Being at the Metaverse Garage, as I was calling it in my mind last night, was pretty cool. It was one of those big Chelsea industrial distressed spaces that arty types have always found cool in Manhattan. It was pouring rain on the tin roof somewhere. The place was packed with more than 125 people. We were there to have a "pre Metaverse Map rollout party" that SnoopyBrown Zamboni had concocted and I have to say, partly at my behest early this summer when I said I wish we could have some alternative to the SLCC in New York. It would have been better even as a 3-day conference like SOP, but that requires more resources and time, and we don't have that.
The best part of this meeting was that there were no Lindens there (well, there might have been some Lindens in hiding in the audience, but I wouldn't know). No paralyzing presentations about how Havoc 2 is coming or just how neat it is to make a machinima movie about your avatar watching himself being watched as he watched real people, etc. I find Lindens at these events, whether I've attended them or watched them inworld or out, really puts a pall over them -- they inevitably end up as infomercials and people inevitably try to lobby them for the features they want and it inevitably has this feel of a fanboyz' confab or a company picnic or some really tiresome church outing.
I think it's really important for more and more of these conversations to get started all over and for people not to feel that they cannot have even a very serious academic or corporate conference without inevitably putting Lindens in the speakers' chair. More and more, if these people want to decouple from us, doing things like closing the forums down abruptly, something I'll come back to another day, then we should be decoupling too. My Internet Service Provider doesn't give me bears, or tell me my posts are too long. He's just "there". In the same way, I'd just like LL to be more neutral, more "just there" and less intrusive and controlling. Many people want friendship and support from their game gods. They're increasingly retreating to Mount Olympus and abandoning their world. That's fine. We just need them not to destroy it for now.
So, SNOOPY being SNOOPY, he had to have a mash-up of all kinds of different metaversal meanderings represented.
The fellow who has tool and dyed little avatars out of SL and WoW through "3-D printing" them on styrofoam didn't have a lot to say about how this would affect people, but he did note that people poured lots of hours into making little movies of their avatars and their abilities using features in Flash, I guess it was, that enabled them to do things even WoW itself couldn't do with them. First, the good news is that the styrofoam looked a lot better in RL than it does in the pictures on Walker's blog. There, they look like something you wouldn't bother with, not detailed and featureless. In RL, you see you could be painting them, collecting them, picking them up and admiring them, etc. They have more fineness of detail than expected. The bad news: you can't also take stuff out of RL and pump it back into SL and "print it out there". Pity.
Greatest throwaway line of the night: "Everything in SL is copyable." He said this matter-o-factly, with all the blandness and sagacity of someone who has invented a thingie to *make* everything in SL copyable -- take a picture, it throws the picture up on a mesh, the mesh does stuff on a program that does other stuff, it spits it out on a printer, well a kind of jello mould.
No one in the audience seemed to notice what he said; of course if our FIC and forums regs were there (Gosh...what ARE we to call those people now that the forums, and their regularityness will be GONEZO???) they would have FREAKED.
But he's right. It is. Just like...everything on the Internet and RL was copyable...into SL to start with.
I imagine there will be a podcast of this thing soon, but first, some impressions of the audience:
o Mostly male -- looked to be more in their 30s more than 20s
o Almost all white, perhaps a few black or Hispanic.
o A fair number even in 40s and 50s; older women in 40s
o When asked if they had MySpace, half of them raised their hands (!!!)
o Most seemed unfamiliar with SL, but a few hard core SLers were in the audience
o Lots of informed questions, including one fellow who had never been in SL who asked very urgently, why weren't we talking about democracy? Are there going to be rights in this world? There's all this talk about property and IP. But what about people's rights? etc.
