Content 2.0 at the RSA

I was at the Content 2.0 conference yesterday. The main topics of discussion were around user generated content. Some of the content moved a bit too much in to marketing for my interests, but overall it was a good event. As you’d expect there were a couple of notable bloggers there, including Hugh McLeod from Gaping Void, who talked about how blogs had impacted businesses he’s involved with.

Marc Canter talked about some ideas in his new social networking project, People Aggregator, about how social networks need to be more open and let the user’s control their own data. Bradley Horowitz gave a great talk on Flickr and how it’s philosophies were being adopted by the rest of Yahoo! All of the people writing on eightbar are happy Flickr users, so it was good to get a bit of an insight in to them.

I thought Jamie Kantrowitz (from MySpace) was great, mainly as it’s the first time I’ve heard someone mention The OC in a geek-centric environment. She came under a bit of attack for the way MySpace locks in their user’s data, but I thought she countered that well. I think MySpace targets a different market than a lot of the social networking sites. It was interesting how she talked about successful users on MySpace are those that improve a conversation, rather than simply disagreeing or agreeing.

Main themes of the day included: microformats, myware, attention data, implicit ratings, people-like-me, control and measurement. I think they recorded the event and podcasts of the content should be available soon.

Can you guess where this is ? Second Life meets Real Life

This is a little sneak preview of some things that I have had some success with in Second life

tennis ball in flight

Primarily it is around getting data on an http request to explore some of the possibilities for future sports events. With the french open on at the moment and our collegues from Atlanta working over there, with a certain UK event in the next few weeks powered by IBM, well I had to have a go didn’t I?

IBM & Dojo

Given the buzz of Web2.0, its not surprising to see lots of ajax-based toolkits emerge from lots of different sources, Yahoo! and Google included.

I am glad to see that IBM are getting involved by contributing to an open source project.

Dojo has been on my list of things to learn about for a while now. As a starting point, I can recommend this talk by Alex Russell of the Dojo Foundation that was given at the XTech 2006 conference.

Culture clash in Second Life

In this article Wagner James Au writes about some of the pressures and expectations that everyone is expected to be American in Second Life. I personally have not found it to be a barrier, though I have been happy to express the fact I am a brit. Indeed there are many groups such as Brits in SL who are clearly not just US based. Our eightbar group in SL by its very nature crosses many cultures as the interest in Second Life spans further than us in Hursley and across IBM.

I have also found that in general people are quite chilled out and polite about things. SL is more of a leveller in terms of culture. Though given it is a ‘english’ focussed language based medium I am sure its NLS support will grow. Who knows we may even be able to learn a bit more about one another’s cultures through this medium more than any other?

SL Projects to watch out for

The community around Second life is building up and there are more and more skilled people joining in, as a result some pretty interesting projects are starting to emerge in the secondlife forums, here’s a heads up of a few that i think are especially interesting…

Second Life Protocol
First up there is the SL Protocol Reverse Engineering effort being run by Reuben Stein, this has fired up an interesting discussion thread on the SL forum, the initial posting sparked some serious debate with Reuben being accused of all sorts of things including illegal reverse engineering and opening up SL to a host of security problems. Luckily Phoenix Linden stepped in on behalf of the SL development team to clarify that Linden Labs were in support of the Reverse engineering effort providing it was good natured and not to the detriment of the community.

After this post a few more people emerged and admitted they had been looking at the protocol for some time, a few had actually written bots that work in SL (something that was not widely known before). In addition it was revealed that the entire protocol was described in a file present in everyones install directory and protected only by a simple bit of XOR encoding.

One of the most interesting things to come out of the project (or be uncovered by the project publicity) is the libsecondlife library project coded by Eddy Stryker which provides a C API for writing Secondlife clients, I’ll be having a play with this soon if i get time.

Offline Builder and .obj importer
The Offline builder is a Second life plugin written for the popular Blender an open source 3D editing tool. It gives you a panel in Blender that gives access to the primitives types and options that you have in SL itself.

This tool written by Jeffrey Gomez has tremendous potential, it’s in beta stage at the moment and the functionality to import the objects you create into SL isn’t built in yet, however the ability to build offline and import in will certainly lead to more ambitious projects and a greater audience of content creators.

For the time being Jeffrey has written a 3D model importer script which you can use to get objects inside SL.

Whats next …?

Offline scripting
Another amazingly useful bit of tooling would be a virtual machine to test Second Life scipts out in, I haven’t seen anybody having done this yet but please let me know if you have. I guess that some people are waiting until Linden Labs adopts Mono as thein game scripting engine.

SL offline chat client
I know that some people have already started looking at this one, but with the sudden amount of information available on the SL protocol it’s only a matter of time before IM clients and plugins start to appear.

