slconference 2007 is cancelled

31 07 2007

From September 16-18 there should have been a european conference called slconference07. According to their homepage it is cancelled now. In the end it seems that they did not manage to get enough financial funding for it probably due to lack of sponsoring interest as their statement on their homepage hints.

So here is the full text:

The aim of the slconference 2007 in Berlin was to create a neutral platform for decision-makers from all areas within the “business” world, to exchange, present and discuss ideas, experiences, expectations and knowledge about Second Life and other virtual worlds. It was meant to provide an opportunity for networking.

Generally, there was great interest from companies and participants that thought the idea of the conference an excellent one. We were able to acquire a lot of interesting and compelling speakers as well as topics that they would present in their conference sessions and workshops.

Unfortunately, the conference did not offer enough impelling opportunities to companies to support it financially, even though there was desire support the conference in other ways and to help to make it happen for which we are very thankful.
Nevertheless, the financial risk is still existent. Hence, the slconference 2007 team regrets to announce that the slconference 2007 is cancelled.

We wish to thank all those that believed in and supported the concept of the slconference 2007 and helped us further to realising this Second Life conference.

Actually IIRC this conference was first announced as some sort of Euro-SLCC, then renamed to SL World (the URL of their homepage still said euroslcc2007.wordpress.com though) which was supposed to happen in Amsterdan and then transformed into the slconference happening in Berlin.

But what might be the reasons for not getting enough support? Of course it was somewhat expensive with 800,- EUR for the complete program but then again other conferences like the Virtual Worlds conferences are about the same pricetag and being a business conference this is probably ok (not for me though ;-). But maybe it was too much competition in the end which drove sponsors to other conferences as I must honestly say maybe have the better speaker lineup and maybe more importantly are also broader setup in not only covering Second Life. Still also those are too expensive for me 😉

So for me regarding Second Life it will be then the SLCC in Chicago and the SLCC in Düsseldorf this year as well as some more local come togethers. The latter, although with unfortunately the same name as it’s US counterpart and thus a bit confusing when talking about these, seems to have taken off quite a bit as they finally started to embrace the german Second Life community. This is good news and is the way to go. So I will be there and I will be even giving two talks, one about Machinima and another one about fundraising and community efforts in Second Life and what maybe even companies can learn from events as Relay For Life or things like the SL birthday.

So I can actually only speak for myself but 800,- Euro for a conference is not really doing it for me. Thus it seems to be more targeted at bigger companies and surely not for any kind of SL community (they neve

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How to get better search results?

31 07 2007

So I am just sitting here at Robin’s office hours with some people but not Robin but Catherine instead and the topic search came up. The basic question is how to find cool places/stuff/etc. without a system that can be gamed like the traffic system we have right now.

So I came up with the following rough idea based on how sites like Amazon etc. do it which is in turn (maybe) based on some papers from the Media Lab which I once read and which have been mostly about social agent (one of the example applications was indeed a website which lets you find new cool websites depending on your previous choice and other people with similar choices. Something like StumbleUpon/last.fm/pandora if you want).

So if we project such a system onto Second Life it might work as follows. If we assume that people either spend time and places they like or buy something there we might associate these places with those avatars. If we now apply the same mechanisms as Amazon does it should be possible to find other cool places I haven’t seen yet depending on my “neighbourhood”. My “Neighbourhood” is computed by the similarity of places I like and others like.

Of course there need to be exceptions as I tend to spend quite a bit at workplaces or just my own place but these could eventually be flagged. The other question is if the flagging of places I like should be automatic or manual but this maybe needs to be experimented with. Automatic might be nicer and more easy, the question might only be whether such a thing works or not.

Thoughts, anyone? 🙂

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Philip Rosedale talks about Open Source at OSCON 2007

31 07 2007

Linden Lab CEO Philip Rosedale was one of the keynote speakers at this year’s O’Reilly Open Source Convention and he talked about Second Life and it’s relationship with Open Source.

