Archive for the 'Second Life' Category

May 18 2012

Suckers are born every decade but I’m out of here

I wanted to keep this to myself –if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all — but here is my contribution to the pile of B.S. spreading today on the occasion of Facebook going public.

Facebook is over, about to topple over under the weight of a spectacular overvaluation, mass indifference to financial fundamentals, and most importantly my sense of the growing indifference of the generation it was supposed to serve — college students.  Facebook was famously founded as a digital replacement to the printed freshman directories of the Ivy League but has become obese with the inane status updates and vacation bragging of those same students’ parents. My generation. The one’s who pored over the original class directories in the 1970s and “posted updates” on whiteboards glued to our dorm room doors.

Wall Street is selling scale today when the trigger is pulled on Facebook at 11 AM EST — that’s hyperbole for “lots of traffic” — and while your local investment club may be all atwitter with the prospect of buying some shares, and it’s fun to count the herd of new Facebook gazillionaires now shopping for new Colnagos and bespoke skinny jeans — the smart money has been cashing out for a long time in the private market and will continue cashing out quickly at the top.  This is not Microsoft in 1984 nor Amazon in 1996. This is not a long term bet on a significant new way of doing business or even communicating. This is an investment in the 2012 edition of CompuServe and MySpace: yet another walled garden ripe to get creatively destroyed by the next big technical thing lurking over that hill known as the future.

Future performance of Facebook’s stock depends on the company delivering profitable revenue and like Google, Facebook gets all of its money from advertising. Google builds semi-useful stuff and search is everything. Facebook advertising does not work. I managed Facebook campaigns for a Fortune Global 100 company and have first hand experience that … Facebook …. Advertising …. Does….. Not ….. Work.

General Motors figured this out, and picking the week of the IPO to announce Facebook ads aren’t working was simply perfect. Of course the counter argument from the social media douche bags is that “Facebook is all about authentic relationships and transparent conversations between brands and customers.” Consider the source, given that the SMDB’s make their bones selling their Facebook Unique Customer Karma and Emerging Digital services (you can figure out the forced acronym) to breathless CMOs who want audience, damn it, and the bigger the better.  And consider that the public relations/digital agency world is always first on any shiny object bandwagon (can you say SecondLife) and their current solemn obsession is reporting “Social ROI” as the rest of the faddish get obsessed with big data and analytics. (If you want to watch some fun navel gazing, play pissed-off CEO and ask a Digital PR person “How much is a Facebook Fan worth?”)

Companies, aka “brands,” obsess and fret about how many fans and likes they have; spend money on third-party tools like BuddyMedia to manage their presence, and set aside a slice of their digital advertising budget to buy good old display ads to run alongside the torrent of notifications and shared links that make up Facebook’s river of content. As I read elsewhere this morning, quoting Seth Godin (whom I never quote), “The Internet wasn’t invented for advertisers.”

Neither was Facebook.

Yet, in lieu of subscriptions or some twist on Warren Buffett’s theory of a toll booth on the only bridge over the river, where is Facebook’s money going to come from to sustain a valuation in the thin, thin air of $100+ billion ? If you know, then buy some stock. Me, I’m deactivating my Facebook account in honor of the TimeWarner-AOL/Prodigy/CompuServe/Groupon/ of 2012.

Two weeks ago I began dinging every over-sharer on my timeline or wall or whatever the Zuckerborg called it this month. Goodbye pictures of glasses of beer, notifications that Ed was at LAX, weird R-rated bikini videos from people in Turkey and India I have never met and will never meet. Goodbye SocialCam. Goodbye Tweets. Goodbye to All That. Now …..

Goodbye Facebook and hello to less noise in my life.


14 responses so far

Oct 20 2010

Second Life at End of Life?

Published by under Second Life

Om Malik reports SecondLife founder Philip Rosedale is moseying on.

I am so glad I steered clear of virtual world marketing when it was all abuzz in 2006.

“Four months after CEO Mark Kingdon left the San Francisco-based Linden Lab, the company behind erstwhile hot virtual world, Second Life, interim CEO and founder Philip Rosedale is getting real too. He is leaving the company he started in 1999 in order to pursue his new idea – LoveMachine, a collaboration software company.

via Oh! Oh! Even Linden Lab Founder Is Leaving: Tech News «.

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Apr 02 2007

HP’s Eric Kintz on SecondLife

Published by under Second Life

Top 10 Reasons as to why I still need to be convinced about marketing on Second Life

“I have been analyzing Second Life for months, but a great article in Brandweek titled “are marketers dying on Second Life?” prompted me to write this post.”

