We’re still here! A quick update

Just a quick note to update on three things:

1. Apologies for the less frequent posting over the past month or so – work and study have combined to limit my time. The frustrating thing is my study is 100% virtual worlds related so I’m coming across lots of great information that I haven’t had time to write about. Which leads to point two:

2. As I come across information I’ve decided to use Scoop.it to publish interesting pieces from across the web to this site. It’ll be no more than one or two a day, but as always I’d appreciate feedback on whether you find this useful. You can also view our full Metaverse News magazine on Scoop.it as well.

3. I’ll be continuing to write regularly myself on the field, so thanks for sticking with the site. We’ve got some interesting posts in the works, so keep on reading.

Virtual Worlds and Metaverse Platforms: New Communication and Identity Paradigms

Just a quick note that the book chapter on virtual worlds, health and simulation I wrote during late 2010 is now available for ordering as part of the book Virtual Worlds and Metaverse Platforms: New Communication and Identity Paradigms

Each chapter has an abstract available for viewing and a PDF sample of the first couple of pages (here’s my PDF sample). There’s an interesting range of topics on offer and I’m looking forward to having a read of them all. As my first academic publication I’m just a little stoked ;)

It’s also interesting to note I’m the only author that’s not directly aligned with a University – is it really that rare for someone to contribute to an academic publication that’s not directly aligned with a tertiary institution?

Of course, with the rapidity of change in the field, books like this can date rapidly but having a read-through my own chapter I think it holds up relatively well so far – that may be a different story in six months!

If you do end up reading the chapter in full, I’d dearly love your feedback on it – I have no doubt I’ve missed stuff given the breadth of things underway.

Call for writers

Back in November we published our reader survey results and one of the strong requests was to expand the number of writers we have. So as promised we’re heeding that call. Read on if you’re interested in contributing!

You do not need to be based in Australia to express interest in any of the options. I won’t be bringing on all the combinations below, will see what works out once people start making contact.

Option 1: Paid regular writer

This is for the person with a demonstrated writing record. If you’re able to produce a 600-1000 word post per week, then this is for you. Your brief is likely to be broad i.e. across a range of topics / virtual worlds although am happy to discuss a dedicated beat for OpenSim grids, Blue Mars, social worlds or specialities like education, business and science if that’s your thing. Payment would be monthly for stories published the previous month. US$20 per post is on offer, which isn’t great but is above the blog average.

Option 2: Paid casual writer

As per Option 1 but with you pitching story ideas on a less than weekly basis when you have time. The ball would be in your court. Paying the same but on understanding that I won’t be accepting all pitches and may not have the funds to commission even all the good ideas.

Option 3: Guest poster

This is for the person who may not have written for publication before. You pick a topic you want to write about and I help you get the first story done. No payment for guest posts, but if it goes well, then Option 1 or 2 may come your way. You can definitely link to your own site or provide a short bio etc. I’m particularly interested in guest posts from researchers, virtual worlds developers or others involved in the industry that want a wider platform to put their views.

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For all these options, use the contact form to express interest or DM me on Twitter. In that initial communication just provide a paragraph or two on what you’d like to do, a little bit about yourself and any previous writing experience. I will reply to all expressions of interest and those with potential will be asked to provide writing samples where applicable.

Reader Survey: the results

I’m really pleased to be able to provide the results of our 2010 Reader Survey. A big thanks to the 100+ people who took the time to get involved with the survey. Your input is crucial and is very much appreciated. The survey overall had two purposes: to get feedback on improving what we do and to get a snapshot of some related issues.

For the dedicated, I’ve provided nearly all the results below. I’ve only left out a couple of questions such as the income one which were compulsory in the survey tool but not one I was seeking info on. If you get to the bottom you’ll see what we’re planning to change as a result.

Overall Satisfaction

A pleasing result overall for this one.

Site content

Although a good result, this one shows the opportunity to improve the level of people very satisfied. We’re already aware of the need to do more in-depth stories etc and this emphasises that.

Most useful sections

This one is interesting. There’s a lot of support for the weekly media roundup and standalone stories on virtual worlds and Second Life specifically. The lack of interest appears to fall around Op-Ed pieces and the weekly machinima roundup. Interestingly, the Op-Ed pieces tend to get the highest website traffic, so it appears the more dedicated readers aren’t that keen on them but that they attract a lot of one-off interest.

