Jan 08

Adam Reuters Interview with Philip Linden

Live on Reuters island in Second Life, Adam Reuters interviews SL CEO Philip Rosedale, currently discussing entrepreneurship. Philip disagrees that there is a PR strategy problem, and says that transparency is the way to go, but pre-discussion of policies may be more damaging than just announcing policy changes when they are made. He also suggests some sort of currency/billing changes by May 1st, but I missed that part of the conversation.
posted by Fleep Tuque on Reuters using a blogHUD : [blogHUD permalink]

Additional edits post crashing, not sure if any of the other bloghud posts got sent:

Rosedale said the two things limiting SL growth is the stability of the system and people’s first experience with it, and that he wished they could go back in time and capture more of those people, but the one thing LL can’t control is what people find when they get in world – the people, the things users create, the things there are to do – and expects that as SL matures, more people will stay as more things are offered. (paraphrasing)

In response to a question from Adam Reuters, Rosedale says his purpose for attending the World Economic Forum is to serve as not just an evangelist, but also to explain that Second Life is fundamentally about the people, it’s not just an advertisement or a website, and that there are opportunities for entrepreneurship.

I missed the first half and then crashed, sorry for the lousy reporting! Hopefully Reuters will be doing a much better job, and Hank says to check their site for the schedule and more interviews coming up.

Some commentary:

Well that was hectic, thanks to iAlja for the tweet that brought me in world for the interview, sad to say I missed most of it because of Time Warner Cable’s flaky broadband connection at my house. Grrr. At some point in there, Adam Reuters remarked that in some ways, 2007 was the Year of Restrictions in Second Life, and Philip responded that it really made him sad every time they have to restrict behavior, and that despite these changes, SL is still an incredibly open platform.

Two thoughts about that, the first is that I can’t help but believe him when he says the restrictions make him sad. I’m always interested in the individual, the person, at the center of these zeitgeists, and I’m always listening for clues to Philip Rosedale the person, rather than Philip Rosedale the spokesperson in these PR stunts. The consummate professional never sounds really _human_ in my mind, humans admit to mistakes, humans recognize their stumbles, while talking heads and empty suits admit no error and promise an ever more perfect future. I don’t hear that from Rosedale, sure there is the evangelizing, but when he said the restrictions made him sad, that’s such a funny thing for a CEO to say. It sounds almost hokey, and that if anything makes me believe its sincerity.

The other thought is that I haven’t commented much on the restrictions and changes in Second Life, not because I don’t think they are important or controversial, but because it seems to me the issues are so incredibly complex, I’m still trying to figure out the implications for myself. The banking restrictions on their face make sense to me, that the company took a position to say hey, you can’t come in and claim you’re a bank and be completely unaccountable, that’s a good thing. Was this specific implementation a good thing? I have no idea, I’ll leave that up to those who consistently give good analysis of such things, like Aldon Huffhines and Beyers Sellers, but I do think _something_ needed to be done, and Philip’s presence at more events like the World Economic Forum will hopefully help better inform him of the options when considering these major policy changes in the future.

Jan 08

Kiva: Micro-Lending Non-Profit Coming to SL

Just the other day I watched a PBS Frontline episode about Kiva, a micro-lending non-profit that uses the web to connect lenders and borrowers. Individual lenders can see pictures and stories of loan applicants, choose which projects to fund, and track the borrowers progress on loan repayment. Even small dollar amounts can have a tremendous impact and as one lender said in the PBS segment, if their business fails or they don’t repay the loan, it’s such a small amount that I just consider it a donation. If they do repay the loan, then I can lend that money out again and feel like I am helping make a difference in someone’s life.

I thought to myself, now this is a model that makes sense, I need to add this to my list of charities to check out for 2008, and then lo and behold I see that they will be opening an office in Second Life next week!

Kiva opening in Second Life - flyer

I’ll try to find a slurl the next time I’m in-world, but the office will be opening on the Non Profit Commons island on plot #23.

Dec 07

The Story of Stuff

Where does stuff come from, how does it get made, where did all this CONSUME CONSUME CONSUME madness come from?

This might be the best online video I’ve seen all year.


Dec 07

Update: Open Letter to SL Skin Designers

Dear Skin Designers of Second Life:

I am writing to alert you to a problem that you may not be aware of, since it has likely been a very long time since you were a newbie. I and many other educators are working with faculty and student populations to make them aware of the benefits of Second Life for teaching, learning, and research. Many of these folks have little to no previous experience with gaming or virtual worlds, and find the Second Life learning curve pretty steep. This isn’t a newsflash, I’m sure, but what might be is this:

There are virtually NO fully transferable skins for folks who wish to have an african, latino, asian, or other non-white skin type.

I have looked. I have been to all the freebie barns, stores, islands, OnRez and SLX, and every other source suggested to me.

There are, of course, many such skins for sale, but for educators like myself who are attempting to ease hundreds of new users into Second Life, it would be awfully nice to also be able to offer them some diversity of skin choices in our freebie avatar packages.

What does it say about our community if there are dozens of male and female white avatars that can be given to new users for free, but none for non-white skin types?

I know that many of you DO offer freebies at your stores, and that is very commendable, but that also requires the skill level needed to use search or find landmarks in inventory, teleport around, purchase and unpackage boxes, AND the time it takes to hunt them down. Skills and time are the very thing that many new students and faculty do not have, and for all of us who are doing our best to bring new users in-world, this is something you could help us overcome.

Please consider donating a fully transferable non-white skin to the cause and help make diversity in Second Life an easy choice for new users. If you choose to do so, let me know, I will be all too happy to acknowledge your contribution here and in-world.


Fleep Tuque

PS I am glad to see I am not the only one thinking about these issues, just today Poinky Malaprop writes about Avatars and Prejudice and asks a very relevant question, via Ren Rennolds at Terra Nova: Do virtual worlds liberate us from prejudices, or reinforce dominant stereotypes?

I would argue that virtual worlds enable us to challenge dominant stereotypes, but it’s all in how we choose to use the tool. Perhaps I need to re-think my own avatar choices as a result of this conversation. Thanks Poinky!

PPS Thanks to Celebrity Trollop of Second Style Fashionista for a possible lead on a transferable skin, I’ll follow up and report back!

Dec 07

FCC, FISA, & The Enemies of Reason

On Saturday I drove through a snowstorm doing 20 miles an hour on the interstate. It was a horrible drive, my hands hurt from gripping the steering wheel so tightly, and the roads were in terrible shape. I must have seen 30 accidents along the way – tractor trailers jackknifed, cars over embankments, one car hanging on a guard rail over a steep and dangerous cliff. Without any CDs in the car, I was left to the tender mercies of the radio, and for quite a long stretch there was no NPR to be found. Egads. The radio airwaves are full of the most awful music and even worse talk radio. But I forced myself to listen as I slipped and slid and wished desperately for a salt truck or a plow to come and clear the roads.

When I got home, I fell into an exhausted sleep that lasted off and on for two whole days. At some point when I was awake to eat, I learned that a whole family had died driving on those slick roads, and many more had horrible accidents and were injured. I felt lucky to have made it home safely, I felt warm and cozy and snug in my house as the snow and sleet continued to fall over the weekend, and I began my vacation by being a complete slacker – no work, no email, no phone calls, no house cleaning. I parked on the couch in a blanket curled up with the kitties, and watched a bunch of TV. But not mindless TV, I watched a couple month’s worth of Bill Moyers’ Journal, NOW, Frontline, and CSPAN coverage of the FCC review of media ownership rules hearings in the Senate.

And I got angry.

Angry with myself more than anyone else, for being so busy with the demands of job and family that I stopped paying attention and stopped talking about issues that matter. I wasn’t just sleeping for a couple of days, I think I’ve been sleeping for a couple of years, maybe since the 2004 election as I mentioned in a previous post. Well, I’m awake now and I am determined to stay that way.

Today the FCC will meet to consider changing the rules to allow greater consolidation of media giants, as well as competition in the mobile services market and minority participation in broadcasting – and unless something happens, it appears that the chairman, Kevin Martin, intends to go in the face of public opinion and Senate concerns and change the rules in ways that will favor the media conglomerates. Which means on the next long drive, I can look forward to even more drivel on the radio, and less diversity of opinion on the TV, and fewer newspapers with concentrated editorial control.

A brief clip from the hearings:

You can watch the FCC meeting live on CSPAN today at 10AM EST.

You can contact the FCC and contact the members of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation which held the FCC hearings on December 13th at http://www.committeecaller.com/ (just pick the right committee on the left).

You can do these things, and you should. I should have before now, but I didn’t until maybe it’s too late.

You can also pay attention to the FISA changes that the Bush Administration is asking Congress to grant. I tweeted about that yesterday too, and over 2500 people called the Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and at the 11th hour he pulled the proposed legislation from the floor and postponed it till January.

You can call your representatives about that bill, too. And you should.

I think we all need to wake up. I don’t care if you’re right, left, center, independent, progressive, conservative, or WHAT label you prefer, there are certain things that surely we can all agree are dangerous for democracy, and more media consolidation and warrantless spying on American citizens has to rank right up at the top of that list.

Apathy is as much an enemy of reason as anything else.

Dec 07

Obama Rally with Oprah in S. Carolina

I’ve not watched a single candidate debate or speech, have seen almost no video coverage or news coverage, and generally have avoided consuming pre-election coverage of the Dems. But this morning someone sent a link to a live stream of the Obama rally today and since I’m sitting here doing research and filling out paperwork, I thought I’d check it out.

Let’s see if this embedding works..

Dec 07

Virtual Worlds/Walled Gardens, SL-Dev, and UC State of the University

[Edit: Good grief, it’s the State of the University, not State of the Union. (!!) Recovering political junkie reflex.]

Interesting article in the Christian Science Monitor about big business and Second Life. Tackles the interoperability-slash-walled garden issue, and quotes Metanomics series host Professor Robert Bloomfield of Cornell University, who I recently met during the discussion on Higher Education in Second Life for the program.

The article states that 20 major technology firms, including IBM and Microsoft, have agreed to explore ways to connect virtual worlds. My thought, is Google on that list?

On another note, I was talking with a couple of long time SL residents who didn’t know about the existence of the SL-DEV listserv. Now I am not a scripter or a coder or any label that would imply I could program my way out of a paper bag, but if you want to know where the technology behind Second Life is heading, there’s no better source for info. Sure half to two thirds of the posts zoom right over my head, but even scanning the subject lines tells me what’s the Hot New Topic with the opensource/dev community, and that’s good to know.

President Nancy Zimpher delivers the 2007 State of the University address

Next up, I finally got a chance to view University of Cincinnati President Nancy Zimpher’s State of the University 2007 address. Since she came to UC, her focus on how the university integrates with the local and regional community has resonated with my own sense of priorities, and I am pleased to see that continue to be her focus, in addition to the Master Plan and UC|21 goals for academic achievement. I lived in Clifton for 6 years, and while I miss the convenience of walking to work very much, I don’t miss the noise, the crime, and the grit nearby. As long as economic redevelopment doesn’t just mean shifting vulnerable populations further away from a walled-garden campus, then I am all for finding real, sustainable solutions. She also mentioned the Strive project, which aims to create an educational pipeline to ensure that students complete the _entire_ educational process, from pre-school through to college degree. Good stuff!

Also from President Zimpher’s speech, the Brookings Institute: Blueprint for American Prosperity: Unlceaning the Potential of a Metropolitan Nation. I confess, I haven’t read it yet, but her talk seemed quite apropos considering the recent conversations I and others have been having about what makes a community work in the virtual world, and I think there is much to be learned from real world examples too.

Finally, any SL residents, I beg of you to please vote for the JIRA issue to increase the 25 group limit in Second Life. Even if you haven’t hit that ceiling yet, it is a major major obstacle for those of us who have, and I can’t believe it has less than 400 votes. Sheesh.

Nov 07

Political Apathy and Stumbling

After the last presidential election, I felt such a profound sense of despair that I don’t think I’ve recovered from it even still. It was such a disappointment, that I confess to being completely apathetic about American politics for the first time in my adult life. I managed to vote in every election since, but my heart wasn’t in it.

Today though I was finally looking at StumbleUpon(worst Web2.0 name evar) and checking out the video feeds in the Politics section and came across this clip. It’s framed without context in the StumbleUpon window and at first I wasn’t sure when it took place, because why hadn’t I seen something so powerfully stated in my various net wanderings? How did I miss it? Well, it was a year ago when I was still truly in the depths of despair about this war, my cousin was still in Iraq, and I rather avoided the news coverage about it because it was just too distressing. It reminds me that I do need to pay better attention _and_ be more active in spreading information that I think is important to making good political decisions.

As for StumbleUpon, I think I like the serendipity component of it, even if I hate the name. I see too that friends can recommend things to one another, so I’m fleep513 if you want to friend me. I’ll have to see if StumbleUpon becomes part of the routine or not, but in the meantime, I’m glad I found this video through it.