The Medicis of Second Life

by prokofy on 26/03/07 at 10:54 pm

Leoburnett_009 The Magic World of Leo Burnett; Big New Tree of Media Life

By Prokofy Neva, Virtual Corporation Watch

The big corporations that have entered Second Life are a rough analogy to the Medicis of medieval Florence – avidly (avariciously) engaged in commerce, yet sponsoring art and architecture. I haven’t worked out all the analogies yet — perhaps it is Linden Lab that is the Medici family; perhaps the metaversal development giants they incubated are the Popes…well, you figure it out, (but read something other than the Wikipedia entry – oy) — how about PBS.. Amici degli amici . Draw what analogies you will, but the way the story works: Linden Lab opened the beta in 2003, they nurtured (purposely or accidently remains to be analyzed) a group of top programmers, designers, and graphic artists from among the resident population, and these people either went on to become Linden staff or run the most successful businesses in SL — and then spun off eventually to form their own metaversal development companies like Electric Sheep Company or Rivers Run Red.

These gentlemen-explorer companies brought in by the sherpas don’t likely perceive themselves (yet) in the role of patron of the arts, nor do they see the art as the jobs themselves, but that’s because the old model of static works of art and the patronage system is being reworked. They’re likely only forcusing on the urgent job at hand of getting as many eyeballs as possible for their brand and perhaps haven’t risen to consciousness of their greater historical mission — when they do, somebody is sure to use the hackneyed term “synergy” but that’s what it will be about.


Leo Burnett, the advertising agency famous for the Jolly Green Giant, the Marlboro Man, the Pillsbury Doughboy and Tony the Tiger, hasn’t put a big footprint onto the Lindens’ servers or garnered much media attention — even some of it a bit critical for seeming to be looking to boost business after losing some key accounts. But it’s all the more effective in SL for the lower-key approach.

Leoburnett_004 The grey miniature TV with nothing on it inside the convo pod inside SL with the streaming virtual world outside beckoning is a metaphor for the whole thing.

The build on the Millionsofus-owned island complex is stunning and a delight for avatars to visit. Pick up the cool big Leo Burnett pencil to fly around like on their web page, and hit the Time-Tunnel like transporters — it’s the coolest teleportation experience in SL. The island is put together by Foolish Frost and Versu Richilieu (who has taken the name Versu Millionsofus as well) who figured out from their in-depth inworld experience as builders that to make avian avatars comfortable, you need a) trees and things to perch on and b) larger-than-life props that give a detailed magical flavour when viewed from afar but which you can still enter and sit in comfortably, like these “conversation pods”.

Evidently the Leo Burnett creative directors thought SL would be a place they could bring together their geographically-dispersed 2,400 “creatives” as they call ad men. The mammoth tree is easily a new SL Seventh Wonder of the Virtual World; Frost had prototyped it earlier on an island, calling it the “Tree of Life,” and of course its first iteration was in Botany’s Grove as a home for him and his RL wife in SL. Full disclosure: it was then purchased by me for the SL Public Land Preserve; Frost is also the builder of the Ravenglass Hall Tower and other monuments. But that’s just it — inworld commissioners like me couldn’t expect to go on sustaining people who spend so much energy and time in SL that they need to be paid RL wages — and then some.

Leoburnett_007 The Gilded Cage of Second Life.

The prospect of a corporate-funded and corporate-designed world doesn’t sit well with some — but the alternative is to have governments or foundations, which bring their own bureaucracies. For now, the acceleration and competition in the field mandate the wealthiest and most adaptive: corporations. And “adaptive” is a peculiar thing to say, given that the old media dinosaur giants now are dying, their old ad agency dancing partners staggering along with them without ad sales, with the advent of the Internet and people fleeing old forms of media for new. Yet the old media is what is buying new media (Rupert Murdoch got MySpace; Viacom’s MTV got Laguna Beach in There) — the money has to come from somehwere. That’s what’s Virtual Worlds 2007 is about — filling up the dance card of the old dinosaurs with some of the bright new media stars.