Least useful sections

This one is a mixed bag. It’s obvious people don’t like the machinima roundup and Op-Ed pieces, but for the rest there’s conflicts with the ‘most liked’ chart.

New site suggestions

The big winners here are guest writers and in-world events. I have to say the latter surprised me given the amount of activities already occurring, but it’s well and truly noted. More on that below.

Likelihood of recommending the site to others

Site usability

A little over half of people believe the site has a better layout and usability than similar sites, with the large majority of the rest stating it’s about the same. We’ve put a lot of effort into that side of things, so am glad it’s paying off to some extent.

Method of site access

No real surprises here. The ‘Other’ responses all mentioned Twitter and Facebook updates as their main access point.

Level of interest in virtual worlds

Again no major surprises: most respondents had either an education or personal interest.

Intentions for the coming year

Slow growth is the best summary of that result.

Age breakdown

Physical World versus avatar gender

A couple of respondents asked why this question was in the survey: it was purely to confirm that the gender divide with avatars tends to be the exception rather than the rule.

General online behaviour

Where to from here?

Based on the survey, there’s a handful of things I can announce of the bat:

1. Weekend Whimsy will cease to be posted each week, reverting to a renamed monthly piece. The featured machinima on the front page will continue.

2. We’ll be putting out a call for guest writers in coming weeks.

3. We’ll start thinking about what sort of in-world events could be held.

4. We’ll do our best to do more in-depth profiles and news on new environments and key events.

The Prize

About a third or survey respondents went into the prize draw for $30 worth of virtual worlds books or an equivalent donation to Metaverse Aid. The lucky winner is Holt Roussel – Holt, I’ll be in touch to organise your prize choice.

Thanks again everyone for taking the time and if you have any queries about the results, post away in the comments.

Metaverse Journal Reader Survey

It’s hard to believe this site has been around for four years now. Around two years ago we ran a reader survey and it’s well and truly time to do it again. Aside from wanting to get some good information on what we can do to improve, the survey is about getting a good snapshot on how you see the virtual worlds scene playing out. We’ll be sharing the results here as well, so you can some benefit for your time completing it.

If you can spare five minutes to fill out the survey, here’s where you go. Every respondent goes into the draw to win any item of your choice from our shop up to the value of US$30. Or if you’d prefer we donate $30 to Metaverse Aid, we can do that instead. The survey will close at midnight AEDT Thursday 18th November.

Reader Survey Link

Metaverse Reader 2.0 launches

Back on the 9th March we were pretty thrilled to announce the launch of the first version of our Metaverse Reader application for iPhone / iPad / iPod Touch. Since that time, we’ve been working hard at creating version 2.0 and it’s now live on the iTunes App Store.

What’s new?

Probably the most exciting feature of this version is the better browsing experience in the ‘Wider Metaverse’ section: there are now news categories, with each virtual worlds news feed falling under one or more of the categories. Aside from making it easier to browse, it also makes adding more sites to the app easier. If you run a blog / news site related to virtual worlds and want to be added, just drop us a line and we’ll assess what we can do for you.

The other key improvement is in-app browsing of full stories, including streaming content. Previously you had to exit the app to view these, so this is a big step up from version 1.0.

What is it?

It’s essentially an RSS reader with two sections. The first is our own RSS feed . The Second is a ‘Wider Metaverse’ section, which features a range of virtual worlds related feeds from around the world. The ‘Submit a Story’ section is purely a contact form if you want to make contact.

Here’s a quick demo:

Why wouldn’t I just use my RSS Reader?

For some, a broader RSS reader may indeed be preferable. However, we’ve had a lot of feedback that people like a quicker option of a handful of feeds easily accessed. The Metaverse Reader is exactly that. And at under 200KB in size, it’s also doesn’t take up much room.

Can I suggest a feed to add?

Absolutely – just contact us with the details.

Where do I get support for this app?

Right here.

Are there plans to expand the app?

Version 3 is already underway – if you have suggestions for improvement, we’d love to hear from you.

What does the app cost?

