Connecting With the Second Life Community via Plurk

plurk creature

The Second Life community is spread throughout many social media services. Regardless of the platform you’ll find residents communicating with one another outside of the grid. Plurk has become one of the many interesting social networks that has drawn a lot of attention from Second Life residents.

Plurk is a timeline based micro-blogging service that allows threaded conversations. Think of Jaiku, but horizontal. In some aspects Plurk acts like a forum, the ability to respond and discuss topics leads to some very interesting conversations. The downfall is that responses are limited to 140 characters. Unlike some other micro-blogging services, Plurk easily integrates YouTube and Flickr into updates, making it more enticing to the Second Life user. There’s also an ability to format links and to send messages to a group of people privately or publically.

If you are on Plurk, but would like to interact with other residents, Moggs Oceanlane has compiled a list of Second Life Plurkers, one which many keep on adding to. For those unfamiliar or new to Plurk, there are several resources that introduce and discuss many of Plurk’s features, here are a few I like:

You can also fan or friend me and Plurk and join in the Karma fun!

Frustrations of an Ethnic Avatar in Second Life

My real life identity and ethnicity bleeds into my Second Life; I am a Hispanic/Black male and would like to have my avatar resemble my ethnicity and race. Within Second Life I’ve found that this can be a hard, tiring and frustrating process. The reasons are not technical in nature, it has nothing to do with my inability to wear skins or a graphics card failure; it has everything to do with inaccurate and insufficient content. While there’s an abundance of “dark” or “tan” skins, they do not have the features of the ethnicities and races they represent; clothing, hair, and accessories suffer from a lack of accuracy, identity and quality. This has caused me a great deal of frustration.

I grow more frustrated by the current ethnic content; while many exist, it does not seem correct and lacks details I’m used to in real life. I have yet to find a designer who is completely exempt from my ire. Some designers do better than others but they seem far and few in between. My current avatar has flaws I would like to see fixed by other designers in the very near future. In some sense I feel as if I’m settling for an appearance that does not fit my identity.

Before continuing, I want to be clear about my frustration; it is the inability to represent myself as an Hispanic/Black/Ethnic avatar due to the poor quality and/or limited options available within Second Life. I’m not claiming racism (that I’m denied access due to the color of my skin), if anything I’m saying there’s ignorance (possibly bordering on negligence, although too harsh of a word) among content creators as it pertains to ethnic avatars.

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Top Virtual World Topics of 2008

Welcome to part 3 of my Best of 2008, where I take a look at popular music, indie music, and virtual world topics that rocked everyone’s world. This installment is all about the top Virtual Issues that made headway in 2008. While I’m very interested in many MMO platforms a majority of this list will stem from the Second Life world. Lets begin!

The Picks

  1. Early in 2008, Phillip Rosedale announced he was changing jobs within Linden Lab and was stepping down as CEO of Linden Lab. In April, Mark Kingdon was announced as the new CEO of Linden Lab. M Linden is an interesting follow and seems just as passionate and invested in the platform as Phillip. It is way too early to grade M’s overall effect on the grid, he’s been at the job for less than a year. However there seems to be a lot of positive momentum in the works.
  2. In October, Linden Lab announced a $50 change in pricing tier for Openspace Sims. I felt it was for the best but I was the minority. Certain members of the community strongly disagreed (an understatement). Through much of the resident “feedback”, Homesteads, a cross between Openspace and full sims was introduced addressing some residents complaints but not others. The policy goes into effect at the beginning of the new year.
  3. At this years SLCC, I met Eshi Otawara and found her to be a very delightful and talented person. Last summer, due to her husbands unexpected death, she became embattled with the United States Government and faced deportation. It was announced a week ago that Eshi won her battle and is now a permanent resident of the United States. Congrats Eshi!
  4. After a very successful release in the post-WoW age of MMORPG’s, Age of Conan suffered from several problems. Patches seemed to plague the game every other day, there were major balancing issues in PVP (something the game was based on), and the producer and game director QUIT! I am very familiar with FunCom, I’ve DJed at conventions for them, met game directors and their staff, and was a member of the radio station they sponsor. I like FunCom, I think they are a creative bunch and have great ideas. It seems they didn’t learn from their mistakes with Anarchy Online. I hate to say it but FunCom really earned the name FAILCom with the snafu over AoC. I hope in 2009 things are remedied.
  5. After releasing employees during the holiday season in 2007, along with several commercial companies leaving Second Life, the Electric Sheep Company seemed to be the next group heading towards the exit sign. ESC released WebFlock which is a flash based platform geared at individual corporations. WebFlock is not Second Life and in my opinion does not serve as a replacement for it. It seemed to be a reaction to industry reports slamming Second Life by providing the flexibility and focus they require for virtual world projects. I’m not a fan of WebFlock (especially after trying one of The L Word rooms) but the platform may improve in the upcoming year. The idea is interesting, one I believe Second Life will be venturing further into this year. (Note: I do perform some work for the Electric Sheep Company as a consultant.)

