Monday, 31 March 2008

Japanese Camera Manufacturers' Meme Thing

It's been a while since I mentioned a meme running through the virtual world - but I think I now have one worth covering - Japanese camera manufacturers. The first to get an airing was Nikon, a sim I have not yet visited, but that has been covered by VeeJay at Mindblizzard.

One on its own does not grab my interest, but tonight on my travels I spotted two more. First I noticed a 3-sim island belonging to Konica-Minolta. However, it is still closed, and I have no idea when it is due to open. So no pictures or report, I'm afraid.

Finally I found Fujifilm. Now this is another closed sim, but the sim next door - dumbonet(I kid you not) - which appears to bear no relation, is open. So I was able to skip in there, fly up to a decent altitude and simply pootle, unchallenged, across the border into fujifilm. Access is still difficult once inside, but from what I could glean, the sim is mainly taken up with a Fujifilm Museum,. There also seems to be a number of photo stagesets dotted around the edge, where you will be able to pose among 2D and 3D backdrops. Here's a few pics to be going on with:

Richard Hawley on Mute

Although I had read about Richard Hawley having a place in Second Life, not being an avid fan, I hadn't actually bothered to seek it out. But as it happens, Fate seems to have decided that I would pay a visit, as I bumbled into it by my usual method of random rambling.

Richard Hawley, for those who need a nudge or otherwise, is a former member of The Longpigs and Pulp, and is now a highly acclaimed singer/songwriter and all-round-muso. He can also lay claim to membership of that coveted club of Illustrious Yorkshiremen, being a proud son of the Former Socialist Republic of South Yorkshire: Sheffield. For reasons that escape me, Mr Hawley is inordinately popular with both critics and fellow musicians. Personally, I can take him or leave him... and really I'd prefer to do the latter. But I'm happy to accept that this is some bizarre aberration on my part.

But where's the sim? It is actually the (roughly) guitar-shaped island: Mute. It gets its name from Mr Hawley's record label, which it should not surprise you to learn, is also called Mute. Incidentally, while browsing the Mute website, I found it is also home to one of my all-time favourite bands of all-time: Can. [ OK, more accurately, Spoon is their home label - but there is some kind of tie-in ]

The main feature of the sim, as I mentioned, is a guitar-shaped island. The body of the guitar provides the bulk of the action on the sim. Aside from a general littering of Guinness cans, which I take to be a fave tipple of Mr H, and a small beach stage, the only building of any size is a mid-terrace house, numbered "21". I'm afraid I can't place the reference - but if you are a fan, then you probably recognise it. Inside the house you can sit in the nicely-rendered living room and watch a small snippet on TV or - more interestingly - you can explore the jukebox, or the book/DVD shelves. The jukebox has a playable selection of Mr H's musical influences, while the book/DVD shelves give you a view into his reading and viewing tastes. Clicking on them brings up a webpage, which in turn links you to online shopping. There's a kitchen and upstairs, some bedrooms, but not really much else to see. Outside, you can grab a freebie T-shirt from the washing line.

If you want a guitar like Mr H's, proceed to the headstock (the other end of the guitar!) and stump of 1000 L$. Though this price is slashed to a mere 500 L$ if you join the group.

The island has been put together by (or on behalf of?) design company, CoPop, who also have a small office space here. I'm not really too sure what to make of the place. There really isn't that much to keep you engaged and coming back - but if you like his music, then you may get more from the experience. Here's my pics of the site:
UPDATE 01-04-08:
Taken from Comments...
The house numbered '21' is modelled on Mr H's real-life abode in Sheffield (though his real house has a full compliment of walls). There's a few features I missed like the hidden dungeon where you can recreate the cover of 'Lady's Bridge' with your avatar in place of Richard, or the radio which plays Richard's favourite audio streams, or the sink where you can do his washing up, or the Sheffield Wednesday trike which will take you on a hair raising ride to the beach. The guitar too comes with Richard's motion captured hand movements so you play the guitar just like Richard (should you want to of course).

But the sim isn't just about the permanent features. Sometimes Richard plays an impromptu gig on the beach (live audio streaming), again with motion captured movements, and during his recent tour [they] hid 20 golden tickets around the island so that you could go and see him for real.

In the near future they will be giving visitors the chance to download a Second Life only mp3 release, so its worth a return visit. Oh and just for the record it was developed BY Corporation Pop (CoPop) not ON BEHALF of them.

(Thanks for the corrections and updates, Dom)

Sunday, 23 March 2008

Taking a Break

Just a note in advance to let you know that I will not be blogging anything for the next 5 days' - so don't panic and call in the emergency services when a new post fails to materialise in your Google Reader or wherever. Mrs K and I are off on our Springtime Frolics, to the Land of Tokai and Bull's Blood, leaving Jake The Dog to the tender and thoughtful mercies of our 2 kids.

Before you feel an overwhelming desire to call in the Social Services, I would point out that the kids in question clock in at a theoretically respectable 17 and 20 years. Provided they don't torch or trash the house, and remember to feed and walk Jake - big provisos, I know - then everything should be OK.

See you next weekend.

Al

Saturday, 22 March 2008

NGP2

Why NGP2? I have (or rather, had) no idea, but that's the name of the sim I want to tell you about tonight. It belongs to Telecom Italia, but is intended as a showcase for their many partners. A bit of rootling about on t'interweb reveals the meaning of NGP2: Next Generation Partnership Program. So that's a mystery solved. The company Telecom is Italy's domestic leader in telecommunications products, supplying 22 million fixed lines, 36.3 million mobile lines and 7.6 million Alice-branded broadband connections.

The company has had its own 4-sim presence in Second Life since it's official opening in July ,2007. Here's the machinima made to promote it at the time:

I don't know much about the history of the NGP2 sim. And, in truth, there's also not a great deal to be said about its construction. The principal element is a 20+ storey Ecosystem Tower, each floor of which is capable of holding offices for Telecom Italia partners. The offices are all identical, as far as I can see, each has an ante-room and a conference room, and differ only in the slideshows on display. They are quite densely packed, both horizontally and vertically, and therefore I doubt they could ever be used for more than the occasional meeting. There seems nothing to prevent "chat seepage" between offices. The tower also features an auditorium and, floating above the tower, a restaurant. There is a second auditorium, principallyintended for music events. Finally, there's a quartet of "immersive 360degree photo rooms" - though I'm sure a more elegant term exists for these. You can see one of them in the picture set below:

Friday, 21 March 2008

Telstra Experience Centre

Now, for a bit of a change - an Australian sim. While exploring far out in the Western Oceans of Second Life, I espied this sim, and grabbed the opportunity for a visit. It is actually one of a pair, the other still being closed to visitors. Although, in my view, this sim is not really ready for visitors either. But more of that anon.

The sim belongs to Telstra, Australia's principal provider of local and long distance telephone services, mobile services, dialup, wireless, DSL and cable internet. In fact, they address just about all one's antipodean telephonic needs. The company name seems to be a twiddly contraction of its original name, Telecom Australia. Its ISP, BigPond, has had a popular presence in Second Life for aboutr a year, but it seems the parent telco is now moving in, too.

This island is actually more accurately: Telstra Experience Centre. In November, 2007, Telstra announced that they would be opening such centres in the atomic world. The Centre is a place for people to try out the various products and services offered by the company and its partners, and get a glimpse of the new technologies arriving soon. Incidentally, in researching this post, I found that the Second Life site has been mentioned in the Metaverse Journal, an Australian metaverse website. They seemed okay with it. I think it is open too soon.

The sim consists of 2 large buildings. One is labelled as the Experience Centre, while the other is unnamed, but appears to be an alternative Experience Centre. The main Centre has a number of public spaces, each with its own media stream. Most of the spaces provide notecards, which give more information about the site. For example:

The Telstra Experience Centre (TEC) has been designed to provide business and government customers with hands-on experience with Telstra’s world-class technology, service and media capabilities. Customers will be able to see, touch, feel and use Telstra’s products and services. Most importantly, this centre allows customers to explore solutions using Telstra’s Next IP™ Virtual Private Network and Next G™ high-speed wireless broadband network. This Telstra Experience Centre in Second Life is designed to give visitors a taste of what to expect from the RL centre. It also allows us to experiment with the use of Second Life for RL collaboration and projects across business and government applications.
We are also told that the 95-seater auditorium "will provide a world-class briefing and presentation venue for key Telstra and partner events. The presentation experience will have state-of-the-art audio visual technologies, and includes Telstra’s DVN (Digital Video Network) capability allowing Television crews to broadcast directly from the centre to their TV networks."

While a lot of work has been done on the main Centre, it feels far from complete. For reasons I don't follow, there are corridors full of closed, locked doors - which hardly gives an open, friendly impression. The ground floor is inaccessible, and the second floor non-existent. Meanwhile. the other building has no information and seems part-built (nice "shiny" floors though!). Oh... and no freebies as far as I could tell.

In short, it seems like the island is not really ready for use. But as they've chosen to open, I thought I'd have my say. And now for the piccies...

See what I mean about the corridors?

Thursday, 20 March 2008

ADK Anime World

I was actually intending to post about the Liverpool Hope University sim, which I mentioned yesterday. However, when I got there I was rather disappointed with what was on offer. It is clearly very much a 'work in progress' and not really in a fit state to receive visitors. Or at least, not the sort of visitor who is likely to offer a critique of the place in his/her blog. Furthermore, some not so innocent soul appears to have infected the place with not one but two (or maybe more) of those sim-busting particle-spawning things - that no doubt have some wacky technical name.

Cutting to the chase, I gave up on that and went back to peruse the map. Being a sucker for initials, my attention was grabbed by the relatively close ADK sim, so I popped in for a lookabout. This turns out to be a(nother) Japanese sim. It belongs to ADK (Asatsu DK), and from the little I can glean, has been open since around November, 2007. You can get a good description at Katana Extreme. Now, ADK is not a big name in our household - although oddly enough, AFK, is. But a bit of internet rummaging reveals that ADK is Japan's third-largest full service advertising agency and the tenth largest marketing organisation in the world. Wikipedia tells us: "It owns a variety of interests and companies, including the production studio NAS, the animation studio Eiken, the publishing house Nihon Bungeisha Publishing, the film and print processing enterprise Taiyo Seihan, the production studios Sun Artist Studio, Supervision Inc., television commercial production house Prime Pictures, and creative services company Tokyo Ad Party. ADK is also involved in producing and providing its services to numerous anime series..."

The sim is broadly divided into 3 areas: the Business Center; the NAS open air movie theatre and the Haunted House (or "mansion of demon-man Bem"). The movie theatre seems to be showing Dragonaut, but there is no streaming video. The mansion contains a ghost train, which takes you for a spooky ride, at the end of which you can grab some freebie character avatars and a t-shirt. There's also a photo studio where you can have your picture taken with the stars of the show.

Here's my piccies of my jaunt:

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Liverpool Hope's Virtual Open Day

My daughter, Young Ms K, is currently going through the process of looking at universities, to get a better idea where she might want to go. The various universities hold open days, when prospective students can come along for an in-depth look and ask suitably penetrating questions (like: "How much is beer in the students' union?" and "Where's the nearest curry house?"). This is all fine and dandy, but it does mean potentially travelling the length and breadth of the country to get around all the uni's of interest. Wouldn't it be more convenient if the university came to you?

Well according to this article on the BBC News website, that seems to be what's on offer from Liverpool Hope University, who are setting up a virtual open day on Second Life. This Thursday, visitors will be able to meet with students (and faculty?) on the virtual campus. To quote from the article:

Dr Charlie Blake, head of media, film and communications at the university said: "The Open Day will be an innovative and exciting interactive experience for our visitors. Student Ambassadors have already created their own virtual characters that will be on hand throughout the day to talk to prospective students and offer them advice about studying at Liverpool Hope University."

OK it's not a replacement for actually going there, in the flesh, and seeing what's what. But it is a nice idea in any case. From the sound of it, the site has been built by students. This is quite common for university builds, and is often the work of Digital Media students.

A number of UK universities have sites in Second Life, including: Edinburgh; Coventry; Leeds Metropolitan; University of Warwick; Brunel and many more.

Life 2.0 - Wednesday, 19th March

I've not actually had a mail today telling me what else is happening in the whole Life2.0 thingy, but in reading yesterday's correction I came across this:

Wednesday - March 19, 2008
1:00 PM PDT - 2:00 PM PDT
EXODUS TO THE VIRTUAL WORLD
Professor Edward Castronova, Indiana University

Professor Castronova's new book, Exodus to the Virtual World., states the provocative thesis that a continual migration is now happening between physical reality and the alternative realities offered by open virtual worlds and massive online games, and that the two modes of existence will henceforth co-adapt, competing for the attention, time, and money of users. Join us for a conversation about Exodus, facilitated by John Jainschigg (SL: John Zhaoying).

Well from what I've read over the last year or so, Professor C is usually good for raising virtual blood pressures. So you might enjoy this session. Personally, the last thing I need is to raise my BP so I will give this one a miss. I would like to know how the Wonderland and Darkstar pieces went yesterday, though.

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Mahjong Paradise

It seems like a while since I featured a Japanese sim, so I thought I'd bring you this quickie: Mahjong Paradise. The sim actually exists to provide a 3D immersive social environment for the Japanese social network site: Hakopara Online. The site has its own Second Life webpage that contains a slideshow - probably not so different from slideset below.

There is not a lot to tell you about the company, as I can't make head nor tail of the information available - it being all in Japanese. But I like the sim. The use of shadows and other 3D texturing techniques gives this place a real sense of depth. That said, I actually think they've slightly overdone it - as it borders on the hyperreal. The sim is themed on Mahjong, but aside from a beachfront game I saw little sign of it being played. There are other diversions, including a fairground "crane grab" - if you want to get hold of some freebies you will have to work at it.

