I was randomly noodling on Facebook recently, when Philip Rosedale's head suddenly appeared, in an ad that offered me the chance to buy 10 minutes of Philip's time for some virtual currency. It's an offer on allthis.com, "the 10 minute exchange", which offers to connect you with "the greatest minds, celebrities, and leaders of industry" with virtual tokens you puchase on the site. (Write-up on Mashable here.) You can buy a token to talk with Philip (in this case) for ten minutes, but here's the hook: someone can buy that token from you for a higher bid. "You'll get back what you paid plus 5%," explains the FAQ. "The other 5% go to the person whose time is being traded." So if someone out-bids you, you still get a small commission. Pretty clever way of making celebrity access transparent, while also creating a market that shows how much that person's time is really valued. As for Philip, I checked with him, and this project is not related to his new start-up, Love Machine, or Coffee & Power, which operates on a somewhat similar idea. The founders just asked Philip to put his ten minutes up for auction, and he readily agreed. Now who wants to buy that token to talk with him?
The SL Mesh crowdfunding project was successful, but another, equally important SL viewer crowdfunded project still needs more donors, and in-world volunteers: The Kirsten's Viewer Project, for the popular third party Second Life viewer of the same name. Its creator, programmer Lee "KirsteenLee Cinquetti" Quick, had to suspend development because his partner Dawny Daviau has health issues. He will return to work on it, if the viewers' many fans donate enough to sustain them through development. So far, however, only 13% of the £25,000 goal has been pledged. One problem: Due to personal issues, neither Lee or Dawny can currently spend much time in-world to help promote the effort. In other words: The crowdfunder needs volunteers to raise Linden Dollar donations that can be converted into cash pledges, and bring more general SL awareness to it. If you're a fan of Kirsten's Viewer, please consider donating your time to help Kirsten's Viewer development continue. Contact Dawny via e-mail: dawny at live dot nl, or via her Twitter account, @dawnydaviau.
Questions? Concerns? Suggestions? Please raise them in Comments below.
Very cool platform for user-generated content coming soon: The next update of Portal 2 will come with a puzzle creator, with a pretty intuitive-looking user interface that should make building new Portal 2 levels relatively easy. "They'll then be able to immediately upload those levels to their Steam Cloud," the Portal 2 blog announces, "and share them with other players online. We're also building a community site to host all of these player-created puzzles." As a huge fan of Portal 2, I can't wait. As a huge fan of user-generated gaming content, I think this could be huge in ways that might surprise even Valve. When the company behind the classic PC game Thief was shut down shortly after the sequel came out, its fans continued the franchise by creating new missions with the level builder, many of which were as good as the original, professionally-made levels. I'm positive Portal 2's even larger and just as passionate fanbase will begin creating new adventures for Chel and GLADOS that will rival the work of Valve itself.
One thing I don't see in the announcement -- any hint that the best fan-made levels will be available for sale on Steam, Valve's online distribution platform. I sent an e-mail to Valve about this, and will update if I get any details. However, given that Valve incorporated fan-made content into the latest version of Team Fortress 2 and split the revenue for the creators, I would not be surprised if that move were next. That would help turn Portal 2 into a great, 12 hour gaming experience into an ongoing, evolving, endlessly innovative 3D creation platform developed by fans and original developers alike.
Hat tip: James Allenspach.
- Game God Will Wright Joins Linden Lab's Board of Directors!
- How Will Will Wright Help Second Life? Linden Lab Replies
- SL Users Raise $5400 to Hire Ex-Linden to Fix SL Mesh Issues in Under 3 Weeks
- How Graphic Dix Makes Amazing Post-Processed SL Images
- Misunderstanding SL's Magic Circle Leads to SL Social Strife
- Turn Your SL Avatar into a Lichtenstein Painting
- Get all Dolled Up in Second Life with DOLL COCO's Mesh Ball-Jointed Doll Avatars
General Gaming & New World Culture
Update, 10/29: Bumped up. Be sure to read the very interesting conversation in Comments it's inspired!
Senban Babii has some thoughtful thoughts about Second Life social drama, relating them to "the magic circle", a concept first described by historian Johan Huizinga. In a virtual world like Second Life or an online game like Modern Warfare 2, different standards of morality apply. With Modern Warfare, as Senban notes, suicide bombing is actually rewarded, whereas in the real world, it's generally considered horrific. So with SL:
[W]hen those residents playing in Second Life attempt to force other residents to conform to certain moral values and expressions, they are actually showing themselves to be unaware of the fact that not only is the Second Life playspace different to the outside world, it also contains an asymmetric morality and that if they are not prepared for this simple realisation, then perhaps they should not step inside.
