Friday, July 22, 2016
Oculus Users Consider Sansar Through Second Life Lens
Interesting thread in the very large /Oculus user group on Reddit, riffing off this recent TechCrunch post on Project Sansar. To succeed, Sansar needs to grow interest from VR fans far beyond the established SL user base, but as the conversational thread shows, that's a somewhat paradoxical challenge is: The only people likely to be extremely enthused by Sansar are dedicated Second Life users. (In great part because they're hoping to be able to move their SL content/identity/currency to Sansar.) For just about everyone else (in this case, Oculus Rift early adopters), pitching Sansar as "from the people who created Second Life" will elicit a shrug, or a vaguely positive/negative kind of "Oh that 3D Sims-like thing that got a lot of media coverage a few years ago" -- or from the millions who actually tried SL once, something like this, one of the top upvoted comment in the thread:
Thursday, July 21, 2016
Text Communication Online to Be Supplanted by VR, Says Mark Zuckerberg Via Text Communication Online
This is a photo of Mark Zuckerberg included to highlight a text-based opinion about Mark Zuckerberg's text-based opinion about photos being more important than text
I continue to be fascinated by the highly debatable assumptions that very smart people make to assert that virtual reality will become the future's primary medium. Goldman Sachs assumes VR is easy to use (LOL), and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg (who got this VR wave going with his $2 billion purchase of Oculus Rift) makes this fascinating argument in an interview with The Verge:
VR is important for a couple of big reasons. The first is that our mission is to give everyone the power to share their experience as best as possible, and to help everyone understand what’s going around the world. Technology allows that to happen at increasing levels of richness. If you go back 10 or 15 years, most of what people shared online and most of what you read was probably text. And now almost everything has photos, and photos are becoming a very primary way that people communicate. And as the networks get better, we’re getting videos, too. Now you can post a video without it taking minutes to upload, you can watch a video without it taking 30 seconds to buffer, [and] it’s starting to be a good experience. So videos are starting to be one of, if not the main, ways that people interact and consume content online. But that’s not the end of the line — there’s always more, and our [lived] experience isn’t video.
He's right of course that photos and video-based communication are much more pervasive online now, but the shaky assumption is that photos and video are therefore supplanting or overshadowing text in some meaningful way. If anything, the exact opposite is the case -- photos and video primarily exist to enhance text-based communication, while text itself has grown in importance and reach.
Meet Metaworld: Potato-Headed Virtual World for VR Powered by Improbable
MetaWorld is an upcoming virtual world for VR devices that I haven't read much about until recently, such as this short article in Variety, which helps explains why it's peopled by potato-headed avatars:
MetaWorld consists of 10,000 square miles of virtual environment, complete with meadows, trees, mountains, lakes, and yes, campfires, that will be made available to early adopters through a “Pioneer Edition” program for high-end VR headsets like the HTC Vive later this year... MetaWorld by comparison is bare, and serene. During a demo for Variety, HelloVR co-founder Carleton DiLeo explained that some of this reduction was done on purpose. MetaWorld avatars for example don’t come with a full body. Instead, you’re represented by a floating head and two hands. “Your mind fills in the rest,” said DiLeo — and it actually does a better job doing so than VR experiences can.
You might think that potato heads aren't pretty enough to appeal, but then again, ask 100 million Minecraft players what they think of their own blocky-ass avatars. In any case, the piece that appeals to me most is that MetaWorld is powered by SpatialOS from Improbable, which a lot of smart people are counting on to transform virtual worlds:
Wednesday, July 20, 2016
Second Life Community Gives Largest Grassroots Donation to Pulse Victims Fund -- 10th Biggest Overall!
This is so awesome it's what the word "awesome" is for: The Second Life community's fundraiser of $20,000+ for the Equality Florida's Victim fund is not only huge, right now it's the very largest grassroots, community-based donation on the GoFundMe crowdfunder page, and tenth highest overall. You can see for yourself when you go to the page and click the Highest/Most Liked/Recent toggle on the right.
That's an incredible achievement, considering the $7.8 million total raised so far and that the biggest donors are mostly comprised of individuals and corporations. To be sure, any contribution of any size is great, but the fact that thousands of people from all over the world whose only connection is being part of an online virtual world rapidly put together a series of impromptu events, set up dozens of donation boxes, and even put themselves up for auction -- it's just truly amazing and heartening. During such a fraught time fractured by so much anger and rage, a virtual community quickly collaborated, and got good things done.
Speaking of which, everyone please join me in thanking Casper Warden, the UK-based SLer who got the donation drive started, and volunteered so much of his time collecting donations through his system of boards, converting the Linden Dollars to US$, and sending it along to Equality Florida. If you were one of the donors, you already received screenshots confirming the Linden Dollar cash-out and the Paypal donation, but for the record, here's a copy of the latter below:
Second Life Brand Survey: Are You Already Preparing to Launch Your SL Brand in Project Sansar or High Fidelity?
Now that we're starting to see some SL-based brands transition to the next generation of virtual worlds, I'm curious how many others are also in that process. For this survey question, feel free to define "already" as openly as your like -- anything from directly working with the companies behind High Fidelity and Project Sansar, to exploring these platforms' beta with an eye what it takes to set up shop at launch.
Tuesday, July 19, 2016
Top SL Fashion Brand Developing Project in High Fidelity
Well this is an interesting tweet that High Fidelity founder Philip Rosedale retweeted today:
Gizem Mishi Akin is associated with the insanely popular Second Life fashion brand known as Blueberry. Unless I missed it, this is the first well-known SL brand that's publicly announced a project in High Fidelity (let alone Linden Lab's Project Sansar.)
Play Urja: First-Person Strategy Game by Famed Anonymous Second Life Creator -- Now On Sale for 99 Cents on Steam
Urja is a strange and beautiful-looking first-person strategy game that came out a couple years ago but is now on sale on Steam for just 99 cents here.
As it happens, Urja was created by a famous Second Life creator whose avatar name I can't mention for reasons of privacy, but if you're a longtime SLer, you almost certainly know about him (or her). I will say Urja looks like it draws from similar fantastic visuals and sense of surprise and wonder this artist was renowned for in SL. Anyway, instead of belaboring that point, here's some more about the game:
Academics Study Child & Family Roleplay in Second Life
Interesting that I had just blogged Alicia Chenaux's thoughts on roleplaying as the virtual mother of virtual children (who are adults themselves), when up pops this fascinating Inverse story about two academics studying that very phenomena:
The exact why people are looking to live as children, and tangentially why other users what to act as their parents, is what more analysis will reveal to Loveland and Gilbert before they can make any definitive claims. But they do have a research-supported hypothesis, which was recently presented to the Western Psychological Association. “The hypothesis is that both the child and the parental avatars are motivated to explore these roles as a kind of corrective emotional experience,” Gilbert tells Inverse. “This may be because of traumatic or difficult experiences in childhood, so that in effect both child and parental avatars are trying to recreate a family that would be a more positive, and hopefully healing, experience.”
That description fits the experiences of Alicia, who is physically unable to have children in real life, or this profile of someone who roleplays as a child and reports being a child abuse survivor.
Monday, July 18, 2016
Did Daily Transactions of Bitcoin Go Up in Q2 2016?
Which means this is your quarterly reminder (or if you prefer, annoyance) that despite the 1 billion+ actual dollars invested in Bitcoin-related startups, the virtual currency is still used less than Linden Dollars, developed for a virtual world now over 13 years old and sellable on the open market for US$ for at least 12 of those years.
Despite that (and despite years of marginal growth), hope remains eternal among Bitcoin evangelists: