Archive by Author

The Viewer is Critical Infrastructure

In the world of Second Life, the viewer has to be considered critical infrastructure. It allows us to access the world, and it's the method through which we control our experience. Without it we don't get in. And if the viewer has problems or doesn't work well, our experience and quality of life suffers. Yep, definitely critical.

Currently Second Life provides an official viewer along with a Beta version. When we all first join, we are most likely downloading and using the official Second Life viewer. But once we spend some time in world, some of us eventually realize not everyone is using the official viewer. We realize there are other viewers available  – these are referred to as Third Party Viewers (TPV). Some people try out these other viewers and never go back to the one provided by Second Life. Others regularly switch between viewers. And there are many who never use anything but the Second Life viewer. In May of this year, the New World Notes blog posted a story with some user statistics indicating 65-75% of people in Second Life were using the Phoenix/Firestorm viewers with Phoenix being number one, Firestorm number two, and the official viewer being the third most used viewer. The story generated many comments – another indication of how important the viewer is to users.

Over the years there's been a lot of changes to the official viewer and even more were recently announced. Many blogs have been posting articles about the changes. So I'm listing some articles here that capture the conversation because they are an indication of what Second Life members need and envision for this critical piece of infrastructure – the viewer. As I find more, I'll continue to add them to this post:

 

For General Viewer Information:

Second Life Forum – Viewer Topic (note it's one of the topics with the most posts which is another sign indicating its importance)

 

Reactions to recent viewer changes:

Raising the Walls  – from the Telling: Like it Is blog

Linden Lab cuts viewer link to OpenSim – from the Hypergrid Business site (while the focus of the article is on OpenSim, a portion of the article and some of the comments specifically express opinions about how this affects Second Life)

 

What is the Second Life Community’s Message?

In the process of developing a community plan, we explore the core values of its members. This can be determined by answering questions like:

  • What is important to the community?
  • What does the community want to accomplish?
  • What does the community care about?
  • Where does the community want to concentrate their time and money?

 Today I read some interesting thoughts in Paul Graham's essay called Cities and Ambition that made me think there is another important question to ask:

What is the community's message? If you are a new person joining Second Life and beginning your exploration of that world, what is the initial message you receive? What is the message you receive from the community if you're an older resident?

Graham has given this some thought as it relates to offline cities where he has lived or spent time. He said the messages he has picked up from cities have been ones of "wealth, style, hipness, physical attractiveness, fame, political power, economic power, intelligence, social class, and quality of life." Which of these messages are the ones sent by the Second Life community? And which one do we as a community want to send?

And why is this important? One reason it's important is because the community will be most successful when the message matches the values. For example, if art is the most important value, but visitors or residents do not get that message, then the community will not be as successful in its pursuit and enjoyment of art.

To get an idea of the impression Second Life is sending, we set up a quick poll with Graham's categories in the right sidebar on the main page – if you get a chance, please add your vote for the message you think is the one sent by Second Life.

 

Understanding the Infrastructure

The ability to enjoy your time in Second Life is significantly affected by hardware and software performance and capabilities. And this is why infrastructure and services stands as a separate planning category in this effort. While our discussions haven't yet touched on this aspect, I have recently read a few blog posts discussing this subject and wanted to share them here. As I find more, I will add them to the list. 

Your router could be screwing up your connection to Second Life – from Dwell on It by Tateru Nino

There goes the neighbourhood…. – from and by soror Nishi

Project Shining to Improve Avatar and Object Streaming Speeds – from Second Life by Linden Lab

Content Creation Improvement User Group Week 29 – discussion of requests from content creators from Nalates' Things & Stuff by Nalates Urriah

 

Summary of Community Planning Workshops #1

During SL9B we hosted a couple workshops to start the discussion about Second Life. For these first talks we tried to focus only on general aspects of Second Life – why are we here, what do we like about it, what is challenging, what are our general expectations from the platform.

Several people showed up at each event to share their ideas, outlook, and thoughts. We were fortunate that the group represented avatars of all ages and experiences, and they all had great comments and insight. It was a wonderful start to the community plan.

We are now contacting specific groups in Second Life to see if they have an interest in hosting discussions about the different aspects of the plan. If you or your group are interested in hanging out and discussing your vision of the Second Life community, make sure to send an IM to Pam Renoir in Second Life. And if you want to be on our informal committee to work through the plan and its draft, be sure to let us know!

 

Below is a summary of the ideas and feedback we received. (After you read through it, you can also read a great thread on the SLUniverse.com Forums about "What retained you the first day in SL?" Many of the comments there are relevant to this aspect of the plan.)

 

Summary of Community Planning Workshops Held at SL9B at the Virtual Vision Exhibit

Why are we here? Are people really aware of why they are here? And are they aware of how the world is created/maintained?

