Saturday, February 2, 2008

Americans Are Sooooooooooooooo Creative!

According to Deloitte's 2008 State of the Media Democracy Survey, nearly one-half of all American consumers create their own online content. (Does this include MySpace crap?) Fourty-five percent of the survey respondents develop, contribute to or maintain web sites, online photo albums and blogs. This figure is up 12 percent from the 2007 survey. Ed Moran, director of product innovation for Deloitte's Technology, Media and Telecommunications group, said, "Mass digitization has created unheralded choice and desire for American consumers. Now, more than ever, consumers have the independence to enjoy what they want, when they want it, and where they want it - but increasingly, they are also choosing to create content themselves, or re-working other people's content." Additionally, 35 percent of the survey respondents view their cell phones as entertainment devices, a 24 percent rise from last year's survey. The findings of this survey are significant to all forms of media as they point to a trend of this rapid increase in the personalization of media production will likely have long reaching, and potentially devastating, effects on the traditional entertainment business model-from publishing to film. With the rise of customizable virtual worlds such as Second Life and upcoming community game platforms like Raph Koster's MetaPlace, the videogame industry is bound to feel the impact as well. More information on the State of the Media Democracy Survey can be found on Deloitte's web site. Deloitte will be releasing these, and other survey, findings at the 2008 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) on January 7 and 8.

The Germans Grill Rosedale in Der Speigel

Hats off to Philip if he is still smiling after ths interview with Christian Stöcker entitled; "Making it Crash Less Is our Number One Mission'"... here it is below (edited) full version here,1518,druck-531700,00.html

"The hype has evaporated for virtual world Second Life. But founder Philip Rosedale is far from discouraged. In an interview with SPIEGEL ONLINE, he spoke about the backlash, the future of virtual worlds, and traveling the world via the keyboard.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: The hype for Second Life was huge in 2006 and 2007. Now, one hears little about it. Is the party over?

Philip Rosedale: With any new medium like this -- and it was also true of the Internet itself -- there is a predictable cycle of media hype followed by a backlash. We had major attention in the first two quarters of 2007, then some negative media attention after that. New tools, like the use of voice, or business applications, like collaboration and education, will slowly drive more positive media in the next couple of quarters. But it's a bit of a rollercoaster.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: The growth of Second Life, though, has subsided dramatically. Firms are pulling out ...

Rosedale: The real business use of Second Life centers around collaboration and that is continuing to grow quite rapidly. There are more than 400 universities in Second Life and there are more than 4,000 teachers on our education mailing list. There might have been more enthusiasm and stronger growth in the first two quarters of 2007, but I think that the core growth in utility and in applications is still very strong. There's been a media focus on marketing ...

SPIEGEL ONLINE: But marketing has really proven to be a flop in Second Life, hasn't it?

Rosedale: I believe it's too early to say that. We are still a system with 200,000 different users each day. And though that's impressive and creates a million-dollar-a-day economy for people to make money in, it's not enough people to market many real-world products.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: There's a whole host of competitors now, like Sony's Playstation Home, Raph Kosters Metaplace, a German start-up called Twinity and many others ...

Rosedale: Sony's Home does not allow user created content, and is therefore, I believe, not in the category. I don't think their goal is to compete with Second Life, but with Xbox live. It's just the visuals that appear similar to those in Second Life. The others, if they enabled content creation, might be more similar to Second Life. It does concern me that they might learn from our mistakes -- but we'll learn from what they're doing as well. You'll see us able to follow these changes very rapidly.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: One thing you haven't managed yet is to make people pay to use Second Life on a large scale. Online games like "World of Warcraft" that offer mission and reward schemes make huge amounts of money through subscription fees. Do you need to reconsider your model?

Rosedale: Our strategy is that other people need to build that on top of us, and they are doing that. We have to make sure the platform offers the right kind of features to make that stuff easy -- and that is a challenge for us. It is similar to Facebook, where they've created an API to allow people to build little social applications. But we are not going to make Second Life into a game to improve its retention.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: For Second Life to run smoothly, users need increasingly high-end hardware. A fast Internet connection and a premium graphics card are a must.

Rosedale: Making it crash less on everybody's computers is our number one mission right now. Our mission is to make Second Life very accessible. But the immersive nature of the virtual world does require a certain level of computer performance.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: What's second on your wish list?

Rosedale: Making it more usable. The user interface is still difficult, we need to make that better. Beyond that, what want to make it possible to browse the Web perfectly from within Second Life.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Is the user base changing? The option for voice chat, for example, seems to clash with many of the early uses that had to do with adopting a different identity.

Rosedale: People do use it more seriously nowadays. But on 25 percent of the land area, people have decided to turn off the voice option. And I think that's great. There's room for both types of applications. New media always move through a phase of initial use for novelty and play, and then they graduate to other uses like collaboration, education and business. This happened with television, with the Web and I think it will happen here. But I don't want any of the historical uses to go away, and I don't think they will.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: But the early Web wasn't owned by a single company...

Rosedale: We have to profoundly open up the system. We've opened up the client, and we'll continue to open up formats, protocols, standards, and code. I think we can serve a function as a company that coordinates the activities of many companies and individuals within this system and by doing that allow Second Life to grow by two or three orders of magnitude. Ultimately, the use of virtual worlds will be greater than the use of the Web. Because the Web imposes a language barrier that a virtual world -- once it's perfect -- will not impose. I'll be able to travel to Tokyo in Second Life -- I'll never be able to travel to Tokyo on the Web.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: You might be able to travel to Tokyo in Google Earth before you can in Second Life though.