Honorable Mentions

Talking about Virtual World platforms, the death of Google Lively was a top issue this year. Lively seemed to serve the promise of the next step to virtual world environments. It never panned out for many reasons to long to list here.

With MMO’s becoming increasingly popular, Second Skin, a documentary displaying the lives of MMORPG gamers was released and has received a lot of praise (including mine).

Within the Second Life community, Bone Mosten was deemed New World Notes top male of 2008, Ultra 7 Lounge launched with a very different approach than other Second Life clubs (less sleaze more class and use of passes), everyone is revealing their secrets anonymously (and causing MORE drama and backstabbing through it), Prokofy announced the FIC 2.5 (and I’m on it!), and a couple gets divorced due to an affair in Second Life.

I want to round this list up with a mention of two projects that show a lot of promise in the future development of Second Life, first is the Imprudence browser and the second is the Tunes inSL aimed at aiding musicians within the community. I believe both will have positive effects on the community in the future and both should garner a ton of credit for launching such interesting and useful projects.

What Is Second Life?

The horizon in Second Life

After five years of its release, I am always shocked when I have to describe Second Life to another person. I assumed with its massive coverage of mainstream media (who are quick to jump on any salacious scandalous material), many dedicated blogs and websites, and even a clear definition on the website, describing and defining Second Life would be an unnecessary chore. However, I’m wrong. When presented with the question “What is Second Life” I find myself juggling between three different components in trying to describe the platform as a whole: the technology, its capabilities and the purpose. The platform is very organic; I don’t believe a single definition focused on one aspect serves as a complete definition. Somewhere between these three areas is a clearer, understandable definition of Second Life.

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Promoting Yourself in Second Life (Part 2)

second-life-classifieds.png

Picture of the Second Life Classifieds Page at http://secondlife.com/community/classifieds.php

 

A few months ago I explored several ways of promoting yourself in Second Life through tools that rely primarily on website RSS syndication. These methods are great in the long term however getting the word out about your website, an event, sending press releases or interesting news requires a different method. The three best ways to promote these ideas are through Second Life media outlets, blogs, and advertising through the Second Life classifieds, forms and banners.

News and Media Outlets

There are several media services centered around Second Life and its various cross sections. The top Second Life outlets are Massively, SLNN, The Metaverse Messenger and The Metaverse Journal, all which provide means of communication for submitting your news.  While these news outlets are great ways to get the word out, they seem to cover only certain segments of the large Second Life pie.

Massively and SLNN seem to cover large stories such as changes in Linden Lab policies, major companies entering Second Life and major events.  The Metaverse Messenger seems more resident friendly covering a broad range of stories from Linden Lab policy changes to residents of the week. While broad it comes out every week and in a PDF format, which may be great for print but not for the web.  The Metaverse Journal seems to be the cross section of the two, appearing in a web friendly format with RSS feeds and coverage of a very large cross section of Second Life.

Each of these outlet provide ways to submit a story, but use the guideline above to expect if your story is appropriate and will see the light of day. If you are a large company doing something interesting, Massively and SLNN are possibly your first choices in submitting news. Releases, and more resident focused items are better sent to the Messenger and Journal.

Blogs

I consider blogs as a part of the Second Life media, the distinction not being their platform but news reporting.  SL Blogs tend to steer towards specific topics others take in a board range of subjects, the benefit is they respond quicker to submitted news. The negative are blogs can be very opinionated and are happy with that distinction.

If you have a website, blogs can be a great resource; links from popular blogs to your website help in getting noticed from the blogs readers and search engines. Finding popular blogs can be accomplished by going through The World of SL websites or searching for popular avatars through Google.

