Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Massive lay offs and the future of NVE's

Today Massively made it into my RSS feed. There's really a couple of cool Second Life residents blogging over there now. This time it's Moo Money that brings up some juicy gossip from Second Life as she writes on the ESCapists:

In a shocking blog entry today, Jeremy Flagstaff noted that the Electric Sheep Company has laid off approximately one-third of their staff, or about 22 people. It has been previously noted that ESC had to cut back on the number of islands for CSI: NY, and now both AOL Pointe and Pontiac are pulling out of Second Life. This news should come as no surprise, but it's still heartbreaking to hear that it
happened so close to Christmas.

While it is not known at this time exactly why the layoffs occurred, Jeremy speculates that they will be focusing on technology like OnRez. Joel Greenberg, whose job status is unknown at this time, announced on Twitter that ESC is shutting down their virtual ad network project. In a prophetic blog entry written last week by Rez Menoptra, he speculated on how long builds will last in virtual worlds and who will remember them.

Massively will update you with the latest news on this topic as we hear it. Stay tuned!

Most of these people we will never know, but we've seen Jeremy himself move away from the Sheep earlier this year as well as Jerry Paffendorf. Is the negative trend for Second Life we've seen in Europe now crossing to the US as well? Are we close to a dotcom-burst in the virtual world industry? I don't think so.

In november I quickly mentioned AOL's departure from Second Life, now Pontiac is joining the list of departing companies. How should we read these signs: Is it true that Second Life has proved itself unfit for business? In the case of Pontiac / Motorati I think it surely didn't.

The thing I keep saying to our clients is this: Right now Second Life is the ideal platform to experiment. It is open, and it's present, which means you can start up exploring the metaverse at relatively low cost. Try to get a feel for the technology, explore opportunities, chase ideas. Second Life makes this possible because it's free to sign up and you can put in almost any kind of data. Second Life is as open as the gates of heaven to whom believes. The feeling I get now is that most of the departing companies are not going out of business, they're moving. It's just as much tribal migration that we see in social networking sites. You explore, then find a site that better suits your needs. A lot of these companies gained experience from Second Life and are now preparing for dedicated themed worlds, based upon enterprise technology on platforms like There.com

It is a moving business we're in. The past year has seen an extreme usergrowth in Second Life, and an enormous commercial / PR drive for companies to enter virtual worlds. Now it's time to check the balance. All in all, as I wrote in my previous blogpost on the Millions of Us venue for Splenda; "It's Dozens of Them" meaning right now it's just too much of the same. We're creating presence for companies. There's an occasional immersion that goes beyond simple presence and really adds something to the industry.

Millions of Us, Lost in the Magic Forest, Electric Sheep Company, Virtual Italian Parks, and many many other MDC's have mastered the skill of building in Second Life. What they haven't got is the skill of Business Analysis.

It will take skilled consultants to translate core business to virtual representations. It will take experience and time for us to be able to build virtual venues that are fit for business and will form an extention to our daily operations. 2007 has been a year in which Second Life and virtual worlds have been a toy for marketing and communication departments, 2008 will probably see NVE's as a playhouse for IT departments and 2009 will probably be the year in which the NVE potential really sinks in, the time when the Business takes over and will use it as a medium for its core processes.

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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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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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