Two interestingly critical articles on the long-term sustainability of Second life, from very different perspectives.
In "A story too good to check" Clay Shirky turns a critical eye on the current buzz surrounding SL:
" I suspect Second Life is largely a 'Try Me' virus, where reports of a strange and wonderful new thing draw the masses to log in and
try it, but whose ability to retain anything but a fraction of those users is limited.
The pattern of a Try Me virus is a rapid spread of first time users, most of whom drop out quickly, with most of the dropouts becoming immune to later use.
So what accounts for the current press interest in Second Life? I have a few ideas, though none is concrete enough to call an answer yet.
First, the tech beat is an intake valve for the young.
Second, virtual reality is conceptually simple ... you are a person, in a space. It's like real life.
Third, the press has a congenital weakness for the Content Is King story.
There's nothing wrong with a service that appeals to tens of thousands of people, but in a billion-person internet, that population is also a rounding error. If most of the people who try Second Life bail (and they do), we should adopt a considerably more skeptical attitude about proclamations that the oft-delayed Virtual Worlds revolution has now arrived."
In "Avatars consume as much electricity as Brazilians" Nicholas Carr tries to gauge the amount of energy required to keep avatars happy. Results are stunning to say the least:
"Is Second Life sustainable ecologically?
If there are on average between 10,000 and 15,000 avatars 'living' in Second Life at any point, that means the world has a population of about 12,500. Supporting those 12,500 avatars requires 4,000 servers as well as the 12,500 PCs the avatars' physical alter egos are using.
Conservatively, a PC consumes 120 watts and a server consumes 200 watts. Throw in another 50 watts per server for data-center air
So an avatar consumes 1,752 kWh per year. By comparison, the average human, on a worldwide basis, consumes 2,436 kWh per year.
If we look at developing countries, where per-capita consumption is 1,015 kWh, we find that avatars burn through considerably more electricity than people do.
More narrowly still, the average citizen of Brazil consumes 1,884 kWh, which, given the fact that my avatar estimate was rough and conservative, means that your average Second Life avatar consumes about as much electricity as your average Brazilian.
Which means, in turn, that avatars aren't quite as intangible as they seem.
They don't have bodies, but they do leave footprints."
Microsoft invited a select number of influential bloggers for one day meet and greet with Bill Gates and other Microsoft big wigs. They called the event "Mix and Mash" and it was focused on preparing for the upcoming Mix 07 conference happening in April. Microsoft provided free airfare, hotel, and Zune media players to all the attendees. This of course spawned some negative pressÂ claiming that Microsoft was trying to buy someÂ positive blog posts.Â
Any bloggers that claim to be impartial journalists will report just the cold, hard facts regardless of whether or not they get a free trip and a goodie bag. Who among us wouldn't accept a free trip and some face time with Bill Gates. All I have to say is, why weren't us frog bloggers invited :-(.
In "Netgeist/3: Mapping our digital identities" Bruno Giussani looks for a framework that will help collate our many online traces into recognizable digital fingerprints:
"In several speeches this year I've been discussing the concept of digital identity, trying to come up with a framework for the multiple digital personas that are increasingly shadowing our real-life persona.
The overall idea is that our Internet usage leaves footprints: the content we create, the profiles we publish, the comments we leave, the pictures we share, the participation in social networks, the eBay auctioning, the stuff other people write on their blogs about us, and so on. Some of these footprints, we do control ... but, increasingly, footprints appear on the digital sands over which we don't exercise any control.
Fred Cavazza has developed an interesting framework for mapping our digital identity (or, rather, identities). He makes a distinction between "formal" (profiles, certificates) and "informal" (comments, photos, etc) footprints, and says that their sum amounts to our "digital DNA". He has put together a map of the places where we do leave those footprints.
The list has at least weaknesses (and it's) obviously work in progress (but) it is the best attempt at a synthesis that I've seen so far."
In just one short year, Seattle-based Newsvine went from a northwest upstart to a fixture at NYtimes.com. NYtimes.com recently rolled out a "share" feature that allows users to easily add an article to Digg, Newsvine, or Facebook.com.
