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Virtual Life Skills

How often have you said to yourself, "why didn't anyone tell me?"

As in:
"Why didn't anyone tell me how to make money?"
"Why didn't anyone tell me growing up really sucks for everyone?"
"Why didn't anyone tell me I was hot when I was young enough to still be that hot?"
"Why didn't anyone tell me that most people in the world have no idea what they want or how to get it?"

Probably because the individualistic, competitive nature of human beasts tends more towards a sink-or-swim survival attitude. But it also has a lot to do with the fact that a LOT of human knowledge is already recorded, organized and codified. It's explicit.

All that stuff that no one thinks to tell you is tacit knowledge. In synthetic worlds, where we as designers have the opportunity to make our worlds better than real, we have an opportunity to provide players with incentives for knowledge sharing.

Travis Ross says it a bit more cogently (and definitely more academically) here: Virtual Cultures:Tacit Knowledge in Virtual Worlds.

Hello New World

We've been waiting.

While Burmese soliders fire on protesting monks, it's nice to know that the future is out there, with all the potential for careful consideration, integration, acceptance, collaboration and enlightenment (whatever THAT is).

Old World:

New World:


Hegemon In Our Own Minds

Perhaps the decreasing reliance by the world financial markets on the US dollar will eventually (inevitably?) result in the realization that we are not a global hegemon any more, and it's time we start acting like it.




Who's Agenda Is This?

After allowing inmates to file challenges to lethal injections, now they get to articulate that holding of the amendment, and then protect the prerogative of state governments to use whatever means of execution is viable. Just a hunch.

Since the capital punishment implications of Amendment 8 [] haven't been addressed by the Court since Wilkerson v Utah [], this Court may feel it's about time.

I'd feel a little less Orwellian about this if I thought by some miraculous chance, that the civil rights of the inmate actually were part of the consideration.



Space Cowboys

This is what the Let's Go To Mars folks are up to.

Props to Kris Holland, the creator of these animations.


The Game Begins

Everything I said before was wrong:


Or, rather than wrong, let's just say "not what it appeared to be".

The Sky Is Falling!

Keep away people. It's gassy!


The text from BBC is sensational. (And I don't mean that in no nice way.)

Scores ill in Peru 'meteor crash'

The crater has been spewing fetid gases, reports say
Some 600 people in Peru have required treatment after an object from space - said to be a meteorite - plummeted to Earth in a remote area, officials say.
They say the object left a deep crater after crashing down over the weekend near the town of Carancas in the Andes.

People who have visited scene have been complaining of headaches, vomiting and nausea after inhaling gases.

A team of scientists is on its way to the site to collect samples and verify whether it was indeed a meteorite.


"It [the object] is buried in the earth," local resident Heber Mamani told the BBC.

"That is why we are asking for an analysis because we are worried for our people. They are afraid. A bull is dead and some other animals are already sick," he said.

The incident began on Saturday night, when people near Carancas in the Puno region, some 1,300km (800 miles) south of Lima, reported seeing a fireball in the sky coming towards them.

The object then hit the ground, leaving a 30m (98ft) wide and 6m (20ft) deep crater.

The crater spewed what officials described as fetid, noxious gases.

An engineer from the Peruvian Nuclear Energy Institute told the AFP news agency no radiation had been detected from the crater and ruled out the fallen object being a satellite.

Renan Ramirez said: "It is a conventional meteorite that, when it struck, produced gases by fusing with elements of the terrain."

The gases are believed to have affected the health of about 600 people who visited the site.

Most of the victims have been complaining of headaches, vomiting and nausea.

Honorio Campoblanco, one of Peru's leading geologists, called on the authorities to stop people going near the crash site.

Reality Burn

All the noobs in SL (I'm one, ripping 1337 from purepwnage) think that, because it's not real, it's not real business?

Subject: Virtual Entrepreneurs...
Date: September 18, 2007 6:39:38 PM EDT

Want to Make Money in Second Life? It's Harder Than You Think
At Conference, Entrepreneurs Say Both Traditional and Novel Problems Dog Them in Net-Based Economy

CHICAGO, Aug. 27, 2007 —

Making money by starting a business in the virtual world known as "Second Life" has been touted as an economic wave of the future.

But for the moment at least, pulling it off isn't exactly a reality.

"Second Life" entrepreneurs looking to strike it rich or just make a few extra dollars face a daunting combination of both the traditional problems faced by any small business owner in the "first" world plus new challenges unique to the youthful, Internet-based economy of "Second Life."

These entrepreneurs sell everything from virtual clothes and virtual art to virtual house furniture and virtual tattoos. But stories like that of Anshe Chung -- "Second Life's" first real-life millionaire, who made her money selling land -- are rarities.