It's a nice place to walk around, with a lot of fine detailing in the build. I've not really got anything further to add - aside from the obligatory picture show:

Cofidis - Follow Up

I got a notecard today, explaining about the Cofidis island that I mentioned recently and pointing out that I was actually 8 months late for the main event. Crucially, the sim is intended an "event sim" and not as a permanent corporate presence. Thus it was open during 2007's Tour De France, at least until the Cofidis team withdrew from the race following the announcement that one of their riders, Christian Moreni, failed a doping test. There is more on that story here.

I confess that the notecard is not easy to follow. However, I did pick up some of the highlights. For example, as the Tour progressed there were exclusive inworld briefings from the Team manager. Also, residents had the opportunity to compete against David Moncoutier a real Team Cofidis racer. There were various events, entertainments and diversions during the Tour - but the plug was effectively pulled when the team was pulled from the event, and the sim mothballed until January.

The next task is to commence work on a new event in April, that may also involve the Paris 1900 sim.

Life2.0 - Tuesday, 18th March

Passing along the Life2.0 Events for today, Tuesday - March 18, 2008.
(Sounds interesting - shame I will miss the Wonderland and Darkstar talks)

UPDATE: Warning! I've just received an update from the organisers. Apparently there's an error somewhere in this lot - but unfortunately I don't have the time or wherewithal to spot it!

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9:00 AM PDT - 10:00 AM PDT
KEYNOTE: Project Wonderland - 3D Toolkit for Building Virtual Worlds
Nicole Yankelovich, Principal Investigator, Collaborative Environments Project, Sun Microsystems Laboratories
Project Wonderland is an open source toolkit for building 3D virtual worlds for business and education collaboration. Within a Wonderland virtual! world, p s, interact with team members, and have chance encounters with colleagues, all using natural voice interaction. Most importantly, real work can be accomplished with Wonderland's support of X and Java applications as well as innovative telephone integration. With application sharing as the default, people can create, edit, and share documents within the virtual world. Wonderland is built on top of the Project Darkstar game server platform, which provides enterprise-grade scalability, reliability, and flexible integration with other enterprise systems.

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10:00 AM PDT - 11:00 AM PDT
PSYCHOGRAPHICS OF VIRTUAL WORLDS: MEDIA CONSUMPTION
Mary Ellen Gordon, Managing Director, Market Truths Limited - SL:Pebbles Hannya
Doing business in emerging virtual worlds demands understanding the behavior and preferences of users. Market Truths, Ltd., is among the first global market-research organizations to undertake disciplined research in Second Life and similar environments in an effort to map and project user behavior and preferences in ways marketers will find immediately applicable, both to go/no-go decisions on metaverse investments and to the design of effective programs in these environments. Dr. Gordon will use as her starting-point recent MT research on media consumption among virtual world users, and reveal some surprising facts about how this audience wants to engage, inform itself, and develop consumer relationships.

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11:00 AM PDT - 1:00 PM PDT
MICROSOFT VIRTUAL EARTH: THE METAVERSE DEVELOPER'S VIEW
Chris Pendleton, Virtual Earth Technical Evangelist, Microsoft Live Search - SL:CP Kirax
Microsoft Virtual Earth offers and connects with a wide array of APIs for including real-world data functionality and general mapping and display in applications of all kinds. Chris will describe current APIs to Virtual Earth, and explain how this real-world geodata system can be helpful in the metaverse.

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1:00 PM PDT - 2:00 PM PDT
NETWORKING ON "ORIENTATION" - SHOW FLOORS OPEN

During this break, please visit our sponsors, Sun Microsystems and Cisco Systems. We'll also be hosting an open discussion of virtual world orientation methods, over at the new UBM Orientation Area - SW corner of CMP 2.

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2:00 PM PDT - 3:00 PM PDT
Project Darkstar: Update
Chris Melissinos, Chief Gaming Officer, Sun Microsystems - SL:ChrisM Sunmicrosystems
Darkstar is a highly-scaleable platform for deploying massively multiplayer games and similarly demanding applications. Chris will give us an update on progress in building a Darkstar community that offers zero cost of entry and the ability to leverage the "smart people who don't work for you."

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3:00 PM PDT - 4:00 PM PDT
TOUR: SUN MICROSYSTEMS ARCHIPELAGO
Fiona Gallagher, Virtual Worlds Marketing, Sun Microsystems - SL:Fiona May
Sun Microsystems' Second Life archipelago offers a congenial and carefully-planned set of environments, serving the needs of Java and Solaris developers, the IT and opensource communities. Fiona and her colleagues will give us a tour of Sun's facilities, and show us how they're bringing Sun's diverse global business inworld to new markets.

Mercedes Drives Off

The virtual worlds marketing consultancy, Kzero, reports that Mercedes-Benz is closing its multi-sim presence in Second Life today. It is almost exactly 1 year since I posted about the opening of the site.

According to Merc's virtual world blog:

A little over a year, Mercedes-Benz opened its dedicated presence in the virtual world of ‘Second Life’. Since the launch of the brand’s virtual island, we won several vital insights and received plenty of positive feedback, especially for our unique communications policy. Over the course of the year, our brand avatar ‘Mercedes Milestone’ led more than 10,000 inspired dialogues.

We truly enjoyed developing this new, innovative communications platform and would like to extend our thanks to all those who visited Mercedes-Benz Island and demonstrated interest in our virtual outpost.

Our ‘Second Life’ stint will draw to an end on March 18th 2008 – as of this day, you will no longer be able to access Mercedes-Benz Island. This brief and exciting foray into virtual communities brought us several essential realisations and the conviction that 3D worlds play a vital role as engaging communication channels. We will continue to monitor this theme and keep you updated on any new developments.

Archidemo Competition Winner

At the end of January I told you about the strange NikkeiBP sim in Second Life, and its relationship with the Archidemo blog and Tokyo Metropolitan University. The other day I received a mail from Hidenori Watanave, to tell me that the result of their Digital Design Competition had been announced. The theme of the competition was: 'Life Media Museum in 21st century'.

The overall winner, scooping a prize of 1million Yen, was THE MUSEUM OF THE GLOBE, by
Cawa Ishimiz (SL name: Ichiro Furse and Atorieten) and Tsutomu Teramoto(SL name: TERRA Zehetbauer and Atorieten).

You can find out more - and read the full list of winners - here. Or view the slideshow here.

Monday, 17 March 2008

Second Oldham

Tonight's flying visit was to a sim whose first life counterpart is (very approximately) in my neck of the woods: Second Oldham. This is a relatively new sim - and part of the small cluster of Manchester sims that also includes Urbis.

