Merged realities – events and issues for virtual worlds

1. One of Second Life’s most innovative content creators, Ordinal Malaprop, has shuttered his business. Find out why.

2. Forterra have had some business challenges over recent months including laying off staff at the end of 2009. Their OLIVE virtual environment has been bought out by the Science Applications International Corporation. All the details here – this will hopefully be a positive outcome for a virtual environment under somewhat of a cloud.

3. Twinity continues its expansion with a growth in Virtual London: “These areas will include famous buildings and monuments, from the Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace to the Millennium Bridge, and the Trocadero. With this, Virtual London, will have grown to the east and south of its present spread, while also marking a foray across the virtual Thames.

4. Virtual World Best Practices in Education 2010: the call for presentations has gone out. Their website contains all the information you need.

5. The University of WA have announced the finalists of their Machinima Challenge. You can read all the details on the excellent UWA in SL blog, but here’s the list of finalists:

The Heart of UWA

UWA Machinima Challenge

University of Western Australia in Second Life

CHANTAL HARVEY, Maastricht, Netherlands
University of Western Australia in Second Life


SOPHIA YATES, Lancaster, Massachusetts, USA
The Challenge – Architecture, Teaching, Research Arts on the UWA sims

IONO ALLEN, Paris, France
Seek Wisdom

GLASZ DECUIR, San Sebastian, Spain
MachinimUWA: UWA in Second Life, Achieving International Excellence


MachinimUWA: Art Architecture, Research, Teaching

NOVA DYSZEL, Toronto, Canada
UWA in SL Challenge

UWA Jan 2010

SOPHIA YATES, Lancaster, Massachusetts, USA
Second Life Virtual University of Western Australia

The winner announcement is coming up on the 8th February at 1pm SL time, with Torley Linden making an appearance.

Merged realities – events and issues for virtual worlds

copenhagen-sl-sml1. As we’ve covered previously, there’s an enormous amount of activity going on in Second Life. There’s regular presentations as well as streaming of parts of the real-world COP15 event. Here’s where to check it out for yourself.

2. The Australia Council initiative, The Australian Centre of Virtual Art, has put a call-out for artists to participate in its 2010 virtual art lab. There will be a three-day intensive program in Melbourne for up to 10 Australian artists, with the remainder run virtually for the next 6-9 months. ACVA emphasise that: “SL artists are welcome, but we’re encouraging anyone working with networked art to apply”. Here’s where to do so.

3. Twinity has launched virtual London this week. If you have the Twinity application (still Windows only at this stage), you can check out London here.

4. Want some Christmas entertainment with a twist in Second Life?

Does your Christmas look less like Norman Rockwell and more like Norman Bates? Does your family put the “Diss” in “Dysfunctional”? Does your Uncle Fred use the Andy Williams’ Christmas Albums for target practice? Well, welcome home Buckaroo! The actors of the Avatar Repertory Theater (A.R.T.) invite you to “The Real Christmas Story”, starring Y.A.D.F. (your average dysfunctional family). These original Christmas stories will premiere on Friday, December 11, at 5 pm pst at the Dove Theater. Two other performances will be presented on Saturday, December 12 at 3 pm pst, and Sunday, December 13 at 2 pm pst.

Written by three members of the A.R.T., “The Real Christmas Story” presents three views of the pain and pleasure of the holiday season. Sodovan Torok, Kayden Oconnell and Rowan Shamroy have googled their internal computers and found stories that embrace the past, endure the present and anticipate the future. Scrooge may have survived the spirits, but Tiny Tim might need counseling after spending time with these ghosts.

5. Linden Lab have an interesting post on their blog outlining some of the emerging virtual worlds courses available at some universities and colleges.

Merged realities – events and issues for virtual worlds

uwa-dustydiorama 1. The University of Western Australia’s presence in Second Life continues its dynamism with the ongoing 3D Art & Design Challenge. The picture to the left is an amazing miniature diorama with 15 events going on. It’s something you need to see for yourself to appreciate, so take the time if you have it.

2. Singapore-based are offering those moving to Berlin the option of a pre-arrival tour in Twinity‘s replica:

“From a home or office computer, expats and their families can download a free guide, meet at a personal guided tour and get an idea of the layout of the city, the distances involved and the amenities in the new location before they arrive. With Twinity expats can become acquainted with local networking groups and community meet-ups prior to arrival.”

3. Applications for the 2010 Linden Prize are now open. The US $10000 prize will be awarded to the person who is judged to have done:

– Work in Second Life that also achieves tangible, compelling results outside of Second Life.
– Distinctive, original work using Second Life that clearly demonstrates high quality, execution, function, aesthetics and technical sophistication.
– Work that has the capacity for inspiring and influencing future development, knowledge, creativity, and collaboration both inside and outside of Second Life.

