Dec 30, 2009

SLebrity Update: Now I'm Winning!

On January 3rd, 2009, I made a bold - or stupid - prediction; that the word SLebrity would be my promotional "Word if the Year." The aim was to make it much more popular than it was and I intended to use numbers to prove it.

So, I did a Google search and set the baseline:

January 3rd, 2009: The word SLebrity generates 2,730 hits.

As the year progressed, the incidence of the word was - how should I put it? - less than stellar. Three weeks after my announcement of the Word of the Year, the Google hits dropped to 2,630.

Then, by May 19th, the hits had reached a new low: 1,940. If I had been charging people for my skill as a marketing executive, I'd have been having to work hard at dissuading them from asking for their money back!

Things continued to spiral downwards so that by June 23rd, the ghits returned a disappointing 1,660. Clearly there was now a significant lack of evidence for my skills as a promoter being in any shape or form a reality.

But just like pension investments, the trick is to wait long enough. Today I found the ghit rating had rebounded with a vengeance. The count now stands at 10,800! That's four times the original figure on January 3rd and provided it holds until January 3rd, 2010, I can claim victory. The ugly duckling has become a swan with a 400% increase in popularity. In the world of words, SLebrity is now a slebrity!

Now, I realize that the more cynical amongst you may wish to point out that "contingency does NOT equal causality," but that's just a silly statistical argument based on facts. Marketing and promotion is not about facts but perceptions, and I for one will happily sit back and claim that whether you believe there is a causal correlation or not, the fact remains that (a) I claimed I could increase word's ghit count in one year and (b) the ghits have increased fourfold in one year.

Dec 26, 2009

The Galleries Are Almost Ready

As I said on November 28th, I was looking forward to spending some time over Christmas working on the galleries. And I have. After pulling apart my old house and going back to the prim basics, I rebuilt the original galleries to give me four in total, plus a warehouse as my new house.


The top three buildings are Gallery I, Gallery II, and Gallery III. Beneath those is my house, sat on a single megaprim 333 meters in the sky. And beneath that is Gallery IV, the one I intend to use for special, temporary collections as opposed to the permanent collections of the other three galleries.

The galleries are linked by a teleport system, so visitors can chose which collection they want to see. The home point is Gallery I, and my house is not on the teleport list - hey, I need a little privacy!

Galleries I and II are now fully populated and Gallery III still has some room for additions. As to Gallery IV's first special collection, I'm not quite sure yet. I have an idea but I'll hold that thought until the 1st of the year.

Keep checking back for details.

MBC News: 25th December, 2009

This week's news is up and running.Miss Virtual World 2010 is crowned, Metaplace is set to close its doors, Lisa Hermano visits the Linden Home continent of Nascera, and the news team talk a lot about a little.

MBC News 12-25-2009 from Metaverse TV on Vimeo.


Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Dec 22, 2009

MBC News: 17th December, 2009

Zee Linden to Blue Mars, US Federal Trade Commission Report on Danger to Kids in Virtual Worlds, Lisa Hermano finds out whats going on in Second Life™ for the holidays.

MBC News 12-17-2009 from Metaverse TV on Vimeo.

Dec 14, 2009

FTC Report in Metaverse Tribune


There's an article entitled US Federal Trade Commission Release Report on Danger to Kids in Virtual Worlds published in the Metaverse Tribune. And keep watching the MBC News for a studio report next week.

MBC News: December13th, 2009

In this week's news, Twinity launches Virtual London, Neo London; Lisa Hermano gets ready for Miss Virtual World 2010; and the team celebrates the launch of the new Super Mario Wii.



Dec 12, 2009

FTC Report on Virtual Worlds

For a slightly sarcastic look at the recent FTC report on the how kids can access explicit content, check out my latest article for the Alphaville Herald - FTC Report to US Congress Finds Explicit Content in Second Life!!!

My tongue is in one cheek but not the other. The trick when reading the article is to decide where my lingual muscle is ;)

Dec 4, 2009

Check out my latest article, Women, social-gaming, and virtual-spending: Implications for Second Life businesses published in the Metaverse Tribune.


"At the recent Social Media World Forum conference held in Santa Clara, California (9th-10th November, 2009), the digital marketing company, Q Interactive, presented the results of a study on how women use an engage in social media..."

Click to continue reading...

Dec 1, 2009

MBC News

Catch the latest news from MBC. It's the 90th edition and comes from the brand new studios at Metaverse Island.

MBC News 11-28-2009 from Metaverse TV on Vimeo.


With Dousa Dragonash, Sigmund Leominster, Malburns Writer, and Lisa Hermano - filmed by Robustus Hax.

Nov 28, 2009

Closing in on the gallery

OK, so progress is slow. Very slow. But the Leominster Galleries are floating on high and waiting to be populated. Galleries I through III will house my permanent collection - or at least as permanent as I can make it, and the yet-to-be-constructed Gallery IV will be for special collections that change every couple of months.

Most of the paintings are 19th century with an overflow into the early 20th and a drop back into the 18th or even 17th. With some work, I hope to complement the galleries with an online repository of information about all the paintings, along with larger images and, where possible, links to other art sites.

With the Christmas vacation almost here, I hope to have some time to complete the galleries and launch them publicly. I'm already thinking of the first Gallery IV offering so come January 2010, I may have an announcement.

Oh, and if anyone has an idea for a logo for "The Leominster Galleries," just let me know ;)

Nov 23, 2009

MBC News

This week's Metaverse TV news has a guest anchor.



My Second Life visits are still pretty limited but still going on ;) Real life blogging and twittering (along with my real life job, of course) keep me busy. I'm planning to get the art gallery up and running soon, so stop back to see how that's going. I'm afraid the days of multiple Second Life blogs are over, which is in one way sad, but in another, not too terrible.

Oct 19, 2009

Iran Blames US for Soap

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad slipped on a wet floor this morning. After getting back on his feet, he immediately contacted the Iranian state-run TV service to present a three-hour tirade on why the US and the UK were behind the slip. He allegedly has proof that the soap manufacturers are being supplied by the US with extra slippy soap so as to cause mass chaos in Iranian bathrooms.

To support his allegations, he produced the bodies of three Iranians who had admitted to being pawns of the Great Satan - just before being executed. He waved their signed confessions dramatically, although for security reasons, he was unable to provide any copies to anyone.

Ahmadinejad said that revenge would be swift and proportionate, such as a nuclear missile fired at Israel - which, he hesitated to add, Iran does not possess. "But if it DID," he said, "we would be targeting all soap factories that are actually covert CIA operations."

At the end of the briefing, he dropped his pencil - and promptly blamed the UK government, the "lapdogs of the Capitalist aggressors."

Oct 5, 2009

New article in Metaverse Tribune

As I slowly ratchet up to a cruising speed, I'm starting to produce articles again. The latest published offering in in the Metaverse Tribune entitled Microsoft(R) to Close Second Life(TM) Island.

Sep 28, 2009

A New Project

I've mentioned before that I have a virtual art collection in my house. As you might expect, I've been adding to it slowly. I am now starting work on my next venture; The Leominster Gallery(TM).


Dedicated primarily to 18th-19th century Symbolists, Romantics, and Pre-Raphaelites, the Leominster Gallery will be sited way up in the sky above my house. And technically, it has come about thanks to two pieces of "technology."

The first is the existence of a 6-prim skybox that costs L$9. At such a low prim count, I can stack these above my house and get lots of space for artwork.


Second, I found a 1-prim temp rezzer that lets me store over 50 paintings for nothing! I can therefore have a gallery of over 50 paintings PLUS the building for 7 measly prims ;)

And currently I have two such galleries with 25 painting in each. My aim is to have four galleries with a total of 200 paintings - for 28 prims. This probably means sacrificing some of my furniture but I still have 15 prims on my 1024 sq. meters of land so the sacrifice may be minimal.

