The Unofficial Tourists’ Guide to Second Life – factcheck

My friend Nick was kind enough to lend me his copy of The Unofficial Tourists’ Guide to Second Life by Paul Carr and Graham Pond, and couldn’t help point out a few interesting inaccuracies as he did so.  Here is my open letter to the authors, in order to correct some minor problems…

Page 115 – 116 (under ‘Shopping and commerce’), the history of IBM in Second Life is told. IBM’s CEO is named as Edward Palmisano (that would be Sam, actually).

“At the time of writing, the IBM island Hursley, is being kept strictly under wraps, so we’ll have to wait and see what IBM has in mind for its vast virtual market.”

I can only assume the wording must have been written a while ago, since we’ve been quite open about what goes on at Hursley island since September 2006 and the IBM cluster of sims since December 2006.

Even worse…

“Incidentally, the vast majority of groups in Second Life are free to join. Because it’s not about money – it’s about community. IBM Employees Worldwide, however, costs a Linden tenner. Make of that what you will.”

What I make of it is that ‘IBM Employees Worldwide’ is by no means the official IBM group, or the only group for IBMers. Searching Second Life for ‘IBM’ groups gives an amazing array of groups but not all of them have been created by IBM or even IBM employees. In fact, anyone can create a group, and while the goal of bringing people together is a good one it’s unfortunate that there’s a joining fee. Personally, I would never join a group in SL that charged for the privilege.


Page 219 (under ‘Useful Second Life websites’) gets listed. Yay. Embarrassingly, it’s introduced as

“The home of Roo Reynolds, the man tasked by IBM to spend much of his first life in Second Life…”.

Eek. Eightbar is very much a group effort, but I can’t let that introduction pass without pointing to Ian ‘epredator’ Hughes, by far the most prolific writer here on Eightbar. Introducing this blog as “the home of Roo Reynolds” is true, but gives a very incomplete picture. Anyone who knows the story of Eightbar will know that it was Ian who got me excited about virtual worlds and since the earliest days he’s been a hugely influential part of Eightbar and IBM’s work in Second Life. He’s also the guy behind Wimbledon in Second Life, something for which I somehow also get credit in the same paragraph.

Other than that, it looks like a relatively interesting book. I shall pick through it properly soon. It’s always going to be a challenge to create a rough guide to such a diverse place as Second Life, but Paul and Graham do a decent job of covering some of the interesting areas. It manages to introduce the subject of Furries, Svarga, Dublin, Darfur, Jessie, Luskwood, Gor, Tringo, Aloft, Midnight City, Pontiac/Motorati, Copybot, Teledildonics, and lots more besides.

For future reference, I’m always happy to proof-read any copy that authors are thinking of writing about IBM in virtual worlds. 🙂

Blockland, torque and user created content

We have blogged several times about our internal metaverse (or one of them) and how we are looking at what we can do with the Garage Games Torque Engine. Our internal team has grown a bit recently and we have some interesing things we want to deliver. Sometimes it can be a little tricky to find the right examples of how things work so it was really nice when I bumped into this very nice creation, Blockland.
Blockland is written in Torque and has a community growing around it and its modability. It uses a slightly different metaphor for creation in that it uses established blocks from known sets that can be bolted together by a visitor to a server. The server itself can be a run anywhere. So this is not the sort of grid we are used to but the Torque/games model. However usually on a Torque server it is quite tricky to let others create content as the content creation pipeline is based around an Admin building a map and deploying it. We had been doing some experiments with some scripting that allowed objects to be moved around in the space to allow for some user interaction and emergent behaviour. Of course our metaverse is more about interacting with internal corporate systems and information so much of the work has gone into that.
Anyway the developer(s) of Blockland have created the ability to form collections of these blocks, colour them, stack them, and save them. People gather together on multiplayer servers both to game, but also to build. I think its a smallish community, but it looks really interesting.
Of course there is a certain similarity to a certain platsic block real life creation set, and they are doing their own virtual world down the line.
For now I am intrigued to learn how some of the problems and challenges we are solving have been solved by Blockland.
There is a free demo version, and the full version is a whole $20, so yes epredator is a fully signed up member of Blockland now.
There are avatar customization features under the player section.
When building you select bricks from a palette and spray paint them different colours.
Whilst Torque has a mission creation editor, which you can patch back in, this is designed to do the maps before you start the server. Here these are in world live running modifications. I am not quite sure of the persistence model, I know I can save bricks and load bricks like Rezzing in Second Life.

Check out the website and youtube for a stack of videos.