Just click the image and listen to Philip 🙂

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The restricted community

2 07 2007

Some discussion recently came up when the SLCC organizer announced their media and community rules. Now the most discussion was actually about the community rules which are of course more or less common sense. The only thing I worry about is that if there’s a reason to print them out there might be something wrong with the audience. It’s the same problem I have with places where there are lots of CCTVs – instead of feeling secure I feel more insecure because there seems to be a reason why you need them.

IMHO a simple friendly reminder that people should be respectful in whom they make photos of might have been enough. It should be clear to everybody anyway that they should not damage any property and that the organizers have the right to remove people from the conference if they misbehave.

The rules for journalists
Now what worries me more are the rules about doing media coverage. Any recording of the panels and tracks is prohibited and only Phreak Radio has an exclusive contract to record and rebroadcast these.. Now I am very very very unhappy about that.

I couldn’t attend SLCC last year and thus was sitting at home in front of my computer in Second Life and watching it there with some friends at Timeless’ house. Of course not everything was streamed and the stream wasn’t always on but you had at least an idea of what was happening there, could see some people on the stage and so on. Still I though some more coverage might be nice.

So this year I am attending and thought about making all better, help with filming the panels, try to get as much footage out of it as possible to share with those not being able to attend. I also thought about doing a ustream.tv or blogtv.com coverage attempt if bandwidth and time allows (as there isn’t an official video stream this year).

But with the recent announcements I can forget that. That’s very sad indeed as I usually want to share the cool stuff I see with others and hopefulle discuss it with them. In this case I think it’s even more important for those not being able to attend. Additionally it spreads the word about Second Life and what it is all about. So IMHO the door for people who want to jump in should be as wide open as possible and not closed.

And there is another point. Jennifur Peregrine says in this comment that “some track leaders have expressly stated that they do not want their panels or tracks videotaped”.

Now I wonder what sense does that make? Do you have something to say? Do you want to reach the biggest possible number of people or not? I think you should! And I think people would want to listen. And they want to attend as much as possible even if they are not able to make it.

Summarizin I think if this is a community convention and the word “community” does not only mean those 400 attending but the whole SL community (not everybody has the money to come nor is there space for all of them), then media coverage should be as open as possible.

This stuff needs to be shared on every possible channel by every possible person in their respective communities. Make it findable on YouTube, on flickr, on blip.tv, on ustream.tv etc. Moreover this does not really fit into these YouTube/Creative Commons/Open Source times..

As Nicholaz Beresford notes here: “Well, being an cc/open-source/tekkie type I’m sure not thrilled by these kinds of rules. But trying to gain control over content is Zeitgeist, but I think it is an uphill battle and the problem will solve itself.”

Unfortunately we have to wait for that a bit more.

There are also some questions which I still would like to know more about:

  • Will the sessions be videotaped at all? (If so I hope they have a camera person who also zooms in sometimes. Would make it more useful)
  • Will the footage be released? (of course without the “forbidden” footage)
  • Why actually is there an exclusive contract with Phreak Media? Why not let everybody help spreading the word?
  • What are these union regulations all about? Are people not allowed to film what they want at their own conference? Why doo other conferences do not have these problems?

I also think that video is important btw. It gives a better feeling if what was going on there. MP3 is also ok but more as additional medium maybe.

All in all Second Life stands for me as extension of Web2.0 but it seems at least the convention is not really in that tradition. To me it sounds a bit too much regulated and more like “commercial” but not like “community”.

Now I don’t want to make the surely big amount of work of the organizer not bad or so just this regulations don’t feel that open to me as Second Life feels. Maybe I am also not used to such restrictions. I usually visit Barcamps and Open Source conferences such as EuroPython, Plone Conference, Sprints etc. and media coverage was never a problem. In the case of barcamps it’s even part of the whole thing. So maybe it’s just my expectation that the SLCC is sort of the same thing and this was wrong.. Certainly it’s not the future of media.