Sep 12, 2009

Lack of posts due to vicissitudes of real life

For almost two years I have been fairly active in the Second Life(R) virtual world, writing for different magazines, working with MBC and Life On Line, and keeping a blog or two. But in June 2009, something happened that caused my to put my Second Life existence on hold: my wife was diagnosed with renal cancer following a routine colonoscopy. This sort of reality tends to realign one's perspective on the virtual world.

I told a small number of my closest SL friends about this and their support was encouraging. All of them offered their best wishes and prayers, which puts paid to the notion that virtual friends can't be "real" friends.

Three months on and the real world is now settling down to some normality. Following the removal of an entire kidney and renal gland, my wife now shows no other evidence of cancerous cells and treatment, as such, is over. No chemo and no radiation because the cancer has been removed. She now sports a battle scar of 11 inches in length and aims to be back at work in a few weeks.

Once she's back, I will have some time to slide back into some level of virtual existence, starting with articles for SLentrepreneur, Prim Perfect, and perhaps the Metaverse Tribune. Steve Cropper has been great letting me maintain my news slot on Life On Line, and if time permits, I'd love to go back to the occasional "second fiddle" part on MBC News with Dousa Dragonash.

I'll be trying to add to the blog, but my focus will initially be on the media stuff. I also have a real life blog to maintain - and a job!

Thanks for hanging on in there, dear reader.

Jul 16, 2009

Life On Line; Episode 11

It's that time of month again; the latest edition of Life On Line.

40 years ago the world watched on in amazement as NASA landed two men on the moon for that famous, “giant leap for mankind.” But to this day, there are still many who believe it never actually happened. On Life On Line, we meet a leading skeptic, who reviews the evidence and tries to settle the matter once and for all.

The Relay For Life is an annual fundraiser in support of cancer research. It happens in cyberspace too. The organizer for the Relay in the virtual world Second Life, Fayandria Foley previews the event starting July 18th.

Sigmund Leominster joins us for his regular round-up of internet news.

Our resident band SpaceJunky performs their new single ‘Love Forgives’.

That’s Life On Line from July 15th. Click on the right to watch the episode.

Jul 12, 2009

SL6B Video

Here's a great video from the folks at the Machinema Artists Guild.


The promo video was made for the Second Life 6th Birthday event, where Machinima Artists Guild were represented as a part of a huge party/exhibition. The girl who appears on the video Josie Anderson, Project Manager from the Guild Group on SL6B

You can find more about the Machinima Artists Guild at http://slmachinimaarts.ning.com

Jul 8, 2009

SS Galaxy article in "Prim Perfect" magazine

My latest piece is a look at the SS Galaxy, published in the July 2009 edition of Prim Perfect magazine.


It's well worth a trip to see this huge build. My article looks at some of the people involved with the Galaxy.

Jun 30, 2009

Life On Line 1st July

In this edition of Life On Line:

The world was shocked by the recent death of Michael Jackson. We remember him on the show and look back over a remarkable career.Fashion is a favorite obsession for millions of people the world over and in virtual worlds too!

Fashion expert Scarlett Niven explains why and previews a new virtual world dedicated to fashion, Frenzoo.com.

A company’s good name is worth its weight in gold but many companies promise the earth in advertising but don’t deliver. Corporate reputation expert Alex Harris explains what companies – larger and small – can do to improve their standing with the community.

Musically, Shakti Cianci introduces a reggae band from Tasmania, the protest group Bomba, who is campaigning against logging in the ancient Tasmanian forests.

Click on the screen to the left or go to Blip TV.

Jun 23, 2009

SLebrity Update: Spinning Out of Control

The Google hit count for SLebrity continues to amaze and astound! As of this moment (12:30 pm Eastern Standard Time) is stands at an underwhelming 1,660. Astute observers may notice that this is down from May's 1,940.

In January of this year (2009) the hits stood at 2,730, so that's 1,070 down over six months. Mmmh. This is something of a bummer as far as my campaign to promote the use of the word goes. Not exactly a stratospheric rise in provenance and if this were shares in a company, I think "sell" would be a more frequently used word.

I grasped a straw in the form of Microsoft's new Bing search engine, thinking that it may have a better ability to find occurrences of the word. Tragically it didn't even hit the Google mark, returning a paltry 1,120. That sucks.

I could thrash around looking for a scapegoat but that strikes me as being both pathetic and fruitless. I clearly over-estimated my ability to become a one-man promotion machine for a single word. Clearly. If I were a marketing company, I'd be having to give the money back!

Of course, there's is also the teensy weensy fact that I have not actually been doing any promotion, and my trips in-world have dropped off drastically over the past month. Medical issues with my wife have me focusing more on her than SL - which is a good thing ;)

Still, I refuse to give up hope that SLebrity will reach SLebrity status by the end of the year.

Jun 18, 2009

MBC News 6-17-09

This week's MBC News with Dousa Dragonash and Sigmund Leominster. Jenaia Morane is in the studio with virtual guide dog "Max" and Dousa and Siggy report on this week's news in the real and virtual worlds.

Jun 14, 2009

Life On Line: Episode 9

Life On Line is proud to support two very worthy causes. The Friends Fighting Cancer who have tirelessly worked to raise money for the Relay For Life, a global cancer research fundraiser staged in the virtual world Second Life.

And Amnesty International has recently appointed the extremely hard-working Amy Cross as their global Online Coordinator to campaign in support of Amnesty International through the internet.

We also take a closer look at remarkable new virtual technology – a digital artificial intelligence called Milo, created by Lionhead Studios.

Musically, Shakti Cianci of SpaceJunky introduces the winner of the recent Sony Remix contest. We showcase the winning music video by Metaphysics from Germany.

Click the video to the left to watch or link here to Life On Line. Note that my voice is different because Kayden O'Connell stepped up to the plate to pinch hit while I was on the road. At least the actual copy was mine!

Jun 6, 2009

Moribund Blogs and Work In Progress

Like most bloggers in Second Life, I have been guilty of creating more blog space that I can physically manage. Hence the slow-down with this blog and the sporadic postings elsewhere.

Over at SL Bloggers I managed to crank out two introspective (or possibly omphaloskeptic for the more pretentious among us) comments on blogging and the use of blogs.

The first, The Irony and Moribundity of the Second Life Blogger, bemoans the tendency to want to be all things to all people by setting up, and then neglecting, blogs - or as one writer labels them, "mogs" for "moribund blogs."

The second, Blog or Ad, simply observes that a fair number of blogs are simply advertising pieces for someone's latest SL venture; clothes, shoes, clubs, malls, in fact anything that people create. I'm not sure whether this is a criticism or just a legitimate form of blog.

Meanwhile, I am currently working on a profile piece on the SS Galaxy sim. This will appear in Prim Perfect magazine later this month. As I write, 2000 words are done and I'm slated to add another 1000 before submitted. So, I'm about to slip in world and track down some interviewees.

Jun 2, 2009

Latest Life On Line Now Transmitting

Click on the video window in the left-hand column to catch Episode 8 of Life On Line.

This edition of Life On Line gazes into Microsoft’s crystal ball as we talk with Microsoft evangelist Zain Naboulsi, who describes how we will experience the internet in the future.

Musically, we have the Aussie talent of Hughie performing ‘Slap That Ass’ from an album produced with Kirk Pengilly of INXS.

Newsman Sigmund Leominster reports on the news from and virtual worlds and the metaverse in general.

May 21, 2009

Blogger Not Letting Me Publish Comments!

Both Moggs Oceanlane and Deadlycodec have added comments in the past two days but I can't get Blogger to let me publish them! All I get is as error message:

We're sorry, but we were unable to complete your request.

