Social Networking and Gaming

So many of the predictions from the dreamers are coming true. Second Life game platform is definitely the one that the innovators look to for inspiration.

raftwet jewell in metaverse

There are many worlds now, all vying for a piece of the pie. Some are trying to pull SL members to their platform just as interests do in many of the groups within Second Life.

raftwet jewell on RiverLand

They sneak in, recruit members and then poof they disappear. This is happening now between the different worlds.

raftwet jewell building at riverland

But, I smile, as I write this. This is good news. To know that other worlds are vying for SL members tells us that we are the important world. Light years ahead of everyone else, SL attracts them as they come like moths to a bright light.

meditation : raftwet jewell

But, don’t believe me. Believe the universe of professional social networkers and bloggers who are analyzing the virtual world as I write these words.

rafee at wetlands

Those with their alogorithms, their logs, their mathematical analysis of what is happening with the traffic on the net. They know more then me… raftwet jewell.


All photos by raftwet jewell from rafeejewell flickr site.

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2011 RAFTWET Jewell

So, I’m a little slow in getting the ubiquitous New Year blog out. Que sera. Real life was calling, and commitments, much more fun than the daily grind in Second Life, were overwhelmingly more fulfilling. I like to party.

GOL 8 : raftwet jewell

I’m coming of age. An old avatar from the Beta days told me so. He told me that there were several transitions of aging in this virtual world. And, I am about to begin a new journey.

I now realize the futility of dreaming of a utopian metaverse. It’s impossible. People are behind the cartoon characters and are ever so present with their psychological baggage that all of us carry. That’s ok. But, we can’t expect the world to be peaceful and without strife or drama. Fer shur.

THE A LIST! owners raftwet, xavier

People are people, no matter where they are. There is jealousy, envy, hate, greed, war and one-upmanship, just like my every day real life. Did I really believe this place would be any different?

RUSS SCRIBE : raftwet, xavier

What I have found are great people and creative fun in here. Good and decent folks who care and respect each other. Artful places that are soulfully satisfying have inspired my real life art.  That’s a big plus in any place and time.

The metaverse is the new frontier, and I am so honored that I got to beta the whole thing before the general public. Everything has changed in Second Life. The place has a feel of totality now encompassing everything possible in one’s life. From education to business to services to retail to creation and art; the place reeks of innovation for the future. SL has become a dream come true. (Yes, we still have a ways to go…)

CHRISTOPHER135 QUAN : xavier, raftwet

So, I carry on with my real life and invest there wisely. The time in Second Life should be fun and surrounded by good times and wonderful people.  My focus now is to do the best job that I can do for myself and the alliances that have formed in my groups. The rest of the bullshit just comes with any world’s territory, and now I understand that. I should not invest in the avatars who seem to spend their time undermining and back-stabbing with a smile on their face. It’s just not worth my time and effort in any world.

raftwet at nuclear winter

So, I carry on knowing that things in my virtual life are changing for the best. My old avi friend has told me that I am becoming one of the old guard. I fiercely defend this place, but I no longer will sacrifice the well-being of my own avatar. I love my avi and she is truly the best part of me.

My photos and photo groups can be found here:

Second Life Q3 and Complainers

Meditation on RiverLand

I am not sure why I am venting. I haven’t really spoken out much on the SL blogs or forums. But, lately, things seem to be ramping up for the complainers and the whiners. (yes, I said whiners) Anyway, I just took a look at the Q3 for Second Life economy. It’s not bad. Seriously. You should all take a look at other industries in the real world. Third quarter is usually a low one. The stability of the numbers is a relief. Ok, so what do the numbers mean… I am not sure, but the barrage of comments that followed was much more interesting to me.

Search is borked, or so “they” all say. Why do people think the search is borked? Because their number one ranking disappeared? Ask Google or Bing why they keep changing their algorithms. Because in the real world, companies game the system so that they are at the top of search. Or, “mom and pop shop” are able to focus on search and create exactly what the search engines want.

Search should be constantly changing. It should be a place where anyone can be on top. And, if you notice in the real world, search does change. It has to because the consumer is always looking for different resources. The return search list is constantly a jockeying of positions. This gives an opportunity for companies, both small and large, to reach consumers. So, why should it be different here? One writer in the forum talked about finding some very cool resources for clothing. Me, too. I have found some incredible designers recently that I have never heard of before.

