Recent News Stories on Second Life—I Googled So You Don’t Have To

Second Life Creator who Tipped off ‘Zuck’ About Oculus VR Talks About Facebook’s Virtual Future
Upstart Business Journal, (08-26-2014)
Cory Ondrejka, former “Cory Linden” (and arguably SL’s co-creator with Philip Rosedale), former NSA spook, former US Navy officer, and now Vice President of Engineering hints about Facebook’s future in virtual worlds. Just enough to give Linden Lab management nightmares.

image(Photo by Joi, CC Attribution 2.0 Generic 2.0 License)

Skin Color Still Matters in Video Games
Discover Magazine, (09-04-2014)
Discover leads this story with a current and really good photo from Linden Lab’s new Flicker photo stream aimed at media users.

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Isn’t that a lot better than what we were seeing just a little over two months ago next to articles about Second Life?

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The article itself is worth reading. It discusses research done in Second Life by Jong-Eun Roselyn Lee at Ohio State University about how black versus white avatars are perceived in Second Life—and how that affects how the real life people behind those avatars.

Drilling down into the article reveals some serious limits on the research, though. The sample size was only 56 people, and “the study participants never actually played “Second Life” beyond the very early stage of making a virtual avatar”. Meaning Lee’s study really tells us more about race at Ohio State University than race in Second Life. Perhaps a future study will talk to some people who actually use Second Life. Because of the lead time in getting a study published in an academic journal, the study participants would have used the previous batch of avatars, and not the “Vampire is the New Black” mesh avatars introduced by LL a few months ago. “The Mary Suecovers this Lee study as well.

The NSA is Monitoring These 5 Games
Epoch Times, (09-11-2014)
I’m sure it is no great surprise to anyone, but the NSA (along with the British GCHQ) is monitoring communications in Second Life, as well as World of Warcraft and… Angry Birds? The article is short on content, and is actually old news that seems to be mostly sourced back to some of the Edward Snowden leaks that ran in The Guardian, ProPublica, and The New York Times earlier this year. Click-bait; don’t bother.

Second Life’s a Stage
Fort Worth Weekly (09-03-2014)
The subhead for this article is “real-world performers are making real-world money in virtual reality”. Apparently going to war in Iraq isn’t the only thing old that’s new again.

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Snark aside, this a decent enough article about two Fort Worth area musicians performing for SL audiences, but the reporter keeps going back to the “look they are making real money” angle, and ignores the more interesting parts of the story. Interestingly, the article cites both performers real life names (Matthew Broyles and Beth Odets-Brown), but never mentions their avatar names.

Digital vs. Virtual Currencies
Bitcoin Magazine, (08-22-2014)
This article is mostly notable for what it gets wrong. “Digital vs. Virtual Currencies” tries to do a compare and contrast between Bitcoin and the various currencies used in some popular virtual worlds, but doesn’t seem to understand the virtual worlds very well. The article asserts that “Linden Labs tolerates the exchange of Linden Dollars and real-world currency, but they still control the supply of Linden Dollars.” Linden Lab does more than tolerate the exchange of L$ to USD; they run it and make lots of money off of it. Research like that makes you wonder what else the writer got wrong.

Completely unrelated to the “Digital vs. Virtual Currencies” article is this video, “Bitcoin Girl”. It’s arranged to the tune of Billy Joel’s “Uptown Girl” and is either parody or propaganda. It’s hard to tell sometimes.

Okay I checked. The video is from the New York BitCoin Center and the Moving Picture Institute and appears to be for real. Its getting harder and harder to tell Real Life from the Onion.

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