It is great to see such unglamorous places as Oldham getting a presence in Second Life. Oldham is a town of over 100,000 inhabitants, situated in the county of Greater Manchester, to the NorthEast of Manchester itself. While there is evidence of habitation in the area since Neolithic times, it was not until the Industrial Revolution that Oldham moved beyond a few ramshackle dwellings. The first cotton mill opened in 1778, and the town grew quickly as cotton spinning became the boom industry. The decline started with the cotton famine of the 1860s, brought about by the blockade of the Confederacy during the American Civil War. But it was a gradual process - the last mill final closed in 1998. Along with cotton there was a successful coal industry - also now deceased. In the post-industrial age, Oldham is now struggling to redefine itself.

It is using Second Life as a vehicle for informing people about developments in the town, and to promote the town's industry and leisure opportunities. The sim itself is largely empty - with one corner taken up by the Second Oldham complex. A path leads visitors from the main dome, past an exhibition area, auditorium and finally a sandbox (not actually open to all-comers). It all feels quite 'early days' and may change significantly in the coming months. Certainly, there is a large slice of sim that is currently unoccupied. While the complex is nicely constructed, I think they are failing to use the exhibition space to best advantage. At the moment, there is a rolling display of 2D images regarding proposed new construction in the town. It would be nice if this was also modelled in 3D. Perhaps that is to come.

Anyway - as ever - a few snaps for you:


Life2.0 - Monday, 17th March

Today's (rather late) lineup for Life2.0

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9:00 AM PDT - 10:00 AM PDT
KEYNOTE: 3DV AND THE FUTURE OF IMMERSION
Mitch Kapor, Chairman, Linden Research - SL:MitchK Linden
Deeper, more satisfying immersion hangs fire on the emergence of a new generation of interfaces, which harness gesture both to project identity and assist communication, and to enable simpler, more vivid means of interacting with objects and people. Continuing the thread begun at Davos and Metaverse U., at Stanford, Mr. Kapor will describe and chart the implications of one such device, nearing introduction.

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10:00 AM PDT - 11:00 AM PDT
CANCELLED DUE TO ILLNESS
Susan Wu, Principal, Charles River Ventures

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11:00 AM PDT - 12:00 PM PDT
METANOMICS @ LIFE 2.0: NICK YEE
Nick Yee, PhD, Research Scientist, PARC; Robert Bloomfield, Professor, Johnson School of Management, Cornell - SL:-, Beyers Sellers
Prof. Bloomfield will interview Nick Yee on current research, including implications of the Deadalus project, work at Stanford's Virtual Human Interaction Lab, and with Xerox' PlayOn group. In addition to Life 2.0 realtime video on life20.net, this session will be broadcast via SLCN.TV

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12:00 PM PDT - 1:00 PM PDT
SHOW-FLOOR OPEN!
Spend the luncheon hour with our sponsors, Sun Microsystems and Cisco Systems!

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1:00 PM PDT - 2:00 PM PDT
MULTIVERSE: UNDER THE HOOD
Rafael Cedeno, CTO and co-founder, Multiverse; Corey Bridges, co-founder and Executive Producer, Multiverse - SL:Raf Dawg;Corey Dawg
The makers of the Multiverse platform dive deep to show how their platform works, and explain why it can perform at scales of up to 2,000 avatars on a single server, presenting rich 3D environments such as their recently-released Virtual Times Square demo, and supporting hundreds of current development projects by teams of all sizes.

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2:00 PM PDT - 3:00 PM PDT
DATA VISUALIZATION IN SECOND LIFE
Melanie Swan (SL: Xantha Oe) - Futurist, MS Futures Group; Michel Gallant (SL: Stormbringer Blackflag), Technical Lead, Pleiades Consulting; Eric Hackathorn (SL: Hackshaven Harford), IT Specialist, NOAA; Ben Lindquist (SL: Arkowitz Johnson), CEO, GreenPhosphor, LLC; SL: Eloise Pasteur, Second Life Dataviz Developer; Gus Rosania (SL: Caia Alter), Assistant Professor, College of Pharmacy, University of Michigan
So far virtual worlds have been used mainly for architectural builds and interaction. The next obvious step is making them alive with data, streaming in data and representing it visually. Data visualization in Second Life is growing rapidly: open-source building-block tools are being made available to the community and developers and end-users are creating enterprise and science applications. There is a dataviz wiki and a "Data Visualization" group in Second Life. This panel will provide a live demo of dataviz tools and discuss the challenges and techniques for bringing data into Second Life and turning it into useful representations.
This panel will show some of the most exciting work now being done by private companies, government agencies and independent developers in data visualization: projects as diverse as 3D graphing, realtime display of weather data and dynamic histogram generation in 3D.

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3:00 PM PDT - 4:00 PM PDT
OPENSIM: NOW AND FUTURE
Tedd Hansen, OpenSim - SL:Tedd Maa
OpenSim began as an independent reverse-engineering of Second Life's server system -- intended as a tool to create SL-compatible open grids. The project has evolved significantly, though, and in recent months, a new grid architecture and other powerful extensions have emerged, and real open grids based on the technology have come into being. Tedd Hansen, a key contributor to the project, will update us on where OpenSim stands, who's working to extend it, and why it may go beyond where even SL envisioned going.

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4:00 PM PDT - 5:00 PM PDT
SHOW FLOOR OPEN!

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5:00 PM PDT - 7:00 PM PDT
BIRDS OF A FEATHER: FOUNDATIONS, NOT-FOR-PROFITS, HUMANITARIAN WORK IN VIRTUAL WORLDS
Sharon Burns (SL: Wrigley Kidd), CIO, MacArthur Foundation; Benjamin Stokes (SL:Benjamin Macfound), Program Officer, MacArthur Foundation
This birds-of-a-feather session, in the amphitheatre, will be a relaxed open discussion on topics such as the role of the foundation in virtual worlds, charitable and humanitarian causes, education, and the vexing question of technology divides between classes and cultures. With us are special guests, Sharon Burns, CIO of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and her colleague Benjamin Stokes, program officer.

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7:00 PM PDT - ? PM PDT
DANCING IN THE SKY
Tuna Oddfellow, Magician
Tuna Oddfellow is one of the hottest multimedia artists and experiential entertainers now working in the metaverse. He's built a huge platform in the sky over CMP's islands, and is waiting to entertain us with a deeply-immersive and mind-bending display of light, music, and ... magic. Landmarks to the venue will be distributed at the amphitheatre.

Going to the Movies in Second Sweden

I'm passing along a message I have just received from Second House of Sweden:

I know you are interested in things Swedish so I just wanted to ping you about a film showing we're doing tomorrow on Tuesday. More info here:

http://secondhouseofsweden.com/

We're showing two indonesian films made at a film workshop where well known Swedish filmmakers worked with young Indonesian filmmakers. I think the results are very interesting... And a cool way to explore intercultural understanding.

Do come by if you're interested, at 8am SL time on the 18th.

