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.

Cattiva e Cattivo SLurl:

Cattiva e Cattivo on Xstreet:

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 Threatens to Sue Linden Lab

The saga of and the "Patent for the Worlds" continues. According to a press release from their patent attorneys at General Patent Corporation,'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, have gone after NCsoft, a Korean company that owns the City of Heroes online game. 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

"The discovery of "prior art" is certainly going to messy - but then again the patent attorneys employed by 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'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 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 patent could be tricky!

What is far more likely is for the defense attorneys to track down actual patents that possibly infringe on the 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.


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
SL on SL blog
SL on VL blog
SL on RL blog
Second Life bloggers blog
Life On Line TV show and blog
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.