The impression is that people in SL fit into one of two categories depending on their reason for participating in Second Life (and this can be different for the same person each time they log on):

·        To make, sell, learn, teach

·        To enjoy recreational/social aspects: clubs/dating/roleplay/games

Second Life is the result of people's dreams and visions. It is an ever evolving project. And the perception is that although it is user created, few probably realize the degree to which this is true.

 

What people like about SL:

  • Hint of anarchy
  • Presentation of few barriers
  • Lack of judgmental attitudes in general
  • Overall friendliness and helpfulness of the community
  • The ability and encouragement for anyone to create
  • The ability for anyone to present themselves any way they want
  • It's not just another game
  • Its objectives are the same as your offline life objectives
  • The pace is slower and more relaxed
  • Shared experiences are possible similar to the type shared offline
  • There is the ability to keep your personal information and/or identity private
  • People can create the type of life they desire
  • There is also great potential to test ideas before implementing offline
  • Because of the unlimited resources, people can create in Second Life what would be too expensive to make offline
  • This environment allows us to see life's bigger picture and encourages us to move forward into the future
  • For some people, SL helps them become less afraid in their lives in general

It was observed that while machines were made to extend muscle power, Second Life was created to extend brain power

And even though there was acknowledgement of griefers, the thought was most griefers are doing it for attention or don't realize there are real people behind the avatars. People also did not have a lot of exposure to griefers.

 

What is our view of the avatars in SL?

Some think of avatars as their actual self while others view the digital representation as the avatar, not the actual offline person, but still believe the avatar has feelings and emotions.

 

What keeps people in SL?

  • Other people! A welcome into the community. But while this was acknowledged as critical, the concern was it was not scalable – need about one to two hours to orient a new person properly
  • A newcomer packet explaining things and what you can do as an avatar would be helpful to those just joining
  • Infohubs were mentioned as helping along with communities like Caledon

 

Some challenges to retaining people

  • Challenge is that people need time and patience to understand SL, but it's difficult to do this when you do not know the outcome or end result.
  • Computer hardware required for a positive experience
  • Lack of direction for some people who like guidance on what to do
  • Some people experience fear in Second Life on levels other than for personal safety
  • A few people have experienced some arrogance and elitist attitudes from others in the community
  • Competing interests

 

What people would like to see:

  • More community discussions
  • More social technology/tools and integration with other social media tools
  • Confirmation and understanding of security
  • Enhance Second Life's ability to jumpstart our future and improve our offline lives
  • Enhance the ability of Second Life to develop a new type of psychology, politics, and science
  • Enhance and encourage Second Life's ability to speed up research and development in the offline world and expand that exponentially
  • Enhance and encourage Second Life's ability to help people learn to interact and develop better relationships and improve their own understanding of themselves and their critical thinking skills.
  • Improve the ability to find and work with those who have similar interests within Second Life
  • Improve the ability of people to find work in Second Life

 

Challenges for planning and setting community goals:

  • The presence of communities within communities – this is primarily seen as a weak point only because it has hurt the external perception of Second Life
  • Lack of interest by majority of the community in a community plan or goals

 

 

Latest Infrastructure Suggestions

We heard a lot of good suggestions, comments, and ideas at our open discussion events at SL9B. I'm still in the process of summarizing them, but in the meantime, wanted to list a few of the recent blog posts discussing infrastructure in Second Life.

Linden Lab's recent infrastructure improvement project:

Linden Lab recently announced a concentrated effort to work on some of the issues related to graphics and performance. And a few people have offered their thoughts about this project. Below are some links to a few comprehensive articles on the topic.

A Shining announcement: major improvements coming to SL – from Living in a Modem World: Thoughts on Virtual Living

Second Life Changes Coming – from Nalates' Things and Stuff 

In addition, a couple people have offered ideas about improving other services. You can check out their posts here:

 

A couple of great posts covering improvements to communication:

Improving groups – from Jo Yardley's Second Life

Improving out-world possibilities for in-world situations – from Jo Yardley's Second Life

 

An older, but still relevant post about scale and how it affects our experience in Second Life:

A Matter of Scale – from The Digital Pasture

 

 

SL Planning Twitter Chat June 20!

That's right – after a great workshop tonight at the Virtual Vision 2020 plot at SL9B, we're excited about continuing the discussion tomorrow (Wed, June 20) night. This time, we'll be talking about community and Second Life through a Twitter chat. Sandy Adam (Twitter handle @sandyadam) will be leading the chat which will begin at 6 PDT (or SLT) with the hashtag #vv2020. So be sure to check out the #vv2020 hashtag tomorrow and join in the conversation!


What the Heck is a Twitter Chat?!

For those of you who might be wondering just what is a Twitter chat (or Tweet chat), it's really just a conversation on Twitter about a specific topic. Usually the chat is facilitated by one person who tweets a few questions, and anyone who wants to join in responds. The entire thread of the conversation can be followed because anyone particpating adds the same hashtag to their Tweets. In our case, this will be #vv2020. So you can follow the discussion by searching for the hashtag, #vv2020 starting around 6 pm PDT tomorrow night. There are even some programs set up to make it easier for you to follow this type of discussion. I've introduced a few below you can try for tomorrow night:

First, you can just use Twitter by typing in the hashtag at the top in the search. This will bring up any tweets with that hashtag. But the difficulty in using Twitter is that you have no longer have your own window in which to type any responses. So you would have to either go back and forth or open another window.

So, an easier tool is TweetChat. After you authorize the application to access your Twitter account, you can type in the hashtag you want to follow in the window at the top. This will bring up all tweets with that hashtag. And you have a window at the top of the stream in which to type your tweets.

Another easy tool to use is Twitterfall. After signing in on the site with your Twitter account, you can type the hashtag into the search window and the stream of tweets begins falling down the page. This site is nice because you can DM, reply, RT, Favorite, or Follow each Tweet or person by hovering over the right end of the tweet and choosing from a pop-up menu. To post a new tweet, you just go to the top of the page and click "New Tweet."

A Collection of Reflections

Because many of you are already discussion the different aspects of community, it's beneficial to collect and highlight those discussions here. The ideas found in those posts and related comments offer insight into how the community thinks and feels about their experience in Second Life. Below under the different categories, I've listed several of the recent posts I've read discussion issues related to that aspect of Second Life. Be sure to add in the comments any other posts that you've found or think are relevant. It would also be great to hear your opinion regarding the ideas presented in these posts. I'll also update this post as I locate more articles:

General Discussions

Metareality Podcast: weekly discussion about many topics related to community in Second Life

Living in the Modem World: regular posts covering many topics related to community in Second Life

Land Use:

Tyche Shepherd's Mainland Census June 2012 (Her main site is at: Second Life Grid Survey)

Great general discussion of land use and its implications: THINKERS JUNE 12 2012: DECLINE OF PRIVATE SIMS

Shed Me No Tiers blog post by Tateru Nino discussing cost of land

 

 

 

 

 

Upcoming Planning Workshops – June 2012

Normally community plans are developed over time by having public workshops or discussions to identify information to be used in the plan. So there will be discussions held over the next few weeks where people from the Second Life community can give feedback and share thoughts and ideas. The benefit we have over the traditional process is that we have many more venues in which to host these discussions. So if you want to participate, there'll be many opportunities! Below are a few upcoming workshops/discussions:

 

Community Planning Discussion: Tues., June 19, 2012, 4:00 pm SLT, at the Virtual Vision 2020 exhibit at SL9B

Community Planning Discussion: Fri., June 22, 2012, 4:00 pm SLT, at the Virtual Vision 2020 exhibit at SL9B

Ongoing Facebook Discussion courtesy of Eric Hackathorn and the Virtual World Group

Twitter Chat: first one scheduled for Wed., June 20, 2012, 6 pm SLT #vv2020

 

Virtual Vision 2020 Begins!

 

Virtual Vision 2020 is a community plan for Second Life. 

Virtual Vision 2020 is an attempt to capture the community's thoughts, ideas, opinions, and goals for Second Life. Modeled off the community planning process that takes place in communities all across the world, this virtual plan can help the Second Life community define itself, set goals for its future, and offer a roadmap for success. If you are a member of that community, your input is important to help make the plan a reality and a success!

This is only the first phase of the process – gathering feedback. So if you've ever wanted to share your ideas and thoughts about what makes Second Life great, what makes it frustrating,  what can make it better for you, and where you think it needs to be in 2020, here's your chance – the community needs to hear from you!

But shouting it from the nearest rooftop is not a good idea, or even safe. And we all know shouting in Second Life doesn't travel nearly far enough for everyone to hear. So instead, you can share what you'd like to say or shout or even whisper using one or all of seven surveys – one general and six specific – where you can share anonymously.

You are also welcome to post comments below or on the blog – over the next few weeks, you'll find several topics discussed here covering many of the aspects of Second Life. Just keep any comments clean, try to be constructive in criticism, and rated G. If you've got some strong opinions and would like to write a post here, just send an email to virtualplanner@virtualvision2020.com so you can get access to post. Many of you already have blogs of your own and have already been posting over the years your thoughts and ideas about many of these issues. If we know about your posts, we'll highlight them here because the best plan will come from the most feedback.

Virtual Vision 2020 will also be at the SL9B so make sure to stop by and share your thoughts there.