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Buying Land In Second Life

Posted by SIM on April 23, 2007

By Mitch Wagner,
Apr 23, 2007

At last, I bought land in Second Life to built my virtual home in. I’ve been shopping for more than a month, and couldn’t find a tract I fell in love with. I’m still not in love with the land I bought, but I like it.

It’s 1,008 square meters in Carnforth.

Why’d I buy that parcel? It’s got a gentle slope, and it’s near to the ocean. Also, I liked the look of the neighborhood: No obvious businesses, no obnoxious big ads, just bunch of houses with interesting architecture. All of that will give it a nice view.

The cost of the land: About US$40, plus US$5 per month maintenance fees (called “tier” fees in Second Life). If it turns out I don’t like the land, I expect I can sell it to someone else get my money back.

Why’d I buy land? The same reason I’ve had a personal space on the Web for more than 10 years, a home page which evolved into an online journal and then a blog. It’s a place where my friends and select business associates can connect with me, and it’s a place where I can play with the technology. I’m looking forward to getting started building in Second Life; I haven’t done any of that so far and it’s a major part of the fun of the virtual world.

Why didn’t I buy the land for InformationWeek? Couple of reasons, really: I think the tract is way too small for what we should do in InformationWeek, when we do decide to buy land in SL. Also, I expect my first efforts at building and landscaping in Second Life to be bad. It’s one thing to just be one guy learning to build in Second Life, and writing up my experiences on the InformationWeek Blog. It’s quite another thing to have this butt-ugly monstrosity sitting on IW land, with the IW brand on it, where passersby can look at it and get the idea we don’t know any better. We do know better; it’s just the purpose of this land is not to market InformationWeek; it’s to have a place where I can experiment and be bad at it, at least first.

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‘Second Life’ As Stressful As First

Posted by SIM on April 5, 2007

Developer Finds ‘Second Life’ as Stressful as First
By Gerald M. Gay
04/05/07

Shaun Hull is a “Second Life” entrepreneur, building objects in the online world for users who pay him real money for anything from virtual homes to virtual babies. He started a year and a half ago, when the realm was relatively new and he felt a “God-like ability” to create anything he wanted. Now, however, he’s beginning to view “Second Life” as more a job than a hobby.

There are two types of people on “Second Life”: Those who buy things and those who create the things that people like to buy.

Tucsonan (Ariz.) Shaun Hull falls into the latter.

While residents pump millions of American dollars into clothing, land and other material possessions on the game, Hull — a Linux systems administrator who goes by Hiro David online — spends three to four hours a day holed up in his virtual home, building products on commission for eager “Second Life” consumers.

The creative process involves constructing the objects with the software provided by Linden Lab and then writing scripts, the codes that make the objects act the way they do.

‘I Was Hooked’

Anyone can create on the game, but not everyone has the patience to learn the sometimes-difficult nuances involved.

“When I first started out there were only about 60,000 members, so everything was a lot more open,” said Hull, 28, who joined “Second Life” a year-and-a-half ago. “There were wide open spaces where you could create. You had this God-like ability that you could build anything you put your mind to. That’s what I started out doing. I was hooked.”

Hull has since logged in countless hours honing his craft, building things like his spacious Japanese-style home complete with rice paper walls and his own koi pond with swimming fish and dragonflies buzzing about.

Building Babies

The commission work he has done for others, fulfilling some unusual requests along the way, have covered his monthly gaming dues for more than a year.

“I had one lady who wanted me to make a baby,” Hull said. “One that would cry and have different moods. It was very aggravating. But she paid me a couple hundred (American) bucks, so I did it. Some people go a little too heavy on the realism. It is kind of insane.”

Despite his success in the game, Hull doesn’t see himself being a permanent “Second Life” resident.

“I am at the total whim of my customers,” he said. “I started playing “Second Life” for fun and it has kind of turned into a part-time job, essentially. I’ve been cutting back on projects and I am not sure if I want to do this anymore. It pretty much kills the fun aspect, and both of my lives are stressful enough as is.”

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For Sale In Second Life: Amsterdam

Posted by SIM on March 22, 2007

By Mitch Wagner,
March 22, 2007

Amsterdam is for sale on eBay.. It’s one of the most popular areas in Second Life. More than that: It is, to Second Life, what Times Square is to New York, or Fisherman’s Wharf is to San Francisco. It’s one of the first places where newbies go, to look around and check out the scene.

I’ve visited a couple of times myself, in my first couple of weeks in Second Life, but not since. I know only a couple of things about it: It’s really lovely, with lots of attention to detail. It looks a lot like the real Amsterdam (which, alas, I’ve only seen on TV travel shows). Check out the slide show on the auction page, above.

And it’s supposed to be one of the most prominent locations for the sex business in Second Life.

Bidding starts at US$20,000, or you can buy it outright for $50,000.

The owner and developer, who goes by the Second Life name “Stroker Serpentine,” says he’s selling because it’s time to move on.

Tateru Nino wrote a brief, six-paragraph profile of Amsterdam, with photos:

One of the first things that really stands out about Amsterdam is the attention-to-detail. It feels very much like a real place, with signage, advertising, imperfections and litter.

Benja Soon said it made him miss the real Amsterdam, and lauded the accuracy of the design, “If the map went two more blocks to my right, I could visit my old apartment.”

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Second Life Presents Real Life Security Risk

Posted by SIM on March 14, 2007

Sophos claims productivity and corporate data at risk as it blocks virtual game
byMatt Chapman
14 March 2007

Online virtual community Second Life affects worker productivity and can cause real life IT security risks, a security vendor claimed today.

Sophos said the growing use of Web 2.0 is redefining how users interact with the internet and creating new avenues for cyber-criminals seeking the easiest point of entry to the network.

“With more than four million registered users worldwide, many of whom regularly visit Second Life on their business PCs, Sophos is warning of the negative impact on staff productivity as well as the increased IT security risks posed by allowing employees to access this virtual world at work,” a statement from Sophos said.

The immense media buzz about the virtual world has already made Second Life a target for hackers trying to gain access to sensitive data to commit identity theft and for financial gain, the security company claimed.

Sophos pointed to an attack last September, which saw hackers steal a Second Life database containing passwords and login information for about 650,000 players.

“If users cannot be trusted to act responsibly on corporate computers, then system administrators will need to enforce policies through technology,” said Carole Theriault, senior security consultant at Sophos.

“IT departments are concerned that workers may be so keen to log on to Second Life and other virtual worlds that there will not only be a productivity hit but also a potential security issue.”

Sophos said that from 22 March, the application control feature in its antivirus software will allow businesses to block Second Life on company networks.

The company said its recent web poll of more than 450 system administrators showed that 90.4 per cent wanted the ability to block the unauthorised use of games at work, with 62 per cent saying this was essential.

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Virtual Worlds Increasingly Attracting Users, Businesses

Posted by SIM on March 13, 2007

By Dave Hendrick
March 13, 2007

Do virtual online worlds such as Second Life represent the next great Internet phenomenon?

Already, Second Life, in which user-created characters, or “avatars,” inhabit a virtual world and pass the time by shopping, dating and exploring the ever-changing landscape, shares many of the same attributes as some of its “next big thing” predecessors such as MySpace and Facebook, including millions of avid users.

And much like its Web 2.0 brethren, Second Life has also drawn strong interest from conventional businesses, with outfits such as Warner Music Group Corp.’s Warner Bros. Records, CNET Networks Inc. and Reebok, among others, all setting up virtual outposts in the animated world.

According to Yankee Group analyst Jennifer Simpson, the program’s popularity stems in part from its marriage of the dominant Web 2.0 themes.

“It’s kind of the confluence of two trends, that being social networking, because there is a community aspect to all of this, but also content generation,” Simpson told SNL Financial March 12. “More and more we are seeing in the Web 2.0 ‘world’ user-generated content, and certainly Second Life is a place where there is tons of content being created.”

In addition to creating characters, users and businesses can buy virtual real estate, build virtual structures and run virtual stores.

Nearly 4.6 million users had registered for the program through the first week in March — a notable sum, but still a fraction of those spending time at the most popular Web 2.0 sites.

