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


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.

Richard Urban on

26 06 2007

During Friday’s UK Museums and the Web conference, Mike Ellis mentioned his preference for over Second Life. I’ve never tried and I’ll try and find time to have a look at it, but, to be honest it’s hard enough finding time to look at Second Life. homepage

Helpfully, Richard Urban, co-author with Mike Twidale on the Museums and the Web Second Life paper, has just posted on Musematic about his first look at

A Second Life for Your Museum: 3D Multi-User Virtual Environments and Museums

20 06 2007

Richard Urban and Michael Twidale produced this academic paper for the 2007 Museums and the Web Conference – A Second Life for Your Museum: 3D Multi-User Virtual Environments and Museums.


The paper gives an overview of some of the museum-like activities currently being undertaken in Second Life. Current development is mainly in the hands of pioneers, often interested amateurs engaging in serious leisure to create spaces enabling them to share their interests with others. These efforts are explored in this paper through a systematic analysis of museum visits and a qualitative analysis of interviews with designers and developers of museums in Second Life. Findings identified include the impact of the current technology on what is created, and the importance of interaction-centric designs.