Visit the Metaverse Festival in Decentraland, October 21st to 24th, 2021

The Metaverse Festival is a four-day celebration of music, culture, and creativity in the blockchain-based virtual world of Decentraland, starting today and running through to October 24th, 2021. Here’s a sitemap with coordinates (you can see this in a larger size on the Metaverse Festival website):

The festival boasts an impressive lineup of over 75 performers, including 3LAU, Alison Wonderland, deadmau5, and Nina Nesbitt. You can get details on when and where to catch your favourite artist on the Decentraland events listing. A complete lineup of performers is on the Metaverse Festival website, which features a suitably trippy design:

A four-day celebration of music, culture and creativity in the virtual social world of Decentraland, the Metaverse Festival is a grand collision of light, sound and portable toilets.

It’s the first event of its kind – a fully decentralized celebration of music that offers a weird and wonderful brew of world-class headline acts, mind blowing stages, games, exclusive artist merch, collectibles and more.

So, on October 21, dress your avatar in your very best wearables and jump into an experience like no other.

And if this is your first time in the virtual world, be sure to take a look at our Festival FAQs, which explain how you can be a part of the fun.

We can’t wait to see you in the metaverse!

Gah, that word again…”decentralized”. Decentraland may be many things, but one thing it is most certainly not is decentralized. Everything runs on Decentraland’s own servers, on Decentraland’s artificially scarce and increasingly expensive virtual land (called, of course, LAND).

It just irritates the hell out of me when PR people cavalierly toss around meaningless descriptions like “a fully decentralized celebration of music”. And “the first event of its kind”? Second Life would like a word. Festivals in virtual worlds have been around for years, people.

Apparently, even Paris Hilton herself is making an appearance at Decentraland’s Metaverse Festival (hmmm, I guess she gave up on Staramba Spaces/MATERIA.ONE, another blockchain platform which I savagely reviewed here and here on my blog). God only knows what she’ll be doing up on stage (probably trying to deejay).

Anyway, that’s enough kvetching for one day. If you want to visit the Metaverse Festival, you will likely need to set up a wallet (here’s a quote taken from the Festival FAQs document):

The best way to fully enjoy the Decentraland experience is to get yourself a digital wallet. Digital wallets work as your personal account, keeping all your digital assets (such as NFTs, LAND, cryptocurrency) and in-world progress safe. And when you return to Decentraland, you just need to hit ‘connect’ and you’re in.

You can still enter Decentraland without a wallet, by signing in with your email address (via Fortmatic) or as a Guest, but you won’t have the chance to – for example – receive daily rewards and airdrops, trade in the Marketplace or log in with a different device using the same ID and avatar.

Learn how to get a wallet with our simple Beginners Guide.

Got all that? Cryptonewbies might also want to refer to the blogpost I wrote when Decentraland first opened its doors to the general public: A Step-by-Step Guide on How to Get Started in Decentraland (and Some Caveats for New Users).

Have fun and enjoy the festival!

You can follow what’s going on in Decentraland via Twitter and Reddit, or catch up the latest news via their blog. You can also join their official Discord server.

Pandemic Diary, September 17th, 2021: COVID-19 Worry and NFT Insanity

Well, folks, it’s been a week.

I delivered no less than seven different training sessions (online and remotely, either from my office at the science library or from home) to various classes of agriculture students. I have been fighting with computer hardware and software problems all week, starting on Monday when I couldn’t get my microphone to work, to yesterday when I got unceremoniously booted out of the the online class I was teaching using Cisco WebEx—TWICE. I am exhausted.

To add to my overall bad mood, the most recent data on breakthrough COVID-19 cases here in Manitoba are somewhat worrying. According to this report from CTV News, while fully vaccinated people are not being affected nearly as much as the unvaccinated, breakthrough cases are happening. And even more worrying, 16 fully vaccinated Manitobans have died of COVID-19 so far. That is not good news.

Mark my words: COVID still has the ability to throw some curveballs at us. For the love of God, if you have not already done so, GET VACCINATED! And please do everything you can—handwashing, face masks, social distancing, etc.—to stay safe and healthy. You do not want to catch this virus if you can avoid it!


However, I can still laugh at the continued silliness in the hothouse of the NFT (Non-Fungible Token) market. Everybody seems to be leaping on the get-rich-quick bandwagon.

I am currently blocking and deleting spam direct messages on Discord (people shilling for one blockchain-based scheme after another), at the rate of about one per day now. It would appear everybody and their dog has come up with some sort of harebrained NFT project to try and part you from your hard-earned dollar.

Today, I got the following spam direct message via Discord (blurred to avoid giving you his name and link addresses):

Hi. A new project Mint will begin in 7-9 days. There will be 10000 Covid themed NFT’s in total. Don’t miss your chance to get in on the start of an incredible cool project. FUCK COVID

Clicking through to the website (and no, I am not going to bother to link to it), and behold!

OMG!!! There’s only ten thousand NFT facemasks, supplies are limited so act now and get that rare collectible!

NOT.

Which reminded me of the following message I received recently via the feedback form on my blog:

Hello there, I’m David from Next Earth – we are the only blockchain and Earth map based metaverse 🙂 We’ve launched in the end of July and now only a few hours left until the end of land pack presale.. By now, more than 150.000 Dollars worth of land tiles has been sold and it’s increasing day by day, just like our community, so we are really excited about our future. It would be awesome if you could help us with spreading the word, and since you have quite a lot followers I can easily offer you a referral code with a fair amount of commission.. I’d be extremely interested in what you think and how we could collaborate, so please get back to me and let’s discuss our opportunities! Best regards, David

Image taken from the Next Earth website (no, I am NOT giving you a link)

Dear David:

NOT!!!

I wrote about what I think about Next Earth, Earth 2, and all the other “buy a virtual piece of earth” scams here.

And I swear to God: the next person who tries to get me to buy into their harebrained, lame-ass NFT scheme is gonna get bitchslapped into next Thursday.

Bacardi and Coke! Real-Life Brands Are Starting to Partner with Virtual Worlds (Again): Could This Be the Start of a New Trend?

There was a time, back in the day (ohhh, let’s say, May of 2006) when a Second Life avatar named Anshe Chung graced the cover of Businessweek magazine, which told the story of how she became the first online personality to achieve a net worth exceeding one million US dollars from profits entirely earned inside a virtual world.

It can be argued that this Businessweek article, and the resulting media attention it caused, was the spark that ignited a period of explosive population growth in Second Life, as people realized that they, too, could earn money on Second Life, and they began joining the platform in ever-increasing numbers.

In particular, between late 2006 and early 2007, dozens of real-life companies and brands decided to set up shop in Second Life: Dell, Toyota, Nissan, Sun Microsystems, IBM, even American Apparel and Playboy. Unfortunately, this corporate heyday did not last long. By the end of 2008, most real-world corporations were pulling out, not seeing the benefit (i.e. profit) in running operations on a virtual world, especially during a somewhat brutal recession.

And, for a long time, burned by their initial enthusiastic foray into Second Life, most real-world brands pretty much steered clear of virtual worlds, leaving them to the mom-and-pop stores, the individual content creators who were able to make a go of it.


Well, I am starting to notice the beginnings of a new trend lately: real-life brands are starting to enter into partnerships with social VR and virtual worlds once again. Is this the start of a new trend in marketing?

Two different news items, about two completely different types of partnerships, crossed my desk yesterday, one for Bacardi rum and the other for Coca-Cola, which tickled my fancy and made me laugh (hence the clever title of this blogpost!). Both are instructive examples of how such corporate partnerships have evolved and changed since the Anshe Chung summer of 2006 in Second Life.

Barcardi and Sansar: The Casa Bacardi Virtual Island Festival

First up is a partnership between Bacardi and Sansar, a virtual festival to be held on August 20th, 2021, to promote Bacardi products. According to the event description:

Teleport to your virtual island of Casa Bacardi

Bring home some Caribbean vibes and get grooving to your favourite beats at a music experience like never before.

Casa Bacardi is a whole new virtual world on Sansar, with an epic stage for your favourite artists to perform on, games to play with your friends, hang out with them, play cocktail games and meet new people. Enjoy all of this and more from the comfort of your home along with your favourite Bacardi Cocktails.

You can even design your own look and express yourselves through your avatar before you land on Casa Bacardi Island. Festival fashion doesn’t go away, you know?

Find liberation from the real world on a virtual Caribbean island. Teleport to Casa Bacardi this Rum Month!

Performers at this event include a mix of afrobeat, hip hop, electronica and dance music artists:

  • Tesher
  • Divine and the Gully Gang
  • MC Altaf
  • Tsumyoki with Kidd Mange
  • Natasha Diggs
  • Gauriwho

Tickets are quite inexpensive, only US$1.99 for a concert pass, and US$2.99 for a concert pass plus a limited after-party event (you can pay via credit card or PayPal).

Coca-Cola, Tafi and Decentraland: The Friendship Box NFT

In a piece of news which I somehow missed, Coca-Cola entered the ultra-trendy NFT space with a limited-edition auction, partnering with the Tafi avatar creation system and the blockchain-based virtual world Decentraland (NFT, of course, stands for Non-Fungible Tokens, the concept that blockchain-based property is a unique, distinguishable, indivisible blockchain-based asset which has some sort of monetary value, usually denoted in a cryptocurrency like ETH/Ethereum).

Coca-Cola is not the first big brand name to jump into Decentraland, of course; not too long ago I wrote about how Sotheby’s set up shop. It would appear that the current unabated frenzy over blockchain, cryptocurrencies, and NFTs is bringing together some rather unlikely bedfellows!

