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Posted 2006-09-27 by Tony Walsh
A few noteworthy bits and pieces of late:

CNet opened a virtual office last night in Second Life, thanks to senior writer Daniel Terdiman and virtual-world services firm Millions of Us. Both Frans Charming of SLOG and Mark Wallace of 3pointD reported on the event. Regrettably, I was washing my luxurious blonde locks and couldn't attend the gala. Terdiman intends to use the virtual office to stage "regular events in which reporters and reviewers could come and give talks about stories we were working on or products they were reviewing and do interviews with cultural leaders."

Made-to-order Second Life surnames, historically unavailable, seem to be up for grabs... if you're the right person. Recently, politician Mark Warner was granted an exclusive surname (something average residents of Second Life are not afforded), and based on the chat transcripts from last night's CNET office opening (see above), Millions of Us bought or was given its very own, exclusive surname "Millionsofus." I'd like to have the surname "Walsh" in Second Life but it wasn't offered to me as a gift or for sale: If Second Life is the next-generation World Wide Web, why do only the rich or powerful have access to their own domain names? Linden Lab, creator of Second Life, hasn't yet revealed how custom surnames may be acquired by "regular folks" like me.

I checked out the virtual world There yesterday for the first time in years. Overall, the experience was better than competing world Second Life (but if you're looking to easily and quickly drop custom content into There, you're out of luck). While There might not have the degree of technical sophistication of Second Life, it's got a great look and feel. There's avatars seem so much more a part of the world than Second Life, and the world's simpler graphics seem to be a strength rather than weakness. There appears far more responsive than Second Life, exemplified in particular by the former's enjoyable vehicle physics. I spent quite a while surfing around on a hoverboard, jumping and grinding off every piece of the terrain and architecture, something I've never been able to do in Second Life. My avatar name in There is TonyWalsh (in Second Life I had to settle for Zero Grace).

Last night marked the debut of the "Winter Formal" episode of MTV's Laguna Beach. The episode premiered in Virtual Laguna Beach (VLB), an adverworld built on There's engine. I created an account for VLB, and took some time to tour the landscape. The Electric Sheep Company was involved in making the space, which was prototyped in Second Life first--and I could tell immediately. The look of VLB is more akin to Second Life (realistic) than There (cartoony). The problem is that There's cartoony look helps mask its simpler 3D shapes: Realistic textures on these surfaces only highlight the "chunky" aspects. Overall, I found the environment sterile and bland, but I don't doubt it'll catch on with the kids, at least in the short term. Longer term, I suspect some will migrate to the more open worlds of There or Second Life.
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Comment posted by Gary Hayes
September 27, 2006 @ 12:14 pm
Hi Tony,

Like you I found Laguna Beach a little sterile and more importantly the world is 'very' limited in terms of scale. I blogged in some detail about this and added quite a few pictures at

As I said in your previous post I still think these walled garden, TV/film story world branded virtual spaces as a significant development - think of the typical evolution of what entities could use dynamic web publishing tools to create their intraweb presence - 1st Technologists 2nd Large Corporates/Channel Brands 3rd Small business/Programme Brands 4th Individuals - now apply that to current developments of Virtual Spaces, in less than two years all of us will have the tools to create Laguna Beaches as our own private web presence, and of course cross-connect them...

Comment posted by Prokofy Neva
September 27, 2006 @ 12:38 pm
Hi, you're a good advertisement for going back and checking out There again. I remember finding it too cartoony with too many catty girls before and gave up.

I was expecting you to comment on the salient fact that Daniel Terdiman has decided to hang his hat on the Million of Us sim. What does it mean when a news media operation like CNET goes and lives on the same sim as a commercially-oriented metaversal consulting company? Does it affect news coverage? Can it retain independence and a critical distance to all these breathlessly described projects? Can't they collaborate without having to actually live on the sim? Don't they have a budget? Etc.
Comment posted by rvdkaaij
September 27, 2006 @ 5:25 pm
i was just wondering what your ideas are about using SL or There for educational purposes, which would work best? Think for example about simulations for business education. I dont know There, is there also the possibility for economics, trading, etc?
Comment posted by rvdkaaij
September 27, 2006 @ 5:31 pm
PS: can a dedicated sim be created in both SL and There? What would be the pros and cons?
Comment posted by Tony Walsh
September 28, 2006 @ 7:38 pm
Gary, thanks for the input and info. I can't wait until I can roll my own virtual world.

Prokofy, those are great questions, I honestly didn't think of those when I wrote the entry. But I'll pose a few of them to Daniel next time I see him in SL.

rvdkaaij, I think Second Life is probably a better platform for education than There, depending on what your needs as an educator are. Both There and Second Life have economics and exchange, but Second Life allows more freedom to design specific situations. A dedicated sim can be created in SL, and as we have seen from MTV's use of There for its Virtual Laguna Beach, it seems that a piece of There can be had for a price--I'm guessing Second Life costs less, though.
Comment posted by Brace
September 29, 2006 @ 4:13 pm
"I was washing my luxurious blonde locks and couldn't attend the gala."

mmmurrrssss ;)~~

"I can't wait until I can roll my own virtual world."

Actually, you CAN, darlin. In Active Worlds. Here are some pics from a world I created there called Afriqa:
-for some reason I dint link the pages duh

(sorry for the popups if you got firefox goin on it'll squelch em)

Aaaand you can also get your educationing thang on there too

Not saying AW is the be all end all and cutting edge and all that, but its affordable, user friendly, it WORKS, and pretty much anyone can access it with a basic computer and internet connection. (even on dailup 0_0)
Comment posted by Tony Walsh
September 30, 2006 @ 3:38 pm
Oh yeah, Active Worlds! Forgot about that, thanks for the links, the pics look really good considering the age of the platform. I might do some snooping around AW and see what's going on. Heck if it's good enough for Wells Fargo... :)
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