[Announement] “Second Life shopping events as a phenomenon” – The Grid, Unraveled

SL shopping events as a phenomenon - The Grid, Unraveled

When: 2016/09/25, 11 AM SLT
Length: 1 hour
Hosted by: K.T. Burnett (KayT Resident)

We are discussing:
Second Life shopping events as a phenomenon

All the fashionistas of Second Life cannot stay indifferent to the multitude of shopping events that have absorbed the Grid – and the new ones keep appearing each month. Designers work day and night to bring in new apparel items in time for the events they participate in. Residents hardly keep up their Linden Dollars balance with all the new releases, exclusives, deals, that they cannot resist missing. The Second Life Destination Guide has a separate “Shopping Events” category now. How come they got so popular in such a short timespan? Is this what Second Life really needs? What purpose do shopping events serve for residents who choose to create them, participate in them and/or shop at them? Are there possible alternatives to shopping events to achieve the same goals they do, so we can have some variety on the fashion events field?

We will be having a panel of special guests who will share their experience on the field – and you, the audience, will be able to take part in the conversation via chat.

Cannot make it to the show? It will be recorded and posted on the YouTube Street Wear Live Channel, so you will not miss it.

So, mark September 25th on you calendar and join the discussion at the place where you will be heard!

Your destination: Street Wear Live Studio

Join the Street Wear Live group! secondlife:///app/group/4f66c1d7-33bb-3a51-82b3-c1c6f83c62e6/about

Check out the Street Wear Live YouTube Channel!

See you there!

K.T. Burnett and Street Wear Live team (Abbyrose Abbot & Nick Mammoth)

20 things we can learn from the Constant Innovation interview with Ebbe Altberg

While we all were running from stage to stage at SL13B, Ebbe Altberg had given another interview – but this time, it was not at Second Life, it was at the Constant Innovation podcast, hosted by Donnie SC Lygonis. As soon as several days ago it had been released to the public, and we all have got an opportunity to learn some more about both Second Life and Project Sansar

Listen to the episode at Spreaker: Episode 7, Ebbe Altberg, Virtual Reality Snowball Champion

Also: Project Sansar website | Second Life website

This shortlist has been written to highlight the most interesting points of the interview. Time stamps are included so you can verify each claim. Those of you who follow the Project Sansar news very closely may spot the details you already know about, but those are for the people who have not heard of them yet – we all have to catch up at some point.

So, what have we learned from this interview?

ABOUT EBBE ALTBERG

1. Ebbe Altberg had quite a trip in between companies.

Microsoft, then Ingenio, then Yahoo, oh my! At the very beginning of the talk, Ebbe talks about his background, about all the companies and roles he had been involved in the past with. Mostly management, not a lot of technical duties.

2. Ebbe Altberg’s perception of the separation of powers.

15 minutes in, Ebbe gets asked a question about the level of control Linden Lab exercises over users, and we learn that Linden Lab is trying to “manage the community”, by being the “police force, community management”, and he compares Second Life with the city where policies have to be executed. As an example, he uses gambling in Second Life – it is not allowed and Linden Lab handpicks the games that can be considered “skill games” and that are not pure games of chance. I hope to come back to the hypocrisy of Linden Lab on the question later, and for now, I will just say every experienced user of Second Life will tell you that Linden Lab itself does little to nothing for actually policing and managing the community – all they do is set regulations in a form of Terms of Service and accept support and abuse report tickets (but there is no transparency in the fate of these tickets, so it is equivalent to praying to God). The community has to manage itself with little power it has got. So, Ebbe, kindly stop taking the credit for that.

3. Second Life educational communities are great at supporting Ebbe’s arguments.

They have been brought several times during the podcast as a positive example in answering the questions. At around the 10th minute, Ebbe remembered speaking at the “big conference […] at educational community” (which is, of course, VWBPE), brought them up again as an example of who are the residents of Second Life (“you have educators, and students” at approx. 12:20), brought the educational regions as an example of students making more success when they learn in the virtual world.

