Wednesday, July 25, 2007

We believe in Children. Do you?

Through my good friend Aleister Kronos I was tipped that BBH (Bartle, Bogle, Hegarty ) and RRR (rivers run red) are bringing another Charity 2.0 event to Second Life.



Peter Rogers from the Ad Agency BBH let us know that each year BBH is sponsoring a good cause, and this year it's Barnardo's, which is a charity organisation that stands up for children in need.


"Bernardo's vision is that the lives of all children and young people should be free from poverty, abuse and discrimination. We believe in the abused, the vulnerable, the forgotten and the neglected. We will support them, stand up for them and bring out the best in each and every child. As one of the UK’s leading children’s charities this is our pledge. We believe in children – do you?"


By just becoming a dad again in Real Life, it's hard to turn away from organisations like these. A child's life is too valuable and some have to face such ordeals. so I quickly went over to the BBH island [slurl]


Here's some images of the venue:





"On the 1st of August 2007 the advertising company BBH will have a special day for one of it's clients. It's called the Barnardos day out or BDO for short. The goal is to raise as much money for Barnardos as possible. We needed a plan so got together with Rivers Run Red a company that helps us turn ideas into reality for Second Life and came up with a vending machine selling t-shirts, simple and quick to create.

RRR were fantastic they gave all their time and talent for free and it wasn't long before we had the wonderful washing machine up and running. There's a set of Barnardos t-shirts to buy and we also managed to commission Airside to create a unique design to go alongside. We're hoping that later there will be more special items from friends of Barnardos, so watch this space. " says BBH consultant Pete Rogers.

Labels: , , , , ,

Thursday, July 19, 2007

MindBlizzard growing

The MindBlizzard blog has been up for just 4 months, but it's growing (too) fast...

Size


This is getting a regular habit I fear. Right now I'm having a hard time publishing to my blog. It's been barely a month ago that I upgraded my hostingaccount from 50 to 100 Mb and DataTraffic limits from 2 Gb/month to 4 Gb per month.



Now, halway through July I'm at 3.2 Gb Data Traffic already and have grown beyond 100Mb.
Maybe I should start considering getting a sponsor as well.



Reputation


To look on the bright side of life: In the past month my technorati rating has rocketed from autority 26 to authority 50, and closing in on the top 100K blogs. Not bad for a 4 month old blog.




Readers


In the past months I've seen various people comment on and link to my blog, such as:


Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Thursday, June 28, 2007

R3 makes same mistake twice

Early april I went to a seminar on Second Life in the Netherlands. Today I missed out on the next big thing in the Netherlands, the Second Life seminar organised by Euroform.

Fortunately I received some good updates while I was working hard on a RL thing for a change.

It seems I haven't missed too much as there were several speakers present who were also present at the april session (like the University of Amsterdam and Dutch Stock Exchange) and the guys from Lost in the Magic Forrest were again. I've probably missed out on a few interesting stories from speakers from Adformatie, Ymerce and Essent.

The one thing remarkable is that for the second time in a row, Justin Bovington, CEO of Rivers Run Red failed to appear. There have been many people wanting to hear him, and paying a lot of money to do say, who didn't leave satisfied today. These sort of misfires spread quicly in the SL community making several large Dutch companies switching to local content developers.

Labels: ,

Monday, May 28, 2007

Skynews hits the virtual sky

Yesterday saw the opening of yet another media corp to Second Life, this time it's Sky News. And like Channel 4 it is a Rivers Run Red production, so I was wondering what they'd come up with this time, since the Channel 4 release earned heavy criticism in the blogger community.
Many people I've talked to say a Real Life company should go for a daring, innovative design in a virtual environment and not stick to a RL representation. In this case, they're absolutely wrong. The Sky News sim is rather RL-like, but works a lot better than the C4 sim I just can't relate to.
The Sky sim consist of a large complex in which various stages are set for talkshows, news and weather presentations which could well be very much alike their RL stage. There's a lot to do to, explore and enjoy at the sim, or as Nic at KZero puts it:
"The main aspect of the venue is the virtual Sky News Centre, complete with an audio feed from the RL centre as well as streaming video of Sky News show on the plethora of screens and monitors. Part of the roadmap for this venue is the re-creation of news events and stories and this will be the sweetspot for enabling residents to engage and interact with the news - this is what metaverse marketing applications is all about : Engagement. Another key success factor for metaverse marketing is integration and there’s lots of it here."

