Webometric Thoughts

January 14, 2009

Should you ‘Just Leap In’? No.

Filed under: 3d web,Google Lively,Just Leap In,Second Life — admin @ 2:06 pm

A couple of days ago TechCrunch posted about Just Leap In, another browser-based virtual world.

After playing about with it for a couple of hours I have come to the conclusion that it is pretty rubbish. Whilst, unlike Google’s defunct Lively, you can embed videos and pictures in your room (notice the beautiful picture of my pen), it still suffers from limited customization of objects and avatars, and is room-based rather than world-based. If Google couldn’t make this sort of product work, how will ‘Just Leap In’ succeed…they can’t even come up with a decent name! The site doesn’t seem to offer anything particularly innovative.

I always seem to like the idea of virtual worlds more than the reality of virtual worlds. Whilst a 3d web may seem like a natural extension of the current web to many, and undoubtedly has csome useful applications, the truth is that many things work better in the flat-document format and most people don’t need a 3d web upgrade. Obviously this opinion is waiting to be blown out of the water by a killer-3d-app that everyone will want to have; I’m just not seeing it yet, and every time I see another run of the mill 3d site I become a little more disillusioned.

December 9, 2008

Muxlim: Does a virtual world for Muslims encourage integration?

Filed under: EA-Land,Google Lively,Muxlim,Second Life,virtual worlds — admin @ 12:10 pm

I’ve read a couple of posts today about Muxlim, a new virtual world for Muslims (via the BBC). The stories have been non-negative, if not positive, with even the Daily Mail’s story seeming to be a verbatim press release rather than the expected ‘gone hell in an handcart as technologically literate Muslims take over the web’. But on a web which is already defined by discussions amongst like-minded individuals, is a Muslim virtual world a good idea?

Before the jihadists and those damned-liberals start the name calling, let me be clear. I am not picking on a Muslim site, but rather using a Muslim site as an example of the larger problem of integrating groups that often feel marginalised from mainstream society. Virtual worlds can be particularly immersive environments, and having virtual worlds focused on marginalised groups doesn’t seem to be particularly healthy, whether this group is Muslim, Christian, gay or fascist. Rather than promoting understanding amongst different groups, homogeneous virtual worlds are likely to encourage the opinion that we are 100% right and differing opinions are not worth listening to. Whilst it is difficult to be more wrong than a white supremacist, it is nonetheless important there is dialogue so that we understand why they harbour the abhorrent views that they do.

Muxlim makes a point of stating that it is open to both Muslims and non-Muslims alike, but as with all sites aimed primarily at one particular group the vast majority are likely to come from that group. Some Christians will probably appear to evangelise, in the same way as you will find some liberals in Stormfront, but the core will be Muslim.

On a more technological note. Whilst I tried to launch Muxlim, I had problems connecting to its server. Whether this is a problem with traffic, or a problem at my end (my broadband is currently provided by my mobile phone), I don’t know. From what I can see it is browser based, with all the limitations that involves. Rather than a Muslim ‘Second Life’, it is seemingly more EA-land (defunct), Lively (defunct), or YooWalk.

July 22, 2008

Google’s Lively: More Meebo than Second Life

Filed under: Google Lively,Second Life — admin @ 8:13 am

Almost two weeks after its launch, and I finally got around to having a look at Google’s Lively yesterday. Overall: Currently unimpressed, although the idea has potential.

Whilst it may be considered a ‘virtual world’ by some, in reality it is more of a personalised virtual chatroom, and comparisons with the likes of Second Life soon become foolish.
-Whereas Second Life is a huge integrated world, Lively is a collection of individual rooms (even if some of those rooms are islands).
-Whereas Second Life can be filled with whatever the mind can imagine (and script), Lively can currently only be filled with the limited selection of objects you are given.
-Whereas Second Life has a thriving economy, Lively has none.

However the limitations give Lively an important advantage over Second Life, it is easy to install and takes far less processing power. And most importantly for the customer, it is FREE.

Rather than competing directly with Second Life or Meebo, Lively is staking a claim for the ground half way between the two, and I can imagine it being very successful once it becomes more customisable, which it undoubtedly will. Most organisations will be far more comfortable with the creation of an organisational-specific room/world rather than setting up shop only to have the island next door turned into a sex-shop or filled with neo-nazis. However, until it does become customisable its uses are fairly limited.