“I still think the sites in terms of MySpace and YouTube are going to have a lot of hold on the current user base that they have,” Simpson said. “For both of those sites, MySpace in particular, the draw is really the community and there’s a lot of community that will continue to draw people in.”

And while media companies as diverse as CBS Corp. and Yahoo! Inc. are scouring for the next hot Web property, Simpson noted that unlike previous popular sites that had large user bases but an unclear path toward profitability, Second Life already makes money.

“As long as you are making a lot of money and as long as you have your business model figured out, you’re not going to want to sell too early or for too little,” Simpson said. “Whereas MySpace didn’t really have a great revenue model figured out and YouTube didn’t have a great revenue model figured out … I think that Second Life exists completely differently. The [return on investment] is pretty obvious.”

In addition to charging a monthly membership fee for premium membership, the site sells virtual “regions” for nearly $1700 each and charges a land use fee that can reach as high as $195 per month.

Stephen Prentice, an analyst at Gartner Research, noted that while Second Life tends to receive the most attention out of the current crop of virtual worlds, it remains just one of many such platforms, noting the similarities of sites such as Entropia Universe, EverQuest and the “virtual microcosms” designed to replicate specific television programs such as MTV Network’s “The Hills” or “Laguna Beach.”

“There is a range of these sorts of sites that have been targeted at specific niche communities,” Prentice told SNL March 13. “MTV has been very successful in linking them as a sort of virtual extension of a hit TV show.”

In addition to spinning off popular programs, Viacom Inc.’s MTV has been at the forefront of trying to integrate real-world advertisers into their virtual worlds as well, announcing plans in January to integrate advertisers such as AT&T Inc.’s Cingular into Virtual Laguna Beach, where virtual Cingular representatives tout the latest phones and accessories.

Unlike Second Life, such microcosms tend to be much more limited environments, Prentice said, likening them to “three-dimensional chat rooms.”

While businesses are increasingly setting up shop in such virtual outposts — and indeed the Weather Channel, for instance, on March 12 opened a virtual headquarters in Second Life where it hopes to both debut new programming and attract new advertising dollars — Prentice said businesses will likely find the transition into the Internet’s latest incarnation a rough one.

“Enterprise will find it extremely difficult in the near-term future — and by that I mean the next two to three years, which is pretty much several lifetimes in this virtual world sort of environment — to find commercially viable business models,” Prentice said. “It is not clear to me at all that it is proven that brand loyalty in a virtual environment spills over [to] brand loyalty in the real world.”

Prentice said still missing from the equation are compelling business models based on selling products that can then be consumed within the virtual world. While such a concept may be foreign to many, if not most, there are millions for whom such virtual immersion makes perfect sense.

Said Prentice, “I think the three-dimension virtual environment is a logical extension of the two-dimensional social networking sites today, particularly for a generation who has grown up on a Playstation or Nintendo or Xbox.”

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Second Life’s Looming Tax Threat

Posted by SIM on March 5, 2007

Come April 15 profits earned online must be reported to the IRS. But what about ‘money’ that’s virtual?
By Grace Wong,
March 5 2007: 10:02 AM EST

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) — In case you haven’t noticed, Second Life is booming, and its economy has boomed too – putting the virtual reality world in the crosshairs of tax authorities, experts say.

Entrepreneurs have flocked to Second Life – a computer-based 3-D virtual world where users create their own, well, second lives – in pursuit of making real money. So-called residents can buy and sell goods for Linden dollars, an in-world currency that can be converted into real U.S. dollars. (See how real money works in Second Life).

At least one user claims the virtual world has minted her a millionaire – and economic activity is humming along. Users of the virtual world injected about $1.6 million into Second Life in the last 24 hours alone, according to Linden Lab, the creator of Second Life.

Under current tax law, it’s clear that earnings in real U.S. dollars generated within virtual realities are reportable to the IRS. If a Second Life real estate mogul cashes out of her in-world property portfolio, she’s liable to pay income tax on any profit that’s been exchanged into real greenbacks – just as an eBay (Charts) seller is responsible for reporting income generated from an online sale.

Tax law is murky, however, when it comes to dealings that occur solely within Second Life or other computer-simulated environments. For instance, is a transaction that occurs only in Linden dollars and doesn’t involve any real-world, dollar exchange taxable?

