if it matches with my shortlist of Top-3 suspects.

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Saturday, June 23, 2007

Metarati Copycats

Right now there's a new twitter account "metarati" that's adding people unasked. It's profile points to the webpage http://www.metarati.tv/ where it describes it's mission:

"Metarati TV covers the movers, groovers and shakers of the Metaverse. Got a lead for a story we should know about? Maybe an upcoming launch or event you think we should cover? Want to share some audio or video on Metarati TV? Then get in touch via one of our lifestream contacts - we would love to hear from you!"

Many people are getting annoyed at their approach, since there is no face behind it. Since 3pointD's Mark Wallace credited me once for coining the term metarati there are people thinking I am behind this nuisance. Well, IT ISN'T ME!

On april 27th I used the term Metarati on my blog to describe the great minds that are working on the Metaverse Roadmap, the pioneers of Web 3D. Following this blogpost I registered http://www.metarati.org/ at 2007-05-01 13:07:27, which is the site to which the link "Home of the Metarati" points on this blog. In Second Life I also registered the group "metarati".

On June 11 I wrote an update on the metarati in the post "Metarati and Metapolitans" saying:
"When referring to the metarati I mean the movers and shakers of the web 3D that's coming about. These are the visionairs that are working on the metaverse roadmap, are creating new technology and are able to get investor commitment to explore new paths. The metarati are visionary technology pioneers."

Now I don''t mind people using the term metarati. And as it is a generic word, everyone's free to use it in whichever way they want. Yet this twitter account and website are nearly copying my words and using them to speed-push themselves into the incrowd. That's not gonna work I think.

The website metarati.tv was registered at june 6, 2007 with a first post from june 22nd. Their copyright sign yells 2006 though.

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Tonights Geek Meet Wrap up

Tonight saw another brilliant episode of the Metaversed Geek Meet. With speakers from Ogoglio, Amazon and Cisco.


First to kick off was Trevor Smith of Ogoglio who had a very straightforward story on the open source community in virtual worlds.

  1. 1. Point One: The web is open
    Open source software from the apache project hosts a huge percentage of the web. Open source operating systems run most of the core application level infrastructure like the Google borg and DNS. When facing such cultural, technical, and legal momentum... ...it seems foolish to glom closed spaces onto the side of this huge open web.

  2. Point Two: Basic 3D technologies are no longer black magic.
    When a layer of technology has matured to the point where it is commonly understood the open source community can step in and replace proprietary systems with open ones. This is not a particularly glamorous function,... but it does have the huge benefit of enabling people to try new ideas without reinventing the wheel or taking on funding. For example,...
    the Ogoglio platform is a web server for shared persistent spaces You can host spaces on your laptop, on an inexpensive web account... or scale it up on the Amazon elastic compute cloud. Creative groups can experiment with new ideas without spending a

  3. Point Three: Open source is painfully honest.
    When your checkin comments are in the public record and anyone can fact-check your press release by browsing your code..."

Our second speaker was Jeff Barr from Amazon, known for his enthusiatic commitment to Things to Do and the Amazon build, speaking on Amazon's Elastic Computing Cloud.

"With a virtual environment like Ogoglio hosted on it, you can conceivably spin up a whole bunch of them (hundreds and eventually thousands) to deal with a short-term event like a party or a concert. Or a big company meeting. Maybe it lasts an hour, or a whole weekend. Instead of begging your friends for loaner servers or buying them outright, or paying a by-the-month hosting plan, you use what you need. This seems to be an ideal solution to the very spikey demand that you will see from a virtual world. Mostly low demand, but occasionally very, very high."


Last, but certainly not least was the inspirational Christian Reinoud from Cisco who spoke on the future of Web 3D.

"Wen people invest as much time and energy as we all have into our sims, avatars, etc. we'll want to take them with us at the same time you have companies like Wells and MTV who are concerned about liability and their brand and will opt for more walled/controlled experiences"


This discussion handsomely evolved into a very sharp discussion on various cultures within the metaverse, creating their own identities, just like in Real Life.

