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Aussie population update – 15K and rising

Linden Lab have released the metrics for July 2007 and the rate of growth is slow but steady.

The active Australian population is cited as 14,832, up from the 12,910 reported last month. Australia is back to 11th place overall.

One of the interesting new metrics released was number of SL sessions that ended abnormally i.e. crashes. Since January 2007, around a quarter of sessions ended in a crash. That\’s an astounding level – imagine any established software vendor trying to sell a product that only works correctly three out of four times. That said, it illustrates just how committed Linden Lab are to transaparency that they even publish figures showing their key weaknesses.

Weekend Whimsy

Each Friday we provide a sampling of content generated by SL users and posted on services like YouTube:

1. BiJuncto – Il trailer

2. What the Heck Happened to \’Blink\’?

3. Koelner Dom in SL

NORML make the jump into Second Life

The National Organisation for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) is an American organisation that has set up a presence in SL..

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Who are NORML?:

\”Since its founding in 1970, NORML has provided a voice in the public policy debate for those Americans who oppose marijuana prohibition and favor an end to the practice of arresting marijuana smokers. A nonprofit public-interest advocacy group, NORML represents the interests of the tens of millions of Americans who smoke marijuana responsibly.\”

A launch event is scheduled for September 6th at Noon SLT (5am on the 7th AEST) will feature a chat with NORML’s founder and Legal Counsel Keith Stroup, talking about NORML and answering questions plus \”marijuana related music, NORML info and freebies.\”

Whether you agree with the decriminalisation of cannabis or not, this may be a fascinating event to attend.

Victoria University joins the class

Recently, Victoria University established a large holding in SL.

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It is pretty obvious that Victoria University is taking a \’from the ground up\’ approach to their SL presence. There is none of the polish or professional builds we have seen with other Australian or other Universities. In fact, there could be said that this presence is akin to that of the MIT area that was set up some time ago. A lecturer and student led development aimed at learning by doing.

Visitors may at first blush be dissapointed at what they see. Objects and items such as sheep and chickens, helicopters, vehicles and bits n\’ pieces floating either in water, in the air or strewn about the land. Buildings that look like they have been grown one atop the other or blocks of grey granite style cubes pushed together in a very haphazard fashion.

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How refreshing! It is heartening to see SL being used for this kind of activity in an age where education institutions are expected to perhaps display polished and \”marketable\” product. Victoria University is displaying education in the raw. Experimentation, trial and error and cooperative learning enterprises. It should prove worthwhile watching how this initial offering in the Sl world evolves.

Check it out in-world

SLURL:

Coldwell Banker Australia\’s non-presence in Second Life

I came across a press release dated August 23rd from Coldwell Banker Australia, touting its win of an innovation award, partly for its Second Life presence. To quote from the press release:

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COLDWELL BANKER’S USE OF ONLINE VIDEO AND ENTRANCE INTO SECOND LIFE® EARNS “MOST INNOVATIVE FRANCHISE” TITLE

HOPE ISLAND,QLD. (August 23, 2007) – Coldwell Banker Australia is pleased to announce that Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC has won the 2007 Inman News Innovator Award in the franchise category. The announcement was made at the Inman Real Estate Connect Conference in San Francisco, just one day after Coldwell Banker® made history by being the first national real estate brand to market a real home in the virtual 3-D world of Second Life. Inman News is a
leading independent real estate Web site and media news service.

Mr Alex Caraco, chief executive officer of Coldwell Banker Greater Australia said, “Coldwell Banker has a long and distinguished history of keeping up with customer’s demands in regards to property information and innovative forms of consumer control, this award recognizes that we have become “the next generation” real estate brand” Coldwell Banker entered the second phase of its involvement in Second Life recently when it unveiled a 3-D reproduction precisely matching the specifications of a newly constructed $3.1 million home in Washington, currently listed for sale by Coldwell Banker. Users can visit www.coldwellbankervirtualhome.com for immediate access to the “real world” home and to Second Life.

Previously, Coldwell Banker became the first national real estate company to open a virtual headquarters on Second Life and in March began selling 500 virtual homes to Second Life members.

“Second Life is a great example of our willingness to explore new channels,” said Charlie Young, senior vice president of marketing for Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC. “We are gaining insight into the potential of 3-D as a marketing vehicle and learning how a tech-savvy consumer wants to interact with the brand prior to even contacting a sales associate.”
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Of course, Coldwell have been in SL since March but I thought I\’d contact the Australian contact listed in the press release to ask what the Australian operation\’s involvement was with SL. The response was:

\”Coldwell Banker Australia at this stage is not involved in Second Life , the media release was an announcement of the brand\’s initiatives.\”

Here\’s a perfect example of a subsidiary attempting to look innovative by riding on the coattails of a parent company. It\’s one of those examples where there\’s zero interest in engaging with SL residents and maximum interest in hyping the perception of innovation.

Kaneva – tried it?

Whilst SL is arguably the premier virtual world community, there are more and more alternatives appearing. Kaneva is a contender that has been on the scene for a little while. It has boosted its \”citizen\” numbers to more than 550 000 people and like SL, it appears to be modeled upon the interaction between citizens in a 3 dimensional world where the kind of building and social interactions that go on in SL can be emulated.

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At SLOz we would be interested in any comments from people that are using SL and Kaneva on a regular basis for either business or pleasure. Are there gigantic differences and how have you found the two in comparison?

Linden Lab CEO: \’We’ve got to increase the quality\’

Reuters have published an interview with Linden Lab CEO Philip Rosedale from this weekend\’s SLCC. Most of the interview is fairly predictable but it\’s encouraging to see the acknowledgement of quality as the key driver into the future:

\”We’re at a place where we’ve demonstrated that the virtual world can exist. Now we need to make it high quality so it does continuously support the activities and desires of the people who are using it. That’s what we’ve learned by listening for the last couple of quarters. We’ve got to increase the quality.\”

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Of course, I\’d deluded myself that some mention may be made of further internationalisation of the servers but the only allusion to that came from Rosedale\’s thoughts on open-sourcing:

\”If you’re an entrepreneur, wanting to enter the virtual world and sell stuff to people, you’re going to want to find the largest possible audience. So you’ll be strongly drawn to set up your shop on the system with the largest number of people using it. There will be a tremendous desire by people to link those servers together and be on our network so they can have access to the largest base of people.\”

Finally, on the legal issues around ageplay and gambling, he summarised Linden Lab\’s intent to tie restrictions to avatars through verification of that avatar\’s RL location. That seems the most sensible way of not forcing the whole grid into a universal lockdown in a range of sensitive areas.

If Linden Lab are planning some incredible revolutionary step in SL\’s development, it\’s certainly not apparent in Philip Rosedale\’s thoughts. What would you have liked to have seen asked of him in the interview?