Podcasting Live in Second Life

SL_001 Just when I thought it could never happen, Dave and Mike have enticed me back into Second Life, this time to record an episode of our Extraordinary Everyday Lives Show from Second Life.  Please accept this invitation to join us at 10:00 PM, central time (8:00 PM SL time), Wednesday, December 19.  Dave has more details.

Here’s the SLURL for the location.  Come by and participate, or just watch.  It’s up to you.

As I have noted before, I relinquished my Second Life account months ago, having become generally bored with the experience.  But after talking to Dave and Mike about their recent experiences in Second Life, I was beginning to wonder if I had been hasty in my decision.  When we decided to podcast from Second Life, I decided to give it another whirl.  I met up with Dave last night, and I have to say that the experience in general seems faster and smoother.  And the voice chat works really well.

My Second Life name is Times Short, and I hope to see you in world tomorrow night.

Technorati Tags: ,

This Career Will Self Destruct in 10 Seconds (or "Hey, Let's Close Our Deals in Second Life")

Steve Rubel, whose opinion I respect, says he believes 3D virtual worlds are going to become a place where people will increasingly spend time and conduct business online.

Spend time, probably.  Conduct business?  Depends on what you mean by business.

If by business he means sell virtual land and houses, OK.  If he means maybe sell some real-world books and records, OK.  If he means PR business, which I suspect he does, maybe.  In a let’s build a cool structure, put our flashy logo on it and hire an intern to chat up the people and animals that fly over sort of way.

But if he means business as in the kind of big corporate business run by that gigantic percentage of the population who have never heard of Second Life and/or think it’s some online video game (which largely it is, all the square peg stuffing notwithstanding), he’s smoking crack.

Steve says Nasdaq should start an exchange in Second Life.  It seems they might actually be interested in doing that.  What’s next, NYSE in World of Warcraft?  AMEX in Sims Online?  CME in Webkinz World?

I’m trying to imagine how it would go if I called up one of my clients and told him/her that we should start doing business in Second Life.

[Ripple effect as we fade to a dream sequence, which begins with Kent dialing a phone number from his chaotic office.  Several people stand by nervously, with reams of paper in their hands.]

Kent: Hey Bob, how ya’ doing?
Client: Fine, how ’bout you?  Are we ready to close the acquisition of that office building portfolio?
Kent: Just about, that’s why I’m calling.  I think we should call the seller’s representatives and see if they want to have the closing in Second Life.
Client: What?
Kent: You know, that virtual world that was on the cover of Business Week a few months ago.  We could all create some avatars.  I think I’ll use a zebra head.  Then we could meet over at this castle I built and shake virtual hands.  Then maybe we could take a spin on my dance pads.  I found this great 80’s station that streams to my parcel.
Client: What in the world are you talking about?
Kent: It’s the new thing.  All of the A-List bloggers are talking about it.
Client: What’s a blogger?
Kent: It doesn’t matter.  Look, just get on the internet.  It’s that little blue “e” at the bottom of your computer screen.  Click over to Second Life and register.  I have to wait until I get home to do it, because our corporate firewall blocks Second Life.  They don’t realize it’s a business tool.
Client: Stop messing around.  Do we have wiring instructions from the seller?
Kent: No, I told them we’d pay with Linden Dollars.
Client: Have you been drinking? C’mon, man, we’ve got a big deal to close.
Kent: Look, I’m just trying to drag you into the 21st century.  Remember when you said email was too hard?  Now you can send emails even when your secretary is at lunch.  Second Life is the same way…only you have to ignore all those XXX rated stores on every corner.  Just pretend you’re in Houston and walk right past ’em.
Client:  Look, I need you to stop goofing around and get my deal closed.
Kent: Did I mention that you can fly in Second Life?
Client: [click]
Kent: Bob…hello…Bob…are you there?

Somehow, I don’t see it happening.  Sure, 3D worlds tap into the human need to fantasize and socialize.  A need that likely arises due to the real world stresses of real world jobs.  Jobs that, for most of us, are about as far away from Second Life as possible.