This is roughly true, but I think the sociology of SL is even more complex: In Second Life, there are multiple, overlapping magic circles, which often have conflicting rules. Here's why:
Google is still reportedly enforcing a policy around banning pseudonymous Google+ accounts, tech pioneer Jamie "jwz" Zawinski reports on his blog. As noted last week, Google has said at the Web 2.0 conference that they plan to introduce pseudonymous Google+ account options soon, but that leaves one big question open: What happens to all the pseudonymous G+ accounts that already exist now? Zawinski's suggestion to just stop deleting them was raised in a company meeting with Google CEO Larry Page, who reportedly had this reply: "To nobody's great surprise, his answer was a very long-winded 'no'."
So if you do maintain a Google+ account with a non-real name now, I frankly wouldn't get too attached to it. Page's answer also gives credence to Zawinski's previous speculation of what Google's pseudonymous "options" will be: "I'll bet they still require you to register with your 'real' name, but then they'll graciously allow you to have a linked nickname or two, meaning they're still fully prepared to roll over on you to authoritarian governments or advertisers at the drop of a hat."
By the way, I asked a Google spokesperson about Larry Page's response as blogged by Zawinski, and she told me they had nothing to add that hadn't already been said at Web 2.0. She even sent me the specific video, which you can watch below. I continue to be amazed by Google's incoherence on this matter. So much so, I really feel the need to put my opinion in bold:
Google, if you do not give Google+ a powerful and distinctive market differentiator to Facebook's real names-based social network, you will lose to Facebook. If you lose to Facebook, you will become a subsidiary to Facebook. The company's future position on the Internet depends almost solely on how you handle this one policy.
That's my take, at least. Here, this weekend watch Google+ lead Vic Gundotra, to see if you think he's on the right track:
Here's some good scary fun for a good cause: Tonight at 7pm SLT in The Labyrinth Dungeon in Avalon Town, there's going to be a Halloween Party which includes an auction of spooky SL art, with proceeds benefiting the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation: Prim Perfect has all the details here. [Click here for direct teleport]
Trouble connecting to Second Life? I know, who doesn't have trouble? Nalates Urriah has exhaustive and immensely helpful troubleshooting advice. Here's a nugget about testing the connection between you and Linden Lab's servers in San Francisco:
SpeedTest.net will let you test your Internet connection. Run it at its default settings or point it to San Francisco, USA (SF). If you have good numbers now, point it to the server name or IP address you got in Help (or the one above) and try the test again. If you get bad numbers to SF, the connection problem is you or somewhere in the middle.
Much more here. Amusingly, I can see the general location of Second Life's servers from the windows of my San Francisco apartment (about a three miles away, in the South of Market area), but somehow, that proximity doesn't help my connection much.
The Second Life photos of Maclane, an SLer based in Tokyo, have a lonely and luminous beauty, and you can see many of them here, on his Flickr stream. Among my favorites is this one detailed above, but definitely see the whole thing here. Maclane also has a blog, called Absence, with more art, images, and reflections by the artist, for example his thoughts on the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster, which he concludes by saying this: "Whenever I log-in the Second Life and meet various artists, I feel consolation and energy to live although they are only in a world of the Internet. That was felt as a matter of course before the earthquake disaster, but now I feel it has a special significance." Much more here.
Hat tip: Cajsa Lilliehook, who seems to know of every SL photo artist, and who has an SL fashion blog that you should surely see too.
Turn Your SL Avatar into a Lichtenstein Painting for Virtual Halloween With This Makeup Layer Inspired by His Style!
Iris Ophelia's ongoing review of virtual world and MMO fashion
Roy Lichtenstein is known for his very recognizable comic art, in particular his romance-style heroines, who are frequently shown reacting to soap opera caliber drama. My font choice might be a bit off from the artist's own hand, but I just had to try my own take on one of his damsels in distress in Second Life. This look is perfectly easy to pull off, for Halloween or for fun, thanks to Airedine Poe of Adore & Abhor [Click here to teleport to Adore & Abhor in MUDHONEY]. She recently released these Lichtensteinesque faces as tattoo layers to wear over any skin you like, and they're also available in a couple less emotional variations (although this particular one, called That Cryin' Dame, is by far my favorite!)
To really make this costume sing, a medium length blonde hairstyle (tinted a little bit more yellow) like the style I'm wearing from Kin will really capture the look of a Lichtenstein girl. Collared shirts as well as retro dresses and ensembles like those from Ingenue or Icing will also work beautifully with this avatar, though I'm wearing a recent Fifty Linden Friday dress from tres blah. The polka dots reminded of the dotty color printing style of original comic art, so I couldn't resist. The most important element, though, are the eyes. Go for a pair of anime or cartoon-look eyes, like the ones I'm wearing from ~*By Snow*~. Cartoonish eyes will keep your face looking pop-art perfect without breaking the effect like realistic eyes would.
That's my take on the Lichtenstein look, but how about yours? Are you a Damned Dame, a Tricksy Dame, or a Cryin' Dame?
Iris Ophelia (Janine Hawkins IRL) has been featured in the New York Times and has spoken about SL-based design at the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan and with pop culture/fashion maven Johanna Blakley.