Not in it for the fantasy

February 3, 2008

A recent poll conducted for the U.S. Congressional Internet Caucus Advisory Committee showed that most adults would choose an avatar that closely resembles their real world persona.

Eric Reuters writes that,

“Given the chance to roleplay a furry, robot, or the opposite gender in a virtual world, most adults would choose something that resembles their real world persona…”

Only 15 percent of the people polled said they would dramatically alter their appearance. While 44 percent would stay exactly the same as they are in their daily life.  Apparently people really like their white-bread existences.


Protest in Second Life

February 2, 2008

Residents of Second Life are gathering together to protest the presence of Scientology.

Seemingly spurred on by Andrew Morton’s new biography of Tom Cruise and the recent proliferation of videos by a group that calls itself Anonymous such as the one below.

The in-world demonstration occurred yesterday.

Residents were asked to don masks but not to bring weapons. Their actions were meant to be in solidarity with the group Anonymous and its February 10 2008 real world protest.

As of yet there are no reports on the number of avatars that showed for the in-world event.

Bouncing boobs! (yes, that’s news)

February 1, 2008

Bouncing boobs have come to Second Life and men strapped to their computers everywhere are rejoicing.

One blogger writes that the creator of these swaying breasts is changing the sexual economy of Second Life. He writes,

Merging art and science, Raven Ivanova has launched a quiet revolution in female avatar fashion— and for that matter, the very definition of what women avatars should be.”

Well if as Reuben Linden famously once said 30 percent of Second Life’s economy is based around sex this new, eh, development could have the potential to send jiggles through Second Life.

New record set in Second Life

February 1, 2008

Last weekend a new record was set in Second Life. More than 62,000 concurrent users, people actively participating in-world, were recorded in a single day.

This high presents a 20 percent increase since September 2007 when concurrent use peaked at 50,000 users.

But some remain skeptical, stating that the boost could be due to users having more than a single active avatar.

Second Life Reuters points out that;

“Active user count has been in free fall, plummeting from almost 1.7 million users last summer to under 1.2 million now, according to Linden Lab datastreams collated by Tateru Nino of”

Nino defines active users as people have logged in for more than 60 minutes in the past 60 days. All you have to do, dear reader, to be considered an active user is to log on for one single minute a day. And even with those minor requierments “active” participation is plummeting.

What do you think this all means?

Define In-World…

January 31, 2008

Typically in-world means anything that is going on in Second Life.

But is it just me or are out of world people looking more and more like avatars?

This girl dressed as a cheeseburger is supposed to be a fashion icon.

And making your head disappear is almost a routine club trick these days.

And then there is this girl. Seriously who knew people could make that face in real life?

So what do you think; is avatar fashion becoming mainstream?

Is a virtual sweatshop art?

January 28, 2008

Apparently at Sundance it is.

According to Katie Hafner at The New York Times:

One of the more exotic premieres at this year’s Sundance Film Festival is “Invisible Threads.” It’s not a movie, but a virtual sweat shop that exists only on Second Life, the online virtual world, yet produces real-life, custom-ordered, personalized blue jeans.

Stephanie Rothenberg collaborated with mellow new media artist Jeff Crouse to create “Invisible Threads” while at the art and technology institute Eyebeam in New York.

The way this virtual factory works is the customer places an order for a pair of jeans. Then factory worker avatars construct the jeans in Second Life. The jeans are then printed onto fabric, cut and assembled using a glue gun and a little thread. The cost of a pair of jeans is $35 real dollars.

Still don’t understand? Watch this video.

One of the panel programmers for the Sundance Festival told Hafner:

“It’s called art now but in the future it’s going to be how you get your jeans.”

But one blogger suggested that this was less art and more a novel business prototype.

I have to say as much as I am interested in Second Life, I do get tired of the gimmicky use of the virtual world played off as conceptual art. The idea that an image of a Second Life factory is exotic I think is outdated. I mean advertising companies braved this frontier years ago.

But what I do like about this project is the idea of attendees to Sundance running around in these hideous jeans in the name of “art.”

What do you think? Is this art to you or just a novel business model?