When reporting this error to Blogger Support or on the Blogger Help Group, please:

* Describe what you were doing when you got this error.
* Provide the following error code and additional information.

bX-p2ixs5
Additional information
blogID: 796214310334781259
host: www.blogger.com
uri: /moderate-comment.do


Bummer! The Blogger Support and Help Group offered suggestions but they didn't work. Double bummer!

And I mention this why? Well, seeing as a whine an awful lot about the horrors of censorship, my failing to publish comments might be interpreted as the very act I abhor. I keep telling my American colleagues that the First Amendment is one of the most beautiful constitutional additions to any constitution and that it is vitally important to protect it. So I'm doing my bit for democracy by at least proclaiming that I am not censoring stuff!

Of course, maybe it's a plot by the people at Blogger...

May 19, 2009

SLebrity Update: How Can I Spin This..?

Blogger and Plurker Moggs Oceanlane offered to do her bit for promoting the frequency of the word SLebrity by letting me know that her friend Valiant has added it to the Urban Dictionary. As of today, it isn't there yet but maybe soon...

On the downside, I checked the Google hits for the word and it now stands at 1,940. This represents a minor downturn in its use and I still hold out hope for a resurgence.

May 18, 2009

Life On Line: 7th Edition

We're going from strength to strength! Now showing on more sites than ever before - after only three months.

This week on Life On Line, we help celebrate the launch of Second Pride, a week-long festival in the virtual world Second Life celebrating Gay Pride. We catch up with co-founder of the virtual world Twinity and learn about their exciting Illuminati competition, part of the hit sequel to the Da Vinci Code, just released. And music by SpaceJunky as they perform their original hit, I Am. All that and more.

Click on the screen on the left to watch this edition.

May 16, 2009

I Want To Be A Celebrity

The Metaverse Broadcasting Company, MBC TV, are currently airing episode 3 of their virtual reality show, I Want To Be A Celebrity, which is curiously entertaining. However, I don't want to talk about that but the theme song to the show, Celebrity by the UK band The Thought Criminals.


I should start by saying that I loved it so much, I bought the album. And at $9.99 from iTunes, it's a bargain. Here's what the blurb on Amazon.com has to say:

"The Thought Criminals was formed in South London, UK in 2004 when programmer/musician Kirlian Blue and vocalist/frontman Rocky Goode, set out to form a band that would blend early 80s dark electronic music with the more modern alternative dance music of today. The duo worked feverishly on their concept and then enlisted the help of famed dance producer Tony Messenger and mixer Robb Henry to tie things together. The result of their effort is the debut album, Die Young: Stay Pretty.

"The Thought Criminals sound can only be described as an EBM laced Sci-fi/80s/Electro Punk montage. Kirlian, supplies the backdrop for Rocky's tongue & cheek (sic) vocals. Die Young : Stay Pretty, is a 10 track release which contains 3 bona fide singles: The catchy pop hit (I'm Gonna Be a) Celebrity, the old school EBM Date Rape Lovers and the explosive My Baby's a Suicide Bomber. In addition to the album tracks, Die Young: Stay Pretty, includes seven bonus remixes that will be sure to pack dance floors across the globe."

Electro/dance/punk is the best way to describe it. Cyberslut is another great tune that will appeal to the Second Life brigade, which also comes as a 12" Club Remix version with the iTunes download. I need to make a visit to 6th Element Club to see if anyone's playing parts of this album.

May 6, 2009

The Conferederation of Democratic Sims: New Article in Prim Perfect

The Confederation of Democratic Sims (CDS) is Second Life's longest functioning democracy and my latest two-part article has just been published in Prim Perfect magazine.

You can read it online as a Calaméo publication, or download the PDF version to print out and read at your leisure.

This is a special second birthday edition of Prim Perfect that includes retrospectives and comments from folks who have been involved with the magazine over the past two years.

May 1, 2009

Life On Line Episode Six Now Available

Click on the video to the right on this page to watch the May 1st, 2009 edition of the popular internet show, Life On Line.

In this edition, Life On Line takes on a more serious tone with discussions about damaging gambling addiction and the risk of falling foul of cybercrime online. Lawyer Seamus Byrne, a leading authority on cybercrime, talks about what everyone can do to better protect themselves against financial or identity theft and other forms of cybercrime.

Resident online psychotherapist Roman Candle talks about the dangers of online gambling and what it does to people’s lives. He also provides some helpful tips to help people recognise the warning signs in those they love and getting them off the habit.

Newsman Sigmund Leominster reports on the latest games and virtual worlds in the metaverse. And musically, we are joined in the studio by satirist Eva Moon with her song Cash from Nigeria.

Apr 24, 2009

SL on SL Slowdown

The real world economy is causing problems and challenges for many people. And this is true for the man behind Sigmund Leominster too. But not in a bad way. Although I chose to keep my RL and SL separate, in the real world, my international company has been going through some significant growth over the past two years and it continues to do so. And without revealing too much about "me," my role is at a senior level and I have to ensure that all the employees are fully tasked and able to do the jobs needed.

So, what with hiring new people, shipping large quantities of products, and having to travel around to continue expansion, poor Siggy has been in SL much less of late. This, of course, doesn't necessarily mean he's idle. As news anchor for Life On Line and a co-presenter on MBC's news, Sigs has four shows per month to cover. And writing for SLentrepreneur, Prim Perfect, and The Alphaville Herald still keeps crusts on the table.

Where sacrifices have been made are in the blogging arena. SL on SL comments have slowed down, as have SL on VL. However, that's not really a problem.

I also have a blog in real life - which gets many more readers than SL on SL - so that also takes up time. It all comes down to numbers really. We all have to divvy up our time to make best use of our scarce resources. Second Life is fun and being part of it is a great escape at times. But, as my friend Mony Markova keeps reminding me, it is, after all, not "real" or "important" in the grand scheme of things.

So don't think that fewer posts in SL on SL means I have gone away. No, I'm just shuffling the deck a little.

Apr 18, 2009

MBC News Show For April 17th Now Available

The mid-April Metaverse Broadcasting Company news show is now available. For the fashionistas, I'm wearing a sweater and shoes from Redgrave, along with trousers from Muism.



For those who really don't care about what I'm wearing, I'm curious why you are still reading my blog!

Apr 16, 2009

Life On Line Episode 5 Now Available

Click on the video to the right of this post to see the April 15th edition of Life On Line.

"This week, we visit one of the newest virtual worlds to be created on the Open Grid. ‘Reaction Grid’ puts the emphasis on building rather than buying. One of the creators tells how she left her job as a nuclear weapons expert in the US military in favor of a career in virtual world building.

"Newsman Sigmund Leominster reports on Quest Online’s new virtual world, Alganon, described as “the first viable alternative to World of Warcraft - and Sony Entertainment’s PS3-based mystery centered on a character from their virtual world, Home.

"Our resident band the incredible SpaceJunky performs their hit Killer Coat.

"And the very very strange Some Grey Bloke blows the lid on what Facebook is really all about."

Apr 15, 2009

Sky News Closes Second Life Bureau

The Prophets of Doom can wallow in the demise of yet another major news corporation's exit from the Second Life(R) virtual world. Britain's Sky News has announced that it is formally closing down its SL island and moving to a "new 'Immersive Workspaces' platform in Second Life where employees meet to exchange ideas and do business."

News will still be delivered to these workspaces via "News Pods," a essential a screen with streaming video.



Obliquely reference the departure of other news providers, Sky News says that "life, even Second Life, and technology, move on. In Second Life, increasingly, the trend has moved away from corporate islands like the Sky Newsroom."

