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Aug 052008

Gary Hazlitt, Gazlitt and me take a ‘break’ in over fifty worlds comprising the current metaverse, here is the holiday video…

I am doing a commercial report and curriculum development on the evolving range of social virtual worlds and have recently ventured into fifty of them to review and sample the culture, creative, business and educational potential. On my travels I got out my virtual camera and decided to capture a bunch of small vignettes which quickly turned into a body of audio visual delights – so decided to create a nice seven minute video for posterity.

I thought I would share the video publically as it demonstrates how ubiquitous, popular and streamlined many of these spaces are becoming across the intraweb / ‘cloud’. With over 300 million frequenting or registering for the non-game based worlds and millions of new investment in 2nd and 3rd generation services there seems to be no stopping them…Enjoy the video  (UPDATE: now standing at over 55 000 views!)

75MB MP4 Download available at www.justvirtual.com/SVWS_2008.mp4

A few immediate things that struck me on my travels:

  • That there are quite a few worlds now getting their balance on the shoulders of Second Life and really getting to grips with the social networking aspects vs the 3D’ness
  • There IS a balance between a social space and an ‘agreed’ advertorial world – “you give me valid experience, I accept a level of advertising”
  • A few new entrants realise that using a fully fledged, 3D game engine as the client for what is in the end a glamorous 3D facebook and requiring a high spec’d PC is not the best way. Second generation services like vSide have followed a good middle ground
  • As I reported a few days ago the ‘layered-over-the-2d-web’ version of these worlds such as RocketOn Exit Reality and Weblin show great usability and promise
  • Some worlds are demonstrating the precursor to photo realism and smooth motion while others have as much ‘immersion’ by providing intimacy with your friends in more cutesy environments
  • Many of these worlds operate without the hype we have seen with Second Life and have slowly been building up large communities. Beware any world that tries to launch on hype, as most of these worlds are still in adolescence and not ready for mainstream
  • The Metaverse is a world of connected worlds, how/when/if they are connected will be a real challenge from a technical and standardisation perspective. Especially as a few are starting to concentrate on themes, music, sport and probably in the end very defined niches – fly fishing social world anyone?
  • It is important for those who are supposedly representing or blogging about ‘the metaverse’ to get in there and try these services – beyond registering and wandering around for only 10 minutes (I could name several who haven’t a clue!) but…
  • There are not enough hours in the day to attempt to truly engage with each world but it is amazing how adept you become at spotting flaws and innovation when you put the effort in
  • lots more to follow from the official report in a future post…

KZero are turning out to be the best resource on the planet, tracking Social Virtual Worlds and their latent potential. They gave me permission to publish/post this great chart with a great stab at putting many of the worlds in the video across content sectors.

Social VIrtual Worlds Logos - End 2008

Here is a list of the worlds featured in my video in order of appearance:

Video details:

The ‘Social Virtual’ World’s A Stage
A Film by Gary Hayes © Personalizemedia 2008

“This is not a Game” – Music composed and performed by
Gary Hayes www.korkyt.net

May 062007

NOTE: Based on my sticky post ‘The Brand Owners Guide to Joining the Metaverse”.

As promised a rough transcript of my keynote talk to CeBit last week based on my experience of actually building some Second Life sims, talking to those who use them and creating branded environments that have more usage than any others inworld, so far. There will be a video and/or podcast at some point from CeBit TV and linked from our Project Factory main site but for now lots of ‘nice’ words and this YouTube video I uploaded…

Hello I’m Gary Hayes and thank you for inviting me here to speak at CeBit this afternoon. I hope that by the end of this very brief introduction to virtual worlds, and particularly Second Life, you will be more aware of the major changes that are happening to what we used to call ‘the web’. Virtual worlds are a new disruptive and transformative medium and one that is becoming a significant force alongside our traditional media experiences. But it is still early days. It is the silent movie era, a bit like TV in the late 40s or the web itself in the early 90s – but already virtual worlds are a place where the audience stops being the audience, who become and create their own stories. For those without any exposure to virtual worlds this talk will be a beginners guide and for those who already know something or a good deal about these 3D shared spaces there will perhaps be one or two surprises, Hopefully we will go inworld too if the connectivity gods are with us.