How else could it be done? For a time, the Lindens tried subsidies like a kind of National Endowment for the Arts — giving awards for higher ratings, which presumably came from recognized quality in building; grants for events, which presumably included things like art shows or architecture contests; and dwell payments for the most traffic. Instead of the programmers and artists they wished to sponsor, however, the Lindens ended up with a lot of clubs, socializers, and land barons. They removed the struts, but they also had to give up the idea of continuing to nurture and incubate inworld content creators — feting the inner core — if the thing was to scale and grow to millions and spread across countries and be used widely not only for entertainment or at, but business, education and just plain everyday life, they had to find a powerhouse of finance, knowledge, experience, personell. I used to think they could find this in the individual, the ordinary crowdsourced person with extraordinary skills or ambition who bootstraps himself or herself to glory through the platform from Peoria. There’s still some of that — but it went in a different direction. The Lindens decided to stop making a world. They decided instead to make software. Somebody else has to make the world. Most people in it don’t make it. Do the math.

Today, our best builders, designers, even events managers are snapped up either directly by corporations or their sherpas in the metaverse. They stay close in the Lindens’ orbit, as Glenn Linden’s report on developers reminds us.

Leoburnett_010 The roots of today’s metaversal companies lie in the resident population first nurtured by Linden Lab and indigenous virtual developers.

Millions of Us led by Reuben Steiger (formerly Reuben Linden) is one of those top companies — if I had to pick a few of the people who stand out like the young version of a some-day future Walt Disney, he would be one, as would Jerry Paffendorf or Eric Rice or Raph Koster. Walker told us at the Metaverse Meet-up in Brooklyn that the Metaverse (I never like calling it that) would be shaped by kids who are now 12, but first, they will all become the customers of these men — and of course women, like There’s Betsy Book — but this is decidedly a man’s world at this stage.

In the storm of patter about Twitter, some overlooked gems in the paragraph-based blogosphere are Tony Walsh’s notes from SWSX — i.e. his coverage of this panel with Steiger, Koster, Book, Mark Wallace, and Corey Bridges.

Reuben makes a point that I’m not even sure he has the luxury to live by, let along most high-wire acts in SL with big-name companies, but it’s interesting.

“We’ve learned lessons from failure. We found that we don’t just build corporate experiences, in one of our campaigns we might get a lot of traffic in Second Life, but lots more in the press and via blogs. Our company gets paid to cause trouble/chaos. Chaos is leaving creations open ended so that users decide where these things go. For example, Pontiac built a dealership and gave away their land to residents of Second Life for car-related businesses. That’s very chaotic and unpredictable,” he says. Of course, that was the announced plan from the begininng — and giving away land and sustaining people’s builds and businesses is a ready-made template for success in SL if you pick the right people. I’m not sure how that translates into “chaos” — but for a big, unsure company unsteady on its feet in SL, suddenly becoming a mini Medici is probably pretty chaotic.

“It’s very unscripted, we tell corporations that they write the first half of the first scene–the audience writes the rest,” says Steiger.

Of course, before the audience (visiting residents to sims) can utter a word, the book is already framed and written by the conceptualizers and the builders. Thus, when you land in the Film sim, site of a launch of a campaign by Hammer and Coop, you are transported into a gas station in a flat state like Nebraska, complete with a pile of tires and some tired coffee. The invitation to the event, which I didn’t even happen to open until much later, was a work of art: a giant frosted and sprinkled donut flew up, looked for you, its owner, and when you clicked it, delivered a Ninja trainee jacket (I’m still wearing mine), pants, and a car that you wore and drove around like Fred Flintstone.


When I got an IM from Reuben to come to the event, I was apprehensive because it had sounded complicated — watch a film, be in a Ninja contest, do this, do that, win this prize. It also sounded like one of those annoying events you endure on the first day of your Club Med vacation until you figure out you can ditch the bunny-hop lines orchestrated around the pool and go snorkeling. I wasn’t sure if Reuben was desperate for bodies for his event (we’ve all been there in SL) or looking to actually make some of that chaos he claims to seek by inviting someone like me.


Soon after I landed, Hamlet materialized in his Tom Wolfe Whites, then dematerialized before he could be challenged to a duel; he only wrote the infomercials. I took some extraordinary pictures, one of myself and a gas station attendant near the pump, which I captioned, “The Most Important Man in the Metaverse,” who turned out to be Reuben (tragically these screenshots were lost in a computer crash). An acquaintance IM’d me in commiseration, as a girl droned out the information about the Ninja matches. “Boy, they sure know how to vacuum the fun out of things, but the build is cool.”


