Friday, 30 March 2007

ABC + SL = New Island

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) are the latest Ozzie organisation to unveil their presence in SecondLife, following in the footsteps of BigPond, part of Telstra, who opened their doors recently at "The Pond".

I haven't seen much song & dance about this, so I'm not sure if the island has been officially launched yet. Given that a few of the object scripts had permission problems, and there were a few "plywood prims" lying about - I am guess not. Rather, it looks like another soft launch, to elicit some quick feedback and gauge reactions.

The island is in the shape of the ABC logo, a Lissajous figure, with pathways following the wave track. Here's the map and some introductory information:

As you can see from the welcome, ABC have settled on a theme for the island: Aliens. The island is full of them, and there is a sandbox where you can create your own and enter it into a competition.

The island is divided into a number of zones, some specific to ABC, such as the Media Pods, and others of a more general interest. Here's a few of the signs, to give you a feel for the place:

However, I found several of the zones were still glitchy. For example, I couldn't find anything to watch in the Media Pods, and the Dreamtime Cove also seemed to be having problems (though to be honest, I am not sure what I was to expect in this one). These and other glitches are to be expected in a soft launch, but I would still have advised them to iron out the major wrinkles first, before letting ramblers like me in.

There is a working movie in the (rather grandly named) Amphitheatre. It's an ABC report on Second Life and what it's all about - which, since you're already there watching it, feels a little redundant! But it's interesting enough, and serves to demonstrate how streamed video will be used in this zone.

The Your Space sandbox is a multi-tiered tower, where you can make your alien - or whatever else takes your fancy. Nearby is Triple J Unearthed Club, which provided a novel experience. It is located underground, which requires you to fall down a shaft to reach the first level. There are then 2 further levels going even deeper, featuring bar areas, dancing, stages... in fact, all the paraphenalia for music events. The bottom-most level is underwater (see picture below/right).

To get the most from your first trip, there is a tour-bot, that will fly you around the island, pointing out the various features. I did not stay long enough to get a detailed view of the place, but it makes an interesting addition to SecondLife. They have certainly managed to cram an amazing amount of content into one island. I've not even covered the Info Dome and the Eco House, as I did not spend much time there.

As to the purpose of the island? Perhaps someone from ABC would like to comment, but my guess is that, at heart, it is about exploring what 3D environments will deliver - a foretaste of web3.d. To this end, they are blending their own media content (while looking at streaming and scheduling options) with social areas and events. Seems fair enough to me.

Anyway... finding it is easy enough: go to "Map" and enter "ABC" in the search. Y'see? It's as easy as... ummm.... "ABC".

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