Monthly Archives: July 2007

Stockholm seminar on Second Life: Presentations

The Stockholm School of Economics held a seminar on Second Life on June 14. PDFs of the presentations are now online here. (They’re in English even if the page linking to them is not.)

Machinima in the service of political cartooning

Now here is an example of machinima where I can see the point: In the service of political cartooning. (Via Andrew Sullivan)

Wallenberg room, unplugged

You can still visit the Wallenberg room in the Second House of Sweden even if you are on a computer that doesn’t have the Second Life client installed. Budapest’s OSA Archivum, who contributed the material for the room, also have a web page up describing the room, with plenty of screen shots. There is even supplementary material, such as a complete transcript of the radio play (mp3) that you can hear while in the room.

Feedback

We’ve had some interesting feedback on the Second House of Sweden in Second Life, much of it positive, but of course the most interesting part is the constructive criticism, especially if I agree:-)

One Finnish visitor writes:

… How about having a big panel outside in front of the house, that gives you a notecard with the info of the house? A floor plan? A sign post? For the Feedback panel, it would be better to have the same info in a notecard as panels take time to rez, and also the possibility to drop your opinion in a notecard to the stand, as many would not want to send email from their normal account.

Well, I hope I’m not being too critical, I absolutely admire the Sweden House and I think Second Sweden, too, is a fantastic idea, have been following closely its development. I hope to see interesting exhibitions in the future and wish you all the success!

Yes, we need to help people navigate the place via a teleportation panel — we ran out of time to make a good-looking one before the inauguration, and so we preferred to have none at all. But it is true that exploring Second House of Sweden can be a hit-or-miss affair, especially if you don’t know what’s available. So a teleportation panel really is necessary in the long run.

Even more necessary, of course, is a roster of events. This is probably the most important long-term component to the success of Second House of Sweden. The Swedish summer, however, is not proving the best time to build up momentum for events — everybody here is enjoying the first life on their farm or island rather than sitting in front of the computer. So a proper set of events may have to wait until the Swedish summer is winding down.

Guided tour of the Second House of Sweden

Here’s is the guided tour of the Second House of Sweden I gave on May 30, 2007, at the inauguration:

It’s almost 20 minutes long, but there is a lot to show:-)

Inauguration of Second House of Sweden (the video)

Now that we have the raw video feed from the inauguration on DVD, here is the part where Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt inaugurates the Second House of Sweden. Taken on May 30, 2007 at the Swedish Institute in Stockholm:

The implications of voice in Second Life

I’ve now played with the new voice feature in Second Life’s Voice First Look Viewer, available since mid-June. Download it and take it for a test drive; it has clear sound and no apparent scalability issues, and gives you a sneak preview of what Second Life will soon feel like.

Integrated voice chat is going to completely change the dynamic of Second Life, benefitting those who see this virtual world as a immersive communications tool, though perhaps at the expense of those who see themselves as inhabiting an alternate virtual world.

The reasons for this shift is twofold:

  • First, when your avatar uses voice chat, you can no longer lie about your gender. Avatars who always refuse to use voice chat, meanwhile, will be suspected of “lying” about their “real” gender. SL etiquette may well find a way to accomodate voiceless avatars, though they could become a class apart. (Also possible is that those who invest the most time in SL and its role-playing possibilities may not take to voice chat at all.)
  • Second, the use of SL as a virtual conferencing tool will become much more natural. Yes, you can currently set up a text chat room on the web, send out a URL and wait for interested people to show up at the appointed hour, but such a solution lacks immersion — you can’t all watch the a movie synchronously, for example, or listen to a music performance, or get feedback about who is actively present and paying attention. You can do all this currently in Second Life with public text chat. Adding voice, however, turns this into a much more fluid, realistic experience.

Imagine, for example, that you invite the director of a short film to present her work in Second Life in front of a group of interested people. The film can be shown “live” via Quicktime Streaming Server in such a way that everyone sees the movie synchronously, while the director does a play-by-play voiceover, just like the commentary track on a DVD. You can say a lot more if you say it rather than type it — and meanwhile you can concentrate on watching the film, instead of on spelling.

But the arrival of voice chat won’t cannibalize text chat, for the same reason that we send SMS messages on our mobile phone or text chat with Skype or iChat. That’s because text chat in SL, especially when sending private messages, does not require the immediate attention or response of the recipient — just as with SMS.

And of course, voice chat doesn’t leave you with a text log of what was said… so you have to take notes, just like in the real world. But voice-based conferencing of the type that will now be possible in Second Life will be so compelling in terms of ease of use and that I think it will turn an experimental use of Second Life into a mainstream one.