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Beautiful Interactive dio Room Built with SL Sim Screenshots

I had a feeling we'd see dio rooms like this soon, but this came up even faster than I expected: an interactive experience created with Second Life screenshots, aptly called A Second Life:

Dio Second Life room

Created by SL blogger Inara Pey, it's a network of over a dozen connected screenshots built around and describing the features of a single sim. Linden Lab CEO Rod Humble ("Wow this is great!"), among many others have already posted accolades in the room's comment thread. (And I love that dio rooms have comment threads running along the side.) This is just one of many SL-themed dio rooms to pop up since the platform launched a couple days ago, by the way, but it seems to be the most detailed and interactive by far. (Most the rest are pretty much placeholders.) Next step (and someone tell me if they're doing this now): A Myst-like game made in dio, using Second Life content. That could seriously rock, don't you think?

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How Second Life Co-Creator Cory Ondrejka Gave Facebook a Second Life (on Mobile)

Cory Ondrejka Facebook

The Wall Street Journal has a good article on Facebook's new direction as a mobile-centric company which includes this excellent story about Cory Ondrejka, who co-founded Second Life with Philip Rosedale, once wandered the virtual world as a flying spaghetti monster, and is now the social network's lead engineer for the mobile division:

[In 2011] Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg realized he had miscalculated. Facebook's own data showed that a large number of users—the company declined to say how much—were going to their phones' Web browsers to access the social network... In October 2011, Mr. Ondrejka and other engineers began discussing rewriting Facebook's iPhone app at an engineering summit. Three engineers began building a prototype. When Mr. Ondrejka had enough data he met with Mr. Zuckerberg in the office of Michael Schroepfer, Facebook's vice president of engineering. Mr. Ondrejka stood in front of a white board and sketched the architectural differences between the current iPhone application and a rewrite and how they could staff up his team to get it done. Mr. Zuckerberg pressed Mr. Ondrejka for more proof that Facebook could rapidly improve its performance with the rewrite. Mr. Ondrejka assured him he finally had the technical resources and engineering expertise to get it done.

And so he did, and the Zuck did grin, and now the userbase of Facebook on mobile looks like this:

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Double Fine's The Cave is a Bizarre New Adventure Game with Wild Twists (But It's How You Get There That Matters)

The Cave
Iris Ophelia's ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

Last week Ron Gilbert and Double Fine's latest game, The Cave, was released for both Mac and PC (as well as the Wii U, XBox 360, and PS 3), and it seems like a lot of gaming critics haven't been quite sure what to make of it since. The Cave is about a group of characters, each with their own baggage, spelunking into a sentient cave. Turns out you can have some surprising revelations hundreds of feet below the earth.

While the game has gotten a lot of credit for its graphics and premise, it's generally only received average to high-average scores. So why am I writing about it? While I understand where those scores are coming from, I think that fans of Second Life will find much more to love in this gorgeous and immersive game than the mainstream audience has. Here's why: 

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Linden Lab's Experimental SL Viewer With Gesture Control Technology Gives You the Power to Smack an Avatar's Ass from Ten Thousand Miles Away

As if to say, "Don't worry we're still developing for Second Life!", check out what coolness Linden Lab just unveiled a day after launching dio -- an experimental Second Life viewer integrated with Leap Motion gesture controls:

Looks like fun, if you can afford the $70 controller, and are a PC user who's willing to sign up as a Leap Motion developer. I definitely think we're going to see some third party viewers integrate this into their code, but probably for limited uses:

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How to Understand Technology Trends -- Ignore Personal Preference, Focus on Sales & Usage Data

PC sales flat as tablet sales rise

I've been writing about technology in various forms for about 10 years, and while I make highly arguable opinions fairly often, there's one reliable principle I can strongly recommend -- avoid this often unspoken, but all too common assumption:

"Since I don't like or use it, it will fail."

That, or its opposite, equally flawed assumption: "Since I like and use this, it's going to be big." I've learned this the hard way myself more than a few times, and when I read posts about technology trends today, it's an assumption that keeps coming up -- made by both writers and their readers in comments -- over and over again. Actual examples from actual articles I've read over the years, re-phrased to protect the identity of the silly: "Online worlds are weird and boring, so they must just be a niche." "My kid loves his Sony PlayStation 3, so I think it's going to take over the market." "Cheap smartphone games are lame, so they're just a passing fad." (Actually, the CEO of Nintendo basically expressed that last opinion a couple years ago, so it's no surprise Nintendo is currently floundering.)