4. One can get a feel that Ebbe Linden has not been anywhere in Second Life other than at The 1920s Berlin Project and the different meetings with the communities.

Otherwise he would’ve had more examples of the Second Life possibilities. If there were examples other than The 1920s Berlin Project and Ebbe’s meetings with the communities, they were way too easy to miss. The 1920s Berlin Project and Ebbe’s meetings with the communities were brought up as examples all the time.

ABOUT SECOND LIFE

5. If Second Life is such a wonderful platform for meetings, how come companies do not have them in Second Life?

To this question Ebbe gave as honest of an answer as there could be. In Ebbe’s own words, Second Life has some issues that make it complicated to use – it takes effort to use it effectively, and there are people who are willing to put that effort and get the positive outcome of it, and there are people who give up too soon. There was another resident who voiced exactly the same reason for people not trying Second Life enough, and I myself completely agree with it.

6. Supposedly businesses are trying to use Second Life.

At approx. 23:00 Ebbe claims that “there is a lot of businesses trying to come in and use Second Life”, but interestingly enough, he mentioned it very briefly and hurried over to the next point of the conversation. Judging from him constantly bringing up educational communities as examples of a successful use, we can conclude that had some real life big business try to use Second Life that actively, Ebbe would not be shy about it – every answer to the question about Second Life would start with mentioning that real life big business, and The 1920s Berlin Project would have to move over. But he quickly skims over it. Make your own conclusions.

7. Ebbe compared Second Life to a city of almost a million people (at approx. 12:55)

This claim is not verifiable, but hardly believeable. Lately, concurrent logons struggle to reach 60,000 in the busiest hours of Second Life. Of course we could assume that there are people who are able to log on only on certain days of the week, or perhaps once or twice a month. (I would not consider a resident anybody who logs on less often than that, would you?) Also, people from different parts of the world can log on Second Life only at certin times. I am one of those people who logs on Second Life everyday, unless it is impossible due to real life circumstances – and everyday, I see the same people at in-world locations, in my friends life, in active group chats. They barely rotate. Therefore, it is NOT different people logged on concurrently on different days. It is the same people everyday. There are definitely more than 60,000 residents of Second Life – perhars around 120,000-130,000. This is no way close to the promised “almost a million”.

8. Ebbe acknowledges that Second Life had not been growing since ’07-’08.

No point in pretending it had – this is a very well known fact. He brings it up at around the 21st minute.

ABOUT PROJECT SANSAR

9. Project Sansar is planned to be 13+

Mentioned at approx. 16:30 while talking about the age limitations of Second Life.

10. Ebbe plans to go with Project Sansar way beyond what Second Life has achieved.

He talks about it at approx. 17:10 – Second Life is the most successful virtual world to date (agree!), and Linden Lab aims to outdo with Project Sansar even such a high bar.

11. The main concept of Project Sansar (the short version).

Provided by Ebbe at approx. the 19th minute, with the preface starting a minute earlier. The main idea is that today, to build a VR multi-user experience, one has to have a team and the equipment close to the game development studio, and Project Sansar aims to be, in Ebbe’s own words, “an MMO platform”, on top of which people will be able to build multi-user experiences without needing a team of programmers for writing a game engine to make that experience come true. In short, you imagine it – they make it easy for you to build it.

12. The concept of instances in Project Sansar.

At approx. 23:20, Ebbe talks about the inconvenience of the technical limitations due to which regions of Second Life can host an experience to a very limited number of residents. The solution to this problem is going to be the concept of instances – when an experience is filled up with users, the platform spawns another instance of that experience, and the newly arriving users are filling up that new instance. This concept had been explained poorly in this interview, so to clarify what Ebbe means, let me bring the example from another interview with him. Imagine there is a popular live singer, and he or she gives a concert. An experience with the artist him/herself is singled out, but the experience where the audience is located gets recreated in a form of instances when the existing ones get filled up. Therefore, everybody watches the show taking place in the same instance of the artist’s experience, but they watch it from different instances of the audience’ experience. How’s that for optimization!

