Happy New Year from the MakeMyWorlds's team !

Image extracted from one of the Second Life movies


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Real life, Death & the Why of things. A New Year to start.

I have not written for a few months.

Not that I do not understand that to stop blogging, twittering, networking, cultivating my personal brand, engaging my audience, spreading my visibility to generate conversations, will certainly delay my google ranking, and worse, put me down in the top 100 of french new media consultants en vogue and discredit me with my wonderful students and my dear clients and coached. Not that I suddenly decided to keep everything for me, and decided not to share my daily watch and my insatiable curiosity about geeks things and virtual life ...

During the last half year, I simply stopped counting the minutes and hours. A moment that I just wanted for me. It was not just a matter of time, but something deep about love, life and death.

I could have shared my disbelief about archaic systems of communication and transmission between hospitals, on the technicality of the intensive care unit of the Hopital St Joseph, my anger about the basic protocols which are not respected at the expense of the most impaired and older, my admiration for some doctors, nurses and caregivers ...

I could boil it down to societal issues, information and technology that I carefully analyzed to draw conclusions and balances that I would have shared with you, thru metaphors or business cases.

I did not want to. The virtual and its avatars were thousands of miles away from me in front of the pure reality, the suffering body of the beloved to whom I vainly tried to convey the hope and energy alive. I was just coming to Second Life for drowning myself into creation. To forget how tough all that moment was. To write, yes, but later ...

My father, Jean-Claude Zuili, this simple and beautiful hero, has gone on the last Thursday of November when the snow began to fall, taking with him his great humanity and secrets of the simple joys of a time that no longer exists.

We shared a taste for authenticity, walking and the great outdoors, travel and adventure, history and modernity. We loved sharing about the genius of man, the complexity and mystery. His courage, determination, his choices were drawing the route of the life of a free man that the society of spectacle slightly touched, the life of a man dedicated to the life of other men.

Life goes on and I take back the course of my life, real and virtual. There are so many projects, so many dreams turn into reality as possible potentialities, open, accessible.

To all friends, passengers and loyal readers, students and interns, I wish a good year 2011, an iron, an unfailing optimism, joy of living, energy, wonderful meetings and shared moments.


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Immersive technology : Enter the dream...

I like the idea of this whole connectivity, the convergence between all disciplines... to enter the dream, to interact with the dream. I like the idea that the blind can see again, the deaf can hear, the handicapped person can walk...
I like the idea that immersive environnements are part of this dream, to  push the limits of the possible...



I would love to join this Immersive Tech Summit 2010 in Los Angeles...


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Philip Rosedale-Linden II: The Return – 3 keys for the next 100 days to make it happen…

So it seems things sometimes can happen when you really ask for it…

The cart where the 130 Lindens took place also made a stop at Mark Kingdon’s office and took them all for a new adventure… In French we use the word “charette” to talk about a lay-off, and a “charette” is this old open cart which used to take the aristocrats to the guillotine during the revolution… Fortunately no one should be guillotined here. Mark Kingdon surely tried his best, considering Second Life is such a different “product”, and actually I really wonder if Second Life is a product… It is in a way, but maybe you need a really 2.0 or 3.0 Marketing approach here, considering the community is really judge and part of the product.

Anyway, as I explained in my post “Second Life, engage me one more time!”, the place is cleaned and fit, and the Lab can start to work again. And they need it to be fast enough to stop the hemorrhage and reconquer both old resident hearts’s and new young hearts…
What is there in the head of Philip Rosedale? How do you feel after you stopped working on what was your motivation during so many years? How do you feel to return?

“Our thinking as a team is that my returning to the CEO job now can bring a product and technology focus that will help rapidly improve Second Life. We need to simplify and focus our product priorities—concentrating all our capabilities on making Second Life easier to use and better for the core experiences that it is delivering today. I think that I can be a great help and a strong leader in that process.

It is an honor to have a chance to help more directly again, and I come to this mission with energy, excitement, and an open mind about what we need and how we need to do it. I want to see Second Life continue to grow, amaze, and change the world. It’s what gets me up in the morning. Despite the challenges of such a big change, I am happy to be drafting this blog post while sitting in our San Francisco office, surrounded by the many Lindens who have made it all possible. »
Hopefully, that 2 years break was a time for Philip to resource, learn and take strength because he will need it. We all know when the community will have finish to rejoice, critics and resistances will come as usual.. And we also guess lots of things are in the pipe and that only a man with a deep inside vision is able to break the walls.

3 keys for the next 100 days.

As politics say, next 100 days of the new realm will be crucial in designing the future, even if we all know that the complexity behind Second Life forbid us to think it can be achieved in 100 days… Qui va piano va sano… but sometimes situations are willing men to take risks… and anticipate the moves as in a chess game.

