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.

Check my other blogs out! http://raftwetjewell.blogspot.com

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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.

BURN2 ?

BURN2 is beta for 2011!

I waited 2 years before I attempted to build for Burning Life. The builders at the event are phenomenal, and I was just plain intimidated by these grand creators. Fantastically designed creations are born from the brilliant minds of these digital builders to delight and mesmerize us. And, finally, last year I got to participate at Burning Life for my first time.

Burning Life is a quasi-reflection of the real life Burning Man. BM is an event of magical proportions. Long ago, in the San Francisco Bay area, there was a group of people who I would call groovers. They were the remnants of the hippie drug-culture of scientists, engineers, artists and designers who wanted to have a party to celebrate life, art and love in a rave-style event.

What began on a small San Francisco beach mushroomed into an event of almost 50,000 people where BM finally settles in the dust of the dry playa of the Black Rock Desert. Now, Burning Man becomes part of Burning Life in the virtual metaverse of Second Life.

As Linden Lab downsizes its staff, it is inevitable that many programs may be left hanging without the company’s sponsorship. Thus, in 2010, we watch as Phil Linden announces the partnership between BURN2 and Burning Man. I think we have finally come full circle with the original dreamers finally coming in identified as the old guard and ready to rave both in RL and in SL.

unreal avi meets real avi

Whether or not, BURN2 is successful in both attendance and participation is a wait-and-see affair. As I read the BURN2 blog, I realized that this entire program has to come together rather quickly in both funding and in execution. Is it possible to get everything in place so soon? Can Phil Linden galvanize the troops and create a buzz on the grid? Or does this event mark the demise of all lab sponsorships?

So far, two sims are rented and ready to go for this year’s burn. 2010 may be the year that creates the template for Burning Life in the future. What would be so cool is if Burning Man would adopt Second Life’s homage to BM as part of their own marketing and buzz creator. In partnership, the two entities could create an event in both worlds. Imagine if LL could have a RL build at Burning Man highlighting the digital arts much like they did at the Shanghai World Expo.

Fundraising for the SL Burn could be year round with the culmination of the major fundraising to occur around the end of summer right before the actual event. The possibilities for future fundraising events are endless. And, I personally would love to see more fundraising for the SL community and its members than send Linden$ to the outside world. (don’t throw stuff at me… it’s my personal opinion).

With land space being a premium at this year’s burn, I imagine the builders will be invite only(?). There will probably be no land grab or possibility of small builders like myself to participate in the grand scheme of things. That part is kind of sad. I always looked forward to those new builders who bring such a fun passion to their creations. Not everything has to be so darn serious!

Whatever happens, I will be visiting the BURN2 site looking for inspiration and new concepts. Here is the news link for the BURN2. Keep checking the blog for any updates or news for this year’s burn. Burn baby burn…

In the meantime, I got (2) tickets to the real life Burning Man where a collection of my friends, crazy artists and cool musicians will be participating again in the desert. So, I will be out there in Nevada spitting sand out of my mouth and brushing the dirt out of my hair. No matter what happens, the Burning Man concept lives on… and on… and on!

second life, phil linden and browsers

Summer of 2010 and many things are changing on the Second Life landscape. Recently, Linden Labs laid off 30% of their staff. Included in that group, were part of their dev team, some from support teams and other well-known Lindens. I saw a memorial over on Codie’s Rouge sim that was installed honoring those laid-off avatars. So many well-known avatars such as Blue Linden, who had reached out to the grid community in way of forums and meetings on a regular basis. When I saw Blue’s name, I was, quite frankly, shocked. Is Torley next?

Svarga in Second Life

Yesterday M. Linden aka Mark Kingdon, CEO of Linden Labs stepped down, and  my favorite avatar, dreamer, Philip Rosedale has stepped up as intermin CEO. Welcome back Phil Linden! (Gawd, just in time… I hope!)

When a company lays off their employees, there are usually several motivations. First, of course, is a cost cutting measure as labor expenses are usually the largest in a budget. Or, LL could be consolidating departments and job duties to be more cost effective. Or the grid is not supporting the amount of employees that the lab has hired. Or, LL was getting rid of employees who were not team players. Who knows?

Whatever the reason, Second Life is about to morph. We have seen it coming for many years. And, I am feeling quite privileged in knowing that I got to be here during the beta (hey, it’s been beta since it launched!). Now, I am very excited to see what is coming next… Mr. Rosedale, the dreamer extraordinaire… my hopes are with you!

WISH LIST & questions:

  • Browser based with a killa search app (which entities will partner up in this quest for control of the virtual metaverse?)
  • Who will be divine? and reign this metaverse?
  • I see Apple and Google and MSN and Sony and Second Life and others joining together to bring an easier platform.

IMAGINE:

  • a browser that handles the virtual world with a tool bar that we can load up with specific apps
  • builder’s tools; sim building, artist palette, clothes design, scripting tools, photoshop and more
  • media tools; music, live music, performance, DJ tools, musician tools, machinima, video apps, video streams, websites, and more
  • business tools: spreadsheets, writing, b2b tools, purchase tools, service lists
  • retail; buying power, cc merchant services, store, inventory management
  • social media networking; virtual, business, social etc
  • education; school, resources, educators tools, books, presentation, etc
  • photography/video; social network, photo/video tools, photo/video directories

Uhhhh… it’s already here. It’s just not in one neat little browser that includes the virtual metaverse. That is coming very, very soon…

Welcome back, Phil… we missed you… a lot!

RAFTWET Jewell is in the Virtual Metaverse

Builder’s Projects in Second Life

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Builders Land: Sandbox Limitations

In 2004, I tried to do Second Life, but my computer just wouldn’t handle the visual assault and components of SL. So, I had to wait and meanwhile, I studied many hours about virtual worlds and their applications to the business world. And now, here I am working for whitewater rafting companies and helping them to promote rafting in our world and in real life.

I build. I can’t stop building. It’s like having a personal sandbox here on the land. Even when I finish a project… I go back, I see something that’s just not right. So, you tear it out and do it again. Sometimes, doing it again makes it worst. So, you tear that out and start fresh. I’m never done.

Many of my artist friends have told me that building is an art. And as artists, we criticize our own work constantly. I am my own worst critic. Never satisfied… especially after seeing someone else’s build.

The worst problem at this time is my prim count. I’m obsessed with counting prims. And the scripted water is causing lag on the sim. How do I create my vision without sacrificing the servers? It’s a constant battle.

I did tear out two large waterfalls recently. They were “old style” with primitive rotation scripts to handle the movement of the water flow. Too many rocks were needed to “hide” the seams when I built it originally. Way too many prims for the effect. Now I’m using new textures and new scripts that make the water look so real.

The builds go so much faster now, but it makes me want to create several more waterfalls and rivers… again, too many prims and too much lag. The limitations can be frustrating for builders…

I also started creating particles because I just love the beauty of the event when you release them. Stars, dots, shapes exploding into a kaleidescope of colors that you can wear or release around you. Practicing particles on the land creates a horrible lag, and I’ve crashed frequently while playing with the scripts. Oh, but the results are sooo fun.

Well, it’s Saturday morning, and DJ Audrey just sent a tp to her party. I’ll be checking it out since everyone will be there. I’ll dance with Ronnie, Bio, and I’m sure Aaron will be there… lots of the ZenDivaz ppl and Mack’s group always come out to hear Audrey… then I’ll go check out Cherry’s newest art installations in Venice or her sim.

Whew, it will be a full day of partying with my best friends in SL. Hugs to all of them… they make working and building easier. They support me by helping me in every way they can. I’m off to dance now… no crashing today, pleeez, Lindens!

Notes: this is an old post from November 24, 2007. That’s why there are some very old references… more to come soon….