Still, it *was* kinda fun to best Chris Millionsofus in a Ninja thingie, though this happened accidently before I could even figure out what to click on; then a girl defeated me and I slunk away in humiliation to wonder what it was that you need to make these events work better. Well, think of all those fat wives and dour burghers that the Medici-funded artists had to paint or sculpt just to make a living to be able to do their *real* work.

Maybe the concept isn’t even to have events, but to have interactivity that is asynchronous, a story that builds over time you access when you can (without the painful embarrassment of public defeats or lag) — but in fact after this event, you could still go and Ninja and have some of the donuts. You set the Four Aces Garage, as they called the build, as the backdrop in your own personal SL narrative, and away you go. It actually took me several weeks of being bombarded with group messages to figure out that this particular company was selling not a movie (there was some cheesy 70s-style Kung-fu movie shown as a parody, I think), but a car. The word “car” was never mentioned anywhere, and in fact, despite there being miles of flat desert to race on, no driveable cars (just this “Mini Coop” to wear). This was probably somebody’s idea of indirect and subtle branding — it probably works. I am not taking off my Ninja jacket.

Big roll-outs with their old-media stories and numerous hits, which build the “Millions of Us” in SL that Reuben named his company for; then events inworld to “build community”. Well, it’s not there yet, but it’s on its way. They’ve built the set and given you the props: now you act in the movie. Come challenge me to a kick-box before they take the build down.



16 Responses to “The Medicis of Second Life”

  1. Anon

    Mar 27th, 2007

    A surprisingly highbrow article for the Herald. But a good one.

  2. Cocoanut Koala

    Mar 27th, 2007

    “Today, our best builders, designers, even events managers are snapped up either directly by corporations or their sherpas in the metaverse.”

    I hate it when you say that. You make it sound like unless a person is working for those companies, they’re simply not good enough.

    That is untrue. There are plenty of talented people trudging along in their own businesses that HAVEN’T been “snapped up,” and quite possibly wouldn’t even want to be.

    Aren’t these big companies squashing people without corporate ties fast enough? No need to kill their morale, too!


  3. Nacon

    Mar 27th, 2007

    “For example, Pontiac built a dealership and gave away their land to residents of Second Life for car-related businesses. That’s very chaotic and unpredictable,” he says. Of course, that was the announced plan from the begininng — and giving away land and sustaining people’s builds and businesses is a ready-made template for success in SL if you pick the right people.”

    Actually… They drove few people away. SpeedDude and DooDoo got removed due to their poor traffic and maybe for lack of skills. However, Raver Bellow and I left Motorati on our own for a similar reason.

    What happened to Raver was that Campfire (whom runs Motorati for Pontiac) asked what his future plan for Motorati, so they can understand where his path was going… But Raver knew they asked so they can use him for their favor in their future plan. He didn’t like the idea of being their “puppet”. Packed his shop up and left.

    I left almost for the same reason, but in my case, I stick around longer to see what their intention. They wasn’t thinking about how to make the Motorati a better place and do it more effectively. I’ve been giving them an professional options about the auto return to keep Motorati less junky and replace their poor “linden” texture roads. Had me work on commission jobs for them. First one was a Trophy, done on time, gave them an invoice saying that they should pay me 50% in check and 50% in Lindens. They passed me the check but never gave my other half in Lindens. Did another bigger commission for them again. This time, they wasn’t planning ahead with their little project (‘Let’s Make A Dealership’ game). They had a builder working for them but few days later had to report back to them that his computer had a failure. So they quickly turned to me to do the job for them with a “promise” payment.

    I was required to have few copies of their GXP cars to do modding work since what I had was no tran. I asked for full permission on those GXP cars, so I could even finish it and pass it back to them.
    They wasted their time till the last 2 days till it was due. I could had a whole week to work on them. Gladly, I was able to rush them on time. Their plan went well, send them an invoice for the 2nd commission works I’ve done for them.

    Few days later… They posted how much they have gained from their GXP cars to make an Donation to Electronic Frontier Foundation. They said they had $570 USD, which is about 163,000 Lindens. They started back in November, selling at 600 Lindens each, so… 163,000 / 600 = 271 GXP cars was sold in 4 months (Nov – Jan). 271 / 4 = 67 car a month. A lot of good car builders in SL sells more than 500 cars a month. I posted a comment about how their number is not a good thing on their Motorati forum, but got deleted by the admin. Emailed me how I shouldn’t be “negative” about it and asked what I think they should do to make Motorati a better place…… Which pisses me off that they wasn’t listening in the first place. So I didn’t want to bother repeating it for him.

    about 2 weeks later… still no payment, send them another invoice as a reminder and left Motorati since I kept seeing more noobie junks all over the place. Which I got fed up at this point.

    A weeks later… still no payment. So I IMed the guy to remove those cars if they won’t make any payment for me. On the next day, I got an overnight rush mail of my check along with my other half from the first commissiom.

    So what this wraps up about Pontiac’s little Motorati is that… they are not very chaotic, much more dull since their traffic is mainly supported on a DJ club and a racing track that only Suku is running.. and their GXP car sale was poor.

    Unpredictable? Raver saw it coming… and very little of myself.

    However, Reuben is not much of a “The Most Important Man in the Metaverse”, slightly insulted my skills in builds when I had to do the work when Reuben was unable to help them or even bother to use his MoU crew to help with the work that I’ve already done for them. Few months before I had their job, was thinking about working for MoU but he asked if I’ve done anything “neat” while my shop was standing right behind him. Not realizing that it was my shop.

    Corporations in SL are clueless fuckers, it’s no wonder why it’s so easy for Reuben to lure them in for money.
    (ooooh! He was an ex-linden! fuck that.)

  4. Khamon

    Mar 27th, 2007

    I like this article.

  5. Onder Skall

    Mar 27th, 2007

    Best thing you’ve ever written, Prokofy. This is the kind of thing that Time magazine (in its better moments) has published when heralding a new evolution in the way we live.

    I’m a little sad, though, now that I’ve finished reading it. I’m sad because Twitter is so popular (useless little gadget that it is) and attention spans so low that many will skip to the end and hope that somebody in the comments offers a summary to them… which none of us are likely to do with any accuracy.

    Still, this is what I love about the Herald: the comments add so much. Nacon offers up a great story about the perils of corporate governance and a great update on what’s been happening on Motorati. I liked Cocoanut’s input too. We come away from all of this with such a great depth of understanding afterwards that a single person can’t provide.

  6. Chris Lassonde

    Mar 27th, 2007

    Great article, this is some of your best writing. I wish we were simply Sherpas, but these llamas push back. I don’t know what the best analogy is, but never forget that our clients are anything but mindless.


  7. Prokofy Neva

    Mar 27th, 2007

    I’m sorry, Cocoanut, I have to report it like it is. The people viewed as the best builders — and we may differ on this — are indeed snapped up. You can’t even book them anymore. I consider Jessica Ornitz on the “best builders’ list” and I was very lucky to get her in between her corporate jobs. Foolish Frost who used to do great builds for me, like the Free Tibet and Aztecha Sky Palace, now cannot be booked for love nor money, he’s completely tied up with MOU and his own stuff.

    A huge gulf has opened up between those who just design and build prefab houses for end users, and those who can build out islands and do everything needed on them, from designing sim-wide builds in all their features from teleforming to landing to traversing the sim, to scripting (like Frost scripted various features of the tournament on the Hammer Cooper build and also at one point made a train for a now-defunct Wild West build I had hoped to write about before my computer crashed and took my folder of pics — talk about lost worlds! it’s gone!).

    Yes, it hurts to think that. I know it hurts for me to think that my amateur status is really burned in too, now with the advent of Coldwell Banker supposedly “professionalizing” the rentals industry with all kinds of scripted thingies and supposedly better prefabs.

    But you know what? We’ll show ‘em. We still count. Amateurs are still needed. We are professional amateurs at this point lol. We have customers and knowledge of the world. I think we can still prevail in our niches. Indeed, if the world chases off all the people like us, it will kill the concept a lot of people still have that it’s “Your World/Your Imagination”.

    I’m so glad I wrote something that Nacon disagreed with and that we got news out of it. He’s so contrarian and trolly — I should use reverse psychology like this more often.

