Archive for the ‘Virtual Life’ Category
This should be a twitter, but the WordPress guys haven’t jomped on that bandwagon. Anyway, long day at the Virtual Worlds ’07 conference, but well worth the trip. Too tired to write about it now, but will provide an update tomorrow.
In the meantime, if you want to see a pretty cool and unexpected corporate build in SecondLife, check out Pontiac’s Motorati Island
If you were not able to get a pass to the sold-out Virtual Worlds ’07 conference in NYC, you are missing out on a great experience. Compared to other conferences I have attended, this small and intimate gathering is great opportunity to network and to have conversations with some to the early movers and shakers in the virtual world space.
Just about everyone you would want to speak with is here and most of them are participating in panel discussions. Highlights from today’s session (with links to blogs from other attendees who took better notes than I did):
Phillip Rosedale confessed that his thinking about virtual worlds has changed from being focused on the physics of it, to the realization that it’s the social interaction that’s so powerful. (GregVerdino2.0)
Second Life Technology VP Joe Miller disclosed:
- We’ll be open-sourcing the back end so sims can run anywhere on any machine whether trusted by us or not.
- We’ll be delivering assets in a totally different method that won’t be such a burden on the simulators.
- Very soon we’ll be updating simulators to support multiple versions so that we don’t have to update the entire Grid at once.
- We’ll be using open protocols.
- SL cannot truly succeed as long as one company controls the Grid.
MTV Networks announced a number of new expansions, building on their successful Virtual Laguna Beach and Virtual Hills. First up, Virtual Pimp My Ride set in the home of the fast and furious crowd, Van Nuys, CA.
In the afternoon, there was a great discussion on virtual world consumer behaviors and the evolution of social networking.
More to come after tomorrow’s session.
On January 1, the massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) “World of Warcraft” released a major new upgrade. The 3D Virtual World game has over 7 Million subscribers worldwide who shell out a monthly fee to play the game. In addition, the community of WoW players has created a thriving marketplace for virtual goods on eBay, where virtual weapons, attire and characters have been selling for real cash. While there is no universally agreed-upon value for “Real-Money Trades” (RMTs) market, it is assumed to be worth somewhere between $250 million and $880 million a year, according to experts.
eBay, which has dominated the market for these transactions has confirmed that they are now going to ban auctions for the characters, currency, weapons, attire and accounts of online games such as World of Warcraft, City of Heroes and others.
In most cases, publishers of online games include in their terms of service a prohibition on RMTs. Players who violate such rules can be banned. eBay’s move is a boon for companies like Internet Gaming Entertainment who now own the third party market. Julian Dibbell, author of Play Money: Or How I Quit My Day Job and Struck it Rich in Virtual Loot Farming commented that this development is “sad” because it restricts individuals from being direct participants in the markets themselves. I should note that SecondLife is not affected by this move since virtual goods in that realm are freely traded.
If I had to bet, I would expect that the community is not going to accept this change quitely. It’s in their nature to be active participants, to control the content, terms of service be damned. When it comes to digital content, be it a virtual tool, or a song from Tool, the community always finds a way to get what they want on their terms.
The article on CNET goes into more detail regarding the motivations behind eBay’s decision.
In case you haven’t see this, CBS will be joined by Sling Media and SecondLife in a presentation at CES today. I’ll update the post after the details are out.
UPDATE: So the keynote is over and here’s the skinny. For the past year of so, we’ve all been talking about “The New Media”, “Generation C(ontent)”, “Web twodotwhatever” and so on. We’ve also been saying that traditional media “doesn’t get it” or is no longer relevant.
Apparently good old CBS isn’t going to go away quitely. Instead, they have spent the last year developing lots of new partnerships with everyone from social networking sites for lesbians to SecondLife where a virtual replica of the Starship Enterprise (CBS property) will be made available to residents. Perhaps that’s a bit over the top, but this is afterall the age of “Individual and Interactive”. There is no niche too small (right longtailers?) and we all want to play a starring role.
In his keynote address, CBS President and CEO Leslie Moonves showed off quite a few of his new friends to demonstrate that CBS “gets it”.
