Second Life – social dimension

Posted by jerry on July 22nd, 2007 — Posted in Journal, Music, New media, Technology

One of the aspects of virtual world SecondLife is the social interaction it enables between people from different real locations. I was curious as to how live music performances worked, and, having joined several live music social groups I quickly found a live performance in progress and teleported to a club lounge, where I found about 15 avatars dancing or standing around, and one with a guitar on stage animated to play the guitar, while the sound was streamed live into the sim.

The lone singer-guitarist seemed bemused that the host had vanished offline (perhaps their computer had crashed) and one of the audience indicated that they had a club and everyone could transfer there.

The new club “Sound Factory” was well set up with a dance floor, and several avatars were already dancing before the music had begun to stream.

Sound Factory SL

Conversations were broadcast across the screen and when the sound came through the performer, Mr Jonze, spoke in response to several of the comments being broadcast. He interacted with the small crowd and conversed between songs, as though there was a small gathering in his lounge-room.

I asked the crowd if there were any tutorials on sound streaming, and got a rather abrupt response from the club owner, Politically Beck to say “it’s so easy even a caveman could do it”. Perhaps its not etiquette to ask tech questions of a probably knowledgeable crowd in a social setting, but I found that a bit unhelpful.

Nonetheless the music was good and the sound quality was surprisingly good lending a good club/restaurant atmosphere to the scene. It differed substantially from any Real life (RL) situation in that you could dance, converse and interact with the performer to a far greater extent than you could in RL. I had a good dance and conversation with Marieke CLoetens and laughed at the antics of Peet the monkey 🙂

And with it being evening in Australia, the performer Mr Jonze had just been up for an hour in the US and others were there in the room from the UK and from NZ – quite a mix that you wouldn’t find anywhere else.

I learnt a lot about the social side of SL, and look forward to checking out a couple more of the music venues.


What is SecondLife?

Posted by jerry on July 21st, 2007 — Posted in Journal, New media

Broken Toys blog has an excellent discussion/analysis of SecondLife – one of the best I’ve read that provides a balanced and informative insight into the virtual world phenomenon. The writer takes as a starting point the notion of SL as a massively multi-player online (MMO) game, as a useful analogy with which to unpack SL.

Some key insights:

  • It’s about community – so the top players in the game are women
  • Levels are climbed by social interaction and participating in social groups
  • Blokes, if you’re in it for the laggy sex and violence, you’re in the wrong place and you’ve missed the point
  • Fashion favours the feminine – the range of blokes gear is limited and largely unimaginative
  • As a mutli-level game you gain experience points (XP) by, well, gaining experience – newbies with default avatars and free clothing and bad hair mark out the newcomer – and experienced users will often (a) shun newbies; (b) prey on newbies (c) help them. The emphasis seems to be on (a) and (b).
  • Searches have been skewed by dubious practices, like ‘camping’ (exploiting newbies with the promise of cash for camping) which adds artificially to the popularity count and moves a site up the search ranking, while paying sub-cent values to the campers.
  • Avatars are sexualised – almost to the point of caricature – most female avatars (avs) have exaggerated breasts and hips, while male avs have six-pack abs and huge shoulder to hip ratio, and invariably with perfect skin and youthful appearance – it is actually quite difficult (need XP) to find more realistic shapes and skins.

So blokes, if you are after violence, go to Warcraft, and if you are after porn, check your email spam box. But if you are after a space in which people can share a sense of community and imagine and create, then SL has a whole world to offer.

For me the attraction is meeting people from different parts of the (real) world, and the possibility of finding a different venue for sharing my music performances.

Thanks to Metaverse Territories for pointing to the Broken Toys post.


Life assurance and virtual worlds

Posted by jerry on July 21st, 2007 — Posted in Journal, New media

My bank did one of its regular mail-outs to advertise its life insurance scheme. As anyone will tell you, if you put text in front of me I’ll read it, so Sharon was startled when I burst out laughing reading an insurance form…

I had gone through all the disclaimers and looked at the form fields, and there it was:

Signature of Principal Life Insured…. followed by
Signature of Second Life Insured ….!!!?? What??

But my avatar can’t write! and does this mean I can insure both my Real Life (RL) as well as my Second Life (SL)? And is my av covered for griefing attacks?

It’s really worth reading spam sometimes 🙂


Van Gogh – another take, another world

Posted by jerry on July 18th, 2007 — Posted in Journal, New media

Many will have been to the SecondLife in-world 3D sim of Vincent Van Gogh’s paintings, but Robbie Dingo has taken us a step further into the creative process with a machinima video in which he takes us through the process of building such an environment to good effect. Pity about the overused Don McLean song though.

I particularly liked the re-treatment of the village windows to move from a day to night representation. Interestingly, you won’t find this sim in SL anymore – it was built in a temporary space and has since been deleted, leaving only the movie – a true simulacrum: a representation of a representation when the original has been erased. Thanks to Sharon for the SLURL link to the 3D world version, and to Angela Thomas for the steer to Robbie Dingo’s site 🙂


Talk on SecondLife

Posted by jerry on July 17th, 2007 — Posted in Journal, Music, New media, Technology

Tried the new talk browser on NMC last night – and it works 🙂 I had a conversation with Anya Ixchel.

First impressions – this is pushing the technology to its limits. The browser is quite unstable, causing me to crash a couple of times. The voice is clear, but then breaks up in segments with buffer over-runs as the processing power of the computer gets a bit overwhelmed.

I was able to play some fiddle into SL for the first time, using this medium which was great. But in the end Anya and I reverted to typing as the voice eventually became too broken up for clear communication.

It is certainly a good start, but I doubt if can be used if there are several people on the sim at any one time.

Separately, it was good to catch up with Radhika the other night – it’s amazing where former cyberminders are turning up 🙂 As she points out, it’s almost like the old MOO days.