The big merchants advertise. They make sure that their name is in front of us. That is how it is done in the real world, too. It is usually the smaller guy who has to focus on search or a PPC programs to survive. Okey, enough about search.

Too many con artists and slime are on the grid. Well, when you can figure out how to rid the place of them, please help us do that in the real world, too. The retailer who is unscrupulous is not here for long. The slime dawgs are exposed quite quickly in SL. Word gets out pretty fast. It’s like the guy downtown in your community who rips off everyone in car repairs. Everyone knows him and everyone talks about him. He won’t last unless he is providing an excellent repair for an esoteric car for a very small market. Otherwise, the market will drive him out.

Cost of Land is too high. This one is a sensitive one for me, too. I got land, and I have to pay tiers. What I resent is the way everyone claims to know how much it cost Linden Labs to maintain it. One writer talked about the cost of hosting the servers. (What about advertising costs, workmans’ comp, government fees, employee wages and their benefits, utility bills, web marketing, etc etc are all overhead costs to run the company.) They pointed out that hosting across the internet has dropped in price. And then they pointed out that WordPress and FaceBook were free. Uhhh, no it’s not.

If you want a professional WordPress blog with all the widgets available out there in the universe, WP charges incrementally for all those bells and whistles. And, don’t get me started on FaceBook where the dangling carrot keeps moving out of reach for business. FB has totally destroyed all free marketing for business unless you are willing to pay for it. If you dare to use real life marketing tactics in FB, they will pull your account. So please, don’t believe that writer.

Nothing is free. The free account you have with Flickr is worthless if you have a huge catalogue of photos. You need a pro account that cost money. Free is just for the small user who pops in occassionally. For those of us who are marketing or big users on the internet, there is nothing free (well… except from Google who then uses your accounts and internet properties to run their ads).

Teleporting is really borked. This statement, I totally agree with as I have been having a horrendous time tp’ing anywhere. It’s my fault. I am pretty sure about this. (I tested this with my alt; she has no problems with tp) My inventory load is huge. My avatar is wearing so much shiz, that it is ridiculous. Several huds, prims and scripted stuff, and all kinds of fun toys are attached to her. I don’t want to streamline anything. I want to wear it, and I want to keep my ridiculously bloated inventory. But, I want that fixed, please… pretty, please?

What I would like to see is a way that us oldies can keep our inventory, wear our shiz and still tp. If there are old scripts out there, disable them or delete them off the grid. If my hud doesn’t work anymore then that’s the scripter’s fault for not keeping the stuff updated. Or, if the creator is gone, then I just won’t use my thingy anymore. Time to replace it. Just like we replace worn-out old computers and software.

Driving the Second Life experience to the outside world is making the social experience nil. This one is complicated. I think we need a way to access a “store” on the web. But, I do want the shopping experience in-world. It’s more fun. You run into friends or meet new people. You get to test out the furniture or demo the hair. Or, you meet the billboard avi who is sporting a new store in their profile. More resources for me to experience. That is social, not the shopping on the web.

Newbies are scary and probably only alts. Yes, we all have an alt for whatever reason. My friends use their alts to hold groups as we have a limit of 25. And, if you are in here building, scripting; you need an alt to hold your inventory and test your scripts. But, there really are a lot of people coming in all shiny and brand new. Those little noobs are critical to the success of the social experience and to the economy. (Hey, even my alt is driving the economy as I love to dress her in the latest cool clothes.)

The welcome center is very nice. It is clean and informative. Anyone coming in from any gaming platform will learn quickly. Then there are the wonderful learning areas where you can learn to build and script. We need to beef up the noob communities and the rest of us need to welcome them. The new ones will become our loyal customers if we treat them well. So don’t assume that they understand about lag issues when they purchase something and they don’t receive it. Don’t blow them off as if they were stupid. They aren’t. They just don’t know about the techie problems, yet. Maybe provide them with a “teaching notecard” about this issue. Then, have a redelivery system in place at your store.