Update: Jennifur commented on Pownce that some negotiation with Phreak Radio might take place tonight. Will keep you posted.





StageSpace – a virtual world from Germany

2 07 2007

6

A new virtual world is in the making. Karlsruhe, Germany based startup StageSpace is working on a virtual world with the same name. The alpha version was released last month and it got already some wide coverage in german blogs as well as an in-depth discussion on the Second Life XING forum.

What is StageSpace except being unpronouncable?

StageSpace is a Java based virtual world which gets invoked by the Java WebStart technology which makes it portable and usable without installing it first. The downside is of course that everything first needs to be loaded from the server which is right now ok but might be different if more and more content is used. The upside is of course that no updates need to be installed.

5The alpha version consists of three rooms to which you can teleport but which are not connected otherwise (no open world). You click on the map and teleport there. Avatars right now are very basic, move slowly and are hard to navigate, chatting is done via chat bubbles over your head. As additional feature you can move around some furniture but I haven’t found a way to interact with them more, e.g. sit on them.

There seems also a way to buy some objects but as I had no money and did not know where to get some I didn’t test this. Basically think of a Kaneva or IMVU but very basic.

So as you can see it is all still very basic (and unstable) but StageSpace CEO Fabien Röhlinger promised a 1.0 version for September which is supposed to be much better. There will also be additional communication tools such as VoiP, group chat, webcam etc.

A difference between StageSpace and other virtual worlds is though that they make your realname mandatory. According to Adina Tkatsch of StageSpace AG this is done because StageSpace’s focus is on the real person behind the avatar. Behind every male avatar there is a male person (not sure how they want to verify this). That way, Mrs. Tkatsch says, “communities profit because they get more information about the their users” (thus she means community providers I guess) and “added value in form of being a pioneer and having increaed possibilities of interaction”.

Asked about user generated content he said that it might come in the future but most likely only a special group of users will be able to create new items as their main intent seems to be to keep the environment controlled.

And that’s also part of the business model because the StageSpace version you can see on their website is only a demo. The main idea is to manage individual branded virtual worlds for their clients. They will manage hosting of the server, billing, registration and the like. Their clients will get a controlled and branded environment in which members of their communities can interact. If there is an existing community already they will also provide a single-signon method so that users can log into the 3d part with their normal username and password. They claim that they can setup an instance for one of their clients in 2-4 weeks depending on integration work.

Will this work out?

For now I guess it will. As Web2.0 and all that freedom is not yet really understood by many companies there is still much demand for controlled environments (or walled gardens). It still seems very scary to many companies to open up their communication (of course there are exceptions like e.g. Coca Cola who even opened up their trademark for Second Life). So right now the business model might work and Mr. Röhlinger also said that soon some big cooperations will be announced.

Problems?

One problem I see right now: Loading the world was quite fast when I tested it the first time but since then it seems content has been added and on my mac it takes approx. 2:30 minutes until I am in-world. Second Life might not be faster but with growing content I see this time more and more increasing (mostly it’s loading the assets). And here’s also a downside of not installing it because you have to download all that stuff every time.

And I see some problems on the horizon:

  • If more and more seperated virtual worlds come up it will get very annoying to join them. It’s not like Second Life where the next community might be just a teleport away. And multiple accounts are already a problem with all those web2.0 apps these days. Editing your profile, finding and inviting all your friends again will be joined by customizing your avatar as nobody wants to look like a noob. This also might get costly I assume.
  • With seperated virtual worlds you miss the advantage of visitors popping in by accident or who might take part in some tour. There is a much bigger barrier of entry.
  • Kaneva just announced their program in which you can run an instance of Kaneva on your own server for just US$100,-. This will not be the last one and Kaneva is besides all it’s issues more featurerich than StageSpace.

Asked about the problem of having multiple accounts Fabien Röhlinger said that they are able to connect their users between instances but clients probably would not want that. Additionally Andreas Schreiber dreams about a StageSpaceStandard which might connect all of them.. but I guess this is very unlikely because if you start out with a very much closed approach I doubt that this is the real effort to get a standard going.

