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  ‘Big Brother’ Flounders in ‘Second Life’  
Posted 2006-12-12 by Tony Walsh
 reports that the current state of the Second Life edition of the TV show Big Brother is rather dismal. It seems Endemol, maker of the show, put just enough effort into setting up the Second Life version to attract the attention of real-world media outlets. The show has now been all but abandoned by its producers, who reportedly have not maintained the Second Life facilities or the show's official web site, and didn't respond to SLNN's requests for an interview. One contestant left the show early, citing concerns that the it had degraded into "full blown illegal porn."

I'm two for two in Big Brother predictions. Last month, I correctly anticipated the show would be griefed if security wasn't properly implemented. Last week, I wrote "I'm of the opinion that Endemol doesn't actually care what goes on inside Second Life. Like so many other corporate events staged in-world, it's all about generating outside buzz." Endemol's reported half-assery isn't just a shame for those participating in Big Brother's virtual edition, it hurts the credibility of all outside business efforts in Second Life. On the other hand, it's set the bar so low that trumping this effort would be a piece of cake.
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Comment posted by Gary Hayes
December 14, 2006 @ 12:43 am
Yes Tony. It started off, as I mentioned, with real promise and I for one, was and still am enthusiastic about where this was heading. It is not dead, there are still 11 people playing and following the rules to win and island. It still is a very interesting first step for merging TV and virtual world formats and the sim is always around half full. I have just been speaking to the housemates and they are all still committed to the task but they rate endemols involvement as being unprofessional, unprepared and disorganized - Endemol may have financed it but many in the house feel they are not running the show. Some indies who are not at all familiar with SL (ring any bells) like 95% of the corporates who hire a web team to do some SL PR projects. Also the SLNN article was pretty inaccurate about Simon leaving and to verify that just talk to any of the housemates currently inworld and get the story from those who spent 8 hours a day with him.

So lessons to be learned. Make sure there is persistent 'show' management inworld, that producers catalyse at key moments to keep interest and dont let it drift. Even one person doing regular BB SIM broadcast messages would have been a major addition - but none, especially given that facility is built in? There is no real sense of the thing being policed and even though all housemates wear time trackers many have not been pulled up for going under the 8hours per day. No discipline. The real big brother would fail if the housemates could pop out for a Big Mac half way through too! You need to do more in world marketing than external - as the effect of immersed SL'ers communicating outwards of a success from within is far more impactful than some squeaky clean PR real world release - which is more or less a copy/paste from the previous one.

Finally it is a real shame that BB SL was left to drift as it will mean a bigger PR push next time to get beyond the 'oh more hype' brigade - that sometimes kill things in there tracks too. The show does pick up considerably towards voting and to be honest I recall the very first real big brother which got slagged left right and centre in the first year - I was one of them - it would be good if SL press though talked about how things could be improved instead of jumping on the failures. Focusing on those is a downward spiral. Surely we have other things to write about that doesnt involve LL and SL bashing eg: registrations hyped, business hyped, games hyped, TV forms hyped? How about talking about the 'form' of virtual world as entertainment and not just about LL and its SL service. The two are not inextricably linked.

Comment posted by Tony Walsh
December 14, 2006 @ 12:06 pm
> the SLNN article was pretty inaccurate about Simon leaving and to verify that just talk to any of the housemates currently inworld and get the story from those who spent 8 hours a day with him.

That's a shame. I wonder how SLNN got the story wrong. It shouldn't be hard to fact-check something like this.

> it would be good if SL press though talked about how things could be improved instead of jumping on the failures... Surely we have other things to write about that doesnt involve LL and SL bashing...

You've been quite general here, so let me respond to your big-picture statements first.

What is the job of the SL press? Who is a member of the SL press and who isn't? How does the role of the SL press compare to the real-world press?

You're saying the press should offer its opinion of how things could be improved, but that it shouldn't offer its opinion of how things are not working. Or maybe you're saying the press shouldn't say something is broken unless it can suggest a fix. I think the press is fully entitled to point out problems, may optionally report on solutions proposed by independent experts, but shouldn't generally offer solutions itself. I don't think "the press" at large is qualified to offer solutions for problems.

Regarding "Surely we have other things to write about that doesnt involve LL and SL bashing," I don't know to whom "we" refers. I don't self-identify as part of any group in the context of Second Life, except perhaps as part of a handful of folks who've been writing regularly about SL for over 2 years.

I don't necessarily consider myself a member of the "SL press. I have no definition to go by, for one. And even if I did, I'm not sure I'd put that label on myself. I'm not usually included in lists of SL media or press. I don't publish in-world and I don't write in character. Sometimes I write journalistic pieces and sometimes I write opinion pieces, and I don't care to be consistent in that regard. I'm not running a newspaper, magazine, or research facility here.

Please, feel free to write about things other than "LL and SL bashing." With respect, I am not greatly concerned with (although I am interested in) what you or any other intelligent SLer writes about. All I'm really concerned with is how I run my own blog. Perhaps it is too critical of Linden Lab and Second Life for your tastes. Probably for most people's tastes. That's fine with me.

Sometimes I offer solutions to problems, sometimes I just point out the problems. Depends on how much time and energy I have. Even if I "only" point out the problems, the solutions often are not hard to find. Problem: "Doctor, it hurts when I do this." Solution: "Don't do that." The more solutions I offer, the more likely my ideas are to show up in private business-intelligence reports on how to succeed in Second Life. You want solutions? Hire me as a consultant.

Second Life is just a software platform, and Linden Lab is just the company that owns and operates it. I'm entitled to say "Internet Explorer is not a good software platform because of X, Y, and Z," or "Microsoft isn't a good company because of A, B, and C," without offering any solutions. If I don't offer a solution, at least I've pointed out a problem. Knowing is half the battle, but it's not necessarily my job to win it.
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