July 17, 2008

Thursday, 17 July 2008

She’s baaack

Suzanne Vega celebrated the release of her new album, Beauty & Crime, by a repeat performance in Second Life.

As most Second Life citizens know, Ms Vega was one of the first A-list musicians to perform in Second Life -- and with a guitar specially built for her by Robbie Dingo. She is an avid supporter of our little world, to the point of writing about its founder, Philip Rosedale (Philip Linden to us) for Time Magazine last May.

Her album will be released on July 17, and her performance was scheduled for July 13 -- which means if you’re reading about it here, it’s already past. But don’t feel bad, it was by invitation only.

Interestingly, Suzanne’s latest concert in SL was also streamed live on a regular-style Web site (you know …the ones without avatars and buildings and landscapes). This would make it one of the world’s first virtual concerts with a live stream. Or something like that.

In case you missed it, and the odds are you did, a recording had been posted on Suzanne Vega’s site.

And for those of you who enjoy experimental music, check out Robbie Dingo’s ant concert in which an electronic piano plays notes as they’re moved around by an increasing number of ants. It can be found here.

He’s baaack

The godfather of virtual life is returning to Second Life.

According to William Gibson’s Penguin publishers (which, to those who have spent too much time in-world, means his publishers from Penguin Press, not publishers who look like penguins), a “range of William Gibson activities” is planned for Second Life. These include a screening of his movie No Maps for These Territories, a competition to design a Gibson avatar, and give-aways of shipping containers packed with “Gibson goodies.” At the beginning of August, William Gibson himself will be coming into Second Life to read from Spook Country and answer questions.

Mitch Wagner writes about the coming events in his The Information Week Blog, and even pads his article with references to (but no explanations concerning) a Wikipedia article on cyberspace involving “ancient Greeks and Plato.” He adds the interesting information that “Second Life is the Metaverse in every important respect except popularity.”

Ouch. But it’s kind of true.

Will that be cash or Lindens?

Although there are already a number of real-world shops with branches in Second Life, they all break with our beloved virtual reality when it comes to the actual POP (point of purchase). Basically, you can shop at Apple or Reebock and buy pretty well anything you want. But as soon as you go to pay for it, you have to leave Second Life and go to their boring, two dimensional, text-based Web-site. For those of us who know that Linden dollars are as valuable as regular dollars (at a 250 to 1 ratio, of course), this is an insult. A cultural affront, if you will.

Therefore we welcome I Want One Of Those, a company that is doing business in true Second Life fashion.

I Want One Of those, called iwoot.com in regular Internet terms, has even learned the importance of incorporating their advertising into the Second Life map. Their island consists of five buildings that spell out the company URL (iwoot.com) -- with the dot on the letter “i” being a lighthouse.

"We can explore which products are successful,” says Tim Booth, creative director, “and see whether the most popular items in the real world are also a hit in Second Life."

The building which makes up the letter 'i' contains a marketplace to which about a dozen of the most active and creative Second Life gadget builders will be invited to showcase and market their work. The dot on the 'i' is a lighthouse.

Along with their own products (showcased in the “w” when viewed from above), they will also feature about a dozen of Second Life’s top designers and builders.

Second Life avatars will be able to visit the company’s store, check over the merchandise, take their selection to the counter, and pay for it with Linden dollars.

"A 3D virtual space is undoubtedly what the internet will become, even if it takes a few years to get there," said Booth, thereby proving that at least one person out there actually gets it.

Now if only one of the reporters could get it.

One of the reporters gets it

Wade Roush has an excellent article in MIT’s Technology Review called “Second World.”

“The World Wide Web will soon be absorbed into the World Wide Sim,” he declares, “an immersive, 3-D visual environment that combines elements of social virtual worlds such as Second Life and mapping applications such as Google Earth. What happens when the virtual and real worlds collide?”

The crux of his 7,400 word long article is that platforms such as Second Life will become valuable additions to the overall world of the Internet.

He points out that “the navigation tools provided by Second Life….make it an excellent place to investigate phenomena that would otherwise be difficult to visualize or understand. In that sense, this hideaway from the reality outside is beginning to function as an alternative lens on it.”

Unlike many other reporters who have written about Second Life, Roush has actually spent time here -- and not in the “my-god-I-had-to-spend-an-hour-learning-how-to-get-around” fashion.

“In the course of my research for this story,” says Roush, “I bought land in Second Life, built a house, filled it with furniture, bought and razed the adjoining land, lifted my house a hundred meters into the sky to get it out of the way, and began work on a bigger house.”

Roush’s vision consists of a new internet in which avatars can move freely from Second Life to Google Earth to real-time traffic reports in what he calls “mobile augmented reality.”

Perhaps the secret to understanding the potential of Second Life involves actually spending some time in Second Life?