Second Life: Now for iPad, but not for Tameside …

Ah, Second Life. Unfortunately, it ain’t what she used to be. The brands all left, there have been more than a few virtual scandals in recent years, user numbers have fallen off (as have staff numbers, after a 30% staff layoff) and the newest official Linden Labs viewer software didn’t exactly get rave reviews. However, there is still a relatively large and loyal SL contingent that is eager to access their digitized world wherever and whenever they can. Enter the Pocket Metaverse iPad App for  Second Life. Some people have been begging and pleading for a reliable Second Life viewer for the iPhone since day one. Those same people really began clamoring for something more mobile when the iPad came on the scene. Pocket Metaverse Pro ($2.99) is just that app. With versions for the iPad and iPhone (and free versions to boot), Pocket Metaverse is more than adequate for accessing Second Life and other similar Open Grid virtual worlds while on the go.

Not everyone’s a fan of SL though, notably the good people of Tameside, whose Council just scrapped a £36,000 virtual town hall in Second Life. Tameside Council, in Greater Manchester, ‘rented’ an island in the virtual world of Second Life and built a computerised town hall, hoping it would encourage users to access local authority services. But the project has been abandoned after council chiefs admitted they could not justify the cost.

IT council chiefs ditch Sadville after splurging £36k (go.theregister.com)
Council scraps £36,000 virtual town hall in Second Life (telegraph.co.uk)
Council’s £36,000 on ‘virtual’ HQ (thesun.co.uk)
Linden Lab guns for service-based Second Life viewers (massively.com)
Linden Lab Fail. (rcaston.com)
Second Life Owner Linden Lab to Lay Off 30% of Its Workers (dailyfinance.com)

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Metaverse: Second Life Corporate, Twinity’s Berlin Wall

Virtual world Second Life has just introduced a beta designed specifically for businesses that will open up new opportunities for companies to hold virtual meetings and trade virtual goods – especially products based on business collaboration needs. The new corporate option, “Second Life Enterprise,” will enable companies to run the site on their own network behind their own firewall, adding an extra layer of security to encourage such trading and more use in general.
second life business

Twinity – The Berlin Wall
To commemorate the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, Twinity has reconstructed a true-to-scale section of the wall in virtual Berlin.

berlin twinity

 

Linden Lab unveils Sadville: Enterprise Edition (theregister.co.uk)

Second Life Virtual Meetings (ecombizcenter.blogspot.com)

Second Life Goes Behind The Firewall (readwriteweb.com)

Fall of the Berlin Wall: 20th anniversary celebrations (guardian.co.uk)

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Metaverse: Virtual World vs Real Goods, Second Life vs Counterfeit

An interesting juxtaposition in the metaverse today. Real-life goods are being showcased in Roiworld (nothing new there … American Apparel did this in 2006) … and at the same time a virtual Chinatown has grown up in Second Life … and resident Stroker Serpentine is suing the Lindens for allowing copyright infringement.
Norma Kamali is marketing her Wal-Mart collection through Roiworld.com, a virtual space where users can try on Kamali’s clothes on their avatars and click through to purchase them. The Web site owned by Lifetime says it’s a first for the company, and it’s one of the few cases in which retailers are using virtual worlds to sell real-life goods.
roiworld karen namali

Second Life slapped with counterfeit suit
A pair of Second Life entrepreneurs are suing the game’s creator, Linden Lab, for allowing other players to sell “knockoffs” of their virtual sex organs, erotic poses, designer clothing, and other trademarked items. Kevin Alderman (known in Second Life as “Stroker Serpentine”) alleges that Linden facilitates and profits from in-game pirates copying his IP-protected line of adult-themed virtual goods. Alderman claims his SexGen branded items and animations are among the most popular virtual products sold within Second Life, making his US trademark a valuable resource to distinguish himself amongst competitors selling alternative methods of bumping ugly online.

second life chinatown

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Social Ideas Not Social Media

Gareth Kay is a very clever bloke (and not just coz he wears glasses). He just wrote a nice piece entitled “Social Ideas not Social Media”. The mighty Gaz opines: “So, let’s stop obsessing about social media and worry instead about what’s important. While social media channels fade in and out of social significance (was it only two or three years ago that Second Life was the channel we were all talking about), social ideas are timeless in their power. There’s two types of ideas in the world – social ideas and anti-social ideas. And it’s plain to me that those ideas that contribute positively culture are the ones that are going to help build business.”

gareth_kay

I have been harping on about “adding value” through brand communications for some time now, and its always good to see someone smart articulating the same thoughts … albeit in a rather more thoughtful and articulate way than yours truly!