Sunday, 16 March 2008

Something Wrong with the State of Texas Instruments

Tonight I thought I would take one of my periodic peeks at the sims dotted around those belonging to Millions of Us. I have been aware of a Texas Instruments sim for many months, but on all previous occasions it has been closed. I was therefore pleasantly surprised to find it open this time, and popped in for a look around.

The sim is actually advertising the company's DLP high-definition screen technology, and features a number of examples where you would see the benefits. There's also an attractive auditorium. As all of this is the work of MOU, the build quality is as you'd expect. And all of it is placed on a fairly small island in the middle of the sim. So far, so good.

Now for the not-so-good. I don't know when the plan is to open this island to the public - maybe it already is - but someone seems to have made a blunder with permissions. Right now, the island appears to be a Griefers Paradise. There seems to be no build restrictions at all, as far as I could tell, and all manner of oddities are already appearing... a helicopter, a luxury yacht, a few extraneous islands, a number of "money pyramids" and at higher altitudes there is more construction work underway. OK, to be fair, most of the "defacing" to date seems to be people treating the place like a perpetual sandbox. However, there are signs that less innocent souls are at work.

While I have had suspicions in the past about companies using "free to build" as a mechanism for driving footfall (I won't mention the events in question), I don't think that this is the case here. Besides, despite my cynicism and paranoia, I still err on the side of 'cock-up over conspiracy'. I will be mildly intrigued to see how this pans out.

Here's a few snaps (you might just make out the dodgy pyramids in the first picture):

Warwick University Maths

A short post tonight, with a few snaps, of Warwick University Maths island. The island is located in the huge, sprawling cluster of largely educational sims to be found in the North-East part of the grid. I am very slowly, and highly intermittently, making my way through the cluster and as this island belongs to one of the relatively few UK universities involved in Second Life, I thought I'd take a look. It's also interesting that this island belongs to the Mathematics Department, rather than, say, Art & Design.

The University of Warwick (to give its proper name) is a campus university, establishlished in 1965, in the West Midlands (UK). It has around 16,000 students, a third of whom are postgrads. According to wikipedia: "A recent survey by The Times resulted in the campus being voted the best in the UK by a national poll of university students." The Warwick Maths Insitute website was playing up when I wrote this, but I did find out that the Second Life island is the brainchild of Dr Dave Wood, Director of Undergraduate Studies and Teacher of Hard Sums - and known as Ee Maculate in SL. As far as I can tell, Dr Wood is doing the build himself.

The island is still under construction, and is in a very 'skeletal' state. The main elements of the island are in place: a number of large, hollow polyhedra, connected by pathways. However, these have little (or no) content at the moment, while there are a number of buildings that are still only half-complete. There is a 3D map of the island, so you can check out what is planned.
Oh, and there's a bar / coffee bar (along with a campfire area) that is complete - and presumably provides Dr Wood's students and/or colleagues with somewhere to meet.

Here's a few photos for you to peruse:


And a less formal meeting area:

Saturday, 15 March 2008

Google's Engineering HQ in Zurich

While browsing the BBC News website, as I tend to do, I came across a fascinating item on Google's Engineering HQ in Zurich. I thought you might be interested, too.

Yeah... And? What's that got to do with the main themes of Ambling in Second Life?

Simple. I have been asked on many occasions by non-SLers: "What is SL like?" It struck me while watching the video that this is what Second Life is like, and what a corporate site in Second Life might offer. And here it is... slap bang in the middle of the atomic world. OK, there may be a lack of teleports, and flying is not recommended, but the look and feel is spot-on.

If the link doesn't work - or you want more - there's more images and videos here. Or there's a great selection of photos here - which you can view on this slideshow.

LARA Language Radio

Part of a 3-sim group, I will restrict this post to just the LARA Language Radio sim. If you choose to visit, you might like to take a wild guess as to why I've not covered the other sims.

LARA (LAnguage RAdio, geddit?) is a "Socrates* funded LARA Project [that] uses radio and Internet radio podcasting to potentially help millions of people to get to grips with learning a new language in a fun and enjoyable way... Radio Lara has the challenge of making a reality the declaration of the European Council in 2005 that learning a foreign language should be a basic skill. The project is especially aimed at excluded groups in the community."

By a curious irony, the UK partner for this is based in Coventry. Why ironic? Well the expression "sent to Coventry" specifically means that people will not talk to you... in any language!

I really should not be too hard on the sim. It is clear as you walk around it, that it is still some way from completion. There are various LARA-branded buildings dotted around the sim, but they all appear to be empty at the moment. There is a working monorail that will take you around the sim, but even with this (in theory) pulling it all together, the sim feels rather shapeless and incoherent to me. I don't know what I would have expected but I found the site somewhat flat and uninspiring. There is a map game here, but nothing else to hold one's attention (yet).

It may be the nature of the LARA project that it involves organisations from many countries and cultures, and it is therefore only the bland that gets the acceptance of all. However, I hope it is more a case of: build it quick, see what people like and don't like, then build it again. In which case, they are in the 2 phase of this approach.

Here's a few snaps. I'm not sure that they tell you much though:


The monorail...


* The Socrates funding programme has now been superseded by the EU Lifelong Learning Programme.

Italianieuropie

I've not blogged about any sims for a few days, so I thought I should rectify that. This is the first of 2 posts featuring sites about which I can't really muster great gushing enthusiasm. But they're sites I don't recall seeing before - and am not likely to see again - so I suppose I should just get stuck in.

The first is Italianieuropei. This is an Italian sim (surpruise!) belonging to a non-governmental organisation of the same name. According to their website, Italianieuropei is: "a Foundation established in 1998 with the aim of promoting a Europe-minded political culture and of bringing to the fore new leaders in the various public arenas: politics, business, public administration and culture. It is a think tank designed to promote discussions, within public opinion, on the main issues posed by political and economic innovation and on the steps Italy must take in order to redefine its political and cultural foundations." And there's more where that came from.

In terms of their Second Life presence, it seems they are another outfit who have been inworld since the Summer of 2007 and yet whose existence has only just registered with me. They have a website (in Italian) that tracks their various inworld events.

I'm actually quite surprised that they have been inworld for so long. My reason for saying this is the relative immaturity of the sim. It has an attactive auditorium, information centre and photo wall, but the rest of the sim feels like work in progress. An Italaniate palazzo serves as office space, and is quite nicely done out, but there is something indefinably unfinished about it, while the formal garden next door is bordering on the rudimentary.

I have to say, though, why would I go to Second Life to attend a meeting if I had the choice of some of the atomic world locations they use? Some of the photos on display bring to mind some wonderful, satirical photomontage, juxtaposing modern day be-suited worthies, with Old Master Renaissance interiors. I needed a doubletake to realise that these people really are sitting amid all this splendour!


