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  Bloggers, Journalists, and Virtual Worlds  
Posted 2005-02-18 by Tony Walsh
We're still struggling over blogging vs. journalism, waffling over which freedoms and restrictions apply to whom. It's a thorny enough issue in the real world, but is becoming increasingly relevant in virtual worlds, to which more and more gamers are flocking. The population of some virtual worlds rival that of some real-world cities, drawing hundreds of thousands of subscribers into cyberspace. As millions worldwide immerse themselves in simulated spaces, more journalists and bloggers are covering the related issues--some from an outsider's viewpoint, and some from within these constructed realities. Where does virtual-world coverage fit into real-world concepts of rights and freedoms?

Continue reading: Bloggers, Journalists, and Virtual Worlds
  SL vs. RL IP  
Posted 2005-02-12 by Tony Walsh
It's no secret that Second Life is rampant with intellectual-property infringements--it's just ignored. Linden Lab, like any internet service provider, isn't in the business of policing copyright and trademark violations, and isn't responsible for the actions of its users. Like other ISPs, Linden Lab will remove infringing material in full compliance with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Linden Lab's Second Life has an advantage over web sites, however--the virtual world is not nearly as easily-travelled and referenced as the rest of the internet.

While the RIAA, MPAA, other industry organizations and corporations are busting users for P2P file sharing and even linking to illegal files, Second Life residents are lucky to be able to hide behind a wall of cyberspace. Within the confines of Second Life, there are countless knock-offs of brand-name items, unlicensed audio tracks, textures "borrowed" from real-world artists, and more. Most residents aren't aware of, or simply don't care about intellectual property laws. Most corporations and artists aren't aware they're being ripped off. Ignorance is bliss, but for how long?

Continue reading: SL vs. RL IP
  Advergaming Goes Virtual  
Posted 2005-02-08 by Tony Walsh
Now that real-world advertisements are clawing their way into virtual spaces, it makes perfect sense that virtual-world businesses get into the banner-ad circuit too. Second Life resident Rathe Underthorn is bringing billboard advertisements to virtual reality, brokering deals between advertisers and publishers. Advertisers pay for scheduled deployment of ads to be distributed by a network of publishers, whose billboards display the ads to the digital denizens of Second Life. Like web-based banner ads, exposure is measurable, and prices are on a per-impression basis. It remains to be seen whether there is much interest in this new service, or, if there is interest, how residents will react to a possible upswing in virtual world marketing.

In slightly-related news, Linden Lab has begun to auction off ad slots on the Second Life web site to residents via Ebay. As with earlier Linden auctions, I wonder why Ebay, and why bother? I suppose the point of this experiment is to see what the market will bear before committing to some sort of in-world system.
  Transcending Physicality in Second Life  
Posted 2005-01-29 by Tony Walsh
I was introduced to the philanthropic project Live2Give yesterday, and attended their first public meeting entitled "Surmounting physical disabilities in virtual worlds." A handful of interested Second Life residents were on-hand for this virtual-world gathering, hosted by Live2Give co-founders Lilone* Sandgrain (June-Marie Mahay) and John Prototype (John Lester).

The two-hour discussion was both intriguing and educational, giving newcomers to the project a glimpse at what goes on behind the scenes. Live2Give introduces people with debilitating physical conditions to the virtual environment of Second Life. It's a pioneering project that its co-founders believe can free participants from the bonds of physicality.

Continue reading: Transcending Physicality in Second Life
  Linden Lab Experiment (Gone Horribly Awry?)  
Posted 2005-01-11 by Tony Walsh
I am jealous of Linden Lab, creators of the virtual world Second Life. I noticed early on in my residency how the Lindens get to play God, but now I've seen an even cooler side to the cyberspace developers: The Mad Scientist side. Oh, how I wish I was locked away in the secret Linden Lab, hunchbacked over the controls of an entire virtual universe contained in a giant, somewhat-profitable petri-dish. To be able to control the vital fluids which give Second Life residents life... to poke one here, prod one there... to watch as ten thousand digital creatures cavort (or is that "writhe") under my analytical gaze and artful tinkerings.

Linden Lab is implementing some changes to the Second Life economy. Changes that, if not lethal to residents, will only make them stronger. The changes, which are intended to make inworld money more scarce, are summarized as follows:

Continue reading: Linden Lab Experiment (Gone Horribly Awry?)
  Researching the Researchers  
Posted 2004-10-27 by Tony Walsh
It's an interesting time. Virtual worlds are blossoming, and game research is finally being taken seriously--so much so, that academics are asking themselves such heady questions as "What constitutes 'ethical participant observation' in MMOG ethnography?"

"Campus Second Life" recently opened the doors of its pay-to-play virtual environment to accredited academics, and in doing so may have opened a can of worms as well. Here's some big news, Academia: avatars in a virtual world have real humans behind them.

Read on for the dirt.

Continue reading: Researching the Researchers
  Campus: Second Life  
Posted 2004-09-22 by Tony Walsh
Linden Lab, developers of Second Life, have announced "Campus: Second Life," a program intended to facilitate college-level learning and collaboration within their massively-multiuser virtual world.

"Campus: Second Life formalizes a program which over the last two years has welcomed classes from schools and areas of study as diverse as the Media Studies Department at Vassar College (Poughkeepsie, NY), Trinity University, the University of Buffalo, the Department of Design and Industry at San Francisco State University and the School of Architecture, University of Texas, Austin... Campus: Second Life is available for use in college-level coursework including architecture, game design, sociology, design and media studies. Faculty and students can integrate into the existing world community, or work together on unique private 'islands'."

Sounds like a great way to merge virtual and real-world education while providing an incubator for future digital discoveries.
  Advertising and Branding in Virtual Worlds  
Posted 2004-04-27 by Tony Walsh
Virtual Worlds Review site manager and Terra Nova contributor Betsy Book has made her paper "Advertising and Branding in Virtual Worlds" available as a PDF download.

The paper covers in-world citizens who've create marketing for their own creations (as I've seen recently in Second Life), official ads for products made by the world developer/owner, marketing by real-world companies in a virtual world (see my editorial Big Mac Attacked), and lastly entire worlds created to market real-world brand (such as the US Army).
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Dinozoiks wrote:
Wow! Thanks for that Tony. Just posted a bunch of other tips here... Hope it helps someone... Dino...
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