Because WebFlock is Flash based, it's accessible by over 90% of the web browsers out there: in other words, everyone can get in easily (unlike the recently-launched Google Lively, which requires a large plugin download and only runs on Windows-based PCs running Internet Exploder). Gotta like low barriers to entry.
Sheep CEO Sibley Verbeck reportedly puts the price of basic private-world hosting at "under $100,000" for a year of service. Well out of the range of any but rich corporations. Showtime is coughing up for the service, bringing an extension of its L-Word TV property to WebFlock after a successful splash in Second Life. I suspect many major brands will follow suit, as controlled spaces are much more attractive than "anything goes" sandboxes.
The film is satirical in tone, but actually, worlds like Second Life which allow user-created content and real/virtual currency exchange are viable places for hiring out "sweatshop" labor, depending on what sort of work product you're looking for.
So-called "camping chairs," which pay Second Life users to linger in specific locations (known as "camping" in gamer parlance), pay a very low wage to workers in North America and Europe, but could actually provide a decent income in some countries. A few years ago, the New York Times reported that most Chinese gold farmers make under $0.25 USD per hour. The sweatshop featured in Invisible Threads pays in virtual currency equivalent to $0.90 USD hourly.
I'm about a hundred internet-years late on this 24-hour-old story, but here it is: Linden Lab founder Philip Rosedale will step down as the company's CEO, becoming full-time Chairman of the Board. In an official blog post about the transition, Rosedale wrote that he will "focus on product strategy and vision, continuing to design the right kind of company, and being an effective communicator and evangelist about Second Life."
I'm not really qualified to comment on Rosedale's move (I'm no business analyst), except to note that it follows Linden Lab's long-time CTO Cory Ondrejka's departure from the company late last year due to philosophical differences. It's curious that a replacement for Rosedale wasn't secured before the announcement--the choice of a new CEO will say a lot about the future direction of Second Life as a technology and social platform.
Looks like Linden Lab is getting back into the content-creation business. According to the company's blog, its new Department of Public Works will attempt to beautify and improve the virtual mainland of Second Life by repairing broken land, expanding certain existing "builds" (such as a city area), establishing "better gathering places" and adding "themed builds."
It's been many months since I've spent any appreciable time in Second Life, but from what I remember, the mainland looked like God had eaten a yard sale, a carnival, a suburb, a stack of porn videos, and the entire cast of the Transformers movie before barfing all over the virtual landscape. Doubtless any concerted effort to improve the landscape will be welcomed by most virtual-world residents as well as contribute to the retention of new users (who are increasingly becoming aware that Second Life ain't the only game in town).
If I understand the Linden blog correctly, the company will be using volunteer labor comprised of known content-creators to execute the Linden vision: "We will provide the team with specific build projects and will oversee progress before taking ownership of the content once work is completed." What happened to that dusty old tagline "Your World, Your Imagination?"
Joe Lamantia's slides from Italian IA Summit. Seems to me a this question came up back in 1984 along with Macs and desktop publishing. These days I see the question being relevant to sandbox virtual worlds.
Tenet #6: "Information should be social. Again, this has been one of the major arguments for a 3D virtual work environment that allows users to collaboratively access and edit information in real time."
Gaming Wikipedia: "...there are competing factions battling for control of the site, they conduct their battle by competing to make the best contributions to the site, thereby earning the respect of other Wikipedians..."
Five technology questions, four technology predictions. My favorite question: "If it went away tomorrow, would anyone really miss it within 3-6 months?" Most interesting prediction: "People will stop talking about Virtualized Environments in terms of 'avatars.'"
"...the FBI has announced a plan to begin using some 150 Clear Channel digital billboards in major American cities to show national security alerts..." Throw some game mechanics in there while you're at it.
"...within five years, the 3-D Internet will be as important for work as the Web is today. Information and knowledge management professionals should begin to investigate and experiment with virtual worlds."
I'm not surprised at the news. Although I haven't been able to follow Second Life like I used to, my impression is that business interest in SL has been waning, barely a year after a boom for metaverse developers. Since that time, it seems the developers with the most sense are investigating other platforms rather than concentrating solely on Second Life.
Having met a number of enthusiastic Sheep staffers in the past, I found the company reminiscent of a 1990s Dot Com--seemed like folks were being hired left and right. Although the timing is really unfortunate, trimming staff and refocusing the company is the sensible thing to do--lessons learned from the Dot Com Bust.
Earlier this week it emerged that Linden Lab and its fourth employee, Cory Ondrejka, have parted ways due to irreconcilable philosophical differences. Here's a roundup of some of the reportage and commentary related to the split:
'Massively' leaks an alleged internal Linden Lab email: "I continue to believe in both Second Life and Linden Lab, but Philip and my visions for the future of Linden Lab are divergent enough that he decided to lead in his own way."
Last year, I started up a business in Second Life with only one plan in mind: put as little effort as possible into it. As a result, I sell a few virtual radioactive barrels, voodoo masks, and magic books for the equivalent of real-world pocket-change each month--if you don't factor in the six dollars in land-rental fees I pay out monthly. If an utterly half-assed Second Life entrepreneur like myself can offset his virtual-world expenses simply by shoveling a pile of shoddy goods into the insatiable maw of the fledgling metaverse, imagine what a well-informed businessperson could accomplish.
Technology writer and acquaintance Daniel Terdiman has authored an indispensable book for those wishing to plan, launch, and maintain their own Second Life business schemes. Entitled The Entrepreneur's Guide to Second Life, it stands as a comprehensive examination of Second Life business basics, largely based on the input of selected residents of the virtual world. The Guide speaks in a language even Second Life newbies can understand, and offers practical solutions to common commerce challenges. Thankfully, Daniel hasn't penned a "get rich quick" manuscript, but rather offers a balanced look at what goes in to making real money from in-world entrepreneurship--in short, a hell of a lot of work.
It was only a year ago that a reported 3,000 SL residents were earning at least $20k USD annually in-world. Since then, Second Life's population has skyrocketed, so it's probable a lot more people are making decent money off the virtual world. Not me, though. I'm happy with my pocket-change, thanks.