The opening of the sim coincides with the Guardian Hay Festival, which explains the extra setup at the back of the main building (picture left). A last nice feat of the sim is a number of fake decorums, like the entrance of 10 Downingstreet (picture right) which leaves you wondering how they do it in RL, especially if you've seen the Wag the Dog movie.

Labels: , , ,

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Renault Italia and ING Renault Formula 1

First of my Renault stops is the Renault Italia sim which is still under construction. The sim is largely build by Virtual Italian Parks. This site is still heavily under construction, so I was amazed I got in. Only the parcel was set to limited access.


being a Renault driver myself (yeah, I love Jag better but my wallet doesn't) I was interested to see what they've come up with. The sim is going to be the launch of the new restyled Twingo, which makes Renault the umpteenth Createur d'Automobile who uses SL as new model promo platform.

Aside from the Twingo show there's gonna be a racetrack and some other things that I can't see yet. Why Renault needs another racetrack is unknown to me, as they've got their testdrive lanes laid out at the ING Renault F1 sim as well.

update


Tonight Zoe Visconti of Virtual Italian Parks contacted me to give some additional info. The sim is going to open next thursday (31 may 2007) at 21.00 CET, there will be an opening party and free twingos to ride on the track (and gadgets as well).

SLURL : http://slurl.com/secondlife/Renault%20Italia/128/128/0

So, logically. the second stop was the ING Renault Formula 1 site. Since it's a F1 day it seemed to be a good day to visit the sim, but it was rather empty. The build looks good though. At the moment I was visiting and snapshotting the sim, Rivers Run Red CEO Justing Bovington contacted me and we had a nice conversation on various RRR builds.

I noticed that the Renault Italia and the F1 sim were quite similar to eachother, but according to Justin that was purely coincedence. Renault Italia and Renault / ING F1 are completely different entities. According to Justin the F1 sim is a softlaunch and "activity is coming up, they have to run the Monaco event too as in the RL one."


All in all, I totally like this build. More details on the build can be found at KZero's excellent blog.

SLURL: http://slurl.com/secondlife/ING%20Renault%20F1/128/128/0


Channel 4 update

One last interesting piece of information on the Channel 4 sim, which I -and a few other bloggers didn't particularly like is that the"channel 4 build is interesting, its going to change a lot :)"

Labels: , , , , ,

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Philips Launchparty

The Dutch electroniscs and household mogul Philips is finally opening up its sim in Second Life. For months the sim stood out there in the Rivers Run Red area, frustrating bloggers time after time by not opening up its doors. Finally the wait is over...
Friday, june 1 is their official kick-off, with several freebees thrown in. .. "PHILIPS Design have launched in SL with a promise to work with residents more actively than many RL firms have managed in the past" reports Billbo Winkler in the popular weekly "The Avastar" newspaper.
Responsible for the build is (a.o.) Wendyy Mahana, who's also involved with the development of our Virtual Holland, so there's a definate Rivers Run Red involvement.

Labels: , ,

Monday, April 30, 2007

Adidas awareness

I'm just realising I left out an important blogpost. I've blogged Reebok and BBH earlier this month, but forgot to blog their neighbour, Adidas. I visited the sim, took a few snapshots but completely forgot to post it. There are two plausible explanations for this omission
  1. It was way past bedtime when I blogged Reebok and BBH
  2. The Adidas sim was just not good enough to be blogged.


Well, to be honest, I wasn't very enthausiastic about it. It was pretty much the same as Reebok, a shop with some shoes and nothing much of a so desired experience. When I think of Adidas I think of Steffi Graff sweating on Roland Garros or some other sporty event...

The reason I've added this post now is because there is something funny about Adidas. KZero blogged about brand perception in SL, based upon a research done by Reperes, a french market research agency (the one from the desing competition). The most remarkable result is that Adidas has scored highest with a 69% brand awareness.

Anyway, Adidas was brought to SL by the inevitable Rivers Run Red. However, it could be a German build as it is almost as white as the BMW and Toca Me designs.