February 26, 2008

Second LIfe v. EA-Land

Filed under: EA-Land,Second Life,Sims — admin @ 11:09 am

The Sims Online is being relaunched as EA-Land, and this time its going to be free (via TechCrunch)! Hopefully EA-Land (a name which already seems to be univerally hated) will bring some much neeeded competition to the virtual world sector. Despite all the fun that some sections fo society seem to have in Second Life, I have found it a curiousity rather than a real interest, and rarely visit.

Unfortunatley, despite gaining my initial interest, EA-Land is experiancing problems with new sign-ups at the moment. However, the promise of free land, albeit small land, will probably see me try again. Will this see Second Life offer a small basic plot for free, with more extensive islands costing?

October 31, 2007

Second Life News

Filed under: Second Life — admin @ 9:39 am

A few hours after pondering/blogging about what sort of news stories would be found in Second Life I found myself in a pub testing the quality of their cider, and what should appear on the TV screen but a story about Second Life! Unfortunately, as with most news stories, it was about the seedier side of life. In this case what was described as a “virtual paedophile ring“.

It is unfortunate that it is always the worst aspects of new technologies that gain the most media attention, and difficult to see what Second Life can do about it. Whilst the news article indicates that people are engaging in some rather sick fantasies, whilst contained within a virtual world are they doing anything illegal? If not it seems hard for Second Life to do anything, it is stuck between a rock and a hard place. If they start to dictate what is and is not acceptable behaviour in Second Life where do they stop? On the other hand, if they do nothing it will seem as though they are condoning the sick practices, and will harm their image amongst the public at large (some of whom will never have heard of Second Life before).

It would be nice to see the Second Life users do something about these groups, turning up on mass and disrupting the groups. Unfortunately the groups would then end up building secure members-only areas. At which point I would like to see Second Lifers and some good hackers turn up to disrupt these places. Successful self-governance of this situation would save Second Life from having to dictate what groups are acceptible, and also save the image of the Second Life user.

October 30, 2007

CNN sets up an office in Second Life

Filed under: CNN,Second Life — admin @ 1:13 pm

Whilst CNN’s setting up an office in Second Life emphasises the interest that the traditional media have in the online world, it makes you wonder what sort of stories they will find, and what sort of effect it will have on the world itself.

Second Life is one of those things I keep an eye on, convinced that there is something to it, but at a loss as to what it actually is. Whilst Tim Guest et al. provide a vision of an exotic world full of strange people freed from the inhibitions of the regular world, I just tend to see groups of people camping on benches as they earn a few Linden dollers. As such a news service would be a useful way of finding out what is going on, without having to trawl through extensive lists of ‘garage sales’ and ‘free giveaways’.

With a lack of wars and deaths to occupy the headlines of a Second Life news bureau, it will be interesting to see the sorts of news stories that get covered. I just hope that we don’t see the rise of the celebrity Second Lifer.

October 23, 2007

Kinset needs a bit more Second Life

Filed under: Amazon,Kinset,Online Shopping,Second Life — admin @ 10:58 am

Yesterday saw the launch of Kinset’s browser, the self-proclaimed “Internet’s first and only Truly Immersive 3D shopping experience” (brought to my attention by those folks at Mashable). Whilst their proclamation seems extremely debatable to anyone who has strolled along some of the rather curious boulevards in Second Life, there is little doubt that Kinset is taking online shopping to a whole new level.

Whilst the browser takes a while to download and install, once installed it will provide access to two established stores, with more on the way if other shops utilise Kinset’s technology. Currently there is Bunchabooks and LectroTown, both in association with Amazon, both fairly self-explanatory names. Both shops follow the traditional shop lay-outs, suitable for browsing, and if you can’t see what you want on the shelf you can always search for something more specific, and it will appear behind the till.

What Kinset shops are missing is the human element which is present in Second Life; the inclusion of the flat pictures of shop assistants in LectroTown (who are always facing you) just don’t provide the same welcoming feeling. Unfortunately Second Life either has box-like shops selling Second Life goods:

Or nice warm friendly looking places, which are unfortunately just for show:

I like people with my books. People-watching is one of the enjoyable parts of shopping/browsing in a bookshop, I like to see what others are looking at and buying, and it would be nice to see it included in 3D online shopping. There are also the obvious advantages of being able to discuss books with people in the shops, something that could make online book shopping more enjoyable than the physical book shopping experience where you are less likely to approach a perfect stranger for their opinion on something.

All in all the introduction of Kinset’s technology bodes well for the future of online shopping, and rather than a finished product may be seen as a taster of things to come. My only quibble is that the shops were restricted too much to the physical idea of space. Why can’t the headers leap to sub-shops on those particular subject?

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