o Half the audience bolted though when it was over--too wierd -- but the other half talked very enthusiastically afterwards
o Interest rather than skepticism, but among the speakers, some real zeal about the invalidity of the Linden model of a contiguous world with centralized asset servers
o the single most crowd-pleasing item in all the presentations, that got people really laughing and nodding in recognition and feeling "into it" was the showing of the machinima that Pierce Portocarrero had made about the demonstration on the Third Anniversary. His faux-breathless reportage style was the best part of it, but the signs held by people like Barnes complaining about all these newbies pouring in with no verified status, all had the feel of New York type demonstrations. I couldn't help feeling that the people in the audience liked that clip best, because the activity of the avatars was one they could relate to -- I suspect some of them, like me, perhaps some of the older ones especially, have had a sign in their hall closets for years, saying UNFAIR, that is an all-purpose sign that you can take to ANY demonstration about ANYTHING ROFL.
o the movie of the making of Suzanne Vega's guitar, which an insider SL'er would find awesome beyond belief and would watch many times over, was dull for people and they were shifting in their seats.
Moral of the story: show people avatars doing things they can identify with doing themselves. If you take a crowd like this and show them avatars water-skiing or doing fashion shows, well, they are mainly males, they don't do fashion, and they don't water-ski, and they can say, oh, cool, but why would they want to go there.
The money shot for me in an event like this was when one older fellow got up, and you could see the click going off in his head. "So, let me see here," he says. "Instead of investing a lot of money buying one of these time shares in these foreign countries where you can't really know what you're getting and may not even get there, you could get an island in Second Life and go there."
Now, to the ordinary "adjusted" person, seeming to accept sitting at your computer looking at a picture of an island instead of going to a real island seems nutty. But not if it is compelling, not if it is rewarding emotionally, socially, intellectually.
I'll have more to say when I can hear the podcast and understand more about what Tony Parisi was saying about "silos" and the faultiness of the contiguous model. I'm never bothered by that model because I don't think it inhibits "hyperlinks" or p2p travel at all; I think it's what people want; and just because it is imported from RL doesn't make it objectionable or backward. In fact, I find more than a bit of bolshevism about the zealotry with which people expound on the need for us to accept non-contiguous or shattered worlds. They obviously feel that way about those espousing the geographical approach.
Here's my theses, which I brought in my portable tabletop optimal rezzing celluloidic 3-D manipulable
data representational matrix, AKA 3x5 cards.
Everyone Will Have a Second Life
o not gamerz and lamerz
o SL like 2nd car, 2nd home, 2nd wife, 2nd chance
o avatar as calling card
o 8,000 online, 30,000 a day, but spending $250,000 a day, sometimes hundreds a month
o most other leisure pursuits have nowhere near the same expenditures for most people
Web v. World
o 1 media hit
o non-refreshable withotu constant build expense
o they make it
o they come
o you pay the tier
o networks, lifestyles, events
o commerce, social networks, and most important, tests of social systems
World Problems Are Web Problems
o first-sale doctrine/yardsales
o selling to avatars not web browsers -- but web browsers will be becoming avatars
o creator v. consumer
o land=property=value or IP=property=value
New Group Tools
o more groups
o roles -- no more hippie commune imposed
o inventory passing
o exciting/scary prospect to see how everybody gets to design, replicate, and
virally accelerate social systems
No Mass Media
o ad buying senseless
o 40-160 at event on server
o groups however can have 1,000 on a group at once or more
o radio and TV are only voluntary, to paste into media tab on parcel
o viral marketing of objects/gear clothing from word-of-mouth, groups, events
not from ads only
Linden Media Strategy
o forums closed
o failure of SLTV
o lame radio
o had the most popular avatar start an AOL blog
o vetted groups of insiders make SLOG
o builds buzz among elites but still not reaching masses
o TV spots or gamers' sites ads not used, but instead, major media articles placed
Mainland v. Island
happy accident anti-griefing
o must be ombudsman on LL side
o jury of peers is troika or lynch mob
o local disputes solved by sim ownership
o trademark attorneys needed
o appeals of mass bans
o all truth resides on our servers -- need defense of alternative to securing/validating info on client side
o create/build or die
o home brew in basements is the way to go, but this leads to fiefdoms
o where are overarching principles of civilization?
o the price of the coolness of Snowcrash: Mr. Lee's Hong Kong and PoorImpulse Control.