Monday, October 16, 2006

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MIXED REALITY MONDAYS

Adam_reuters_and_the_reuters_news_hud
Wearing the Reuters heads-up display while interviewing the company's SL bureau chief

Adding one more region to its 196 news bureaus around the world, Reuters now has a branch in the metaverse, supplementing it with a heads-up display featuring a multi-channel news feed from the venerated wire service.  Their arrival is the top story for this first installment of Mixed Reality Mondays, a weekly round-up of SL-based projects funded by real world companies, non-profits, and governments, along with Second Life stories from the external media.

More on Reuters and other intersections of Second Life and the real world-- including Sony BMG, IBM, and Vodafone-- after the break.

Reuters' SL bureau is located on an island dubbed, fittingly enough, Reuters (direct portal here), and it's linked to the heads-up display, which shows Web feeds both from the real world, and from the company's new SL page.  "That 'speech bubble' icon [on the HUD] will teleport you to news discussion areas inside the sim," bureau chief Adam Reuters explains.  On the island, "[t]here's a big replica of the Reuters display, screens in Times Square, a big video display, and discussion areas for each
of the news topics that are on the HUD." 

The HUD also displays the L$-to-US$ exchange rate, updated several times an hour.  "We'll be doing a lot more with charts and data over the next month or two," he tells me.  "Down the road, I'd like to create an inflation index -- pick a basket of goods and monitor the price over time."

As that suggests, Adam's stories will focus on the financial side of Second Life; his first two stories are a profile with Ginko Financial CEO Nicholas Portocarrero (Ginko is an in-world bank/ATM system) and a conversation on managing the overall SL economy with Linden Lab CEO Philip Linden.  ("We started talking about Ginko and ended up [talking about] Grameen," Adam says of his interview with Philip, "and that was two weeks before they got the Nobel!") 

Adam's first story from the Reuters SL page, however, is sure to attract interest far beyond Second Life readers:  "U.S. Congress launches probe into virtual economies", reporting that Dan Miller, senior economist for Congress' Joint Economic Committee, is already drafting a preliminary study on the tax and property rights issues surrounding virtual worlds.  (Which would be, unless I missed it, the very first time the topic has appeared on the radar of American government officials at the policy-making level.)

As it happens, I met Adam in-world a month ago, pointing him at a couple possible economics-of-SL stories I never got around to writing.  But back then, he wasn't known as "Reuters", and he wasn't even sure if the news service would go along with his expressed desire to file Second Life-related pieces. 

"So how'd you convince your bosses to pony up for something so ambitious?" I ask him.  "When we last talked, you weren't even sure they'd commission SL stories, let alone buy an island!"  (The Electric Sheep Company built the Reuters presence, which was sniffed out days before official launch by The Second Life Herald and Zero Grace.)

"I think my bosses at Reuters were impressed by how much is going on in SL," Adam tells me.  "The size of the economy, the growth in the population.  And I was able to show them that there are some great stories to be had.  Reuters also sees it as a way to be exposed to a new audience, and to get some valuable experience in 3D environments.  On the financial side, Reuters has a lot of practice at making news and data available. Real life, Second Life, every market needs transparency and good info to thrive."

Other media stories:

- Linden Lab to sell real life names to individuals and groups. Dan Terdiman has the scoop.

- New York Times has an interesting take on the Reuters office in SL: “I’ve been playing in Second Life since it was a relatively small community,” said Thomas H. Glocer, Reuters’ chief executive... This appeals to a younger demographic. Even for people who don’t go in and play in Second Life, it shows Reuters has a certain with-it-ness.”

- Sydney Morning Herald on Kermitt Quirk and Tringo (with video)

- Paul Hemp, author of Harvard Business Review's epoch-making "Avatar Based Marketing", has a new HBR story that ponders, "Are you Ready for E-Tailing 2.0?" (Free article until the end of October)

- John Hockenberry of Public Radio International's Infinite Mind interviews Philip Linden, Howard Rheingold, and anthropologist Thomas Malaby (an "embedded academic" at Linden Lab last year) on the varieties of SL experience (link launches a Real Media audio stream.)

- The Podcast Network interviews Babbage Linden on open source and Second Life and  Deeeep Witte on SL Business Magazine.

Non-Profits in Second Life:

- Global Kids is looking for New York-based adolescents to work on a SL machinima project in the teen grid.

Corporate-funded initiatives:

- Big Blue in the Metaverse

IBM has created a research lab in Second Life, and is doing some fascinating experiments in-world, along with holding "3D jams" and alumni meets-ups.  Some background here and here.

- Sony BMG and Ben Folds

Working with the Electric Sheep Company, Sony BMG is creating a large presence in Second Life, including music distribution, and SL appearances by one of their top artists, Ben Folds.

- Sun Microsystems

The tech giant is holding in-world press conferences, produced by NWN sponsor Millions of Us. 

- Vodafone

The mobile telecom company will create a presence in Second Life.  3pointD has the details.

... and, of course, there was Versu, who completed her marathon building session from the heart of Manhattan by creating, well, the heart of Manhattan.  More reports (including video and audio) from the blog of Millions of Us, an NWN sponsor.

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» Your tax dollars at work: US government regulation of virtual worlds from The Click Heard Round the World
Reuters (now with their own Second Life Bureau desk!) reports that the US Congress is considering how virtual economies such as those within Second Life and World of Warcraft interact with US tax code. According to federal economist Dan Miller:Right [Read More]

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rikomatic

Wow, what a listing of amazing RL/SL intersections. Take THAT, immersionists!

Odysseus Fairymeadow

Hmm, went to secondlife.reuters.com but most of the stories seem to be locked up right now. Nice portal page though.

Odysseus Fairymeadow

Ah, nm. Must have caught the server during a maintenance cycle or something...

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