Four Corners on SL: it’s good, bad AND ugly

On ABC Island and ABC TV, Four Corners screened an episode on Second Life titled ‘You Only Live Twice’. As predicted, it was a wide-ranging view of Second Life. The show flowed as follows:

– the experience of orientating yourself to SL
– nightclubs in SL
– Linden dollars / commerce in SL (Ted Castronova)
– Philip Linden interview including a walk through Linden Labs
– Venture capital and Linden Lab
– governance / freedom in SL
– sex in SL
– child-like avatars and sex
– rape in virtual worlds and legal perspectives
– science in SL
– understanding schizophrenia
– shopping in SL (interview with Chris Collins / Logan Linden)
– virtual currency
– corporations and SL
– hype around SL / critics of SL
– debate around active user numbers
– virtual real estate
– intellectual property rights
– the World Stock Exchange (interview with Luke Connell)
– tax implications for virtual worlds
– Linden’s terms of service and legal implications
– Copybot
– The Anshe Chung penis rain episode
– technical frustrations with SL

Notable omissions included education, benefits for people with disabilities, gambling and the arts. That said, Fullerton’s report was even handed and explored some of the wider issues that may impact on SL in the future. A little more focus on Australians in SL would have been nice but otherwise it’s a hard show to criticise. As always we’d like to hear your thoughts.

The in-world viewing went well with a large crowd present including Australian Lindens, Nicole and Lucy. There was a delay in the in-world playback of the show due to some technical glitches but the mood remained pleasant. The question and answer session then went as follows:

Esteban Xiao: Will you continue to visit SL or has it all been just for the story?
Ticky Tripsa: I will go back – but in cognito – I think Ticky Tripsa’s days are over!

JJason Jedburgh: What does she think of upcoming new virtual worlds such as Sony’s Home for PS3?
Ticky Tripsa: There’s a paper on the 4 Corners website that touches on this – ‘Hitchhiker’s guide…’ Home looks like an interesting concept – new world on a different device. The other very interesting development was Sony’s LittleBigPlanet which seems to take the virtual world one step further – with users actually using the tools to create their own multiplayer games and then inviting others to join in – combining the community and creativity aspects. I think we’ll see a lot more of these virtual worlds cropping up and hopefully users will be able to move seamlessly between them all eventually.

Pangur Cattaneo: Why did ABC decide to become active in SL? What future plans do the have for ABC Island?
Abi Goldflake: I’ll answer that myself…We thought it was worth exploring as the audiences were growing so quickly. Good chance to work out new ways of presenting content in a 3D interactive way. We clearly have some learning to do as you’ve seen tonight! And it’s all about understanding these new environments so we get better and better at it…Lots of future plans – more and better events eg comedy gigs, Triple J Unearthed bands. And new content too e.g maybe science 3D environments.

DanteJones: When did Ticky host Landline?
Ticky Tripsa: Crumbs! For a coule of years, about 4-6 years ago. Great job

Abi Goldflake: how many rural aussies can access sl ?
Ticky Tripsa: anyone with a broadband connection – that’s the beauty of VWs

skribe Forti: What’s the best and worst experiences of your time in SL?
Ticky Tripsa: The best – Salsa with Stroker, and the hallucination experience, fascinating. The worst – crashing.

DanteJones Laszlo: Do you think the SL economy (thanks to stocks and other exchanges) will have a way of heavily influencing RL?
Ticky Tripsa: I think until the size of the VW economy gets bigger – the issues of tax, money laundering, and the arrival of serious big business will be slow. Also the law needs to be a lot clearer in terms of property rights. But growth is huge.

Diag Anzac: I haven’t seen all of the program yet, so might have missed it, but how much time did you spend in SL researching the story?
Ticky Tripsa: Research was both in the journalism and for this show, a lot of technology, making sure the film really captured VWs. About 2 months in all.

