Merged realities – events and issues for virtual worlds

Sexy Avatar from Koinup1. Linden Lab have started providing more illustrations of the potential uses of the new Shared Media functionality that was rolled out this week with Viewer 2. More of our thoughts on Viewer 2 in coming days, but one small pocket of resistance appears to be coming from SL musicians, as the new search functionality as it currently stands is impacting the ease with which people can find live music events. Grace McDunnough has a good sum-up on the issue here.

2. Want to help fund entrepreneurs in developing companies while scoring something for yourself? Why not buy an Avatar Dog t-shirt or download our discussion paper on policy agenda-setting and virtual worlds!

3. The response to the Second Lie column has been forceful: people love his sense of humour. If you have a question about pretty much anything Second Life, why not ask Second Lie to shine a light into the darkness for you? Every column generates money for the SL Relay for Life too.

4. Picture and machinima hub, Koinup, have announced they are offering mobile phone wallpapers via Nokia’s Ovi Store.

5. Back in 2008 we mentioned a University of Sydney student was completing research on journalism and Second Life. That research is now available here. It appears to be a very readable and balanced piece of scholarship. The abstract:

This thesis analyses the interaction of journalism and governance in the virtual world Second Life. It examines the structure, practices and influence of journalism in Second Life and explores the nature and communicative aspects of governance in this virtual world. As virtual worlds attract growing numbers of subscribers and social interaction increasingly moves towards the online environment, it is crucial to understand the practices and conventions which structure human interaction in these spaces.

To explore these concerns, a close critical analysis of Second Life was conducted, based upon academic literature, interviews and a content analysis. Eight interviews with significant journalists in Second Life were conducted and a content analysis of thirteen publications was undertaken. Yochai Benkler’s theory of social production provides a theoretical base which frames the nature of Second Life as participatory, collaborative and networked, and defines the relationship between media and governance using the concept of a networked public sphere.

Practices of journalism in Second Life display a combination of traditional, professional, gatewatching and participatory, networked, gatekeeping characteristics, and it perform numerous roles in mediating communication. Second Life publications facilitate active and abundant conversation between residents, facilitating a networked public sphere. Linden Lab uses a variety of strategies to communicate governance discourses to users. Despite the similarity between normative and Second Life journalism, it has a negligible influence over the structure and direction of governance.
The disconnect between journalism and governance in Second Life raises questions about individual freedom and collaborative production in virtual worlds, challenging existing understandings of online interactions.

Merged realities – events and issues for virtual worlds

abc-island-july2009 1. ABC Island‘s friends are seeking feedback on the new Pool Studio. It features a green screen area for Machinima production and a cinema section where we hope to stream video shortly.

2. Interested in helping entrepreneurs in developing countries? Our Metaverse Aid team is growing slowly and more than a dozen ventures have been funded to date. Why not join us?

3. There’s lots of buzz around the US Government’s Deputy CTO, Beth Noveck, who’s a long-tim Second Life resident who is still dropping in regularly.

4. Second Nights is a new website / social network for those who enjoy Second Life’s entertainment on offer. A ‘finder’ feature for artists, clubs, DJs and more is available.

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5. The 2009 Relay for Life in Second Life has completed, with more than US 260 thousand dollars raised. Here’s one Australian blog devoted to raising awareness of the event.

6. Tateru Nino has Ten Great Tips for New Second Life Users that are well worth reading.

Metaverse Aid

Late last year I wrote on Metaverse Aid, which is a team on the Kiva website.

I just wanted to take the opportunity to encourage anyone involved with virtual worlds to join the Metaverse Aid team and make a real difference to entrepreneurs in developing countries. Each loan is just that, a loan, and you can reinvest the amount paid back in another entrepreneur.

Read more about Kiva and Metaverse Aid here.