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introducing Pownce, the new Twitter.

2 07 2007

Pownce.com

A new kid is on the blogs: Pownce.

If you know Twitter or Jaiku or if you are german and know texteln, frazr and 7 others then you might know what Pownce is. It lets you share your status messages with your friends. But not only that because Pownce can even more, like share a link, share a file (up to 10MB, 100MB if you go pro. They are served by S3. Maybe they even use EC2? And if it’s an MP3 it will directly show up with an embedded player) and share an event complete with RSVP messages.

Like Twitter you can subscribe to your friends posts by adding them. If they don’t add you back you will only receive their public posts, the default is to post only to your friends. If they add you back you will get those, too. Unfortunately there is no way of changing the default as mine could be all public.

And according to this blog post by Leah it also seems that it’s coded in Python with Django. Which makes me instantly fall in love with it of course 😉

Friends

A nice feature is grouping of friends. You can create named sets with 1+ friends in them and this group will show up in the selection list where you select to whom to send a post (public, friends only, groups): In this selection you can also select each friend individually thus integrating a direct message system without the need for a separate page (although when reading you might want them to stand out). Also a nice feature is the “forward” function which lets you forward any post to another friend or (as an option) to all friends who have missed this (thus not being the friend of your friend).

Adding new friends is also easier. When entering a new social network it’s usually the problem number 1 to add enough friends so that it makes sense. In Pownce there is a nice way of doing it as the system shows you friends of friends on the “Add new friend” page. This makes it easier to find your buddies as they are most likely already connected somewhere in your network. The downside might be that more friend requests are made than usually even to people you maybe don’t know (at least I have the feeling that I get more of them than on e.g. Twitter) and you maybe have to decide what to do with them. Well, I simply add them, I guess I can still delete them if they post too much stuff I am not interested in.

Notifications

On the notification side you can define quite a few things, the default is to get notified with every action which is of course annoying as every new post by a friend will trigger an email. But you can decide to e.g. only get notifications for replies to your posts, new events, files and so on. Unfortunately the content of the post/reply is not already included in the mail and thus you need to click first.

Replies

Another feature similar to Jaiku are replies. Instead of writing @somebody you just click the reply-Button of a post and enter your reply. Additionally you can rate the post. The problem with replies is though that you only see the ones you made or received but if you reply in some other friend’s post you cannot subscribe to further replies. Thus you might miss conversations. The same is true of course of conversations which start on a post of a friend and which you may not recognize. Rating is nice but of course a way of filtering for ratings would be needed.

What is missing?

What Pownce is missing is the mobile side of things. You cannot yet send or receive posts via SMS and additionally only one RSS feed is there right now which is the feed of your and your friend’s posts but not the one of the main timeline. Moreover an API seems to be there as they created an external application using AIR themselves and somebody made a Facebook application but it’s not open or documented it seems.

Another thing I noticed is that last names are not always shown. No idea why they only show Christian S. for me but at least in my profile it would be nice to have it visible completely (or make it a privacy setting). Then again I have the problem with my SL/RL identity, thus I’d like a field for my Second Life (or any other nickname) or at least more space in the profile box.

Will it become the new star?

As people like Kevin Rose and Leah Culver with a big following in the web2.0 scene are behind Pownce it might really gain momentum and in fact since yesterday it really did (I signed up yesterday and already have nearly 70 friends know from Twitter, Second Life etc.). It also seems more active than Jaiku to me.

The big question is scalability though. Pownce also had it’s hiccups already and eventually Twitter is now in front in terms of scalability as they maybe were silent on the front of new features but fighting for stability instead. In general I think nowadays you should think about a good scalable architecture before you even write the first line of code.

So time will tell, as always. Right now it looks promising. Add an API, remove some glitches and hope for it to stay stable and maybe it will take the Twitter crowd over.

PS: Here is my profile!

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