Virtual world Cassandras can eagerly point to this as being further evidence that "the end is nigh," whereas more sober commentators will simply point out that the economics of news reporting and delivery in Second Life is very different from real life, and spending lots of money to have virtual world analogs of real life newsrooms doesn't necessarily make any financial sense.

Apr 14, 2009

New Journal Publishing Late 2009 - Early 2010


The Journal of Virtual Worlds and Education is an academic peer-reviewed journal that will present the best writing and thinking available about Virtual Worlds and their applications and implications for the field of education.

The Journal was conceived in 2007 by educator and designer Anton Hand and Xenius Revere chief executive officer Kevin DiVico. The idea was furthered by a wide ranging group of educators including Larry W. Belle PhD, formerly the Dean of Continuous Education at the Rochester Institute of Technology; Sarah Higley Ph.D., author and professor of English at the University of Rochester; Anton Hand, an adjunct instructor at the University of Buffalo media studies department, as well as former Creative Director for Deep Think, and former Metaverse designer for Electric Sheep Company; MCLS library clerk Patricia Rapp, one of the developers of one of the first distance learning programs for the military while working with CyberMath; Jack Greeny, computer scientist and doctoral student in Cognitive Psychology at the University of Buffalo; author, designer and educator David Pascal; and Kevin DiVico, CEO of Xenius Revere, a Virtual Worlds solution corporation focusing principally on educational and training applications of Virtual Worlds technologies.

The Journal plans initially to publish freely available materials online in digital formats three times annually at its web site, www.jvweducation.org. Keep checking back for the official Call for Papers, or sign up for more information and free e-mail notices.

Apr 10, 2009

Journal of Virtual Worlds Research - Latest Edition

The latest edition of the Journal of Virtual Worlds Research has just been released. This is Volume 2, number 1, and the theme is Pedagogy, Education and Innovation in Virtual Worlds. This edition is dedicated to exploring the breadth of designs, pedagogies and curricular innovations that are actually already being applied to teaching and learning in virtual worlds.

The next two editions will cover 3D Virtual Worlds for Health and Healthcare (May, 2009) and Virtual Worlds: Technology, Economy, and Standards (September, 2009). You've just missed the deadline for the September issue (me too!) but there is a Call for Papers for Volume 2, Number 4, Virtual Economies, Virtual Goods and Service Delivery in Virtual Worlds. The deadline for abstracts is 15 June 2009 and it will be published in November 2009.

Mmmh, maybe I could manage that one?

Apr 6, 2009

Anchorman: But Not Ron Burgundy!

This week I had a spot as an anchorman for Metaverse TV. I've done reports before but this is the first time I've had the fun of actually reading the news. Dousa Dragonash, MBC's news supremo, helped me along by providing the actual news copy: all I had to do was read it.



It took just over an hour to complete the session, along with an interview with Nexeus Fatale, and there's a good chance I'll be anchoring again either this week or next.

Cool stuff!

Apr 4, 2009

What's In A List? Well, Me Now!

A few weeks back, Second Life resident ArminasX Saiman published a list of blogs in his own Second Effects blog. The original list contained some errors and dead sites so, to his credit, he took on the Herculean task of trying to produce a rank-ordered listing . The criteria for a "live blog" are that;

* There must be at least one post within the last three months (dated within 2009)
* There must be visible Second Life content
* It must be a blog (and not a forum, flickr group, static website, ning community, etc.)
* It must not be closed or on hiatus

Aided and abetted by a team comprising of Amber Decuir, Thickbrick Sleaford, Peter Stindberg, Haley Salomon, Moggs Oceanlane, Quaintly Tuquiri, Radar Masukami, and Andrew M, Armin ended up with a huge list of blogs, which, it's safe to say, could not possibly be read in totality by any one person.

The semi-good news is that I have a scattered presence. The Alphaville Herald comes in at #14, SLentrepreneur Magazine has the #51 slot, and this very blog ranks 82nd. I could perhaps claim a hit with the #40 slot, Prim Perfect, but having only written one article for them so far, that might be pushing it a little.

SL on VL doesn't get a mention but then the "visible Second Life content" is not as high - it is designed to comment on all virtual worlds so mentions of SL can be sporadic.

All in all, this is not a bad showing. My aim has always been to freelance across a range of publications rather than focus my efforts on just one.

Now, what I really need is a venue where I can write some fashion stuff as the return of FreeLife Magazine appears to be somewhat delayed: In fact, I have not heard from the editors for weeks! I wonder what is happening?

Apr 2, 2009

Sex, Violence, Decapitation and Second Life?

The UK's Daily Mail newspaper reported the case of a man who reacted to his wife's online infidelity by cutting off her head rather than her internet account. According to the Mail;

"A jealous husband reportedly cut off his wife’s head after catching her messaging a man she had met online.

"Giuseppe Castro, 35, turned on Maria Pia Scuto, 41, after discovering her messaging her lover on the computer.

"He is alleged to have stabbed her in the neck with a kitchen knife, then used the blade to saw off her head in front of their 15-year-old son and his mother-in-law."

Whoah! Easy on the cappuccinos there, Giuseppe! Take a chill pill.

What is interesting is that the original story added the phrase "..in Second Life" to the first sentence. It was later removed in an act of journalistic revisionism. However, the "Second Life" element did continue in the Austrian Times but most reports seem to have stated that the virtual affair was via text and chat sites, not Second Life.

Oh, and ladies - be very careful if you have "sext friends." When Castro was interviewed, he told detectives: "She was always chatting with other men, I couldn’t take it any more."

See how easy it is to get your man mad? Maybe this time he WON'T just turn off the cell phone!a

Mar 30, 2009

Fashion Showcase: Lissa Maertens

Wicked in the Dunes was the title of the exciting show organized by the talented team at the Atlantis Modelling Agency. Held at Zatzai Asturias’ Artificial Isle sim, this was an opportunity to show the creative talent of designer Lissa Maertens, owner of the Cattiva e Cattivo clothing line. Lissa has been a part of the Second Life couture scene for less than two years but during that time established a range of fashions for both men and women, and also spent a period working alongside another well-known designer, Simone Stern.

The Mistress of Ceremonies was Qualsha Nordberg, dressed in one of Maerten’s outfits; the Simply Satin Formal, a figure-hugging gown in gold, along with a pair of similarly colored Simply Satin Pumps.

First up was model Sasha Blitz wearing a lingerie ensemble. The outfit featured the Peek-a-Boo Corset, a silk textured tops tied up the front with matching lace and prim flexi bow, along with some small double drawstring panties and black stockings. Sasha finished the outfit off with a pair of Black Cherry Stilettos.

Jaydei Benmergui modeled an eye-catching, jaw-dropping, and neckline-plunging dress; the Liquid Metal Formal gown in teal.

Jaydei Benmergui in the Liquid Metal Formal

The off-the-shoulder design is complemented by prim lace trim, and there’s also a translucent skirt element that drops to the floor when resting but swings seductively when moving. The dress is also a showpiece for Lissa’s technique of hand-painting her fabrics rather than use photo textures. This technique is used to great effect to provide shading to her creations.

Another delicious piece of formal wear was worn by Maru Marquette – the black Gothique Formal Gown along with a pair of Onyx Steelettos.

Maru Marquette in the Gothique Formal Gown in black

Lissa’s attention to detail can be seen in the way that she includes a small crafted rose just under the cleavage and adds similar delicate roses to the hem of the full-length gloves that are included as part of the outfit. She follows through by adding this motif to the skirt element, which is narrow and shaded to maintain the sleek, tight look overall.

The Cattiva e Cattivo range also includes a business outfit for women. In the show, Jaydei wore the Strictly Business suit in a juicy merlot.

