Web front end for Second Life ?

With the enthusiasm for Second Life going strong among our group the ideas are flying everywhere. One major area of interest is getting information from outside in and vice versa. Along this theme one idea was that of presenting Second Life in a browser, this is in someways a step backward but would allow access to Second Life to be more pervasive and accessible to the majority, dipping in to the game for a short period of time or when on the move at an internet cafe could then be possible.

I stumbled across Hive7.com this morning when reading an article by Phoenix Psaltery in the latest copy of the excellent Metaverse Messenger Second Life’s web published news paper. Hive7 is very much modelled around Second Life, placing you in an MMO setting with custom scripting and object creation, only this time its all 2D in browser and written as an AJAX application. It’s a great example of what can be done when you’re prepared to push browser technology near to its limits. Unsuprisingly Hive7 has attracted the attention of Pathfinder Linden who spent some time there creating a replica of one of Second Life’s welcome areas. There isn’t currently any link up between Hive7 and the Second Life world, but with the similarities I’m sure either the Lindens or Hive7’s team are thinking about it….

Lessons from second life

The last few weeks have brought a quite intense immersion in second life. What started with just checking what the tools were like has ended up being a quite a movement.

Quite a few of us have found that the linden labs platform with a mixture of 3d model creation tools and a very rich scripted language is letting us explore many of the ideas that may have been held up or on the backburner. It would appear that the open nature of second life, the ability to protect intellectual capital, to build and expand on other team members work is causing many more innovative ideas to surface.

Some of these will start to appear here on eightbar.

Due to our immersion in second life we were invited to attend an opening event at a campus island created by NMC. This was an interesting event in that many of the people were very new for Second life, but you could tell the more experienced dwellers by the costumes and looks. The community aspect that we all helped one another along and shared ideas was very liberating. The nearest analogy is a wiki, but in 3d and with all the contributors being there and seeing one another.

NMC event

I also have ended up putting some skin in the game by buying a private island (server) for us to share some of our ideas and the mere fact this existed has encouraged our own community to form around it.

Whilst it was very empty.

An empty island

We soon had a board room.

board room

But all work and no play makes jack a dull boy so we have all been out in the metaverse experiencing the richness of the user created world, such as live concerts.


Its certainly brought a great team together who have a common interest, and are finding ways to express all sorts of creative and technical ability.

Second Life – Outside in

A few of us have been exploring second life. I have a humble plot of land in the ‘metaverse’.

Being more techie than arty I have been exploring how to make the XMLRPC elements work, and seeing what potential there is in the scripting language that lives behind all these weird and wonderful objects.

The plan was to make a glowing orb respond to events outside second life. There seemed to be very few examples and lots of comments about things that did not work. However…… the orb on a stick in the right hand side of the picture is controlled by a form on a web page and some PHP.
So its state can be controlled by anyone accessing the page, rather than being actually in second life.

Light off

Light on

There is also some floating text (not shown) that hovers over the orb, the contents of this also comes from the standard HTML form.

The orb also emails a task ID I have elsewhere to tell me what the current message and state of the light is.

I believe that Linden Labs are looking at better ways for the objects to talk out of the ‘metaverse’ but for now it seems to work pretty well once you know the ID of the object you need to talk to.

IBM Blog Map

I’ve been playing with doing a Google Maps mashup on IBM’s internal blog system, showing where all the bloggers are posting from. It actually turned out to be pretty simple. We have an LDAP directory (called Bluepages) which stores information about all employees, including their work location. Another system stores information about each work location, such as longitude and latitude of the sites. That means I can get a grid reference for every user’s base location and plot them on the map. It’s not perfect, some people don’t actually work at their base location, but it gives a good approximation.

Blog Mashup

Clicking on the map pins lists all the bloggers who have recently posted at that location. I’ve got a few ideas of how to improve it and eventually I’d like to publish a live version of it outside the firewall. I don’t think there’s anything confidential in it, as I’m not going to show any blog content, but there may be some privacy issues around people’s IDs. I think it’d be nice to show IBMers activity throughout the day though.

Well it got my attention – Second Life

Massively Multiplayer Online(MMO) used to be about dragons, character leveling up, the odd spell. Second life has changed the model an introduced some new patterns that are there to be explored.

MMO’s got a mention in IBM’s Global Innovation Outlook as one of the strands of conversation about the changes ahead for the world.

Games have always been a part of my life, I have grown up wth them. However I also do ‘serious’ computing. Now, though, it is impossible to ignore the elements in Second Life that provide real collaborative computing in an immersive commercial environment.

In this environment people make money, selling things to other people. Shops and malls are forming in the virtual world, people are providing services, writing code, designing objects all to exchange for the Linden $. The unusual aspect is that the L$ trades both ways with the real world. So you make money in game, you make money in real life. A real economy?

People are making money, but they are also being extremely creative and innovative. Its not a single big product or killer app that makes the money, its volume sales of interesting objects and function.

The environment also considers those who wish only to contribute and open source thinking is rife in the virtual world. As a creator of an object in this world (which is in effect code) you are able to place it in world, sell it, offer it to the anyone, give it to people but not allow them to alter it, make it a perishable item. In normal terms it has an extremely rich access control mechanism.

The guys can also scale, more people subscribe…. they add another server/world/island.

All of what is in the environment is created by the users (most of whom subscribe). Where else do you get thousands of customers to self build your product?

A few of us are in second life, taking a look around, seeing what is happening and actually experiencing it rather than just reading about it, enjoying as well as researching. The facts an figures are more eloquently explained in this Google tech talk. It may not or may not be the coming of web 3.0, but some of the potential that is being created and exploited here cannot be ignored.