Second Life Ecosystem

Here is fascinating example of what is possible within Second Life.

Laukosargas Svarog is a veteran of the UK games industry including some time spent on Lionhead Studios’ Black & White. Having taken some time of to raise a child at home, she has been putting her creative juices into the world of SL.

In just one year, her island of Svarga has been developed into a ‘fully-functioning ecosystem’ with early evidence of emergent behaviour in the plant-life she has created.

Just one of the many directions the blank canvas that is SL can be taken.

IBM and the future of games and the future of journalism

You may have noticed that a few of us are very supportive of Second Life as a medium to explore the technology and to see the future of the web. Web 3.0 even.
This link takes you to something that is currently on the IBM main homepage. Which makes it (for us) very significant.

It is focusing on the fact that many of us know that some of what would be considered game technology actually has many more uses. I say this as a gamer for over 20 years. In some ways gaming changed the course of my career in that it is what interested me about computers in the first place back in the 1980’s.

Part of the IBM article mentions the embedded reporting of Wagner James Au who has been able to document the rise of web 3.0 from within web3.0 itself.

In reading his blog I have found out a fair few things, but I had not come across his other articles here that document Web3.0 and Blog2.0 from his point of view.

It is very insightful and well written. It also strikes a chord with many of the things I have been saying so maybe I am a little biased. See what you think though.

One thousand paintings

I recently discovered One thousand paintings, a project with the aim of selling 1000 paintings of the numbers 1 to 1000. The pricing model is quite interesting:

Generally, the value of a number is defined by the number itself, in the following way: value = 1000 – number. However, this is only the maximum price. Initially, a discount of 90% applies. This discount will decrease by an absolute 10% for every hundred paintings that are sold (for example, after 300 sold paintings, the discount will be 60%)

I thought the whole thing was quite cool. Having showed it to my wife (who is herself an artist), we quickly started looking for numbers that were still available. Many of the likely choices had already gone (including my preference, 404) but she pointed out that 365 was still up for grabs (yes, yes.. we should have got 366 as well, for leap years). Before long, we’d ordered it, happy to support a cool project and wondering where we’d hang our unique 12″ x 12″ painting.

It doesn’t seem so long ago that the Million Dollar Homepage was taking off. Ian, while wondering whether gullibility was a pre-requisite for early adopter status, bought an ad for eightbar, which I notice still manages to bring us in over 30 clicks per month. While these are undeniably different projects, it’s hard not to compare them.

When Mrs Roo and I bought 365, it was the 98th painting sold (handily just within the maximum discount). Today, having been linked from boing boing and other prominent blogs, he’s already sold 144 225 and rising very fast. Surely mainstream media attention can’t be far behind.

O’Reilly protecting the “Web 2.0” name

A few of us were so busy drinking nice red wine and chatting about Web 2.0 yesterday that we didn’t notice O’Reilly attempting to protect the use of “Web 2.0” as a service mark and prevent its use in conjunction with a 3rd party conference.

Thus did controversy ensue.

I can’t help thinking that O’Reilly are victims of their own success here. Like it or not, “Web 2.0” has stuck pretty well as a term. Protecting their Web 2.0 conference while still hoping to keep it in popular use is going to be a difficult line to walk.

How is anyone else going to have conferences about what is, after all, a popular subject? Well, in this instance, O’Reilly are offering to let the “IT@Cork Web 2.0 conference” go ahead this time, but have requested that they agree not to use the name for future conference.

It seems Tim O’Reilly himself is on holiday. I wonder whether things will change when he returns.

James Governor’s Web 2.0 and Wine Meetup

Roo, Rob and myself have just been to James Governor’s (agenda free) wine and technology meetup. It was good to actually meet James after having a few blog interactions with him and reading a lot of the stuff he writes.

There were some pretty cool and interesting people there, some with their own companies, some from Microsoft and Adobe who all just kind of talked tech. It was in a slightly unusual place, half off-license, half wine bar, which was actually a lot nicer than it sounds. I’m sure Rob will explain their high tech, RFID enabled bathroom.

I had a good conversation with Ben Watson, Group Manager for Enterprise Developer Relations at Adobe. I’ve used Flash in lots of projects and our group have had quite a lot of experience with both Flex and Laszlo. We were in agreement of both the good and bad uses of Flash and it was great to get their perspective on how their tools fit in with web 2.0. He’s definitely someone who’s really in to technology and he reminded me of our own Rod Smith in some ways. I’m hoping to get him to come visit Hursley soon.

It was a fun evening, but I had to shoot off home early as I have an early flight to catch tomorrow. I’m sure Rob and Roo will fill you in with anything I missed. It got me thinking we really should try and organise something like this around Hursley too.