Jaydei in Strictly Business suit in merlot

There are shades of the 80’s with the primmy squared-off shoulders but overall the look is very classy. The pencil skirt ends just above the knees and the jacket comes in two lengths. The package also includes a prim turtle neck and dress blouse.

Model Cape Harbour took to the runway to show some of the menswear available. His casual outfit included the Winged Skull Hoodie in maroon along with a pair of dark blue jeans.

Cape Harbour in Winged Skull Hoodie in maroon

The hood is a prim attachment so you have the option to go without it. Once again, it’s worth noting the details – the scrunched deep creasing at the elbows; the shading of the pouch pocket; and the ribbing at the waist. Cape wore a pair of Rockstar Halfboots in Red Hot to match the color of the hoodie.

The Phillip is set consisting of a Brown Leather Jacket and other items. Modeled by Takeshi Kiama, the combination he used included a pair of Stompers Lace-up Boots, a Wife-beater Tee, gloves, beanie, and the Urban Ops Dungarees.

Takeshi Kiama in the Phillip

The show included over 20 different outfits, which is just a sample of the host of items available from Cattiva e Cattivo. Lissa’s new store is well worth the visit, and for those folks worried about price, although all her items are competitively priced, some of the packs are superb value. Her men’s suits are priced at $250 and contain lots of options AND can be used as a mix-and-match with other items.

The show was interesting, well run, and not too long – which is not a bad thing considering that many people find they have limited time. On this occasion, Atlantis’s CEO, Valerie McDunnough can be proud of her team, who not only put on an excellent show in 30 minutes but hung around afterward to let a poor writer take some pictures.

Information
Cattiva e Cattivo SLurl: http://slurl.com/secondlife/OpenOcean/14/184/21

Cattiva e Cattivo on Xstreet: https://www.xstreetsl.com/modules.php?name=Marketplace&MerchantID=83955

Mar 28, 2009

I Want My MTV(R) - or Not

My latest article in the Herald follows my trip into the world of Virtual MTV. Entitled, Pimpin' My Crib in Virtual MTV: Points for Friending and your Chicks for Free, it's a short piece that offers a glimpse into the latest version of MTV's attempts to gain a virtual world presence.

Check out my blog post at SL on VL, which includes a promo video.

Mar 22, 2009

Another SL Newspaper Folds

It looks like the Second Life News Network (SLNN) is officially dead. In December, I tried to contact the editor of SLNN, Garrett Bakalava, to find out why there had been no changes to the site since October 2008. By January, I still had no answers and couldn't get any reply from Bakalava.

Today I checked in on the site to find that it had been suspended.

SLNN joins a number of recently closed press outlets in Second Life, although this should NOT be seen as evidence for some sort of general decline of Second Life living. Running a newspaper or magazine in Second Life is labor intensive and requires lots of time. The real surprise is not that so many ventures fail but that so many succeed! In my recent interview with Professor of Journalism, Larry Mullen, he says that “There are a number of virtual magazines in SL – they come and go – but there are many new projects always starting.”

The comings-and-goings of SL-based media is part of the process of the evolving nature of 21st-century journalism. Says Mullen, "What has changed is that news and opinion have come down from the Ivory Tower. Now the average citizen can put his or her opinion out there for 100s or 1000s to see. All you need is access – and anyone can have access. Just head down to your local public library and log in."

Mar 11, 2009

Worlds.com Threatens to Sue Linden Lab

The saga of Worlds.com and the "Patent for the Worlds" continues. According to a press release from their patent attorneys at General Patent Corporation, Worlds.com's CEO, Thom Kidrin, has said that following their being awarded a third patent, he intends to sue Linden Lab, Activision, and ANYONE who has a virtual world.

As I mentioned at the end of 2008, Worlds.com have gone after NCsoft, a Korean company that owns the City of Heroes online game. Worlds.com claim that own patents to the concept of virtual worlds and that they want to be reimbursed via a licensing fee (for "licensing fee" read "shakedown).

In reply to an article in Alley Insider, I offered the following comments:

"Thom Kidrin is playing a risky game called "Bet The Company." If he wins, he takes all; if he loses, he may as well close the doors. And a quick peek at Yahoo Finance shows that the bet may not be a bad one considering the downward trend of the share price of Worlds.com.

"The discovery of "prior art" is certainly going to messy - but then again the patent attorneys employed by Worlds.com will presumably be quite happy to keep taking the check until this first case against NCSoft is resolved. And if this takes years, Kidrin can only hope his falling share prices provide enough cash to feed the ravenous hunger of the patent trolls.

"Only yesterday, General Patent Corporation, the company representing Worlds.com's patent interests, announced that a third patent has been awarded to their client "is a continuation of U.S. Patent No. 7,181,690 issued to Worlds.com in 2007 and bearing the same title."

The Neal Stephenson novel, "Snow Crash," is frequently cited as a precursor to the Metaverse and, as such, could be considered "prior art." In his Alley Insider piece, Eric Krangel proposes that the novel cannot be used as prior. However, that's not strictly true.

In reference to prior art, it would be legitimate to use "Snow Crash" insofar as any public document can be cited as such. In fact, the more public, the worse it is for the patent filer! The issue is how specifically the descriptions used in "Snow Crash" match up against the claims of the patent. A patent claim is typically made up of hundreds of single "claims,:" any of which can be challenged. The job of the patent attorney establishing a patent is to word the claims in such a way that they are NOT the same as public documents.

You do this by making very specific claims, which may seem ludicrously pedantic in the reading e.g. "The device of claim 9, wherein said key display means displays said plurality of selectable words with corresponding sequential numerical values" (one line from a 33-page patent that I own), and by being so specific you can prove "novelty" against any others.

So if a patent attorney thought that there was sufficient specificity in "Snow Crash" that matched a current patent, then it could be used as prior art. I have to say that I don't recall "Snow Crash" containing a description of how a virtual world works - it just assumes it and uses it as a backdrop to the story. Matching a sentence or paragraph of the novel to the Worlds.com patent could be tricky!

What is far more likely is for the defense attorneys to track down actual patents that possibly infringe on the Worlds.com set: Using a registered patent as prior art is much more powerful than using "Snow Crash" or Shakespeare - "Oh brave new world that has such people in it!"

Mar 9, 2009

"Deathwatch" Continues

I promise I'll stop. Real soon. It's just that Google Alerts keeps slopping out these stories of how Second Life is about to fall. Now it's the turn of Danielle Sacks who presents a flaccid analysis in Fast Company online. I suppose the title - Second Life Still Gets Great Press Even When It's Dying - is catchy enough, and she does avoid reference to Reuters, but it's essentially the same as all the others on this topic.

Interestingly, as i am writing this (7:20 pm EST) there are three comments, and all of them are critical of the article. Wizard Gynoid, an SL resident, bravely said "This kind of ignorant posturing is barely worth my time to respond to" and then spent a good paragraph responding ;)

OK, I think this will be my last Deathwatch posting.

Maybe.

Mar 8, 2009

Taxonomy of Vortual Worlds for Education Conference: March 12-12

The University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education is hosting a March 12-13 workshop, Taxonomy of Virtual Worlds for Education, designed to bring together teachers, students, researchers and technology providers to brainstorm the ideal virtual world software system for science, technology, engineering and math learning.

The conference goal is to ensure that this ever-changing medium is informed by educators, who have found that each virtual-world system has its own pros and cons, especially when it’s considered for use in K-12 educational settings.

“Ultimately, the outcomes of this will help inform the next generation of virtual-world designs for education,” said Yasmin Kafai, professor in Penn’s Graduate School of Education and expert in children learning through virtual worlds. “This involves the future of learning technology and figuring out how to describe and classify the different qualities of learning that can happen in virtual worlds.”

Mar 6, 2009

More on the Second Life "Deathwatch"

Yet another blogger has thrown his hat in the ring and jumped on the bandwagon of predicting the end of the Second Life virtual experience. Thanks to Goggle Alerts - a very useful way for tracking news on virtual life - I found an article entitled So Long Second Life on a blog called HighTalk; Conversations on Media, PR & the Social Web.

Now, I admit I don't know George Snell, the principal of Highland Communications and owner of the blog, and I have no reason to suspect he has any axe to grind in relation to Second Life. But my issue is, as before, that certain singular events in Second Life have become almost iconically symbolic of impending disaster, when in truth, these are just isolated events amongst many other comings-and-goings in the virtual world.

George does make an interesting point about the nature of social networks. He says that in relation to the "failure" of Second Life that "...what really happened is Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. Turns out people - mainstream people - don’t want the commitment and the oddity of a Second Life to partake in the Internet."

I propose there is a fundamental underlying issue at work here that is simply old-fashioned capitalism at its best: All these social networks are competing for a finite resource - time. They are competing for my spare time, your spare time, everyone's spare time. All of us have limits on how much time we can spend doing things. It's measurable: 24 hours per day, excluding sleep.

And even if you don't sleep, you still only have those 24 hours to chop into pieces. The more social networks you take part in, the less time you can spend in each. This is not rocket science nor some "profound insight" - it's just basic math.

As the number of ways to spend virtual time increases, the more competitive these activities become. I took stock of my own "social network" outlets and here they are in their glory:

Second Life
Twitter
SL on SL blog
SL on VL blog
SL on RL blog
Second Life bloggers blog
Life On Line TV show and blog
Facebook
LinkedIn
MyMetaverse blog
OpenWork Wiki

Add to this that I also write for SLentrepreneur Magazine, FreeLife Magazine, The Alphaville Herald, and other magazines on a freelance basis, and you can see how the "free time competition" works.

What's more frightening is that I believe I have fewer of these time-stealers than many other people. I know folks who also plurk, flickr, yelp, ning, and habbo. Add to this a MySpace page linked to your YouTube posts and I'm beginning to suspect the tragic state of the world economy is because no-one is actually getting the time to do any real work!

Lack of time, not necessarily lack of interest, is an important factor in why folks stop using any social network.

Feb 27, 2009

Second Life Stagnant? Mmmh, How So?

In an article entitled Mathew Kumar on Why Virtual Worlds Miss the Mark, the writer, Natalie Caron notes that Kumar "...mentions that the Second Life user base is growing stagnant and even dwindling now, proving its weak long-term potential."

Kumar is apparently one of "Canada’s most renowned games journalists" so you have to think he does his homework. Well, coincidentally, as I was doing my homework for an upcoming article on IP and virtual worlds, I came across a posting dated February 1st, 2007, at the Law.com site. While giving some background information in Second Life, the author, John Bringardner says "More than 2.5 million people have visited Second Life, with 15,000-20,000 playing at any given time."

15,000-20,000 at a time? I have been tracking the concurrency rates informally for the past month and it hasn't been below 50,000 and is not unusually over 70,000. If tripling your numbers over two years is "stagnant," then either Canadians use a different dictionary from the rest of the world or Kumar is a little off target. Perhaps even - gulp - wrong!

There is no shortage of virtual world "experts" who pontificate at events, and I believe some of them might even have been inside a virtual world once or twice, but I can't be sure. Anyone who spend even a few hours on the internet googling Linden Lab and Second Life will, once they get past all the stories of perversion, sexual deviancy, and doom-saying, find that there has been growth in the company, growth in the population (of SL), and growth in investments.

Kumar, in what is either an effort to play at being "controversial" or a show of arrogant ignorance, concludes by condemning all virtual worlds to the flames. Says Caron, "So what is the future of virtual world games according to Mathew Kumar? Perhaps none at all. Mathew Kumar urges game developers to stick to real games as the virtual world genre’s failures and inherent flaws are bound to doom it."

I wonder if Kumar has a tattoo on his ass that says "insert own head here."

What, what? I'm just saying...

Feb 26, 2009

MBC's "Zero Hour" Preview - Spot the Siggy!

Robustus Hax of MBC TV is in production with a new show called Zero Hour. When he asked for extras to stand around in a field, I was pretty sure that this was the sort of job I could excel at - standing in a field. So I slipped on my new outfit from Cattiva e Cattivo (product placement in Second Life, folks!) and TPed over to the set.

So here is the teaser-trailer now available at MBC's site and on Blip TV. The devilishly hunky blue-eyed, blond-haired Adonis is me. The voice, however, is not. I have been dubbed, possibly because union rules state that a speaking part has to be paid. Or not.



I think I was a little late for the Oscar nomination this time around, but next year I'm hoping to be stumbling down the red carpet with Angelina Jolie on my left and a bottle of cognac on my right.

Feb 25, 2009

Linden Lab Gets "F" From Better Business Bureau

A tweet from Tizzers alerted me to a report from the San Francisco Better Business Bureau that gives Linden Lab an "F" rating. According to the report, LL has received 43 complaints in the past three years; 25 of them were closed in the past 12 months, ten were administratively closed by the BBB, and 2 went unaddressed.

However, what I really liked was the following quote from Angela Gunn of Betanews:

"It should in fairness be noted that Linden, which turns ten this year, is a corporate entity responsible for managing the underpinning economic system and technology for a virtual space utilized by people who desperately want to believe that they are 'living' in a 'land' of crypto-anarcho-democracy where people can turn into bunnies. In other words, they've got a lot of people who like to complain about how Second Life works, and experienced observers suspect the stats reflect that to some extent."

Here is how the complaints broke down:


1 regarding Issue Not Defined

1 regarding Advertising Issues
BBB Definition: Advertising Issues - Claims alleging print or electronic media advertised claims or practices misrepresent the service or product offer.
  • Advertisement misrepresented a service (1)
13 regarding Billing or Collection Issues
BBB Definition: Billing or Collection Issues - Claim alleging billing errors, unauthorized charges, or questionable collection practices.
  • Failure to correct billing errors (3)
  • Improper collection practices (2)
  • None of the Above - Credit, Billing or Collection Complaint Issue (2)
  • Unauthorized bank debits (1)
  • Unauthorized credit card charges (5)
4 regarding Contract Issues
BBB Definition: Contract Issues - Claim of alleged failure to honor contract or agreement, work performed without authorization, or invalid contract.
  • Failure to honor a contract or agreement (2)
  • None of the Above - Contract Complaint Issue (2)
12 regarding Customer Service Issues
BBB Definition: Service Issues - Claims of alleged delay in completing service, failure to provide promised service, inferior quality of provided service, or damaged merchandise as a result of delivery service.

BBB Definition: Customer Service Issues - Claims alleging unsatisfactory customer service, including personnel's failure to provide assistance in a timely manner, failure to address or respond to customer dissatisfaction, unavailability for customer support, and/or inappropriate behavior or attitude exhibited by company staff.
  • Failure to provide promised assistance or support for products or services (2)
  • Failure to respond to phone calls or written requests for assistance or support (3)
  • Inappropriate behavior by customer service personnel (4)
  • None of the Above - Customer Service Complaint Issue (3)
1 regarding Delivery Issues
BBB Definition: Delivery Issues - Claims alleging delayed delivery of ordered merchandise.
  • Non-delivery of products (1)
1 regarding Product Issues
BBB Definition: Product Issues - Claim alleging a product does not meet the expectations of the complainant, including defective merchandise.
  • Product Quality Complaint Issue (1)
3 regarding Refund or Exchange Issues
BBB Definition: Refund or Exchange Issues - Claim of alleged failure to honor company policy or verbal commitment to provide refunds, exchanges, or credit for products or services.
  • Failure to honor refund, exchange or credit policies (2)
  • Refund or Exchange Complaint Issue (1)
4 regarding Sales Practice Issues
BBB Definition: Sales Practice Issues - Claims of alleged sales presentations made in person or by telephone that contain misrepresentations of the product or service, high pressure sales practices, failure to disclose key conditions of the offer, and verbal representations not consistent with written contractual terms or agreements.
  • Sales Complaint Issue (1)
  • Sales presentation not consistent with the written agreement (1)
  • Sales presentation used dishonest sales practices (2)
3 regarding Service Issues
BBB Definition: Service Issues - Claims of alleged delay in completing service, failure to provide promised service, inferior quality of provided service, or damaged merchandise as a result of delivery service.
  • Failure to honor service estimate or agreement (1)
  • Improper of inferior service (2)
Clearly Billing/Collection and Customer Service issues account for the largest proportion of problems. Specific examples are not shown but 25 such complaints in total over a three-year period is not as terrible as it looks.