Questions like that have the tax community buzzing about the issue, said Paul Caron, a professor at the University of Cincinnati who edits the TaxProf Blog.

The issue has also attracted the interest of the Joint Economic Committee of Congress, which said last fall that it was studying issues related to the economies of virtual realities like Second Life and World of Warcraft, an online role-playing game.

Results of the study – due to be released before the end of the month – suggest that “as long as virtual activity stays within the virtual economy, it shouldn’t be taxable,” said Christopher Frenze, executive director of the JEC, which conducts policy research on economic issues facing Congress

But there is a valid argument that even profits that come from, and stay in, the virtual world are taxable, according to Bryan Camp, a professor at Texas Tech University School of Law. “As soon as you start looking at what’s going on in these worlds, they look a lot like real economic transactions,” he said.

Even if profit isn’t realized in real dollars, there’s still an exchange of items of economic value. In the real world, if someone trades goods or services without the exchange of real money – also known as bartering – that’s a taxable event, Camp noted.

Given all the attention paid to the topic, the IRS eventually will have to respond to the situation, said Caron. “I think it’s on the IRS’s radar screen in a way it was not six months ago,” he said.

When asked about the agency’s position on collecting taxes from virtual economies like Second Life, an IRS spokesman offered the following comment via e-mail: “Any time someone wins a tangible prize or award, the value is reportable as taxable income. An accumulation of ‘points’ would not result in tax consequences, but redeeming or selling them for money, goods, or services would.”

Edward Castronova, a professor at Indiana University who heads the Synthetic Worlds Initiative, a research center focused on online communities like Second Life and World of Warcraft, doesn’t see taxes on virtual-only transactions coming anytime soon.

But “in the next three or four years, we’ll likely see it. In the next 10 years, there’s no question about it,” he said. “If you look at these transactions, they’re huge.”

For its part, Second Life operator Linden Lab isn’t concerned about looming tax regulations on virtual economies, at least not yet.

“Given the reassuring statements from the JEC, it’s pretty clear this is a moot point,” a spokesman for San Francisco-based Linden said. “Linden is focused on what it does best – scaling technology and building Second Life’s platform.”

Stay tuned.

No, Second Life is not overhyped

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Philips, Intel To Team On Patient Data Device

Posted by SIM on March 3, 2007

From Herald news services
Sunday, March 4, 2007

Royal Philips Electronics NV and Intel Corp. plan to launch a wireless, handheld device to assist doctors and nurses in recording and storing patient information.

Philips, one of the world’s largest makers of medical equipment, said the device, including a touch screen and digital camera, had numerous uses. Among them: “to reduce medication errors, positively identify staff and patients, fill out charts, capture vital signs, write up reports and validate blood transfusions, as well as (provide) the ability to closely monitor the healing of wounds.”

Medical professionals would use the devices to relay data to and from a patient’s file on the spot. Perhaps most importantly, it will be “medical grade compliant,” said Philips spokesman Ian Race. “It’s easy to sterilize because it is sealed.” That’s key because in many wards, sanitation rules put many doctors’ personal digital assistants off limits.

Localized snapshots coming to the Weather Channel:

Something seems to be missing from online weather maps.

They show major highways and town names. But have you ever seen one get detailed enough to show neighborhoods and street names and, by extension, truly localized weather?

The Weather Channel is unveiling a product Monday that could change that.

The Atlanta-based cable channel has partnered with Microsoft Corp. to offer detailed road maps combined with satellite imagery. The result is an interactive Web map that lets users zoom in to get a localized snapshot of current weather. That is, to see how it’s affecting their neighborhood – not just the city as a whole.

The interactive map can be found on the channel’s online site,www.weather.com. It has a sliding bar that controls the view of the weather, along with tools that let users pan around the map.

“Earl Grey, hot, bot”:

Japan is pretty serious about robotics. If the droids are going to fit in, they probably need to learn the Japanese custom of serving tea.

