Second Life and text – taking it beyond ‘just a game’

I’ve been sitting on this thought for ages. I have to get it out.

I’m of the opinion that what’s stopping Second Life (SL) moving from the  ‘game realm‘ to the  ‘useful business platform realm‘ is  a four letter word – TEXT

Simply put, SL needs to integrate text in-world.

The only talk for ages has been about voice integration. Fair enough. Voice could help. But really, those who care to can already partake in a voice experience while being ‘present’ in SL – it’s called Skype, or Yahoo Voice or any other existing voip platform. Many, many people already use voice over IM while interacting with virtual avatars in-world. I’ve done it. And here’s a thought. What effect on grid stability will integrating voice have.

Back to text – words. Currently the only way to get words into SL that aren’t transient (like twitter), and to stay there as part of the landscape, is to put them on an image and upload the image as a texture. Any changes means a new texture, another upload. Besides that cumbersome process, providing a way for others to interact with text in-world is hopeless. And in fact it’s not interacting with text, it’s interacting with images of text. Even a simple in-world guest book is a save card, open card, edit card, save card, copy card process.

For any of the businesses investing money into a presence in SL to be anything but a ‘presence’ will take easy interaction and collaboration. And the historical base to real business has been, and I think will continue to be, the written word.

Yes, there’s a lot of two-way interaction between in-world and the web. Certainly the membrane that exists in that space is a semi-permeable one. I’ve done my fair share of punching holes in that membrane. But as an individual interacting in SL I have found the lack of easily putting words into the fabric of SL a hurdle. I can only imagine that business has found it similarly a problem to moving forward in engaging the waiting, ‘captive‘, 3D population existing in-world in a meaningful way.

It was the web, and particularly hypertext that blew the internet open. Imagine a web browser in SL that works like a browser and you can write to and others can walk up and contribute to as well, or even just read it – while others look on. It’s that kind of thing I mean.

Bring hypertext to SL. The flexibility and power of links – links that link to each other in-world, not just in->out or slurls that link out->in.

To make the Second Life experience a truly immersive one, immerse hypertext.


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David Weinberger’s boat and archaic language

While I wait for my copy of Everything is Miscellaneous to wend its way across the oceans to Australia; after ordering it via Amazon, as the local book stores tell me it’s not released here in Australia yet (cough); I while away my miscellaneous time reading about the book in Mr Weinberger’s blog.

While deeply immersed in an excellent story of registering his recently purchased boat, I nearly fell out my wheelchair when I read his recounting what was on the registration form.

‘One of the checkboxes on the registration form asks if I’m “retarded.” I thought we were done lumping the various ways our intelligences fail us into that particular bucket…’

Like him, I too assumed we were done with that use of classification (ie: labelling). I’m surprised that they just don’t be done with it and ask another question using that other archaic label that the US seems to have forgotten to leave behind (along with inches, pounds, miles and gallons) – “are you handicapped?”.

As one definition of retarded is conveyed as “to slow up especially by preventing or hindering advance or accomplishment”, I was left wondering if it was referring to the 90 horsepower motor that Mr Weinberger’s poor boat was afflicted with.

But alas, that’d be wishful thinking. I am unfortunately left with the conclusion it’s the actual people who made the registration form itself.

I mean really, if you were ‘retarded’ and wanting to register for a hunting permit or register a boat, would you answer yes to that question?

Mr Weinberger’s point is that “Requests for metadata are expressive”. Well, he’s dead right. That request certainly expresses some attitudes held by the ‘authorities’ behind the form.

I was impressed by Mr Weinberger’s awareness and the deft expression he uses. I’m looking forward to “Everything is Miscellaneous” even more now!


What do YOU call community?

brick with word one carved in itAfter events of recent times, like the podcast with Laurel, this blog post by Kent and my response here and the Facebook boom, I really like this following quote from Adam Fields, via Doc.

“There’s really only one rule for community as far as I’m concerned, and it’s this – in order to call some gathering of people a ‘community’, it is a requirement that if you’re a member of the community, and one day you stop showing up, people will come looking for you to see where you went.”

Whatever form it takes, that’s the kind of community I want. How about YOU?


Photo by Jeff Kubina via Flickr & CC

Another extraordinary podcast – with laurel papworth

I’ve been a bit lax at letting you know when I put a new Extraordinary Everyday Lives Show podcast up. But realy people, I’ve been doing it for a year you need to be subscribed by now. (please) :)

The latest show, number 26 has gone up today and is a beauty. We had Laurel Papworth as a guest and she’s wonderful, smart and a pixie. She also knows a lot about social networks and online communities. Have a listen.

The Extraordinary Everyday Lives Show #026 – Laurel Papworth, Social Network Strategist, 251 yo Pixie


Facebook and Myspace – buckets of lemmings?

Kent asks a genuine question on his blog about the popularity of things like Facebook and Myspace.

What is so much better about Facebook (and MySpace and other similar platforms) than an ordinary blog on a popular platform- say WordPress?

Maybe it’s just that the likes of Facebook, Myspace are seen as a ‘place’ to go, a ‘place’ to belong, to identify with, whereas blogs are seen as distributed individual spaces.

I wrote something about my own experiences of that phenomenon back here – neo community.

It’s easier to forge cross connections (technologically and socially) in a place where everyone is in the same bucket. Much of the connecting is done by the blog bucket machine. With individual blog platforms it’s more on the individual to form them. Who was it that said ‘freedom is hard’.

I remember hearing something in a youth leadership meeting that the question “who’s gonna be there” is more important than “what will we do there?”

Maybe that’s true no matter what age we are.

Well, to some.

Maybe some for whom freedom is too hard.

Maybe it’s just that the pull to belong is stronger than we realise and we’ll put up with anything to get it.


PS: I think the ‘freedom is hard’ bit came from a statement about a book on the state of Iraq.

[tags]facebook, myspace, kent newsome, blogging, social, belonging, freedom[/tags]

The times they are a …..

Had a discussion about broadband, fibre (of the optics variety, not the food type) and the stances of each side of Government this morning. Nothing new or unusual for me you say? Except that I had this discussion with, of all people, the District Nurse who was on a visit. And she was the one who started it!

The point I tried to relay was how the future, the very near future, will depend on this infrastructure. And not doing all we can to build good infrastructure as soon as we can is like entering the industrial revolution and ignoring the importance of building factories.

Later on in the day I saw this. Watch it.

The Fourth Platform clarified – the Social Sector

connect frour with peopleOver on her blog, Laurel does as brilliant job of expanding on a very important penny that was dropped and jelled at the Connecting Up Conference earlier in the week.

It’s reflected in the comment I jotted down here while liveblogging. During his keynote, Daniel Ben-Horin from Compumentor made reference to the emergence of a fourth platform. Mike Twittered it at the time as this : “May 14, 2007 Mike Seyfang: Now it gets interesting – Daniel Ben-Horin: the fourth platform (the terrain has shifted)”

This whole “Social Sector”, as Laurel terms it, encompasses all the elements of ‘Free as in Freedom’ and is an economy of sharing that builds with relationship and thrives on openness and connection. All the things that amplify an individual’s life ‘signal’.

Here’s a snippet from Laurel’s post “dotSub and the fourth Social Sector

Social Sector is destroying companies and doesn’t even notice. Government – watch out, Social Sector is only about activism, without even realising it.

Get over there and read it all. Go on…you know you want to.


(Photo by 4MAX, via flickr)

[tags]cu07, social sector, activism, fourth platform, openness, freedom, signal[/tags]

My blog promotion advice for Ali in Kenya

Update: Tools and more tips here and here.

Well, I got a signal in the ether from Beth Kanter about Alison Lowndes asking how Ali could best promote the AVIF Volunteers blog to get the message out about her work with children in Kenya.

I’m no A-list blogger but have been pleased about connections my blogging has afforded me. Here’s my tips, for what they’re worth.

I can summarise them as the Four Ps

  • Participate
  • Plug-in
  • Play
  • Persist

This could be called partake but participate is more fitting because it’s about giving. The first thing I think that anyone seeking in getting something because of blogging is to give to it. Notice I said ‘because’…that’s due to the fact that blogging is about giving, contributing…the fruit of your blogging comes because you share. (due kudos to Doc Searls’ because effect)

Get a reader and read, read, read what others write. Of course you’ll read what interests you, but read widely, assimilate the wisdom of others into your endeavours. Get rss working for you. Set up some searches on keywords about your interests and put the rss in your reader. As you get more advanced, get smart in your reading with filtering using something like Yahoo pipes.

Give your eyeballs to others and you’ll receive eyeballs.

This is about immersing yourself and your blog in the culture. It’s about making connections.

Connections happen when stories overlap. So share your story openly and find other’s stories that overlap yours. The power of blogs is in their ability to connect and links are the wiring of the connection. So link, a lot. Link to people’s blogs or sites as you speak about them, give them due credit. Use trackbacks. Quotes. Provide a context in why you are using the link.

Be part of the blogging community (network). Look for stories and comment on them. Keep track of your comments. Always answer any comments you may get on your blog or anybody responding to comments you leave. Always respond to email enquiries you get from your blogging.

Better still, write a blog post rather than a comment if it’s a long comment about the article and put it in your context. Look for and write about similarities/differences etc – make sure to link to the post.

Have a consistent sign-off and name you use on comments. Try and make it unique. Build familiarity with that name. Track it with searches plugged into your rss reader.

To promote your blog, promote others.

Blogging should be enjoyable. This is a creative, digital medium, not a newspaper. The same rules don’t apply. Play with digital tools and toys.

Do mashups and blog about them. Snip bits of audio out you hear that’s relevant and put them on your blog and write about them. Snip up audio and video to convey a point or feeling. If you get an inkling of an idea, pursue it.

Follow your heart and others will too.

This is a building process that happens over time (unless you are a celebrity…don’t get me started)

Above all else, just keep going. Perseverance is 90% of success.

To help, set yourself short term, achievable goals. Like read x posts per week. Post x times in a given time you determine. But in the end, don’t beat yourself up about it if you don’t meet them. Remember point 3!

Know that what you write and give and contribute will last. Notwithstanding any catastrophe, what you write, create will be here indefinitely. There’s something about longevity and the possibilities and opportunities it can bring into the future by its permanence.

Track records bring rewards.


People like to own stuff – ask a ninja about monetising atoms not bits

There was a profound important small discussion on the latest TWIT #97.

Guest twit was Kent Nichols from Ask a Ninja and they were talking about merchandise. Kent made the comment that ‘people like to own stuff’ and John C Dvorak got the point of the matter. It’s what my mate Mike terms “monetise when the bits turn into atoms”. Give the digital content (bits) away but sell the physical stuff (atoms) that goes with and around the bits.

Ask a Ninja is a model of this.

Here’s a snippet of the relevent bit from the show.


[tags]askaninja, ask a ninja, marketing, twit, fang[/tags]