SLURL:http://slurl.com/secondlife/adidas/128/128/0

Labels: , , , , , ,

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

PA gets Griefer consult

On the 15th I reported over gridwide precautions taken in fear of griefer attacks. Well, not truly gridwide. Several sims did suffer attacks, though not as massive if feared beforehand.

From inside sources I received confirmation that the sim owned by PA Consulting had been subject to a Griefer attack.



"and yes we had griefers here, two people - one in the air - the other in the water at the edge of sim. I was in the air - wasn't affected - but when coming down I saw lots of parcels falling from the sky in different colors - that caused the lag."

The attack lasted 10 minutes before the griefers were banned. However, in RL a 10-minute stop could be a costly disaster, but in SL we're not yet to the level that it has become business-critical. As PA said "well it is anyoing - and the reasons not understandable for any intelligent person. There is WOW or other combat plays - for them to go to."

PA Consulting Group (PA) is an international management consulting firm known for its expertise in technology and new product development. As of 2007 it operates in more than 35 countries, so you could say that PA is a Player. The firm works across both the private and public sectors. It has won independent awards and recognition for its client work in financial services, energy, life sciences and healthcare, government and public services, manufacturing, defence, and telecommunications. PA's Report and Accounts for 2005 defines its services as: helping clients to design strategies for growth, achieve effective IT that improves business performance, mobilise human resources, deliver complex programs and major business transformations, and develop breakthrough products and processes. The latter are created at PA's dedicated applied technology facilities at Melbourn, Cambridge, UK, and Princeton, NJ, USA. (from Wikipedia)

The PA sim itself doen't differ from most Business sims. A rather conventional office setup with the usual places, built by Rivers Run Red

Labels: , , ,

Monday, April 16, 2007

Reebok

Earlier today I posted a blogentry about the Mediacorp BBH and noted that their design had much of the same coloring as the Reebok sims. I just realised I haven't blogged my Reebok visit yet.
As I said it the BBH blog, there's a distinct resemblance. Rivers Run Red surely ran dry on creativity for a while and stuck to a certain type of build with severals sims.
As for Reebok, international manufacturer of sportswear, the concept is rather boring: Let's create a shop to sell our stuff. C'mon! Sports is an adventure, you've got to live live to the max! If I want to buy a Reebok, I'll go to the store and see which shoe fits me. In an immersive world, you've gotta convince me why Reebok is my brand
(err... due to my professional occupation I'd probably stick to handcrafted Dutch Van Bommel shoes anyway)
Aside from the Reebok shop with traditional shoestands the sim has one distinct feature though: The Reebok store is set up in a downtown area, a heavy urban built sim at first glance. Yet the buildings are kinda twisted. A nice non-RL-conformative detail ;)

Labels: , , ,

BBH

BBH (Bartle-Bogle-Hagarty something) was quite early to set up virtual shop. BBH is a media company that does ads for Unilever, Audi, Diageo (e.g. the Johnny Walker keep on Walking campaign) and Vodafone). Their virtual HQ is a spacious design (according to the official story - though when I visited it I was under the impression that this was still under construction)
They have their trademark black sheep image and their beliefs posted for all to see. They've got several conference rooms with tables, and a swanky coffee bar in back. The design is a typical early RRR, barely decorated, lots of white blocks. I think they should stick to the media that works for them, and it's not virtual. The promotional video of this build on the Rivers Run Red site, but I'm not that positive on this build for 2 reasons
  1. The coloring and design is too similar to Reebok
  2. The roofless buildings and other barren elements give you the impression this one still isn't finished.

Labels: ,

Saturday, April 14, 2007

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)

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

SLUC: Second Life Under Construction

A number of corporations have sims under contruction

Millions of US

These sims are not accesible yet, but at least Microsoft and Comcast look nearly completed.

Electric Sheep
  • Too many half finished sims makes you wonder if they can finish anything soon.

Rivers Run Red
Lost in the Magic Forest

SLionhead

  • According to the CEO they've recently started working on some major projects. I'' try and scoop them.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Friday, April 13, 2007

Rivers Run Red

Rivers Run Red was the world's first agency to establish a working presence within a virtual world. RRR has been active in Second Life since 2003. In meatspace the company has offices in London and San Fran.

Projects include Vodafone, Philips, ING, Reebok, Adidas, Calvin Klein (CKin2U), Heineken, BBC, Channel 4, Penguin, Duran Duran and Radio 538. It's surprising to see how many Dutch client the company has. Since 2007 the RRR faces serious competition with new native Dutch virtual builders such as [lost in the] Magic Forest, Damanicorp and SLionhead.

Aside from their corporate website RRR runs the Space Think Dream thingy as an extra outlet of their works.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Sony Ericson

Just 3 blocks away from Second Life's Amsterdam you'll find the Sony Ericson sim. On the one hand SL-Amsterdam is not really the type of sim a bonafide corp would want to have as a neighbour, but on the other hand it does provide an enourmous amount of traffic.

For people looking on the map for Amsterdam, the Sony Ericson sim is hard to miss.


The SE sim itself is not fully exploited as most big-corp-sims, just one small shop stands amid tropical flora. Clean info-desks inform you of SE's latest gadgets and the good old "Finish the following sentence..." competition found its way into SL, giving visitors the chance of winning an SE W880i phone.

Deadcenter is a dancefloor in SE Logo format, with a DJ table next to it. Well, you be the virtual jockey (the VJ ?) and choose from the huge collection of records hovering over the dancefloor.



From a design point of view it's a small and clean design without much sticky content.
Certainly SE has jumped on the hype and wanted presence without much understanding of this virtual world. We'll give them credit for being in time to catch the hype-ride earlier this year but I do hope they're actively thinking on major redecoration in the near future.

SLURL: http://slurl.com/secondlife/Sony%20Ericsson/128/128/0
The SE sim lies close to most Rivers Run Red projects, so they've probably had a hand in this one too.

Labels: , , , ,

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Vodafone

Early february the Vodafone sim went online, shortly before I opened this blog.
Now, two months later I noticed that Vodafone was still missing.

The sims is built around the Vodafone logo, but to much Alice in Wonderland style in my opinion.
An auditorium, an info center and a goodiecorner are the standard ingredients, but the sim leaves room for visitors to stick some pictures to the wall of an iglo.

With giant drums, horns and a circus act skyhigh-dive-into-a-small-bucket I certainly have to say that Vodafone has an original design, but it doesn't invite me to come back either.


SLURL: http://slurl.com/secondlife/Vodafone/128/128/0
Rivers Run Red are the producers of this sim.

Labels: , , ,

Virtual Banking (2): ING and Our Virtual Holland

At the Media Plaza Second Life seminar Gertjan Kaaij, Business Innovator of the ING held a presentation about ING in Second Life.... well, not exactly. The Dutch baking and insurance company ING they started cruising the virtual worlds in late 2006, but did not see a ROI on short term.

So there wasn't a big ING hit to launch, then what else to do? For the time being, ING uses SL mainly as a branding medium. They've hired Rivers Run Red to build a region of sims called "Our Virtual Holland"


The plan is for Our Virtual Holland to evolve into a virtual mini-state, and to this end they have been offering free parcels of land to would-be residents. Don't all rush to the website though - the offer closed on 21st March. Rather than churn out all the details here, I would refer you to this page of their website, which tells you everything you need to know (if not, try their FAQ). As is usual with SL that magic word for 2007, "Innovation", looms large. I will be interested to see what emerges. Certainly the pittoresque windmills will add to that innovative spirit...


At the moment ING is working with partners like the Rijksmuseum to add some spirit to the sims.

SLURL: http://slurl.com/secondlife/Virtual%20Holland/128/128/0
Pictures kindly provided by Sir Aleister Kronos

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Dutch Design

Some of my foreign friends are getting tired of all those new Dutch companies entering SL. It appears that the Dutch are early adapters in Second Life. Right now the Netherlands is one of the most represented countries in this virtual world.

Where the earliest of entries for Dutch companies were crafted by overseas agencies like Rivers Run Red or the Electric Sheep Company, more and more businesses have discovered that we have a number of excellent builders in the Netherlands as well

The leading SL builders in the NL are [ Lost in the ] Magic Forest and Damanicorp. DMA is starting to gain momentum as producer of Streaming Media in SL.

[Lost in the] Magic Forest & DMA Studios


Damania by Damanicorp

Labels: , , , , , , ,