Monday, October 20, 2008

Best Buy Bailout

Last week I blogged the closure of the popular Second Life magazine "The Avastar," which in its heydays was a good source of information when it came to providing info on new companies entering Second Life. Currently they're running a review on the top stories of 2008, but I'd like to pick out a small article on a company in Second Life which they ran back in august and which I totally missed.


Geek Squad Island closes
By: Jaager Himmel

GEEK Squad Island, which has helped thousands of residents with technical computer help, has been forced shut down by its RL owner, says one disappointed staff member. The island is set to close on September 7 after owners Best Buy continually refused permission for it to be properly promoted, according to the source who wishes to remain anonymous.

He told The AvaStar that he had been encouraging Best Buy to let him hold events such as computer training classes and technology seminars to boost traffic flow but was rebuffed at every attempt. He continued to try to promote the island by hosting events without telling Best Buy, and by working with other tech companies in SL.

Corporate ignorance

Best Buy ordered him to stop all further events, and hand over all contacts he had made with other companies. The anonymous staff member said: "It's a failure of corporate vision on the part of Best Buy." He added that, like many other firms in 2007, "they jumped into SL without any forethought". He cited a lack of basic understanding of how things work in SL as the main reason Best Buy has failed in its virtual venture: "Corporate ignorance of the ways of the grid lead to another untimely death of an island."

The question is, did I really miss it? Probably not. Still I'd like to put it up for sake of completeness as I've been trying to track all real life companies immersing in Second Life in the past year and a half.

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Avastar cancelled due to success ?

Yesterday the Avastar, one of the leading newsmagazines for the Second Life community said Goodbye World.


The AvaStar says goodbye

By: Regis Braathens & Leider Stepanov

Dear AvaStar Readers,

It was nearly two years ago that The AvaStar broke new ground in world media by publishing a tabloid newspaper wholly dedicated to the virtual world of Second Life.
The PDF-based newspaper was launched in December 2006 as an experiment in user-generated content and online communities, and was aimed at finding out more about virtual worlds.

Virtual mission

Thousands of residents and readers made the paper their own by helping The AvaStar bring the best stories and the hottest trends to SLers. In doing so, The AvaStar gained a readership of tens of thousands of readers from around the globe, who helped to establish it as the number one tabloid newspaper in metaverse.

The AvaStar has now completed its virtual mission – and would like to thank all its readers for their contribution and support. The experience has been both fascinating and rewarding for The AvaStar and its parent company, which will continue to track the development of Second Life and other virtual worlds. With the websites and soon to go offline, this week we will be taking a look back at some of the best stories and photos that made the pages of The AvaStar over the last 22 months.

Best regards
Regis Braathens and Leider Stepanov and the whole AvaStar team.

I don't get it. It's been a succesfull paper, written by passionate people, or was it driven by a traditional newspaper? Yes, the force behind the AvaStar has been the German, but written by passionate people, people with love for the Metaverse and the community on Second Life. Now the parent company pulls the plug. Why? Because it wasn't making a profit?

I mean, mission succesfull. What does that mean? In these days when traditionally printed papers and magazines drop in copies day by day, having to be creative to find means to survive and break even, the AvaStar has quickly found a wide community of readers. They have done what none of the Bild titles have done in Real Life. The rewards is the plug is pulled and the ship is sunk.

How about letting it live on? Crowdsource it, let the residents continue, whatever, but I don't dig a story that says: We'll stop because we've been successful. I must admit, the AvaStar has never been of top quality in depth journalism, but on the whole it was a good read to see what was going on in the community. It has been my primary source of intel on new business builds in Second Life for more than a year.

What's your opinion of the AvaStar and it's saying goodbye?

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Large Hadron Collider does create Black Hole

Earlier this week I ran into a highly succesfull build, of which I blogged the real life counterpart a number of times. What I'm talking about is the Large Hadron Collider, the multimillion dollar project that has about every scientist going crazy at CERN, Switzerland. A group of performance artists recreated the LHC in Second Life and got it to work before the real thing actually launched.

The Virtual LHC was created by Second Front, with special credits to Man Michinaga for this specific story and build, which was primarily done for the GOGbot Steampunk Festival in Enschede, Netherlands.

