ABC versus Telstra visitation – it’s a close thing

With the launch of the ABC and Telstra presences, it’s worth comparing some initial visitation figures. Lindens own ‘ Traffic ‘ monitor is being used for the sake of this discussion – we know it’s reliability can be variable but we took readings from both areas at the same time so it’s at least indicative. I chose the busiest location for each area – the Welcome Area on The Pond and the Sandbox at ABC:

So the ABC experience is giving Telstra a run for their money – it’s not a competition but given the large influx of BigPond users directly into the Telstra area, ABC should be fairly happy with their level of visitation.

Opera House build and upcoming stories

Warda Kawabata is responsible for the Sydney Opera House build on Telstra’s BigPond islands launched a fortnight ago. She has described the build in her blog.

Coming up also in the next few days is an interview with Gary Hazlitt, who oversaw both the Telstra and ABC builds. We also have stories coming up on a couple of smaller Australian businesses as well as news about Australia’s first SL magazine….

Aussie fashion style wins out again

After a couple of weeks of solid coverage of corporate launches in SL, it’s easy to get bogged down in business jargon and sociological debate. It’s great to see that new Australian SL users are registering with their sense of humour well and truly intact. Seen this evening on BigPond Island:

That’s what SL is all about.

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

Caged on Telstra’s Islands

In the ten days that Telstra’s islands have been in operation, I’ve dropped in for fifteen minutes or so each day. As mentioned last week, new users of SL appear to make up the bulk of the island’s explorers.

The issues haven’t changed over time – these users wander around not sure what to do next. When a more experienced user is around and provides advice, the response is appreciative. I’ve given dozens of clothing packs to users wanting something other than Linden’s default garb and provided advice on everything from changing appearance to using the search functionality. I remain suprised at the lack of basic guidance for BigPond SL users and also at the lack of motivation on behalf of some users to go beyond the Telstra Islands. The reason for this is twofold. Firstly, there’s a lack of understanding that there’s anything beyond the Telstra Islands for some users. Secondly, because BigPond users can frequent the Telstra Islands without incurring any bandwidth metering, a proportion of new users are unable to explore further due to being on lower bandwidth plans with BigPond.

BigPond can’t be criticised for making their presence unmetered, but some more guidance for new users wouldn’t go astray.

Four Corners and SL – no risk of rose-coloured glasses

Its been on the public record for a couple of months now that veteran ABC Current Affairs show Four Corners has been working on a Second Life Story. The details are now on the Four Corners site and it seems that Four Corners will adopt their usual style in covering Second Life – unadulterated hard-nosed scepticism and comprehensive backgrounding on key players and events. And that’s exactly as it should be.

At SLOz we’ve always maintained that Second Life contains both riches and pitfalls and you can expect Four Corners to cover both. You can also expect no favours for ABC’s own island in the coverage – at best it will probably get a mention in context of story journalist Ticky Fullerton answering questions in-world after the show. And no, SLOz doesn’t rate a mention as far as we’re aware – so perhaps the story has an intrinsic flaw after all 😉

Thanks to Tateru Nino and SL Insider for the heads-up on the details going live on the ABC site

ABC Island – preview for ABC friends a success

Friday night Australian time, the ABC gave ABC Friends group members the opportunity to preview ABC Island and group members well and truly took the opportunity.

Although there’s some similarities in style with Telstra’s islands, ABC Island is a very different kettle of fish. There’s everything from ABC Science, Triple J and an Indigenous experience. The multiple video screens dotted around the island allow for viewing of ABC shows such as Four Corners and The Chaser’s War on Everything. The Unearthed Club contains an underwater dance-floor which is something a little different.

ABC Managing Director Mark Scott is on record as being excited about the ABC Island project and although he refuses to release the name of his avatar, he was present at the preview.

Some more shots of the island:




As always we’re interested in hearing your thoughts – how does ABC Island grab you, how does it compare to Telstra’s offering, what would you like to see offered in the future? For the record, at SLOz we suggested a performance venue that was a replica of the Countdown set. It seems our collective age was showing 😉

Looking for Telstra Bigpond’s Islands?

One of the criticisms that has been levelled at SL has been the way in which the search function works. This is frustratingly true for those of us trying to find Telstra’s Bigpond presence.

Most people will do the obvious thing and just type in Telstra or Bigpond in the search window. Note that the default tab is “All”. This is one of the main problems with the search function. If you choose the other tabs you need to type in your search all over again.

Most people would assume that the “All” tab means just that, all categories are searched and results posted, in some cases you find what you want in others, as above, you have a zero result.

In the BigPond Islands example, a search of “All” is not very successful at all:

However, if you select the “Places” tab and retype your query you will find that not only is BigPond easily located, but all the sub-sections and islands are listed:

So the moral of the story is to try and use a variety of queries and tabs when searching for a specific area. It may take a while but you may just find what you’re looking for.

Virtual Television hits SL – and it’s Australian

Today we received a press release touting the launch of SLCN – Second Life Cable Network. The founder and technical dorector of SLCN is Australian Gary Wisniewski.

“What is really exciting about the broadcast is that it will be streamed onto the web live at the same time as the event is taking place in-world. This means that for the very first time, people can view in-world events without needing to be there themselves”, says Wisniewski.

The first SLCN telecast will be this Wednesday, March 15th at 7pm (SL Time), when SLCN presents it’s first live telecast. The broadcast will be live from the Hoe Down Under – Texas’ Aussie Music BBQ where Australian bands and performers will stage a virtual concert, sponsored by AUSTRADE’s Australian Music Office in Los Angeles, as an adjunct to the real Australian Music BBQ in Austin Texas as part of the SXSW Music and Media Conference 2007.

The SLCN broadcast will be filming the performances, interviews and surrounding activities on the day and can be viewed on various screens around Second Life as well as onto the SLCN website (not live at time of writing).

Wisniewski claims the system also overcomes the issue of maximum avatars in one sim – once events get really popular there is the ability to spill over crowds into other sims where they can at least watch a multi-camera shoot of the live entertainment.

Telstra bringing a population boom?

Since Telstra’s launch on Friday, I’ve spent around 30 minutes on half a dozen occasions, at a central point on one of the Telstra Islands. The time spent has been well and truly worth it, as it has demonstrated the power of a corporate Australian presence in SL.

BigPond are promoting their Second Life presence on their front page. Any BigPond members who sign-up via that page start out at Telstra’s own Orientation Island ( a SL feature described by Logan Linden during our interview with him). All of these new SL users end up at the Telstra Islands. Over the weekend the influx of Australian SL users has been incredible – I don’t have numbers but each time I’ve been there, dozens of new people have arrived within minutes of each other.

This leads to a second point: all these new people are lost. They wander around like most of us did initially, wondering what to do next. The difference is, there’s a real sense that people aren’t quite aware that there’s a lot more to SL than the Telstra Islands. Each time I interacted with a new user I’d get questions like ‘so what’s good to look at around here?’. I’d give some suggestions and off they’d wander, coming back later on having wandered around the islands but not having teleported anywhere else. It’ll be interesting to see how many Telstra sign-ups remain longer term users.

Overall my perception of the first few days of operation is that older SL users see the Telstra Islands as an interesting new development mixed with a healthy scepticism around the reasons Telstra has launched in-world. And a corporate presence like this is a magnet for protest although nothing organised has occurred to date. I did however see one member of the Second Life Liberation Army taking a tour…..

Again. we’d love to hear your thoughts on Australia’s largest corporate presence – good, bad or indifferent.

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