Congress vs. Jon Stewart vs. Susan Temby vs. Colbert Challenge

Second Life, Virtual Worlds on May 2nd, 2008 2 Comments

A few weeks ago the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet held the first-ever Congressional hearing about virtual worlds. The hearing focused more on Second Life than any other virtual world platform. I wasn’t back to blogging at the time, but the Washington Post did a nice article summarizing the proceedings. You can find the article here.

A few days later, in response to these hearings, Jon Stewart did a segment mocking the hearings, Second Life, and its residents.

The Second Life community responded in protest. Residents were most angry with the mocking of Susan Tenby (aka Glitteractica Cookie) due to her extensive work with the Nonprofit Commons. Tenby responded to Stewart with some examples of the nonprofit work in Second Life and a little humor.

The responses did not stop there. This week on their season closer of Metanomics, host Robert Bloomfield in response to the Jon Stewart remarks issued a challenge for Stephen Colbert to come into Second Life and be a guest on the show.

I doubt the challenge will be answered, but it is entertaining.

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Is camping over in Second Life?

Business, News Announcements on April 28th, 2008 No Comments

Second Life Showcase
The current Second Life offers a list of “Popular Places” on the grid. This list is determined by traffic numbers. The current traffic number is generated based on the amount of Residents who visited a certain parcel, and the time spent on that parcel out of their total time in-world that day. Because of the way that this formula works many Second Life parcel owners use camping to generate traffic numbers. Camping is when parcel owners pay avatars to spend time on their parcel. Unfortunately this process has been further exploited by residents who use bots (software-controlled avatars) to collect this camping wages. This process has caused added strain on the grid and made lists like the popular places list inaccurate, but is this all about to change?

Today Linden Lab announced on their official blog that they are interested in revamping their current traffic system and that they would be replacing the current popular places list with the new Second Life Showcase in two months. Linden Lab says the new list will be determined by an internal team that hand select places within categories. In the future they may allow resident to nominate places as well. You can find out more about the showcase here.

As far as traffic goes, Linden Lab admits in their blog post that the current traffic system is not working.

“It is clear that the current Traffic system is not an effective means of determining the success or popularity of a parcel, nor does it provide useful information about Residents visiting those parcels.”

They are encouraging residents who are interested to join the “LL Traffic Future” group to give input into what they would like to see for the future of traffic in Second Life.

Will Linden Lab really change the way traffic is calculated? Will that along with the end of the Popular Places listing open the doors for parcel owners to end camping and thereby decrease the use of bots? With no campers and bots, and mostly only truly active residents in-world will Linden Lab suffer a great loss in their statistics of the number of users currently online? Will this reduce some of the strain on the grid?

Time will tell.


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NESIM/VESIM Education Project

Education, NESIM, Second Life, Virtual Worlds on April 24th, 2008 11 Comments

One of the reasons it took me some time to get the blog up and running again is that we at Sand Castle Studios have been so blessed by being able to work on so many great projects in the last few months. 

You can view some of what we have been up to at our picture blog on Flickr.

There is one project in particular though that is very close to my heart.  That project is the development of the NESIM/VESIM technology. 

One of the very first people I met upon coming into Second Life was a nursing instructor who goes by the avatar name of markin Pau.  Even then he was very passionate about the educational uses for virtual worlds, especially in the field of nursing and health care.  At the time he was doing some work with the Ann Meyers Medical Center in Second Life.   AMMC only had a small parcel then and it was in the middle of a noisy lag-filled sim, so markin bought them a sim and had it developed and tried to give them a head start in achieving the goal of education in Second Life.  The head start paid off and AMMC along with markin began to collaborate with some great minds in the healthcare industry.  Eventually they were able to buy the island from markin, team up with Sprott Shaw College, and have since gone on to do some very interesting educational work in Second Life.  While markin found his work with AMMC fulfilling he wanted more.  He wanted to create a simulation tool that would be truly interactive.

A few months ago markin approached me about working on a project with him.  He had met another avatar, JS Vavoom, who was also a nursing instructor.  JS Vavoom is the avatar of real life educator John Miller.  John had a class already established in Second Life.  This gave markin the opportunity to test his concepts for a nursing education simulation tool later to be known as NESIM.  With this new opportunity available to him, markin commissioned us to begin working with him on the development of NESIM.   The task was large and we had only a few weeks to get it completed and in front of John’s students.  

Fast forward to current time… while we knew markin’s concept was innovative, we never could have predicted the amount of attention it would receive and the way it would change education as we know it in Second Life.  NESIM has been recognized by the Chronicle of Higher Education, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Nurseweek Magazine, and many other publications and blogs.  John Miller himself has become somewhat of a celebrity for his work using NESIM.  Other organizations have been inspired and are beginning to work on similar projects.

We at SCS are very excited to be part of the future of education in virtual worlds.  To learn more about NESIM and how it has been used so far, check out the these videos and subscribe to updates for future information.

