The Watch – virtual worlds in the news

1. Marketing Week (UK) – Second Life appoints new Euro chief to boost business. “Second Life, the virtual world, has appointed Clare Rees to the new role of European marketing director. Rees will be responsible for boosting activity on the online platform, including adding more members and encouraging more businesses to use the virtual world as a promotional tool. She joins on October 31.”

2. The Times (South Africa) – Virtual worlds are coming to businesses near . “You’ve probably heard someone in your organisation argue that virtual worlds are the next big thing and that your company had better figure out how to use them before rivals do. At which point you may have thought: “Who’d do business in that terra incognita?”

3. ScienceDaily (USA) – Researchers Find New Way Of Measuring ‘Reality’ Of Virtual Worlds. “A research team, led by North Carolina State University’s Dr. Mitzi M. Montoya, has developed a new way of measuring how “real” online virtual worlds are – an important advance for the emerging technology that can be used to foster development of new training and collaboration applications by companies around the world.”

4. The Guardian (UK) – Elevator Pitch: Myrl builds bridges between virtual worlds. “Myrl is setting out to add a bit of ‘joined up thinking’ to virtual worlds, building a ‘social gateway’ that links competing worlds with the web, and with social networks. Founder and chief executive Francesco D’Orazio, who has a PHD in new media and sociology from the University of Rome, describes the concept as ‘outeroperability’, and says the ultimate goal is to turn the series of different virtual environments into one integrated playground.”

5. Forbes.com (USA) – Making Virtual Worlds Portable. “It’s just another day at work. You’re bored, unmotivated and have a few minutes to kill before lunch. You make your way over to Facebook, where you’re able to jump straight into the virtual world of your choosing–say, “Second Life”–without launching an application. You wander around the world, perhaps buy and sell a few virtual items, before jumping back to your profile page to see who’s left you a Wall post.”

6. Linux Insider (USA) – Virtual Training for Disaster Response. “A groundbreaking training tool for the global energy industry which uses virtual worlds to simulate potential disasters is attracting significant interest within days of its launch. The technology has been developed by Second Places, which has a base in Aberdeen, Scotland, and specializes in creating presences in online virtual worlds for corporate clients.”

7. iReport (USA) – Anger and Frustration Continue In SL. “Well when I posted my first article about the dramatic price increases for Openspace sims, I thought I would wait a couple of days to see what impact there is in the virtual world. It’s plain to see that feelings are running so high inworld that there is a very unhappy portion of the community that now feel alienated from Linden Labs. Albeit that the Lindens are keeping a close eye on the forums and trying to answer all they can on their Website at SecondLife.com. I find it hard to believe the reasons they give for the increases.”

8. CNN Money (USA) – Protest Threatens Linden Labs Profitability. “The denizens of Linden Lab’s virtual world Second Life are a passionate lot, so when the San Francisco company recently announced a steep purchase and maintenance fee increase on popular regions of their virtual land, sign-waving avatars were soon gathered outside Linden’s SL office, in protest. Some even set themselves on fire. There have been protests like this throughout the world’s five-year history, but without a competing virtual world offering all the unique features of Second Life, angry customers have largely stayed put, despite their grumblings.”

9. Gizmodo (Australia) – Things Virtual Reality China Will Not Prep You For (And What You Can Do Instead). “The U.S. is injecting a good $US1.25 million into a new “virtual training ground” for American diplomats who plan on working in China called “The Second China Project.” It’s a pretend city in Linden Lab’s Second Life that purportedly will help almost-expatriots get used to the environment in the world’s most populous nation. While some of the training activities sound useful (for instance, what to give as a gift, how to seat guests), as someone who’s lived in this country for years, I can tell you there are things that diplomats should get ready for that the virtual world doesn’t even seem to touch on.”

10. The Inquisitr (Australia) – Is Second Life screwing its users? Second Life, the once highly hyped virtual space has dropped from the radar this year for many. And yet for the lower coverage, the Second Life universe has continued, with new peak concurrency rates, and a loyal user base going on as they’ve always done. But lately, things are not great in Second Life. The company has slowly shifted its focus to high yield business services such as teleconferencing and the private “Second Life Grid” while giving less attention to its existing users. To make matters worse, Linden Lab has increased monthly fees for some users by 66%, resulting in large scale protests within Second Life itself.”

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