Rosedale: That's right. But the question is: What are you going to do when you get there? If you want a cultural and physical simulation of a place, you need the appropriate features and an economy. In Second Life, people build content because they're paid to, either by love or by money. Someone has to own the buildings -- if Google owns them, it's going to be a desert.

Virtual Worlds Inspiring A Push For Electronic Currency

ZDNet has an interesting report from a Gartner Symposium last November, where it was discussed that virtual worlds are actually driving overall e-commerce growth - and blogged about by Payment Guy before (just re-emphasizing this point!). Gartner VP Andy Kyte led the discussion, and noted that the cost of processing cash in Asian countries like Singapore is ever on the rise, sometimes tacking up to five percent more onto the cost of goods simply to fund those processing and payment systems.
A solution in this case is electronic currency, and virtual economies have been following this model for some time. Singapore actually decided to create its own electronic currency, to be called Singapore Electronic Legal Tender (Selt), and according to Kyte, this will go live by the end of 2008. And like the microtransactions trend in online gaming that originated in Asia before finding broader success globally, the adoption of Selt could have big implications for the rest of the world, too. "Lots of countries in the world are looking very, very closely at what is happening in Singapore," said Kyte. The general success of concepts like Second Life's Linden Dollar are helping demonstrate that electronic currency is possible, thereby driving the push for electronic currency adoption, said Kyte -- though he notes that not all the kinks have been worked out, such as the security and taxation issues that surround online currencies. But once these are worked out, said Kyte, "it will only be a matter of convincing consumers of the technology." Kyte expects many further ideas to solidify out of the current climate of new ideas and experimentation in the virtual worlds space, and notes that banks might lose out unless they find a way to get in step with the trend.

Here Come The Germans! (With a Second Life Knock-off...)

"Metaversum’s second product, the virtual world Twinity, will be launched soon. Twinity is a virtual world that is closely entangled with the real world. Twinity will enhance your real life instead of helping you escape from it. Twinity mashes up the real with the virtual world. In Twinity you can create your virtual self, meet real people and make new friends. Create your own apartment or build your dream home anywhere in the world. Drop in on your friends and go out and have fun!" "Closely entangled with the real world"... "mashes up the real with the virtual" ... They sound like Californians to me. And they are hiring!

Friday, February 1, 2008

Nortel: Virtual worlds to replace the office

Smart Canadian Nortel is 100% right - a vision of virtual work's future from Nortel:
The company believes Web 2.0 tech and virtual worlds will eventually make work something that is done, rather than somewhere people go to. Nortel Networks is looking to the next generation of employees to shape the workplace of tomorrow, and high on its agenda is exploring the role of Web 2.0 technologies and virtual worlds such as Linden Lab's Second Life. Nortel enterprise chief technology officer Phil Edholm told sister site "A lot of businesses have set up a virtual presence [in Second Life] and what they find is: what's the point?" "But, if in fact I could walk up to the virtual support desk and meet the avatar of the virtual support person which would then find somebody in the company that has the right skills to actually help me, that could become of great value," Edholm continued. Edholm said Nortel has been doing some "demos and trials" with Second Life and contact-centre applications. It has also been working with universities and students to learn how they use communications technology, with the aim of understanding how to translate the likes of thriving online social networks, such as Facebook, into a business environment.

All this is with a view to then building these next-generation functions into the company's products. Edholm said: "If you get these students coming out of university and they're used to doing their homework with their friends on IM, they're used to Facebook, they're used to virtual worlds — how do you recreate that environment in the work world?" Edholm said he believes the answer isn't so much about a workplace of the future, but rather about the potential of "true mobile broadband" offered by future 4G networks to mean work becomes thought of as something that is done, not necessarily a place you go to. Eventually, Edholm predicted, bandwidth across different types of networks will converge so that the type of network being used does not impact on the experience of the user, be it Wi-Fi, cellular or wired. This prediction has been dubbed "Edholm's Law". In an enterprise context, says Edholm, this would mean "application transparency", or "that all of a sudden, regardless of where I am, I can have the same applications, whether I'm in a nomadic location or not". Edholm told "In the enterprise world, the big reason [or] driver why we'll go to WiMax is this application transparency... and that has huge impact on business because, all of a sudden, where you do business is no longer constrained."
However, while being able to push work beyond the four walls of the office will offer enterprises new — and potentially lucrative — opportunities for doing business, it does present other challenges. As Edholm pointed out: "As people become less and less tethered to a location, finding the right person at the right time to do a business function is going to become critical." Bringing communications and applications together to give an intelligent view — including factors such as a person's availability, location and even their velocity — of the status of a disparate workforce will therefore be increasingly important. For instance, Edholm pointed out, if you're driving a car, you probably don't want to get a video call. Edholm added: "Information and interaction are coming together, and it's not going to be information technology — it's going to be information and interaction technology in a few years." Gazing a little closer into the future, the next generation of wireless LAN technology — 802.11n — may be able to cut dependency on cables within buildings. Edholm said: "We think we can actually generate by 2010/11, the capacity of building buildings without wires, which means, regardless of where you are within the building, you're going to get the same experience." Edholm added: "The interesting question is when does the 4G network provide you with the same experience virtually everywhere?" And that's a question of infrastructure investment, which is, of course, the biggest challenge. here;,1000000085,39292545,00.htm