Merged realities – events and issues for virtual worlds

1. Virtual RP is a French OpenSim grid that launched yesterday after four months development.

2. Want to test out a potential tattoo design on an avatar before making a lifetime commitment? Obsessive Ink may be worth a look.

3. Linden Lab have provided some more examples of what Viewer 2 is doing for enhancing in-world content.

4. The UK elections are turning out to be a dud as far as virtual world presences go.

5. There’s been quite a buzz about Blue Mars offering a cloud-based service. Here’s one of the better stories on it.

Merged realities – events and issues for virtual worlds

1. The US-based Global Kids are holding a Winter 2010 Roundtable on Virtual Worlds and Nonprofits on Monday April 12, from 12-1pm PST (7-8am on Tuesday 13th AET) on MacArthur Island in Second Life.

The purpose is presentations from six nonprofit organisations on “their initial explorations of Second Life and other virtual worlds, and how they are thinking of integrating these virtual tools into their organizations’ respective missions”. Those organisations presenting are: Child Welfare League of America, Health Consumers Alliance of South Australia, Hip-Hop Education Center, Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health, United Black Fund of Greater Cleveland, Inc and V.O.I.C.E. Community Development Corp.”

2. As covered last week, the M Linden Art Show hit the University of Western Australia in Second Life and on UWA’s physical campus as well. There’s a great round-up here. There’s also a machinima of the launch by Chantal Harvey that you can view:

3. Linden Lab have announced a significant upgrade to their new user orientation experience. There’s some in-opinion on it here and here to name two. If you want to see it for yourself, you’ll need to register yourself a new avatar.

4. Terra Nova has a great piece on where social worlds like Farmville fit into the scheme of things.

5. Our Metaverse Reader iPhone app now has a userbase numbering in the hundreds. Version 2 is about to be submitted for approval and it contains some big enhancements, and we’ve already added a couple more sites to the app. Why not check it out for yourself?

Linden Lab CEO’s art show in Second Life: UWA scores again

Linden Lab CEO Mark Kingdon / M Linden isn’t the sort of guy associated heavily with Second Life’s burgeoning art scene. So it’s a little surprising to find out he’s about to have his first art exhibition.

What’s less surprising, at least to me, is that the exhibition will be occurring as part of the University of Western Australia’s presence in Second Life. I’ve said previously that the ongoing art and machinima competitions there are some of the best anywhere, so it’s a deserved location for exhibitions like these.

The momentum that has been generated and maintained by the UWA team has been nothing short of astounding, and things only seem to be growing further. Back to M Linden, here’s how he describes his history as an artist:

From the time I was 6 years old until I was 20, I had planned to be a painter. As I was contemplating graduating from college with a fine arts degree and all that being an artist entails, I decided to make a hard left turn and follow a radically different path. I changed my major to economics, graduated and went on to business school to get a graduate degree. I doodle to focus my mind and I can do it for hours. But, I prefer doodles that I can complete in one short sitting. I gravitate to repetitive constructs of unbroken intersecting lines or interconnected parallelograms…you could call them “dynamic connected systems.” I guess my art and my interest in economics shared this “connected systems” construct.

Drawing in 3D in Second Life wonderful. I can think bigger and do more in Second Life. It’s changed the way I think about art. Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. said it best: “Every now and then a man’s mind is stretched by a new idea or sensation, and never shrinks back to its former dimensions.

The Exhibition is called Doodle Art and its opening is on Saturday 27th March at 3pm SLT (9am Sunday morning AEDT), at the UWA’s Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery. You can get a glimpse in Larkworthy Antfarm’s machinima here:

There’s also real world event taking place at the University this Friday, hosted by artist Len Zuks – contact Jayjay Zifanwe in-world if you’re interested in attending that.

Credits for the exhibition as supplied by Jayjay Zifanwe:

The Curator: White Lebed
UWA Owner & Co-Host: JayJay Zifanwe
The Gallery builders: The Slingshot, Nyx Breen
Logo by: Miso Susanowa
Promotional Machinimas: Chantal Harvery and Larkworthy Antfarm
RL Host at UWA: Len Zuks

Again, congrats to the UWA team for their work. Whether you like M Linden’s art or not, it’s certainly an acknowledgement of the work done by UWA to date and hopefully a good indicator of ongoing success.

Merged realities – events and issues for virtual worlds

1. We may be biased, but Tateru Nino’s weekly Virtual Whirl column over at Massively is always worth a read – this week it has lots of Linden Lab staff movements and quite a bit more.

2. 2D social networks for avatars continue to thrive. One of the big success stories is Koinup, which has recently been adopted by Frenzoo. I’ve also had some conversations with recent entrant Moolto, which has developed a decent following so far. If you have a social network your avatar takes part in that you’d like to share, then let us know.