Complaints to the Better Business Bureau are not vetted and the BBB does not adjudicate on the truth or validity of a complaint. All the BBB do is to forward the complaint to the company and ask for a response to the customer along with a copy to them. They do not judge the "correctness" of a response - only that a response is made. It may well be that the response is "there is no evidence to show that this actually happened to the person making the complain" and no action is taken. However, if there is a failure to post such a response, then the BBB will mark that as a failure.

If the BBB forwarded ten complaints about a company, all of which were false, and the company - knowing they were false - simply chose to drop them in the trash, the BBB would issue an "F" against them. The rating simply reflects response to the complaints but says nothing about the substance of them.

Oh, and a business that never receives complaints is either lying or in receivership.

Feb 22, 2009

MBC Interview Airs

Last Thursday I did an interview with Melvie Pawpaw, a real life associate professor at Kent State University. Melvie teaches a class on assistive technology and uses Kent State University island in Second Life to augment her classes. Melvie was actually very laid back about the whole thing and interviewed well. The latest edition of MBC News features the interview.


As a side bar, in order to visit the sim, I had to have permission to join the Kent State group. Two days after the interview, I was unceremoniously booted out. So much for my short tenure at Kent State.

Still, there has to be some kudos attached to my being ejected from a seat of higher learning. Makes me feel sort of radical. Sort of.

Feb 21, 2009

More on the Media in Second Life

A recent article by Mark Glaser for the online magazine MediaShift (part of the PBS site) looks at the demise of Reuters, CNN, and Wired in Second Life. And despite the about-face reactions of the ex-staffers who left the SL bureaus, Glaser paints a positive picture of reportage about Second Life.

Glaser also comments of the nature of business within Second Life.

"One thing that has survived the hype is the virtual economy of Second Life and other online worlds and gaming environments, where people sell virtual goods with game-based money that can be converted to real money. BusinessWeek's Robert Hof believes that's a story that has staying power.

"'The notion of virtual economies is already becoming a solid business model for many game companies, and even social networks like Facebook -- by some accounts up to $2 billion in revenues -- so that seems like a trend that has some legs, and it's one you can credit Second Life with proving as much as anyone,' Hof said. 'And of course, the idea of user-generated content is huge today on a number of fronts, though Second Life is just one example of that.'"

Lawrence Mullen, a journalism professor at the University of Nevava, Las Vegas, is quoted as saying "There are a number of virtual magazines in SL - they come and go - but there are many new projects always starting. And maybe it's good that the large media corporations aren't getting into SL - thus giving others a chance to redefine what journalism is or should be."

This notion of SL journalism being redefined in SL is interesting. Interesting enough for me to have already buzzed of an email to Mullen to do an interview for SLentrepreneur.

It's a great article; I wished I'd written it ;)

Feb 17, 2009

A Blog to Read: Second Life Shrink

One of the reasons I suspect my blog is not wildly popular - other than it being generally crap - is that I don't indulge too much in the "you link me your blog and I'll link you mine" thing. Some blogs seem to have blog rolls that are longer than the contents of the blogs themselves. Apparently, if you make lots of these links between blogs, you can fool the search engines into thinking you are important and noteworthy, regardless of what you write.

My list, therefore, of folks to read is rather small. Miniscule. Tiny. So when I say that I am adding Second Life Shrink to my list of recommended reads it's because I think it's worth reading. The blogs are wide in scope and tend to be analytical from a psychological perspective - well duh, it's called Second Life Shrink!

But after reading on and off for some months, I thought it was time for me to add it as a link. The good news is that I haven't been paid, bribed, or offered sex to do this; it's simply that sharing good stuff is always a good idea.

Feb 12, 2009

On The Princess's Press Release List : Good, Bad, or Ridiculous?

One of the signs of becoming a "name" in the SL press world (and a "name" is very different from a "SLebrity") is to measure the frequency and spread of press releases that you receive. Tragically, I am still something of a bottom feeder in the virtual Fourth Estate but these things take time.

So imagine my surprise when the e-mail appeared in my gmail box from no less than the Press Secretary of the Royal Press Office to the Palace of Yaximixche. The 2009 Knighthoods have been announced and, although I am not amongst them, I am obviously on the press list.


Far be it for me to point out that of the four awards, three are either current or previous employees of the Princess, but there is no mention of a party. Being unashamedly English, my expectation of a royal is that once the Knighthoods have been handed out, it's all hands to the pumps and the drinking starts, usually in a huge marquee festooned in ribbons and swarming with new nobles and booze-serving penguins.

However, the press release has no invite to a shindig, which is something of a disappointment.

It also seems that I can't drop her an IM to suggest a booze up. Here are "the rules" for talking to Her Royal Highness:

"Under no circumstances it is permitted the publication or posting of conversation extracts or logs without written permission from the Royal Household of HRH The Princess of Yaximixche. In order to respect Linden Labs "Terms of Service and Second Life Community Standards"(1) you will have to formally request in advance the publication of any extract of the text conversation by sending a "texture letter". You must include your name, organisation, name of the newspaper, magazine or website, expected date of publication, and making reference to the text conversation that you would like to publish (this texture letter can be created in power point and then uploaded to SL).

"You are kindly advised to address your request to The Private Secretary to Her Royal Highness The Princess of Yaximixche (IM: Aaaa Thor). Three days later after sending your request for the conversation log publication, you will receive an answer in a "texture letter" from The Private Secretary. In case of unauthorised publication of HRH The Princess of Yaximixche conversation logs, her Royal Household will follow the procedures suggested by Linden Labs to resolve this situation."


Bummer! The last time I chatted with a royal (Princess Alexandra many years back) I didn't have to get permission or send questions in advance. And she's a real royal!

So I'm not going to make much of the Princess and her retinue. If there's no beer and no IMs, why should I even bother.

On the other hand, Sir Sigmund Leominster sounds so... right!

Feb 11, 2009

Too Much Information

To keep me current with the latest news, views, and gossip on Second Life and Virtual Worlds, I use Google Alerts. This is a cool feature that Google offers that allows you to track posts on any topic you want. I have three phrases I track: Second Life, Virtual World, and Sigmund Leominster. Yes, I admit that the latter has more to do with my narcissistic tendencies but on balance it isn't an issue because unsurprisingly there are less postings on "Sigmund Leominster" than Mickey Mouse has fingers on his left hand.


The problem is that even excluding the self-absorbed referent, I can get up to 70 posts in a day that show up in my Google alerts widget. That is an incredible number to sift through. Some can be ignored straight out - "Mac Classic Gets Second Life As Fishbowl" would show up as a headline but it has nothing to do with what I'm interested in.

If I then don't check for a couple of days, the list gets huge. There is, quite literally, too much information.

So I use another handy-dandy tool; a Firefox plug-in called "Read It Later." This puts a little check mark in my address window and if I go to a page with a story that looks interesting, I click on the check mark. This gets added to my "Read It Later" list. The list then appears under a button in my toolbar, where I can then re-read them at a later stage.


And speaking of add-ins, there is another one I find very useful called "Clipmarks." That is similar but allows you to snag large pieces of text from a site.


These two add-ins at least give me a fighting chance at winnowing though the haystack of news to find the kernals of wheat that I can use to bake stories.

Feb 10, 2009

Life On Line Goes Global

PRESS RELEASE: February 10th, 2009

A new internet TV program launches on February 15th that delves into how people spend their lives online. Life On Line, as the name suggests is about how people are increasingly spending more of their lifetime using the internet.

The TV show is the brain-child of Australian journalist Steve Cropper, creator of My-Metaverse (
www.my-metaverse.com) a social network for people involved in the new media arts on the web.

The producers have made this program using ‘machinima’ (machine cinema), the same technology used in popular computer games and 3D virtual worlds such as Second Life and World of Warcraft.

"We want to go deeper into how people around the world use their online time for news and entertainment, creativity, love, friendship, business, shopping, political engagement, work and play - or any other reason", said Executive Producer and host, Steve Cropper. "We also scan the internet for emerging new talent - musicians, movie makers, writers, bloggers - anyone who is contributing to the richness of digital life".

Life On Line includes a cast of seasoned bloggers, journalists and entertainers including internet band, SpaceJunky - three people living in the US, Australia and Malaysia who collaborate, record, produce and market their music entirely online. The line-up also boasts the Marketing Director of the Association of Virtual Worlds, Andrew Peters, of Singapore. He is also a practitioner of social networking and internet marketing campaigns. Every episode features internet news man Sigmund Leominster, a veteran blogger. The cast also includes a practicing Sydney Psychotherapist who’s online name is Dr Roman Candle. He covers a range of behavioural issues describing how people interact with each other in a virtual environment. There are guest comedians and musicians and interviews with people making news across the internet.

This program is made in the style of a popular TV chat show but Executive Producer and host, Steve Cropper has not tried to re-create Conan O'Brien or Jay Leno. He said that his style is pacey and energetic but he's not so much of a 'wise-guy'. "I do admire these hosts. It'd be great to have that kind of horse power. But our show is more down to earth and homey. We are engaging with people sitting at their computers and whilst we aim to give viewers that big TV show 'look', we are also going for a more personal and intimate 'feel'".

In classic social media style, content for the show is driven by viewers who can join the viewers’ group and offer their thoughts and ideas for content on the program and the future direction of Life On Line.

Initially available on 17 websites across the internet, Life On Line is free to any website including private blogs and personal websites. Information is available at
www.life-on-line.tv.

Media inquiries contact Steve Cropper:

Phone: +61 2 9451 8485 or mobile +61 411 486 914

Email: info@life-on-line.tv

Feb 8, 2009

Sunday Night Fun

This weekend saw me working with Steve Cropper on producing the news segment for the upcoming edition of Life On Line. For those curious about process, here's what happens.

I select four or five news items from my SL on VL site and condense each one into a two or three sentence summary. I also supplement the stories with graphics and videos whenever possible. This provides Steve with material to show along with my voice.

Armed with the text, Steve and I set up a Skype call to record the segment. If all goes well, it's a one-shot take; if not, we try again and again until I get it right!

Steve then takes some film shots of me at the studio and ultimately blends the voice, video, and graphics into a segment.

So there you have it. The media at work. Lucky for me I only have a one- to two-minute slot - Steve has to pull together the rest of the program!

Feb 4, 2009

Shill or Scribbler: Where Are My Ethics?

It's late on Tuesday and I have just made myself a huge pot of tea. PG Tips, to be precise - a blend of Indian leaves that is popular in the UK but outrageously expensive in the US. I guess that's just the price I have to pay for being an ex-pat who wants to use imports.

The pot is actually a Starbucks mug that I picked up in the city of Taichung in Taiwan. I like it because it can hold a significant amount of liquid and it seems exotic.

And I typically use the big mug when I want to write anything at length because tea seems to help me focus on the job in hand. Whether it does so on a biochemical level I can't be sure, but psychologically at least, it's a mild stimulant.

But I digress. The pot is just a distraction from the real topic, which is whether I see myself as a scribbler or a shill.

I like the word scribbler. My good friend and companion, the Oxford English Dictionary, tells me that a scribbler is "one who scribbles or writes hastily or carelessly; hence a petty author; a writer without worth." Terrible as that may sound, the word is also used as an informal synonym for a journalist. It also suggests a "jobbing writer," the type of penman who writes day in and day out just to make a living.

That's my aim in Second Life. That and achieving Slebrity status along with pots of money. I currently make a second living by writing for hire. This is closer in definition to the word scrivener, succinctly defined as "a professional penman; a scribe, copyist; a clerk, secretary, amanuensis."

As a professional, being paid for your work is perfectly legitimate. And by work, I mean articles. But how do I justify being paid for review pieces? At what point do I become a shill, "an accomplice of a hawker, gambler, or swindler who acts as an enthusiastic customer to entice others"

I'm half way through my tea so I'm ready to list what I will and won't do.

1. As a freelancer, I can write about anything that takes my fancy. I can take as long as I like, use as many words as I like, and praise or offend anyone I want. Once the article is done, I can sell to the highest bidder. This is simple capitalism: I have a product - the article - and there is a buyer who wants is - an editor.

2. As a staffer, I may get assigned a topic for which I then get paid. If my article is too effusive or shows bias, it is the job of the editor to determine whether it is fit to be published or not.

3. As a copy writer, an individual can ask me to write advertising copy for a product. My role is as a marketer, whose task is to promote items for a fee.

What I have to avoid are situations where I get paid for copy but then try to pass it off as objective journalism. The key to making sure this happens is to use transparency.

Let's look at two examples. The first is my recent article on Alphamale for FreeLife Magazine. I wrote the text after spending lots of money on clothes there because I liked them. I wanted to showcase Alphamale products not because Yelmer Pfeffer was paying me to do it but because I genuinely appreciate the couture. I then send off the finished article plus pictures to the editors at FreeLife, who then pay me in Lindens.

In this situation, I don't feel like a shill being paid for the article. The designer wasn't paying me but a third-party organization that produces a lifestyle magazine.

The second is an overview of a Second Life singer that appeared in the SL Enquirer and Metaverse Tribune. I was asked to write this as advertising copy by Tammy Toll, the owner of Toll Entertainment, and she then used it to give to the SL press. I was paid by Tammy openly so had no qualms.

Where I do feel a little uncomfortable is that some folks may read that article and not know it is essentially advertising. It's awkward in that my writing is a product that someone can buy, but it then becomes there product and can do with it as they wish.

It's gray for me at this point. And it's hard to cast more light because I wrote the review honestly and only said what was true for me: I do like the singer and I do think it is worth folks buying her CD. But how I feel is probably not relevent in relation to the the process of writing ad copy for hire.

I try to be truthful, independent, and invite people to check my sources. I am not above advocacy journalism - the Op-Ed or Editorial - and try to acknowledge my biases, knowing full well that I, and everyone else, have them. I try not to write for free because that leads to a devaluing of the art of writing, and leads to the tragedy of folks "playing" at being writers and the publication of terrible articles. In the longer term, this also leads to a shabby, unprofessional, Second Life press that becomes little more than an excuse to sell advertising copy.

I'm constantly looking for balance. So far, I earn enough to pay for my Second Life and even "export" cash into my first. I write pretty much what I want so this makes my virtual experiences pleasant. I also get to talk to lots of interesting residents who all have stories to tell, and my job is simply to help them tell them.

Scribbler or shill? I hope the former, but maybe someone out there disagrees.