Second Life 15th Anniversary: The Most Commercially Successful Virtual World Turns 15 Years Old

Second Life 15th Anniversary

Today is officially the 15th birthday of Second Life!

On June 23rd, 2003, CEO Philip Rosedale and his company, Linden Lab, launched a virtual world called Second Life.

According to the infographic Linden Lab released to celebrate their anniversary, a whopping 57 million SL accounts have been created since 2003—of which about 600,000 people still regularly use the platform.

This makes Second Life, by far, the most commercially successful and popular virtual world to date. From June 17th to 24th the SL Community Celebration is taking place, with speakers, musical events, and countless exhibits and art displays on 24 connected sims. It’s the perfect time and place to visit, especially if you are new to Second Life!

Here’s a quick two-minute video on the 15th-anniversary celebration. Did you know that SL content creators collectively made 68 million dollars (US) in profits last year? There’s also a short message at the end from the visionary founder Philip Rosedale himself!

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A Crypto Journalist Critiques Mark Space

Cryptocurrency journalist and author Ian DeMartino has written an (unfortunately undated) detailed critique of the blockchain-based virtual world Mark Space on the AllCrypto.com website.

Mark Space 23 Jun 2018

Ian decided to do some investigation of Mark Space, and he answers a question I had had about the company’s previously-announced links to Land Rover and Jaguar:

I decided to investigate them with a critical eye, this is what I found.

I first noticed a Jaguar/Land Rover logo on their main page, claiming them as a partner. They also announced the partnership in a press release posted on Medium. I found this claim to be somewhat dubious because I couldn’t find a corresponding press release from Jaguar/Land Rover or its Russian division.

I contacted Jaguar/Land Rover’s corporate office and they told me they were not aware of any partnership with MARK.SPACE but got me into contact with their Russian division. The Russian department did say that they talked to MARK.SPACE but also confirmed that they have no such partnership.

The next day, the Jaguar/Land Rover logo was removed from MARK.SPACE’s site, though the Press Release remains unedited on Medium. I asked MARK.SPACE’s Editor and Community Manager Boris Baranov about this and he told me that they had discussions with Jaguar/Land Rover Russia and had a signed document. I am currently waiting for proof of that document to be emailed to me and will update this space if I receive it.

The second thing I wanted to look at was the concept of the project itself. MARK.SPACE foresees a future where people buy real estate in virtual reality, real estate that can only be purchased with their token.

In their vision, there will be different districts, like residential and business, and users and businesses would customize their spaces to entice virtual shoppers to their virtual stores. Customers will walk around mall-like virtual environments and purchase goods using the MARK.SPACE token, all inside the virtual space.

I have quite a few issues with this plan. First, virtual space, by its definition, should be limited only by the cost of storage. Artificially limiting it through a blockchain seems like a solution with no problem.

Ian goes on, as I had blogged about back in February, about what Mark Space calls “VR”:

In the creation section of the demo, you can pick from a few preset apartments and add flat pictures and add various objects. The problem is that there is no 3D space represented at all. You just place flat images on other flat images. If it doesn’t look natural, that’s fine. In fact, it rarely looks natural. They give you the option to “rotate” an object, but currently that just flips the image. Likewise, pulling the object closer to you simply makes the image larger, with no scaling or definition.

The entire article is well worth a read. Ian wraps up his critique by saying:

Having some dubious connection to the blockchain doesn’t change anything. I’m obviously a big believer in blockchain technology, but it isn’t just something you can slap onto any emergent technology and expect it to make everything better. There must be a use for it that other services can’t provide. Adding another layer of payment by artificially limiting virtual real estate isn’t fixing a problem, it’s creating one.

VR is cool, Blockchains are interesting. That doesn’t mean investors should throw their money at anyone who says those industry buzzwords. The MARK.SPACE demo is really bad VR and the MARK.SPACE token is a really [bad] crypto.

Stay away at all costs, or at least until they come out with a product that actually has some potential.

Second Life Steals, Deals, and Freebies: Scandalize

From June 22nd to June 24th Scandalize has removed the L$100 group join fee for their group, as part of their 2nd-anniversary celebrations. Why is this a big deal? Because when you now join the Scandalize group for FREE, you can pick up no less than 88 great group gifts!

Here’s a link to the group: secondlife:///app/group/c6b27443-12c9-083f-efd2-d56dfaf2ec3a/inspect (copy and paste this into the chat window of your Second Life viewer). Or just search for “Scandalize” under the Groups tab in Search.

The group gifts wall is located on the wall behind the main reception desk:

Scandalize Group Gift Wall 23 Jun 2018.png

There are 77 gifts on that wall, and when you turn around, there are another 11 free group gifts of jewelry on the counter! (There are actually 13 vendors, but two don’t work.)

So, if you haven’t joined yet, because you are short of Lindens, now is your chance!

Sansar Labyrinth Contest Winners

Sansar has announced the winners of its Labyrinth Contest!

First place, and a grand prize of US$5,000, went to The Secret of Mount Shasta, by Abramelin Wolfe:

Secret of Mount Shasta.jpg

Second prize, a one year’s subscription to either Maya or Zbrush, went to Ebucezam, by Tron. Third place, with a prize of an Oculus Rift headset and Touch controllers, went to Horizon Maze, by Ecne.

I do have a bone to pick with Linden Lab; they still haven’t published an official list of contest entries so we can go explore them all! The following list is courtesy of Gindipple:

Somnium Space News—and the Most Outrageous Social VR Company Promise Yet!