    No, Onder, this isn’t the best thing I’ve ever written, don’t be silly. It’s just something you happened to like. I’ve written a lot better stuff. You know, I write as I please.

  8. Ordinal Malaprop

    Mar 27th, 2007

    Mmm. Certainly, some good designers are being snapped up for corporate work rather than in-world contracts or working on their in-world sales – and if they have any commercial interest they’d be mad not to go for the RL contracts, which pay an order of magnitude more than anyone is willing to pay in SL.

    It isn’t universal or dominant though. I know so many people – the vast majority of people on my friends list – who continue to run SL companies, do SL products, accept payment in L$, produce SL products which are paid for and used entirely in-world. That economy is still going. The ones who rely on outside cash are still the unusual ones.

    There’s a good reason for this: if you enter a virtual world and get interested enough in it to gain the skills to manipulate it, as do builders, scripters and so on, you have to have some interest in the world itself, or you’d just leave because you were bored. There are very few pure augmentationalists who actually have SL skills.

  9. Nacon

    Mar 27th, 2007

    “I’m so glad I wrote something that Nacon disagreed with and that we got news out of it. He’s so contrarian and trolly — I should use reverse psychology like this more often.”

    Meh, it was my choice, but it wasn’t you who pissed me off about Motorati itself. I don’t plan on making any connection work with them anymore. Besides, something gotta be said from inside where you haven’t been to. ;)

  10. Cocoanut Koala

    Mar 27th, 2007

    All I am asking is that you say, “MANY of the best builders get snapped up by the corporations or their sherpas.” That would be a much more accurate way of putting it.

    1. There are a many good builders and designers in SL, and my personal favorites haven’t been snapped up by anyone. Some of those are better than some that have been hired by corporations.

    And I’m not talking about just buildings. Consider clothes. That’s a HUGE world there that doesn’t even have much call for use in these outside businesses. And I most certainly would not say that all the good clothing designers, skin creators, animation people, you name it – have all been snapped up. (One might say “bought off,” but . . . I won’t, lol.)

    You happen to know some very good builders – no surprise many of those have been recruited by corporations. But it’s unfair to suggest that all the “best” builders and designers are now working for corporations or development companies. I know too many I would call among “the best” who are not.

    2. Secondly, this suggests the corporations and the development companies actually KNOW everyone who is supposedly “the best of everything” in the first place, when actually a lot of it is simply who they know already, who they have heard of, etc. – and of those, selecting who is best, who has a good track record, etc., (not to mention will do the work).

    In other words, the whole thing is riddled with networking – and though it is true that they get many of our best builders, scripters, and other people, it’s absurd to act as if they get them all.

    I object to creating a defining dividing line between the “best” creators – defined as those who now work for corporations and developing companies; and the not-so-good, second-rate ones (defined as anyone who doesn’t). There are too many good people who don’t work for the companies.

    3. I also think you are a little dazzled by the scope of it all. You are like Lewis Nerd. You THINK big. You love to do big projects, whole neighborhoods, themed neighborhoods, all that.

    Take Lewis Nerd and me. He is on the developer’s directory, and he LOVES doing the big things. I don’t. I have almost zero desire to design a whole sim. I could do it, and I would do it, given the right circumstances, but it just isn’t normally my bag.

    You aren’t like me, or like others who prefer more detail on a smaller scale, who prefer smaller, individual projects, and maybe sweat and slave over each clothing item they design, because that is what they love to do. (In fact, you don’t KNOW where this will take them. Working for a corporation is not necessarily the holy grail, or the pinnacle, of what can be achieved through SL.)

    You know some builders who like to do large builds – well, no surprise many of those have are working for the companies. I think where we disagree is that those with this larger scope are automatically “better” than those with different interests and visions.

    That would be kind of like comparing a commission of city planners to a guy who specializes in gazebos, and deciding that the city planners are automatically more talented than the gazebo builder.

    Or – deciding if you are a gazebo builder and you DON’T work for the city planners (or large corporations), then you obviously aren’t the best.

    4. Remember, too, that a lot of people who are very good at what they create don’t WANT to work for corporations. They want to work for themselves. Perhaps they aren’t team players.