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Anomaly Leaves Second Life

Yes, I can announce that the Anomaly avatars have left the building … their “Company HQ” in the Tenjin sim has been vacated. Unbeknownst to many (they didn’t talk about it much) Anomaly were actually fairly early adopters of Second Life. They bought a plot (near to PSFK Island, as it ‘appens) back in 2005 I think. If they called themselves an Ad Agency, they could probably claim to be the first to have built an office in this part of the metaverse. I discussed it briefly with Anomaly partner Johnny Vulkan, who by that stage was fairly dismissive of the opportunities the virtual world offered marketers. Their only client to venture in to Second Life was Enviga (against Anomaly’s advice). Enviga eventually built a large green Enviga-drinking robot in Anomaly HQ and left it at that.

anomaly

Purple pundit Piers Fawkes of PSFK (indulge me in my aliteration) was also eventually underwhelmed by Second Life. Anomaly neighbour and virtual pioneer Piers at one stage referred to himself as a “big time property developer” and “marketing consultant” in Second Life. He was quoted some time later as saying that “Second Life [wasn’t] much good for marketers“, presumably something he had learnt from experience. That said, his (rather ramshackle looking, slightly vandalised) virtual island HQ remains.

psfk-second-life

Who else is left? Crayon’s slightly stalinist-looking and underpopulated sim (traffic count: 32) remains. Crayon claimed to be the first agency to launch in Second Life (and indeed, the launch itself was actually held there). To my knowledge Crayon’s only Second Life client engagement was Coke’s Virtual Thirst, an effort which received mixed reviews at best.

crayonville

Leo Burnett at one stage built a giant tree (replete with caged birds and apples) but they have now also departed. Their space was apparently envisioned as a place for international collaboration.

burnett-sl

BBH built a (rather bland looking) office back in 2006 – also claiming to be the “first” – and said office for the moment is still there. It actually looks fairly well maintained, if unevolved and sterile. The only evidence of client involvement is a rather large Levi’s poster.

bbh-second-life

My views on marketing through Second Life? Well, I’d start by saying “don’t knock it until you’ve tried it”. There seems to be a dichotomy between those who piled in to Second Life without thinking it through particularly well (net result: lots of money spent and little to show) and those who rejected it out of hand (net result: nothing spent and nothing learned).

As with any marketing experience, success depends on objectives. Want to reach a lot of people quickly? Second Life probably isn’t for you. Want to reach and connect with tech-savvy 30-something virtual world enthusiasts (hey, someone might) then it might make sense.

Thoughts?

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Metaverse: Second Life poised to not blow for Marketers, Airforce and Army Invade, 98% Never Visit

The U.S. Air Force first began talking about a multipurpose virtual world, MyBase, back in February. The goals of the virtual world would be to recruit and inform civilians, train cadets, and help active airmen prepare for specific missions and ongoing projects. “MyBase is a set of regions dedicated to sharing the history and learning about the U.S. Air Force,” explains the sim. While the exhibits are interactive and educational, they’re definitely geared more at public outreach than internal training. Visitors can fly a virtual P51C Mustang, try a challenge course and shooting range, listen to Air Force band music, and see what military life is like. While there were automated bots on the site, no actual humans were present. There is an option for visitors, if interested, to access a website to talk to a recruiter about an Air Force career.
The U.S. Army will open up two islands in Second Life in the next 30-45 days aimed at recruiting new soldiers. This was announced at the Army Science Conference this week, which has a heavy focus on immersive technologies. The project sounds similar to the Air Force’s MyBase, which opened in Second Life yesterday. Users will find a welcome center with information and links to contact a recruiter on one island and military-themed activities like rappelling, shooting, and parachuting on the other. Completing the activities will earn users points toward free Army-branded virtual goods. Interestingly, Gen. William S. Wallace, the commander of the U.S. Army TRADOC, said that social networking has been “oversold”. Regardless, the Army remains interested as, according to Wallace, “one of the age groups of which there’s about 4MM young people that routinely interface in Second Life is the age group of the young people who we’re trying to encourage to join the military.”
A new study released by the Pew Internet & American Life Project claims that a slim majority of adults in the United States now play video games, with preferred platform choices being stratified by age group. Drawing from data collected in surveys during 2007 and 2008, Pew claims that 53 percent of Americans age 18 or older play games on some kind of device — including personal computers, game consoles, and handheld devices. As a footnote, despite 9 percent of gamers (and 21 percent of teen gamers) claiming experience playing MMOs, a mere 2 percent of gamers reported entering virtual worlds like Second Life.
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Metaverse: Life 2.0, Linden Economy

n his documentary film “Life 2.0,” Jason Spingarn-Koff ’96 examines what he calls “the world’s first virtual world” – Second Life. Launched in June 2003 by Linden Lab, Second Life allows users to create simulated avatars that inhabit a vast virtual environment he says is “sophisticated enough that people feel it is real.”In his documentary set to come out next year, Spingarn-Koff says he has filmed a small cross-section of users over a period of two years so that viewers can see the dramatic transformations users experience through Second Life.
In contrast with the turmoil rattling global financial markets, it’s all smooth sailing in the virtual economy of Second Life, the California-based creators of the Internet-based universe said Wednesday. ‘Despite the chaos in the world’s economies, lead indicators for the Second Life economy remain strong’ said John Zdanowski, financial director of Linden Lab, which set up Second Life in 2003. ‘Second Life as a whole has been so far unaffected by the recent turmoil in real world markets,’ he added in a written response to AFP. The exchange rate of the Linden dollar to the US dollar had remained stable, he said, as had trading on the LindeX exchange.
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