My deep thought is that accessibility is a major key for a success. We definitely need to have :
- a Second Life for everyone, for residents, for education, for enterprise.
- a Second Life accessible no matter what is your system, firewall, terminal, etc.

Second key is called customization. I want to be able to build my own screen and design my own experience of Second Life, according to my needs. Compared to Ajax UI, Viewer 2 is pushy and generate lots of disorder if you use it multitasking. So the viewer should naturally leads to :
- an interactive, immersive and stable platform able to offer its residents all means to choose what and how they want to use it, and all means to create and produce content.

What about if third key would be the cool old long tail effect based on the fantastic collective intelligence that only Second Life residents can provide. Not only it would take part of a natural process of governance but it would also allow Second Life to definitely take the lead on its competitor.

Adoption and engagement will come naturally if the Lab is able to lead Second Life on those tracks, and give us a new kind of future called My Second Life, my world, my imagination…(does it ring a bell?)


I am born in a culture where idolatry was a sin and I definitely reject all kinds of cult of personality. But talking about Philip Rosedale’s soul last week, was a true feeling. Second Life is a piece of Philip’s soul and right now, Second Life cannot work without Philip Rosedale. That is a fact than Linden Lab’s board has realized. No matter if they are about or not to organize a beauty contest and sell the Lab. For sure, there is money and politics involved here too, but the whole story is also about a dream, and dreams are powerful, can move mountains especially when leadership is based on solid and complementary partnership. Think about Louis XIV and Colbert, or on a lower level, Yves Saint-Laurent and Pierre Berger. Big projects are made of realism and dreams. Second Life definitely needs both, to achieve its goal. Your dream Philip, and our dream too… Let’s make it happen together.
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The soul of Philip Rosedale

Did I miss something ? Sometimes I think my english language escapes from me to hide away things that I would naturally see in french… But no, I think I did not, things are just the way they seem to be. We entered in a new era and we are going to adjust, as usual.

This week end, while I was writing the last post, Engage me again, I went thru the readings of a lot of twitts and blog posts, to see what was the general mood. Coming out of those, were a lot of doubts, a lot of anger, like if everyone was deeply concerned by what happened last week. M. Linden was often seen as the bad guy of the film. Some were even calling Philip Rosedale to come back. But Philip was silent, M. Linden was short on his post and his letter, and the rest of the team was not responding to mails… Maybe they were all watching the football worldcup…

So Clara decided to go to SL to see how was the mood inworld and to catch up with a few friends. Or maybe just go and work on some new trees. The problem is that when you work out of virtual worlds to promote virtual world, you gradually end up losing the sense of it. When evening comes you rather want to keep it quiet, away from the computer, away from work… Hanging around the sad Linden graveyard at Rouge, Clara met a friend she has not seen for a while, and started a conversation about life and jazz, then solved a few problems with lands, and end up exploring the forest of Leni and Timmi. A couple was riding a horse, a fairy was flying the site, avatars were popping in. And Clara finally started to design a pine-tree. No noises from the outside world, no conversations about the lay-off. The world was just going on its own way. And one more time the magic was there, in the smooth breeze of the wind… there was the soul of Philip Linden.

Early morning, I opened the Second Life website from a browser which I do not usually use, (which means where I am not logged in), and fell on the new home page of the website. A nice graphic and  motion welcome interface, including full panoramic machiminas. As I clicked to join as a noob, I was proposed to choose between 3D very real animated characters (maybe it is in test, because I could not find it again). So far away from the world we found in 2006. But so close to what is our world, our imagination… Today’s world, in all its facets…

The words of Philip Rosedale, talking at SLCC 2007 in Chicago came back to my mind.

« (extract from Virtual World News) (…) I think as a company we’re at a transition point. Part of that is the size of the room, the number of people building, and so on. We’re at a very interesting point here. The company that built Second is called Linden Lab. And on a bad day, you might feel like the subjects of the lab. Labs are organizations that have a vision about what can make the world better and then will try them out on people, unsuspecting or not, to try and make it happen.
Here’s the point. Second Life is exceedingly complicated, and it’s a dream that people have tried to make happen for years and many of them have failed to achieve the critical mass and spark that we have now. We got there now because we were a Lab. We were a small group of people willing to work very fast with little concern for the troubles people would face using it.
(…)We haven’t tipped yet. Everyone is always jumping ahead and eager to say that the future has arrived. We’ve built the metaverse, and we’re all going to walk in and disappear. We’re still building it. I think some of you here, and even I, don’t appreciate how big these things can get. I worry about crashes and revenue with my head in my hands, and I don’t remember how big these things can get. We’re just the first people to the party. This is an incredibly small phenomenon right now. This is something everybody on the earth is going to use. 
This is bigger than the Web. That’s a bold statement. How can I defend the statement that what we’re all working on is going to be bigger than the Web. (…)

One year after, at Tampa, Philip had given the lead to Mark. Second Life had to become a serious business to keep the leadership of the new born industry. Philip Rosedale seemed sad (like if some light was out of him) but resigned. I guess it is like to see your child going away from home. But, unless Steve Jobs who claimed he was fired of Apple, Philip Rosedale was proclaiming that this was the right choice… and if you think of how SL was before and what it is now, you can see that Mark did a lot to professionalize Second Life, and I think he could do so because he did not have the same history with the residents. The resistance to change, especially when the relation to SL is so affective, must be a real challenge.

Reducing the Lab team to make the vision happened, targeting new populations to enter in the platform and bring new blood and energy to the world of Second Life, accelerating the move to make virtual worlds bigger than the web, all of that was also the will of Philip Rosedale.

Strange thing though is that we feel something is missing. We can’t say it with words, it is just a feeling, irrational and empirical. The magic is still around, the possibilities are infinite, the challenge is everyone’s, but it seems that the soul of Philip is away... maybe watching the football games...



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Second Life : Engage me one more time !

The reduction of 30% of its workforce announced by Linden Lab last week has been a bombshell in the small business world of Second Life and in the fledgling industry of virtual environments.

Adopted by most major media and blogs and, as always, interpreted as another sign of the agony of the company and the end of an era, this information is to be analysed in details at different levels.

Restructuring and downsizing practices are fairly common in the business world. What the press does not mention is that under the influence of Mark Kingdon, Linden Lab had expanded its workforce in the last 2 years to stabilize its platform, professionalizing its concept and completing a cycle of development.

In addition to a faster and more efficient platform, localized into over 10 languages, ant to a simpler viewer (but still not simple enough) with features that allows to share all types of media (including html and flash), Linden Labs can count on its many targeted websites, independent, efficient and functional, integrated in the user experience, and more specifically on a real platform for e-commerce rebranded XStreetSL.

Moreover, Linden Lab is about to finish installing the new grid (built from Havok 7 physics engine which manages the interactions between avatars and objects), and a new version of its browser will soon allow the import of 3D mesh, and the opportunity to name his avatar the way you want. This development opens Second Life to the classic 3D players and aligns with what is practiced in all social networks considering digital identity. The recent purchase of United avatar suggests an extension of brand presence on online social network Facebook-covering and all MMO players to federate around their common passion.

The Second Life of 2010 no longer has much to do with what was in 2006/2007, at the height of the media wave. And the company's strategy remains firmly focused on the "consumers", the creators and more generally the ecosystem of the Platform. The intervention of Tom Hales at SLPro (NMC) was quite clear on that orientation.


This cycle started 2 years ago, ended in a real world where the virtual worlds industry has changed, opening the way to various competing solutions, open-source alternatives to proprietary, where users, players or not, have increased ... With this restructuring, Linden Lab confirms what makes its profits: the rental of its servers, the trade of virtual goods, the exchange of its currency. And even if M. Kingdon said nothing about SL Enterprise, it is clear that the departure of much of the team assigned to its development suggests that the project SL Enterprise will not continue in its current form. Not enough income ? Sure, the sale of thirty solutions do not satisfy the requirements of ROI, but how could Mr. Kingdon hope that this solution would sell in just a few weeks, with an entrance ticket around 80KE, and the necessary mobilization of a chain of business decision often hostile to innovation (especially that one !).

Strategic error or timing error. Linden Lab intends to deliver its servers behind the corporate firewall when companies think more and more to cloud-computerize their infrastructure ... Yet Enterprise Solution is interesting ... but it requires from Linden Lab, a true support that can pay for itself which is not the case now... So, let's be optimistic and let's hope that the beta of Second Life Enterprise will give birth to a new generation of solutions competitive and attractive ... or that Linden Lab will be able to move quickly on projects in progress ... for current projects, there seem to be, Kingdon said in his press release. « It will also enable us to invest in bringing 3D to the web and will strengthen our profitability… »

For here lies one of the keys for a mainstream adoption of 3D web: the simplification of entry requirements, to be able to access 3D on a single click from the browser. Second Life Viewer 2.0. had improved, but access to the platform remains complicated and for businesses, UDP protocol and ports, application installation and the requirement of an advanced user configuration is often a show-stopper in the process of technology adoption.

Linden Lab seems to stake everything today on a radical simplification of the access to Second Life, and ensures that it restructures to accelerate this process. How, that is the question ...

It seems from different interviews that we will not see a Second Life like Habbos or Farmville... that is a Second Life 2D or 2D&half, and that's good, because that vision is the opposite of what is fundamentally a virtual environment in real time 3D.

Linden Lab confirmed to James Wagner: " We're Developing a Second Life Viewer FROM access the Web (Not a Second Life ON the Web ) " What Wagner interprets as possibly a browser that works on WebGL, a specification for 3D display for web browsers and potentially distributable on all terminals quoted by Mark Kingdon (web, iPhone, iPad ...)

Alternatively a Cloud type technology, maybe…. A few months ago, the VP in charge of platforms announced that Linden Lab had conducted several trials of this nature, ..."Rather than using the 'cloud service' metaphor here, it sounds like what you’re talking about is better termed 'server-side rendering' and streaming that content down to machines that would otherwise be unable to run a full 3D client. That is technically possible with Second Life, and we’ve actively demonstrated it internally, with a full Second Life client and all graphics settings set to maximum, while maintaining an impressive framerate.."

Technology is changing rapidly, and competition accelerates the movement, Linden Lab needs to develop ways to offer maximum quality and innovative solutions, to keep the leadership. This could also explain the restructuring.

In fact if you look closer, there is really no big problem with Second Life though he is lacking to reach a broader audience. There are errors of assessment, communication, and a lot of prejudice. There was always something Freudian in the attitude of journalists when they talk about Second Life, a sort of quite incomprehensible love-hate relationship, often seen when it comes to innovation vision (cf Apple and many others). Question of cerebral preferences, forms of intelligence, opening ...

For what other technology today can provide the opportunity to meet and share experiences in real time with more than 6 people in a rich 3D environment? Facebook ?  Linkedin ?  Twitter ? The comparison is senseless and not relevant, and those who use it do not really know what they're talking about ...

What other technology can help create a setting as close to reality for training, online learning and collaboration? (800 universities are present today in virtual worlds)

Yes, virtual environments are frightening, because they offer a potential reality and that reality is disturbing. Yes, virtual environments are certainly a technology transition to new practices that virtual reality should be able to offer in the coming decades.

Restructuring or not, Second Life can continue to live through their community, although less vibrant than before, because often destabilized by changes in "political" (Rosedale departure, increased land prices, closing of games, adult continent, bots ...), but always with its thousands of creators and innovators. And it is conceivable that by posting record profits after restructuring, the company is endowed with all the attractions to a sale or IPO. Open to its residents also, perhaps ....



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Author Egon Koch aka Sologo Hoxley on air, June 2nd at Virtuelles Koeln

I do not speak German but fortunately a lot of german people speak a good english and this is how we can communicate though our language and history are so different (the Eurovision winner Lena Meyer-Landrut yesterday is a good example of this world culture we share...)

Egon is a friend of Kai-Michael, my friend and business partner in MakemyWorlds. Kai knew if he got Egon interested into Second Life, something unique could come out of his mind. And one day, I met Egon Koch, an artist, an author, an elegant man of sensibility and sensitivity. It was a short meeting, thru a video-chat. I explained him what Second Life had done for me, how it allows me to be able to discover so many different people I would never even have looked in real life. How it changed my perception of the reality and helped me to grow up. And how, that made me richer inside. I think I tried to communicate him the magic of Second Life.

A few month later, I met a very special noob in Second Life, under the name of Sologo Hoxley. Sologo was a funny avatar, who wanted to see and know everything. He was not working as a journalist, but as an author, getting deep into our second life, taking time to listen each individual story, making no judgment, just listening. He was from every events, every parties, conferences or concerts, and in a few weeks, seems to know more than me of what was happening in SL communities.

Sometimes, late at night, when I was working on my landscapes, he was calling me : Hey, do you want to make a break at the Zen temple. I was wondering : maybe Sologo is getting addicted to SL, as we all went, once in our second life...

One day, Sologo Hoxley disappeared, not showing on anymore in my friend's list.  Sologo was just gone.  He had finished his work and time was starting for him to tell about his adventures like those old writers-journalist who were crossing the world as the beginning of last century.

Tomorrow June 2nd, the story of Sologo Hoxley "Windows of the World" will be broadcast on the german radio SWR 2, 2nd June 2010, 22.05 - 23.00 clock GMT+1 . In the same time, co-organized with MakeMyWorlds, the radio feature will be on air at Virtuelles Koeln in Second Life and Sologo will be with us.

So if you understand deutsch or if you want to meet Sologo, join us at Virtuelles Koeln tomorrow ! See you there !


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