It's the New Year, so it's time for a new New World Notes mixed reality profile photo for this blog's masthead. (Way way past time, actually, as the current one has been up there since, um, 2006.) What do you think of this one, combining the update to my Hamlet Au avatar created by Iris, combining a recent photo I took in China? I kinda wonder if I should grow back my Van Dyke and take a photo that'll look more like my avatar, but maybe Hamlet should be a virtual archive to my facial hair past. (Then again, maybe I should stop self-obsessing.) Feedback wanted! Just be gentle. Or brutal. Or better yet, brutally gentle.
I haven't recovered from the jet lag yet, but I returned from China last weekend, with lots of stories to tell and pictures to share, starting with this one: My friend Cao Fei, the acclaimed artist whose RMB City project from a few years ago is easily among the most renowned works of art based around Second Life, garnering multiple write-ups in the New York Times, ArtForum, and showings at several top galleries in the US and Europe. (Fei's avatar in SL, by the way, is named China Tracy.) We had an insanely awesome Peking duck lunch, where we caught up on life (both realities), and I should have some updates on RMB City to blog soon. Meantime, huge thanks to Iris for putting in extra (and extra excellent) blogging duties while I was 18 hours ahead of the US.
For more background on RMB City, here's some posts and video:
Happy Thanksgiving, NWN readers! I just enjoyed a Thanksgiving dinner in Beijing with several American expatriates at a vegan restaurant with a poster of Bill Clinton at the entrance that serves tofurky with actual cranberries along with a traditional Chinese hot pot, accompanied by a restaurant-wide singalong over a karaoke mic. (Yes.) I'm thankful for everyone who reads this blog and all my other writing about games and virtual worlds, especially since it's helped lead to my getting to enjoy Beijing sunrises like this. What -- and who -- are you thankful for, in Second Life and beyond?
By the time you read this, I'm happy to say, I'll be on my way to China, where I'm working on a project with Yodo1, a successful Beijing-based publisher of Western mobile games. While I'm there, I'm also planning to blog about the growth and evolution of virtual culture in China, where online worlds are a truly massive market in the hundreds of millions, so stay tuned for insights from that front. (If I'm lucky, I'll get to catch up with my friend Cao Fei, above, acclaimed Chinese artist and creator of the SL-based installation RMB City.) In any case, regular New World Notes programming will continue, both from me and the brilliant Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins, who'll keep you apprised on all that is stylish in Second Life and worlds beyond.
Next post from Shanghai (hopefully)!
My new book, Game Design Secrets, is now available on Amazon, and it comes with an animated promo I think is pretty fun and wacky and hilarious (as biased as I am), watch:
I love the retro, 8 bit-esque graphics and the surreal visuals, both of which were created by geek supreme Michael Szymanski of Tiger Uppercut Studios, which also produces the great Level 20-Something animated web series featuring SL/RL pop star Keiko Takamura. I love all the little details Mike put into the promo, like this frame grab below:
Last, Last Chance to Nominate Your Favorite SL Brands for NWN's Readers' Choice Holiday Shopping Guide!
Click here to nominate your favorite Second Life brands, because the ones which get the most nominations will be featured on New World Notes, just like we're doing with NWN Readers' Choice blogs right now, but as a kind of shopping kind for the coming holidays. Nominations are closed at the end of this weekend. So click here and be sure to carefully read the nomination guidelines first.
The woman known in Second Life as Whiskey Monday makes a very succinct point that's worth considering more than just about anything else at the moment:
Stay safe, all of you reading this who are in Hurricane Sandy's path (or indeed, it's wet and brutal wake). I know there's a lot of you out there. And if you feel like checking in to let your online friends know how you're doing, please do in Comments -- I'm sure they (and me) want to hear from you.
Ethnography and Virtual Worlds: A Handbook of Method is a new book from Princeton Press by my friend and acclaimed anthropologist Tom Boellstorff (who also wrote the acclaimed Coming of Age in Second Life), along with three other experts in the academic study of online games/worlds: Bonnie Nardi, Celia Pearce, and T. L. Taylor. I'm proud to announce, thanks to a media partnership between Princeton and this blog, readers can get a 20% discount on the book:
Click here to order Ethnography and Virtual Worlds, and then enter the discount code P05169 at checkout.
More news and info about the book and its authors coming soon. If you have read it, be sure to discuss in Comments.
On April 22, 2003, I wrote my first post for New World Notes, which means come this weekend, this blog will be nine years old. (Here's some of my favorite posts from 2003.) NWN started as the "embedded reporter" chronicles I wrote as a contractor for Linden Lab, then migrated off the official site when I left the company to write The Making of Second Life, and continued on through the highs and lows of what was and still largely is the most audacious, successful, and inspiring experiment in user-generated content and world building ever attempted on the Internet. That's the main reason why I keep writing about it, no matter what setbacks it may suffer, why I keep advocating ideas I think are necessary for its survival that many may think crazy, and why I'll keep on covering it as much as I can. (And as long as you keep reading.)
In any case, whatever the fate of Second Life the Linden Lab-owned product, the influence of SL has reached far beyond this iteration, as seen in the rise of virtual goods, avatar identity and virtual community, user-generated content, immersive technology, and innovative gaming, all topics I'll also keep covering in their many forms.
Speaking of which, I have one or two (or maybe even three) cool new projects related to all that, which I'll announce here in next few months. Meantime, if you're reading this, thanks for reading, and being part of this ongoing story. And please join me in thanking the brilliant and lovely Iris Ophelia and my past NWN contributors for making this blog far more interesting than I alone ever could.
In case you're new to visiting NWN (welcome!), go here for my contact info. That includes reader comment guidelines, which are worth posting in full here:
I generally moderate reader comments according to a "cocktail party host" standard: intelligent and productive comments encouraged, with disagreement also encouraged-- as long as it's civil and constructive. Personal attacks, general boorishness, potentially libelous comments removed, often without warning, with repeat offenders quietly shown the door (i.e. banned from Comments).
More NWN info here, including guidelines for writing guest posts!