Technorati tags: , ,

Yahoo and My Second Life Problem

second life avatarThere’s an interesting article in today’s New York Times about Yahoo and its efforts to close the revenue gap between it and its arch-rival Google.

Among the financial numbers tossed around, including Yahoo’s ridiculous PE ratio of 34.1 and Google’s vintage Bubble 1.0 ratio of 63.3, is the fact that Google has found a way to better monetize its traffic.  Google generates 11 cents per domestic web search, while Yahoo generates only 4 cents.

The bull side of the Yahoo debate argues that since Yahoo has a ton of traffic, it only needs to better monetize it.  The argument is that it’s better to have a monetization problem than a traffic problem.  Hello, Web 2.0.

I can relate a little to Yahoo’s problem.  As I have mentioned before, I am generally a fan of Second Life as a business platform.  It has a business plan that doesn’t rely strictly on ads.  More and more businesses are looking to Second Life as a way to connect with their customers and potential customers.

But I have grown bored with my personal Second Life experience.  I’m not big on chatting with strangers, and there is no Second Life collective for tech bloggers- at least not one that I have been invited to participate in.  I have been thinking for months about canceling my account.

In the meantime, I decided to do an experiment.  I installed a music player and a bunch of dance pads (where visitors can get paid Linden dollars for dancing) in my Second Life home, configured the dance pads to pay out at a slightly better than market rate, and mostly stayed out of the way.

A funny thing happened.

Traffic to my parcel went off the charts.  I constantly have people hanging around my place, dancing for Linden dollars.  In fact, I have installed more dance pads, and have to rest them twice a week, after they pay out their maximum.

I initially thought that your Second Life stipend (the Linden dollars you get every week from Second Life) went up if you had a lot of traffic.  I checked last night and realized that I was mistaken about that.

So that leaves me with some land that has a ton of traffic, but no plan to turn that traffic into money.  In the meantime, my Linden dollar “burn rate” continues to accelerate.

What to do?

I don’t know, but I’m not sure all my traffic makes my parcel any more valuable than the empty land next door.  It costs a lot of Linden dollars to operate my parcel, and nothing to operate the empty land.  And our revenue (the Second Life stipend) is the same.

Without a viable monetization plan, I think Yahoo and I are screwed.  Fred Wilson seems to agree, though for a different reason.

Come visit my Second Life establishment at Sibine 03 (106,33).  Suggestions to turn my traffic into revenue would be welcomed.

Maybe Yahoo will buy me before Microsoft buys Yahoo.

Technorati tags: ,

Scoble’s Senseless Tea Party

I don’t understand what Scoble is trying to prove by continuing to break Second Life‘s no-kids rule, this time from the podium at some conference.

All he managed to accomplish was to get himself kicked out of Second Life.

With all the issues and criticism surrounding MySpace and all of the problems that arise 100% of the time you mix children and grownups in online interaction, I would think Scoble would applaud Second Life’s attempt to actually do something meaningful to protect kids by creating a teens only version of Second Life. That may not be enough, but it is light years ahead of the meaningless jargon tossed out by MySpace in the name of doing as little as possible while placating the non-tech masses.

Scoble posted critically of the Second Life policy back in early May. I told him then why he was wrong and I feel the same way now.

Scoble admits he has been warned and that he saw this coming.

Here’s my question to Robert: Are you really saying that all parts of all of the net should be open to people of all ages? Surely you don’t believe that, and surely you aren’t suggesting that the application providers have no duty to at least try to make their services kid-safe?

I don’t really think Scoble’s doing his kid any good by publicly flaunting this rule, and I’m certain he’s not doing kids in general, many of whom have univolved parents, any good.

I just don’t get the point of this little tea party.

Life’s Sweet Wine’s too Warm to Sip

Here’s my question.

second life avatarIf you’re a happily married, middle aged man who likes to build things but is not big on chatting with strangers, what, exactly, do you do in Second Life after you’ve built your castle?