Fortunately, researchers at the University of Tokyo are exploring just that. In a demonstration this week, a humanoid with camera eyes made by Kawada Industries Inc. poured tea from a bottle into a cup. Then another robot on wheels delivered the cup of tea in an experimental room that has sensors embedded in the floor and sofa as well as cameras on the ceiling, to simulate life with robot technology.

“A human being may be faster, but you’d have to say ‘Thank you,'” said University of Tokyo professor Tomomasa Sato. “That’s the best part about a robot. You don’t have to feel bad about asking it to do things.”

“Second Life” brings on the noise:

The virtual 3-D world of “Second Life” has always been a place where people could gather and communicate – but only by silently typing notes to each other. In attempt to add more realism, “Second Life” is about to get a whole lot noisier.

Linden Lab, the company behind “Second Life,” says it is implementing voice-over-Internet software that will let the thousands of people online at any given moment talk to each other over their computers’ microphones and speakers.

One key feature will be something called spatial audio. To mimic sound in the physical world, the ability to talk and hear conversations will be contingent on the separation between people in the virtual environment, said Joe Miller, a technology executive for Linden Lab. A group close together will be able to chat normally, but once a certain distance is reached, not even shouting will be enough, Miller said.

Add Ning to the social networking list:

Web browser pioneer Marc Andreessen helped bring the Internet to the masses during the 1990s. Now the Netscape Communications co-founder is trying to help Web surfers build online communities outside the walls of leaders MySpace.com and Facebook.com.

Andreessen’s vehicle this time around is Ning Inc., a Palo Alto-based startup that he began in 2005 with former banker Gina Bianchini.

After months of fine-tuning, Ning is finally ready to make its big push with a free toolkit designed to make it easy to launch a social network with a few mouse clicks. Ning’s package includes all the social networking staples – videos, photos, music, forums, personal profiles and blogs.

Although both MySpace and Facebook have become smash hits by offering the same features, Andreessen is convinced people dislike the big social networks’ one-size-fits-all approach. With Ning’s products, even technology neophytes can customize social networks around narrowly shared interests, such as a sports team, church group, hobby or TV show.

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AMD In Second Life

Posted by SIM on February 26, 2007

AMD Builds Virtual Pavilion in Second Life
By Elizabeth Millard
February 19, 2007

In news media interviews about the Second Life initiative, AMD project manager Paul Nolte noted that the Second Life “metaverse” is a gathering place for new and established developers, and that by providing a place for them to meet, AMD hopes to spur education and further professional growth.

Chipmaker AMD is planning to broaden its developer outreach program and foster a stronger presence in the gaming world by creating an AMD pavilion in the popular game Second Life.

AMD will maintain a display hall and auditorium within the game’s virtual world in an effort to draw more developers into chats about working with AMD on new technology. The hall will have areas for meetings, training courses, and informal networking. AMD also will use the virtual space to present lectures.

The AMD Developer Central Second Life Pavilion is expected to draw both experienced programmers and amateurs alike, and the company will be offering lessons in areas like developing native code for multithreaded applications. The first event at the Pavilion takes place on February 25.

Virtual Action

In addition to meeting in a virtual conference hall, developers and players can participate in a three-month treasure hunt. Second Life residents will be given a series of challenges built using the interactive Linden scripting language. Those who enter will be automatically placed into a drawing for a grand prize of a Dell Dimension E521 computer.

In news media interviews about the initiative, AMD project manager Paul Nolte has noted that the Second Life “metaverse” is a gathering place for new and established developers, and that by providing a place for them to meet, AMD hopes to spur education and further professional growth.

The first event will include members of the Second Life Open Source Movement, who are expected to chat about challenges and benefits to bringing an open-source component to the game.

Virtual Meets Actual

“The great thing about games today is that they’re really wide open in terms of how things develop,” said Julian Dibbell, author of “My Tiny Life: Crime and Passion in a Virtual World,” and a founder of Terra Nova, a blog focused on the social and economic aspects of online role-playing games.

Although there is theft and fraud in the online world, just as there is in the physical world, there is also opportunity for companies like AMD and other organizations to catch the attention of players and developers in a new way.

Other I.T. companies have already set up a presence in Second Life, including Dell, Sun Microsystems, Cisco, and IBM.

“Products and services that crop up in games will continue to change, and more companies understand the value of reaching these audiences,” said Dibbell. “As games thrive and draw more players, naturally there will be more interest in selling to those people, and having a presence in those virtual worlds. Finding developers in these worlds makes a lot of sense.”

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A Winning Business Plan For ‘Second Life’

Posted by SIM on February 19, 2007

By Daniel Terdiman
19 February 2007

The winner of a business plan contest in Second Life is a company that’s likely to help others come up with business plans for Second Life.

The honors, announced Monday, went to Minnesota-based Market Truths, which devised a market research and analysis system to help real-world companies figure out what works and what doesn’t in the burgeoning virtual world.

The contest’s judges rewarded the Market Truths submission because the team has conducted similar market research in the real world for years, and because it appeared to have the best profit potential of the four finalists.

“I was really impressed by the quality of (all) the ideas we received,” said Susan Wu, a contest judge and a venture capitalist from Charles River Ventures. “Each one of these businesses could turn into a viable ongoing enterprise, not only in terms of Second Life, but as a service that stands across multiple virtual worlds.”

The other finalists in the first-ever business plan contest in Second Life submitted proposals for a reputation-based search engine, an in-world music distribution system and a suite of in-world communications and collaboration tools.

Wu said she voted for the Market Truths team–led by its managing director, Mary Ellen Gordon–because of its real-life market research experience and the likelihood that the team would be able to extend that experience into the virtual arena.

“I personally favored Market Truths because they had the best execution,” said Wu. “It seemed most likely that they would be able to execute on their idea (and) the fact that (Gordon) already has experience doing this.”

The contest, which launched in November, sought creative business plans with real profit potential. It was sponsored by The Electric Sheep Company, the largest third-party creator of projects and services in Second Life, and global public relations firm Edelman.

The Market Truths team will receive free access to a private Second Life island for six months, as well as a prize of 350,000 Linden dollars, the in-world currency–about $1,308 in U.S. dollars.

The proposal was for a system in which Market Truths would conduct regular focus groups, as well as surveys and other market research in order to determine the kinds of things that members of the Second Life community like and don’t like about brands, products and services from third-party companies.

The research and surveys will provide analysis based on Second Life users’ real-life gender, in-world gender, real-world age, time in Second Life and other factors. That will give Market Truths clients the opportunity to gauge users’ attitudes based on a number of demographic factors, including the unusual ones that come up in a virtual world where a participant can take on any personality, gender, race, age or size they wish.

Gordon said her team will conduct focus groups inside Second Life and has already been doing so. Market Truths, she said, has been signing up Second Life users to participate in the studies who are being paid a nominal fee–in Linden dollars–and are required to have been in Second Life for at least 30 days in order to ensure that they have some investment in it.

For Market Truths’ customers–potentially large corporations considering whether to set up shop in-world, following in the footsteps of companies including Toyota, General Motors, American Apparel and Starwood Hotels–Gordon said the idea is to provide information about how Second Life users will react to their brands, their products and their services.

Further, Market Truths’ services will allow companies to market-test prototype products and to assess how Second Life users will react to them.

To the judges, the fact that Market Truths can help its clients evaluate how the Second Life community will respond to products, brands and services is an invaluable and potentially lucrative business.

“People will pay them a lot of money, so…it’s a really good business,” said Jon Goldstein, a contest judge and partner at Catamount Ventures, an early investor in Second Life publisher Linden Lab. “Another thing we considered in this contest is the effect on Second Life and its community…What (Market Truths is) going to be doing is working with big companies and helping immerse them in Second Life, and that’s a great for getting more people involved and educated about Second Life.”

Another finalist was the Italian team of architect Laura Cassara and journalist Mario Gerosa.

The two have created a concept for a search engine to allow the virtual world’s users to more easily locate the kinds of places, stores, clubs and other things that interest them.

The idea is based on the reality that the built-in Second Life search functionality is fairly rudimentary and has little or no contextual utility. Instead, it searches purely on keywords.

But Gerosa and Cassara have come up with a system that would allow users to find things based on their preferences and on quality.

That means that as users discover new objects, places and the like in Second Life, they would be able to rate them and in the process create a “quality atlas.”

