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Virtual Worlds – A Positive Report from the Chicago Tribune

Cutting edge tech makes the virtual world your oyster
by Stevenson Swanson
Chicago Tribune (MCT)

31 March 2007


From being a flat presence on a computer screen, the Web is rapidly morphing into a three-dimensional virtual world.

Powered by such popular social-networking sites as Second Life and, where users represent themselves with animated figures called avatars, virtual technology is finding a host of new applications that are likely to prove as revolutionary as the rapid rise of the Internet a decade ago.

From holding virtual training meetings with employees to visiting your doctor for a 3-D check-up or spending time in a virtual Elizabethan world to learn about Shakespeare’s plays, the possibilities for virtual technology are unpredictable but almost limitless, according to business executives, tech-savvy designers, and marketing consultants.

“This is going to be one freaky-deaky 21st century,” said Jerry Paffendorf, the “resident futurist” at the Electric Sheep Co., which designs virtual world projects for businesses. “The amount of technological change in the next 10 years is going to equal the entire last century. We’re not going to use that technology to send e-mail faster. We’re going to use it to build virtual worlds.”

As one measure of the recent explosive growth of these online worlds, Second Life has grown to more than 5 million registered users, up from 1.4 million in November. In that virtual adult playground, avatars chat, attend concerts, buy virtual cars and clothes with virtual money called Linden dollars, and even have simulated sex.

But such activities barely scratch the surface of the three-dimensional Web, according to speakers and some of the 600 attendees at the first-of-its-kind Virtual Worlds Conference, held last week at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in lower Manhattan.

Robert Gehorsam, president of Forterra Systems Inc., said that with improvements in technology, virtual worlds could be used to train new employees and allow them to practice job skills. Nurses need several hundred hours of on-the-job training after they graduate from nursing school, but working such trainees into the hectic operations of a hospital can be difficult, he said.

“If you can train nurses on shift-change communication, or the right drug, you’re going to reduce the number of preventable deaths,” said Gehorsam, whose company adapts commercial game technology for the government and medical and corporate clients.

One nonprofit group that has started to tap the potential of virtual worlds is the American Cancer Society, which has held two “Relay for Life” fundraising events “in world,” as denizens of the 3-D Web refer to events in the virtual world. Second Life users made pledges for their avatars, who took part in the runs. At a cost of only $1,200 to rent space on the site, the cancer society raised more than $46,000. It hopes to realize $75,000 at this year’s relay.

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Australians in virtual world stampede – secondlife the Winner – itSreal

Asher Moses and Stephen Hutcheon – SMH Biztech
January 30, 2007

Telstra and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation will announce shortly that they have established, separately, a presence in the cult virtual world of Second Life.

They will join a growing throng of international companies – including Dell, Toyota, Adidas, IBM, and Intel – who have built a base within the virtual world, seeking to test its worthiness as a promotional and commercial tool.

Another local company, interactive TV provider Two Way TV Australia, also has advanced plans to open a shop front in the 3-D world.

Telstra spokesman Craig Middleton said the telco’s Second Life home would be called The Pond, and offer similar features to its website.

“Visitors will be able to do pretty much what they can at – buy songs, watch movies and so on – as well as explore the fascinating online presence we are creating,” he said.

“It will be highly interactive – fly around a scale replica of Uluru or walk across the Sydney Harbour Bridge.”

Mr Middleton would not give further details on what Telstra was planning, but said all would be revealed when The Pond opened to the public next month.

Over 3 million people from around the world have signed up for a (free) Second Life account. However, it is widely accepted that as few as 10 per cent of those members are active, making this a niche community in the universe of virtual world.

That, however, has not dampened the appetite for commercial enterprises, educational organisations and even governmental ones to dive in and test the waters.

On the weekend, a spokesman for an arm of the Swedish foreign ministry revealed that Sweden would soon be opening an official information outpost inside Second Life.

IBM recently teamed up with Tennis Australia to build and then operate a real-time version of the Australian Open inside the virtual world.

And two Australian educational organisations – the University of Southern Queensland and the Australian Film, Television and Radio School – have already opened for business in Second Life.

There are few details about the ABC venture beyond the fact that the corporation has purchased an island in Second Life. Access to the region is restricted, but the island – in the shape of the ABC logo – is clearly visible from an overhead view of the area.

Earlier this month Abigail Thomas from the ABC’s new media division posted a notice on a Second Life discussion board calling for suggestions for the Second Life project.

“The ABC has a wealth of digital assets that we are considering lending to the development of this project,” she wrote. “But rather than just reflect the ABC back to users in SL, we are looking at creating more of a public space for Australians.”

Two Way TV’s Daniel Barton said his company was well down the track with a Second Life presence that would connect users in its virtual set-up with its website, offering them rewards and incentives.

Jana Gillespie believed so strongly in Second Life’s potential as a marketing tool that she started a business, Big-Bit (http//, which specialises in helping real-world corporations establish a business presence inside the virtual world.

Her progress to date has been limited, but Ms Gillespie said she was close to announcing a deal with one major Australian company, and had recently been in negotiations with Tourism Australia.

“Second Life can be used as a test bed for products for a fraction of the cost it would in real life with the added feature of interactivity,” said Ms Gillespie, adding that its global reach makes for a highly effective distribution tool.

David Holloway, of Wollongong, is another of the few Australians who have used Second Life to spawn a real-world business.

His website, SLOz (, is a news source dedicated to covering Australian movements within the virtual world.

Holloway has monitored Australian companies’ forays into Second Life for some time, and noted that while many had been “not sure whether it was worth putting their brand out in what is a fairly new area”, they had since become more open to the idea.


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RUMORS: More about and a virtual world game – even if they do create a virtual world GAME, Can it compete with Secondlife’s leading advantage in its COMMERCE driven virtual world ?

I invite your feedback, send me your views !

Sly rumours of a persistent world ‘game’ from Google have been re-ignited this week, with analyst Michael Eisenberg of Benchmark Capital caught ruminating on the prospect of a Google-engineered ‘metaverse’. To the uninitiated, a metaverse is a virtual world, a la Second Life, with the speculation being that Google will use real-world data gathered from their existing enterprises to craft an alternate reality platform online.

Popular web mag Business 2.0 previously implied that Google could be working on a ‘virtual world’, and a social-interaction model. Eisenberg points to an ‘academic source’, as revealing that Google were in the process of buying in-game ad company AdScape, with a view to monetising any virtual world service. A report on tech-culture blog points to sources in China as confirming that a local firm has been employed to craft avatars for users to navigate the world with, while an internal team at the internet giant builds the ‘metaverse’ itself.

Google have in the past refused to comment, but speculation from the blog report hints that a team formerly of the fame, are working on the world presently. is an alternative to Second Life, though lacks the economic clout of Linden Labs’ rival. Finally, one of the key figures behind Google Earth and Maps, John Hanke, is said to have a gaming pedigree, sparking chatter that some kind of online world could be on the cards. The search engine firm’s own SketchUp service already has a product for crafting 3D models for using as layers on Google Earth, though whether this would fit with with overall aim of an engaging persistent-world remains uncertain.

Google are certainly in a position to put a new spin on the whole 2.0 social-interaction phenomenon, and given their existing prowess in the field of context-relevant advertising the company could certainly be looking to new methods for ad delivery, capitalising on the present online ‘zeitgeist’: MMO games and social-networking.

If further proof were needed that Google could be plotting a ‘metaverse’ funded by some clever ad tie-ins, we need look no further than Google’s recent entry into the radio ads market through acquisition, which suggests Google are considering new methods of ad delivery away from their search engine results pages.

All just gossip at present. Source:


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First Virtual World Conference Announced

First Virtual World Conference Announced
Dana Massey 17 Jan 2007, 01:06 PM

The people at “Vritual Worlds Management”, who previously hosted AGC under the name Games Initiative, have announced a new conference for “virtual worlds” and companies looking to create them. The event takes place in New York City this March.


New Event for Fortune 500 Companies Seeking to Create Virtual Worlds, Marketing, Entertainment and Business Strategies

NEW YORK, New York – January 17, 2006 – Virtual Worlds Management today announced the first annual Virtual Worlds Conference to take place March 28 – 29, 2007 in New York City. Virtual Worlds 2007 – – is the leading event for Fortune 500 companies seeking to understand and maximize marketing, entertainment and business strategies within virtual worlds. Virtual Worlds 2007 provides attendees with focused, practical and valuable industry insight that can be immediately utilized in developing a virtual world strategy.

