Friday, January 09, 2009

Oriental Dispatch : Sony's Blue Stadium

Sony Marketing has launched "Blue Stadium" which aims to support Japan national football team.

Fans can sign up freely, upload their pictures of their faces and create avatars. After that, they can make their own teams and fight each other.

It's just a simple flash-based game(see video below), but it looks like fun.

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Monday, December 15, 2008

Sony fined 1M for collecting Child Data

Last week I blogged on an article in the Dutch Technology magazine Emerce on a plea to clean personal data from databases in the article "Personal Data Expiry", and today I came across an article with more or less the same implications.

The article reports Sony Music getting fined 1 million dollar for collecting and using personal data of minors without parental permission. As the automated Google translation as usual is kind of crappy, here's my translation of the highlights.

The music company was indicted by the U.S. regulator FTC on tuesday and agreed to a settlement of 1 million dollars on thursday. In this settlement. Sony Music admits that it has violated privacy rules against minors.

Sony Music has collected sensitive personal data without parental consent since 2004. Through 196 websites from artists like Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera the company acquired names, addresses, mobile phone numbers and birth dates from 30.000 children aged under 13. This data was reused at other websites and sometimes even published.

The 1 million dollar fine breaks up into a $33 penalty per child, but it is unclear how much profit Sony makes of minors. The record company now is obliged to have its databases cleared of all unlawfully gained personal data.

In collecting this data Sony has violated the socalled Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), a law which must protect children under 13 (ed. probably best known from the Coppa declaration you have to fill in with every forum you register with). All bodies that collect personal information and process it must comply to a fixed set of measures. They are, for example, obliged to do 'a reasonable'
attempt to do the age check.

Sticky thing here is, what do you consider to be a reasonable attempt to verify? We do not have a signing authority for surfers, like we have VeriSign for website owners. You don't have to be really really smart to surf around the web pretty anonymously and spoof whatever data is required. Age Verification, Geoblocking and other protective measures we've put on the web are usually nothing more than a farce, an extra feature to make you feel secure.
  • Read the original article in Dutch here
  • Read the Google translation here.

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Thursday, December 11, 2008

PS Home goes Open Beta

After lots of rumours and delays, Sony finally pushes PlayStation Home to open Beta today. BBC News reports:

Sony's long awaited next-gen social networking site for PlayStation users goes into open beta today.

PlayStation Home will let gamers create their own avatar -a virtual representation of themselves - and then interact with other users in a 3D environment. Players can chat to other users, invite them into their own "home", and will soon be able to stream music and video.

PS Home will be available free to all registered PlayStation Network users.

Read the full article here.

It's hard to keep in the loop about this virtual world, as it is intended for Playstation users, which excludes me. However, the screenshots available on the web look excellent. Below is a collection of screenshots from the PlayStation 3 Home Forum.



I must admit, the graphics look very good, of a higher quality than that of Second Life. For instance you will find the avatars far more realistic than those in SL, as well as the lighting.

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Thursday, December 04, 2008

Pownce goes Bownce

I gues it's been a little more than a year now since I happily blogged the arrival of Pownce, a flashy new microblogging tool that would heat up competition for Twitter and Jaiku (before it got assimilated by Google).

I was quite excited when I got my invitation to the alpha version on the 1st of July last year and reviewed:

In my twittergroup it kinda hyped and everyone was screaming for invites. Why?
I think two reasons:

  1. One of the makers of Pownce is KevinRose (from Digg) and
  2. Robert Scoble (Scobleizer) is on it as well.

The early signs were promising, but over the weekend Pownce saw an onrush of new users resulting in scalability and stability problems. The slick looking Adobe AIR driven client crashed several times.

We're a year and a half onward now, and the curtain falls for Pownce. From December 15 on you'll get bounced on Pownce according to the short email notification I received:

We are sad to announce that Pownce is shutting down on December 15,2008. As of today, Pownce will no longer be accepting new users or newpro accounts.

To help with your transition, we have built an export tool so you cansave your content. You can find the export tool at Settings > Export. Please export your content by December 15, 2008, as the site will not be accessible after this date.

Please visit our new home to find out more:http://www.sixapart.com/pownce

Our thanks go out to everyone who contributed to the Pownce community,

The Pownce Crew

I still think it wins 99 out of a 100 times over Twitter when it comes to presentation and when it comes to functionality, I guess it may still beat the crap out of Twitter.

So when it tops Twitter, why did Six Apart tear it apart? Why did the curtain fall? Did the Credit Crunch, or Techcrunch, or whatever you want to call it dry up the wells of green and caused the bailout? Perhaps that may have been the final pushover, but let's face it. It lost competition to an inferior platform, just like Philips' Video 2000 and Sony's Betamax lost to the lousy VHS back in the 80's in a fierce format war.

Pownce wasn't stable yet, as the initial review showed. It crashed. But that isn't uncommon. I regularly get the message that the "Technorati monster escaped" or twitter hiccups. Seems like it comes as a standard feature of services like these. That didn't kill Pownce. It's the buzz that did, rather the lack off. I liked it better than Twitter, but rarely used Pownce simply because all my friends were on Twitter.

Twitter aleady had the crowd, and though better, it wasn't good enough to start another tiresome tribal migration from one community to the other and rebuild your contact list. Twitter is sustainable by sheer numbers only. Pownce would have needed an ecosystem to support it, a tie in with social networking sites in which is messaging capacities could be leveraged. It could have been done, as Six Apart is one of the prime ecosystem contributors for LinkedIn for example.

I guess that's settled than, one less account to worry about, one place that holds yet another part of my digital identity, my humoungous digital footprint down. Just hope they'll do erase their databases thoroughly and not use it for a new startup.

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Friday, October 10, 2008

Microsoft goes Mii Too on Virtual Worlds


Yesterday Microsoft went head on with rival Sony at the Tokyo Game Show as they presented their new immersive 3D Xbox experience, We've been seeing reports and snapshots of Soný's Playstation Home for a while now, but actual deployment has been delayed several times.
Sony Corp.'s twice delayed online "Home" virtual world for the PlayStation 3 console will be available sometime later this year, while U.S. software maker Microsoft Corp., which competes with its Xbox 360, is starting "New Xbox Experience" worldwide Nov. 19. [International Herald Tribune]

Microsoft promised to be more varied as a gateway to various entertainment, such as watching movies, going to virtual parties and sharing your collection of photos.

"Our goal is to make the Xbox experience more visual, easier to use, more fun to use and more social," he [Shappert] said in an interview at a nearby hotel. "We focused a lot on friends and other experiences outside just playing games."[International Herald Tribune]

What the International Herald Tribune didn't write is that it wasn't exactly Sony that Microsoft was taking on, they were on a collision course with Nintendo's Wii experience.

The moment MTV News revealed Microsoft was working on a Mii-like system called Avatars, accusations of copying Nintendo started flying.

That reaction only intensified when the rumors became fact at this year’s E3. Microsoft expected this reaction. At least, that’s what they told me while showing the “New Xbox Experience,” a complete dashboard revamp coming later this year.

“I remember the CES right after the Wii launched and all the [gaming] editors were asking, ‘When are you guys going to do your version of the Miis?,” Xbox director of marketing Albert Penello told MTV Multiplayer in a hotel suite interview two weeks ago. “I remember going, ‘You guys are going to slaughter us in the press if we ever do it.’ [lMTV]

Read the full story in MTV's Microsoft: Our Mii-Like Avatars Borrow From ‘World of Warcraft,’ Could Connect With ‘Gears of War’ .

Actually it's quite funny. I remember someone at Microsoft said (very recently): "Nah, social worlds don't work. No money to be made there". Remember who it was?

It was Microsoft's Craig Mundie who spoke at the MIT Emtech summit last month.