    I think you are operating from a premise that of course everyone wants to do this sort of work; therefore the corporations automatically get “the best” of everyone. That’s a faulty premise.

    There are lots of people who prefer smaller jobs (not to mention more self-selected jobs). To deem them automatically not as good as those who like working on bigger projects, with other people, is ridiculous.

    5. The reason we HAVE these development companies in the first place is they are much more efficient in doing whole sims and large projects, especially for outsiders.

    They can employ people (people they know, or have heard of) to take care of all the jobs they want done.

    They do employ the people they know, or know of, but unlike their choice of Foolish, those people chosen aren’t always the best in SL (and sometimes very far from it).

    Consequently, very few of these development companies consist of one person who does it all; who has all the skills from building everything, to scripting everything, to thinking up all the cute aspects of the campaign, to making the t-shirt or dancing shoes, to marketing it all. It’s a group effort.

    They do get pretty much of their pick of people to work with (usually through networking), and they do generally get good people. But that doesn’t mean they have gotten “all the best people,” or that some of the individuals working alone, for peanuts/Lindens, just aren’t as talented.

    That’s like saying that the person who designs and manufactures a small line of handbags is by definition not as talented as the people who create them for the Macy’s brand line of handbags. Or that the free-lance artist or writer can’t be as possibly good as someone on staff somewhere.

    6. “Amateur” and “professional” status don’t depend on whether corporations have recruited you and whether or not you have accepted their offer, any more than some concept of “the best” does.

    If you want a definition, try mine: Amateur is when you don’t make enough profit to report it to the IRS , and they consider it a hobby, rather than a profession.

    Professional is when you make money at it, not who you work for. Not everyone works for corporations; and whether or not you work for someone else is hardly the definition of whether or not you are professional.

    In sum, the corporations get some of the best, yes. But they don’t get all of them.

    The gulf that has opened up is there, yes. But it is not a gulf of the good people all being taken by corporations, and the less talented being left behind.

    It is only a gulf of those who are working for corporations and making more money at what they do (in most cases), and those who aren’t, and who don’t make that much money (in most cases).

    So it’s true to say they have gotten “many” of the best builders and designers. It’s not true to imply they’ve taken all of them.


    P.S. The Coldwell Banker sims and houses are very definitely not the best of what is available in SL.

  11. Cocoanut Koala

    Mar 28th, 2007

    I coulda just not said all that. Ordinal said it better AND shorter!


  12. Nacon

    Mar 28th, 2007

    I think they got most of the “best” builders who are now lazy and sloppy (MoU and ESC) while there’s other builder whom are better than them, but doesn’t wish to “help” corporations. Profit that they can easily do themselves than working with them.

  13. Prokofy Neva

    Mar 28th, 2007

    Cocoanut, sorry, but I just pretty much disagree with everything you’re saying.

    It’s really a question of genres and tastes. There’s the Sistine Chapel. And then there’s my bungalow. I don’t feel I’m dissing my bungalow builder if I say the Sistene Chapel is awesome, and the guy who built it has been snapped up by the Medicis — when he has.

    Indeed, the best builders *are* snapped up. Forseti Svarog, Barnesworth Anubis, DNA Prototype and all the other builders in the metaversal companies — these *are* the best builders. They have technical brilliance at this point that few others can match. Even people you might associate in the old days with quality homes for avatars like Sam Portocarrero does custom builds for clients now — maybe not Fortune 500, but he’s not somebody just making Victorian prefabs anymore, he’s evolved far beyond that.

    Right now, my latest house builder of choice is Ace Albion who does great work — not a metaversal developer but I could care less. The houses are excellent, low prim, easy to operate, tint and lock on command and can be turned over to others to tint and lock on command. So it’s an excellent product. As I already noted, I have your houses up everywhere and they rent everywhere. There’s a fellow named Galls Cain, he has made a few dynamite little 512 prefabs, I have his house everywhere. As I try to think of the great builders out there, I can’t think of anyone who is great who is also not a metaverse developer. Perhaps you could think of Desmond Shang’s homes — yet he, too, has evolved into having an entire continent of developed infrastructure and atmosphere — it’s not just your mansion prefabs in one store anymore. There are literally thousands of house makers in Second Life. I admire many of them. I have to sort through a lot of them with a really brutal criteria that I can’t affect: do they rent or not? There’s now accounting for taste. Some things that look good never rent, and visa versa. But this is a little world that is worlds apart from these mega builds of the meta verse.

