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.

Outbound communications from Second Life

I finally got to try the llhttprequest, it was in a 10 minute gap in the day, when my daughter who is 3 today decided she only wanted to play with Grandad.

Anyway, I did not intend to do things ‘properly’ but I did want to see if the new outbound http would let me add function to what I had already. Extend rather than port the XML-RPC inbound code I already had.

The existing “legacy” or “chesished” second life objects were 4 different instances of objects with my weatherrss script in them. Just to explain the objects in second life can and could open a channel making them available to be talked to from outside of second life. The outbound mechanism was only email.

Anyway this led me to create these objects, and cut and paste their unique ids into a piece of externally hosted PH. This PHP did a call to a well known weather service and then sent it into SL to the set of unique ids I had added to it. One click 4 objects get updated

The problem was triggering this, getting second life to send an email as a way to ask for a refresh was not great. I had a webpage with various URLs that were precanned calls to my PHP with various country location parameters.

Anyway the new 1.10 Second Life let me put a call in an object in an llhttprequest. So I simply got an object to use the same URLs as in the original webpage.

I now have an object in SL that can take user input and as my PHP to update all the various weather instances I have.

Obviously there are better 2 way mechanisms, like why bother using the XML-RPC at all, but this one liner let me exploit what I had and gain massive extra function.

It would now be very easy to create a map or globe with hotspots. Trigger external events by avatar presence and sensor events etc. All very useful.

A flexible world

Tonight Second Life had a major upgrade. There are all sorts of nice things, but it is not very often we get a point release of a piece of software and all the users go WOW! Thats an exclamation not World Of Warcraft.

Because second life is as much a development tool as a place to hang out and try things, getting a new tab and set of properties for objects, or new functions in the code becomes instantly interesting.

One of the main things under the covers is a new httprequest function to let objects talk to the rest of the (www)orld. I was a bit short of time tonight and attracted by something much more shiny and engaging though. Flexible textures and primitives.

Everything in SL used to be flat, or made of lots of prims to make surfaces. Well now we have a whole new bit of physics to make wavy textures. I instantly turned my rock solid St. George England flag into a nice wavy flag, and then resized it to a nice england cape.

Things like this really inject a whole new set of ideas, and a chance to revamp some things.

wavy england flags

HTX Event: Techconnect

As a part of the week-long Hursley Technical Exchange, today saw the Techconnect event take place. This is an opportunity for people from across the whole lab to produce and present a set of posters on a particular piece of innovation they have been involved with.

I spent a couple of hours this lunchtime stood in the main hall of Hursley House presenting my poster on the “Scripting Tools for SAN Volume Controller” (gratuitous plug).

It was great to be able to talk to people from many areas of the lab that I wouldn’t have normal reason to speak with. It was also very interesting to see what else is going on within the lab at a very low level.

This type of internal promotion of innovation and idea sharing is a great example of how IBM engenders a culture of innovation and thought-leading with our customers – we have to be innovative inside, to be innovative outside.

Games within games: Tringo in Second Life

As we all know by now, Second Life is less of a game and more of a virtual world with its own economy. Of course, inhabitants in a virtual world need virtual pastimes. A quick scan of today’s advertised events demonstrates that ‘Tringo’ and ‘Slingo’ are both more popular than ever.

Second Life events

While Slingo (imagine a slot machine merged with bingo) has long been a popular game on the internet, Tringo seems to be more specific to Second Life.

So what is it? Well, earlier today, Wired reported on the background and popularity of Tringo, which is an unlikely cross-breed of bingo and tetris. I won’t try to cover it in detail here (perhaps because I’m busy playing it in another window? I’ll let you guess) but there are plenty of excellent coverage of the game out there already. If you don’t fancy trying it in Second Life, you can always play it on the publisher’s website instead.

There are plenty of other games in Second Life besides Tringo. In fact, Linden Labs hosts an annual contest to develop compelling in-game games. (2005 winners, 2006 winners).

It will take some time before any of them overtake the *ingo games for raw popularity in Second Life though. As a sign of its success, and another excellent example of a real world crossover, I notice that Tringo has become a GameBoy Advance title too.

H T the X

This week the Hursley Technical Exchange (HTX) is running on site. Hursley runs a lot of external events for customers, schools and universities, but this is one for the IBMers working on site. There’s all kinds of talks and activities run by IBM people and also external speakers, such as Simon Singh, Robert Llewellyn and the people behind Hawkeye. It’s something similar to Google’s Tech Talk series, but all squashed into a week.

Lots of Hursley bloggers are contributing to the event. This morning Roo and I ran an innovating with Lego session, then Ian talked about Situational Apps and Richard Brown presented on WebSphere Process Server. Later in the week Roo is also giving a Web 2.0 pitch.

It looks a pretty good lineup for the week. I was somewhat disappointed to find that the Hawkeye people hadn’t set up any cricket nets in the house as I fancied having my bowling action analysed, but it was pointed out that maybe having people smash cricket balls around isn’t the best thing to do in a listed building.