Rohan Zapedzki: What do you think about the tiny avatars – have you considered converting to tiny?
Ticky Tripsa: No – partly we wanted the reporter to be a classic ‘newbie’

Juko Tempel: Did Ticky see some of the really great builds – beautiful places, science builds?
Ticky Tripsa: Yes – forbidden city, gardens of Appollo, Svarga…

Linc Nefarious: There is talk of introduction of voice capabilties to SL. I quite enjoy the anonymity of the world as it currently is. What are your throughts on this sort of addon?
Ticky Tripsa: Depends whether the voice is yours or not. Kevin Kelly talked about the use of translation. If VWs can do both, it will be an amazing communication.

Heiko Decatur: After interacting with all the different high people in second life and at linden labs, do you think that Second Life can become the next phase of the interenet or remain just a service?
Ticky Tripsa: I’m not sure whether it will be SL or another VW – but I do believe that VWs will grow and be very popular as communication areas. Not sure about their replacement of search engines’

skribe Forti: There’s already a French politician that has established a site here, how long do you think it will take for the Aussie politicians to establish their own?
Ticky Tripsa: That will all depend on how many Aussies go into SL – eg willl Big Pond make a difference?

Noah Millgrove: What sort of technology did you use for exploring Second Life, and was the entire experience recorded and then edited for the show later?
Ticky Tripsa: It was an ordinary internot connection. We recorded many hours, partly because of the number of takes we had to do.

jokay Wollongong: I’m interested to hear what you ABC types think about the impacts that virtual worlds will have on mainstream media. How will the ABC use SL?
Abi Goldflake: We think initially it will be an add-on to mainstream media. But could become a 3D immersive internet in general in the future. And that’s why we think it’s important for the ABC to be here, exploring it, and learning lessons about how to provide content and experiences in this space (and tonight’s been a great learning curve for us!)

Amaterasu Cinquetti: why was so little time given to the achievements of Aussies in SL?
Ticky Tripsa: Well – SL is a global phenomenon… and it was founded in the US. Also aussie media had covered VWs using largely Aussie talent.

jokay Wollongong: I’d also like to also like to ask about the Island. Why did you choose to have a ‘build’ placed here… rather than letting the community come together to build the space? And if you’re willing to share… what has been the investment in SL so far in RL$?
Abi Goldflake: we have built it collaboratively -with help from Gary Hazlitt at AFTRS and help from many of the ABC friends. the sandbox is here for even more creations from visitors. the rl$ have been very modest as it’s an R&D project for us.

Captain Goodfellow: Was it frustrating that there was so much to cover that it was difficult to go deep on some subjects?
Ticky Tripsa: In the end we decided some areas we couldn’t cover for that very reason, eg education, privcacy

Lowell Cremorne: During your research, did you get the feeling that there was an Australian community in SL?
Ticky Tripsa: According to Linden, Australia is about 7th or 8th on the list, but we didn’t come across a particular community – maybe we didn’t hit the right pub?

Graham Sabre: What did you discover about young, under 18s using SL?
Ticky Tripsa: We didn’t discover any under 18s as such, but we did come across the avatars posing as children, but they were adults. Obviously there’s a teen SL you can go into.

Otis Sakai: My questions was, if SL grows, what impact do you think that it will have on society?
Ticky Tripsa: On society – I think that’s for the next generation to work out. I think the whole chat room, communication side could take off a lot. Whether the retail area will be as hot, I’m not as sure.

Alia Biziou: Ticky , why didn’t you focus more on the actual sociological impact and use of SL, and the bridging effect it can have, instead of pushing the money and sex angle?
Ticky Tripsa: I think the money / business / legal side, was very important and an emerging areas that’s catching the attention of big instos in the real world. The sex was important to cover becuase it’s not something that you can ignore in these places. That’s ture of the internet generally. We found the medical stuff – hallucinations etc really worth covering. So it was a question of balance I guess.

