Thursday, August 21, 2008

Integrate or wrap up

Many will agree that Virtual Worlds are wonderful tools when it comes to visualising hard to explain stuff and offer a range of quite useful possibilities. Yet NVE's are still a niche market and have obviously failed as marketing tools. They don't hold the power to overturn the internet yet and become mainstream applications.

In my opinion the key lies in integration with mainstream and social networking tools. Virtual Worlds such as Second Life are still mainly social worlds, used for social interaction for certain special interest groups and in this regard they are a mere 3D Chat addition to social networks. In this day and age these social networks are in charger of the internet with Facebook, Myspace etc. holding vast communities. If Virtual Worlds are to stand more than a "snowballs' chance in hell" in this web 2.0 battle for numbers they have to bridge the gap.

I think I've mentioned Kaneva in the past as pioneering this with their user profiles with blogging, etworking features etc. to enhance the social power of their virtual world. I've mentioned integration a number of times in the articles here on MindBlizzard and in presentations I did in the past year and a half.

Just over a year ago I wrote:

"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!"

We've seen a small Facebook widget appear last year in which you could linkup with your Second Life friends, an attempt to integrate Second Life with Joomla, but now the integration takes a step forward as Tribal One integrates Facebook and OpenSim in a first step towards a new approach to 3D/Web integration

As usual, UgoTrade, has a very extensive and thorough blog on this integration:

The picture above shows the in the left pane fetched pictures from Stefan’s Facebook photos. As Stefan explains a hybrid web app is talking to the region to change the picture accordingly and pull the photos into frames on the wall (for a more detailed technical explanation see here).

read more at: UgoTrade.

More to come

There's bound to be more to come on cross platform interfaces and 3D/Web integration. Check out Digado for example with it's accounts on the "Second Life Interface Debate", and here's a vid from Smashing Magazine on "Futuristic Interfaces"

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Saturday, October 27, 2007

CSI (5) The Aftermath

It's saturday night. Just a few days ago we were all watching the grid with great anticipation to see what would be the outcome of the first CSI:NY goes Second Life show. There's many blogs out that that voice an opinion, but I'd pick out Ambling in Second Life over almost any other blog.

Here's Aleister's views:

As the hubbub starts to subside on the whole CSI:NY thing, I thought I would record some of the stuff that’s been rattling around in my head over the last few days.

My first reaction when I read all the hullabaloo coming out of the Virtual Worlds Conference was: “Meh.” However, folks with a far keener interest and knowledge of the entertainment and media industry were at pains to assure me that this was groundbreaking stuff, and that is was “game changing.” I thought I should wait and see. The impression given was that this represented a real leap forward in the pursuit of convergent media, and is the way of the Future. To quote Mr Zuiker, proud owner of the CSI franchise: “What’s the future of television? It is as follows: TV, online, mobile, and gaming.”

As for Linden Lab, CEO Phil Rosedale’s take, as quoted at Ugotrade was: “I think it is a great project. We don’t look for traffic for Second Life in general we more look for opportunities to present Second Life to people in a more obvious way to people who don’t understand it, or haven’t experienced it.”

So… a major leap in convergent media – and good exposure for Linden Lab.What could possibly go wrong?

The big risk we all knew about was grid overload, but so far (touch wood) this has not happened, in part because the invasion of newcomers simply has not happened on anything like the anticipated scale.

However, what I think has gone wrong is, frankly, the whole shebang. What I’ve noted, rather than a magical blending and blurring of the lines between reality and virtuality, is simply the co-opting of Second Life to act as a games
platform. A role for which it is particularly inappropriate – and for which CSI has no need, since such platforms exist already. Now, I’m not trying to be precious about SL here. In the whole wide metaverse there is clearly a large need for entertainment and, indeed, for gaming. But to be blunt, Second Life cannot offer the level of gameplay that seasoned gamers have good reason to expect.

And this leads to my next point. TV is an illusion, where it is necessary to tweak reality (and in this case, virtuality) in the interests of entertainment. CSI was not out to make a documentary about Second Life, and was bound to present it in a way designed to extract the maximum entertainment value. And this has led to 2 basic lies. First, that the Second Life virtual world is smooth, fast and beautifully detailed. This would be fine if newcomers weren’t then invited to come and try it out. The gulf between the TV version and the horribly laggy, grey, slow-rezzing virtuality cannot, to my mind, be called
“good exposure for Second Life”. The second lie is that Second Life is a sleazy game, populated by players. This lie was not necessary to the plot, and is the one with which I have the single biggest issue.

In common with many of the readers of this blog, I spend a great deal of time in Real Life extolling the features and benefits of Second Life and virtual worlds in general. Through this one piece of unnecessary scripting I feel like I’ve been thrown back a year in my own evangelising efforts; back to the days of: “Second Life? It’s just a game isn’t it? Full of sleazeballs and geeks.”
Again, how this view of Second Life can be viewed as “good exposure” I am at a loss to explain. This might also explain the less-than-impressive uptake of new accounts.

On a lighter note – I was tempted to call this piece: CISCO:NY. As I have mentioned previously, the grossly over-the-top “Ciscofication” was – to me at least – a complete turn-off.

I think Linden Lab have done themselves no favours here. It is not true that “all publicity is good publicity.” I am dismayed at the short-termism shown by Linden in going along with this farrago. Also, in handing over the source of the viewer to Electric Sheep we have the interesting situation where the open source code has been re-skinned, a few neat, new features added, and the whole thing seemingly locked up again as a proprietary product. Well that’s what I think.

So what did I get wrong?

The ciscofication maybe was a bit over the top, but here in Europe with tv stations like the BBC and public broadcasting companies in the Netherlands we do have a slightly different opinion of such blunt advertising. But seriously,

There's several blogs that have been negative over the amount of traffic generated by the CSI show. Well, it was aired in different timezones, people came in in several runs. And in the days after. True enough, these 16 million viewers didn't push the SL headcount from 9 to 10 million overnight, but it's too early to tell. There's a lot of speculation on how many came in. Prokovy Neva states (on the first timezone run):

"But the numbers of people on those sims, for the three
hours I watched them before, during, and after the CSINY show, couldn't have beat 5,000 concomittant, and no more than 20,000 max total arrivals. In fact, it's probably far lower."

For exact numbers we either have to wait for CSI or the Electric Sheep Company to come with traffic stats and onRez viewer downloads and compare them to next weeks' Headcount by Tareru Nino. I do believe though that the average number of concurrent logins is higher these days. I'm not saying it was a smashing success. The massive number of islands, the fuzz upfront made us expect a lot. Again, too early to tell. There may well be ROI's made, but not sure which. I hope it'll continue though. Haven't had time to start solving the murder yet, but I for one like the concept. Me liking something isn't a guarantee that it'll make you millions though.

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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,'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

Metaverse news august

Last week has been very busy with pressing Real Life projects, so I've not been following the news properly. Here's a round up of some interesting news from the virtual world blogoshphere:

Ambling in Second Life:

  • Brand Protection in Virtual Worlds

    The topic of branding should be close to the heart of any organisation setting up in a virtual world. In theory, this new environment should not pose any greater problem than existing communications channels, such as the web, TV or the printed word. However, there is one key difference between this and existing channels: it is an unknown.
  • Another Second Life Conference is Cancelled

    I have just received news that SLCC 2007 - Deutschland, due to be held from 21st to 23rd of September in Dusseldorf has been cancelled.

Virtual World News:


  • 15 Things You Should Know About vSide, The New 3D Facebook

    The Grid Safari group got the grand tour of recently launched vSide today by Doppelganger founder Andrew Littlefield. We took a long look around the entire system, and learned a whole truckload of new tricks in what has to be one of the best looking 3D social environments, if not the best, I've been in. vSide is a beautiful space for teenagers to hang out, socialize and listen to music. As Littlefield puts it, if Second Life is Myspace, then vSide is Facebook.
  • Google Earth + Skype + Multiuser = Unype

    Created as a free project by Holoscape Inc. founder Murat Aktihanoglu, Unype allows multiple users to interact with the Google Earth API together and speak to one another through Skype. While there has been much speculation about Google's plans for future virtual worlds, Unype demonstrates how easy it might be to put something really interesting together. It's in a very early beta stage, but at a tiny 210K download it's definitely worth taking a few moments to look at. (Unfortunately, Windows only at the moment.)


  • Conduit Social Gaming World Gets $5.5m Round

    Susan Wu, who was instrumental in arranging the Virtual Goods Summit I moderated a panel at in June, emailed me some embargoed news earlier today, and though I begged and pleaded, she asked me wait until midnight to post it. However, I see that the news is already out there, so I have to apologize to Susan and jump the gun, if only slightly: The news is that Charles River Ventures, where Susan is a partner, has just co-led a $5.5 million Series A financing of Conduit Labs,
  • Metaverse Roadmap to Singapore

    The fifth annual State of Play conference on legal and social issues in virtual worlds is under way this week in Singapore. I had to cancel my trip out there, which is a shame, since SoP is consistently one of the most interesting gatherings of VW thinkers. Jerry Paffendorf is there, though, and reports that the chin-wagging is already gathering steam.


  • Beastie Boys live in There

    Beastie Boys live in There. That’s live as in appearing in real-time as opposed to living in There, just in case you were wondering. As part of their recently agreed partnership, Capitol Music Group and brought The Beastie Boys in-world on Monday night to hang-out with the residents. Other planned event sclude Korn, Yellowcard and Lily Allen.
  • HiPiHi announces global strategy

    HiPiHi announces global strategy. The Chinese 3D virtual world HiPiHi announced its global strategy on 20th August 2007 in Singapore,and has confirmed their strategic investors, including ngi group.


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Monday, July 16, 2007

Fundraising 2.0

In the past few months I've seen quite a few NGO's enter Second Life, such as the Red Cross, Disabled Sports, Flying Doctors, the MacArthur Foundation , Dance 4 Life and a few others. This sudden onrush kept nagging me.

The Current Blogoshpere

When it comes to the Blogosphere there's two blogs that stick out when it comes to keeping track of these things: First of all there's Beth's Blog that has a keen eye on everything Non Profit and secondly the fabulous Ugotrade blog where Tara5 Oh (left) regularly posts real works of love and labour on Mixed Reality and with a good heart to the poor and needy of this world.

This post will probably be a work of labour and very Ugotradish in size and subject as well...

This past week I got spammed by the ElfenCircle for a Relay For Life building entry and that nagged me again. After rereading some of the entries on both the aforementioned blogs I started thinking on this post. When Al 'superscooper' Kronos blogged Virtuool and The Fight Against Cancer I knew this was a post I had to make.

Traditional Fundraising & The 21st Century Philantropist

It's actually a while since I've been giving NGO's much of a thought. We, the Dutch, have always been generous givers when it comes to relief aid and mission workers in Africa and Asia. In the past years this culture is slowly changing. It's not that people are getting greedy, but the way they want to spend their money has changed.

In the 20th century it was a natural thing to pick 2 or 3 (or more) non profit organisations and sponsor them annually. Many organisations organised themselves accordingly: You knew how much sponsors you'd have, so you know what next years'budget will look like.

The 21st century do-gooder has a different mindset though. No longer long-term commitments, long term sponsorship, but occasional, dedicated sponsorship, sort of hit-and-run style philantrophy.

This is causing traditional NGO's a severe headache since they see shaky budgets and worry about keeping all their relief aid workers at work. This isn't about 'huge disasters' those are incendent based by definition and a TV rally for Live Aid (1985) is no different than the Tsunami Fundraising a few years back; on both occasions dedicated sponsorship without long term commitment.

In short, generally speaking, NGO's need to find new ways of attracting long term sponsors: the 21st century calls for Fundraising 2.0. The question is: Is Second Life a good platform to expirment with.

Philantrophic Worlds

When it comes to actual fundraising, Second Life is surely a no-no. Tip jars containing L$ 1.600 dollars barely make up for a weeks rent. Virtual World Campaigns are not about raising enough money to fund a relief aid mission to Timbuktu.

As I mentioned in my blogpost on the Red Cross entry at Second Life, depicting a disaster zone, one way is to create awareness, convey a mood or show people the challenges in such areas. This awareness is much more valuable than the lousy linden bucks it brings in tips.

There is a thin line though; It is great to raise awareness but the cost is a consideration. The presence should be sponsored, not funded with sponsorship money.

A Bridge too far?

In search of awareness and commitment I think NGO's overstepped themselves a little. Virtual Worlds such as Second Life are to small to make a difference - yet. It's still a niche thing.

In my opinion the focuspoint of NGO's and Philantrophy should be at the heart of Web 2.0. Relief Aid in most cases is all about commitment. Commitment in small circles of sponsors that want to be informed. Web 2.0's social bookmarking and tagging is offering the ideal tools to create close range awareness. Think of Fair Trade and Relief Aid widgets for Facebook. Mission based YouTube or Flickr streams...

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Friday, July 06, 2007

Eco Savvy Eolus

Although I was stressed because of my doubledate (which later evolved into a triple and even quadruple date), tonight's main venue was the sneak preview of Eolus One.

The best way of introducing Eolus is by quoting another excellent Ugotrade post:
"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.

The most important aspect of this breakthrough is the EOLUS focus on Real Life and Second Life interactions that serve to make a better world - addressing many aspects from CO2 Reduction, Energy Management, Health, to Education, Collaboration , Networking, and more."

After this excellent blog, the story was quickly picked up by Nick Wilson of Metaversed who quickly arranged a podcast interview to give us a lowdown, followed up by today's Things to Do outing.

Our host was Eolus McMillan, or Oliver Goh gave us the grand tour of the site, which started at the museum:

"Here you can see the story of how we came up with the idea of Eolus One. It basically started one evening at a European computer exhibition. Ansi and myself met there. She had a booth at the IBM stand showing digital divergence and I was there for the energy management part.

We met one evening and found that we had a common vision to merge the projects and we sketeched out a plan on a napkin, you can see it in the corner. The idea was to bring partners from cross industries together to form a think tank."

Well, on the pics below, you can see that it worked out, there are many well known names participating in this project.

"In this building we have many aspects of every day life that we cover shopping on the first floor an exhibtion/ innovation area in the second offices in the thirs together with residential and an executive floor. Behind me you see a model of a house (still in the museum), a house that I live in in RL. The house can be fully controlled from SL"

When we came to the control room, Oliver showed us what he meant by controlling his house from Second Life.

"What you see here it the control center of Eolus One. It is actually tied to a number of rl buildings. The idea here is to show how companies can improve Facilities management services
to make the processes more efficient and improve the failure rate.

I will be able to show you the technical parts when the exhibtion opens (which should be open by the time this blog is done). The system is linked in to ERP2005 (SAP) and the whole maintenance process is shown here. You can monitor the hvac systems, change schedules, programm the building automation system and so on. The idea of the control room is that it knows the identiy of the avatar and represents the data in the context of this person. So for example if a finance person sits here he would receive other info on the screens as a technical person"

We're closing in on 7-7-7, Earth Day and Eolus is one more climate savvy project trying Second Life as stage. Yesterday I blogged on the Spanish getting climate savvy in SL as well, and today Philips was giving out energy low lamps.

However, Eolus does hold some extraordinaire potential in making real and virtual worlds interact. This is a show to watch!


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Monday, July 02, 2007

Metaverse news this week

Here's a short overview of intermetaversal news:


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.


Nick Wilson at Metaversed is keeping his eyes open as well

Metaversed reports on Cyworld
"According to 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?


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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