Okay, I’m breaking my self-imposed vow of 2L silence, but Eric’s list so closely mirrored mine that I had to point at it.

5 responses so far

Jan 17 2007

When 10 Hours Is Not Enough To Appreciate True Awesomeness

Published by under Second Life

Zen of Design»Blog Archive » When 10 Hours Is Not Enough To Appreciate True Awesomeness

I’ve been taken down at GigaGamez for slagging Second Life after a mere ten hours of usage. Guess I need to put in … what? …forty hours before I am permitted to ask questions about something being pushed on me. Guess twenty-five years as a tech journalist and countless software and online reviews don’t qualify me to express an opinion. Hey, at least I was frank in grading my “expertise” with the system as an F-minus. To follow the logic, I’m not permitted to say a meal sucks unless I’ve cooked the dish a certain number of times. Hey — like I said in my original critique: “your mileage may vary. Me: I don’t like it.”
Thanks to Damian Schubert for making my rebuttal for me at Zen of Design:

“James Wagner Au is incensed that people who have not played the game much are criticizing it. Which I suppose is would be a fair criticism, if it were true. But look at what he claims is not enough.Regarding proficiency with Second Life, [one reviewer] e-mailed back, “Mark me with an F. Make that an F minus.” He estimates his total visitations as ten hours or under, in which he more or less randomly explored a world the geographic size of an entire state, to form his assessment.

That’s right – 10 hours is not enough time to make an honest assessment of the Second Life experience. By comparison, my games rack is full of games that didn’t survive an HOUR of playtime. Electronic Arts (and most other companies) force their designers to obsess over the first FIVE MINUTES of gameplay, because most games don’t even survive THAT. Okay, someone reviewing the game should probably give it a tad more time than than but… 10 hours – not enough!”

I’ve wasted enough time on this topic as it is. I could return Mr. Wagner Au’s trashing with an in-kind slam at his methods and objectivity, but …. on to more important matters in my first life.

One response so far

Jan 08 2007

Digital Download By David M. Ewalt

Published by under Second Life

Digital Download By David M. Ewalt

Making fun of Second Life is so much fun. This is a classic screed; tip of the hat to Valleywag who have taken the flag and run with it.

“Here’s the ultimate problem with Second Life: unless you’re some kind of sexual deviant who gets off by pretending to be a diaper-wearing man-fox, it’s boring as hell. If I want to chat with people, I can do it in IM without having to deal with lag, annoying ambient music, and all manner of freaks of nature. If I want to see cool imaginary worlds, I’ll watch a movie. And if I want to really nerd out and pretend I’m some sort of fantastic creature, I’ll stick with my Night Elf rogue, thank you.”

I’m sticking with my Level 29 Dwarf Hunter.

One response so far

Jan 06 2007

Valleywag’s Second Life takedown continues

AVATARS IN THE NEWS: A guide to Anshe Chung – Valleywag

Denton has brought Valleywag back from near death by making it one of the best, most caustic, and piercing critiques of the stupidity that reigns online. From their latest in their incessant coverage of Second Life hype, is this wonderful line:

“And marketing consultants, in their constant search for empty novelty, and easy press coverage, have talked their more credulous clients into substantial expenditure on in-world campaigns.”

Those consultants are the ones I addressed back in November. Go away. I don’t do “new” for the sake of newness.

No responses yet

Jan 03 2007

Counting the real ‘Second Life’ population | CNET

Published by under Second Life

Counting the real ‘Second Life’ population | CNET

Daniel Terdiman, CNET’s Second Life reporter, covers Clay Shirky’s campaign to clarify Second Life’s dubious traffic numbers — number in two in my list of reasons why I won’t be building an island there anytime soon. Terdiman gets a thumbs up for some objective reporting — he was one of the reporters called out for misreporting the “resident” number reported by 2L. The NYT went off the deep end earlier this week, but I’m too lazy to site the sloppy reporting.

David Kirkpatrick at Fortune also took time to explain himself under the Shirky critique, conceding “The product is unusable by most casual users.”
From CNET:

“We’re being asked to believe that this is the future of the Internet,” said Clay Shirky, a writer and professor at New York University’s graduate Interactive Telecommunications Program, referring to the grandiose hype surrounding Second Life and its cultural significance.”If you’re being told that something is the future of the Internet and the arguments are based on the incredible popularity, the first thing you want to understand is how popular it is,” Shirky added.

As of Wednesday, Linden Lab reported that there were 2,325,015 “residents” of Second Life. The company defines each of those as representing “a uniquely named avatar with the right to log in to Second Life, trade currency and visit the community pages.”

Here’s the problem: that total does not equate to what is commonly considered by most Web or online businesses as “active users,” in large part because many people who sign up for Second Life try it once and never come back, and because individuals can have as many as five different avatars, each of which would count as a “resident.”

No responses yet

Dec 30 2006

Two Sides of the Second-Life-for-Marketers Coin

More pick-up of my post on why I don’t like Second Life. What I do like, conceptually, is the Croquet project pointed out by Redmonk’s Stephen O’Grady blogging at Tecosystems.Again, Second Life defenders, I am not throwing Second Life under the bus, I just challenge the ROI, from a marketing standpoint, of committing to a closed architecture controlled by a single commercial entity — again, it’s Prodigy’s walled-garden crumbling under the onslaught of the Open Web. If more of a committment was made to a Croquet-like architecture, where an organization’s or individual’s “island” was on their own server or hosted environment, and where there was an open source community supporting the tools and standards, then I’d be moving into a 3D metaverse at the drop of a hat.

The latest pickup is from Business Communicators of Second Life :

“Waves. You know, they swell, hit the shore and then they recede.

The Second-Life-for-Marketers debate feels like that. Waves of “second life is the new now thing” hit with the requisite response/undercurrent of “oh, it is SO not.”

It’s been fun, frequently amusing, sometimes irritating – and the vehemence is more than a little baffling.

A month ago Horace Clutterbuck’s real world persona wrote on the blog 10 reasons why he didn’t like Second Life for marketing. It garnered its share of comments and blog responses. But, with every ounce of me, I hope you read Giff Constable’s blog post response to 9 of Horace’s ten points (one was about Horace’s dislike of being pitched – n.a.) “

Sorry if “vehemence” was detected in that first post — which actually was an internal email I wrote out of irritation as the umpteenth Second Life proposal crossed my desk for comment. I continue to point to that post internally as my position on SL, and it should not be taken as a blanket screed against metaverse models. I could, if I chose, to cite each and every embarassment and issue surrounding Second Life, but I have no axe to grind there. I continue to maintain an account, and I continue to invite people to discuss Second Life with me in Second Life. So far, only one person has, and that was sadly through an instant message forwarded to my email — again some sort of proof that SL is probably fine for real-time interaction, but inadequate for a time-shifted discussion.

Do check out Croquet. I intend to spend some time playing with it to determine if there are any signs of life there. From Wikipedia:

“The Croquet Project is an international effort to promote the continued development of Croquet, an open source software platform for developing and delivering deeply collaborative multi-user online applications. It features a network architecture that supports communication, collaboration, resource sharing, and synchronous computation among multiple users. Croquet provides a flexible framework in which most user interface concepts can be prototyped and deployed to create powerful and highly collaborative multi-user 2D and 3D applications and simulations. Croquet can be used to construct highly scalable collaborative data vizualizations, virtual learning and problem solving environments, 3D wikis, online gaming environments (MMORPGs), and privately maintained/interconnected multiuser virtual environments.”

One response so far

Dec 29 2006

Millions of Us » Response to my Second Life questions

Millions of Us » Blog Archive » Response to David Churbuck of Lenovo

“Just came across a highly critical post by David Churbuck, VP of Global Web Marketing at Lenovo. I thought it made sense to write a little response because his post represents feelings held by many in the business community who are reading about Second Life and wondering what all the fuss is about.”

I don’t want to become the poster-boy for a counter-Second Life backlash. I’ll let Clay Shirky assume that mantle over at Valleywag, but I am heartened to see two extremely qualified experts — both ex-Linden Labs executives — respond to my post from earlier in the month about why I, as a marketer, should or shouldn’t care about Second Life as a venue for building my brand or serving my customers and prospective customers.

For starters, no one responding to my post has gone shrill and started tossing flames my way, for which I am grateful. I should amend that first post with my follow-on thought about my perception that Second Life is too much of a walled-garden at present to justify the expense and difficulty of developing a presence there. I continue to be convinced of the common sense behind the wish that some latter-day Berners-Lee would create an open metaverse structure that was not dependent on a centralized server model but which permit the IBMs and Levi-Strausses, as well as individuals to build and own their own presence on their own terms, conforming to an open standard for interoperability. I am convinced such an open metaverse will come, and that in time, the hardware and bandwidth needed to make such a virtual world truly compelling will emerge. If the right standard is put in place, and if the construction tools are as simple as say FrontPage was in 1994, then the immersive web will be a fact of life within 5 years.

I am concerned that as companies like IBM begin to bless Second Life as a virtual briefing center, that more pressure will be brought to bear on me and others like me to open a Second Life beachhead as a 3D version of WebEx or someother collaborative tool. This may be the case, but there seems to be little opportunity for timeshifting in Second Life — one must arrive and participate in real-time — and just as WebEx and other real-time apps seem cumbersome to me as a participant to enter and configure, I fear Second Life will make it doubly hard for an organization to efficiently lure customers and partners into an environment with a fairly steep set up process.

I am not so concerned with the use of Second Life as a marketing medium — I am surprised that someone hasn’t started selling ad space to drive traffic to the often deserted marketing islands — as I am with its use as a communications and collaboration tool. Once the novel wears off and infatuation with one’s avatar appearance wanes, comes the big question of what to tangible do with it. That remains unanswered.

Oh, and for the commenter who told me I was wrong-headed in hailing World of Warcraft as an alternative — wait a sec, WoW is insanely popular for its own reasons, most of which come down to a decent graphical experience, a strong sense of communications and community, and a plot or story line built around quests and goal attainment. While WoW could, in theory, be used as a collaboration tool, I would never propose it as one. I think Blizzard Entertainment are true geniuses who know how to deliver an addictively compelling experience. Linden has provided a decent blank slate, and turned the experience over to the inhabitants with little more than a development protocol and a currency to glue them together. Good for them and good for those who find the experience to be a compelling one.

2 responses so far

Nov 29 2006

Who thinks Second Life is a smart move for marketers?

Okay — the umpteenth Second Life proposal just crossed my desk — and I spent 30 minutes writing my usual screed about why I don’t like it. My opinion comes down to this: I don’t like it and your mileage may vary.

Me — aka Horace Clutterbuck — in SecondLife

Here’s what I wrote with some sanitation:

1. Linden Labs has the best PR department on the planet. They have suckered the press and marketing communities like no one else I have ever seen.
2. There are no verifiable traffic numbers for Second Life. Population counts are not an indication of true engagement. Until I see verified third-party numbers that indicate time-in-world/frequency of log-ins, I will restrict my analysis of Second Life to my usage over the past eight months.
3. The hardcore user base has reacted negatively to the “invasion” of their community by brands. Particularly brands that proclaim “firsts.”
4. The most interesting activity in Second Life — which is not talked about in the press — is virtual sex. I’ll bet it is one of the biggest economic opportunities. The second economic opportunity is building stores and islands for companies like XXX and YYY.
5. YYY Island is deserted at any time of day.
6. Inviting people to “join” you in Second Life is a process which can take upwards of 30 minutes to complete registration. The press flamed YYY for holding a press conference in Second Life that required them to register. Most of the proposals I have received over the past six months from the likes of ZZZZ and others are from firms that have made a significant investment in selling Second Life services.
7. QQQ’s deck is highly misleading. It mixes Social Networks — which include MySpace, Facebook, Linked-In, etc. — with MMPORGs — such as World of Warcraft. Second Life has no “objective” or “quest” mode whereas World of Warcraft is a far more rich experience and thriving global community. In other words, there is nothing to do in Second Life except, pardon my bluntness, try to get laid.
8. Second Life is ugly. Second Life delivers terrible performance and the lag times I have experienced usually result in my standing in a corner or walking underwater. I enter it with a negative anticipation, not a positive one. Integrating content with Second Life is a pain in the neck.
9. Second Life has serious IP issues. Users steal content from each other. Linden is obsessed with trademark violations.
10. Second Life’s creation tools are very arcane and difficult to use. Development firms like Electric Sheep and Crayon [correction “crayon” is not a development company per se] are making a mint off of brands needing development help. This is not a language nor development environment that is easily mastered and any moves we take would demand external contractors.

I believe virtual worlds will emerge as preferred environments, but at this point I have a hard time accepting Second Life as much more than a virtual tradeshow with a red light district. Basically Vegas without the gambling.

I have covered and participated in online communities since 1986. I wrote the first major story in the national press about “virtual reality.” Same with the web. The web was an obvious technology because it was a) open, b) intuitive and easy to code (HTML) and c) built on the concept of hyperlinks. Second Life is “free”, but not “open”, impenetrable to code, and owned by a single corporation.

So, my guidance is this:
Second Life sucks in this user’s opinion. I will only discuss Second Life proposals inside Second Life, insuring that the other person has experienced the joys of getting a dumb name assigned to them (I am “Horace Clutterbuck” and walking around the laggiest environment I’ve seen since the days of 56K modems. I hope I eat my hat on this one, but right now, I am solidly in the camp of opinion that Second Life is Get-A-Life. If you want to have a good time online, try World of Warcraft.

52 responses so far