“The symbiotic relationship (between online and television content) will only tighten,” Moonves said. “What’s a big media company like us to do? We’re embracing it big time. We’re doing just about everything we can to see what’s going to work now and in the future.” That often means bringing in people outside CBS to do so, he said.
The partnership with Sling media involves Sling’s latest technology called Clip + Sling. It allows users to clip content from live or recorded TV and share it with anyone, including non-Slingbox owners. The clip can be sent in an e-mail that plays the video from a hosted portal. It’s not exactly YouTube, so to cover all the bases, CBS also has a joint venture with Google’s latest toy in the form of a contest in which users submit 15-second videos to YouTube about anything they’d like. The highest-rated video will be broadcast on CBS during this year’s Superbowl.
The message from Moonves is that “there is no such thing as old media and new media. There’s just media.” Is this kind of media mash-up going to save the traditional guys from extinction? What do you think? While you ponder that, I think I’ll head over the the StarTrek sim in SecondLife. I hear there’s a helluva dance party going on in the shuttle craft bay 🙂
Chief Linden, Philip Rosedale said today that Linden Labs is going to make the core codebase for SecondLife available to developers. Considering that the contents of SecondLife has been developed entirely by user “residents” and the number of registered avatars has grown exponentially over the past year, the move to open source is a natural progression. After all, Linden has a limited number of developers and there is much work to be done to meet the needs of its growing population and to make the software more palatable for less powerful computers (like most of us have).
Given the growth of SecondLife, the vision my many in the software development community that a 3D web is the shape of things to come, and the success that other projects like Firefox and Linux have had using the community to build the code; this move is smart and should help keep things moving. It can also lead to some interesting new capabilities:
“There are lots of handicapped people using ‘Second Life,’ It’s one of the really inspiring things about it,” Rosedale said. “There are a lot of ways of connecting people to their computers, not just mice and keyboards but gaze detection and neuromuscular stuff” that Linden Lab doesn’t have the manpower to address, but he hopes outside programmers will.
Someone also could “hook up an exercise bike and fly around ‘Second Life’ while exercising,” he said, or write a program for accessing the world from a smart phone.
“All that becomes extremely easy to do,” said Rosedale, who will speak tomorrow at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
The details for the more technical readers out there, according to an AP report are as follows:
The code will be available under the GNU Public License, a widely used agreement among open-source developers that allows them to legally modify and share software. Linden Lab will review and test some add-ons, modifications and bug fixes, and incorporate them into the official version of the viewer, which can be downloaded for free.
Monday’s announcement doesn’t cover all the software behind “Second Life.” The program that controls the underlying infrastructure will remain proprietary, though Rosedale said open-source “is absolutely our direction.”
Fortune has an exclusive interview with Rosedale as well as comments from Electric Sheep, one of the largest in-world construction companies, and IBM who worked with my company, Circuit City, to open a virtual store in SecondLife. It’s worth the read.
At a recent ClickZ forum on “Advertising in Social Media”, ElectricArtists CEO Marc Schiller offered his insights on why brands are entering SecondLife. From ClickZ executive editor Rebecca Leib’s notes:
Second Life is an extension of the concept that social networking is becoming more common. 1 in 8 couples married last year met online. It is a virtual world where thousands of communities work together in creativity; “it’s about sharing ideas and creating a better world”. It is NOT in-game advertising, it is primarily a social platform. 1.6 million residents live in the virtual world and the median age is 33, 50/50 male/female and women use it more often then men. Every piece of content is created by the makers users, Linden Labs only provide the platform and servers. Users maintain ownership of Intellectual Property, not the software provider, Linden Labs make money by selling space and land.
Why would brands want to join the world?
You get to build a virtual connection with your real audience that makes sense and you’re able to experiment with prototypes and new ideas. There’s no direct ROI (at least traceable), although it opens up a new channel of communication and deeper connections to the brand audience. “Aloft” is a virtual Starwood Hotel and is a way to test design, user reactions and offer a virtual client base that can convert into a real world client base. Scion is to create the first car manufacturer in Second Life, selling theirs cars to other users. Don’t just do it because your competitors are; don’t do a hit-and-run; re-invent your brand – don’t just copy it.
