Category Archives: Second Life

A quick tour of Second Life

Soon, our new Swedish Institute interns will start keeping office hours at the Second House of Sweden. Some will be new to Second Life, so we thought it would be useful to make a list of cool must-see places to visit, as part of the training. Here they are:

Svarga, a classic Second Life fantasy, with really high build quality. Jump into the buggy for a guided tour, or fly around yourself.

Sculpted Earth, by Magnuz, a Swedish SL developer. Walk around a model of Earth with magnified height data. Walk into the globe for more.

3D Map of Sweden, also by Magnuz. Walk around it for different perspectives. Click the map to get a menu of options.

Sistine Chapel at Vassar College: At this university’s sim, find the recreation of the Sistine Chapel nearby.

David Rumsey Maps: The world’s largest map collection shown in 3D. Fly across the landscape and into the globes for more.

The International Spaceflight Museum is the only place anywhere where you can compare relative sizes of rockets. Also check out the Lunar Lander module, and the Science on a Sphere video.

Virtual Briefing Hub: Turn on video, click on some of the available buttons, and watch the map appear.

Second Sweden, the largest Swedish presence in Second Life. Run around Gamla Stan, or find the skyscraper of the Swedish state real-estate company HSB.

Kamimo Island, a collaborate e-learning experiment that includes Sweden’s university of Kalmar. Try the sandbox if you want to have a go at building something yourself. Don’t worry, you can’t do anything wrong:-)

Greenies! Buy a decoder ring (L$99) at the entrance with your Linden Dollars to access this sim. One of my favorite sims.

Lauk’s Nest, where you can enjoy the view or try some of the instruments. This works best when you have some friends with you.

Last, but not least, the Second House of Sweden. Welcome to Sweden’s official representation to Second Life. Check out the exhibitions, but don’t miss the Raoull Wallenberg immersive radio play at the back of the embassy.

These places are a subjective choice, of course; there are many more impressive Second Life destinations, and the above list is not meant to be a “best of”, but I do think it gives a good idea of what Second Life can be used for. If you have your own favorite places that you think are must-see, do add them in the comments.

Scenes from a Virtu-Real party

The inauguration of the “Innovation & Technology” exhibition at the House of Sweden in Washington DC went off without a hitch… And so did the installation “House of Sweden goes Virtu-Real”. I’ve added some more pictures to the Flickr set:

If you missed the inauguration, you can visit the installation yourself until March 16, either i Second Life or in Washington DC.

Below, the press release that was sent out earlier today:

House of Sweden goes Virtu-Real
By Studio Unreal + Team and the Swedish Institute
January 8 – March 16, 2008
House of Sweden, Washington DC — Second House of Sweden, Second Life.

Join us either in the real world or in the virtual world of Second Life to visit a brand-new installation that spans both places: A room that is partly at Second House of Sweden in Second Life, and partly in the real world, at the House of Sweden in Washington, DC.

The installation is part of an exhibition at the House of Sweden running from January 8 to March 16 that highlights Swedish technology and innovation. But if you are not in Washington DC, you too can visit — in fact, your presence in Second Life is crucial to making the installation “House of Sweden goes Virtu-Real” work.

What does the installation do?

  • In the real world: As you approach the installation, a projection on a glass wall allows the room to continue into Second Life, where you can see avatars in real time visiting the room in Second Life. Beside the screen there is a “pixel cave”, a booth with an old Ericsson phone and smaller screen that lets you see the virtual room from the side. Pick up the phone, and a virtual phone will ring in Second Life. Anyone visiting the room in Second Life can answer the phone (by clicking on it) and talking to you.
  • In Second Life: Visit the installation at Second House of Sweden, just behind the reception desk as you enter. Once there, turn on video to see a live view of the real-world exhibit along one wall. Remember, they can see you too! There is a big pink phone in the room. Touch it, and a real phone will ring at the exhibition. If somebody there picks up, you can have a conversation. Remember to have voice chat enabled.

The installation is conceived and created by Studio Unreal + Team, an architectural collective with roots in KTH, the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm. The installation is commissioned and funded by the Swedish Institute, a government agency involved in public Diplomacy.

Some photos of the installation and its construction in Washington DC:

More information about the installation at:
http://secondhouseofsweden.com/

More information about the real-world exhibition.
http://www.swedenabroad.com/Page____69190.aspx

Location of the Second House of Sweden:
You can visit Second House of Sweden from here:

To register for Second Life (free):
http://www.sweden.se/templates/cs/Secondlife____16359.aspx

Opening hours:
In the real world, 12-6pm Wednesday to Friday, 12-4pm Saturday and Sunday (Washington DC time)
In Second Life: 24/7! (Tough when the exhibition is closed, there will be nobody to talk to in the real world.)

Saint Lucia 2007 in Second Life: December 13

Last December 13, Sweden’s Saint Lucia procession in Second Life was the first widely covered Swedish-themed event in Second Life, organized by Swedish Second Life resident Tina Dahl and a small band of friends. In the year since, Second Life has seen a veritable explosion into the public consciousness, and as a result far more Swedes are now involved in the virtual world — which means far more Swedes to partake in this year’s Saint Lucia ritual.

This December 13, then, expect a far more elaborate Saint Lucia procession, with contributions from many Swedes in Second Life. Below is the press release, or download this flyer (jpeg). If you want to read up on Saint Lucia before the day, here’s a great primer. This is one of the best rituals in Sweden’s annual calendar — and now you can attend one from absolutely anywhere. No more excuses!

luciaett.jpg

After last years huge succes of Lucia in Second Life – Lucia will visit us all again!

Every year the 13th of December, Santa (Saint) Lucia arrives to Sweden to announce the Christmas season. This year, again, she will be in Second Life.

The Lucia Celebration features traditional Swedish songs, with a woman, representing Saint Lucia, dressed in white robes, with a headdress of candles, a halo of light to repel the darkness.

LUCIA in Second Life – 13th of December Svenskt Resurscenter – sim (128 128 0)
Swedish time: 21.00-21.30 and 22.30 to late.
Second Life time: 12am (PST)-12.30am (PST) and 1.30 PM (PST) to late.

Do not miss the opportunity to attend this celebration of light and meet a real Swedish Lucia, complete with an entourage of singers, a Christmas tree, Santa (the real one!), Swedish freebie gifts, Swedish live music and disco. The entire amount of all sales/donation will go to Swedish Red Cross in Second Life. Donation boxs will be all over the sim.

Very welcome – all residents in Second Life,

Lucia 2007 by the People of Sweden.

PS: Who is the Lucia 2007 are a well protected secret untill the 13th of December.

For more info about the Lucia in Second Life 2006/2007 contact: Tina (PetGirl) Bergman in Second Life or by email.

Linné Lab? Carl Linden?

Here’s something I didn’t know before that is somehow relevant to Second Life geeks. From the Wikipedia article on Carl Linnaeus, aka Carl Linné:

When Linnaeus’ father went to the University of Lund, he coined himself a Latin surname: Linnaeus, referring to a large linden (lime) tree, the warden tree of the family property Linnagård (linn being an archaic form of Swedish lind, the linden). Nils Ingemarsson Linnaeus gave his son the name Carl. So the Swedish name of the boy was Carl Linnaeus.

In other words, had Linden Lab (the makers of Second Life) been founded in Sweden, they’d likely have been called Linné Lab; or conversely, Carl would have been called Carl Linden.

Invasão Sueca: Swedish music in Brazil… in Second Life (Sept 21)

Invasão Sueca (“Swedish Invasion”) brings Swedish pop music to Brazil, and now also to Second Life. This whole week, Swedish bands such as Love Is All, Hello Saferide, Maia Hirasawa and Suburban Kids With Biblical Names are playing in Recife, Porto Alegre and Sao Paolo — on September 21st, the performance is also being broadcast live via streaming video to the Second House of Sweden, Sweden’s virtual embassy in Second Life.

The concert starts at 23.00 Sao Paolo time (Sept 21), 22.00 New York time, (Sept 21), 19.00 Second Life time (Sept 21), 04:00 Stockholm time (Sept 22). On stage will be Suburban Kids With Biblical Names and Maia Hirasawa. See you at the Second House of Sweden on the Swedish Institute sim.

auditorium.jpg

About Invasão Sueca: Invasão Sueca is a project by the Swedish Institute and Export Music Sweden to promote Swedish music in Brazil. In 2006 Jens Lekman, El Perro Del Mar and Hell On Wheels toured Brazil, which resulted in front-page news on the culture pages of Sao Paolo’s largest daily papers. In June 2007 José Gonzales toured Brazil with Invasão Sueca.