Someone mentioned a Ponzi or Pyramid scheme on the forum. Duh. If you have a closed system, there will always be the early risers and the rest of us will falter. This is why it is critically important to have new people come here and stay. It is equally important to have the old guard stay, too. But, the old guard must understand that they must change with the times. This is the way of all worlds, both real or virtual. So, if something doesn’t work for you anymore; change it. Do not expect that this virtual place will remain for only your needs. And, if you flee to another place, I think you will be back. With the changes coming to this grid, you will see even more possibilities for both your creativity and your client base.

I am forever here. I love you all!

(If you throw tomatoes, I will gather them up and make the most delicious spaghetti sauce… and then I will open up a little restaurant and sell the dinner to you.)

Metaverse Future

Sunset on WETLands

Some have said that I am a cheerleader for Second Life. I suppose they are right in that evaluation. When I first read about the world, I could see the infinite possibilities. I wanted to be a part of that place. Art, music, building, programming and business all together in one social environment is already in place in the real world. But, the real world is limited by geography, politics and expense.

The virtual world of Second Life did not have those constraints. It is pure magic.

The economic world’s woes have hit every business very hard including Second Life. We are watching SL cut programs, trim the fat and recreate itself much to the chagrin of the residents and businesses there. Avis/people are upset, and I hear the daily complaints in forums, blogs, group chats and in IM.

A lot of people have left the grid along with their businesses. “The sky is falling!” I hear it everyday and the self-prophecy of the cries are wearing me down.

Second Life as we know it must end. It has to morph into something that addresses the technological hurdles. The improvements are coming, and I am excited about Mesh Project Viewer. What people don’t understand is that the decisions are based on money. How do you pay the electric bill? How do you pay your employees? How do you maintain the servers? It takes money.

I have watched SL, a relatively small band of un-business-like people try their best to maintain the infrastructure, try to address the multiple computer platforms in-use, try to improve the grid and the interface, and try to keep everyone happy.

I am willing to wait it out. I am not leaving until the door closes. But, many can not afford to do that because their own economic decisions are based on personal funding. So, I am watching members of our business community flee to Blue Mars and Inworldz. It’s cheaper. Why, because, it’s new and has a very small user base. And business always expands to new real estate. There is also a psychological comfort in having those worlds out there, especially with a “just in case” kind of attitude.

They will have the same woes; the same problems in their infrastructure. It is inevitable. What I want everyone to understand is that SL is light years ahead of the competitors. But, those nimble little worlds can do things that SL can’t. And, that is react and morph quickly to changing technology because they are so small… or can they?

I poked my head in several worlds recently. Only one was interesting for me as there was no one there, and I could build quietly on an entire empty sim. A good place to practice building the concepts in my head. The other growing world was too complicated and required me to jump through too many techie steps to just get there.

Here is where, I think, the metaverse might be going: a world of social and business apps; a world of builders and creators; a world of youth-orientated markets; and a world that combines all of it in one place (Second Life).

I would be willing to not log in for two weeks to allow Second Life to upload a new grid; new interface that addresses the awful lag, the limitations on numbers on a sim; and a new browser-based app on my desktop. [UPDATE: As soon as I posted this bloggy, I received an update from one of the clubs I frequent. Ambrosia Dance Club is testing a beta on a Browser Based app that works in Explorer, Firefox, Chrome and Safari; the wait is over!] I would be willing to even lose my inventory. I would be willing to pay a monthly fee just to have an avatar here. No more free accounts. It is the ultimate experience that I crave. An experience that all of us dreamers have dreamt about from the very beginning.

Chapel by the Sea

wetlands chapel by the sea

Last year, I built a small, hidden chapel right next to the ocean on WETLands. Not many avatars have discovered it as it is well-hidden.

wetlands sunset at chapel by the sea

The church has large open windows facing the ocean, and at sunset, it is quite beautiful looking across the azure waters.

raftwet jewell at wetlands church

I like to sit there and meditate and reflect on my day. My beliefs are my own, and I don’t preach as I respect all world religions.

wetlands chapel stain glass window

I hope that you can visit and just reflect and connect with your own soul.

Unified Theory

I read David Weinberger‘s book, “Small Pieces Loosely Joined” a long time ago. The last I heard was that he was a commentator on National Public Radio (NPR) and was the publisher of JOHO (Journal of the Hyperlinked Organization). Several books and magazines were privileged to have him as a writer. But, I am not sure what he is doing now.