(image courtesy of Springwise.com)
OK, I lied!!! I said I wouldn’t post anything else about SecondLife this week, but the news keeps coming. Dell announced yesterday that they have set up shop in SecondLife making virtual computers for avatars. They made the announcement in Secondlife, a trend that is becoming pretty common and generally annoying realworld business journalists. From Dell’s press release:
“Innovation has always been at the core of Dell. Innovation coupled with the idea of working directly with its customers has now led Dell to participate in Second Life, one of the hottest, most popular 3-D virtual worlds.”
“Tuesday, November 14, Ro Parra, Dell senior vice president and general manager, Home and Small Business Group, and Philip Rosedale, Linden Lab founder and CEO, gave an exclusive preview of Dell Island in Second Life. Following this invitation-only event the island was open for the public to visit.”
Why is Dell going here? It certainly isn’t to make money from virtual computer sales, but you can buy a real PC on their island and have it shipped to your realworld address. In light of the other announcements this week regarding IBM and Amazon, this is beginning to validate the belief of many (including me) that the future of commerce on the internet is 3D.
More pictures of Dell’s virtual facilities are here.
OK, I promise this is the last post about Second Life for this week, but since I blogged about this way back in June, I just gotta tell you the news. Several Second Life residents have set up shops on the world’s most popular retail shopping site, Amazon.com. They want to use its virtual environment to actually sell physical goods via Amazon.com.
Linden Lab of San Francisco, creator and operator of Second Life, doesn’t track the Amazon goods sold, since Linden doesn’t make money from the sales. Nevertheless, the extension of Amazon.com’s reach into a place with more than 1.3 million residents has potential for big sales over time, given Second Life’s growth rate. Since September, the population of the online world has jumped from 735,000 subscribers to more than 1.3 million. Second Life residents do a total of about $6 million worth of business a month, up from about $2 million a few months ago.
This is an unprecedented linkage between one of the largest online virtual worlds and the world’s largest (physical) online retailer. Inhabitants of the Second Life online universe will now be looking for real-world money by setting up stores powered by Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN).
I have to imagine that anyone savvy enough to reside virtually in Second Life and build a community in that environment probably already knows about Amazon.com’s role as a real-life provider of goods. But that’s not what’s at stake here.
Turning a “browser” into a “buyer” requires the right combination of mood and environment — and Second Life inhabitants are by nature more tuned in to this than most.
As for Amazon, the 1.3 million citizens participating in Second Life ain’t no small potatos. That a demographic ripe for mining. Now whether it becomes a fixture in Second Life will be left up to its members, as they are the ones who will continue to build the revenue-sharing virtual stores and write the scripts needed to integrate with Amazon’s web services for third-party retailers.
|IBM employees in Second Life at a break-out session after a keynote address.
I’m not sure if this post is about SecondLife, Innovation, Co-Creation or all of the above. Read on and you can decide. This past Summer, IBM conducted the latest in it’s series of “Innovation Jams“. The “Jam”was conducted online over the course of 72 hours. During that time, every IBM employee was invited to join in a candid, broad-ranging exploration of enterprise-wide issues, challenges and opportunities. IBMers were asked to post ideas on specific issues and topics, build upon the ideas of others and rate the ideas that had the greatest potential to transform their company. Everyone — from the CEO to a college intern fresh off campus — had a say in the matter, and this time, they invited customers to participate.
IBM pledged to invest $100 million on the best ideas to come out of the Jam. One of the four markets explored was called “Going Places” and it focused on topics such as travel, transportation, and virtual experiences. I participated in the discussion and being fascinated with Secondlife, I spent most of my time in this area of the forum. The discussion around virtual worlds and SecondLife in particular was enthusiastic and there were apparently enough good ideas to convince IBM to put 10% of the kitty into developing a presence in SecondLife.
Reuters has a story up about IBM’s continued push into Second Life and other virtual worlds: IBM accelerates push into 3D virtual worlds
IBM has embraced Second Life to an extent unmatched by any other major company — it has more than 230 employees spending time in-world, and it owns some half-dozen islands. Some are open to the public, but most are private, with restricted access for the public. In the Reuters article, Chairman and Chief Executive Sam Palmisano (photo & Second Life avatar to the right) talks about these efforts:
“Big Blue has already established the biggest Second Life presence of any Fortune 500 company. It is also looking to build a 3D intranet where its clients will be able to discuss sensitive business information.”