So what do we mean by virtual worlds. In very simple terms they are a bit like MySpace meets the Local Pub meets YouTube meets The Shopping Mall meets Flickr meets World of Warcraft – ok not that simple. We are really talking about non-game based, online spaces where people create new identities and become a part of a larger resident community. There are often no rules, only those set by the inhabitants themselves, this makes it a particular challenge for brands as we will see later (they don’t like to be told how to live!). Many of you would have heard of Second Life, with nearly 6 million registrations at the moment, but there are many others. Habbo is interesting as a simple isometric service for teens now with 76 million registrations and nearly 8 million regular users. Playstation 3 is about to launch ‘home’, a sort of virtual apartment suburbia connected to other PS3 players and EA games has just teamed up with Endemol to deliver what we sometimes call Mixed Reality (cross-over programmes between TV and virtual worlds). There are quite a few others such as there.com, Kaneva and many new kids growing up on the block such as multiverse, croquet or outback online. MTV Networks used the there.com engine to do some extremely interesting TV/Virtual World cross-over services like Laguna Beach, which I sadly won’t have time to talk about. Common to all of them are people using these shared worlds to interact with others around the globe, for hours at a time.

So what are the forces at work here, what is driving this change? Well I suppose there are two key ones. The first is the shift from humans wanting the internet to be more than the rather lonely and non-real time experience to one where as a “participant” they can have real time, collaborative and far richer immersive social interactions. Note I am careful to not call them, the audience – be aware that any media that still thinks of the residents of virtual worlds as audiences are doomed to failure. The second force at work here is to do with residents in worlds wanting to be far more active, creationist and imaginative. They are creating their own experiences versus passively consuming media, such as on TV or via YouTube for example. You have all heard of web 2.0 (blogs, wikis, flickr – the sharing web) well I like to think of virtual worlds as ‘part’ of web 3.0, the real time, co-creative web. It is still about sharing but in a far more natural setting – this is a space where you can walk up to someone and ask -Where can I buy some shoes and will you come shopping with me” versus typing the word shoes into some abstract search engine on the web and spending hours looking at flat pictures. A question I often get asked is, -Is this hype and something that will go away?” Absolutely not. I am old enough to have lived through the dawning of the web and early failed 3D world services, this is totally a part of that on-going evolution and this will now be here for good. The real question that should be asked, and perhaps the focus of my talk, is how are brands and professionals attempting to integrate into these spaces, will they create a virtual paradise or another dotcom burst?

The thing that’s common with all virtual worlds is the real time shared experience, and that should be the key to anyone thinking of setting up a branded space inside these worlds. Participants want to be just that, participants and co-creators. In a world like Second Life (now four times the size of San Francisco around 210 square miles) and where 99% of the content is made by the inhabitants, for a brand to simply plonk some souless buildings, or theme park, or even well displayed real world product falls way short of what the residents actually want. The message that we are getting from the inhabitants is for businesses to -play with me, don’t sell at me.” This is very important. These worlds are extremely ‘sticky’ and inhabitants invest a great deal of themselves in co-creating the environment and the numbers speak for themselves. In second life at the moment there are over 200,000 unique entrants per day spending an average of 4 hours in world – that’s nearly 1 million user hours, and with a population growing at around 30% per month you can see why many other virtual worlds will be popping up in the next few months and years to meet this demand.

Lets have a look at a very short video (which can also be seen on the Project Factory stand throughout the day) showing some of the social activities, the thing that is really driving demand in these environments.

SELF CUT VIDEO -a montage of a variety of experiences” (in background starting up SL if connectivity for demo)

So a brief taste of what goes on inworld, very experiential activities such as dancing, sport, ‘inworld tourism’, education, collaborative building and so on. These are often missed or ignored by the mainstream press. With my other hat on as Director of the Laboratory for Advanced Media Production at AFTRS I am also active in the educational areas in Second Life where collaborative, experiential teaching is growing into a powerful tool – a very vibrant and active community. But who are the real inhabitants? In Second Life it is far from being just young males. The average age is 33 and women constitute around 43% of the total. Interestingly the time spent gender wise is reversed. Of the total time spent by all participants, females account for 60%. Looking at the international split around 31% are from the USA, 48% Europe and 21% rest of the world. Europe is by far the fastest growing area now with growing numbers of English, French, Dutch and Germans so the servers (currently in San Fran and Texas are in the wrong place!). Back to the age question, one fascinating statistic I gleaned last week from Phil Rosedale, the CEO of the makers of Second Life, was that those over 60 years old spend 30% more time in Second Life than those aged 30. Lets try to pop into world now, hopefully, and have a quick two minute wander.