Charity sales of AM Radio’s cornfield

Roo wrote a post with a nice video here of AM Radio’s delightful piece of art creation. The Cornfield, 1920’s style with a fantastic textured train and some incredible prebaking of textures.
We had seen this buidl happen on our internal blogs, and it was good to see it go public. Now AM Radio has decided to raise some funds for the charity but selling copies of his work that you can go and view here.
Its a subtle yet amazingly detailed set of objects and well worth a look. I will post some stills when they get through the system, but I needed to post this update for all you art appreciating and charity minded individuals out there.
*update here are some of the snapzilla’s from the build

Virtual Worlds Fall in San Jose

The next big virtual worlds conference is looming large. Virtual Worlds Fall in San Jose on 11/12 October.
IBM is a gold sponsor and there will be a lot of the extended eightbar team at the conference.
Sandy Kearney has a keynote:
Virtual Worlds: The BEST platforms for Enterprise Value
An Examination of Virtual World Platforms From the Enterprise Perspective.
The number of virtual worlds platforms are proliferating from publicly operated virtual worlds to private world engines. Where does an enterprise start when evaluating a platform based on BEST: Business, Economic Value, Social Interaction and Technology? This detailed session will review the leading platforms for enterprise use, talk about the real business value being realized in virtual worlds today and have a look into the future of virtual worlds fit for business.
– Sandy Kearney, IBM Global Director, IBM 3D Internet and Virtual Business

Linda Ban is moderating a panel
Applications that Work
What applications work for large scale enterprises. This panel discussion will look at multiple applications, using actual use-cases as examples. What are the goals and objectives? Who are the participants: customers, partners or internal to the organization? It is channel communication or executive briefings to the public or manager training or is it employee collaboration. what applications work and under what circumstances?
– Greg Nuyens, CEO, Qwaq
– Ron Burns, President, ProtonMedia
– Robert Gehorsam, President, Forterra Systems
– Steve Metzger, CEO, VT&T
– Linda Ban, Client and Program Strategy Executive, 3DInternet and Digital Convergence,
IBM Research

and yours truly is speaking on business process management in the enterprise with John Jainschigg, Director, Online Technology and New Business, CMP Technology.

October 10th
Wednesday, 2:30pm – 3:30pm
Business Process Management
How do you manage a virtual worlds presence for a large organization. What processes need to be put in place for a public virtual worlds effort such as Second Life vs a private dedicated virtual world? What variables need to be considered depending on the applications and goals expected?
– Ian Hughes, Metaverse Evangelist, IBM
– John Jainschigg, Director, Online Technology and New Business, CMP Technology, LLC

Our pitch is scheduled at the same time as Reuben, Sibley and Wello’s session

Entertainment in Virtual Worlds – It’s Not Games. it’s Not TV. It’s….
With the advent of virtual worlds television networks, individual channels and individual shows can now create interactive versions of their franchises and engage fans directly, immersing them into the environment. Find out how to successfully extend a television brand, including measuring audience participation and extending the advertising business model. Speakers will discuss activities on multiple virtual worlds platforms.
– Blake Lewin, Vice President Product Development, Turner Broadcasting Inc.
– Daniel Schiappa, General Manager, Strategy Entertainment and Devices Division,
Microsoft Corporation
– Reuben Steiger, CEO, Millions of Us
– Sibley Verbeck, CEO, The Electric Sheep Company
– Jerry Paffendorf, CEO, Wello Horld (moderator)

Of course I will be there all the time and around in sessions and at the IBM stand with many of the others who will be attending, so there is a whole crowd to come and meet. Peter Rodriguez who runs our CIO metaverse project (amongst other things) will be there, so if you would like to meet the person who officially took Roo and I on as metaverse evangelists within IBM last September, then I can introduce you.

It will be interesting to see the scale and focus now we have reached this stage an an industry. It also shows that real life is a great place to meet people. I am sure there will be many huddles and conversations about projects, ideas and the future. The backchannel at these things is obviously as important as the presentations.

So look out for me and or my striped leather jacket and come and say hi, or find and IBMer and ask for epredator 🙂 Remember though its not just me that knows about this stuff now.
See you there, or just follow some people one twitter


Multiple worlds collide with IBM presentation

Many of us have just been at a virtual world presentation by Sandra Kearney, Director of IBM’s 3d internet group and very much a founding member of eightbar and the virtual universe community.
I am going to pull some of the content together to show what this actually looked like but….
We have Sandy in Cornell speaking live, the video was fed into Nick Wilson’s island Metaversed to a Second Life crowd, but we also had people in IBM’s instance of active worlds. The video feeds were also sent out to the web by and skyped.
This was an amazing blend to show the potential. I just need to make a bit of video look good for the follow up post. It even ended in Sl with massive twitter id exchange blending further the social connections.
Sandy was explaining the depth of what is going on with virtual worlds to the live audience but also interacting with the virtual world audiences.
It takes a little time to get used to being in both worlds at once AW and SL as I was. Watching me dance around on camera in AW whilst I was sitting in SL was a little freaky to say the least.
Still, thats another problem to help consider about the nature of persona.
Here is the SL screen showing a feed of me (the godfather on the left) and Dave Kamalsky from Almaden with Sandy in the video mixed inset in RL.
me and dave
Who could not be confused but also impressed. Epredator watches epredator 🙂
There were some great questions from the SL end. One about were employees of IBM being productive in virtual worlds. My back channel comment was that I was sitting at home at work at 9pm still representing IBM, but think slicing with some other things like twitter. Sandy answered very much the same about trust and passion for virtual worlds and metaverses being such a big driver. Organizations have to allow people to want to do good things for them.
So in general I think this showed that there is a whole lot more that can be done and will be done with multiple virtual worlds. Us all being there woudl have helped Sandy’s RL audience understand what it is we all see in things like Second Life.
This feels like another watershed moment as the virtual worlds collide. Well done all.
So well done 57 miles our SL host. Thank you for the invite. It was good to be able to augment Sandy’s talk and help people along with Ultravox Freeman and Locutus Qi and later Yossarian Seattle and Algernon Spackler being present in SL.
All pictures from Snapzilla
Video to follow…..