    I’d like to think that there’s this rich network of villages with amateur to near-professional builders who sustain a rich fabric of inworld existence with a bustling economy. I really would. Maybe it does — for now. But I think more and more, we will see that world erode, and in its place, will come companies prepared to pay for lots of sims, *staff*, and builders — and RL wages. They will simply figure out what you or I figured out: that you need to wait on customers. Once they figure out you need to wait on customers and not just build showcases, away they’ll go. They will be shaping a lot of the online experience because they will have the funds, the people, the resources to sustain what could very well likely get more expensive, not less.

    When island tiers jump to $295 US, yet another generation of amateurs on this platform will be shaken loose, and only a few will stick. People currently paying $25 US for their island 4096s cannot be persuaded to suddenly pay $50 unless the builds, the services, the atmospheres get a whole lot better.

    Ordinal has said it very well. Sure, we all know people who keep logging in and doing very good work, but not for MTV or Sony or Warner Brothers. They still count! They count even MORE for us. Indeed, Ordinal is one of those creators herself. But…the reality is, this will erode. It will erode because the worlds will become more expensive, harder to maintain, and LL will open source the whole thing. Only those that can afford to host their own servers AND noodle around with content-making on them will have that luxury to go on being amateurs. The rest of us will be shaken loose.

    I continue to insist: far from being something that enables the poor of the earth and democratizes an evil capitalist game company, as all these opensourceniks claim, opensource merely creates an archipelago of egos, and silos, and on each separate island, will be someone prepared not only to pay probably twice as much as he is paying now in tier to run a sim, but who will have to become more aggressive in merchandising than he already is in SL to succeed. An unpleasant prospect.

    All those forums FIC like the Midnights will only gloat, and imagine that they have prevailed in their “create or die” ethic (they’ll be among those shaken, too).

    The new media explosion is supposed to make artists out of all of us — but guess what, what I’m seeing is just the opposite. This is the dirty little secret of the new media. New media favours the FIC — the FIC levels up. Some brands of worlds even deliberately favour a “developers elite” perspective; others have it unstated but present. The media owners who govern our future won’t mind if our “user content” or “co-creation” or “participatory media” is a screenshot, a legal clip of a song, a t-shirt. But they won’t sustain the environment for us to make entire houses and infrastructures because then it would crap up the world’s look. Only the Lindens may be left doing that — but you wonder for how long.

    To me, all these developments stare us so baldly in the face. Just like the little independent bookstores that had all the wierd old used books in them and funkier new books were forced to close, even in New York City, by the advent of Barnes & Noble and Borders and, so all the little independent creators of SL will be winnowed out, forced out of business by competition from professionals or bigger companies, and sucked into working for those companies.

    You weren’t supposed to have to compete with Coldwell Banker, Cocoanut, because they weren’t supposed to want to bother to make virtual houses. You thought making virtual houses would only be something individuals would bother with. Perhaps you underestimated the power of greed.

    I do hope the Coldwell Banker people wake up to all the issues we’re laying out here. Conservative companies like they seem to be aren’t likely to admit they made any kind of mistake in their choice of partners.

  14. Kathleen

    Apr 10th, 2007

    I couldn’t agree more, Foolish and Versu are a wonderfully creative pair, who did amazing work on the Leo Burnett tree house.

    The flying Leo Burnett pencil was built by My Millionsofus, (who also crafted the Sea Monkey and Sharkey,) and scripted by Candide LeMay.

    The TV in one of the the small birdhouses was the brilliance of Versu and Lucky Millionsofus, during a chill moment of the build, who realized that’s exactly what was needed, static and all.

    And credit for the gardens and landscaping is due to My Milliosnofus and Botany Black…including the secret hot springs, and the reef….


    (from the producer, Kathleen Millionsofus)

  15. List of Brands in Second Life

    by: Ilya VedrashkoInspired by KZeros map of brand presence in Second Life, I thought about compiling a more usable list with SL URLs and everything, but then I found a fairly complete one over at SL Business Communicators wiki. Instead,…

  16. List of Brands in Second Life

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