13. Second Life is a world, and Linden Lab are planning to move away from that concept with Sansar.

Ebbe brings up a wonderful point about Second Life at approx. 24:53 – Second Life from the very beginning had been designed to be a world one has to enter to begin discovering what it has to offer – and this world has little to no connections with the outside one. I loved the comparison with YouTube – indeed, going to youtube.com is not the only way to discover the YouTube video, we can come across it in our Google search, or find it embedded at some webpage. That is what Ebbe envisions for the Sansar, and if they figure out how to make it possible, this indeed will make the experience outreach much, much broader.

14. Whole experiences will be building blocks on themselves.

Donnie has asked a question around 26:45 about how easy it would be for creators to make experiences. The answer Ebbe gives to this question is so good I encourage you to listen to it yourselves, but long story short – in Second Life, there is a market for objects, scripts and other buildng blocks of one’s place, but Ebbe plans for the experiences to be products on themselves. That would be some kind of basic experiences one can obtain from the Marketplace and customize to one’s liking rather than making it from scratch.

15. Project Sansar will give us an ability to own experiences.

Ebbe elaborates it past the 29th minute mark. He imagines the future in which we may own separate experiences for business, for personal life, in which we visit public experiences, like pubs, and everything of that kind.

16. Virtual reality (VR) is still at its early stage.

At approx. 30:25, Donnie mentiones somebody at the recent VR conference making a statement that “we need to live through another year or two of crappy VR content”, with which Ebbe agrees (and so do I) – the field is relatively new and effort-demanding, and there is a lit of fiddling going on with it. Some time will have to pass before the right way to work with it is found. There are people who are sceptical about VR becoming widespread, but according to Donnie and Ebbe, the same attitude was with mobile phones and with smartphones – and look at the world now, mobile technology is everywhere. Same may very well apply to VR. Further into the podcast, they talk about the hardware issues – mainly its cost and physical inconveniences, about which Ebbe is confident that those are only temporary and the hardware will be improved with time.

17. Ebbe believes that in the future, we will be flipping between VR and AR (Augmented Reality)

As an answer to the question asked by Donnie at 32:15, Ebbe shared his vision for the future in which we will be immersed in the virtual location at one moment (VR), and in the next moment, be back to the real world having some scoreboard in front of us (AR). While VR will get ahead of AR at first, AR will make much more sense on various professional fields.

18. About the release of Project Sansar.

To many concerned Second Life residents, this information is barely new, but if you would like to brush up on thi, somewhere around 36:40 Donnie asks the question about the release date of Project Sansar. Linden Lab plans to have many test users for the creator preview by the end of August (they have got about 5 thousand applications from various content creators), and they plan to open Project Sansar for the public access sometime around January next year.

19. Ebbe expects Sansar to be around for decades.

He expresses it at around 38:20, along with mentioning that Second Life has entered its second decade, still alive and kicking, and Linden Lab builds Project Sansar to last.

20. Sansar to become the WordPress of VR.

At around the 42th minute mark, Ebbe shares his excitement over all the different communities, locations and separate people (of course The 1920s Berlin Project was mentioned!) that find the opportunity to realize their ideas in Second Life – and he imaines Project Sansar to be an easy way for creative and savvy people to create experiences while only being concerned about the design and the social side of the creation process and without worrying about the technical side. Ebbe draws the parallel with how the websites are created nowadays – we use WordPress and similar website engines! (Can confirm, am on WordPress too.) We can tweak the design, the website structure, and obviously we are the ones to fill it up with the content, but we do not worry about writing the website engine from scratch and getting it online. This is the technology Ebbe plans Sansar to be.

As you can see, there have been moments that got me upset, furious, happy and elated, but overall this has been a very interesting interview with the right questions asked and answered – speaking for myself, it definitely has got me more excited for Sansar. What about you?

Be the brand. Featured event: “Self-branding and Marketing” forum by Xavier Thiebaud of The A List! at Model’s Workshop

The A-List! & Model's Workshop Self-Branding Forum

When: 2016/08/02 5PM SLT (PDT)

Destination: Model’s Workshop @ Second Life

We’re attending: Model’s Workshop and The A List! present: “Self-branding and Marketing” forum with Xavier Thiebaud

More information: Model’s Workshop in-world group: secondlife:///app/group/0b48687e-b400-6d60-5547-48b114c49c8c/about (copy the link to the local chat in Second Life and press Enter to get the URL to the group profile) | Model’s Workshop website | The A List! in-world group: secondlife:///app/group/c39e50d0-257e-dc11-b31e-14570cadab1a/about

Business is a crucial part of Second Life – we, the residents, either produce content or use it. Therefore it is reasonable to have a conversation about business practices so we all can enjoy and benefit from the growth of certain brands. However, such conversation requires adjustments to the virtual world, which lives by the laws that differ quite significantly from the ones the real world lives by. In some cases of our second lives, we enjoy more freedom than in the physical world, and in some cases, there is less. The Grid also undergoes changes at a much higher rate than the physical world… With all the tools available to residents in the second world, how does one create a brand that lasts?

The A-List! & Model's Workshop Self-Branding Forum

Xavier Thiebaud has taken it upon himself to answer this question. This resident is most known within the Second Life fine crafts industry as the founder of The A List!, the group where selected content creators and event organizers announce the best events one can possibly find on the Grid. He is approaching the 10 years milestone in Second Life, and during most of these years he has been building a brand of himself, his name, along with the brand of The A List!, in the higher society of Second Life. This Tuesday, he has hosted a forum on self-branding and marketing at the Model’s Workshop, a foundation dedicated to assist models of Second Life in a whole variety of ways, and I suggest checking out the “About” page on the Model’s Workshop website for more information about these awesome people.

We have gathered in the Model’s Workshop auditorium and took some time to get acquainted with each other, before Suki of Model’s Workshow went up on the stage where Mr. Thiebaud was already gazing at the audience next to the photography of Steve Jobs along with his famous quote – “Think different”. Ms Rexen took a few minutes to introduce the venue where we have gathered, and then the forum itself has commenced.

The A-List! & Model's Workshop Self-Branding Forum

Starbucks. Versace. Chanel. McDonalds. Mr. Thiebaud included the presentation which began with the logos of these and other companies, asking us whether we can recognize those. Some we could, some we could not. This is unrelated to Second Life, but personally, when I saw the Versace logo, I thought of Perseus, a fictional brand from the Grand Theft Auto universe – I could not recall the name of Versace, the real life brand with Medusa on its logo, but I knew that Rockstar Games, the developers of the GTA universe, mocked Versace that way, by making a brand with the name of Perseus, the Greek mythological hero who defeated Medusa.

Then Mr. Thiebaud has made a remark that branding a company and an individual requires different approach, and then has flipped through the photographs of real life celebrities. Most of the participants have recognized almost all of them. I recognized none of the real ones, but that’s another story. The only one I had recognized was… the avatar of Xavier Thiebaud himself.

Stopping at that one, Mr. Thiebaud said that even though many people on Second Life (higher society in particular, I imagine) know The A List!, not many have heard of Mr. Thiebaud himself prior to actually diving into The A List! – he could “make his name an SL house hold name”, but that was not his focus. However, those who consider branding their name and/or image (for Second Life models, this is all too relevant) have to be ready to put some significant work into it. One of the models asked Mr. Thiebaud about branding name vs. branding image, to which his answer was that “branding a name in SL is easier than an image, particularly because our image changes constantly”. But he has a suggestion to those who still consider to gain recognition by image – and that is adding something to our appearance that separates us from other residents. Cindy Crawford, one of the real life celebrities I did not recognize, has a mole on her face, which has become her trademark. Mr. Thiebaud suggested to cam in to his eyes – supposedly they were electric, and I would be able to say for sure, had he not wear glasses. He sticks to electric eyes, “because [his] personality is electric”, but allows himself the freedom in altering the rest of his appearance. One of the models had recalled that freckles was her brand back when she had started her modeling career in Second Life. All in all, while for models always staying fresh is part of the second routine, they can choose something in their appearance that will not be changed next time they get a new look – and make it their brand!