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CEO of Organic Named New CEO of Linden Lab

Business, News Announcements, Second Life, Virtual Worlds on April 22nd, 2008 1 Comment
M Linden (Credit: Adam Reuters)


Linden Lab has officially selected digital marketing executive Mark Kingdon to replace founder Philip Rosedale as their new CEO effective May 15th. Kingdon leaves his position as CEO of the digital ad agency Organic, Inc. to join the Linden Lab team.

In the official Second Life blog, Rosedale describes him as:

“a person with the rare and unusual combination of business leadership, creativity, and passion for Second Life that we were looking for. In terms of history, he has a background in art, economics, and business. He has been in successful and highly regarded leadership roles at two companies that are bigger than Linden Lab: PricewaterhouseCoopers and Organic. He is a well-loved people leader who is fearless and can weather challenges and change.”

Rosedale goes on to say:

“He will have an intense focus on improving the in-world experience and stability and reliability of Second Life. He has extensive hands-on experience with user experience design, which will be critical in making Second Life an easier and better experience for more people. Finally, he has a ton of experience leading companies and products with global reach, which is now essential given that the great majority of Second Life usage is international and Linden Lab will continue to grow as an international company with offices in many locations.”

Kingdon, who now be known as “M Linden” in-world, had used a previous avatar known as Marcus Voom since January, 2007 and described himself as an occasional Second Life user despite the fact that his profile is mostly blank and searches for Marcus Voom returned no results other than this new announcement. While Marcus Voom does not appear to have made much of an impact on the Second Life community, Kingdon did write an article on the opportunities for advertisers in virtual worlds, specifically Second Life in August, 2006. Kingdon told Reuters on Tuesday that while bringing back consumer brands was not a priority, he would like to see:

“a continuation and even acceleration of the incredible in-world development we’ve seen from engaged, highly participative residents. that will create the richness of experience and vibrant economy that’s so important. If there are companies that can participate in the organic growth of Second Life, it’s a great place for them.”

Kingdon now has the extremely difficult task of transforming Second Life into a stable, efficient, well-organized business without losing the magic that makes it unique and without upsetting the “residents” who have high expectations and have not previously responded well to change.

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The Aftermath of the New Second Life Trademark Policy

Branding, Business, News Announcements, Second Life, Virtual Worlds on April 19th, 2008 No Comments

Registered Trademark Symbol

Though I announced a few days ago that I would be bringing back my blog, I waited until today to start writing again. I did this out of respect for my fellow bloggers who write specifically about Second Life. These bloggers held a three day strike from April 15th-April 18th to protest the new Second Life® trademark policy. While I don’t completely agree with some of their arguments and I don’t think striking was the best way to protest, I am not one to go crossing even the virtual picket lines of those who I support in general.

It started when Linden Lab, under the pretext of introducing the new “Second Life® Brand Center,” announced their new trademark policy. In classic Linden fashion, their delivery was mismanaged and outraged the community. The policy was also not very clear. About a week later, Linden Lab offered a further explanation of the policy, but the explanation only reiterated what was already stated and did not further answer any additional concerns or questions. With no real response to their questions, the Second Life bloggers began to protest. SL blogger Gwyneth Llewelyn wrote a petition to Linden Labs and when it went unanswered the strike was organized.

The bloggers did receive a response this time. It addressed many of the issues that were raised, but most of the bloggers are still not satisfied with the answers. They wanted Linden Labs to hold to the old “fansite” policies and to grandfather in everyone.

My opinion is that obviously it would be impossible to grandfather that amount of people in and they are under no obligation to do so. I understand what Linden Lab is now saying contradicts some of the previous “fansite” policies, but Linden Labs is doing exactly what it should do and what they have to do to protect their brand. I think their delivery should have been better and they should have done it a long time ago, but not doing it at all is not an option. If they continue letting people take advantage of the Second Life brand they could lose it completely and it would be quite difficult to then stop others from using it inappropriately.

I suggest that the community stop fighting the inevitable, and make the necessary adjustments. But if you are still bitter, you can vent your resentments in response to Vint Falken’s call for the Best Trademark Parody. Your animosity might just earn you the $10,000L bounty.

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I’m Bringing Blogging Back

News Announcements on April 14th, 2008 1 Comment

So many of you have been asking me when I am going to be bringing the blog back. I am so happy that you all enjoyed the old one that much. I am looking forward to getting back to it. I am fixing up the site with the team and getting it blog ready and then I will be back! Keep your eye on the feed!

About This Blog

About on January 1st, 2005 Comments Off

Gianna Borgnine

This blog is written by Gianna Borgnine (aka Kimberly Winnington). In Second Life IM me as “Gianna Borgnine, in Twitter, follow me as @giannaborgnine; in Plurk, I’m “GiannaBorgnine”. My email is gianna@changingworldsbuildingdreams.


I generally moderate reader comments as fairly as possible. As long as a comment is civil I will allow it. Disagreeing points of view are encouraged, but please be considerate of others. Personal attacks, general flaming, and potentially libelous comments will not be approved.


Ideas and suggestions are always accepted. You can contact me by any of the means above. I will give credit for any stories used.