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  SL Blogosphere Expands  
Posted 2004-08-17 by Tony Walsh
Avatar-about-town Hamlet Linden put out a cattle-call last week for bloggers covering the virtual world of Second Life. A solid showing resulted, and an unofficial SL blogroll has been added to New World Notes, the corporate voice of Linden Lab, Second Life's developer.

While I was aware of a small handful of SL blogs, it's refreshing to see a variety of voices being added to both the "independent media" and personal coverage of Second Life. Following is the SL blog list as of the time of this writing:

Continue reading: SL Blogosphere Expands
  Mister Rogers is Weeping  
Posted 2004-08-11 by Tony Walsh
What do you do when your neighbour's behaviour makes you cringe? When does bad taste become patently unpalatable?

Mel over at Chandrasutra is dragged into a cage-match between morality and legality over a local's obvious but contained display of Nazi-love. A quick skip over to Liam's Feeding Change blog shows that digital neighbours in Second Life can be nearly as obnoxious [also see My Second Life, Part 5, Part 6]

In Real Life, offenses by nearby residents are generally rare, and have a number of possible paths to a solution, such as negotiation, by-laws, civil or criminal law. "Nazi in my backyard" scenarios are tricky and ugly. Unlike Germany, Nazi flags aren't illegal in Canada (that I am aware of).

In Second Life, residents can do whatever they want on their land with only a few restrictions akin to Real Life sensibilities. Unlike Real Life, however, residents can build objects from hats to houses at no cost (other than the cost of a plot of land to place the objects) and plaster said objects with potentially any image they might find appealling. Hence the Bush vs. Kerry conundrum. One's recourse when faced with an obnoxious neighbour is fairly limited: If the offense is a violation of Terms of Service, then an official crackdown can be called in. If the offense is merely annoying, well, nobody can help you but yourself.

Continue reading: Mister Rogers is Weeping
  Multiplayer Gaming’s Quiet Revolution  
Posted 2004-07-20 by Tony Walsh
 just published my article entitled "Multiplayer Gaming's Quiet Revolution," about the emergence, maturity, and future of body language and facial expression as a method of human interaction in gaming. Second Life is heavily featured in the article as an example of how a multi-user platform can empower its users and forward warm communication in cyberspace. Shouts to Liam O'Donnell for his constructive criticism on my final draft.

I wish I'd seen these player-created Star Wars Galaxies videos before I finished the article. They are worth mentioning for the fact that even when players are not explicitly given the tools to self-express, they'll find a way to do it anyway. The message behind the videos, which involve scores of players dancing in unison, is related to game design and play politics.
  Second Life Machinima Contest  
Posted 2004-07-06 by Tony Walsh
Second Life's "New Moves for a New World" contest takes full advantage of the massively-multiuser environment's newly-added custom animation feature, and invites animators to compete for fame and fortune. Prizes include a $500 gift certificate to Turbosquid, a custom avatar created by Linden Lab staff, and honourable mentions worth L$10,000 each.

Of note is the focus on creativity, and while the contest page doesn't specifically request Machinima, it does state: "Extra consideration will be given by the judges for creativity and originality and animations featuring more than one person. Recreate famous scenes [*cough*Machinima*cough*], play a game, perform theater [Machinima], tell a story [Machinima], create a fantasy world, feature unusual avatars, vehicles and builds. Use your imagination to show Second Life’s possibilities." Obviously Linden Lab is fishing for some future showcase material here as well as getting some cross-promotion in the Machinima world.
  Famed Alphaville Herald Broadens Coverage  
Posted 2004-07-06 by Tony Walsh
The controversial and much-covered Alphaville Herald has changed its coverage and its name: It's now called The Second Life Herald, and according to this official post, hopes to expand its scope to include not just Second Life, but MMOGs in general. In fact, it seems that the site's using the phrase "Second Life" in reference to any online alternative to Real Life. This should give Linden Lab's trademark lawyers something to think about, since brand-dilution can occur as a result of mainstreaming trade names (just look at what happened to Kleenex(R) or Jell-O(R)).

