Friday, August 18, 2006

Two thumbs up for the BlogHUD

As the population of SL has exploded at a rate of 15% per month, so have the incredible number of things to see and do. I never got a handle on most of the places when I joined in 2005, and now a year on I feel like every time I go into the world I'm faced with the same paralysis I get when staring at the ridiculous number of shampoo products available on the pharmacy shelf. I just don't know where to start, so often I just give up and leave.

Enter BlogHUD. Doctoe Schnook recently gave me a copy. It is an inspired application.

Users wear it in the virtual world and when they come across something they think people might find interesting, they type /9 and a description. Each entry can be categorised into five channels (e.g., shop, event). This text goes to, where other people can browse without needing to enter the application. If they fancy something they see, they can click on the post and shazam, they're in the world, at the place. Superb.

Of course because it's social software, it's like a Craigslist for a non-existent (please, no philosophy) place. Some users develop reputations for knowing about certain things and, I would argue, their input becomes more valuable to the readers, say, someone who's just posted once. This needs to develop over time. At the minute, it feels like a happy socialism, where everything listed can be of potential interest.

Further, it's an excellent way to keep up to date with the sheer mountain of useful, utterly unnecessary and worthy things in SL. Put the feed into your RSS reader and you'll never be lost something to do in SL again.

One thing I would really like to see implemented is a comments section. I'd like to be able to contribute to ongoing debates, to offer pointers and directions, and to receive feedback for questions I have in the world.

Hear hear to Koz Farina for devising such a fantastic integrated system - one which this crazy world really needs.

Linden Bears

I feel like I've been living under a virtual rock for the year and a bit I've been in Second Life. Every time I enter this brave new world, I discover new things I'd never known before. Yesterday evening, in a Skype call with Lys Ware, I discovered Linden Bears.

These little fellas are artifacts of the rite of passage for anyone ascending to the Linden core. Apparently, each new Linden must create a "bear" (literally, a bear) which s/he gives to anyone who asks. I did a quick search while on the call for "linden + Bear" and discovered that there's a whole world of pokemon-like collection and trade going on in one of the many subcultures that litter this digital planet.

From Torley's blog:
The whole "Linden bear" thing dates back awhile, when Nicole Linden brainstormed it and many Lindens ended up participating. Goodwill to Residents via collectible cuteness

I went to a place which was listed as a Linden Bear Museum in Second Life, but it was up for sale as mall property (oh the inevitible march of capitalism through our digital utopia). I found only one place willing to sell - yes, sell - the bears (doesn't this defeat the purpose?) and I took a snap.

I find the collectables culture very interesting. In many ways, this is a representation of the rares-collecting culture in goal-based virtual worlds. Ownership suggests status, of a conceptual closensess to a core. I wonder if there are any linden bears for sale on ebay... ;)

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Data collection update - we've broken the 3K mark!

I'm VERY pleased with how the Residents of Second Life have respondent to my call for participation in the SL Social Network survey (location correct as of today, but the Social Science Research Lab will be moving shortly. I will update as events transpire). To date, I have over 3,000 avatars in the Second Life social network. Thanks very much to everyone who's contributed so far!

If I contact you in-world, that means that one (or more) of the people who have responded have listed you as a friend. It would truly benefit this research if you could contribute too!

By responding to the survey, your details will add to the measures we're using to assess the robustness of the social relationships in SL, and I'll be able to make new connections between people, based upon how you broker interpersonal ties.

Thanks again to everyone who's helped. We've broken the 3K mark!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

New Woman magazine looking for ladies in Second Life

This just in:

New Woman Magazine is looking for ladies who live in Second Life. From the blurb:

Has being on Second Life changed your real life? If you are between 20 - 35, female, live in the UK and hooked on Second Life - we want to hear from you. Maybe you met your real life partner through Second Life, or you've realised your ultimate dream in Second Life which has now spilled over into your real life, or maybe you are having an illicit affair in Second Life, unbeknown to your real life partner...

If this sounds like you, or someone you might know, please send your photo, including your name, age and where you live to

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

SL shutting forum doors

What a decision - Linden Lab are shutting down the most direct pipeline between Second Life Residents and the top brass, and are snipping the communication cords between members of SL communities. Adios the forums.

Robin /Linden/Harper's announcement does come as a surprise. The rationale, as she presents it, is thus:
Near Term Changes
In about a month we’ll be shutting down the following forums: “Bulletin Board”, “General Topics”, “The Sandbox”, “Land and Economy” and “In-world Political Science”. We’ll leave them as ‘read only’ so they can be searched for history.

In subsequent months we’ll continue to close Linden forums, including:

* Announcements along with Press and Events, both of which will be replaced by the Linden blog,
* Known Issues & Development Updates to be replaced by Support > Known Issues, and
* References and Policies, to be replaced by the knowledge base as it is expanded

Long Term Changes

* The knowledge base and blog will take on some of the responsibilities of many of the feedback and content creation forums.
* The Classifieds will be closed in favor of Resident advertising and portal sites such as those listed on, the In-World Classifieds (which can also be found on the website).
* Inactive group sites have been culled as time goes by; we expect groups will have better asynchronous communication options within Second Life with the release of v1.12, so the groups forums will be closed within the next three months.

Are these measures enough to keep the dialogue open?

Monday, August 14, 2006

Virtual identity stress

I'm intrigued by the ever-expanding interest in Second Life. I gave a talk at Interesource with Jo Twist last week and it seems that our gushing prosthelitizing may have met with a positive response.

And then, I read about SL at TrustedReviews via Toby:
How about these for interesting statistics – the percentages are research findings, the hard numbers are factored up to the working population as a whole:

- 16 million (64%) of employees don’t believe in what their company stands for
- 15 million (58%) change something about themselves to adapt
- 5 million (20%) change their appearance significantly
- 3.5 million (14%) have modified their accent
- 1.5 million (6%) have concealed their religious identity
- 1 in 50 hide their true sexual orientation

It might not be a surprise, then, that the survey suggests almost one in three workers (30%) feel dissatisfied at work and almost 20 per cent are looking to move jobs.

The survey suggests that the ‘identity stressed’ take their troubles home with them. We are talking about things like low self esteem, poor sleep patterns, poor social life and generally low confidence levels.

Maybe, and this is my pop psychology effort, so forgive me if you disagree, but maybe this is all part of the reason for our increasing interest in online communities.

...Maybe Second Life doesn’t use the phrase ‘Escape your identity stress’, but the inference is certainly there.

Virtual identity stress. I don't want any of that. I have enough in my offline life to bring more upon me in online space.

But I expect that Mynci Gorky, my virtual persona, demonstrates at least a few of my stress-related offline tics. I don't see SL as a separate life, regardless of the name of it. It is an extension of my offline self. I'm not alone. Rutter and Smith (1999) argue (via Postmes and Baym, 2005) that people use the internet to "extend and enrich" their lives.