Yesterday I had an extensive talk with Man Michinage to find out more on the build and the work theyre doing at Second Front.

The install was for the international RL media fest Gogbot ( and the theme was steampunk. Therefore we had to come up with something, and the hadron collider was a current event. We work in context of the situation we are asked to perform in.

One cannot compare the works of Second Front to a normal theatre group of actors who perform their works over and over again. Every performance is a unique event and requires a unique setting.

None of our work lasts in SL, usually no more than a couple days and we usually only do performances once. This is very unusual. Most of our work is documented in print, video and painting, along with blog for RL audience. Also we create so much stuff we woudl need a lot of sim space.

Let's have a look at this particular build and the performance.

Fau Ferdinand created the first part of it, the torus and the landscape given that this woudl be a very bare stage from which we woudl create the story. I thought of Jules Verne, Goeorge Pal's The Time Machine, and I am currrently reading the Difference engine by Gison and Sterling. The script was improvisation, out of my head

The story as it played out was the actual activation of the Large Hadron Collider to find out about the origins of the Universe, the Metaverse in this case.

Its real life counterpart in Switzerland has been powered down for an unknown period due to some technical problems. This one actually passed the tests and ready to let some particle beams collide. Find out about the creation of the Universe or the existence of the Higgs particle.

Critics in the real world fear experimenting with the higgs-particle may be a bad idea, as it may create a black hole. Well, the test proves they're right.

About Second Front

Second Front was originally formed as a seven member group of artists from Canada, the US, UK and Italy who create performance based work in Second Life and other the pioneering performance art group in the online avatar-based VR world, Second Life. Founded in 2006, Second Front quickly grew to its current 8 member troupe that includes Lizsolo Mathilde, Man Michinaga, Bibbe Oh, Fau Ferdinand), Great Escape, Gazira Babeli and Tran Spire.

Taking their influences from numerous sources, including Dada, Fluxus, Futurist Syntesi, the Situationist International and contemporary performance artists like Laurie Anderson and Guillermo Gomez-Pena, Second Front creates theatres of the absurd that challenge notions of virtual embodiment, online performance and the formation of virtual narrative. Created in 2006, they have already performed extensively, including in Vancouver, Chicago, New York, and has been featured in publications including SLate, Eikon, Realtime Arts (Australia), and the popular The Avastar magazine.

Most of the artists have real life experience in Performance Acting, but as a group they work primarily in Second Life, although they've done performances in other worlds.

We are primarily on SL, although we have used Opensim and World of Warcraft. I think the difference is whether we're installation artists, SL artists or conceptual artists who use SL. We love the SL community, but we're contemporary artists before SL.

What is so special about the Second Life community, how does it differ from the World of Warcraft community as an audience?

Different aims. Pretty basic, SL isn't so much a gaming community - it's much less homogenous. You have everyone from the evangelized to the casueal user whereas in Wow, everyone is there to play in the WoW universe.

Our Real Life audience is much more specific. Then we're really talking to the contemporary/performance art crowd. The SL crowd, many have no idea who Marina Abramovic or Guillermo Gomez-Pena is.

Me neither, so to exit this blogpost, a quick defintion of Performance Art.

Performance art is art in which the actions of an individual or a group at a particular place and in a particular time constitute the work. It can happen anywhere, at any time, or for any length of time. Performance art can be any situation that involves four basic elements: time, space, the performer's body and a relationship between performer and audience. It is opposed to painting or sculpture, for example, where an object constitutes the work. Of course the lines are often blurred. For instance, the work of Survival Research Laboratories is considered by most to be "performance art", yet the performers are actually machines.

Read the Original Snapshot Story at the Second Front Blog, or view other performances at YouTube

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Saturday, March 29, 2008

exitSL Avastar Recap

The new Linden Lab Trademark policies have caused a row amongst bloggers and citizens of Second Life. Allthough the actual legal impact may not be as big as feared at first sight, it still is a fuzz and the manner in which in was announced has certainly caused havoc. The exitSL logo I created to express my 'frustration' made it to this weeks' Avastar (Issue # 67).

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