“Virtual Worlds 2007 separates the buzz from successes, allowing attendees to hear from companies who’ve made the journey and learn from their experiences and activities,” said Christopher Sherman, Virtual Worlds Conference Executive Director. “Virtual Worlds 2007 is a social networking paradise, bringing together for the first time all the knowledgeable experts in virtual worlds, giving attendees ample opportunity to learn the latest techniques and technologies and build relationships with peers and industry leaders.”

Companies considering creating the following virtual worlds applications should attend Virtual Worlds 2007: marketing, branding, entertainment, interactive television, social networking, promotional, educational, ecommerce, employee collaboration, test-marketing, content generation, training, recruiting, new product development and more.

Virtual Worlds Conference takes place March 28 – 29, 2007 at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York City. Online registration is open and attendees can save $400 by taking advantage of the earlybird registration – only $595 – until February 23, 2007. Registration information and conference details are available at

Virtual Worlds Conference 2007 is sponsored by Linden Lab, creator of 3D virtual world Second Life and Makena Technologies, the parent company of

Attendees will gain expert knowledge on these topics and more:

– What are popular virtual world activities and destinations
– Are virtual worlds the future of interactive television
– Understand consumer behavior patterns inside virtual worlds
– Learn from fellow marketers, brands and agencies
– Hear exclusive case studies from major corporations
– How to create a successful strategy
– Measure real results and campaign metrics
– Tech and design issues and how to leverage assets
– IP issues as they pertain to established brands
– What are ecommerce options inside virtual worlds
– Design secrets from innovative virtual world startups
– VW Roadmap – where are virtual worlds technologies heading next
– How to go big – or go small.
– Tie your virtual presence into the real world
– Secrets on working with the right developer/agency
– Standalone immersive corporate worlds vs Second Life

About Virtual Worlds Management

Virtual Worlds 2007 is produced by Virtual Worlds Management, a division of Show Initiative, LLC (formerly The Game Initiative), a leading producer of focused tech-media conferences. In 2006 Show Initiative sold its portfolio of 10 game industry events, including the massively multiplayer online game (MMOG) focused Austin Game Conference to CMP Technology. Show Initiative launched its Virtual Worlds Management division in November 2006 to focus on the emerging market of Virtual Worlds. Virtual Worlds Management, Virtual Worlds 2007 and Virtual Worlds Conference are trademarks of Show Initiative. More information about Show Initiative can be found at

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Seems the worlds have differences yet the big corporates are Buying into secondlife itSreal


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IBM’s secondlife, Virtual Worlds and 3-D Internet Strategy source:

These experimentations — with innovative companies like Circuit City — are part of an IBM-led initiative to collaborate with clients and partners in three ways — conducting business inside virtual worlds; connecting the virtual world with the real world to create a richer, more immersive Web environment; and to solve business problems in a new way.

IBM is opening up areas in SecondLife previously inaccessible to the general public. On these “islands” — which are spaces where people can build three-dimensional objects and interact with other people in a way that is more visual and real — IBM has been experimenting on extending virtual worlds for business. Three key areas in business include: virtual commerce and work with clients to apply virtual worlds to business problems; driving new kinds of collaboration and education; and experimentations on pushing the limits with a broad community on what might be possible in virtual worlds.

IBM is working with dozens of clients to experiment and help them understand and apply virtual worlds to their business. While IBM is prototyping and developing in SecondLife, it has a bigger strategy to collaborate with a community in an open source fashion to build out the next generation Web, which IBM and others call the 3-D Internet. IBM also aims to build a platform for “serious” business, including 3-D Intranets inside of a company firewall where private and confidential business can be conducted.

In addition to virtual commerce, IBM works with clients, employees and alumni to use virtual worlds to drive collaboration and provide a more immersive online educational experience. For example, IBM uses virtual worlds to connect with its alumni population and for on-boarding and educating new and current employees. Virtual worlds have proven an effective tool to help simplify the complex, with 3-D models and interactions that cannot be recreated in a Web conference or phone conversation, and have been useful in connecting people around the globe to drive collaboration.



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