Saturday, 31 March 2007

Al goes Dutch

The Netherlands, with a population of 16.5million, are ranked number 5 in the latest statistics for SecondLife users released by Linden Labs. This disproportionate interest is reflected in the dizzying number of Dutch sites currently opening or under construction. I have already covered a number of these sites in this blog, so I will leave you to use the "Search" facility if you want to find out more. However, in my most recent rambles along the highways and byways of Second Life I have unearthed a few more sites, and some updates. After all, it's Springtime... ideal for pottering about among the tulips.

First off, the town of Zoetermeer has now opened its island. There is still space for some new features, but the structure is largely in place. There is a Stadhuis where visitors can browse and access a number of web pages, though my non-existent Dutch is not up to the job of figuring out what these are! Presumably, though, they reference the services and facilities offered by the town. There is also a meeting centre, offering a streamed video showcasing the town. The next feature of the island is a snow-clad mountain - not something you expect to see in Holland! However, this serves to promote the town's winter sports activity centre, SnowWorld. The last of the main features is an exhibition hall, featuring immersive, 360degree panoramas of various wild terrains - forests, mountains, lakes and glaciers. I'm not sure why it's there, but it's a cool place to visit (use "Mouselook" to get the most from it).

While rambling I also noticed a new island beloging to Sogeti Netherlands. The group website describes Sogeti thus: "We provide information technology services to businesses and public sector organizations. Sogeti employs about 15,000 employees in France, Belgium, Danmark, Luxembourg, Germany, Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States, and is a wholly owned subsidiary of the international Capgemini organization, one of the world's leading providers of consulting, technology and outsourcing services." The island appears to be at an advanced stage of construction, but is not open to ramblers. It is possible that this is intended as a private research island, for company use only, as Sogeti Netherlands have a strong involvement in web2.0 development and research.

Not to be outdone by ING and their Virtual Holland space, Dutch bank ABN Amro is expanding its presence in SecondLife. They are in the process of adding 2 employee islands, a seminars island, an events island and something called "ABN AMRO Beleggers." I put this into Babelfish, but got nothing for my efforts. The closest I can find through Google would suggest this means "investors" - which would make sense. Here's what investors will see:

But that's not the end of the ABN Amro story. There is a cluster of 6 islands labelled "0031", which turns out to be a new, and entirely virtual Dutch town called Schoondamme. It opened about a week ago, and is full of new residents building a typical (if stylised) Dutch small town. I've found some references (in Dutch) such as this. The town is a joint investment by ABN Amro and Randstad Uitzendbureau. Most of it is accessible (just follow the green dots on the map) , search for "0031" on the "map". A pretty place at the moment, but it helps if you are Dutch...

Finally, there is a Dutch-related piece of news from earlier in the week. The Amsterdam island, which has proved one of the most popular in SecondLife (hmmm... I wonder why?) has been sold on eBay for $50,000 - that's USD, not Lindens - here's the Reuters report. [I know it's not a Dutch build - but how could I ignore it?! ]

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