June 26, 2007

Thursday, 26 June 2008

Sure, because Second Life is, like, their natural home

Paramount Pictures recently hosted a question and answer forum in Second Life for their new Transformers film. This event gave SL citizens a chance to query the director Michael Bay, and producer Lorenzo di Bonaventure about their most pressing concerns regarding the lovable creatures who can change from various vehicles into ass-kicking robotrons.

Paramount is also opening a region called Sector 7 in which Second Lifers can wander through virtual sets from the movie as well as pick up their own Transformer avatars and movie memorabilia.

While we applaud Paramount for recognizing the potential of in-world promotions, we wonder if they’ve noticed that a lot of our citizens make Optimus Prime and Megatron appear downright cuddly.

Let’s hire the guy who stood on the desk

The big news in the resume-eat-resume world of employment agencies is Kelly Services’ recent success in placing a Second Life citizen in a real world job. Hildeguard Psaltery, known in First Life as Rev. Brenda Munroe, went to Kelly Services Island to look for some temp work while searching for her next permanent clergy position. There she met Hooligan Dollinger (known as “Dave Fenech” in First Life – and where do these First Lifers come up with their names?) who placed her with a medical supply company.

This is unquestionably another example of the ways in which Second Life can augment our real life careers, but another hiring innovation comes with decidedly mixed blessings.

The Wall Street Journal reported that employees are now staging in-world job interviews. Although it means that candidates don’t have to travel to meet with their prospective employees, there are a few downsides that can’t be ignored.

When Stephan Dowler applied for the position of an executive chef at Sodexho, he spent six hours at a TMP training course learning how to move his avatar around properly. He succeeded in giving it features much like his own, but dressing up in a suit and tie ultimately baffled him. To make matters worse, when he arrived at the meeting room, he was unable to sit properly. As a result, Stephan faced his interrogators dressed in jeans and a pullover while perched on the back of a chair.

Can the whole job thing get any worse?

The whole job thing gets worse

First virtual interviews, now this.

In a recent press release, Delta L Training has announced that it is taking team-building to a whole new dimension with its “training simulation” in Second Life.

The in-world teamwork training area is located on Education Island. Various tasks challenge participants to roll a ball together along a predetermined path, and to perform a specific task together without communicating – which is pretty much how offices work, isn’t it?

This endeavour is really just a virtual extension of the team-building exercises that the mad scientists in Human Resources have been putting their clients through for years. Hapless managers are dragged to remote locations where they practice trusting each other by falling backwards, and learn cooperation by trying to put together absurd projects with one hand tied behind their backs (again – very much like the office). The advantage with the Second Life training centre is that you can always have your ten-year-old son or daughter take your place. I mean, they’re probably way better at this virtual stuff than you are. Am I right?

And while they’re busy wowing your bosses, you can slip away to take in a movie. Maybe Severance, the horror comedy about a teambuilding exercise that goes terribly, terribly wrong.

How many lives does a Kit Kat have?

The Dutch have long been known for their sense of humour. Who else would build their country under sea level? But a new commercial launched in the Netherlands shows they also have a Second Humour.

In the spot a man walks down the street, stops at a door next to a shop, opens it and climbs the stairs to his apartment. Once inside he sits down at a computer and fires it up. The camera pans in and we see the log-in screen for Second Life. We next see his avatar, which looks almost exactly like him, as it walks down the street, stops at a door next to a shop, opens it, and climbs the stairs to its apartment. Once inside it sits down at a computer. The camera pans in and we see the log-in screen for “Third Life.”

The spot ends, “Have a Break. Have a KitKat.”

I don’t care. I like it.

You can watch it at Adverblog: http://www.adverblog.com/archives/003031.htm

June 12, 2007

Thursday, 12 June 2008

Break out the folding-chair prims, Dinah, it's gettin' crowded in here.

Seems like it’s getting so you can’t hardly turn around without bumping into some kind of celebrity, politician, or professor-turned-cyborg.

Comedy’s easy: dying’s hard

The man who has perfected the art of dying hard recently got himself a second life. Bruce Willis appeared in the new Virtual Movie Expo sim to meet fans and give an interview with IGN (Imagine Games Network). Although an overall success, we have to admit that hearing Willis’s voice while watching his closed-mouth avatar bob its head slightly was more than a little eerie. (And no, smart ass, it isn’t exactly the same as watching one of his movies -- when he acts or reads he moves his lips.)

When asked what characteristics he shared with McClane, Willis told the 50 or so SL citizens attending the event that they both have “a healthy disregard and disrespect “for authority and “kind of a cop gallows sense of humor.”

He also shares McClane’s tendency to get beat up a lot.

“It was the first shot of the day and Maggie Q's stunt double just mistimed the stunt and kicked me in the head with two high-heeled boots. I didn't take a hiatus; I went to the doctor's. I got stitched up and I took the rest of the day off, but I was back to work the next day. ... I think there's a shot where I'm talking to Cliff Curtis' character who played Special Agent Bolman, who was the Head of the FBI in this film, where you can actually see those stitches in my forehead, around my eyes.”

Like many of his fans, Willis also believes the first Die Hard movie is the best, calling it “the only good one,” quickly amending that to “the only great one anyway.”

The Virtual Movie Expo sim contains complete recreations of various scenes from the movie including the “Warlock’s Command Centre” (a basement lair that would make any geek proud) and a 3D freeze frame of an exploding bridge tossing a truck in the air. You can actually walk through these scenes and get a feeling for exactly how the actors must feel -- if they were computer generated avatars on a monitor.

The display will be in place until the third week of July and visitors can pick up various avatar accessories related to the movie.

Pardon me, is that a chip in your arm or are you just happy to see me?

Professor Kevin Warwick has many accomplishments. When he was 16 he quit school to join British Telecom, and at 22 took his first degree at Aston University. This was followed by a PhD and a research post at London’s Imperial College, various positions in Oxford, Newcastle, and Warwick universities, and ultimately his present career as Professor of Cybernetics at the University of Reading, England. He is also director of the University KTP Centre, which raises over £2Million each year in research income for the University.

But mostly he’s known for his curious tendency to insert microchips into his nervous system, thereby turning himself into what has been billed as the world’s first real-life cyborg.

On Monday, April 23, 2007, Warwick lectured in Second Life at an event organized by the Second Life Chapter of the World Transhumanist Association. His avatar, of course, was a cyborg (designed by Rein Mitra).

He talked about the implications of combining humans with computers in a biological fashion, and told his audience about an experiment in chip implants in both he and his wife allowed him to actually feel in his own body when his wife moved her finger. “My brain knew it was my wife sending a signal. It felt like my wife communicating.”

All of his experiments are still in the rudimentary stage, but the implications are apparent to anyone. In the future we may no longer have to rely on physical computers which freeze, crash and lock up: we will be able to freeze, crash and lock up all on our own.

Keep those cards and letters coming

We’ve got embassies, why not political offices? Kan Suzuki, an MP in Japan (and no relation to the movie editor of the same name) has created his own office in Second Life with the aim of using it to disseminate information and build his popularity. His opponents have criticized his move as being nothing more than a publicity gimmick. Well duh! What else do politicians do?

The real problem is that he may have already broken the law. According to Japan’s 50-year-old Public Office Election law, politicians cannot update websites while they are actively engaged in campaigning. All information must be distributed by postcards and pamphlets. Considering the live, real time nature of Second Life, anything Suzuki does during his campaign would be in breach of the law.

Although at first glance, the law would seem to make no sense, in reality is actually quite unreasonable. But the real puzzle is this -- if the law is 50 years old, how on earth did its framers know about the Internet?