The second part of the presentation began with Mr. Thiebaud asking the audience about the size of their friends lists and the amount of groups in which they can post. After hearing the answers, he has shared with us his infamous story about the April Fools Day prank he has pulled on The A List! members by sending out a notice which went like “Steve Jobs will be on the Apple Sim in SL and first 5 get a free iPad.”. In his words, “In one minute flat it spread all over the grid, because all our members have groups of their own”. That is when he has realized how powerful the right kind of networking can possibly be. Another story from Mr. Thiebaud on the subject of the power of networking: “I told Suki one year I got all the DJ’s to do a mix of a sample from an old movie called The Warriors and the one message being played all over in all the clubs was 20,000 HARDCORE MEMBERS”. But Mr. Thiebaud suggests finding the right balance between advertising not enough and advertising too much. The A List! does not ever see the same notice appearing more frequently than once a day (and therefore is one of a few entertainment groups for which I myself have not turned the notices off). Ideally, one has to find their own way of balanced advertisement, and that includes the outreach to the public with the message you have got – for Mr. Thiebaud, it had been uniting all the finest of Second Life regardless of the field, with an exception of the adult industry, in one group, so people of all trades had the opportunity to explore the industries of Second Life other than the ones they work in, and “that’s where [they’re] different than the groups in SL”.

Suki Rexen asked a question about picking the right logo – once upon a time, she picked a butterfly as her personal logo and got criticized for that choice, since, supposedly, it has nothing to do with modeling. To which Mr. Thiebaud responded that logo can be anything, and if Ms. Rexen wants to go with a butterfly, that’s exactly what she’s got to do. The point is to assert the ownership of the name, or the image, or the word and let everybody know that it is yours and it will stay yours, however one should choose any of the above wisely, for it is going to stay with one for a long, long time. Mr. Thiebaud reminded the participants once more that one should send a message to the public with their brand, therefore being different, unique, rather than bluntly copying the existing, is the right approach to it. (I can relate to that. The Digitized was started in exactly that spirit – “to cover everything that deserves the coverage, but has not received it”.)

In conclusion, Mr. Thiebaud has summarized the ideas of the controlled marketing. First, he listed the ways one can give the opportunity to others to follow one – basically, all the known social media, an in-world group, and a blog do it. Second, he suggested that one should not neglect the opportunity to help other brands of Second Life, because most of them will help one in return – “it becomes less daunting when people help one another”. Third, he reminded us to watch ourselves and what we share with other users, because reputation plays a tremendous role in how people perceive you and your business. (Anshe Chung, with all her millions, had got a bad reputation not only thanks to the failed CNET in-world interview 10 years ago – all over the Web I can read the stories of the atrocious customer service and the unfair tactics she uses to keep the profits going up. I have never rented from any of the AnsheX lands, and I sure as hell will think a lot before ever renting from them. But that is another story.)

That is where we have ended, now ready to let the world know [insert the forum participant name here] is coming around and it’s better be ready for this. Big thanks to The A List! and Model’s Workshop for organizing this forum and allowing everybody in – there was a lot of information relevant specifically to Second Life (and perhaps even other virtual worlds) on branding, and I myself cannot wait to try out some of the strategies. I hope this summary has been helpful to those who consider branding themselves, but have missed the forum. Thank Xavier Thiebaud if some of the advises turn out useful to you too. I am only re-translating them.