WETLands chill zones

A great mind is all I cared about. He wrote a very profound book on sharing, networking and how the web/internet worked. He influenced me greatly as many other minds have done in the past.

The book should be read by anyone who works on the web or is a social networker. The philosophy applies to any setting on the net where there are people or groups in dynamic relationships.

raftwet jewell in a hammock on WETLands

A simple way to understand his book is to understand that all of us represent a small piece of the web. We create websites, videos, photos, blogs, avatars, accounts and groups. Even our screen name or email moniker is a small slice of a greater pie.

How we interact is unique, but yet a shared experience. When we go to a website, we usually don’t ask for permission to view it. Most sites are free to use. Yes, there are some that ask for registration or small fees to maintain space on a server. But, mostly, the net is free and we all share it.

When we create an email or website and we link a site, we don’t pay anyone to give that link out to our readers. In fact, most site owners welcome the links into their sites as that just draws more traffic to their products, services or information.

Weinberger points out the difference between real world restrictions versus digital. He says that you can’t build a door to your neighbor’s apartment or space. You have to have permission. But, the net allows anyone to come into a space or domain. This is how Tim Berners-Lee originally created the web so that scientists could share their research and communicate as a group.

With groups, we create them because of shared interests or goals. In the real world, groups are refined to a small geography… your neighborhood, the gym or a club you frequent. In the digital world, the geography is meaningless. Your group is expanded by interest only. Not even demographics apply because the interest or subject matter is more important when sharing.

WETLands waterfalls

I bring this up because of THE A LIST! group in Second Life. When we created it, we had a singular focus in mind. We wanted to have a group that would support each other and everyone’s interest. Someone said it was impossible since the goals of each member were so different. But, I had to point out that the real goals and interest were to preserve the grid and the health of the economic base. It was purely a business goal.

All of us in this group want to prosper and we want to share our interests with the grid. We want traffic, we want our retail to be successful, we want to expose the best artists and musicians to the grid and we want to all have fun doing this.

WETLands in virtual world

So we network together. Sim owner A may find a builder in the group who helps them create a mall. Then A might find out that a popular musician can help them bring traffic to the sim on a grand opening. An artist may network with both to get their art on the sim and in the builder’s builds. A scripter might help script an awesome dance floor for the builder as they network with A to make a small club. A fashion designer might create a special t-shirt for the grand opening and then decide to rent a space there to sell her fashion line. There are no degrees of separation; just finding the next connection.

Weinberger ends his musings with this, “…it is not quite true to say that we’re sharing the new world of the Web because we want to. We’re sharing the new world of the Web because that’s the type of creature we are. We are sympathetic, thus moral. We are caring, thus social.” He says the web is “fundamentally ours.”

WETLands in Second Life

The social network is the key. We share and we will thrive. We care about this place. Our exposure to other resources and information from each other will help us grow. And, how we do that is by networking together and putting our differences aside. That my friends, is THE A LIST!, and how we do this is up to each of us.

BURN2 is Almost Here!

There is definitely a melancholy setting in this month of October. It’s the beginning of another change in the air. Saying good-bye to summer, saying good-bye to all the summer parties. And, of course leaving the memories behind on the desert playa of Burning Man.

In here. In the virtual world of Second Life, there are only a few days left to the BURN2. I wonder how many real life Burners will be there mimicking and recreating the incredible art that I saw just a few weeks ago.

Big Poppa created this video out of a bunch of snaps that he took during the blazing heat and horrific dust storms that probably wiped out his favorite camera. I feel the melancholy in the music chosen as I listen and look at the photos.

This year, I am not part of Burning Life or as it is now called BURN2. I didn’t try to get a plot or purchase one either. Though frustrated with the land grab last year, I really enjoyed that part of the “game.” The attempt was madness and I loved it.

This year, I will be an attendee oohing and ahhing over the rich display of the builder’s art and creations. I will go to the myriad parties and have a blast. And, I will dream of someday becoming one of those fabulous builders.

Art really is my life. I live and breathe it everyday with visual, musical and technical applications. This place called Second Life holds a promise to each and everyone of us. That we can become artists in our own way, in our own time.