Speaking of virtual news…

January 27, 2008

No one denies the positive effect of blogging on journalism. It has made journalist buck up and attempt to be hyper-accurate (to use a catch word of the day) because each tiny flaw they present as fact will be placed under a spotlight.

But for all the positives, blogging has also created a murky gray persona–the citizen journalist. A entity who can both present facts with authority but also when he trudges into the difficult ethical dilemmas or falsity, just throw his arms up and say, “But I’m not a journalist.”

Michael Miner of the Chicago Reader published an interesting article that highlighted some problems with this gray area. It seems that the Chicago Tribune has created a website called, which allows anyone to participate a wiki-style journalism called “hyperlocalism.”

Well, it turns out that one of the frequent contributors in the politics section was actually a PR guy for Mark Pera–who’s challenging an incumbent seat in the Third District congressional race.

No one really noticed or cared, but recently the Trib started to “reverse publish,” meaning they were actually printing the citizen journalists’ articles and distributing them as a topper to the real paper.

And somehow this PR guy’s story ran on the front page. Miner writes,

Topping off the front page of Trib Local’s January 10 edition was the story “Democrat Mark Pera picks up support,” by Patrick Corcoran, “citizen contributor.”

Well, to make a long story short the PR guy got caught. He is still allowed to write for but now his byline is followed by the phrase “campaign spokesperson for the Mark Pera campaign.”

What do you think? Do you think Corcoran did anything wrong by not identifying himself or is all fair in the game of citizen journalism?


Camping Bots Video

January 26, 2008

Sometimes in the mess of words like Second Life, bots, in world and avatars it is easy to get confused. So I thought I would post this video so that if you do not venture into Second Life you might have the slightest idea what I am talking about when I mention “camping bots.”

Pay attention to how the avatars are pretty much immobile and do not interact with the actual “live” avatar.

Bots–a growing concern in Second Life

January 26, 2008

Second Life seems to be infested with bots!

For those of you who are new to this dreamland, bots are avatars that can come into the world and perform simple tasks without an actual human controller.

These bots are used both by landowners hoping to generate popularity numbers and users who are interested in making Linden cash. How it works is that landowners want to have high levels of traffic so they can lure in advertisers or actual costumers so they use bots to boost the numbers.

Or a user can create his own bot, usually a replica of his original avatar, that he can then park at a camp and get paid for boosting traffic.

Blogger Wagner James Au interviewed one of landowners using these bots and this is what she had to say:

I asked Bagnaria Wunderle [a skin vendor] how she justified her bots as another form of free money giveaway. After all, I said, “With camping, at least an actual Resident gets L$, right?”

“And who is saying that I do not pay a service for the bots?” she replies. “I do not run any myself. So somebody is making money.”

“Who runs your bots?” I ask.

Sorry, no answer to that.”

“Really,” she insists, “I am totally interested in no bots [being] allowed in SL… If I was writing an article about Linden Lab and bots it would center around the question of why LL is tolerating bots. There are simple ways to make Second Life better.” She suggests they eliminate Traffic as a criteria in Search altogether.

“The problem,” she says, “is that it is incredibly hard to break into SL as a small vendor.”

One reader wasn’t willing to cut Second Life small business owners any slack. They commented in the New World Notes that:

fraud is fraud and these people blatantly using these bots to increase traffic are criminals and should be shunned by the community. teach new residents to avoid these places.

What do you think? Are bots a necessary component of doing business in Second Life or should landowners renounce their usage of bots?

The other other woman

January 23, 2008

I just love this Second Life film. I actually wrote this about it a while ago:

A machinima video—a film made within Second Life—on YouTube called “If this is Second Life why is my heart breaking in real life?” aptly exposes the conundrum of virtual activities melding with reality. Two women, one blonde and one brunette, both with cinched waists and massive breasts, have fallen for the same blonde Ken-doll-looking avatar and are bemoaning the fact that he has left both of them for the “other, other woman.” They sing in eerie, feminine computer voices and dance moving their arms and hips in almost total disregard to the actual rhythm. Occasionally their legs go through a stone wall—or one of the horses they are dancing in-between—but who’s to say their pain isn’t, well, real.