DEMO INWORLD. This space is called the Pond. The one that the Project Factory produced and built for Telstra BigPond. I am not sure who is around but regardless lets have a look at how Second Life works. That is me, the one with the wings and here I am at the main welcome area. Lets go for a short walk, if we meet anyone we may have a chat. It is important to have a welcoming or totally unique environment, look the ripples on the lake, palms, things to do, boating, dancing and of course a popular pastime, flying – (impro a bit here depending on audience reactions). I would like you to notice too how the advertising and brand presence is not ‘in your face’, more about that later. CLOSE DEMO.

Second life is not just about sex, money and griefing. Griefing, by the way, is a term used to describe irritating behaviour, which actually is extremely easy to control. Most of the stories you hear about ‘virtual terrorism’ is really a toxic combination of unprepared companies inworld and the media that likes to find ‘an angle’, just like the real world then. The Project Factory and other Second Life developers have many easy to implement strategies to reduce this to a minimum.

Onto money and opportunities for brands. For the moment it is about getting in there early (first mover advantage), learning about what works and collaborating with the existing resident communities. This both shows that you are ahead of the curve but also open to really having a direct relationship with your customers and most importantly learning from them. It is a way to reach and understand your existing clients and prepare for what will be a mass audience in a very short time. A recent inworld survey by CB News in partnership with Repères asked over 1000 Second Life residents their opinion of real world brands and there were some surprisingly results. 66% believe that the presence of RL brands has a positive impact on SL and 45% of respondents even want more brands because they enhance and give more credibility to Second Life, a realism and make SL more interesting, by increasing the number of residents. But at the moment we are not talking about mass audiences. Successful brand presences, and two of the recent Project Factory builds in Second Life are in the top five, may have anywhere between 30-60 thousand unique visitors per quarter. These will seem like small numbers to some brand owners and advertisers, but, and here is where it gets very exciting, the inhabitants are spending anything between 15 minutes and 6 hours per visit to your brand! That figure is unheard of in almost any other media even more significant and important for those concerned with reach is that those residents are the most active in the blogosphere, and millions of impressions are generated outside these worlds – they tell of their lengthy experiences in the other social networks.

Shopping in virtual worlds is actually fun for the inhabitants and comes up as one of the most popular pastimes. The ability to browse products alongside your trusted friends is more akin to the mall than eBay of course so this is a real opportunity for those who want to attempt to make in or out of world sales. The more progressive companies are allowing consumers to co-design product and even order real world product from within the environment. A simple example. Very similar experiences to real life are being created in these worlds such the shared ‘media’ experience – listening to music, watching movies with others is pretty cool, you can chat and play-around with your fiends alongside the latest film. Dominos pizza realised this early and now allow you to order your ‘real’ pizza while you virtually watch movies with your ‘distributed friends’. Domino’s IT director Jane Kimberlin said “Second Life is where Domino’s customers are and therefore that’s where the pizza company needs to be too.”

How to make money? As is well publicised (in fact I can’t believe I am still talking about this) Linden dollars is the Second Life currency which can be converted into real world dollars. There are some businesses operating in Second Life that are earning real money selling virtual products. These include clothing, dance animations, selling or leasing property, buying even selling shares and the number of Second Life residents generating more than US$5,000 in monthly income has more than quadrupled to 116 in the past year, according to Linden Lab. Also brands who create product inside Second Life own the IP inworld and more importantly they retain it if they move it outside and create out of world, real product, so great news for inworld R&D. But selling things shouldn’t be your focus. It should be about integrating your brand and becoming a trusted addition inside this unique and vibrant social network. You must add value and not just build and run or build and not be around to welcome your visitors. There are way too many empty branded spaces in some virtual worlds. Lets see some of the brands that have already taken the plunge, this is a short edit of a longer video I compiled on the stand and it looks at a few recognisable names.

SELF CUT VIDEO: Motion grabs of branded spaces in world. 3 minute edit of the longer 30 minute stand one.

Quite a few recognisable brands there, so how are they doing?. Well on Thursday last week I went inworld and using the built in Search/Places facility which brings up the standardised traffic figures I looked at the ‘dwell’ traffic for each of them. Dwell is not just how many visits but how much of their inworld time they spent with each of the major brands. Also the inworld traffic measurement is the only real way to compare like with like which is why I am showing it to you. So here are the results.

1. BigPond – 18139
2. Pontiac – 13832
3. IBM – 12850
4. Showtime (L Word) – 7233
5. ABC TV Australia – 6898
6. NetG Training – 6536
7. Mercedes-Benz – 5656
8. Nissan – 4269
9. Mazda – 2827
10. Dell – 2759
11. MTVN – 2317
12. Toyota – 2119
13. Sun Microsystems – 1728
14. Sears – 1596
15. Sony BMG – 1560
16. Cisco – 1521
17. Adidas Reebok – 1351
18. Sony Ericsson – 1242
19. PA Consulting Group – 1138
20. Circuit City -1089
21. Reuters – 1019
22. BMW 842
23. Intel – 829
24. AOL – 797
25. NBC Universal 745
26. American Apparel – 596
27. Starwood Hotels – 35

Great news for Australia with BigPond and ABC (built by the Project Factory) in the top five and this is months after launch, so outside the hype curve. But why are some of the others so low? All those wonderfully designed, branded buildings with lots of things to do? Well to me a couple of the critical elements that many brands have missed are –
Firstly- Creating spaces that are just really nice to spend a long time in. Sounds simple but many corporate builds are just cold and too representational. They should be organic, of value and welcoming and where inhabitants can create their identities inside their own stories. Of particular note is the outback bar area of the Pond which is currently in the top ten of all second life brands itself on a ‘dwell’ basis, but more importantly it is part of a mix of features and functions that you need to create.
Secondly – A space where the inhabitants can create or contribute to the environment. So both The Pond and ABC have sandbox areas where residents (particularly new ones) learn to build and add things to the branded space. Also requests for changes from the visitors to the existing build should be taken seriously and acted on. Give them a sense of ownership of the space and they will thank you which will build trust.
Thirdly – Be authentic and talk to them at an equal level. Too many companies still talk down to their customers as their avatars do the ‘hard sales pitch’ thing. This is a real opportunity to show the human side to the brand, give it personality and again that insight will be endearing to the residents. A major consideration for many brands is to actually commit ‘real life’ people to be in the environment with the visitors 24/7. If you think you wont be able to collaboratively manage the community by factoring in the human resource follow-up, it might make sense not to start at all.

Advertising in these worlds are often seen as a big no, no from those inworld. Especially the old in your face, irrelevant, broadcast ad model. One thing we are experimenting with at the Project Factory is personalized and targetd advertising. This is not some Orwellian (or Minority Report) nightmare, more a way that the environment (at its crudest level ad hoardings) will change dependent on who is around them but there are many more subtle ad R&D experiments we are trailing. We, like many other developers, are learning as we go along and will never assume that this sort of functionality will prevail. An area that we definitely believe is here to stay is allowing residents to creatively interact with your brand or product. So let them co-design new product with you and listen to what they say about your existing products or services. Never before have brands had this opportunity to be so close to the consumer, you are in there with them, in real time, collaboratively.

Companies succeed in virtual worlds when they take much more of a lifestyle approach to their marketing. Whether you choose to go down this road and participate or not, Virtual Worlds will remain to be one of the most compelling ways we will interact socially and commercially in the future. The Project Factory’s virtual world services are also about merging the real with the virtual and creating experiences that are interactive, social and immersive. It is a very exciting time to be involved now at the dawning of this very real, virtual revolution. I hope that this brief talk wheted your appetite. If you want more come talk to us on our stand and check out the website listed here.

Thank you and time for a few questions?

and not mine but a great video about potential for brands (albeit slightly smoke and mirrors re: the interactions in this video) from Text100 and thousands of views on YouTube.

Posted by Gary Hayes ©2007

Jan 112007

Well, it has been the longest gap (over a month) in posting on this blog since I started – and the guilt has been unbearable! I blame it on a mixture of end of year, the slow Australian January (summer), ‘no real news’ syndrome, designing and developing Second Life commercial launches and waiting for something really ‘earth shattering’, from a global media perspective. I didn’t have to wait long into the new year and Mr. Jobs’ announcemennts so… as one form of self-motivation is to ‘say’ your going to, I will be posting in the next few days on:

  1. How did my predictions from last year hold up. Yes I was pretty spot on with mergers, UGC and lots of trad broadcast companies sticking video-on-web, but that personalization thing? There are others who say personalization is the next and ‘only’ real big thing this year – I report on that.
  2. Apple have set the benchmark for announcements this year. The iPhone (which I hinted at in September) the not so unpredictable iPod/Phone/portaweb thing but even more interesting AppleTV which I talked about in the same post – but this is the service that will hopefully be as a ‘match-made-in-heaven’ as iTunes and iPod.
  3. There are a raft of a-list broadcasters who are not so far along from last year as regards putting their video properties on the web (free and pay per play), but more interesting is the tidal wave of b-list content producers and broadcasters who are now saturating online distribution via vodcasts or trickling via Google or YouTube. I talked about this ‘middle quality production’ bracket last year, so lots on that to come
  4. Being totally immersed in Second Life developments with strategic launches, major commercial multi-sim and social environment builds, education and training I am interested in the evolution now as SL turns open source (well at least the client) and how other players multiverse or croquet will develop at the same time. There was a lot of talk about user number measurement in the last month and predictions suggest that at least 10 million will have a least tried Second Life by the end of the year – leaving around 1 million hardcore users this time next year. When I have launched some major SL services in Feb and March I will blog here and as a guest blogger on Terra Nova about future developments and how new forms of entertainment will evolve in web 3.0D.
  5. My predictions for this year. There are changes happening with LAMP and its direction becoming more ‘project delivery’ focused (as well as its continued evangelistic training) so will give a perspective on what kinds of services we will see evolve through the year. Keep watching!

I have also launched another blog at muvedesign.com (no don’t go there just yet – it is only one post and some links – the domain is mine though 😉 That blog will focus on Virtual Worlds from a development perspective and on creating valuable user experience – the ‘what works and what doesn’t’. Expect that to start through February. So with the LAMP blog, the every more popular justvirtual.com as well as the ‘day job’, I have a plateful !

OK there is so much more to blog about on personalizemedia, but I have at least broken the silence and that can’t be at all bad.

Happy New Year All!

Posted by Gary Hayes © 2007

Sep 262006

Virtual Laguna Beach Party

I was on a Portable Content Symposium panel last night “Content with your content? How the convergence of media is changing everything we know”. A fellow panelist Ean Thorley (Exec prod at MTV Australia) briefly referred to a new MTV virtual space Laguna Beach – when we started talking about the impact web 3.0 on traditional media. It is a shame we didn’t get more time to explore this, significant development – a virtual space branded by but more importantly, containing the story world of the much loved TV programme. Launched in alpha on Weds last week it has been reported across the usual channels. Here is an excerpt of the MTV press release from news.com.

“Viewers can hang out at the beach or shop at the local surf store and interact with one another in ways that mirror the on-air program. Just as the cast gears up for the winter formal, so too can viewers within ‘Virtual Laguna Beach’ prepare for the big night, find a date online and select the tux or prom dress for their onscreen identity.”

Laguna Beach is a 3 year old show and has a loyal teenage following of those wanting a glimpse into youth beach culture on the US West Coast. It is partly reality TV and perhaps suitable for an MMO treatment, the scenes are often filmed from a great distance allowing the ‘mic’d’ characters to do their thing without a large crew around them. Wonder if the virtual version will have cameras rolling capturing the avatar interactions?! Having spent many weeks on and off in the real ‘art center’ Laguna Beach (in between LA and San Diego) I was interested to see where the program, the real environment and the virtual space met.

I joined up a few days ago to their alpha/beta version (running on the ‘there.com‘ engine) to see what is happening and also compare a little to how this may have worked on a dedicated sim in second life. It is obviously a bit flaky at the moment – I kept getting logged out and regularly teleported to random locations – still I saw enough on these first expeditions to get a sense of it. Here are a few screenshots I took on my travels to give you a feel for the space and the branded functionality. (all images are taken by me, the red shirted chap, in the environment may be copyright MTV or There.com – haven’t had time to read the small print, oh the copyright free’ish joys of Second Life).

Virtual Laguna Beach Main Street

After a walk down a ‘orientation’, various how-to stages hill (very similar) to Second Life one arrives at the beach and several street off-shoots with similarly named stores to the series. The interface, not shown, allows you to teleport to a number of locations, around 10 as opposed to the thousands in second life – so wonder when the scale of this environment will mean people will loose interest? This is really aimed at 15-20 year olds, really simple learning curve and designed primarily to get chatting and grouping with others as quickly as possible, much like the Second Life teen grid and of course there.com, which this is built on.
Virtual Laguna Beach Showtime

The most interesting aspect of the world is the carrot of being able to watch some of the shows in advance of the broadcast versions in the virtual space itself as well as getting ‘paid’ to watch ads. I still have 4th wall clashes when one sees photo-realistic video in a virtual world, but one of the nice things here is that the showings are events that you actually book yourself into. Great idea turning a scheduled TV programme into a scheduled show in a virtual world 😉

