[SLED] Jon Stewart-Daily Show-Segment on Avatar Heroes

Trevena, Stan Trevena.S at monet.k12.ca.us
Wed Apr 9 15:55:35 PDT 2008

Don't get me wrong, I am one of the strongest advocates out there for
virtual worlds in education.  But I also end up trying to explain all
too often the "things" in Second Life that in-world are accepted and
out-world are questioned.  Also keep in mind that I am K-12, I am sure
that things are different with those at the college and university level
as far as what goes on in Second Life.  


Everyone has read the story about IBM and Linden piloting a corporate
grid for IBM.  How do you think that grid will differ from the main
grid?  What issues do you think might come up with respect to avatar
design (specifically clothing and body proportions).  Do you think there
will be different expectations on the behavior of employees using the
grid for business?  Will etiquette with in-world meetings more closely
reflect those of the a real world IBM office or of the Second Life main
grid?  Might some very unique discipline issues arise from the ability
to pass between the IBM grid and main grid (and apparently having chat,
messaging and objects cross between grids)?  Do you think that IBM will
collect user/avatar statistics in-world to see what their employees are
doing during work?   These are not unreasonable questions to ask.


There are MANY issues that will need to be addressed for the Second Life
platform to be accepted into businesses.  Linden Lab is clearly moving
in that direction with this pilot of the IBM corporate grid.  In my
opinion, the "selling stuff" model that was hoped for with Second Life
failed outside of virtual objects.  And this may be the reason for the
new push towards corporate grids.  What will be required, requested and
demanded on a corporate grid will be very different from what exists on
the main grid today.  Connecting a corporate grid to the main grid will
open up a Pandora's Box of issues that many might not want to deal with.


The point that is all too often lost when I post messages like this is
that the Second Life grid cannot be all things to all people.  There are
MANY things on the main grid that CEO's and Directors of Human Resources
(not to mention legal) would run away from in the work environment.  You
say that serious platforms suck, I am saying that whimsical fantasy
platforms will go beyond sucking in the workplace, and will likely stir
up all sorts of personnel  and legal issues.  In order for a platform to
penetrate the corporate walls it will have to be 'serious' to avoid
being challenged legally.  And that is where the distributed grids come


Letting corporations, institutions, small business and individuals run
their own grids gets around all the sticky issues (pardon the pun).
Everything can exist in this model, much like the Internet has websites
ranging from the very serious to the very bizarre.  It also allows each
organization to set their own rules and codes of conduct, and allows
them to stay private or open to the public.  Distributed grids allow for
the maximum level of diversity of environments.  The single land mass of
the current Second Life model is doomed to fail for a whole range of
reasons (stability and infrastructure only being two of them).  Would we
be where we are today with the Internet, and even Second Life, if we
never moved beyond a few private online services (The Source,
Compuserve, Prodigy, AOL)?  The Internet is successful, uncontrolled and
diverse BECAUSE nobody controls it all, everyone is free to create what
they want, and there is no single entity setting the standards.  


We have dress codes in our schools, those dress codes extend into our
Second Life projects.  The entire student code of conduct extends to the
virtual campus, as it should.  And even there I've hit snags, as some
things that are allowed in Japan are banned on our campuses when it
comes to dress code.  The same will be true of businesses, boring or
not.   And to restate, if Linden Lab does not address the patchwork of
adult properties across the main grid in some way (grids, neighborhoods,
continents, or something) they will not grow beyond where they are now.
I will even predict that short of a MAJOR shift in the platform, Second
Life will plateau at around 70,000 concurrent users (if it has not
already) and start declining from there as other platforms that are
distributed start to arrive on the scene.  The current infrastructure
has been stuck for close to a year now with no significant increase in
concurrent user counts or stability.  It will not be fixed without a
major rewrite of the system.  Mitch Kapor even hinted at that in his
talk with Metanomics a few weeks back.


In the past year the only significant improvement has been with the
addition of the Windlight engine.  How and why this was ever put in
front of concurrent users and stability of the client is beyond my
comprehension (ok, they purchased the company and it's a different
team).  And the 1.19.x.x clients are not very friendly to older
computers, so my project is now in jeopardy because our labs can't even
run well, and there's no budget to upgrade those lab computers.
So there may be a few hundred fewer Teen Grid accounts shortly if I
can't find a solution.  I won't even go into the open source client, and
why we've not seen thin or lightweight clients since this move.    


My frustration level is boiling over lately because this platform could
be so much more, and yet I don't see any signs of it getting any better
any time soon.  And I don't think I am alone in my frustration and


Stan Trevena

Director, Information and Technology Services

Modesto City Schools

P Please consider the environment before you print this email


From: educators-bounces at lists.secondlife.com
[mailto:educators-bounces at lists.secondlife.com] On Behalf Of Jacob,
Sent: Wednesday, April 09, 2008 3:11 PM
To: SL Educators
Subject: RE: [SLED] Jon Stewart-Daily Show-Segment on Avatar Heroes


I have to say, Stan, reading this really made me sad. I'll repeat:
serious platforms suck.


I said this morning that I was "vaguely embarrassed" by the
congressional sub-committee meeting, but I think I see now, after
following these threads today, that my embarrassment isn't based on the
way the avs were dressed or the funny names they had. I think what
embarrassed me a little was watching these "serious" congressmen and
senators make a joke out of something I take pretty seriously, something
I expose my students to as a serious field of academic study.


I really hope that SL will stay wild and expressive and beautiful and
that we'll come to realize that worlds (any of them) are not simply
continuums of opposing extremes, but dynamically linked, complex
organisms that can't really function to their full potential without
everyone's participation and interaction. 



From: educators-bounces at lists.secondlife.com on behalf of Trevena, Stan
Sent: Wed 4/9/2008 3:57 PM
To: SL Educators
Subject: RE: [SLED] Jon Stewart-Daily Show-Segment on Avatar Heroes

I think this subject extends into names and business settings as well.
Linden Lab and Second Life are at a crossroads in their growth.  They
are trying to warm up to companies like IBM while still keeping the
fantasy aspect of the platform in place.  I was listening to the
Windlight podcast night before last and I just keep shaking my head as
'Pastrami Linden" kept getting questions tossed to him.  Would any CEO
or CIO have a serious conversation with someone named 'Pastrami'?


Is Second Life primarily educational, business or pleasure?  That really
depends on who you are talking to, and which avatar they are using at
the time you ask the question.  Linden Lab has two choices.  If they
continue to stick with a single grid and land mass (for the main grid)
they will continue to be a niche platform for all that has been Second
Life over the past five years.  If they distribute the grid (like what
they are planning with corporate grids being piloted with IBM), then all
of the areas of education, business and fetish (sorry, could not resist
that one) can gravitate out to the grids that cater to their individual
tastes and needs.  There will have to be some transport mechanism to
provide movement of avatars between these grids and other worlds
(platforms).  The Internet would never have taken off if one company ran
one system (eg: The Source, Compuserve, Prodigy, AOL, etc.) for all
users and interests.


Right now there's more than sufficient demand to support three grids;
education, teen and main.  If they position themselves properly, there
could be demand for a serious business grid.  Long term I see a demand
for personal mini-grids as well.  While many say we are still in the
early days of virtual worlds, Second Life was launched in 2003.  If we
are still in the early days, how long until it is in the mainstream? (5,
10, 15 years or more?).  And I think that's where the 'hands off'
approach by Linden, and governance by the residents, has failed.  At the
very least, the main grid should be split into sectors, neighborhoods,
or continents that have a focus (beyond R-rated and PG).


Jon Stewart's segment is not far off base.  I've been embarrassed more
than a few times giving live demonstrations from the main grid and
having either some scantily clad female avatar in a short revealing
skirt with spiked heels roll through, or some bare chested muscle man
flexing his muscles in the background.  Not to mention the bizarre
avatars that baffle the imagination (I am out at one of my high school
labs testing the new client and burst out loud laughing when I saw the
dolphin in this video).  I've attended educational presentations and
meetings in SL with others in my office, and I almost always get the "Oh
my!?" comments at some of the outfits people wear to these events.  I
would attach a screenshot from one of the recent events I've attended,
but the probability is that some of the listserv members might be the
ones in revealing outfits.        


Unfortunately, virtual worlds won't be taken seriously until they are
more serious (and I don't see that happening anytime soon).  


Stan Trevena

Director, Information and Technology Services

Modesto City Schools

P Please consider the environment before you print this email


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