And here's rest of the sim:

Life 2.0 - Just Spreading The Word

A little late arriving in my inbox, but nevertheless I think you might be interested in this. It looks like there may be something for everyone, with lots of interesting stuff to see, learn and/or listen to, which virtually guarantees that I won't be attending - even though the times are distinctly Euro-friendly. To attend the whole thing I think you'd need to be the most dedicated of 'immersionists' (I'm not going to host that debate here right now!) with - how to put this - an event-free diary in first life. [ Minor rant removed at this point ]

Anyway - here is the Info Pack I received - enjoy it:

Life 2.0 Weekend Program - Life 2.0 Summit opens on Saturday, March 15 2008, with the first three hours of "LSL University": a six-hour crash-course on virtual world programming by much-published "recovering Microsoft addict" Mike Gunderloy.

On Saturday afternoon, seven of the most-innovative artist/developers in the emerging VW space come together for a five-hour exhibition/lecture series on "sculpted prims" and other techniques used to efficiently model object and relief detail, and key to the emerging fusion of topographic geodata and open virtual world spaces.

On Sunday, the conclusion of LSL University is followed by a two-hour panel on Intellectual Property, Privacy and Identity with opensource legal pioneer Eben Moglen, architect of the GNUv3 public license, Mark Lenczner of Linden Lab, David Levine of IBM Virtual Worlds and Sean Dague of IBM Linux, a key contributor to Opensim

Join us! If you haven't yet registered for Life 2.0, just click here:

http://www.life20.net/register.php?event=l20spring08

If you _have_ registered, click here for a quick teleport to our amphitheatre, inworld:

http://slurl.com/secondlife/CMP%201/241/11/25

Or log into http://www.life20.net/realtime.php for on-the-web realtime video, streamed audio, and interactive chat!

=== LIFE 2.0 WEEKEND PROGRAM ===
Saturday - March 15, 2008

9:00 AM PDT - 10:00 AM PDT
LSL University 1 - "HELLO, AVATAR!"
Mike Gunderloy - SL:MikeG1 Schumann
Hour 1 of our six-hour crash course on Linden Script Language will take you through the basic anatomy, mechanics and syntax of LSL, a state- and event-oriented, semicolon-delimited scripting language that gives life to objects in Second Life.

Mike Gunderloy describes himself as "a recovered Microsoft addict." Author of numerous books on Windows, including a series of MCSD Training guides, books on ADO.NET, Access and VBA. He's also the author of a series of well-respected books on software design: Coder to Developer and Developer to Designer. Long known to the blogosphere as author of The Daily Grind, Mike now blogs at afreshcup.com, and develops in Ruby on Rails, Cocoa, and other challenging languages, including LSL

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
10:00 AM PDT - 11:00 AM PDT
LSL University 2 - "Program Structure and States"
Mike Gunderloy - SL:MikeG1 Schumann
In this second hour, we'll focus on program structure and state logic: essential to well-structured LSL applications

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
11:00 AM PDT - 12:00 PM PDT
LSL University 3 - "Data-Types, Lists, and Memory"
Mike Gunderloy - SL:MikeG1 Schumann
Hour three introduces LSL data-types, variables, the all-important list type, and functions used to manipulate variables. Also discussed is the economics of memory usage in LSL, and techniques for getting around showstopper limitations.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
12:00 PM PDT - 1:00 PM PDT
SHOW-FLOOR OPEN!

Spend the luncheon hour with our sponsors, Sun Microsystems and Cisco Systems!

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1:00 PM PDT - 1:30 PM PDT
Sculpty Day II - Introduction and Opening Remarks
SL:Xenius Revere
Following on the enormous popularity of Sculpty Day at Life 2.0 Fall, this expanded four-hour mini-symposium brings together eight of the finest artists, modelers, and art-tool software builders on the Grid. Artists, developers, web creatives will all profit from this diverse series of presentations, which encapsulate the latest technology, techniques and best-practice around the economical modeling of detailed forms and tricks of rendering with light and shadow. In this introductory speech, Xenius will explain the basics of how sculpted-prim technology works, explain why and in what situations it's used, and describe some of the scope of research, art and practical business now tying into this modeling capability.

Xenius Revere is one of the most advanced Maya practitioners, builder/architects and sculpted-prim modelers in Second Life. Formerly with Electric Sheep, now Creative Director for Deep Think Labs, Xenius is also in the midst of designing RIOT Combat, an ultra-immersive mechwar game on the Second Life platform. He also vends his furniture lines through YEP! and in a collaborative partnership with BAPFH. Finally, Xenius designed CMP's new sims in Second Life, exploring the outer limits of world-with-no-gravity deconstructive architecture in the process.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1:30 PM PDT - 2:00 PM PDT
Sculpty Day II - Aminom Marvin
SL:Aminom Marvin
In this session, meet Sculptomancer Aminom Marvin, one of the most technically-advanced makers of "sculpted prim" art and utility objects on the Second Life grid. His best-selling virtual product-lines include hundreds of meticulously-detailed building components, machine parts, microgeometrics, faceted forms and more.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
2:00 PM PDT - 2:30 PM PDT
Sculpty Day II - TheBlack Box
SL:TheBlack Box
TheBlack Box is the author of Sculpt Studio (now new and improved), the Wonder Chair and a growing line of security and sim-management products in the Tri-X line.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
2:30 PM PDT - 3:00 PM PDT
Sculpty Day II - Crash Prefect
SL:Crash Prefect
Crash Prefect is a graphic artist now best-known in Second Life for his work creating the somber atmosphere of DarkLife, the world's first immersive adventure game set in an open virtual world.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
3:00 PM PDT - 3:30 PM PDT
Sculpty Day II - Anjin Mieli
SL:Anjin Mieli
Anjin Mieli is a phenomenally-insightful developer, whose metaverse work has ranged from the creation of artificially-intelligent robot goldfish to processing chains that import geodata to produce minutely-detailed one-prim topologies.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
3:30 PM PDT - 4:00 PM PDT
Sculpty Day II - Cel Edman
SL:Cel Edman
Cel Edman is the creator of SculptyPaint, one of the first opensource tools for SL sculpted-prim modeling

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
4:00 PM PDT - 4:30 PM PDT
Sculpty Day II - Yuzuru Jewell
SL:Yuzuru Jewell
Japan's Yuzuru Jewell is the creator of Rokuro, now available in a Pro edition -- a powerful and intuitive sculpted-prim texture generator for Windows; and Nomi (chisel), a sculpted prim relief-making utility, which derives 3D information from a photograph by assessing surface brightness.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
4:30 PM PDT - 5:00 PM PDT
Sculpty Day II - Xenius Revere
SL:Xenius Revere
Xenius Revere is one of the most advanced Maya practitioners, builder/architects and sculpted-prim modelers in Second Life. Formerly with Electric Sheep, now Creative Director for Deep Think Labs, Xenius is also in the midst of designing RIOT Combat, an ultra-immersive mechwar game on the Second Life platform. He also vends his furniture lines through YEP! and in a collaborative partnership with BAPFH. Finally, Xenius designed CMP's new sims in Second Life, exploring the outer limits of world-with-no-gravity deconstructive architecture in the process.