The notorious Prokofy Neva was also present and did some seriously sharp questioning of the speakers.
"If you make a uniform protocol for avatars/goods across the frontiers of worlds, won't that introduce the same ill effects of RL globalization, and demolish some unique indigenous cultures and overutilize labour and resources in some areas and underserve others? Im' not certain that cross-world identity porting is quite in demand as you may think."

That surely did leave us time to ponder!

The Geek Meets are becoming a popular event. I got in early as I expected the meet would be maxed out and truly 15 minutes upfront it was hard to squeeze in the speakers. Our host, Nick Wilson from Metaversed is becoming a real facilitator and set up a few things like ustream tv so other people could follow the meet as well.

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Thursday, June 21, 2007

Friday's Geek Meet speakers

Nick Wilson got together another team of excellent speakers for tomorrow's Geek Meet.
This session will see talks by:

The only thing is, it's kind of a late night show for us Dutchmen, as this weeks meet will start at midnight.

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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Metaversed uncloackes

This week we saw a sudden change at Metaversed as its spiritual father 57 Miles and cowriter Onder Skall, from Second Life Games came out of the closet and revealed their true identities.

"Caleb and I have been talking about moving to our real names on the site for some time. It seems short sighted to use Second Life avatar names on a virtual worlds news site. Though there is a downside to diluting two fairly strong brands, I think it feels right. And that's good enough reason to do it.

You can see Caleb's profile here and my updated profile here if you're interested in our backgrounds, and find out more about Metaversed authors, including how to become one," according to Nick Wilson, f.k.a. 57 Miles.

Now how does this work out? 57 Miles is indeed a strong, known brand in Second Life after months of labor, spending too much time in Second Life and blogging like crazy.

For my part, I already knew 57's true identity, as it wasn't hard to get hold on. So nothing new to me personally. And I do like the real Nick. On the other hand it leaves you wonder on privacy on the web. I've mentioned Web 2.0 is getting hard to handle. This not only counts for keeping up with many sites, blogs, email accounts and IM's, but it sure is having an impact on managing your identity. Privacy in Web 2.0 or Web 3D is hard.

Managing your identity is hard, but keeping up appearances even harder. Just Google for VeeJay Burns and you're bound to stumble on my true identity sooner or later as well. I've wondered why Ian Hughes, IBM's metaverse guru was so open about his identities at the eightbar blog. The answer is obvious: If you know and use Google, it isn't hard to find out the truth anyway.

In short, if you're trying to protect your privacy, don't get into web 2.0 or web 3D at all ;)

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Saturday, June 16, 2007

State of the Virtual Union

It's a saturdaynight, 10pm, or 1 pm Second Life prime time, yet the grid is rather quiet today. All my homeys are offline as well. Probably spending some quality time with the family...
So here I am, while Mrs. Vee is doing the laundry with some time to browse the blogs.

All in all I'm seeing various blogs taking some time to take a real life breath and slow in posting new and wild adventures. Reuters reports that Second Life's growth is cooling down a little and concludes that Linden is in need of professional help to overcome the latest bugs and setbacks.

True enough, there have been bugs, and releases didn't quite turn out the way. I am sure the Lindens are having a bad headache this week, they just don't say the word, but LL is under pressure as residents are getting impatient. One of the things in my opinion is that LL is not communicating the challenges it faces. Give out a clear roadmap on what you're doing. They've got some cracking High Performance Teams out there who know what they're up against, yet the Tao of Linden seems to be hampering a structured Release Management approach. They're making progress though.

We're walking a path of innovation on the road to Web 3D and you just can't expect everything to be slick and smooth all at once. Second Life is not the only immersive world having it's difficulties, but since SL gets more serious press coverage than most other metaverses together, it's easy to think only Second Life faces challenges. 57 covers this to some extend as well as he reflects on the Virtual World Roadmap, reminding him of the early days of the internet, like being back at the BBS days.

Some good news is that Second Life Insider reports that eBay was discovered in Second life and IBM is running Wimbledon again, just like they did Roland Garros.

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Thursday, June 07, 2007

Metaverse news

Okay, sometimes it's hard to keep up-to-date, so here's a few quick links

Linden Labs releases New Betagrid Viewer
The excellent 3PointD runs several stories on various NVE's this week on Ogoglio, EVE Online, and MindArk's Chinese virtual World (Entropia)

The other Second Life bloggernaut, 57 Miles from Metaversed runs stories on Korea's possible regulation of Virtual Content, PS3 Home, Entropia and the Multiverse Millionaire. Last but not least he askes himself if Meet Me is a new Japanese Second Life.

More on the Japanese getting setup for the metaverse can be found at the Virtual Worlds Blog.
Then there's EMAC reporting on spectacular growths in Kids-metaverses (like club Pinguin, Stardolls and Webkinz)

Last but not least in the series of links is Advertising for Succes, a business blog running some more links on the Metaverse.

Metarati update

Then there's the Metarati, a term I supposedly coined, which is rapidly being picked up by blogs like Ugotrade, 3pointD and by the Electric Sheep Company and a few others as well, such as the Click and gives about 300 results in Google Search right now.

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Sunday, June 03, 2007

Multiverse scores $4.5m funding

It´s a wee bit late to blog this, it´s more than 2 months ago that Multiverse, another 3D platform, scored substantial funding in a Series A funding led by Sterling Stamos Capital Management.

What is the Multiverse

The Multiverse was created in 2004 by a team of Netscape veterans who have the ambition to create the leading platform for Online Gaming and Virtual Worlds.

"Multiverse's unique technology platform will change the economics of virtual world development by empowering independent game developers to create high-quality, Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMOGs) and non-game virtual worlds for less money and in less time than ever before"
The Multiverse provided the platform for games such as Dark Horizons, Force if Arms, Forgotten Legends, Project Mars and several other MMOG's which all have a considerable track record. Yet, the Metaverse has rapidly grown to a 2.5 billion dollar market, which makes it an attractive market to plunge into. In my opinion the Multiverse is one of many contenders, and I have seen too little innovation from them to consider them a serious contender for becoming the predominant platform. They will be a serious partner when it comes to online gaming, but not in serious Web 3D

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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Intergalactic news (2)

Here's another update on news from the vast expanse of networked virtual environments (NVE's) or simply called virtual worlds.

IBM

Big Blue is looking at the Torque game engine, proud product of the Garage Gamers as booster for their virtual escapades. IBM is rapidly advancing inte Virtual Revolution with a stronghold in Secondlife and in creating their own intraverse. They are also looking into the Multiverse which is still in Beta. This adaptiveness is surprising for a moloch from the days of the Digerati, the old school internet pioneers and is earning IBM's guru Irv Wladawsky a true nomination for the Metarati awards.

Shanda Entertainment

The Chinese corp Shanda Entertainment is digging into the world of Massively multiplayer online role-playing games, or MMORPGs. Shanda is China's largest entertainment and online gaming provider, with titles such as The Legend of Mir II, The World of Legend, The Sign, The Age, Magical Land and Dungeons & Dragons Online.

Shanda's move heats up the Asian Virtual World competition as 3pointD reports on nve's named HiPiHi and Splume.

Sony / Pinguin Club

The Sony entertainment group is aiming to take over the Pinguin Club according to Mashable with an bid close to $ 450.000 USD. The club is an online gaming world for children which is seeing an even more spectacular growth than Second Life.