For those who are selling virtual products and wish to publicize them, bloggers are the best resource to have, submitting copy reviews to blog authors will help expedite a future posting of your item.

A good post for anyone seeking promotion in Second Life should read Hamlet Au’s Top Ten Tips for the Second Life Blogger Who Wants More Traffic.

Classifieds, Forums and Banner Advertisements

Advertising in Second Life occurs through many avenues. Several blogs have advertising mechanisms that help. There are integrated tools for promotion in Second Life, one being the Second Life classifieds section which is syndicated through within Second Life and on the website. Posting a classified is performed through your profile and cost as little as $L 50. The top price for a classified is based on the market. While a top paid advertisement helps in being noticed and determines positioning, any classified with good keywords will benefit from those performing searches. Another popular advertising avenue are Second Life forms such as the Second Life Classifieds Forms, or SL Universe’s SLShopper and Classifides form Section.

Traditional website banner advertisements help and are offered through popular Second Life sites such as ProfilesLive (formerly Second Life Profiles) and XStreet SL.  Sites like XStreet SL and OnRez also provide optional listing placement and decoration as a form of advertisement.  Your items are placed ahead of others or included in specific keyword searches, techniques that can boost sales for particular products.

Linden Lab changes Openspace (and for the better)

Linden Lab announced several changes to Openspace sims in Second Life causing a bit of an uproar in the Second Life community.  Unlike many people I think that these changes are for the best. The changes in the new policy can help land owners, and recreate larger mainland communities. Before I delve into my thoughts of these changes, lets revisit what exactly is a Openspace sim.

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Top 10 Second Life’s Hottest Male Avatars

Image from New World Notes, Round 1 Male Contestants

Iris Ophelia on New World Notes asked “Who Are the Hottest Male Avatars in Second Life“.  Usually this is a topic that revoles around the women in Second Life; contents, pageant, and calendars featuring the “hottest” women of Second Life are all too frequent in Second Life.  It’s nice to see the men get a fair shake in the action.  There seems to have been some 100 entries and the first round to determine whom the top 10 are is underway.  My recommendation is to vote often for your favorite male avatars.

Determining Price in Second Life

On the Second Life Music Development List, there’s a discussion concerning price for music services in Second Life.  The question brings to light a very important topic; how do you determine price in a virtual world?  What would you charge a virtual person for your services rather than a real person?  The economies of scale in Second Life versus that of the real world are quite different.  While the Second Life economy is strong, the value of 1 Linden ($L) is not the same value of 1 United States dollar ($).  Many entrepreneurs, business people, and hobbyist, benefit from this smaller scale, they are able to deal with larger sums of value virtually with little impact to their wallet.  Determining prices is still an issue; it requires surveying, taking a look at the economic data, and the value of the provided service.

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Please get your facts straight!

Dear Congressmen, Politicians, Law Makers, and the Popular Press, and affiliated people, groups and organizations. Before wasting my time and insulting my intelligence, please get your facts straight! I’m particularly talking to Representative Mark Kirk with his recent call for a consumer-alert warning about Second Life. He claims Second Life is a risk for children and they could be sexually exploited. In the same allegation he states he is unaware of any cases in which children are targeted by sexual predators on Second Life. Rarely have I had my intelligence insulted and my time wasted by your want to create false claims, allegations, and stir the proverbial pot. The reason you insult my intelligence is because you are searching for things, that while exist, do not find you, you find them! He’s not the only one who has made such claims, attacks, and allegations about Second Life. Other politicians and media are very eager to label SL as a sex brothel, or a place for terrorists.

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Iron Man in Second Life

I saw Iron Man on Monday and it is a great movie!  What I was unaware of was that Iron Man is also in Second Life and doing something pretty cool.  Annie Ok worked on the machinima film (see above) and informed me of an Iron Man in Second Life Contest with the chance of winning $L 100,000 (or roughly $400 USD).  To enter you grab the Iron Man avatar, take pictures in Second Life, join the Iron Man in Second Life Flickr group and upload your pictures to Flickr.  There isn’t much time left as the contest end this Friday, May 9th, at 10 AM PST (1pm EST).  You can grab the press release here or visit the Flickr Group page for full contest details and information.