About the live video broadcast in Second Life: As with everything we do in Second Life, we approach this project as a playful experiment. We will do live but informal testing on September 20th (same times, but 24 hours earlier, so do drop by Second House of Sweden then and help us stress test:-) What’s the technology involved? On stage, a video camera and microphones relay the concert to a computer connected to the internet, running Wirecast. Wirecast encodes the video and sends it to Qbrick in Sweden, which in turn broadcasts the video to all those who visit the auditorium at the Second House of Sweden.

[UPDATE: Due to technical difficulties — a bad internet connection in Brazil — we weren’t able to bring this live. Apologies all round, that is the way it is new technology:-)]

Umeå’s HUMlab ventures into Second Life

Another Swedish univertsity is venturing into Second Life. Umeå University’s HUMlab, “a vibrant and diverse meeting place for the humanities, culture and information technology”, has just bought part of a sim and is beginning to explore the space. The HUMlab Blog is documenting progress — you can read more about it here and here.

Estonia to ope virtual embassy in Second Life

Looks like Estonia will soon be joining Sweden in getting a virtual embassy on its own dedicated sim.

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.

Kalmar University College to enter Second Life

Kalmar University College, in Southeastern Sweden, is planning on setting up a presence in Second Life. The project is a collaboration with the University of Central Missouri in the US, and Molde University College in Norway:

The three colleges will build virtual buildings and virtual classroom spaces on these islands. The partners will also develop a variety of activities that support different segments of their real life student populations as well as allow for cross communication between the student bodies.

The combined space wil consist of two sims (“islands”) called the Kamimo Islands. You can read more about the project here.

Update: Of course there is a blog, Kamimo Islands.

Second Life’s search for identity

Three interesting events have happened in the Second Life arena over the past few weeks, and together they make a compelling case that the place is growing up, but not without growing pains:

  1. First, Linden Lab announced that it is planning to introduce an opt-in system for users to be able to confirm aspects of each others’ real-life identities, such as age and jurisdiction.
  2. At the same time, Linden Lab also announced that it will no longer “abet” in the advertising of casinos in Second Life, because these have a questionable legal status in some jurisdictions.
  3. Finally, a few days ago, Linden Labs Electric Sheep Company introduced a new web-based search tool for Second Life, coupled to a bot that scrapes every public space about once a day for items made by users that are for sale (on the assumption that these are therefore intended for public consumption — it is possible to opt out, however). It works much better than the in-world search function we’ve had until now. Just look at what a search for “swedish” brings up.

Before I draw some general conclusions, there are some interesting reactions to the introduction of search in SL worth noting: SL blogs in the main have lauded it, as do I. It greatly increases the findability of SL objects, and hence the usability of SL as a whole. It truly does to SL what the advent of decent search engines did to the web in 1996.

But on the web in 1996, it also took some getting used to the fact that search engines made holiday snapshots or a CV on your obscure home page accessible to all. To others, this newfound search efficiency cut out profit opportunities for business plans that relied on information opacity. And so it is in SL today: Large SL stakeholder Anche Chung has forbidden the bot from all her properties, and residents are realizing they have public objects listed for sale that they thought were out of the public eye, simply because there was no easy way to find them previously.

There are some larger trends afoot, I think: The coming ability to verify identities will make it easier for businesses (including casinos) to be run legitimately in SL, just as they are on the web now; this is just another step in the process of SL becoming a mainstream 3D medium — a 3D immersive web rather than a self-sufficient alternate community.

The introduction of search also sees Linden Lab Electric Sheep take on a relationship to Second Life which is not unlike that of Google to the web.

What about a Google analogy for Linden Lab? It is to Second Life what Google is to the Google Earth Community and YouTube. Both these places contain user-generated content, but Google also hosts the content, and thus has an ultimate legal responsibility — witness recent dustups in Turkey and Thailand over YouTube content deemed illegal in these countries. Gambling in Second Life present a similar exposure for Linden Lab.

The long-term solution to such dilemmas is to open-source the software that serves Second Life content, or at the very least to license it — and this will be easier to do once protocols are in place for proving one’s true identity. In other words, everything is proceeding according to plan in the metaverse roadmap:-)