The show is viewable on the ABC Four Corners site

Comments

  1. Simondo Nebestanka says:

    I think the show was excellent – very well balanced. It showed some of the ‘virtual sex’ side of SL but didn’t overly focus on it.

    It’s a shame we Queenslanders don’t have daylight savings – I didn’t want to go to ABC Island until after the show (which would have been 10.30pm NSW/Vic). Everything seemed over by then. Also it took me a while to figure out I had to be a Group member of ‘ABC Friends’ before I could get on to the island.. would have been nice to have mentioned that on the ABC/SL site I think!

    Good summary Lowell.
    Cheers

  2. Simondo Nebestanka says:

    I think the show was excellent – very well balanced. It showed some of the ‘virtual sex’ side of SL but didn’t overly focus on it.

    It’s a shame we Queenslanders don’t have daylight savings – I didn’t want to go to ABC Island until after the show (which would have been 10.30pm NSW/Vic). Everything seemed over by then. Also it took me a while to figure out I had to be a Group member of ‘ABC Friends’ before I could get on to the island.. would have been nice to have mentioned that on the ABC/SL site I think!

    Good summary Lowell.
    Cheers

  3. I couldn’t get in because of computer problems, but would have loved to ask Ticky why they chose to focus on the more sensational and controversial aspects of Second Life and didn’t pay much attention to all the positive uses, such as the educational, non-profit, health and business uses (as you point out).

    I don’t think it was a very balanced report at all. All the interesting, creative and useful spaces they could have shown and they showed shot after shot of avatars dancing in nightclubs. I’ve never seen so much dancing in a report on Second Life!

  4. I couldn’t get in because of computer problems, but would have loved to ask Ticky why they chose to focus on the more sensational and controversial aspects of Second Life and didn’t pay much attention to all the positive uses, such as the educational, non-profit, health and business uses (as you point out).

    I don’t think it was a very balanced report at all. All the interesting, creative and useful spaces they could have shown and they showed shot after shot of avatars dancing in nightclubs. I’ve never seen so much dancing in a report on Second Life!

  5. Simondo Nebestanka says:

    I know where you are coming from Sean, but I think the story was more about the reality of what most people are doing in their ‘second lives’ than about the virtuous ideals of the platform. The report did touch on those positive aspects though.

    I wish the reality of this ‘virtuality’ was a little different.. I wander around countless artistic spaces that push the boundaries of what is possible in SL, and am amazed that I’m amongst a very small number of people exploring those creations. Then I TP to a dance club, and the places are packed.

    It doesn’t mean that’s *all* that people are doing in SL, but I don’t think the Four Corners report was pushing that angle. Unbalanced? Try for a second to imagine the same story in the hands of say “60 Minutes”. Ugh. And in fact *don’t* try and imagine the story as covered by “ACA” or “Today Tonight”, or your head may just explode..

    Peace

  6. Simondo Nebestanka says:

    I know where you are coming from Sean, but I think the story was more about the reality of what most people are doing in their ‘second lives’ than about the virtuous ideals of the platform. The report did touch on those positive aspects though.

    I wish the reality of this ‘virtuality’ was a little different.. I wander around countless artistic spaces that push the boundaries of what is possible in SL, and am amazed that I’m amongst a very small number of people exploring those creations. Then I TP to a dance club, and the places are packed.

    It doesn’t mean that’s *all* that people are doing in SL, but I don’t think the Four Corners report was pushing that angle. Unbalanced? Try for a second to imagine the same story in the hands of say “60 Minutes”. Ugh. And in fact *don’t* try and imagine the story as covered by “ACA” or “Today Tonight”, or your head may just explode..

    Peace

  7. I found the program informative and interesting.
    I recommended viewing the program to others who asked “What do you do there”, and “What is it all about”. It at least gave them a look into the world of Second Life. Although now they will just be interested in the adult industry potential.
    Funnily enough I went to sleep trying to think of some money making scheme involving the potential of the Second Life world
    that no one else has.

  8. I found the program informative and interesting.
    I recommended viewing the program to others who asked “What do you do there”, and “What is it all about”. It at least gave them a look into the world of Second Life. Although now they will just be interested in the adult industry potential.
    Funnily enough I went to sleep trying to think of some money making scheme involving the potential of the Second Life world
    that no one else has.

  9. funny..my wife as about to get up and not watch. But the first few mins had her planted. Shopping…magic words they be.

    Thought the program was well handled, well paced and gave enough info for a complete newbie to jump on and buy a penis…Not a lot of mention of other Australian activity which was a shame. Melb Banker boy grate’d me in a big way!

    See you at the party

    Sabs Moo

  10. I only saw bits and pieces of the program but will watch it later on on the web. However, it seems to have made a big impact: at my university, I received over a dozen emails asking me for advice on Second Life in general. Kind of frustrating, because I’ve been talking about it for over 6 months now, and nobody took me seriously.
    It seems that the hype (and yes, I use this word deliberately) has now reached a stage where Second Life is becoming the new buzzword after YouTube and MySpace. I am absolutely convinced that the future of the internet lies in 3D technology, but I am just as convinced that it won’t be Second Life that makes it in the end, there are just way too many unresolved usability and performance issues, and as soon as somebody else solves them, people will leave SL.

  11. funny..my wife as about to get up and not watch. But the first few mins had her planted. Shopping…magic words they be.

    Thought the program was well handled, well paced and gave enough info for a complete newbie to jump on and buy a penis…Not a lot of mention of other Australian activity which was a shame. Melb Banker boy grate’d me in a big way!

    See you at the party

    Sabs Moo

  12. I only saw bits and pieces of the program but will watch it later on on the web. However, it seems to have made a big impact: at my university, I received over a dozen emails asking me for advice on Second Life in general. Kind of frustrating, because I’ve been talking about it for over 6 months now, and nobody took me seriously.
    It seems that the hype (and yes, I use this word deliberately) has now reached a stage where Second Life is becoming the new buzzword after YouTube and MySpace. I am absolutely convinced that the future of the internet lies in 3D technology, but I am just as convinced that it won’t be Second Life that makes it in the end, there are just way too many unresolved usability and performance issues, and as soon as somebody else solves them, people will leave SL.

  13. Earnest Candour says:

    5 Comments, that’s a new record. I had a sinking feeling in my stomach when the start of the story focused on the more sensationalist aspects, but I have to say towards the end there was a bit more balanced analysis.

    Favourite quote of the program, (when Ticky’s walking on Orientation Island)”this is a bit trickier than it might look”

    I’m just glad its getting more mainstream now.

  14. Earnest Candour says:

    5 Comments, that’s a new record. I had a sinking feeling in my stomach when the start of the story focused on the more sensationalist aspects, but I have to say towards the end there was a bit more balanced analysis.

    Favourite quote of the program, (when Ticky’s walking on Orientation Island)”this is a bit trickier than it might look”

    I’m just glad its getting more mainstream now.

  15. Hi Sardionerak ,

    I think Second Life has loads of potential…

    Sure, the current releases could do with shaping and improvement..

    I think you most likely haven’t heard that the frontend is becoming open-source, and that within a year, the backend will also become open-source…

    Also , there will be improved physics engines used in the future I’m told, with better programming structures, which will open SL up with loads more potential.

    That is, if any of the competitors don’t get there first… At the moment, Second Life is by far the leader of the pack and it’d take any other competitor years to catch up..

  16. Hi Sardionerak ,

    I think Second Life has loads of potential…

    Sure, the current releases could do with shaping and improvement..

    I think you most likely haven’t heard that the frontend is becoming open-source, and that within a year, the backend will also become open-source…

    Also , there will be improved physics engines used in the future I’m told, with better programming structures, which will open SL up with loads more potential.

    That is, if any of the competitors don’t get there first… At the moment, Second Life is by far the leader of the pack and it’d take any other competitor years to catch up..

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