Virtual Laguna Beach Club Chat

Obviously a big draw of the world is the social networking aspects for teenagers and there are a predominance of show-themed areas to sit, chat, flirt etc: In fact the interface has built in gestures that range from flirt, blush, side kiss etc: Very teenager. I wonder how many of the guest avatars actually do role-play like the show characters? I was told that the virtual space will have guest avatar appearances by the real show characters on occassion. What I would really like to see is scenes played out, almost theatrical, in sets from the TV programme and you can observe but potentially even get involved as extras – then even have the whole thing recorded as if it is a live shoot and output as typical machinima. But that may be too far ahead for the creators who are just getting the thing to stand up at the moment.
Virtual Laguna Beach Pier

Now this is where my real world Laguna Beach memory fades. Does/did the pier really look like this? Of course it is no longer there, one of the benefits of a virtual ‘set’.
Virtual Laguna Beach ATM

OK now down to money. Scattered around the world are the LB ATM machines.
Virtual Laguna Beach Money

Clicking on them tells you how to earn money. Not by making something or providing a service, no you earn your virtual credits by a) taking part in a typical web/ARG quest type game. $500 a day for getting all clues. Will go back and see how hard or easy this is. b) You also, like all good social networks, earn credits for doing social things – having fun, making friends and chatting and c) as mentioned before for watching advertising messages (an idea that is appearing all over the place). One key simularity with Second Life is that you can buy credits by converting your real money into VLB currency (MTVS) – that is the plan. There are a few things to buy, surfboards, clothes, tickets for events etc: There were also a few ‘closed’ houses on the hills and on the dead end sidestreets that did actually remind me of the real Laguna Beach and with premium membership you can own houses and cars – as well as exclusive access to celeb clubs.

and one of the places one spends money, buying those identity defining clothes. On another tack I wonder if there will be a global narrative developed over time so people can role play. Each gender is only given a choice of 8 default characters which do not seem at first look to be the programme characters – which is just as well because on one street corner there were around 15 females all dressed and looking identical. Perhaps the service should be called Salt Lake City? No flames please.


and of course the obligatory in-world cinema with lots of areas ready for synergistic cross-branding – now thats an old school advertising idea…

Virtual Laguna Beach Hoverboarding

Some of the activities include the hoverboarding course. Now is that really in the show?

Virtual Laguna Beach VIP

and again endless teenage socialising. In its alpha stage a lot of the conversations come down to ‘what do we do here’, but I was surprised by the efficiency of creating and joining groups and the chat/IM elements compared with Second Life, which is a bit more down the ‘sysadmin’ tecchy road. Every 5 minutes I would be prompted to join a group by someone standing close – perhaps a range of MTV avatars are acting as social network catalysts.

In summary, will write more detail in a future post when things have settled, this is a significant development as a content convergence between

  1. Channel brand
  2. TV programme brand
  3. Virtual worlds
  4. Social networks
  5. Web 2.0 media distribution

Below is my response to Tony Walsh’s post on the same topic a few days ago which acts as a good final statement

I think this is very significant – and excuse the slight forward train of thought. The engines that sit behind these ‘worlds’ are within reach of corporates now to set up and I suspect (just like blogs and wikis) in the wonderful world of web 2.0, VR world publishing will be in the hands of everyone within 2 years. An open source, easy to set-up on any webserver package will mean Second Life’s days are probably numbered – I think Croquet needs some major tweaking before it becomes a WordPress, but as I suggest in my Web 3.0 post there is an inevitability about corporates and the rest of us being able to host our own virtual spaces – and link them together the same ‘metaphorical’ way we link blogs and comments – so hundreds of thousands of personal virtual mini worlds running on a multitude of apache servers, with a virtual link between them – it appears as if they are next to each other in the virtual space.

This is one of a few planned spaces like this for MTV with LOGO coming up, the branded environment of course felt like many in Second Life, Silent Hill, Myst, several sports and city areas but this had a slightly claustrophic walled garden feel to it as you knew there were ‘real’ city limits. More practically the whole thing did start to feel like an immersive web site (a step on from flash driven psuedo 3D) as I drifted around between branded sections of stores and scenes from the show – which is where the whole web 3.0 thing comes from of course, these spaces become your navigation to text, audio, graphics, media and most importantly at the same time, other people in the same world. From a story angle I am keen to see other players come into the space and run narratives in parallel and connected in true cross-media way to narratives from the TV/Radio/Webisode etc: This seems all very doable, it really comes down to the story people being able to work effectively alongside the tecchy and design folk in their organisation and not running these services as an offshoot but having integrated, 360 thinking inside the channel but more importantly the programme brand production team. We will get there 😉

Posted by Gary Hayes ©2006