Continue reading: Famed Alphaville Herald Broadens Coverage
  SL Universe Expands Again  
Posted 2004-07-06 by Tony Walsh
Cristiano Midnight's is becoming a well-rounded, outspoken, and thoughtful resource not only for Second Life afficianados but virtual world anthropologists in general. On the heels of Second Edition and Second Language comes Second Thoughts, a critical look at Second Life's sights. This new review-blog will hopefully act as consumer counter-point to the Linden Lab marketing engine as well as an index of user-created content hits and misses.

SL Universe's forums support Cristiano's new blogs and offer alternative discussions not available on the official Second Life forums.
  SL Remapped, Virtual Pheromones  
Posted 2004-06-30 by Tony Walsh
Version 1.4.4 of Second Life finally allows users to remap their keyboards, albeit via a custom_keys.ini file rather than a built-in utility. I'm sure the latter will show up in v1.5 or so, but the important thing is that I can now control Second Life with the same keys I use for every other game out there.

Last night I dropped by my DarkWood home to discover internet pal and SL newbie Titus was also logged in. As we chatted about his impressions, a demon-winged stranger named CoCoNoNo showed up on my doorstep. Being friendlier in SL than RL, I struck up a conversation with CoCo (who was returning to SL after a year hiatus), and took he and Titus on a tour of some SL sights. It turns out CoCo studies cognitive science and AI, and seems to look at SL as a research opportunity. I don't know if it's virtual pheromones or what, but it seems I attract fellow "academics" in SL. Either that or there's a huge number of SL residents who aren't just there to play a game.
  My Second Life, Part 10  
Posted 2004-06-28 by Tony Walsh

My Second Life
is a multi-part journal detailing the Second Life exploits and observations of Tony "Zero Grace" Walsh.

DarkWood: A Community With Roots

" are in this forest at dusk.. it's getting dark the light is fading... the fog is rolling in... little eyes start looking at you from the depths of the woods, you seem to think that scarecrow is.... following you with his eyes slowy turning... suddenly you see some light beyond that bend... a village! no one dares adventure past those first big trees leading in the black forest once the sun is down!"
-- Concept for the original DarkWood simulation as related by co-founder Nexus Nash.

DarkWood is one of Second Life's first theme-oriented realms, founded on whims of the dark fantastic, but now much more: Today's DarkWood encompasses such classic notions as chivalry, ribaldry, fealty, loyalty, masonry, carpentry, monarchy, anarchy, pleasantry, peasantry, gentry, rivalry, revelry, and archery. In short, it's a fantasy- and medieval-style setting that spans one and a one-quarter sims.

Continue reading: My Second Life, Part 10
  Second Life Fanblogger Cranks It Up  
Posted 2004-06-26 by Tony Walsh
Second Life afficionado Cristiano Midnight has turned up the indie-reporting heat, and is now maintaining two blogs: "Second Edition will contain timely news announcements, and will be updated as needed. Second Language will contain editiorial opinions from a variety of writers from all aspects of Second Life." Some of SL's more articulate residents are already on Cristiano's contributor list, so it looks like alternative, critical views of Second Life will now have greater--and unrestricted--exposure.
  Moblogging from Second Life  
Posted 2004-06-23 by Tony Walsh
Despite my initial disdain for moblogging (mobile weblogging), I should soon have some moblog entries here. More specifically, I am in the process of setting up a moblog to display "live" screenshots and commentary documenting my Second Life travels.

The system will allow me to take "photos" in Second Life and send these along with comments from within SL to an external email account-- this is a standard SL function whereby users can send their friends e-cards. The email is collected by the blogging system and stripped of text I don't want, leaving only my message and a picture. Hopefully I'll have this implemented soon, the technical aspect is all handled by the blogging system, and it's not too hard. The end result will be the ability to report "live" as events happen in Second Life. Pretty cool!
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