I can’t believe I’m about to write this, but I think I’ve lost my jones for Second Life. I have built a fine castle from scratch, with good music and lots of gadgets. Now on those rare occasions when I log onto Second Life, all I do is wander around my ghost-town of a region and ask myself “what now?”

I’m not much of a computer gamer, so the casinos hold little attraction. I’m not too interested in chatting up random strangers. I have explored about as much as I want to.

In sum, I’m bored.

Second Life is fantastic from a technological perspective and I am still sold on the business plan, primarily because of its appeal to young people. I’m just not sure what there is to do there that will keep my attention.

Any ideas?

Unless I come up with a plan, I think I’m going to bag it.

Second Life Land Giveaway

OK, I still own too much Second Life land, which costs me money since your Second Life monthly fee is based on how much land you own. I’m going to give away three tracts of land and here’s how it will work.

I have three tracts of land that I am going to give away.

Tract One

tract1The first tract is a 3,872 square meter tract, with roadside frontage. It has a castle on it that I built myself (thus it’s unique). You can keep the castle or trash it and build something else.

This tract is located at Sabine 191,173,65 and is just up the road from my house and the other tracts I am giving away.

Tract Two

The second tract is a 2,496 square meter tract that is beside my house and behind the third tract described below. It has no improvements on it and is located at Sabine 215, 147, 63.

Tract Three

tract2The third tract is a 2,240 square meter tract, also with roadside frontage. It has a house on it, which you can keep or trash and build something else.

This tract is located at Sabine 145, 123, 60 and is right beside my house.

The Rules

If you’d like some free land and even a castle or house to go on it, all you have to do is link to this post. I will gather the entries from three sources: Technorati, Google (see the “Other Blogs” links in the left column) and Trackbacks (as shown below). To be eligible, a trackback must actually link to this post (no nofollow tags).

On Monday, May 29, 2006, I will put all of the entries in a shoe box, shake them up and ask Cassidy, Delaney and Raina to close their eyes and pick one. Tracts 1, 2 and 3 will be given away in that order.

You can enter for yourself or a friend. Only one entry per blog, but if you have more than one blog, you can enter once with each. I just want to get this land off of my books and maybe gain some good neighbors in the process.

As a bonus, I’ll pay the first month’s land use fee ($25.00) for the first winner picked who doesn’t already have a Second Life account.

Why Scoble is Wrong About Second Life’s Kid Policy

Scoble posts about the Second Life rule prohibiting anyone under 18 from using the regular version of Second Life. As Pathfinder Linden, Second Life’s internet ambassador, explained in a Comment to one of my prior posts about the sin-tricity of Second Life, there is a separate Second Life for 13-17 year olds, where no one less than 13 or older than 17 is allowed.

Scoble understands the reason for the rules, but he says he doesn’t like them:

The thing is, I don’t necessarily buy into the rules of society, or the rules of Linden Labs. If I don’t mind my son getting into a Poker game, or seeing a virtual sex act, isn’t that my right as a parent to let my son experience those things?

No. Our puritanical society has set up rules and regulations about such things. If you enter a Las Vegas casino you aren’t allowed to let your kids sit down and play backjack. At least not until they are 21.

I do think the rules suck, though. This is a virtual world. Why do we need to live with first-world rules?

The problem, of course, is that they can’t let Robert’s kids in without letting everyone else’s kids in. And while I have never thought of myself as a Puritan, I don’t want my kids running around in Second Life. Sure, I might one day decide that one or more of my kids are responsible enough to be exposed to this sort of thing, but the only manageable approach with kids’ access is all or none. To try to set up some sort of a parental approval process would be a nightmare. Kids would hang around looking for a willing grownup to sign them in much like we used to hang around outside a convenience store looking for an 18 year old to buy us a six-pack.