Nothing ;)

Who developed the application?

I do need to give a huge plug to the developer who created the application from the specification provided. Phillip Street is an Australian iPhone developer and contributing writer who happens to live pretty close to me. I couldn’t be happier with his responsiveness and price competitiveness and he’s now hard at work on version 3.0.

So if you have an iPhone, iPod Touch or have managed to be one of the world’s first iPad users, give the Metaverse Reader a whirl and critique away!

You can download it for yourself here

Announcing: The Metaverse Reader

I’m really pleased to be able to announce the availability of The Metaverse Reader, an iPhone application for virtual worlds residents / follower / interested parties.

You can download it here for free.

What is it?

It’s essentially an RSS reader with two sections. The first is our own RSS feed . The Second is a ‘Wider Metaverse’ section, which features a range of virtual worlds related feeds from around the world.

There’s only a handful at this stage but we’ll certainly be adding more – there’s been some issues with non RSS 2.0 feeds on some sites, which we’re working with the owners to rectify.

The ‘Submit a Story’ section is purely a contact form if you want to make contact.

Why wouldn’t I just use my RSS Reader?

For some, a broader RSS reader may indeed be preferable. However, we’ve had a lot of feedback that people like a quicker option of a handful of feeds easily accessed. The Metaverse Reader is exactly that.¬†And at under 200KB in size, it’s also doesn’t take up much room.

Can I suggest a feed to add?

Absolutely – just contact us with the details.

Where do I get support for this app?

Right here.

Are there plans to expand the app?

Version 2 is already underway – if you have suggestions for improvement, we’d love to hear from you.

What does the app cost?

Nothing ;)

Who developed the application?

I do need to give a huge plug to the developer who created the application from the specification provided. Phillip Street is an Australian iPhone developer and contributing writer who happens to live pretty close to me. I couldn’t be happier with his responsiveness and price competitiveness and I’ve already contracted him to work on the next version.

So if you have an iPhone, iPod Touch or have managed to be one of the world’s first iPad users, give the Metaverse Reader a whirl and critique away!

Introducing: Second Lie

Second Lie is arguably one of Second Life’s most interesting people. I’ve run across him a few times over the past three years and every time found him to be mightily amusing, as well as having some great insights on everything Second Life. I can’t tell you a lot more except that he’s based in the United States and makes some pretty impressive content in Second Life.

In recent weeks I asked him if he’d be interested in writing for The Metaverse Journal and he’s kindly agreed.

On a regular basis, Second Lie will answer any question you may have on Second Life. Whether it’s negotiating the etiquette of personal relationships in-world or the potential pitfalls of becoming a Second Life entrepreneur, Second Lie will do his best to simultaneously enlighten and entertain.

Here’s how to get started: just use our contact form, which contains an option to select ‘Submit a question for the Second Lie column’. We’ll forward every question on and we’ll publish responses in groups each week or fortnight depending on volume.

Even better, you’ll be helping to fund Relay for Life. Each time a group of responses is published, Second Lie has requested his payment go to that rather than his pocket. A funny, intelligent columnist with a philanthropic streak: does it get any better?

If you want a taste of Second Lie’s approach,check him out on Twitter. Start submitting those questions so the fun can begin!

New site design

It’s been quite a while since this website has had a facelift, so we’re pleased to unveil the new one. It hopefully makes finding key subject areas a little easier and provides a greater range of information within easy reach. This is the fourth significant change in the site since its inception and it probably won’t be the last ;)

As always, feedback on usability and navigation are very welcome.

Competition: win an ‘Avatar Dog’ t-shirt

Its been a few months since we’ve run a reader’s competition, so lets get one underway.

This one’s simple: your choice of any t-shirt from the Avatar Dog range of t-shirts. To go in the draw, all you need to do is post a comment below, with the following information:

1. A favorite virtual world-related website and its URL;

2. The name of the virtual world you spend the most time in;

3. Your country of residence.

That’s it!

Entries will close on Friday 24th April AEDT 5pm (that’s Midnight Thursday 30th April US PDT / SL time). A random number generator will then be used to select the winner. Entries are welcome from anywhere in the world. Just make sure you give a valid email address when posting a comment so we can contact you if you win.

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