=========================================
Sunday - March 16, 2008

9:00 AM PDT - 10:00 AM PDT
LSL University 4 - I/O and Object Communications
Mike Gunderloy - SL:MikeG1 Schumann
Hour 4 of our six-hour crash course on Linden Script Language covers how objects accept input, return data, and coordinate asynchronous distributed processing (i.e., talk among themselves) -- critical to most serious Second Life tools and utilities, and absolutely key to unleashing the power of this environment for simulation, dataviz and other challenging applications.

Mike Gunderloy describes himself as "a recovered Microsoft addict." Author of numerous books on Windows, including a series of MCSD Training guides, books on ADO.NET, Access and VBA. He's also the author of a series of well-respected books on software design: Coder to Developer and Developer to Designer. Long known to the blogosphere as author of The Daily Grind, Mike now blogs at afreshcup.com, and develops in Ruby on Rails, Cocoa, and other challenging languages, including LSL

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
10:00 AM PDT - 11:00 AM PDT
LSL University 5 - Physics, Movement and Rezzing
Mike Gunderloy - SL:MikeG1 Schumann
In hour 5, we turn our attention to objects causing other objects to materialize and disappear; and to objects moving around -- both with and without application of physics. Object creation and movement in SL is great for entertainment, but it's also a critical component of many serious applications, from simulation to security.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
11:00 AM PDT - 12:00 PM PDT
LSL University 6 - LSL and the Web
Mike Gunderloy - SL:MikeG1 Schumann
Integrating SL to the web enables bidirectional access to streamed media, content, data, and computing power: key to virtually every commercial virtual world application, to v-commerce, to metrics, to audience development and community. In the final hour of LSL University, Mike will talk about how SL talks to the web, and vice-versa.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
12:00 PM PDT - 1:00 PM PDT
SHOW-FLOOR OPEN!

Spend the luncheon hour with our sponsors, Sun Microsystems and Cisco Systems!

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1:00 PM PDT - 3:00 PM PDT
Intellectual Property, Privacy and Identity in Open Virtual Worlds
Eben Moglen (SL: EbenMoglen Euler) - Director, Chair and Chief Counsel of the Software Freedom Law Center; Mark Lenczner (SL: Zero Linden), Architect, Linden Lab; David Levine (SL: Zha Ewry), IBM Research; Sean Dague (SL: Neas Bade), Developer, IBM Linux Technology Center, Contributor, OpenSim; Tish Shute (SL: Tara5 Oh), principal, Ugotrade.com; John Jainschigg (SL: John Zhaoying), Exec. Director, UBM/ThinkServices Metaverse

As virtual worlds become more open and more a part of business and daily life, they present opportunities to evolve traditional notions of intellectual property -- its value, security, uses and protection -- to interact richly with global community in surprising new ways, and to experiment with identity, trust, reputation and other socially- and economically-valuable constructs no longer non-optionally linked to the physical body.

What does this mean to the architecture of virtual worlds and the systems that interconnect and plug into them? And what does it mean to the system of laws, regulations and common-sense assumptions governing human intercourse in these environments? In this free-ranging two-hour panel discussion, we bring together key architectural thinkers from the domains of law and software to discuss and debate these issues.

Eben Moglen, Director, Chair and Chief Counsel of the Software Freedom Law Center, has had a distinguished career as a legal scholar and courtroom pioneer on the bleeding edge of technology. He defended Philip Zimmerman, author of PGP, against criminal charges brought against him by the Customs Service under the Arms Export Control Act. He was primary enforcer of the Free Software Foundation's GNU public license, and is the architect of GPLv3.

Mark Lenczner is one of the key architects of Second Life's evolving infrastructure. He authored the first draft of the SL Grid Open Grid Protocol, a key step forward towards virtual worlds interoperability.

David Levine works on virtual world architecture and applications for IBM. He is a key organizer of the Architecture Working Group (AWG), a key open initiative, headed by Linden Lab with contributions from IBM and other vendors, with the goal of evolving virtual worlds' architecture to large scale and interoperability.

Sean Dague is an IBM Linux expert, who, since 2007, has been a key contributor to OpenSim, a project that began as an attempt to reverse-engineer and opensource a Second-Life compatible server system, and has expanded into a loose, but highly-productive confederation of coders, alternative grids, and grid-architectural extensions.

Tish Shute blogs on virtual worlds and allied technology at ugotrade.com, and is one of the best-respected citizen journalists now covering this fast-growing field. This panel grew substantially out of her wide-ranging research on open grids and related topics.

John Jainschigg is Executive Director of UBM/ThinkServices Metaverse (formerly CMP Metaverse), and the founder of Life 2.0.

Friday, 14 March 2008

Rosedale to Step Down, Step Up, Whatever

The twitter servers must be under heavy load at the moment as hordes of virtual worlders leap in to speculate about today's announcement that Phil Rosedale, CEO of Linden Lab, will be stepping down from his role.

According to Reuters: "Rosedale will become chairman of the Linden Lab board when his successor is found, replacing Mitch Kapor, who will remain a board member and the company’s largest investor. Rosedale said he will also keep a full-time role at the company working on product development and strategy."

There doesn't seem to be any air of panic, just the recognition that a big, grown-up company (which Linden Lab has now become) requires an entirely different sort of leadership from a hip, young start-up. I made this point (as many others did) when Cory Ondrejka left Linden Lab at the tail end of last year: "once you have a large (and largely successful) implementation on your hands, your focus shifts from rapid innovation and heads more towards Quality of Service and effective service delivery. "

Provided they get the right person - and that's a big proviso - then this should be a good thing for consumers of Linden Lab's services - that's us residents, both private and corporate. Hopefully, we will continue to see innovation and creativity from the Lab, after all Mr Rosedale is only moving within the outfit, but tempered with the skills needed to deliver a customer-centric, high quality service. Well... I can hope, can't I?

Incidentally, I hope that his replacement does NOT succumb to the temptation to pimp his/her avatar - and sticks resolutely to the no-prim hair etc.

UPDATE: Or indeed no-hair hair.

For a far better read than this - check out Mitch Wagner's post at Information Week.

UPDATE 2: Mr Rosedale's statement and resident responses on the Second Life blog.

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Princeton OIT

Lots of other folks have already been in to gawp and wonder at the new Scope Cleaver building on the new Princeton OIT sim, so I thought I'd better get in for a look too. The OIT of the title is the Office of Information Technology, incidentally.

The building is something of a departure for Scope... or perhaps that is better phrased as an evolution of his style. I've not had a chance to chat with him about the influences, or the client brief, so I don't know the context of the build. In scale, it is easier to get to grips with than some of Scope's recent, almost sim-wide constructions. It is actually possible to see and appreciate the whole thing - and very nice it is too. It has a certain steampunk look about, which is definitely a departure from previous constructions.

Although the building is the centrepiece for the island, sitting as it does on the only reasonably level section of land, I would draw your attention to the other, smaller gems dotted among the hills and valleys. There is, for example, a small homage to the great British sculptor, Anthony Gormley. Go for a ramble in the hills, and see what you can find. Here's my pictures, including some of my finds:

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

The Hospital

Recent weeks have seen a few announcements about things medical in Second Life - basically, companies were using the recent HIMMS'08 healthcare conference as a virtual marketing opportunity, as I posted in this little item. This was in the back of my mind when I was pootling around the North-Eastern corner of the Second Life map - an area rich in academic sites, if you have the patience to look. After a couple of quick "fishing trips" I was about to leave the area when I espied The Hospital. Given its location in the midst of a slew of university and teaching sims, I assumed it would be something educational. And indeed, in one sense, it is - but not in a medical sense.

The sim in question turns out to be the Second Life site for a rather (I will say) exclusive London club. The Hospital, according to their website, is "on the site of an 18th Century hospital in Covent Garden... [and] has evolved into London’s pre-eminent centre for the Creative and Media communities." Somewhere in its 7 floors there's actually TV and music recording studios. Apparently, and slightly bizarrely perhaps, the club is "the vision of Paul G. Allen co-founder of Microsoft and Dave Stewart, musician and producer."

The Second Life version strikes me as a slighty odd beast, and I will explain why in due course. It has been built by London-based virtual world consultancy, Rivers Run Red, and in general looks very smart, making excellent use of textures and lighting effects to convey a strongly immersive 3D impression.

You enter a plain, red brick building and find yourself in some sort of anteroom. If you call the lift, you will be transported to the gallery, which currently houses a Warhol vs Banksy exhibition. In first life, this was held in August'07 - but is still going strong in Second Life. It is an extensive and beautifully detailed exhibition, and well worth the entrance fee. The "shiny floor" effect looks great, too. Returning to the anteroom you can walk down to the restaurant/bar area and a cinema. Comparing the SL versions with the pictures on the website, they look like a more than passable rendering of the originals. Outside, there's a garden area and an outdoor auditorium. However, there are also signs of "temporary dwellings" - a cabin on a hilltop that seems out of place... and more spectacularly, a number of items of furniture and greenery "parked" in mid-air, as if awaiting placement.

While locating the builders, I checked the properties of a couple of benches outside the brick building. As well as identifying the builders as RRR, they also identified their original clients as Vodafone. And this set me thinking. I don't know when this sim came onstream. Is it relatively new (and due for an overhaul at some point)? Does it date back to August, built to coincide with the exhibition in the real Hospital? Re-using stuff is, of course, fine - though I would be inclined to rename the objects in question. But the sim, for all its indoor excellence, looks disjointed and unready in the outdoor areas. Perhaps it was built mainly for machinima and perhaps some hosted events, and really only meant to be seen indoors?

My confusion is compounded by a press statement, which dates from August'07. This states that the sim is the fruit of a partnership between The Hospital and RRR. "The partnership will see both parties cross-marketing each others services with The Hospital offering clients of its Covent Garden base the opportunity to ‘simul-launch’ their products on The Hospital branded island in Second Life developed by Rives Run Red." You can lay hands on a copy of the whole thing here (ignore the date - it's a Word document & it's using a 'today's date' field).

So I'm left wondering: What is the current status of the sim, and of the partnership between these two? Why is the outside relatively cursory, while the inside is rather finely detailed? Is it being rebuilt - or is it just right?

Whatever the answer to these largely rhetorical questions, it's an interesting site. I particularly like the exhibition space, which is both educational and brilliantly executed. Here's a bundle of snaps - but it's better seen in the (virtual) flesh:

Monday, 10 March 2008

Accenture Careers

How odd? No sooner do I blog about one recruitment site, than another hoves into view. Thanks to Torrid Luna for informing me about this. It seems that the sim - Accenture Careers - opened today. This is actually one of a 6-sim cluster, but the others - if the map is to be believed - are still largely wide open, pastoral spaces. I have been keeping a beady eye on this one for some time, waiting for it to open - or for some news to emerge about it.

I have posted about Accenture before - indeed, I have posted about this 6-sim cluster - so you will forgive me if I don't go over old ground. Instead, I will endeavour to tell you a little about the sim. Most of the sim is there to offer the Accenture Challenge (there's a picture of the trophy in the slideshow below) which appears to consist of a number of fun tests, under 3 categories: Physical, Mental and Team. There are 3 tests in each category.

Can you: remember stuff? Do anagrams? Aim a trebuchet? Solve puzzles? If so, you might enjoy the challenges on offer here. Or you might prefer to watch your mates' pathetic attempts. I don't know when the Challenge comes to a close - if ever - but you at least stand to get your name on the leader board. And before you mention it - I know mine is not present. I might take an alt through these puzzles and tests, but as sure as eggs is eggs, I ain't exposing poor old Al to the rigours of this lot! Elsewhere on the sim there is a chatbot for you to talk to about Life, the Universe and Everything - though don't be surprised if it fails your personal Turing Test. There's also a guided tour of the sim, if you haven't already strolled through it. For those of a more nautical bent, you can grab a paddle and propel a canoe among the creeks and streams that criss-cross the sim. There are places around the sim where you can supply feedback too.

As well as the various challenges - there is a multi-lingual tower of information. Or to put it another way... there is a tower, in which each floor offers the same company information and quiz in a different language (ground floor for English). Hmmm... I'm not sure that explained it any better... oh well. Next door is the interview room (I think).

Rather than being an out-and-out recruitment venue, I get the feeling this site is more a means for engaging with SL residents, and in particular,making contact with those that might be a good fit for a career in Accenture. But all of this in a very relaxed way (a term I would not normally apply to Accenture!) : "Come and have fun in our intellectual playground, and who knows? You might want to know more about us - and vice versa."

The build itself is very enjoyable. It mixes almost ghostly, washed-out or semi-transparent shapes with sharp, crisp ones, giving a gently surreal yet serene air to the place. If you know anything about building with Windlight you are probably familiar with the "glow" setting on textures. I may be wrong, but it looks like this has been used extensively, and may account for the otherworldly lighting effects and soft-focus look. I like to nose about, as you probably know, and by checking "created by" properties on several diverse objects I can conclude that the build has been carried out by a team from The Project Factory, who really should find time to update their website some time!

One final point - possibly already fixed: there is an Orientation Zone on the adjacent Accenture 5 sim that should presumably be open, but is currently closed. Interestingly, the auditorium, which shares the same sim is open to the public.

Well enough of the wordage - here's my extensive slideshow. It's a fairly safe bet with me that the more pictures I've taken, the more impressed I am with the build. There's 19 here - which I reckon is a thumbs up from me: