Merged realities – events and issues for virtual worlds

Playing a little catch-up after a hectic few weeks. Here’s some highlights from around the industry over that time:

1. Following up from her February interview with Linden Lab CEO Rod Humble, Tateru Nino has a great chat with Mr Humble on Second Life’s usability.

2. We’ve written extensively on the University of Western Australia’s dynamic presence in Second Life. Here’s why the person who has driven most of that momentum thinks it’s one of the most important things he has done.

3, Daden UK have developed a virtual world finder aimed at businesses navigating the confusing array of platforms on offer.

4. Australian virtual world for kids, eKidna, keeps plugging away growing its market share if the regular promotions are anything to go by. Have a look at their work if you haven’t already.

5. Terra Nova asks: why aren’t there more sex games / virtual worlds for kids and teens?

6. Duran Duran are up and away in Second Life. Check it out for yourself here. I spent 30 mins or so wandering around the island and it’s a well fleshed out build, lots of fun. More pics below:

Merged realities – events and issues for virtual worlds

Sexy Avatar from Koinup1. Linden Lab have started providing more illustrations of the potential uses of the new Shared Media functionality that was rolled out this week with Viewer 2. More of our thoughts on Viewer 2 in coming days, but one small pocket of resistance appears to be coming from SL musicians, as the new search functionality as it currently stands is impacting the ease with which people can find live music events. Grace McDunnough has a good sum-up on the issue here.

2. Want to help fund entrepreneurs in developing companies while scoring something for yourself? Why not buy an Avatar Dog t-shirt or download our discussion paper on policy agenda-setting and virtual worlds!

3. The response to the Second Lie column has been forceful: people love his sense of humour. If you have a question about pretty much anything Second Life, why not ask Second Lie to shine a light into the darkness for you? Every column generates money for the SL Relay for Life too.

4. Picture and machinima hub, Koinup, have announced they are offering mobile phone wallpapers via Nokia’s Ovi Store.

5. Back in 2008 we mentioned a University of Sydney student was completing research on journalism and Second Life. That research is now available here. It appears to be a very readable and balanced piece of scholarship. The abstract:

This thesis analyses the interaction of journalism and governance in the virtual world Second Life. It examines the structure, practices and influence of journalism in Second Life and explores the nature and communicative aspects of governance in this virtual world. As virtual worlds attract growing numbers of subscribers and social interaction increasingly moves towards the online environment, it is crucial to understand the practices and conventions which structure human interaction in these spaces.

To explore these concerns, a close critical analysis of Second Life was conducted, based upon academic literature, interviews and a content analysis. Eight interviews with significant journalists in Second Life were conducted and a content analysis of thirteen publications was undertaken. Yochai Benkler’s theory of social production provides a theoretical base which frames the nature of Second Life as participatory, collaborative and networked, and defines the relationship between media and governance using the concept of a networked public sphere.

Practices of journalism in Second Life display a combination of traditional, professional, gatewatching and participatory, networked, gatekeeping characteristics, and it perform numerous roles in mediating communication. Second Life publications facilitate active and abundant conversation between residents, facilitating a networked public sphere. Linden Lab uses a variety of strategies to communicate governance discourses to users. Despite the similarity between normative and Second Life journalism, it has a negligible influence over the structure and direction of governance.
The disconnect between journalism and governance in Second Life raises questions about individual freedom and collaborative production in virtual worlds, challenging existing understandings of online interactions.

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