Well, I decided to start blogging again, although I doubt I will be keeping up the same fast rate of blog-posting that I used to do!

For my return to regular blogging, the first social VR space I want to talk about is Somnium Space, which I first profiled in early May.

First, Somnium Space has announced that they are joining the Virtual Reality Blockchain Alliance (VRBA), which I had written about earlier:

Somnium Space will join VRBA founders High Fidelity and JanusVR in the effort to create a universal digital identity platform, built on the blockchain, beyond the control of any corporate entity, bridging virtual worlds and the real one.

As a VRBA member, Somnium Space will host a node of the High Fidelity blockchain. Somnium Space will recognize identities created in High Fidelity and JanusVR, and assets created in JanusVR or High Fidelity will be transferable to Somnium Space. Users of all three services will be able to control what information they share and how they present themselves within each experience.

Second, Somnium Space has also launched a crowdfunding initiative on the new U.K.-based crowdfunding website for VR projects called SeedingVR. If you decide to donate, Somnium Space will give you free land:

Somium Space 22 June 2018

Third, Somnium Space is also proudly trumpeting the fact that someone (an executive of the company) bought the first Tesla in virtual reality:

Frankly, I don’t see what the advantage of purchasing the car in a VR headset was. There was nothing special that virtual reality added to the transaction; it could just as easily been done using a regular computer screen and keyboard, instead of having to awkwardly punch keys on a virtual recreation of a keyboard within a VR headset.

But it was something else on the SeedingVR announcement that really caught my eye:

Somnium Space Key Monetization Areas 22 June 2018.png

What? WHAT?!??

Live Forever Mode 22 June 2018.png

So, I went to the Somnium Space website and sure enough, it was there too!

Live Forever 22 June 2018

Yes, that’s right. For a monthly fee, Somnium Space promises to record everything you do and say on your property, in order to (and I quote)  “bring you entirely back to life using AI”. This has got to be the single most outrageous promise I have ever heard from any social VR/virtual world/metaverse company!

Now, this is gonna be quite the feat! I still cannot quite believe that someone on the executive team at Somnium Space had the chutzpah to actually come up with this little gem, let alone announce this!

Sorry, not buying it. The people behind Somnium Space can’t even get the “Sign In” button on their website working (or offer me a way to automatically retrieve/reset my forgotten user password from my first visit), and they’re already gonna promise me eternal life?!??

Broken Sign In 22 June 2018.png

I had believed that the ridiculous boasting and promise-making made by some of the metaverse-building companies were already at their highest level, but this one really takes the cake!

Jaron Lanier: Ten Reasons Why You Should Quit Social Media

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I’m still taking a hiatus from the blog, but nevertheless, I wanted to share what VR pioneer, computer guru, and author Jaron Lanier (whom I have blogged about before) has to say about the dangers of social media to individual mental health and to society at large.

In a media report from ZeroHedge titled “Delete Your Account” Warns Virtual Reality Founding Father:

Lanier explained in a recent UK Channel 4 interview:

When you watch the television the television isn’t watching you. When you see the billboard the billboard isn’t seeing you… When you use these new designs — social media, search, YouTube — when you see these things, you’re being observed constantly and algorithms are taking that information and changing what you see next.

Jaron Lanier’s Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now according to his book:

1) You are losing your free will.

2) Quitting social media is the most finely targeted way to resist the insanity of our times.

3) Social media is making you an asshole.

4) Social media is undermining truth.

5) Social media is making what you say meaningless.

6) Social media is destroying your capacity for empathy.

7) Social media is making you unhappy.

8) Social media doesn’t want you to have economic dignity.

9) Social media is making politics impossible.

10) Social media hates your soul.

I’d like to encourage all of you to watch the Channel 4 interview via the link above. I am probably going to buy and read Jaron’s new book soon. His thinking on this subject seems to align with other recent criticisms of the negative impact of social media, and with my own experience. I used to be a firm and fervent believer in the power of social media, but no longer. And I am seriously thinking about giving up—or at least heavily scaling back—my own social media activity.

I Need to Take a Break, But I’ll Be Back

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Photo by Asdrubal luna on Unsplash

Some of you may have noticed that I haven’t blogged anything this week, except for one post last Monday.

The storm clouds have rolled in, and I’ve got a serious week-long case of the Mondays. Things have been going wrong for me just about everywhere I choose to look.

I flubbed up a simple series of tasks I was supposed to do at a certain time in my off-hours in Second Life, and as a result, I landed up ending a working relationship that had started out so well, which I destroyed through my own thoughtlessness and stupidity. (I’ve already apologized to the person involved, and removed myself from the project. I won’t write more about it.)

But I see that single trip-up as a warning sign. Everywhere I look this week, I see evidence of my difficulties in moving ahead. I’m really not very happy with myself right now, and I know that my depression is colouring everything with the darkest of colours.

I guess what I am saying is that I need to give myself some time to admit that not everything is O.K., that I need some time to rebalance my life and refocus on the essential stuff, and that I need to go forth and battle my depression (again).  So I’m taking a break from blogging for the next little while. How long? I don’t know.

Don’t worry about me; I have plans to go for dinner with my best friend tonight and he’s sure to get an earful. I will have supper with my Mom like I always do on Sundays. I have a real-life social support network full of people who love me and care about me, and I intend to make use of it to get back up on my feet again. I have absolutely no plans to do anything drastic, so don’t worry about that.

But I do need to take a break from blogging.

You’ll all be the first to know when I do come back.