According to the article, he will be meeting with “in-world” employees on one of IBM’s private Second Life islands on November 14th after a real world town hall meeting with 7,000 employees in China.
So far in Second Life, IBM has set up a simulation of the Wimbledon tennis tournament, using data that tracks the position of the ball to re-enact points several seconds after they happen. It has also held virtual events such as an IBM alumni reunion.
IBM has it’s very own “multiverse evangelists”. IBM created these visionary positions within the company to go out and preach the virtues of virtual worlds to their customers and to the world(s). These evangelists recently detailed IBM’s Second Life activities in another Reuter’s article: IBM eyes move into Second Life ‘v-business’
Seeing how they practically coined the word “e-commerce”, you have to think they are serious about this emerging v-business. Sam Palmisano is quoted in the article as saying,
“We always ask the question, ‘if you knew 20 years ago what you know about the Web today, what would you do differently?’” Sandy Kearney, IBM’s director of emerging 3-D Internet and virtual business, told Reuters in a Second Life interview.
“The Web took decades. This will likely take half that time.”
Irving Wladawsky-Berger, Vice President, Technical Strategy and Innovation, IBM Corporation wrote about IBM’s efforts in virtual space in his blog with:
In his blog article, Irving Wladawsky-Berger writes,
“About two years ago, a study conducted by the IBM Academy of Technology concluded that technologies and capabilities from the gaming world would have a very strong impact on all aspects of IT, and made a number of recommendations for follow-on activities, which we have proceeded to implement.”
Irving goes into great detail in his blog about how IBM is entering virtual space, and what they are finding out about doing business in virtual space. It’s well worth the read!
The one thing that has always defined IBM is that they are pretty good at being the middleman, the broker between disparate systems. If you are an IT Director, and you have a mix of hardware and software systems, IBM can come in and help you to get it all working and talking together. There’s a very revealing quote in the latest Reuters article on 3D virtual worlds, and I truly think this exposes the (virtual) space where IBM wants to dominate:
“A spokesman for IBM said its goals go far beyond Second Life, although it currently has its largest virtual world presence there, and that the company eventually wants to see all multiverses integrated into a seamless whole.”
That seems to be the core strategy with IBM and v-business, to be the glue for all of the virtual worlds that may emerge. We will never have a single all encompassing virtual world controlled by a single corporation, it’s just not going to happen, and it’s never happened in the past with any other technology. Do you think that maybe a few IBM employees have a copy of Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash on their office bookshelves. Can you say “Metaverse”? Hardware is dead; look at the sell off of IBM’s flagship ThinkPad division to China. This is the future direction for IBM, and an extension of what they already do very well.
Irving closes out his blog entry with this observation:
“So, here we are in 2006, once more facing a set of fledgling technologies and capabilities — massively multiplayer online games and virtual worlds – that are already being used by many millions out there. Once more we have the very strong feeling that this will have a huge impact on business, society and our personal lives, although none of us can quite predict what that impact will be. It will be fascinating to see where this ride takes us in the future.”
Credit where credit is due: Parts of this post were taken from a fellow WordPress blogger here: http://pacificrimx.wordpress.com/2006/11/11/ibm-cool/
OK Folks, this is either going to be good a reason to get into SecondLife, OR a sure sign that we have run out of interesting things to see there, leaving us with nothing to do but set on our virtual couch in our virtual house eating our virtual popcorn and drinking our virtual beer while watching our virtual TV that we got at the virtual Circuit City.
Channel 4 (BBC?) and the Sci-Fi channel are to start syndicating their content to to Second Life’s first broadband TV network which is due to launch at the end of November 06.
SL techies Rivers Run Red has partnered with 10 content companies to provide material for TV channels on virtuallife.tv.
By the end of 2007, the company aims to have more than 100 specialist channels streaming a mix of branded content and original programming 24 hours a day.
Will the original content be good enough to drive significantly more people to become SL residents, much like the way HBO drove growth in the cable industry in it’s early days?