More art in virtual worlds. AM Radio rocks.

Back in July I shared Robbie Dingo’s beautiful ‘Watch the World(s)’ machinima. Today I was equally blown away by some of AM Radio’s amazing creations, captured as a video by Aeron Copeland.  Both are Eightbar members and long-time explorers and builders in Second Life.


There’s not much I can add to that, other than “wow”. I’m delighted, since I’ve been looking for some examples of art in virtual worlds for a talk I’m giving next month for the IT For Arts community at the Wigmore Hall in London. If you have more examples I should know about (doesn’t have to in Second Life, and could be any sort of art, including theatre, sculpture, …) do feel free to share them.

It does not have to be photo realistic to work

Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream have a great new build in Second Life. I only just got to visit it.
It just goes to show that, as has been found with going cell shaded in games, photo realism is not everything. It is of course good to have both cartoon and photo real options, but the right place, designed well can look and feel right in so many other ways.

b and j
picture from snapzilla

Interestingly they have a seperate sign up using the SL api and thier own orientation island. This will mean the rest of SL will be quite a shock to newbies.

What is interesting is that whilst its odd I still seem to fit as an avatar in this picture despite the clash of design and culture.

me b & j

Most of the objects I clicked on seemed to be by Damien Fate. Its a very nice piece of work.

Inspiration for Innovators

Whilst Roo was off at the serious virtual worlds conference I was of in the Netherlands and Belgium presenting too on the inspiration for innovators tour.  


It was great to not only present a fair few times to invited audiences of customers, IBMers and press in elective sessions, but to also get to meet some fellow activists out there in metaverse land.

The audiences were very receptive at each presentation, from the 2.5 hours with the press through to the final hour stand up session in La Hulpe with business leaders.

The focus was very much across the entire spectrum of virtual worlds, about people and social change and about how web 2.0 lets people get around the command control structure in a good way.

For business leaders it is important for them to know this is actually a good thing and good things can happen from it. For technical leaders its important to know that this quirky technology does have a serious place.

So the story of eightbar is one that shows change in a large corporation like IBM and the pattern can be applied to any idea in any organization.

On a personal note I was asked by a few people before the presentations if I was nervous. I do understand getting nervous, but when you are sharing personal experience and also something that is really part of your life then you can never get the presentation wrong. Unlike presenting facts and figures which requires a different sort of approach.

I managed to do parts of my ppt in various ways and with a different tone each time. So for me the risk is that I just get half way through and think “you know what this really is a load of old rubbish” 🙂

That of course has not happened yet 🙂

The presentations were in Almere and La Hulpe (this used to be an IBM education facility). Almere was very amusing as I ended up with a real dressing room, lights and all.

Yes a dressing room


The stage at Almere was quite large.

 Almere stage

Almere Seating

Though I think I preferred La Hulpe even if it was for the madonna microphone and the in the round setting, no laptop just a remote control and a seperate plasma screen to see the charts.

 View from the back at la hulpe

Hi to all the people I met customers and collegues. I was really impressed by how many other eightbars were there with customers and with a real understanding and passion for virtual worlds. A year ago this would have seemed impossible, but now the business is here and is booming.

The presentations are going to be posted on the IBM event sites so I will update with a link to that once they are live.

Serious Virtual Worlds 2007, Coventry

Back from a couple of days at the Serious Virtual Worlds conference in Coventry. The speakers and their topics were:

Thursday 13th September

(Detailed notes from day 1)

Friday 14th September

  • Tim Foresman – Digitial Earth and Virtual Worlds
  • Lizbeth Goodman, SMARTlab  – Virtual worlds community applications
  • LeRoy Heinrichs – Serious worlds for biology and medicine
  • Richard Smithies, TruSim – Creating a medical training game
  • Claus Nehmzow, PA Consulting – doing business in virtual worlds
  • Roo Reynolds (um, that’s me)- virtual worlds for corporate collaboration
  • Dave Taylor, NPL – VWs for informal education and knowledge transfer
  • Majid Al-Kader – Logicity: a real-time climate change game
  • Jim Piggot, CEO TPLD – Applying serious games to curriculum for excellence

(Detailed notes from day 2)

It was great to catch up with Christian, Dave, Ren and Tish in person, as well as a chance to meet lots of other interesting people.

The presentations and video archive is being made available on Wednesday from For now there were a bunch of of at the conference taking photos and Andy Powell grabbed some great screenshots of the Second Life portion of the event. My presentation “virtual worlds for corporate collaboration“, complete with audio, is already online too.

Visit the slideshow itself to see a brief text overview of each slide, or see more background on my own blog.

Other events on the radar for Ian and me later this year: