The Watch – virtual worlds in the news

1. TechNewsWorld – Second Life Goes Hollywood. “Ariella Furman took her first summer vacation as a college graduate to Walt Disney World, where reality hides behind princesses. When it was over, she returned to Ivyland, Bucks County, Pa., and her job making videos — or more accurately, machinimas — for the virtual world Second Life, where reality hides behind avatars.”

2. Israel 21C – Creating new worlds is kid’s play with Shidonni. “A whole new world is coming to your computer, and you’re going to create it yourself. That’s the idea behind Shidonni, a new Web-based computer game developed by an Israeli company of the same name, which allows youngsters aged four to 12 to create their own virtual worlds, then watch them come alive right before their eyes.”

3. San Francisco Chronicle – Second Life offers healing, therapeutic options for users. “”Every human being is interested in two kinds of worlds: the Primary, everyday world which he knows through his senses, and a Secondary world or worlds which he not only can create in his imagination, but which he cannot stop himself creating.”
In a garden pavilion on an island, I sat with an assortment of human beings – one clad as a teddy bear wearing a Santa hat, another as a brazen vixen, a blue man, a tuxedoed prom king – and poured out my heart from a place of loneliness and grief. Click click went the computer keys, like the staccato beat of my heart. Clack clack went their replies, their empathy and their own tales of triumph and woe. Via my avatar – the persona I’d created to engage here – I was participating in an “anxiety support group” in the free, virtual world of Second Life.”

4. The Times Online (UK) – Google’s Lively view of the future. “Lively reminds me of something like IMVU, an instant messaging program that enables 3D avatar chat, in that it provides off-the-shelf avatars with teen appeal for socialising. It’s a pretty simple: it’s about chatting in rooms that can be customised to reflect your taste, and is nothing like as grandiose as something like Second Life or There. It’s not a single persistent world, but a bunch of ad hoc virtual spaces that let people come together and show off their avatar identity through chatting and flirting.”

5. Computerworld (USA) – How to get started in virtual-world operations. “IT service companies, like many of the Second Life solution providers, will be happy to help you build a virtual-world environment for your network operations or data center. But it won’t be cheap. It might run anywhere from tens or hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars, depending on how much IT stuff you’ve got, how many people it’s for, and how much development and integration you need (and how many of these wheels haven’t been implemented yet). And even then, it may not have the features or provable reliability for mission-critical operations.”

6. Thaindian News – Hear your avatar laugh like you on your PC. “It wont be long that your computer avatar will be able to break into laughter or sneeze just like you do after hearing a good joke or under a cold spell, thanks to new software that has the in-built ability to recognise “non-linguistic” sounds, such as laughter, and generate an appropriate facial animation sequence. While animated characters are already “learning” to lip sync when played human speech, the new software could improve the quality of web-based avatars or computer-animated movies.”

7. Times Herald-Record (USA) – IBM customers say data analysis drives new projects. “IBM says small businesses need to take better inventory of their information to help reduce risk and derive more value from their business information. According to a 2008 survey of Big Blue’s customers, risk mitigation and data governance are key drivers of new projects to better track data through the use of metadata, which is information about information.”

8. Management Consultancy (UK) – US accountants live the virtual dream. “US Certified Public Accountants have taken the virtual world Second Life to new levels by holding the Maryland Business and Accounting Expo in it. The two hour workshop allowed the CPA to carry out a continued professional education programme with the second hour featuring a speaker linked up from his office in San Francisco.”

9. Silicon Valley Insider – Google: No Sex in Second Life-Killer Lively. “What’s the difference between Linden Lab’s (SAI 25 #11) Second Life and Lively, the new virtual world announced by Google? How much time do you have? Second Life requires its own software and needs a PC equipped with a high-end graphics card; Lively runs in a Web browser. In Second Life, anyone with a little programming know-how can create anything, which makes the experience “fun”; in Lively, avatars decorate their virtual hangouts with objects from an inventory provided by Google’s (GOOG) engineers and approved developers. If you can meet the hardware requirements, Second Life runs on Windows, Mac, or Linux; so far, Lively only works on Vista and XP. (Look into that, Google.)”

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