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Linden Lab: standalone servers soon

AVWW 2008 continues (a wrap-up of Day 1 will appear soon), with some superb presentations and discussion.

This morning I attended the presentation by Linden Lab\’s Chris Collins, who gave an interesting overview of Linden Lab\’s approach and future plans. Two standouts for me were:

1. The 2009 beta of a standalone Second Life grid – this, like the OpenSim platform, will allow users to run their own grid. Expect to hear more on the beta program in the very near future.

2. When asked on the delay in Australian Second Life servers, there was an admission that the \’real soon now\’ of 18-months ago had stretched considerably, with no commitment given on when, if ever, this may occur.

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The standalone servers will provide a great opportunity for Australians in addition to current offerings like Openlife. Once further work is done on being able to move between grids, Australia may actually have a higher performance option than currently exists.

More on AVWW presentations soon – if you have the chance today, jump into the Second Life AVWW sessions for some fascinating insights.

Weekend Whimsy

1. Tiny Nation Premiere (Second Life)

2. Angels of Light in Second Life

3. Baby when the light….

AVWW 2008 commences

The Australasian Virtual Worlds Workshop is underway today and continues tomorrow (all day Friday and Saturday 28th / 29th November Australian time). The base for events is Swinburne University\’s Koala Island.

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It\’s still not too late to get involved and it\’s even free to join the Second Life component of AVWW (click here for landmark)

We\’ll be covering both the RL and SL event over the coming two days – the event organisers have arranged a comprehensive program so do take some time to participate if you can. We\’re proud to be a media partner for this event.

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Check it out in-world

Linden Lab goes narrative

Its only been a day since Linden Lab released a podcast on a Second Life innovator, but they\’ve now released a text-based story on another innovator, Languagelab.

It\’s great to see some further showcasing of Second Life success stories – Linden Lab just need to work on their communications strategy.

The podcast released a little over 24 hours ago was stated as being part of a new podcast series called Stories from Second Life. The story released today is part of \”an occasional series\” called Stories from Second Life, but it\’s not a podcast.

My best guess is that Stories from Second Lifeis an occasional podcast series that contains some non-podcast material released non-occasionally….

Pedantic observations aside, this sort of profiling can only benefit those profiled and the broader cause of illustrating some of the benefits of virtual worlds. If you\’d like to suggest future profile subjects, here\’s where to go.

Linden Lab launch another podcast

Linden Lab have had a couple of attempts at regular podcasting, and the latest is a series called Stories from Second Life. The subject of the first one is Studio Wikitecture, a collaborative architecture project.

The prolific Torley Linden is producing these podcasts so hopefully this will become a true series of podcasts. Strangely, you can only play the podcast directly from the Linden blog – given that adding podcasts to services like iTunes is free, it\’d be nice to see that option in the future.

Don\’t forget, we have our own podcasts – our next episode is being recorded this weekend.

Who\’s your Daddy?

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US Congressman Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) would like to be your parent. At least, he would like to act as though he was your parent.

Starting back in May 2008, Kirk has been singling out Second Life for special attention: he would like legislation to be introduced that prevents children from accessing Second Life- both the Teen Grid and the Main Grid (he makes no distinction), through public libraries and in schools.

On the surface, it sounds alright. We all want to protect the kiddies, right? Who is going to say an ill word against legislation that looks like it is designed to protect our children? But then you have to wonder: why should teenagers be excluded from a place designed especially for them? How will adults who want to access Second Life through libraries and schools do so?

There is no easy, cost-effective way to restrict access to content in public libraries and schools. Unless the Congressman wants to spend many more of the limited dollars already available to libraries and schools on solutions that would allow some people to access Second Life but not others, then Second Life would effectively not be available to anyone at these venues.

Legislation banning access for kids is not considered to be censorship – law that acts in place of parental control is often seen as advantageous.

Legislation that also functionally causes a service to be banned for adults is a bit stickier. It may not strictly constitute censorship, as the law would not state that adults are banned. However, functionally, censorship would be the end result.

Does it depend on the end result, or on the original intent, as to whether this is in fact a case of censorship?

For those who are not US citizens, here are the words of the First Amendment (1791):

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

This is the fundamental piece of law protecting US citizens from censorship. Formally, censorship is prior restraint of communication based on content and enforced by law.  Censorship by the government is broadly unconstitutional.

What Kirk seems to be trying to achieve, intentionally or unintentionally, is an end-run around the constitution. There\’s precedent for the State acting in loco parentis, but this sort of legislative restriction barring adults would never fly. Because it\’s targeted at kids, and catches adults as collateral damage (something Kirk must have considered), it could squeak through to the detriment of everyone.

On another tack is this related idea, which to some extent makes the legislation pointless:

Thinking members of Congress, teachers and librarians have said that website filtering in the schools and libraries won\’t protect kids because they aren\’t finding predators in schools and libraries, but from their home computers that they surf alone in their rooms because they have nothing to do after school as many after school activities have been cut.

Perhaps a more useful way to spend Congress\’ time and funds is:

  • To put more effort into providing alternative activities for children after school

and, maybe even more importantly

  • To put more effort into educating children about the use of services provided over the Internet.

An educated child is more likely to be self-monitoring. A restricted child is more likely to see excitement, danger and really wild things in those services that have been restricted.

So, what do you think? Is this legislation \”in loco parentis\”? Or just plain loco?

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AVWW this weekend – registrations still open

Just a reminder that one of Australia\’s best virtual worlds get-togethers in on this weekend in Melbourne and in Second LifeAVWW 2008.

Registrations remain open – there\’s no cost for in-world attendance, $20 for students and presenters attending the Melbourne event, $50 for other attendees.

There\’s a great program on offer so do think about registering – Australians are at the forefront of virtual worlds research and development and forums like this will ensure things keep going from strength to strength.

Our own Feldspar Epstein will be attending this weekend to cover the best of the event but nothing will beat being there yourself.