This is, without a doubt, an interesting mix of sites to pick from. Digg is obvious, it is the gold standard (whether we like it or not) for sites built around user submission. Newsvine is interesting because, unlike Digg, it is not a site based solely on users submitting compelling articles. Newsvine's model also incorporates the ability for its members to author articles in addition to simply seeding. Also, Newsvine's inclusion is odd because it is still relatively small (traffic is just barely over 500k unique visitors per month, but it is growing). And Facebook? Yeah, who knows.
Regardless, this is an intriguing move on the part of NYTimes.com. These sites are not edited, not moderated, and completely run by their respective memberships. It is very forward-thinking of NYTimes.com to embrace such sites, as opposed to raging against them or trying to introduce their own version. We'll see if other major media outlets make similar moves, but this certainly bodes well for the increasing importance of citizen journalism.
YouTube has completely revolutionized the way in which people communicate with the world. Anyone with a webcam can put themselves out there in front of millions of viewers. More often than not, this results in cheesy videos of people's pets and being able to watch Michael Richards blow his stack on stage a few hours after it happens. But more and more I am seeing how-to videos that are teaching people various nefarious activities such as lockpicking. One such topic is called bump keying and it is a technique that allows any average person to bypass most all locks within a matter of seconds. This technique has been known by criminals and locksmiths for years, but now there are literally hundreds of videos showing how to bypass locks of all types. The video below is one of the most popular videos on YouTube and is a good example of how easy this technique is:
So this raises an important question: are we better or worse off for having this knowledge? From my perspective I would prefer to know that the lock on my front door is basically useless. I performed my own test and I was able to open my lock within 30 seconds. This gave me a feeling of insecurity but I'm also glad to know that this flaw exists. Sure this may make some stupid criminals a little bit smarter, but as I said, this has been known by the criminal element for years.
I see more and more of these questionable videos in our future and it definitely makes you wonder if there is such a thing as too much information.
For those who haven't heard, Microsoft launched a CTP of WPF/E last week and there has been a huge amount of blog chatter surrounding it. For people who are still struggling to come to terms with WPF, the addition of WPF/E into the mix will surely cause some confusion. I've been playing with the technology since it was launched and I have to say that it is very promising.
The initial reaction of many was to compare it to Flash. This makes sense since both technologies are geared for creating rich, interactive content for the web. The very first example I created was one which allowed you to control a Flash movie from WPF/E and vice versa. The second example expanded on that and actually had content animating in between the two technologies. But comparing WPF/E to Flash is somewhat akin to comparing Flash 4 to Flash 8. The capabilities of WPF/E are still very limited in comparison to the powerhouse application that Flash has become. One of the advantages of WPF/E however is that you can create it using a text editor and you don't have to run out and buy a $700 authoring tool. It is also never compiled like a Flash SWF file is, so you can edit the files directly on a server to see instant changes in your application.
Below is a list of links that I found over the last week that may help you in getting up to speed with WPF/E. Be sure to install the WPF/E plugin in order to see an examples.
WPF/E and Flash Interactive Example!
More WPF/E and Flash Integration Madness!
My Site's Header is 100% Pure WPF/E!
WPF/E Egg Timer
WPF/E Video Player
Page Turn Media
Film Strip Slideshow
Information on WPF/E
"WPF/E" SDK documentation
What is WPF/E really?
The Makings of a WPF/E Project
All brands have to evolve, and many are forced to because they become too wrapped up in themselves and lose connection with the people they are trying to appeal to.
New media meets old media. Volatility meets eternity. Digital meets thinginess. Blurb's BookSmart (still in beta) is software that turns your collected blog entries into a bookstore-quality book. For those who blog for a living, this new service opens undiscovered distribution formats (the blog book!) to reach more traditional readers.
In the "attention economy," a term introduced by Thomas Davenport and John Beck in 2001 (also read Michael Goldhabers' essay), attention is the scarcest resource and the strongest value driver. The concept has been around for a while; what's new now is that businesses are beginning to understand attention as currency and are creating tools that help build and exchange "attention capital."
This passage is as true today as it was in 1970 when John Chris Jones wrote it: