Merged realities – events and issues for virtual worlds

1.  Daden in the UK have released a paper – ‘The Future of Virtual Worlds”, which puts forward some interesting forecasts and issues. I disagree with some of the timelines in particular (I think forecasting out to 2050 for anything is at best fanciful) but it’s certainly a document that could start some useful debates. You can download it here.

2. Composer and conductor Eric Whitacre is making his first foray into Second Life on Tonight Live with Paisley Beebe at 8am on December 5th SL time. As an aside, he’s trying to get 900 people worldwide to form a virtual choir – details here. You have until the 31st December so get cracking.

3. The beta version of Viewer 2.4 for Second Life is now available . Features include an auto-updater, improved preferences menu, graphics improvements and the ability to do scripting in an external text editor.

4. Expat Aussie and ex-Linden Labber Chris Collins has released Canvas, a lo-fi ‘Second Life in a web browser’ offering. Some screen shots and comments from Chris over at NWN.

5. It’s nearly a month old now, but this post by Edward Castranova on the role of virtual worlds and the (mostly) worldwide recession are well worth a read.

Linden Lab: standalone servers soon

AVWW 2008 continues (a wrap-up of Day 1 will appear soon), with some superb presentations and discussion.

This morning I attended the presentation by Linden Lab’s Chris Collins, who gave an interesting overview of Linden Lab’s approach and future plans. Two standouts for me were:

1. The 2009 beta of a standalone Second Life grid – this, like the OpenSim platform, will allow users to run their own grid. Expect to hear more on the beta program in the very near future.

2. When asked on the delay in Australian Second Life servers, there was an admission that the ‘real soon now’ of 18-months ago had stretched considerably, with no commitment given on when, if ever, this may occur.

The standalone servers will provide a great opportunity for Australians in addition to current offerings like Openlife. Once further work is done on being able to move between grids, Australia may actually have a higher performance option than currently exists.

More on AVWW presentations soon – if you have the chance today, jump into the Second Life AVWW sessions for some fascinating insights.

Chris Collins redux – some things haven’t changed

A little over a year ago we interviewed expatriate Aussie and senior Linden Lab employee, Chris Collins.

TechCrunch’s Duncan Riley did an an interview with Collins in November 2007, and now Brad Howarth has done so in the Sydney Morning Herald / Age.

Chris is an affable guy. He’s also a guy who said in May 2007 that Australian-based Second Life servers would occur “real soon now”. That’s a promise a lot of people are still waiting on to be fulfilled.

Wrap-up of AIMIA NSW Intimates: The Future of Virtual Worlds

On Tuesday evening the AIMIA “Future of Virtual Worlds” (Part 2) was held at the The Shelbourne Hotel in Sydney. Over 60 people attended from a variety of business, government and technology groups – either the first time or to find out more about SL.

The wide variety of community representation meant the panellists; Chris Collins (Business Analyst and Developer, Linden Lab), Abigail Thomas (Head Strategic Development, ABC Innovation) and Nick Abrahams (Partner, Deacons’ Technology, Media & Telecommunications Group) had an attentive and questioning audience during the panel discussion that followed their respective presentations.

The technological development’s indicated by Chris in regard to the “look” of SL through new sky rendering along with “Spatial Voice” heralds some important changes to the way poeple interact in SL. The “Spatial Voice” innovation alone should see some changes to both demographic use and the interactions of SL residents provided bandwidth issues can be resolved. to this end Chris indicated that Australia can expect a hosted server “real soon now”.

Abigail Thomas’ presentation on the success and development of ABC island was likewise well received. The island itself ranks as one of the top Australian visitation sites across SL. Abigail explained that the development of content by SL residents in the ABC Sandbox area was the most popular of the areas curently being used, moreso than the other areas that have been set up to reflect various ABC popular shows such as JTV.

(L to R: Nick Abrahams, Chris Collins and Abigail Thomas)

A highlight of the night was Nick Abrahams. An exploration into the legal ramifications of ownership, activity, authority and jurisdiction, his entertaining look at SL and the law was indicative of how virtual world technology is both a pioneering area in technology, opportunity and behaviour. He covered the recent sex and child protection issues as well as gambling and money laundering and it seems fairly apparent that the concept of SL as a game is well and truly over. With the impending regulation from world-wide authorities to curtail illegal activities, the problems of jurisdiction and legal liability is one that this technology has now pushed to the fore of policy discussions for governments.

Nick Abrahams was positive in his view of the direction that this would take and indicated to the audience that perhaps the nature of SL and its technological development in concert with regulatory authorities, would mean that those wanting to take part in illegal activities may find this difficult due to the nature of the community that SL is inspiring and the globalisation of communication.

Tuesday’s event was moderated by SLOz’ very own Lowell Cremorne. AIMIA’s first venture into conducting this kind of information gathering over a series of presentations and panel discussions was a positive for both SL and the many people that attended. Whilst there may have been some present not too sure what it actually is all about, there is a definite interest in wanting to be part of SL.

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