Only 145 people made more than $5,000 as "Second Life" entrepreneurs in July; 865 people made at least $1,000. With about 450,000 users logging on each month, such numbers mean that for all the press hype, only a very small fraction of the population is making any significant amount of money.

Speaking candidly in interviews and discussion sessions at the "Second Life" Community Convention here this weekend, entrepreneurs said they must consistently deal not only with traditional issues of brand recognition and quality control, but also technical difficulties that impede access to clients. They also must compete against Fortune 500 companies who give goods and services away for free in "Second Life" in the hopes of turning a profit in the "first" world.

A New Kind of Business, the Same Old Problems

Veronica Brown is a successful clothing designer and vendor operating on "Second Life." Her clothing sells widely in the virtual world, allowing here to lend a hand to younger, less well-known designers by giving them free display space in her stores.

But, she said, it is almost impossible to find reliable employees to work in her shops. Most "Second Life" players do not take their virtual jobs seriously, and business-minded characters want to work for themselves, not for somebody else.

"The players are going to do exactly that: They're going to play," Brown said.

To many, a virtual environment implies freedom from traditional business protocol, but "Second Life" entrepreneurs said that such challenges, including advertising and generating buzz for their products, continue to be some of their most daunting concerns.

Because "Second Life" supports a younger economy it has yet to resolve many market weaknesses, and so its businesses can suffer more than they would in the real world.

Sheffie Cochran is a banker with over $20,000 in her "Second Life" vault. She has never worked on Wall Street, much less as a bank teller, but as the virtual character (known as an avatar) Lindsay Druart in "Second Life," she runs the L & L banking trust, providing loans and savings accounts for 400 people.

"I've never worked at a bank in my life! I had to pull out Business Week and all kinds of books to learn what to do," said Cochran. She said she earns $500 a month on "Second Life," enough to pay her rent in Augusta, Ga.

Even though the Linden dollars Cochran trades in can be redeemed for real U.S. dollars, her business is conducted with virtually no contract enforcement. She does not even have full contact information for many of the people she lends to.

As a result, she said that ultimately her business comes down to one thing: "It's all about trust," she said.

Yet if the "Second Life" economy is to grow, trust alone won't be enough. As more businesses and consumers crowd the virtual marketplace, services like credit reports and a Better Business Bureau will need to be introduced in order to establish legitimacy.

"There are so many people out there that are trying to scam you," said Peter Lokke, the lead organizer of the business discussions at this weekend's conference. "The honest people out there have to deal with that."

Working Out the Bugs

Compounding these real world problems are a set wholly unique to "Second Life": glitches and bugs. These technical issues can make "Second Life" a particularly tough market to crack since resolving them is largely out of the hands of business owners.

Brown used to sell many of her products at virtual malls, or strips of stores that gave entrepreneurs access to consumers. But, she said, as "Second Life" has grown the technology has not kept up, rendering malls useless and no longer profitable.

"There are a lot of bugs in 'Second Life,'" said Brown, who now vends out of boutique shops. When shopping at the malls currently available, consumers may have to wait 15 minutes for all the stores' products to load on their computer, she said.

Rather than sit around and wait, players often shop elsewhere.

"People go into 'Second Life' because they would be bored otherwise. They want something to do," explained Guni Graef, the husband of "Second Life" celebrity millionaire Anshe Chung and co-founder of their mammoth Anshe Chung Studios.

Additionally, entrepreneurs said they are often forced to spend large amounts of time each week working through dozens of customer service complaints from customers who ordered a product but did not receive it.

Brown said many of her customers complain when a glitch in the game causes clothing to be only partially delivered, or not transferred at all. This drains her time, and limits profitability.

Crowded Out by the Big Guys

Another major hurdle for "Second Life" entrepreneurs are huge real-world corporations armed with enormous budgets looking to carve a piece of the "Second Life" pie for themselves.

Demanding higher profit margins, such companies eschew completely the smaller entrepreneurs' approach of selling things in "Second Life" for money. Instead, they simply give away items and experiences to create brand awareness in the first world.

"If [major corporations] go in there with a retail approach, you're not going to be successful. They have to come in with the goal of marketing," said Dave Young, a vice president at Purple Stripe Productions, which helps large corporations establish a presence in "Second Life."

Young's company assisted Coca-Cola's entrance into "Second Life," launching contests and setting up land where avatars can hang out while interfacing with Coke products. "They're there to ensure brand identity, to keep Coca-Cola present in the hearts and minds of people," Young explained. Ben and Jerry's, AOL and the NBA also have a strong presence in "Second Life."

Giff Constable of the Electric Sheep Company, another real-life business that helps major companies establish themselves in "Second Life," said small entrepreneurs do enjoy one important advantage over their enormous competitors: They can move faster and adapt their strategies at the speed of technology, not bureaucracy.

"Big companies can't move as fast. They're not as flexible," said Constable, whose "Second Life" name is Forseti Svarog.

Copyright © 2007 ABC News Internet Ventures


Ah Futility!

Covering up Chernobyl with a steel dome is like that scene in Big Daddy where Adam Sandler covers his kid's puke on the floor with a newspaper.




Our master myth manipulator is about to leave us with the wreck of a unilateral, domination-obsessed prodigal son's crusade.


Will we forgive, forget, or move forward?



And, in other paradigm news:




A hearty laugh!

I'm still waiting for the inevitable price cut after v3.

UPDATE: IPhone Price Cut Tests 'The Apple Premium'

September 06, 2007: 07:15 PM EST

(Adds additional context and comments in the 10th and 11th paragraphs. Adds Apple's refund plan for early adopters and updates stock price.)

By Ben Charny


SAN FRANCISCO -(Dow Jones)- Apple Inc. (AAPL) Chief Executive Steve Jobs was asked about a month ago to explain why the company sells computers and music players that, in general, are more expensive than rival gear from other manufacturers.

Jobs' answer was emphatic: "We refuse to sell crap," he said during the public appearance. If Apple's higher standards drive up prices, so be it, he said at the time, because despite the price tag there's been demand for Apple goods.

But now analysts and investors that follow the Cupertino, Calif., company believe it is, to some degree, facing up to a new reality: Its infamous premium might be a bigger hindrance after all, especially as it enters new areas of business like cellphones.

The latest signs of this came Wednesday when Apple lopped $200 off the price of its 8-gigabyte iPhone, the more popular of the two combination cellphone/ music players it introduced about two months ago. It was the quickest the company has ever lowered the price of one of its products in its history.

Once priced at $600, the iPhone now costs $400, which while still a premium over other devices, is much closer to the cost of rival products from other manufacturers.

Jobs told the hundreds that attended his public appearance in San Francisco to introduce a new lineup of iPods, and in subsequent interviews with journalists, that the iPhone price cut signified Apple as "aggressive" in time for the holiday gift-buying season.

But by adding that the cut will make the phone more appealing to the masses, Jobs could be hinting at how when it comes to cellphones - arguably the best- selling of the world's high-tech products - the premium may have to be sacrificed.

That's because, in part, unlike someone shopping for a computer, cellphone consumers are used to a world in which their phones are so heavily discounted and subsidized, that they often end up costing just a fraction of their original price, or are given away for free by carriers.

So a $600 phone, regardless of whether it's packed with quality features made by Apple, provokes "a lot of sticker shock," said Shaw Wu, an analyst with American Technology Research. "That's what you'd pay for some computers."

By introducing the iPhone at $600, Apple was testing whether the "Apple premium" could succeed in another area of electronics, said Todd Dagres, co- founder of Spark Capital, which invests in media-focused technology companies. What it discovered was a limit to the cachet of its well-known brand.

"There are people willing to buy and pay the premium for anything with 'Apple' on it," Dagres said. "But as it ventures further away from making computers, the less Apple's brand means, and, as a result, the less people are willing to pay a premium."

On Thursday, Jobs apologized to customers dissatisfied over Apple cutting the price of its high-end iPhone and offered early buyers who paid full price a $100 store credit toward any Apple product.

An Apple representative didn't return two phone calls seeking comment for this story.

Gene Munster, an analyst with Piper Jaffray, told Dow Jones Newswires that the cut should accelerate the iPhone's appeal.

Moreover, Apple has in the past two months cut the prices on products in all three of its major categories, another indication that it's adjusting to the new reality, Dagres said.

Along with the iPhone price, the company also cut the prices of the iMac desktop computer lineup, which it said has subsequently helped goose sales and demand.

On Wednesday, Apple lopped $50 off two brands of its iPod music players.

Trip Chowdhry, an analyst with Global Equities Research, said the price cut to the iPods is particularly telling.

It was "a realization by Apple that the novelty effect" of its products, a major reason why it could get away with charging more, "is fading away."

Shares of Apple fell $1.75, or 1.3%, to $135.01 on above-average volume Thursday, after falling 5.1% on Wednesday. Shares traded at $135.37 in recent after-hours action.

-By Ben Charny, Dow Jones Newswires; 415-765-8230;

(END) Dow Jones Newswires
09-06-07 1915ET
Copyright (c) 2007 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

In the past...