Monday, March 15, 2004


Greetings from the entrance to the city cemetary of Austin, Texas, an implausible place to build a hotel, but it's a nice one, and it comes with free in-room DSL. Convention's been a lot of fun so far, and it's good to meet old and new friends. (For example, just ran into Cory Doctorow, clutching a gold star for his Web of the Year award; his site won three. "People are calling me the Peter Jackson of blogs," he says, as we walks away grinning.) Anyway, here's a place for Second Life residents and NWN readers alike to offer comments/criticisms/praise/
condemnation on my SXSW talk-- the expanded outline posted here, and for those who are able to see the live version, a place to talk about the panel itself. If you post points or questions before 10am (CST) tomorrow, I'll try to address them in the actual panel...

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I was wondering whether there were, or were expected to be, any worries about corporations putting ads up in Second Life, or if that was forbidden in the license agreement. Does/will Linden allow paid advertising? That would suck.

How much, in general, does the outside world seep into Second Life, and how much protection is available to inhabitants? Surely some people want to immerse themselves and not have to be reminded of things they are trying to get away from for a while. Then again, to be an interesting alternate reality, it will be based in large part on what people bring from outside (news, ideas, architecture, etc.). Are residents of different places (zones, or whatever) able to exert some control over the infusion of real world noise, and is that control implicit in some way or does it have to be explicit?

Posted by: Brent Gulanowski at Mar 18, 2004 11:17:03 AM

Advertising is apparently allowed (I'm not a laywer) and it would be "paid" by merely having a 10$ per month account (plus land acquisition fees and rent, depending on where/how much ads you want to put up), as everyone is already allowed to upload content, so you can just place your ads in the world yourself. However, you'll likely have to deal with angry mobs of SL residents who are very concerned about advertising and commercialization, as shown recently.

Currently there is little protection available to these residents other than the rating system or simply staying away from your content. The rating system has some influence on your virtual income (stipend). This would have little impact on a company, as they can just whip out some US$ and get their virtual money elsewhere.

Offensive advertising, like automatically giving people objects or repeatedly "spamming" them with instantmessages probably falls under the "harrassment" clause. Also lets not forget that SL allows everybody the same creation tools, and while this is certainly not legible, you shouldn't be overly surprised if your popup-texture campaign is met by a few automatized scripts that shoot your avatar high into the sky everytime you pass by (making it pretty hard to move around).

Residents have control over the content in their area by arranging themselves with their neighbours not to sell any land to people they don't like around, or simply buying the whole area around them (expensive). As most of the land in SL is player-owned, and players have complete control over what they allow there and what not (you can delete or return anything that is placed onto your land, even automatically), this is the most effective way of controlling the content in an area. Unless your neighbour decides to sell his land to such an advertising agency.

Technically, SL could be extended to have filtering mechanisms that remove unwanted content (textures) from ones sight, much like a filtering webproxy (http://www.privoxy.org/). So far, there has been little need for that.

Currently the outside world does seep into Second Life mostly in the form of "fan content", i.e. remakes of real world objects, architecture, movie posters, avatar-lookalikes of their favourite comicbook-hero, etc. by people who like the stuff enough to recreate it in SL.

Immersion seems to be a big deal for some and irrelevant to others. Theres the socializer crowd, which comes to SL to chat, make friends, and (for many) to get away from their real life. And theres the geek crowd, which would love to have their business meetings in SL using collaborative 3D modeling instead of powerpoint presentations in the conference room and who think it'd be totally cool to order pizza from within Second Life.

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