3. Its been two weeks since we launched the Metaverse Reader application for iPhone / iPod Touch and it’s great to be able to say there are now well over a hundred regular users of the app. Enhancements to the application are already underway, so why not give it a try?

4. The latest update to the Second Life Viewer 2 is now available, with a bunch of issues resolved.

5. For the dedicated, this very detailed post on the emergence of Facebook social gaming worlds is well worth the read.

6. Metaverse Health has had a facelift and there’s some exciting health-related stories coming up in the next few weeks. We’ll post most of them here, but if there’s room in your RSS reader, we’d love to have you on board there as well ;)

Merged realities – events and issues for virtual worlds

1. The University of Western Australia continues to by the dynamo of Australian Second Life presences, announcing a fourth sim, Virtlantis as well as announcing the February winners of its ongoing 3D Art and Design Challenge. A record 74 entries were submitted for the month. It’s hard to imagine a larger or more dynamic art installation in Second Life.

2. Linden Lab and John Lester (Pathfinder Linden) have parted ways – with lots of discussion ensuing on whether it’s part of a change in tack by Linden Lab in regards to dedicated resources for educators. In less reported news, Linden Lab’s General Manager Enterprise and expat Aussie Chris Collins finished up in February.

3. Got an iPhone or iPod Touch and haven’t noticed our bombardment of info on our new application? Read all about it here.

4. The US Army has announced the finalists in its virtual worlds challenge. It’s another example of the US Government’s fairly hefty commitment to exploring opportunities in virtual environments.

5. Pooky Amsterdam has a more extended machinima or her in-world interview with Holocaust survivor Fanny Starr. The three-plus minute intro could have been cut in half but this is a very interesting piece. A warning: it does contain graphic images of the Holocaust.

Merged realities – events and issues for virtual worlds

The news and events keep on coming thick and fast:

1. There.com has announced its imminent closure due to funding issues. It’s always sad to see a growing virtual world cease operation, particularly one that offered at least some level of content creation.

Frenzoo are offering lifetime VIP accounts to content creators on There.com. All the details here.

2. Two OpenSim grids have started using a virtual currency: the Open Metaverse Currency. More on that in coming days.

3. We still need more people to ask questions of our agony aunt, Second Lie. Here’s a sample of the life-threatening conundrums he’s solved to date.

4. Are you part of a couple or close friendship in a virtual world? Why not be the next subject of our V2 profiles? Just drop us a line if you’re interested. Here’s the first one published back in 2008.

5. The latest issue of the Journal of Virtual Worlds Research is now out. Guest editors are Australia’s own Mandy Salomon from Smart Services CRC, and France’s Serge Soudoplatoff from ESCP-EAP. The theme is Virtual Economies, Virtual Goods and Service Delivery in Virtual Worlds.

6. Twitter is getting further integration with Second Life. Linden Lab are also looking for people willing to have their RL and SL faces plastered on advertising.

Merged realities – events and issues for virtual worlds

Sexy Avatar from Koinup1. Linden Lab have started providing more illustrations of the potential uses of the new Shared Media functionality that was rolled out this week with Viewer 2. More of our thoughts on Viewer 2 in coming days, but one small pocket of resistance appears to be coming from SL musicians, as the new search functionality as it currently stands is impacting the ease with which people can find live music events. Grace McDunnough has a good sum-up on the issue here.

2. Want to help fund entrepreneurs in developing companies while scoring something for yourself? Why not buy an Avatar Dog t-shirt or download our discussion paper on policy agenda-setting and virtual worlds!

3. The response to the Second Lie column has been forceful: people love his sense of humour. If you have a question about pretty much anything Second Life, why not ask Second Lie to shine a light into the darkness for you? Every column generates money for the SL Relay for Life too.

4. Picture and machinima hub, Koinup, have announced they are offering mobile phone wallpapers via Nokia’s Ovi Store.

5. Back in 2008 we mentioned a University of Sydney student was completing research on journalism and Second Life. That research is now available here. It appears to be a very readable and balanced piece of scholarship. The abstract:

This thesis analyses the interaction of journalism and governance in the virtual world Second Life. It examines the structure, practices and influence of journalism in Second Life and explores the nature and communicative aspects of governance in this virtual world. As virtual worlds attract growing numbers of subscribers and social interaction increasingly moves towards the online environment, it is crucial to understand the practices and conventions which structure human interaction in these spaces.

To explore these concerns, a close critical analysis of Second Life was conducted, based upon academic literature, interviews and a content analysis. Eight interviews with significant journalists in Second Life were conducted and a content analysis of thirteen publications was undertaken. Yochai Benkler’s theory of social production provides a theoretical base which frames the nature of Second Life as participatory, collaborative and networked, and defines the relationship between media and governance using the concept of a networked public sphere.

Practices of journalism in Second Life display a combination of traditional, professional, gatewatching and participatory, networked, gatekeeping characteristics, and it perform numerous roles in mediating communication. Second Life publications facilitate active and abundant conversation between residents, facilitating a networked public sphere. Linden Lab uses a variety of strategies to communicate governance discourses to users. Despite the similarity between normative and Second Life journalism, it has a negligible influence over the structure and direction of governance.
The disconnect between journalism and governance in Second Life raises questions about individual freedom and collaborative production in virtual worlds, challenging existing understandings of online interactions.

Merged realities – events and issues for virtual worlds

1. As mentioned previously, Deakin University’s Jon-Paul Cacioli is conducting a study on body image in virtual worlds. He needs around 300 males to complete the survey, and to date has received over 100 responses. If you have time, please take the survey.

2. If, like me, the idea of a Lego MMO appeals like hell to you, it’s not too late to sign up for the closed beta.

3. Don’t forget our newest Columnist, Second Lie, is waiting for your questions.

4. Edward Castronova has a fascinating post over on Terra Nova covering his evolving thoughts on role-playing, the intrusion of monetary transactions and ‘the magic circle’.

5. 3D world development platform Unity has reached 100 thousand registered developers.

6. Tateru Nino has a great post on intellectual property rights over at Massively.

7. Have you joined the Metaverse Aid team yet?

8. Frenzoo continues its evolution with addition of Facebook Connect for new users (with current users receiving that access soon) and a new ‘mini-machinima’ feature.

Merged realities – events and issues for virtual worlds

1. One of Second Life’s most innovative content creators, Ordinal Malaprop, has shuttered his business. Find out why.

2. Forterra have had some business challenges over recent months including laying off staff at the end of 2009. Their OLIVE virtual environment has been bought out by the Science Applications International Corporation. All the details here – this will hopefully be a positive outcome for a virtual environment under somewhat of a cloud.

3. Twinity continues its expansion with a growth in Virtual London: “These areas will include famous buildings and monuments, from the Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace to the Millennium Bridge, and the Trocadero. With this, Virtual London, will have grown to the east and south of its present spread, while also marking a foray across the virtual Thames.

4. Virtual World Best Practices in Education 2010: the call for presentations has gone out. Their website contains all the information you need.

5. The University of WA have announced the finalists of their Machinima Challenge. You can read all the details on the excellent UWA in SL blog, but here’s the list of finalists:

MASTERDARK FOOTMAN, Dallas, Texas, USA
The Heart of UWA

COLEMARIE SOLEIL, Florida, USA
UWA Machinima Challenge

PYEWACKET BELLMAN, New York City, USA
University of Western Australia in Second Life

CHANTAL HARVEY, Maastricht, Netherlands
University of Western Australia in Second Life

CISKO VANDEVERRE, Berlin, Germany
SEEK

SOPHIA YATES, Lancaster, Massachusetts, USA
The Challenge – Architecture, Teaching, Research Arts on the UWA sims

IONO ALLEN, Paris, France
Seek Wisdom

GLASZ DECUIR, San Sebastian, Spain
MachinimUWA: UWA in Second Life, Achieving International Excellence

LASLOPANTOMIK YAO, Barcelona, Spain
MachinimUWA

BRADLEY DORCHESTER, Perth, Australia
MachinimUWA: Art Architecture, Research, Teaching

NOVA DYSZEL, Toronto, Canada
UWA in SL Challenge

MASTERDARK FOOTMAN, Dallas, Texas, USA
UWA Jan 2010

SOPHIA YATES, Lancaster, Massachusetts, USA
Second Life Virtual University of Western Australia

The winner announcement is coming up on the 8th February at 1pm SL time, with Torley Linden making an appearance.

Internet filtering and virtual worlds: Tonight Live discussion

I’m really pleased to be a guest on tomorrow’s Tonight Live With Paisley Beebe. Paisley is an Australian singer and broadcaster we’ve profiled before, and Tonight Live is arguably one of the most popular virtual worlds TV shows around.

Paisley and I will be discussing the background and potential impact of the internet filtering legislation proposed by the Commonwealth Government as well as some 2010 predictions and more. The show is live from 6pm SLT on the 24th January (1pm Monday 25th January AEDT).

If you want to take part, here’s the location of the show, or you can watch it live on the web or anytime afterwards via the Treet TV archive.

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