According to the official announcement by Tafi:

Tafi announced today that it has partnered with Coca-Cola® by designing virtual wearables for Coca-Cola’s first-ever non-fungible token (NFT) collectibles offering in the “metaverse” to celebrate International Friendship Day on July 30th, Coca-Cola will be auctioning an NFT loot box on OpenSea, that contains Tafi-designed digital apparel that can be worn forever in the virtual world of Decentraland.

Tafi, a leading designer of avatars and digital wearables, is a digital strategy and development partner with Coca-Cola. Tafi worked alongside Coca-Cola to produce the NFTs, as well as Virtue, the agency by Vice, who developed the initial concept. Details of Tafi’s involvement in Coca-Cola’s NFT Lootbox can be found at https://maketafi.com/coca-cola-nft.

Coca-Cola collaborated with designers at Tafi on all the NFTs including the branded wearable apparel. Auction-goers can bid on the Coca-Cola Friendship Box, a reimagined version of Coca-Cola’s highly collectible vending machine, itself an NFT, and once opened there will be three one-of-a-kind digital assets to own: 

• A custom Coca-Cola Bubble Jacket Wearable – a futuristic jacket – is illuminated with effervescent fizz, purposely designed with subtle nods to Coke’s nostalgic delivery uniforms. It also will include an unlockable version that can be worn in the Decentraland 3D virtual reality platform. Inspired by metaverse trends and utility, the jacket features the Coca-Cola color palette, fusing the metallic red of the aluminum can and caramel brown of the delicious drink. 

The Sound Visualizer captures the experience of sharing a Coca-Cola using instantly recognizable audio cues: the pop of a bottle opening, the sound of a beverage being poured over ice, the unmistakable fizz and that first refreshing taste.

The Friendship Card reimagines the design of Coca-Cola’s famous friendship-inspired trading cards from the 1940s for the digital world. The cards bear the “Symbol of Friendship” moniker.

The first ever Coca-Cola NFT (image source)

This one-of-a-kind loot box contained some ultra-exclusive items, including a puffy jacket which can be worn by Decentraland avatars, and it sold for a whopping 217 ETH (which works out to about half a million U.S. dollars)!

Now I can tell you one thing for damn sure: no matter how luxurious and glossy that Coca-Cola puffed jacket may look on the OpenSea marketplace (and you can check out the fancy animations here), it is not going to look anywhere near as good when your avatar wears it around Decentraland! The current state of graphics in Decentraland looks like this, in case you needed a reality check:

The current state of avatar fashion in Decentraland: your glossy, expensive Coca-Cola jacket is not going to anything like what you see on the OpenSea marketplace.

Perhaps I am not the best person to explain all this, because frankly I am still mystified as to why people would want to spend outrageous sums of money on NFTs, except perhaps for bragging rights. However, it is clear that blockchain, crypto, and NFTs are not going away anytime soon (although they will not doubt continue to fluctuate wildly in value). I just report on what I see, safely from the sidelines.

And I repeat my usual warning: do EVERY. SINGLE. SCRAP. of your homework before investing a penny in any blockchain/cryptocurrency project.


Are we seeing a renaissance in such partnerships between real-world brands and social VR platforms and virtual worlds? Who knows. But it is fascinating to watch!

Sotheby’s Sets Up Shop in Decentraland

The current boom in NFT art has led to new partnerships between bricks-and-mortar art galleries and brokers and blockchain-based platforms, such as Cryptovoxels, Decentraland, and Somnium Space, where such art can easily be displayed and admired.

Venerable art auction house Sotheby’s has just announced via Twitter that they have set up a digital replica of its London galleries in the blockchain-based virtual world of Decentraland, as part of Natively Digital, an inaugural curated sale of Non-Fungible Token (NFT) artworks (along with a discussion room on Clubhouse today):

Artnet News reports (this site is paywalled so use the incognito mode of your web browser to see this article):

Sotheby’s virtual gallery is a twin of its New Bond Street outpost, complete with five ground-level galleries—but instead of London’s tony Mayfair enclave, it is located in Decentraland’s prime art hub, known as the Voltaire Art District (map coordinates: 52,83).

A virtual version of Sotheby’s avuncular London commissionaire Hans Lomulder…welcomes visitors at the gallery entrance, top hat and all. 

The Observer website reports:

The NFTs that will be for sale include both the work of early, pioneering crypto artists in the field and more recent blockbuster stars; some of the names represented in the sale are Rhea Myers, Lethabo Huma, and Larva Labs. Recently, Christie’s scored a huge win with the $16.9 million sale of 9 Cryptopunks NFTs manufactured by Larva Labs, so that listing in particular is likely to score comparable dividends for Sotheby’s.

The rare face-masked alien CryptoPunk in Gallery 1 has a starting bid of US$480,000! Obviously, this is art that lies way, waaay outside my payscale!

If you want to visit the virtual Sotheby’s in Decentraland, read my step-by-step guide on how to get started, then type /goto 52,83 into chat (note that you should also be able to visit Decentraland as a guest, without setting up an account). Enjoy the art!