The result would be something akin to Amazon.com’s recommendation engine, in that as users find things, the engine would suggest other places or objects in Second Life or even, potentially, outside the virtual world.

Wu said she thinks the system would make a potentially profitable business but is not as well-developed or unique as that of Market Truths.

“Unless you’re Linden Lab or you have experience doing search,” Wu said, “you probably don’t have a very defensible strategy if others enter the market.”

And Wu added that it is inevitable that there will be significant competition in the Second Life search market in the near future.

The third finalist was a team of three from Turkey that created a system for distributing music throughout Second Life in something of an iTunes model.

The idea, said team member Ozgur Alaz, a trend scouter and ad planner from Istanbul, is to provide owners of Second Life venues–clubs, stores, theaters and the like–with jukeboxes through which could play digital music that anyone listening could then buy.

The business model for the idea, said Alaz, is to share revenue with the venue hosts as an incentive to place the jukeboxes in their locations. The team said it would try to find partners among the major recording labels in order to gain access to their catalogs of music. Songs would cost roughly the same as a song from the iTunes Music Store.

The last finalist, a team of three from the Seattle area called Metaverse Technologies, has created a suite of communications and collaboration tools intended to give enterprise users a way to use Second Life for business meetings and other important gatherings.

Jacob Sullivan, a Metaverse co-founder and an electrical engineer, said that his team would provide clients with tools along the lines of PowerPoint, interactive whiteboards and other presentation tools that could be used in Second Life.

The team imagines that businesses as well as educators would find the most use from the tools, but individual users might also want to buy pieces of the suite.

For Goldstein, the four teams represented the idea that Second Life can and will be a useful medium for those looking for new ways to build businesses and make money. And as a result, he said, the future of Second Life as an entrepreneurial environment is rosy.

“I think the competition is a great idea,” said Goldstein, “and I think it’s further validation for what’s going on in Second Life, which is a platform to enable creativity and entrepreneurship.”

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Second Job

Posted by SIM on February 14, 2007

In A Virtual World, An Actual Job May Be Waiting
by Reuters
Mon Feb 12, 2007 4:06pm ET

NEW YORK, Feb 12 (Reuters) – For some job seekers, a trip to a virtual world may hold the key to an actual job.

Interactive advertising agency TMP Worldwide, which specializes in recruitment, said on Monday it will allow corporate recruiters to hold job fairs and interview potential employees via TMP’s space on the Second Life virtual world.

Second Life is a virtual world with more than 3 million registered users, as well as its own economy and currency. Dozens of real-world companies have established a presence there, including Reuters, IBM, General Motors and Circuit City, in the hopes of engaging with its technology-savvy users.

But TMP is the first company to set up a real-world recruiting service on Second Life, said Louis Vong, TMP’s vice president of interactive strategy. Until now, recruitment in the virtual space was limited to virtual jobs.

“A lot of companies spend money on job fairs at convention centers or hosting at hotels,” Vong said. “We’re saying we can do all this inside Second Life.”

TMP’s “island” within the virtual world will allow clients to host recruiting events and build virtual replicas of their offices.

An avatar — or online character — of a real corporate recruiter will interview avatars of job seekers, using instant- messaging technology.

Privately-held TMP, until last year a division of Monster Worldwide Inc. (MNST.O: Quote, Profile , Research), said it would pre-screen candidates before scheduling an interview to make sure people are who they say they are.

A company gets real-world resumes, names, e-mail addresses and a chance to promote its brand to a digitally-sophisticated audience in the coveted 18-44 age group, TMP said. It may also get a skilled staffer to do real work in a real office.

The potential new hire can even get a parachute. A visitor to T-Mobile USA’s (DT.N: Quote, Profile , Research)(DTEGn.DE: Quote, Profile , Research) section on the island might come away with a virtual cellphone to use in Second Life — or an invitation to sky dive off TMP’s20-story building.

The skydiving experience fits the adventurous image T-Mobile wants to project, while the (virtual) parachute is yet another opportunity to display the (quite real) corporate logo.

“We’ll shoot you way up above the island and out pops the T-mobile branded parachute,” said TMP’s Russell Miyaki.

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