Chris Anderson and Wired on the Second Life ghost towns

31 07 2007

A wired magazine report ‘How Madison Avenue Is Wasting Millions on a Deserted Second Life‘ looks at the the Second Life islands and experiences created by big business. Author Frank Rose speaks to executives from Coca-Cola, the National Basketball Association, wondering why they’ve put so much money into worlds with so few visitors:

Once you put in several hours flailing around learning how to function in Second Life, there isn’t much to do. That may explain why more than 85 percent of the avatars created have been abandoned. Linden’s in-world traffic tally, which factors in both the number of visitors and time spent, shows that the big draws for those who do return are free money and kinky sex. On a random day in June, the most popular location was Money Island (where Linden dollars, the official currency, are given away gratis), with a score of 136,000. Sexy Beach, one of several regions that offer virtual sex shops, dancing, and no-strings hookups, came in at 133,000. The Sears store on IBM’s Innovation Island had a traffic score of 281; Coke’s Virtual Thirst pavilion, a mere 27.

Wired editor and author of ‘The Long Tail‘ Chris Anderson recently held a book signing event in Second Life and has posted on his blog on ‘Why I gave up on Second Life


Starry Starry Night machinima

23 07 2007

Via Musematic, this video shows the building of a 3D version of Vincent Van Gogh’s ‘Starry Night’ in Second Life. I don’t think it has any relation to the Starry night museum I visited.

Museums in Second Life google group

17 07 2007

The Museums in Second Life google group is a mailing list with 79 members. As well as the mailing list, they hold meetings in Second Life and hold tours of venues.

With all the members in different time zones, organising meeting times that suit everyone is impossible. I thought I’d go along to their latest meeting yesterday, even though it began at 6pm (GMT), 30 minutes before our building closes.

Finding the meeting involved following an SLURL (hypertext link that opens at a location in Second Life) to the meeting venue, the UIUC-GSLIS parcel in Cybrary City II (no idea what that means). There were six or seven people already at the meeting when I arrived, seated on piles of books in a semi-circle.

Attending meetings for the first time in Second Life can be just as awkward as it is normally. I didn’t know how to sit down and spent ages messing round before working out that right-clicking on a pile of books would give me several options including ‘Sit’.

This left me sitting down, facing away from the group. I also noticed that I was still eating the popcorn. After several attempts at standing up and sitting down I managed to face in vaguely the right direction and concentrate on the conversation.

Museums in Second Life meeting, July 2007

A transcript of the meeting has been added to the google group. Before I had to leave we barely had time to introduce ourselves (clockwise round the semi-circle). Looking at the transcript today I see that discussions included scheduling of meetings, the creation of a map showing the locations of Second Life museums, potential locations to visit, evaluation methods, US funding for projects and, finally, how to tag photos and related documents (I think ‘slmuseums’ was the choice here but I’m not positive).

Creating museum content and community in Second Life

12 07 2007

It’s mentioned as a link in the previous post, but Robert Rothfarb and Paul Doherty’s paper for the Museums and the Web conference ‘Creating museum content and community in Second Life‘ deserves its own blog post. Here’s the summary:

Brick-and-mortar interactive science centers offer fun and educational experiences for visitors of every age. But in a virtual world, many of the constraints of the real world can be overcome, offering experiences that transcend reality. Exploratorium staff members have created just such a space in the massively multi-user, three-dimensional world of Second Life. In the virtual museum called the ‘Splo, we’ve been experimenting with the social, contextual, and educational possibilities of a world in which people can fly through the solar system, scan their own bodies, and change gravity so they can bounce off walls. In mixed-reality events which combine live media programs with the virtual world, visitors can watch a solar eclipse while sitting next to someone on the other side of the earth. What does this mean for other museums interested in creating their own virtual environments? In this paper, we share our own experiences, and offer some thoughts and recommendations.

‘Splo MuseumThere’s clearly a lot of high-quality work and research gone into this.

Sploland – first visit

12 07 2007

Visited Sploland with the vague idea that it is associated with the Exploratorium Museum in San Francisco. I chose not to listen to the streaming music, I also chose to download QuickTime so that I could see movies.

The first thing in front of me is a giant eraser which I can climb onto and ride. Not sure why.

Eraser in Sploland

It’s a bit of a confusing mess to be honest. One of the conventional objects is ‘The Incredible Running Bat’ (you can see it in the left of the screenshot above). A series of flickering images show a bat running. If you click on the object you can collect a notecard that informs you:

Eadweard Muybridge, pioneer photographer renowned for his sequential images of horses, people, you name it, once bet rich guy Leland Stanford that a bat lifts all four limbs off the ground whilst running. Muybridge used these photographs to win the bet.

Still pretty confused about what Sploland is I searched on Google and found surprisingly little information. Several searches later I ended up in a page of the Second Life website that provided the following information:

The Exploratorium – the museum of science, art and human perception in San Francisco has created an interactive science museum in Second Life which allows residents to explore art and science whilst having fun. They have established two locations – their original Splo Museum at Midnight City (SLurl) and a dedicated Island, Sploland (SLurl).

The Splo Museum spaces house more than 100 exhbits including optical illusions and perception exhibits (SLurl), a 3D map of the nearest stars (SLurl), the Pie Ride (SLurl) and a Distorted Room (SLurl). Residents can also ride Halley’s Comet as it makes it’s way around the sun, or ride one of the other planets in the Splo Solar System at the Orbital Experience (SLurl).

Watch a video tour of Sploland, read the paper: Creating Museum Content and Community in Second Life or find out more on the Exploratorium’s Virtual Worlds website.

Download Second Life update

12 07 2007

Today’s the first time I’ve tried to go on Second Life since 14 June so, of course, I get the message that I need to download a new version of Second Life. And the installer fails:

The Second Life auto-update has failed.
The problem may be caused by other software installed
on your computer, such as a firewall.
Please visit
to download the latest version of Second Life.

Virtual Worlds Forum, October 2007

11 07 2007

New Media Knowledge‘s London events are excellent, it was a shame to hear about the recent fire at their premises. Their newsletter today included information on their involvement in the forthcoming Virtual Worlds Forum.

NMK is delighted to announce that it is supporting the first Virtual Worlds Forum Europe. As you will see this is a highly impressive event with a prestigious line-up of speakers, extensive programme, an exhibition plus hands-on workshops.
What you can expect from the Forum:
* A one-stop meeting point for the European and international virtual worlds community, covering all aspects of this emerging sector in an information-packed two day programme
* Over 60 industry leading speakers discussing cutting-edge topics in this market-driven agenda.
* Comprehensive coverage of both enterprise virtual worlds and the consumer/branding perspective.
* A place for you to debate, network and do real business with the key players in the industry
* Hands-on workshops with industry insiders offering practical advice.