If Second Life didn’t have and enforce this rule, thousands and thousands of kids would find a way into Second Life without their parents’ knowledge or permission and you would have a completely unacceptable mix of adults (who unfortunately always seem to gravitate to the R rated stuff- or worse) and kids (who should not be allowed to see or participate in that sort of stuff).

Sure, the lawyers probably told Second Life they’d better put some protections in place, because sadly the internet is a dangerous place for kids. But the fact that Second Life has some controls that may actually work, as opposed to the smoke and mirrors used by MySpace, is a good thing, not a bad thing.

Scoble, here’s all you need to ask yourself to see it my way: if the internet had existed when we were kids, how much time would we have spent trying secretly to find the very stuff we now want to keep from our kids?

I have no doubt that Scoble’s son is a responsible kid who can handle Second Life. But I bet he has some friends who are not and could not. Open the Second Life gates and there would be a ton of other kids running around who are not and could not. Not to mention the kids who aren’t really kids.

Second Life actually needs to do more, not less, to keep our kids out of the adult Second Life and to keep interlopers out of the teen Second Life.

They aren’t creating the patterns of behavior, they are simply reacting to them.

Second Life Update

Here’s my latest report from the realm of Second Life.

slbuild-702232I have figured out the building thing and have built a pretty nice house/castle from the ground up. Visitors are welcome. It’s at Sibine (100,75,54). Here is the SURL.

In order to square off the size of my tract of land, I bought a big tract of land next to mine. In Second Life, your monthly fee is based on the size of your landholdings, so I don’t want to keep the excess land. I have two tracts for sale now. One is a 992 sq. meter tract with a small cabin and one is 4448 sq. meter tract with a smaller castle I built. In furtherance of my desire to create a little neighborhood of grownups who share similar interests, I will slash the prices to significantly below what I paid for them for anyone I know who is looking to get a place in Second Life. Email me and we’ll talk about it.

I also have a 7216 sq. meter tract between my house and those tracts that is not on the market, but I would consider developing it for some sort of a group effort- perhaps a tech bloggers’ gathering place or something like that, should enough people be interested.

I don’t know if it’s possible to build a little “memeorandum” community in Second Life, but it would be cool if we did, and I’m willing to throw in some land to make it happen.

Finally, a Funding I Like

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and Lotus founder Mitch Kapor joined Globespan Capital Partners and others in an $11M funding of Second Life. This funding follows an $8M funding in October, 2004.

Unlike most of the funding reports I read about, I get this one. It makes sense.

Second Life is in the process of winning the race for virtual reality mindshare. It’s cool. It’s popular. And it has an almost infinite list of potential revenue sources.

You can join Second Life and participate for free. But to own land and build things on that land, you have to have a premium membership. That creates revenue. Plus, there is a property tax equivalent that requires a user to pay a greater fee the more land he or she owns. For example, I own around 6,000 square meters of land in Second Life (this is a medium amount) and my “tax” is $40 per month. That creates revenue.

In addition to creating revenue, the property tax provides incentive not to let land lie vacant. You want to build something to make some money to offset the cost. It’s a perfectly accurate economic and land use policy.

You can build, rent or sell almost anything in Second Life. I can imagine well placed ads and billboards being sold in Second Life at some point (the narrow strips of land next to roads are “protected” and owned by the “government”). More revenue.

I can imagine deals with all sorts of real world vendors to open shops in Second Life. Music, movies, you name it. Even more revenue.

The developer is working on a program to allow people to buy the exclusive right to last names (presently, you have a limited list of last names to choose from). I picked Snickerdoodle, which it turns out is the name of a cookie. Selling names will generate more revenue.

And these are just the potential revenue sources that jump out at me. I bet the Second Life team has hundreds of other ideas.

I’m sold on Second Life as a compelling way to interact on the net. I was talking to a guy in Second Life the other night and it turns out we read each others’ blogs. Small world inside a small world.

I’m equally sold on Second Life as a business.

And that’s an all too rare combination these days.