A new government’s genesis viewed from Second Life

ABC Island played host to an election night party, with lots of chat about unfolding events in the real world. The ‘Australians’ group in SL was also buzzing with a running commentary.


It’d be an understatement to say those gathered on ABC island and the group chat were pro-Kevin Rudd:


Numerous comments were expressed in regard to the ALP’s broadband policy and its impacts on the SL experience. There was plain old partying.


As one party-goer said, “I just wanted to be with some Aussies at this historical moment”. There’s been no involvement by Australian political parties in Second Life to date – my prediction is that by next election there’ll be a marked presence by at least one party in the virtual world sphere.

Simon’s community approach

One Australian Second Life resident I’ve met in recent months is Simon Kline. Simon is a very active resident and his approach is one that has made an impact on quite a few others. Essentially, Simon loves creating things for the benefit of the wider SL community. He’s created a great notecard of Australian locations in SL that you may have seen and he’s a regular attendee at ABC Island events.

In conversation a few months back I mentioned to Simon that the available in-world RSS readers didn’t meet my needs and/or were very expensive. Simon mentioned he’d been thinking about creating something like that, and create it he did:


Simon’s happy to see his creations used to help the Aussie SL community and as one of the beneficiaries of his community spirit, SLOz salutes him.

Check out Simon’s work in-world

Librarians Forum another successful ABC Island event

As mentioned previously, the new comedy on ABC, The Librarians was the impetus for a forum held on the Melbourne Laneways section of ABC Island. The build itself featured aspects of the TV show, utilising one of the Laneways buildings previously unused.


More than thirty people attended, including a respectable cohort of librarians. There was some interesting discussion of library stereotypes and fairly general agreement that another successful Australian comedy has been born.

‘Librarians’ tie-in on ABC Island this Thursday

Australian made comedy The Librarians makes it debut this week and there’s a tie-in event scheduled on the Melbourne Laneways section of ABC Island.


The full info from the notecard I received:

“DATE: Thursday November 1st

TIME: 7:30pm AEDT, 5:30pm (WA) 1:30am SL time (PDT)

The Librarians, is a new six-part comedy series from ABC TV, based around the highly-strung head librarian of an outer suburban Melbourne library.

This new social satire premieres on Wednesday October 31 at 9.30pm AEDT. Or if you can’t watch it live, you can view it online at http://abc.net.au/tv/librarians/from 10:00pm.

Then on Thursday night, in conjunction with the ALIA, Emerald Dumont – a librarian avatar from the Australian Libraries Building – will host a discussion.”

Thursday’s Fictions Q&A a success

This afternoon, the ABC Island Ampitheatre played host to the Q&A session following the ABC TV screening of Thursday’s Fictions.


The panel consisted of Dr Richard James Allen , Dr Karen Pearlman, Gary Hayes and Story Consultant Jacqueline Turnure and the discussion was moderated by Christy Dena and audio streamed. Around twenty-five people sat in-world on the discussion with lots of questions around the translation of the story into SL, the collaborative process that allowed the project to succeed and the potential for such projects to increase the engagement of the wider community with SL as an entertainment medium.


Check out Thursday’s Fictions in-world

(For more pictures: go here).

Party time for ABC’s 75th Anniversary

A bunch of Australian SL users organised a party on ABC Island as an impromptu celebration of the ABC’s 75th anniversary:



Stalwart ABC Admin Wolfie Rankin was a key organiser, helped out by a number of other active community members.

Linden Lab offer resource directory

Linden Labs have announced the aggregation of a range of directories into a Resident Resources database. Any SL resident can submit information on a tool or service they’ve created, but it will cost you L$250 per category you list in. Allow up to five business days for your listing to be approved. It’s good to see the community side of things actually expanding a little since the reduction of SL forum options.

Interview – the SLCN TV Team – Part 2

We finish up our Q&A with the effusive SLCN TV team with a discussion on SL competitors and what’s inspirational about SL. Part 1 of the interview can be found here


Lowell: So what do you see as the biggest challenges for the SL platform in the coming 12 months?

Starr: Living up to the inflated expectation of the broader population as they realise what cool fun they are missing out on… and leap in without true commitment to it.

Wiz: The biggest challenge for Linden Labs is to stay focused on their mission. I believe they have done a remarkable job doing that already. In fact, I am stunned at how focused they have been despite what must be an enormous industry distraction.

Starr: And all the other scandals and crisis’ happening… they have become masters of the universe, and hey, that’s a busy job.

Lowell: What are your thoughts on potential competitors like Project Outback?

Wiz: The “secret” that makes Second Life work is the economy and the intellectual property model. Many people, like Project Outback, have the mistaken impression that “it’s about technology”, but it’s not. It’s about people and their possessions and their world. That is the challenge for any competitor, and Linden Labs won’t have too much to worry about until somebody undertands how to quickly escalate the creation of a vibrant virtual society.

Starr: Peer to peer is an exciting thing and if virtual worlds can run as smoothly as the full screen video for Joost, then a p2p system sounds great…. but I agree with Wiz, the challenge will be filling it with interesting people and things, because that is going to win over a better resolution suntan.

Lowell: But you’d agree that if a competitor manages to create a vibrant community whilst offering much larger concurrency per area that they’re likely to cause some concern for SL?

Wiz: True, technology supports such a society, and makes it possible. But, when you look at SL, it’s amazing the “trivial” features related to ownership, IP, permissions, that, if missing, would cause the economy to collapse. There are fundamental problems with “larger concurrency per area” that are not easy for anyone to solve. For example, no matter how much money and technology you throw at it, there is a limit to how many people you can throw into a phone booth. There are limits, based upon graphic complexity and “activity on your screen” to how many people you can actually manage in one space. I think the “limits per area”, while too low now, are not a “make or break” feature for competing with Linden Labs.

Lowell: True – but whether it’s SL or a competitor, being able to have more than 100 people in an area is likely to be an attractive proposition.

Wiz: I think the biggest “competitor” will come from those who have the vision to embrace the LL open source viewer, and create stunning and usable alternative grids. It’s a lot like the web. Embracing HTTP as a standard was essential. For virtual worlds we need a standard. and the LL open source viewer is light years ahead of any other attempt.

Lowell: Do you think that SL’s dominance now makes it likely to remain that way?

Wiz: Standards-based virtual worlds are the “holy grail” that will cause adoption to spread like lightning.

Lowell: And open source is much more likely to deliver that. Is SLCN set up to service other virtual worlds?

Wiz: Well, a STANDARD will deliver that. There is nothing even remotely close to a standard. There is the second life open source viewer in first place. Second place? Nobody. SLCN can provide virtual coverage of any virtual world. In fact, we sort of joke about the “Second Life Cable Network” name and figure that some day people will say …. “SLCN, what does that stand for?” and have no idea

Lowell: Have you done any non-SL virtual work to date?

Wiz: We don’t see any other virtual worlds as even marginally important right now.

Lowell: Why is that?

Wiz: No other virtual world allows content creation even close to what SL offers. Content creation is what CREATES people’s virtual identity, otherwise they are just “going to a virtual movie” and have no participation. People’s stories are derived from their participation. We will wait and see whether other environments accomplish that and will not hesitate to cover such worlds when they do. Sure there are “niche worlds” like World of Warcraft and we are considering whether WoW “events and news” may be potentially interesting, but that is, in my opinion (you may think me crazy) a small market.

Lowell: I think you MAY be crazy on it being a small market.

Wiz: WoW isn’t a small market…. the WoW market who ALSO will watch a virtual TV show is a small market.

Lowell: But I’d imagine the huge cohort of heavy users would jump at a virtual TV show on WoW – nothing to back that up of course.

Starr: Well there was that WoW clip on Youtube that got squillions of hits about the funeral massacre. Not wanting to contradict you Wiz! hehe

Wiz: %population-who-gets-curious-when-they-hear-the-words-second-life > %population-who-gets-curious-when-they-hear-worlds-of-warcraft …. quickest summary I can give

Starr: I think that a lot of SL users where users of the Sims online and other virtual worlds and they are looking for the next level of sophistication, which SL offers. People love the making, the selling and the interactions

Lowell: So linking to that – what events / areas in SL have excited you the most?

Texas: I’m inspired by some of the people we have met in SL. The patience and time they have shown us from day one have just blown me away. These people are creative with their imaginations, their time and their hearts.

Wiz: You’ll laugh when i say this, but somehow, SLCN has a “mind expanding” effect on people. I am very excited when I see that effect. For example…people who have been working hard to build “something they find important” in Second Life, they work, they amass friends, they blog about it, they love it. Then, they participate in an event where their “loved thing” is brodcast on SLCN, in-world maybe, to other sims, or archived so tht experience is “captured” so they can tell their story better with pictures. It opens their minds to new possiibilities, the world seems bigger. Suddenly what seemed SO hard seems easier because they can share the experience with others not in-world. The Best Practices educators were the best example of that, and I am inspired by every one of them.

Starr: I get inspired by seeing people jump up and perform when the camera on them, just like in real life. People have such avvie-empathy, they want to be up on the big screen as much as the next avvie. I do think media plays an important role in-world like it does “out” here.

Wiz: Absolutely. One analogy I make alot is that Second Life is like a “new country” being born. It needs a cable network to document what happens, to tell the story, to share it. It seems obvious to me.

Interview – the SLCN TV Team – Part 1

SLCN TV are SL’s only native cable TV offering and they’re Australian to boot. Wiz Nordberg (Gary Wisniewski), Starr Sonic (Keren Flavell) and Texas Timtam (Grace Roberts) agreed to an in-depth chat and here’s part one:

Lowell: Could you give a potted history of how the three of you decided to put SLCN together.

Wiz: Well, it really started with us doing the Aussie Music Party back in March with Austrade. In our “prior lives”, Texas and I were responsible for some of the largest music webcasts ever in australia, did BDO four years in a row for Telstra, Tropfest, the Mushroom 25th concert…. all were very big budget things – over 30 crew on the M25 concert, so we were used to doing “webcasts like television”. The moment Texas decided to do the music party, the obvious thing to me was that it should be “televised on the web”.

Wiz Nordberg

Lowell: So SL-based events were an obvious complement given your RL experience?

Wiz: In April or so, we did some prototype work, and then I set up this screen in SL at a friends place and the three of them (SL friends from the USA) were almost transfixed by what they saw…. they were dancing and looking at themselves on the screen going “omg look, we’re on TV!”. That night, i registered secondlifecable.com.

Lowell: That’s probably a good point to ask if you can easily summarise how you make SLCN work technically.

Wiz: Almost exactly like a RL television station does a RL O.B (Outside Broadcast). If you ever watch “on location news”, there’s a van, with vision mixers, scan converters, etc. We use the same kind of equipment and don’t use any of the SL machinima tools.

Lowell: Well, for SLOz readers who don’t have TV industry experience – roughly how are things set up? It’s all third party non-SL tools?

Wiz: We use camera machines, connected to scan converters (a high quality way to capture the motion), then hook it up to a vision mixer, which has super and chromakey capability, as well as title super capability, so one person sits at the “vision desk” switching from camera to camera, and we have camera operators…. also audio mixdown for various sources. It’s frighteningly conventional. In fact, if instead of SL cameras we just had two DV cameras, our results would look a lot like what you see on CNN or Channel 7 using the same kind of equipment.

Starr: The set up has a lot to do with the live production requirements and we have learned to apply traditional film making methology but also working within the constraints of being in a virtual world.

Wiz: Right, there are LOTS of little tweaks in production to deal with the fact that the people “in the show” aren’t in the same room most of the time

Texas: And of course we have to also manage getting voice into SL

Starr: Also the actors are in two places – the operator and the audio content, they have to mesh together and that is a challenge! You think downloading a new client is a challenge hehe.

Lowell: So how do you synch sound etc and what applications do you use?

Wiz: We built a system called Soundreach which is our own design. It’s what Bruce Willis used to speak into Second Life, as well as almost all the voice you hear on any of our shows.

Starr: It’s a bit matrix like when you think about it :0)

Starr Sonic

Lowell: Can you easily summarise what Soundreach does?

Wiz: It’s a telephone-to-mixing-desk-to-Second-Life bridge which allows us both to get a split of the sound to our mixing desk, as well as feed the sound into Second Life from regular telephones. People use it inworld now independently of SLCN.

Starr: It worked for Frank Miller to call in

Texas: It makes the production of talk shows and interview news vox pops really much more like RL TV.

Lowell: So for example in the Bruce Willis gig you had him via phone through your mixing desk then into SL

Wiz: Well, it’s more like this…

Starr: We barely thought he was going to cope with dialling a number on a telephone and were working out how we could call him with the system!

Wiz: Bruce (and others) use land lines -> servers in the USA -> part goes directly in-world as an audio stream -> part feeds remotely to our mixing desk. The mixing desk is actually optional. You can call a Soundreach number and “hook it up” to a land parcel independently of our mixing desk and SLCN studio.

Lowell: So hookup to the parcel occurs normally via the parcel options you enter the streaming address etc?

Wiz: Yep. At its simplest, Soundreach is a telephone -> shoutcast technology, except there is some audio processing and splitting in the middle to allow things like SLCN to get a feed directly

Lowell: The implementation of voice in SL will change the face of things – how’s it going to help and/or impede what you’re trying to achieve?

Wiz: Well, it will help A LOT if it is adopted widely by Second Lifers. We are VERY much looking forward to it

Lowell: What do you think will prevent widespread adoption – lag etc?

Wiz: Providing the technology “works” (which I believe it will), the two factors which will prevent adoption is psychology and the inability of people to actually get their computers to use a microphone and headphones properly (which is not to be underestimated). There is of course a lot of controversy about voice

Lowell: What do you believe is causing controversy?

Wiz: The nature of “having a virtual self” for many people includes changing the way they are perceived, or “remaking themselves” in a more idealised way. Voice is a very big giveaway about ones personality without even worrying about the cross-gender issues. I know myself that i am perceived VERY differently inworld without voice than I am when I speak to people.

Lowell: Very true – though I’m expecting pitch-shifting apps are already in development for SL use.

Starr: I think that socialisation into the land of voice is going to be a rocky one. There has been a certain peacefulness about being in-world that is going to change… I was in the voice beta yesterday and hung out with about 8 people.. and you are essentially talking over each other the whole time. A group needs to be well coordinated to communicate easily. So we all have a lot to learn before it becomes graceful.

Wiz: I hope that, for the most part, people overcome their hesitancy and voice enjoys widespread use. We would love to simply “walk up to somebody on the street” and do a great interview.

Lowell: That’s an obvious application for voice for sure – if you could do a vox pop tomorrow in SL, who would you choose?

Starr: The only trick is that you need to have lined up the interviewees, because it does take a bit of tweaking to get someone online with us as everyone has a different set-up. Thats not a technical issue, its more about the end person, have they got access to a phone sometimes

Lowell: True – so who would you choose for your spontaneous first vox pop?

Wiz: I heard that question the first time LOL. I don’t actually have an answer. I think the person with the most interesting story may not be famous, or anybody who I know now. You have to search for people who have something to say, and the best vox pops are from people who are in the middle of something important or have an intersting story to tell. So i can’t actually say who it would be, or where.

Texas Timtam

Lowell: A different tack now – how have you found the reaction of RL businesses and individuals to your work in SL?

Wiz: Frankly, we have been blown away by what people have been saying.

Starr: Well we fondly remember when we were at the 14 Cows exhibition and we got a shout out WELCOME SLCN

Wiz: In probably more than half of the comments on blogs and other places, the words SLCN are accompanied by adjectives like “amazing”. I’m not sure how much credit we can take for any “innovation”. I think a lot of people are simply not expecting it. One thing we do which is different is we are very dedicated to being a TV network FOR SECOND LIFERS. We are trying to seek out things which matter to virtual people, in their virtual spaces.

Starr: The organisers of the Best Practises in Education conference loved us

Wiz: If you look at 90% of our content, it had a big impact on the people who participated. That’s why so many people have made such positive comments.

Lowell: I’m also thinking of people who don’t have exposure to SL at all – how do you explain what you do? It also links to any plans you may have for growth – is it still difficult to convince potential investors on the role virtual worlds may play in the future?

Starr: The only way to explain is to show.

Lowell: Agree – but a lot of people when you first show them just see it as ‘The Sims’ – how do you overcome that initial scepticism?

Wiz: We don’t have to do much convincing. there are ten thousand intelligent people at least out there preaching, educating, showing the world. it will happen, and people will be convinced. It is inevitable

Starr: We showed the producers of Die Hard how a virtual press conference is staged, through a live stream directly from the event taking place inside Second Life where where most of them would not be a SL resident.

Wiz: I think there is an “ah-ha” experience that happens when people engage in Second Life. It doesn’t happen for everybody, but it happens for enough people that the skepticism will dissolve over the next year or two.

Starr: The same thing happened with the world wide web.

Wiz: Virual Bacon, at the “best practices”, he did an entire session on “how to convince people that second life is a good idea”. His conclusion, after a LONG time applying methodical approaches was that you CANNOT convince people. The only way they will be convinced is to experience it.

Lowell: So what is the plan for SLCN in coming months?

Starr: We have several shows lined up to roll out over the next month. These include talk shows, sports shows, a book show and a regular SLCN feature series called The Inside View

Lowell: In regard to Inside View can you explain its format?

Starr: It will be a show revealing issues relevant to the people in SL, a dig under the covers to find out what is going on. Around half hour length and airing on Sunday evenings.

Lowell: So almost a current affairs show?

Wiz: I suppose the model for “The Inside View” is shows like 60 Minutes, except with a bit more “leeway”.

Starr: Yes, with a bit more of a foreign correspondent feel.

Wiz: We want to not just report on someting as “here are the facts”, but rather get into a discussion with people about something very relevant in Second Life, things such as voice, how brands are affecting them. Always with a total 100% focus on the “virtual person” and their changing experiences

Starr: Wiz will do the introduction to each show…. then it will feature guest speakers and look into the many spaces of Second Life to show what is happening.

Wiz: We also have 1 show currently readying for production (tonight live with paisley beebe) as well as a news show about to be signed and are in final negotations with 2 other shows which will probably go into production. plus we are talking to at least 10 to 15 “interested parties” and working with them to get to the “final negotiation” stage.

Lowell: Are you getting many approaches from current or potential brands in SL hoping for some free promo? i.e. are you being treated like RL media by PR people yet?

Starr: Many people are submitting their events for inclusion in That S’Life, which is great.

Wiz: Hmmm, having never been RL media, it is hard to know how they are treated

Starr: Some businesses are starting to get machinima ads made and we are going to start playing some of those as part of our programming

Lowell: So there’s obviously a lot of interest etc – is SLCN a business model that’s making its existence independently viable in a financial sense?

Wiz: This is our job. It’s not a pasttime. Making it financially viable is essential, not optiona.l

Lowell: And are you achieving that goal?

Wiz: No way, not yet. we are at a very early stage and we are investing a lot of time and a lot of money. In fact, we have been hesitant to have “fake advertising” which we “give away” to people just to have advertisers

Lowell: Is SLCN the sort of business that may need external investment to get where it needs to go?

Wiz: We are going to be pitching to several investors over the next months. but we actually have put enough personal money (and money from our other businesses) into this to keep growing and producing show. When we pass the “8 regular shows per week” mark we will probably require some additional facilities, and we’re planning on that.

Lowell: So is it likely you’re going to need more people on your team? Should aussie SL’ers start polishing their CV’s?

Wiz: It is VERY likely

Lowell: If there were readers who wanted to let you know about their skills, how should they do it?

Wiz: info AT slcn.tv. Seriously, I think it is amazing that we have been able to get to the TOP of even a niche US market, with good industry recognition, without really ever leaving South Melbourne.

The Combined Artisans Guild

As mentioned last week, the concept of an Artisans Guild had been put forward. It is now a reality with an invitation-only group created:


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