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New search functionality has promise

I\’m encouraged by the work being done on an improved search interface in Second Life.

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I\’ve always believed one of the biggest causes of users giving up on SL is the hassle in finding anything in-world. Between Linden\’s work and the ever-growing list of third-party SL viewers, there\’s a chance SL may be user-friendly. I kid you not.

Are there additions to the search functionality you\’d like to see?

\’Librarians\’ tie-in on ABC Island this Thursday

Australian made comedy The Librarians makes it debut this week and there\’s a tie-in event scheduled on the Melbourne Laneways section of ABC Island.

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The full info from the notecard I received:

\”DATE: Thursday November 1st

TIME: 7:30pm AEDT, 5:30pm (WA) 1:30am SL time (PDT)

The Librarians, is a new six-part comedy series from ABC TV, based around the highly-strung head librarian of an outer suburban Melbourne library.

This new social satire premieres on Wednesday October 31 at 9.30pm AEDT. Or if you can\’t watch it live, you can view it online at http://abc.net.au/tv/librarians/from 10:00pm.

Then on Thursday night, in conjunction with the ALIA, Emerald Dumont – a librarian avatar from the Australian Libraries Building – will host a discussion.\”

Pornography and virtual worlds

In the eleven months SLOz has been running, one of the most vexed questions about Second Life and virtual worlds in general in pornography. Our story on Linden Lab\’s ban on ageplay is the most viewed story on SLOz and by an extremely large margin – its follow-up is also regularly read. The reason for the enormous number of views comes down to the venerable search engine.

Each day we get hundreds of views of the ageplay story, through people typing a bunch of terms into Google or other search engines. Some of the more common being used are:

- child porn
- virtual child porn
- preteen porn
- preteen panties
- beastiality
- virtual porn
- legal porn
- child panties

There are a bunch of other ones I won\’t publish here, suffice it to say there are some sick people out there. What it illustrates is the universality of the issue across the internet. Linden Lab\’s crackdown appears to have been effective in minimising overt ageplay. What it can\’t do is minimise the significant demand for undesirable images nor the dilemma of defining what consitutes pornography or otherwise.

Where do you see this issue progressing in future?

\’The Office\’ covers Second Life

With the massive blog coverage on CSI New York\’s episode on Second Life, another TV appearance has been overlooked. The US version of The Office had an SL cameo. One part of it can be seen here:

There\’s a reason for mentioning this – one of SLOz\’s sponsors, Encore Design Group (EDG), was responsible for the build \”The Hanging Gardens of Ancient Babylon\”. EDG helped us with our modest SLOz HQ earlier this year.

Other info from the press release:

\”I have never been more excited than when Dwight and Jim were shown near the welcome center at the Hanging Gardens,\” says Kat Claxton, co-founder of Encore Design Group. \”I have been a fan of The Office since it first aired, and I watch it every week. When we were informed that the producers of the show had been capturing footage in Mesopotamia, we had no idea how much would actually make it into the show. When it aired and both Dwight and Jim were shown in easily identifiable areas of the Hanging Gardens, we just couldn\’t believe it. It\’s like a dream come true for us at EDG, and we\’re very proud that our build was chosen to represent all of Second Life to a nationwide viewing audience.\”

As a side story, the episode of \”The Office\” that aired on Thursday October 25 had Jim making fun of Dwight for Dwight\’s involvement in Second Life. When Jim calls Second Life a game, Dwight corrects him by saying that SL is not a game since it has no end goals, winners or losers. \”Oh, there are losers,\” says Jim while staring pointedly at Dwight.

But later in the episode, Jim creates his own SL avatar to monitor Dwight\’s in-world activities, and his character\’s love interest Pam (Jenna Fischer) points out how much attention Jim had spent in making his own avatar look exactly like his real-life self.

The last SL-related scene in the episode has Dwight standing by a kiosk in Mesopotamia near a sign advertising something he\’d made called \”Second Second Life\”, which the show\’s other characters deride as being yet another step removed from Dwight\’s reality.

Weekend Whimsy

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

1. Why don\’t u get a job?

This one is from SLOz reader m0nkeycheese.

2. Wydawnictwo Znak w Second Life

3. Blowing Bubbles

Another aussie effort, this time by Wolfie Rankin.

Click here for video

Real Estate Life – the full story

As promised, we spent a little more time checking out \’Real Estate Life\’, the island launched by the REA Group. There\’s a lot of emphasis on space and it\’s certainly not a build that has logo saturation – the main building certainly has its fair share but otherwise it\’s an understated approach.

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We caught up with Dave Platter, Corporate PR and Internal Communications Manager from REA to ask a handful of questions:

Lowell Cremorne: What was the impetus for the decision to develop a presence in Second Life?

Dave Platter: The web has changed a lot since we got started with our first site 12 years ago. SecondLife represents one possible vision of what the web of the future will look like.

We want to be a part of it so we could better understand how it works. That way we can apply the lessons we learn to our 16 real estate websites.

Lowell Cremorne: You\’ve mentioned a primary aim is to engage with the SL community – how do you plan on achieving that?

Dave Platter: Launching the REA Group island is the first step. But in one sense it\’s the least important of all. What\’s really important is building relationships. So our next step is to spend more time in-world, using the island as a base and perhaps a place for meetings and events. We\’re walking with baby steps and we will use what we learn from other Second Lifers to help us decide what to do next.

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Lowell Cremorne: Do you have a timeframe for your committment to Second Life – are there success metrics that would lead you to leaving if they weren\’t met?

Dave Platter: At this point the only thing that would cause us to abandon SecondLife would be if we simply decided there was nothing else useful to learn there. But, given the vitality of the community and the innovation the platform displays, there probably is a lot to learn in SecondLife.

Lowell Cremorne: Will the islands have any staffing?

Dave Platter: They won\’t have full-time staff for now. It\’s not a retail store or even an information booth, although there are some information screens. Rather than waiting on the island for people to drop by, we\’ll seek out people, places and events of interest, and also sometimes we\’ll invite others to come by.

It\’ll be interesting to see how the island fares over coming months – there\’s no shortage of near-deserted corporate presences around Second Life. If the enaggement strategy espoused is put into practice, REA may be one of the success stories.

Check it out in-world

Internet Industry Association launches

The old saying \’if it rains, it pours\’ applies in Second Life this week. The Australian Internet Industry Association (IIA) is launching their SL presence tonight.

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IIA Island contains a sizeable sandbox, cafe, freefall platform and assorted buildings. The launch is being held tonight at 6.30pm AEST. The plans for the launch are:

\”Streaming music of original Aussie bands is being supplied by MP3.com.au. The artists will be in attendance (as their avatars) to support the launch and mingle with the guests. To coincide with tonight\’s launch, a short legal forum will consider legal issues relating to 3D virtual worlds. Nic Suzor and Nick Abrahams are recognised legal experts in this area and have agreed to present at the forum in the Andrew McLaughlin auditorium commencing shortly after the 6.30pm launch.\”

I was interested to note one of the key sponsors was Optus – a small foray into Second Life for Telstra\’s largest competitor but at least a start.

It\’s also worth noting that the AIIA (Australian Information Industry Association) launched in May in a more modest way. So we now have an IIA and an AIIA – and both demonstrate the increasing commitment of the IT industry in Australia to Second Life.

Check it out in-world.