4. Mario Gerosa is putting together a book on virtual worlds memorabilia. If you have something you’d like to share a picture of, you can send it to

Action figures, invitations for exhibitions, books, brochures, press kits, works of art made in real life and inspired by virtual worlds, comics, conference pass, dvd, cd, posters, business cards, etc.

Here are some examples:

– The invitation by Dior for the jewels collections in SL
– The issue of Business Week with Anshe Chung on the cover
– The T shirt made for the anniversari of Parioli in SL
– The World of Warcraft action figures
– A famous avatar business card

Merged realities – events and issues for virtual worlds


1. Virtual London is coming soon to Twinity and they’re asking for people to apply to create some innovative spaces. There’s 200 Euros in prize money up for grabs plus your own space in Twinity. All the details here

2. Volume 2, No. 3 of the Journal of Virtual Worlds Research is out. The theme of the issue is Technology, Economy and Standards.

3. If you want a comprehensive summary on accessibility and virtual worlds, then you can’t go past this post by’s KerryJ.

4. Another study has been published on the link between gaming and violence, and not surprisingly the results aren’t black and white.

5. The US Government is revising their National Educational Technology Plan. Anyone interested in having a say should head to ISTE Island in Second Life on the 5th November at 6pm SL time (Midday AEDT).

The full details:

The federal government of the United States of America has assembled an 18 person team to update and revise the National Education Technology Plan. Their report deadline is November 11, 2009. There will be a community meeting in Second Life for educational technology stakeholders to provide input into the planning process. Currently, we expect that a representative of the national team will be present as an observer at the SL event.

The event coordinator is Perplexity Peccable (RL: Patricia F. Anderson, Perplexity is the University of Michigan Emerging Technologies Librarian for the Health Sciences, and the community manager for Wolverine Island in SL. Contact Perplexity for more information or to volunteer support or services for this event.

Information on prior versions of the plan is available here.

Information on the current planning process is available here,

The team is seeking input from the public. You can join the conversation on their website here.

“If you had five minutes to talk with President Obama about educational technology, what would you say?”

The key topic discussion points are these.

* Learning: Providing unprecedented access to high-quality learning experiences.
* Assessment: Measuring what really matters and providing the information that enables continuous improvement at all levels of the education system.
* Teaching: New ways to support those who support learning.
* Productivity: Redesigning systems and processes to free up education system resources to support learning.”

Twinity: intersection of immersion and State

With a new round of funding in the bank, Twinity is on as firm a ground as it’s ever been. The development of virtual replicas of cities has proven a successful formula to date. Singapore is a Twinity stronghold and a virtual Orchard Road is on the way.


Two aspects of the Orchard Road announcement caught my interest:

Virtual Singapore was developed in consultation with the Media Development Authority (MDA) and Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA).


Twinity is tying up with AsiaOne – the interactive arm of Singapore Press Holdings – to seek retailers, brands and firms interested in promoting their products or space on the virtual ‘Orchard Road’.

Bear with me while I explain some of the intricacies.

The Media Development Authority (MDA) is a government agency that has two main purposes: “The first is to promote the growth of the media industry. The second is to manage content to protect core values and safeguard consumers’ interests“.

The Infocomm Development Authority is also a government agency with the roles of “infocomm industry champion, the national infocomm master-planner and developer, and the Government CIO“.

AsiaOne is a key business within the Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) stable. SPH isn’t government owned, but under SIngapore’s Newspaper and Printing Presses Act, no management shares can be transferred without approval of the Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts (MICA). This is the ministry that oversees the Media Development Authority.

What this means is that the SIngapore Government has direct involvement in the development of virtual SIngapore in Twinity. Nothing wrong with that at all – Australia’s government has played a role in funding virtual world presences, as have a plethora of other governments. What interests me most is the AsiaOne partnership, which is likely to have an advertising revenue focus. If you’re currently a SIngapore business person, you’re likely to have advertised with SIngapore Press Holdings at some stage as it has nearly 80% of the over-15’s market.

What do you do when SPH’s sales team phone you to negotiate your next advertising package and mention you can now advertise in Twinity? If you don’t know that the government have funded the Twinity presence, the less well informed may see it as a gimmick and decline. This is where it gets really interesting: if take up of advertising in Twinity’s virtual Singapore isn’t as great as expected, what happens next? I won’t be surprised if Singapore becomes the first sovereign entity to have virtual world advertising as a standard option for its business owners. The initial acceptance may be limited but the incredibly close government involvement combined with substantial influence over SPH makes for one fascinating and potentially controversial case study of virtual worlds and business. There’s no criticism of Metaversum intended – they have operated as one would expect of a commercial entity. It’s wider issues of politics, media and governance that invite further discussion.

I fired some questions on the issue through to Metaversum’s Managing Director, Jeremy Snyder:

TMJ: Does Metaversum see the Singapore model of government funding combined with a media partnership to drive advertising as one it’s likely to explore in other markets.

Singapore really offered some unique opportunities for us. Their drive to stimulate and showcase innovative companies in the IDM (Interactive Digital Media) space. The media partnership that we entered here is a strong endorsement of our vision. We do see a lot of value in similar strategic partnerships for other markets.

TMJ: Does it see this model working as well as it may do in Singapore where SPH’s management has a close relationship with the government?

Twinity: The relationship between SPH and the Singapore government was not part of the decision process for entering that partnership. Negotiations for funding in 2008 & subsequent negotiations with SPH were entirely different excercises.

TMJ: Does Metaversum have any concerns that potential success in Singapore may be as a result of the unusually tight control on media in Singapore, which may ensure widespread adoption of virtual world advertising as indirect government policy, making it a case study not easily replicated in other markets?

Twinity: Singapore’s media policies in the Internet space really don’t have any affect on our business. Similarly, we do not plan to apply any different standards for content in Twinity’s virtual Singapore than in other locations in Twinity. We feel our success in Singapore and elsewhere will still come back to the core values of Twinity – the connections to real life, the content available, and the strength of the community.

What do you think: is virtual Singapore likely to provide a unique social experiment?

Merged realities – events and issues for virtual worlds

cube3-virtualedgesml 1. Anyone still not convinced about the growth of virtual meeting spaces within business might like to check out the one created for the Virtual Edge Summit by Officepodz. More on this later in the week.

2. Twinity have expanded their virtual Berlin area. As of now, there’s a ‘be Berlin citystore’, which is part of the ‘be Berlin’ tourism marketing campaign. The citystore will play host to some further events and some round-table discussions to promote Berlin as an attractive tourist destination. The citystore can be found in the real world and in Twinity at Rochstraße 15, 10178 Berlin-Mitte.

3. The Alter Ego documentary on Second Life is now scheduled for screening this month: Friday 26th June at 10pm AEST. A review of the documentary is coming soon.

4. Gary Hayes has an interesting post to coincide with the widely misinterpreted “bombing” of ABC Island in Second Life. Those were the days.

5. Apparently it’s barbed wire and a concentration camp feel on the boundaries of the new adults-only test areas in Second Life.

Another perspective on Twinity

Australian machinima producer and virtual worlds observer, Skribe Forti, has created a very interesting review of mirror world Twinity. It seems a balanced piece that covers both the strengths and weaknesses of Twinity, which is currently in beta:

What are your thoughts? Do you agree with Skribe’s summary of Twinity?

Twinity: 100K users and Mac version on the horizon

Twinity has just in the past hour passed one hundred thousand registrations. That was the reason I headed to Twinity’s website. What caught my attention were four new words:


It’s obviously unclear on how progressed Twinity are with Mac development (something we’ve now sought clarification on), but if things are progressing in that regard, kudos to Metaversum. That, and the regular growth in registrations bodes well for Twinity at this stage.

Update: I’ve misinterpreted the message on 100K – the actual number is 95K and “approaching 100K” – apologies.

Twinity’s momentum continues

We’ve followed the development of mirror virtual world Twinity closely, and even questioned Twinity’s purpose. More than eighty thousand people have now registered to use Twinity – it’ll be interesting to see how much transparency there’ll be on active users into the future. Even on Second Life’s benchmark of roughly ten percent active versus registered, that’s a solid foundation.

Other highlights for Twinity in the last week or two:

– The listings guide used for the real-world German capital, zitty, is now in virtual Berlin, It includes a new event series, the zitty Readers Lounge, broadcast zitty’s 3D presence.

– A real-world German tourism / image campaign titled ‘be Berlin‘ has migrated to Twinity “to advertise the German capital to an international target group”.

– A strategic partnership has been signed with Bigpoint, a browser-based games company. Bigpoint will be using Twinity as a promotional platform for their own products.

– A virtual Christmas Market is launching at the Brandenburg Gate in virtual Berlin, starting at beginning of December.

It’s a fairly stark contrast to recent failure Google Lively – there’s significant European and Asian business interest in Twinity. Mirror worlds are are comfortable exploratory option for business and government and this seems to be driving the momentum to date. The big challenge is continuing to build an engaged base of users in an environment of open-source content creation options and some degree of cynicism toward overt brand promotion in virtual worlds.

Second Life servers to hit Singapore?

According to the Straits Times, Singapore-based Second Life servers are on their way to Singapore within six months. This is potentially good news for Australian users, although the news would be a lot better if it were Australian servers being announced.

Given the growing focus on Twinity in Singapore, Linden Lab need to be making some strategic moves in South-East Asia. Japan and Australia are the only two countries in the region that make the top twenty for active Second Life users, so there’s plenty of ground to be made up.

Of course, the story could be based on information with a level of veracity matching the ‘real soon now’ claim made by Linden Lab nearly 18 months ago in regard to Australian servers.

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