"Microsoft's Craig Mundie has dismissed the potential of "synthetic virtual worlds" like Second Life, saying that the potential for immersive environments will be likely realized through 3D tools that capture and model the real world.

Read the full story at MindBlizzard: "Microsoft: 3D Future will be Photosynth ". It isn't the first time Microsoft says something doesn't have any real future, yet buys in big a short while later on to make up for their initial misinterpretation of the trends.

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Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Daletto World

Hello! I'm ak.

First, I'd like to thank to MindBlizzard for inviting me. I'm glad to write about Services, Developers and Trends about Virtual Worlds here in Japan (in Korea and China, maybe).

There are a number of virtual world services which have started here in Japan. One interesting trend is that Video Game Developers are trying to create their own worlds. XBOX live has been getting more social and SONY is testing HOME. Therefore it might be quite natural that others are following. One example is CAPCOM. CAPCOM is a video game developer and famous for "Residents Evil"/"Rockman".

Capcom Co., Ltd. is a leading Japanese international developer and publisher of video games headquartered in Osaka, Japan. It was founded in 1979 as Japan Capsule Computers, a company devoted to the manufacturing and distribution of electronic game machines.

Over the years, Capcom has created some of the biggest and longest running franchises in video gaming history. The company released their first arcade game in 1984: Vulgus. Their early games were mostly arcade games such as the scrolling shooter 1942. [Wikipedia]

One of their latest projects is the launch of "Daletto World". "Daletto World" is a browser based world using ActiveX components. You can walk around the world, enjoy chatting, but can't change position/angle of camera, can't create something like buildings or clothing.


Several real stores put their virtual stores on "Dalette World". "BEAMS", a popular clothing store in the real world has their own store selling shirts/pants for avatars.


TSUTAYA, a chain of DVD rental stores, has their virtual store, too. At the store, you can search DVDs and make a purchase.

I'm a little bit disappointed because there's no Residents Evil or Rockman in "Daletto World". CAPCOM seems to attract non-game-users via their own world.

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Tuesday, December 04, 2007

I, You and Wii trends 2007

It's december now and a spectacular year of booming business is coming to an end. Here and there the first anthologies are starting to appear. You may have guessed; it's been a good year for Apple. No big surprises here, aside from the smash hit "Guitar Hero"

From: The Year of I, You, and Wii
  1. YouTube
  2. Wikipedia
  3. Facebook
  4. iTunes
  5. iPod
  6. iPhone
  7. Nintendo Wii
  8. Xbox
  9. Sony PlayStation 3
  10. Guitar Hero
Another list with no real surprises is the Celebrity Downslide list, also by Yahoo
  1. Britney Spears
  2. Paris Hilton
  3. Anna Nicole Smith
  4. Vanessa Anne Hudgens
  5. Nicole Richie
  6. Amy Winehouse
  7. Rosie O'Donnell
  8. Tara Conner
  9. Michael Vick
  10. Owen Wilson

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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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Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Gibsons' Neuromancer





It's been a quiet week at the MindBlizzard blog. Partly because I've been really busy doing a very volatile project in Real Life, but also because I've spend some time rereading the excellent Neuromancer story by William Gibson.





Neuromancer is a must read, or as Daily Tech's Kristopher Kubicki said: "I should preface by saying anyone who hasn't read William Gibson's Neuromancer should run, not walk, to the nearest bookstore and pick up a copy."




Gibson is often seen as the "godfather" of the cyberpunk genre as he started using terms like matrix and cyberspace in his first novel Neuromancer.







Neuromancer is about a hacker, or cyber cowboy named Henry Dorsett Case. Case screwed up a job and his employers got back at him, leaving him half dead and unable to gain access to the matrix again. After a life in the ghetto filled with all sorts of dealings and drugs he's recruited by enormously powerfull people to pull an almost impossible trick. The novel exlores Artificial Intelligence, Virtual Worlds, Genetic Engineering and the rise of the (Cyberpunk trademark) multinational mega corporatioins.

I just noticed an interesting article at Daily Tech, dating march 9 2007 on Sony's virtual platform Home and Neuromancer's 25th birthday. It's called PlayStation Home: William Gibson's Vision Realized written by the aforementioned Kristopher Kubicki. Here's a quote from the article:



"Nearly 25 years in the making, is Sony building the foundations for ubiquitous virtual reality?"



and



"It's not to say Sony overnight duplicated what Gibson has been writing about for 25 years. Even many of Gibson's ideas are not unique, just evolutionary advances on older ideas. What makes me excited about Sony's announcement is that PlayStation Home will be the first ubiquitous virtual reality, if Sony can pull it off.

Now, I should give Second Life some credit here as well. If anything, Second Life is actually closer to Gibson's descriptions of the matrix -- yep, Gibson called it the matrix 15 years before The Matrix and a decade before Ghost in the Shell. The difference between Second Life and Playstation Home is that Sony wants the interaction between virtual and reality to be transparent, especially with media and the internet. Gibson anticipated this dozens of times over the last 25 years in his novels.


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Saturday, August 25, 2007

25% of Global top 100 in SL

In June I wrote 30% of Dutch Top100 corporations in Virtual Worlds, listing the top Dutch companies in Second Life. Earlier this month though SLionheads' Timbo Urbanowicz did the math on the global top 100 companies.



Based upon the Top 100 Global Brands Scoreboard he checked to see which companies were in Second Life and concludes 20% of these Global brands have a presence in Second Life:

"Interbrand takes many ingredients into account when ranking the value of the
Best Global Brands. Even to qualifyfor the list, each brand must derive at least
a third of its earnings outside its home country, be recognizableoutside of its
base of customers, and have publicly available marketing and financial data. "


1. Coca Cola

2. Microsoft

3. IBM

6. Toyota

7. Intel

10. Mercedes-benz

13. BMW

18. Cisco

25. Sony

29. Nike

31. Dell

42. Philips

43. Siemens

44. Nintendo

52. MTV

62. Amazon

69. Adidas

76. Reuters

81. ING

98. Nissan




Missing on this list are apple (33), SAP (34), eBay (48), Accenture (50) and BP (84) though, so it's closer to 25%.



Some, like Coca Cola and SAP only hold a small spot in Second Life, others such as IBM have a multble island presence and others (like eBay and BP) are still under cosntruction.

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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, July 28, 2007

Nintendo - Xbox and Playstation sighted in SL

First of all a few random islands I've spotted today. One is a new telecom company in SL, Swisscom (Telecom provider from Switzerland) (SLURL). Aside from this sure thing there are two islands look to be holding new business as well, Generali (Banking)(SLURL) and Carpe Diem (Beds of Sweden) (SLURL) may also hold new businesses.



Secondly I ran into a cluster of islands that bring a promise of fierce competition, these islands are called:

  1. Nintendo
  2. Nintendo Wii
  3. Microsoft Xbox
  4. Sony
  5. Sony Playstation
  6. Sega

Finally, Sony has been present with its music division, Sony BMG at the Millions of Us cluster island 'Media' but looks like they're gearing up as well in the Japanese quarters with a sim called Sony Home Pictures (SLURL).

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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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Monday, April 30, 2007

Sony BMG

The Electric Sheep Company brings (well... brought a while ago) another big brand into Second Life. This time it's Sony BMG that's being immersed by the ESCapists. This time I'm impressed. The architecture is great and is slowly straying away from RL gravity rules.

The grand opening was October 19th, 2006 and featured a simulcast event with Ben Folds. Aside from the usual freebees (which in this case are about L$ 100) you can download music here as well.
The only problem with this sim is, is that it's called Media. It took me a while to find it. It certainly doesn't show right off that it's a Sony BMG thingy.

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Friday, April 13, 2007

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.

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