Announcing: Avatar Dog t-shirts

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I’m really thrilled to announce we’ve got some t-shirts for sale. The primary purpose of the t-shirts is to raise money for Kiva, our charity of choice. Kiva provide funds to small businesses in developing countries and to date well over 57 million dollars have been lent, with over 97% of that repaid so that it can be reinvested in other businesses.

Here’s how it works. Buy one of our Avatar Dog or Real Life Avatar t-shirts, and 50% of the proceeds go to Kiva. To clarify actual amounts – each t-shirt generates 20% commission, of which half goes to Kiva. The other half goes to us to assist in meeting our costs (paying writers, hosting, cost of t-shirt design etc). So on a standard t-shirt purchase, a minimum of $2.50 goes to Kiva.

There’s a number of variants on offer including:

Avatar Dog in colour, no text
Avatar Dog in black and white, no text
– Avatar Dog in colour: “What’s a metaverse? I call it home”
– Avatar Dog in colour: “Furry for life”
– Avatar Dog in black and white: “It’s an avatar’s life”

We’re selling the t-shirts through Red Bubble, an Australia-based company that ship worldwide (they have offices in the UK and US as well). Their shipping costs are very reasonable: one t-shirt delivered to the USA is $29 US dollars shipped at present (only AU$36 or so delivered within Australia). There’s a choice of up to 22 different colours and four t-shirt styles.

Most importantly, I’d like to give major kudos to the artist we commissioned to create the Avatar Dog. His name is First Dog on the Moon, and he provides a daily piece of brilliance for Crikey – read First Dog’s blog to see more of his excellent work. I’ve been a fan ever since seeing his work appear in Crikey and I was rapt when he accepted the commission.

Comments welcome – we will be uploading further t-shirts (same design with different text) in coming months, and if popular enough we’ll also be commissioning First Dog for a second design. Enjoy!

Metaverse Aid – join the team

Back in October 2007, this site started generating a positive cash flow. After covering all costs, the decision was made to put excess funds to good use. Kiva was chosen primarily for its brilliant model of helping people help themselves, but there was also the tie-in of Kiva having a Second Life presence.

Since then, more than a dozen entrepreneurs in developing countries have been funded from our advertising revenue, but we’d love to see an even bigger impact from the virtual worlds community. In October this year we set up a Kiva team called Metaverse Aid and we’re now starting a campaign to build the team.

If you’d like to join the Metaverse Aid team on Kiva, sign up as a member, then join our team. When you make your first loan you’ll be able to select Metaverse Aid as the team you’re a part of. That’s it!

If you’re already a Kiva member, just click on the ‘Community’ button and search for Metaverse Aid.

Without some assistance, the people requesting micro-finance on Kiva will not likely have access to the opportunities that virtual worlds offer – here’s a chance to influence that.

Kiva – real outcomes for the real world

I’m a bit slow off the mark with this one. Kiva is a brilliant non-profit organisation that funds disadvantaged individuals via microfinance. Essentially, you donate a minimum of $25 US to fund a person’s business and within 6-12 months the amount is paid back and you can choose to re-invest that amount in another venture or withdraw it from the scheme. The default rates are well below the developed world and Kiva has received a lot of attention from Bill Clinton and Oprah Winfrey which has grown Kiva substantially so it now has 16 staff administering the loans throughout the world.

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I’ve invested some money in Kiva in recent months but was unaware that Kiva has been in Second Life for quite awhile. They’re launching some new in-world offices on the 5th January at 10.30am SL Time (6th January at 5.30am AEDT). If you can’t make the launch, do take the time to walk through their offices to find out more about the work they do.

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Thanks to Business Communicators of Second Life for the heads-up.

Check it out in-world

The best business investment scheme I’ve seen

If you have some spare dollars to spare in the short term, then Kiva may interest you if philanthropy is part of your psyche. Micro-loans have been well documented in the media and have a proven role in reducing poverty. And you even get your money back – doesn’t get any better than that!

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Invest as little as $25 US dollars and see what happens:

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