The Canadian firm New Horizons launched the club in October 2005 and it has since grown to 4.5 million visitors in March 2007 and is subscription based. To Sony it may well be an interesting new marketing channel for their games, and perhaps merge with their Playstation Home, an alledgely superior virtual platform that will crush Second Life (according to Mashable)

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Chung boosts virtual finance

Earlier this month I've blogged about Anshe Chung getting a banking licence for the Entropia universe. It seems like that this was just a starter for our Metaverse Mogul, according to a press release on the AC Studio website:

"Anshe Chung Studios is preparing to launch a virtual financial market, financial products and a set of services that are going to, for the first time, allow direct capital flow and investment across virtual world boundaries. This step will be the first of many in the creation of an open, cross platform Metaverse economy that transcends individual virtual worlds. "Some virtual worlds like Second Life (R), Entropia Universe (R) and IMVU (R) have demonstrated the enormous economic potential that exists when key sectors of a virtual world economy such as content creation, trade, banking and services are privatized. This has lead to a boom in each of these worlds that has yet to be matched by any other economy, real or virtual", says founder Ailin Graef a.k.a. Anshe Chung. "Now the time is right to go further and link these exciting spaces together, to begin with the creation of the global Metaverse." [read the full article @ Anshe's site]

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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Dutch polder virtual seas

Aleister Kronos from Ambling in Second Life has been blogging his travels in the Metaverse for some time now. During his travels he spotted many new sims and had some nice scoops. Since earlier this year he has noted that several Dutch companies, towns and universities have come to Second Life. From an SL point of view, they're most welcome to add to the community, from an RL point of view, Aleister is getting a little frustrated that one after the other Dutch sim opens up while the UK, his hometurf, is lagging severly.

A short wrap up:

  1. Damanicorp (SL Content Creators)
  2. Lost in the Magic Forest (SL Content Creators)
  3. SLionhead (SL Content Creators)
  4. Randstad (Job agency)
  5. Content (Job agency)
  6. ABN AMRO (banking)
  7. ING (banking)
  8. BNN (television)
  9. Avro (television)
  10. Talpa (television)
  11. Nextstrategy (advertising)
  12. Heineken (beer)
  13. Philips (electronics, consumer goods)
  14. Aegon (insurance)
  15. In Holland (education)
  16. TU Delft (education)
  17. Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (education)
These are just a few of the noteworthy virtual escapades of the Dutch, there are a lot more. Some of these like Heineken, Aegon and InHolland are still under construction, or at least not accessible to public, but already give rise to speculation.


Adaptiveness

So why are the Dutch so apt to get immersed? Here are some likely and unlikely possibilities:

  1. The Netherlands is too densely populated, so it's obvious they're looking out to polder new areas.
  2. The Dutch have too much spare time on their hands.
  3. The Dutch are very jealous. If your neighbor has a big car, then you need to have a bigger one. If your neighbour has a big sim, make sure yours is bigger.
  4. The Netherlands is tired of IT domination coming from the US and needs to show we dig this immersive thingy.
  5. Being a traditional nation of Merchants, it's only logical for the Dutch to spot potentially profitable new markets.
  6. The Dutch have always had an international horizon. Being able to communicate in different languages gives them an advantage in utilising Second Life's potential.
  7. The Dutch hate travelling (since the Netherlands is so small everything is in walking distance), so Teleports are a relief.
  8. Nothing ever happens in good ole Holland, so Second Life gets a whole lot of attention in the media.

Truth is, I don't know. It might be nice to get a complete list of Dutch virtual ventures and it may also be worth doing some market research on this.

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Tuesday, May 01, 2007

The MindBlizzard Crowd

A little earlier I gave you some clinical stats on april's visits to the blog, here's a more personal touch:
When I was checking some things I noticed the MindBlizzard blog was mentioned at the Spotfire site... good to know :)

Aside from that some people like to keep stats of where Business Week is mentioned, this past week I scored 2 points. And there's Reuben Steiger, CEO of Millions of Us who reacted to my blog on his 2007 predictions for Second Life and Paul Verhoeven who turned out to be a well metaversed SL-savvy director and kind enough to take half an hour to sit and have a chat with me on his new movie Black Book and auditioning in SL.

In the past month I've gotten to know Aleister Kronos, who's employed at a competing corp, a passionate blogger at Ambling in SL and 57 miles, professional bloggernaut at Metaversed. A month blogging like a lunatic earned me some nice friends, some scoops, some sleepless nights and some nice credits.

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

1.5.0 (2) Client released

WOW - I'm in. It took some time though as I -and more immersive junks with me experienced several difficulties logging in with the new client. First to cry havoc was 57 Miles from the Metaversed blog. Here's what sucked"

"Well, it's back to 57 channels and nothing on...

Same here, first word I get is that my "new and improved client" can't connect to the version manager, well that sucks..If this were true, that would definately be deplorable, deploying a new version before letting the system know that there will be a new client....
Anyway, news I get now is just that "it's unable to connect and we all just have to take a peek at the status page"... as if that one isn't virtually dead while everyone is downloading the new improved not workable 1.5 client :)


Cheers, VeeJay"

But hey, I'm in so I gotta checksum to do to see if my inventory is still complete.

First spotted errors:
- IM friendlist doesn't come on
- Friends tab doesn't load
- Group IM errors are supposed to be fixed, however, whilst testing it shows:
"[13:56] Starting session with Mind Blizzard please wait." and then it's stuck. After a minute it's done though. So it's probably fixed, just humongously laggy

Update


Okay, humongously laggy might be an understatement. I've been immersed for about 30 minutes now and my friendlist and group members still haven't loaded.
The funny part is... everything's logged, last login, title but names... well... they're gone!

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Sunday, April 15, 2007

Heartbeat Digital

Heartbeat Digital creates custom Websites and high-value Web software for Fortune 500 companies and other industry-leading organizations. And they've gone virtual. Their sim in Second Life is rather empty, they're aiming for the sky.

A massive aluminium zeppelin hovers above the island. Do we need to watch and see if they are bringing their clients to SL? I think that may take a while. The zeppelin design is pretty ok, but the sim lacks experience. A quick scan tells us that they've claimed their sim in 2004 ! so you might expect they'd learned the inside out of the metaverse by now. Heartbeat Digital seems to have missed a beat here and remained in the Presence stage.

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Virtual Branding

If there's one business that has nothing to do in Second Life it's the alcoholindustry. While you can go to a virtual club in Second Life and sit at the bar and have some conversation or get crazy on the dancefloor, it seems pretty much a waste of time and effort to sit down and have a virtual whiskey: You don't taste it and the alcohol doesn't work.

Yet Diageo (fka United Distillers & Vintners), one of the worlds leading alcohol conglomerates has stepped into Second Life with "the Bar" This is yet another medium for them to support their website http://www.thebar.com. Drinks might be of no real use in the Metaverse, but people spending hours a day -in the evening- on Second Life probably get thirsty. So be seen where your consumers look is Diageo's credo in this one making The Bar an example of virtual branding.

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Saturday, April 14, 2007

Virtual Tuscany

On one of my Metaverse journeys I came across a nice romantic sim, called Tuscany. A small village lies next to a meandering creek. On the shore there's a row of neat beachhouses and a pier.



The sim is set up quite spacey with nice walkways between the hills leaving room for some typical Tuscan trees, a little pond and sunflower farm...



I'd say it's not a professional build like Dublin, but the concept works for me. I can imagine Tuscany lovers renting one of the beach houses here.

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Aimee Weber

Aimee's one of the sexiest names in virtual content creation. She's a social butterfly that traverses the grid with grace. She entered the metaverse early 2004 and rapidly became one of the top designers.



Being very mediable, the web is littered with articles and blogs about her, but she's been a very prolific builer in Second Life as well. She rocketted to stardom which does seem to take its toll:



Some jobs are done quite sloppy and like big time celebs she's very much into charity right now with projects such as Second Life Relay for Life from the American Cancer Society, The United Nations Stand Up Against Poverty and (very Gorish) National Oceanic & Atmospheric Association.




What remains is the fact that she comes up with original ideas, contrary to Rivers Run Red and the Electric Sheep Company, and it's the ideas that keep SL in motion. She's been active in the fields of clothing design, virtual education and simulcast events (such as the 2006 solar eclipse)

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