Speaking of mobile games, I thought about the "Since I don't like or use it, it will fail" assumption while reading over the comments to this post on Linden Lab's move toward making mobile products. The existing data consistently suggests that mobile/tablet sales and usage keep growing strongly, while desktop PC sales (Linden Lab's main platform, for Second Life) remain stagnant. But point this reality out, and you're sure to get resistance from adamant desktop PC lovers. That's no surprise:

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Take a Short Research Survey on Second Life Identity & Consumption Practices for L$1000

Second Life shopping and identity survey

Click here to take a short survey (less than 30 minutes) created by Peter Nagy, an academic fellow with Central European University in Budapest, who's using it for his a doctoral thesis, which is on "the relationship between offline and online identities and consumption practices in Second Life", as he describes it-- and he's paying the first 300 respondents L$1000 each to complete it.

I had a look at his questions, and they'll likely bring up some fascinating insights on that subject, which I'll be blogging about as the data comes available. More from Peter (whose SL account name is VirtualMesmer):

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Linden Lab Launches dio: Web-Based Platform for User-Created Interactive, Multi-Media Experiences Creators May Eventually Monetize with Linden Dollars

dio from Linden Lab is finally available to the public after months of speculation, when it originally seemed to be a text adventure game; but as it turns out, it's more ambitious than that -- watch Linden's intro video, which is clearly intended for a mass market audience:

So dio (small d) is a web-based platform for user-created interactive experiences that may resemble classic text adventures, but can also come with photos, audio, and video. In other words, this is for much more than making adventure games. Forbes has an exclusive look, in which a Linden Lab staffer envisions dio for, say, "a hotel that’s trying to find a new way to advertise and make money can recreate their hotel in dio, and then make a short and easy game that takes a few minutes."

Yes, make money, because that's another hook to this: Creators of dio "rooms" will eventually get a cut of the revenue made from the platform, according to the Forbes article. And not just revenue from advertising, but to judge by dio's Terms of Service, potentially from Linden Dollars, just like Second Life:

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Uncivil Post Comments Poison a Post's Perception -- Or, Why NWN Has a "Cocktail Party" Comment Policy

A scientific study on reader comments to online articles revealed a very interesting thing -- uncivil, nasty comments poison the perception of the article itself:

Half the people saw the article with (invented) polite, civil and constructive comments. The other half was given the same article but with uncivil comments – essentially a flame-war in the fake commenting thread... [which] polarized the opinion of readers, leading them to misunderstand the original article.

Emphasis mine. After about ten (!) years of blogging, I've suspected something like this phenomena was the case, which is why comments on New World Notes are moderated by a "cocktail party" standard. They're pretty simple: If what you're about to write is something that would be considered rude or boorish at a cocktail party, best to think about rephrasing.

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Second Life Redditors on Cringeworthy Avatars in SL

Strange SL avatars

"that one avatar, the one that makes you cringe" is a new thread on the Reddit /secondlife subreddit, and it's a fun if cringe-worthy look at the bizarre avatars they've encountered (both bizarre by design and bizarre by accident). Yes, much of it's not safe for work, including this one by Redditor SeraXI, who reflects (and shares a photo from) this chance meeting of mentors: "We would basically help new users through their first few minutes in SL... [but] I can't imagine how people reacted when she was the first thing they saw on orientation island." I severely cropped her pic but if you see the whole thing, you'll know what she means. (The look on her avatar's face is priceless.)

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Devs Like Linden Lab Must Go Mobile or Die -- Here's Why

Mobile versus Web use 2012

Linden Lab's purchase of iPad-based game Blocksworld last week brought up an interesting conversation about the future of mobile in relation to the metaverse, which NWN reader Joe "Iggy" Essid captured succintly in this comment I want to highlight below. To bolster what he says, take a look at the infographic above, presented by top mobile analytics firm Flurry a few weeks ago:  Consumer time spent web browsing (mostly on laptops and desktops) has remained flat for the last three years, while mobile app usage has nearly doubled. Just as interesting if not moreso: Mobile app usage is even starting to compete with television viewing, which has also remained flat.

Now let's get the take from Essid, who's a college educator, and makes a prediction in five parts:

"Tablets as hype? Perhaps for serious gamers and SL's heaviest users. It's not the best place for the sort of experience they crave. Here's my prediction, based on what I see on campuses. (Though whether LL's purchase of companies doing things that 100 others do is another matter):

"#1: Phones and tablets will continue to increase in power. Their killer app is what Sherry Turkle from MIT calls 'always on, always on you' convenience. Phones may simply get strong enough to replace tablets.

"#2: Telcos, following Verizon's lead, will stop laying fiber optic lines. They will instead move to wireless broadband, as Verizon is doing.

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