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If  you’ve been following the commerce blogs over the last few months, you  know that we’ve been working on a new online shopping experience for  Second Life Residents, the Second Life Marketplace Beta, which in a short time will replace XStreet SL.

Here are a few of the features we're excited about:

  • An updated look and feel:  The Commerce Team drew from the leading retail web sites to create a  professional shopping site with visual appeal and a smooth path to  purchasing. New touches include larger product photos on listing pages  and new ways to view search listings.
  • Streamlined shopper experience:  A new search engine means shoppers can more quickly and easily find  what they're looking for. Shoppers are able to fill their shopping carts  with multiple items, and give gifts to their loved ones and friends, as  well as create wishlists for the things they want. Coming soon: two  click purchasing! For more information, check out the  SL Marketplace Wiki.
  • Better  tools for merchants: Free storefronts with easy access to all merchant  items as well as profile and policy information, the ability to offer  coupons to customers, the ability to list demo items at no charge, and  the ability to edit multiple listings. Coming soon: color variations on  items, bulk listing upload and editing, the ability to apply a listing’s  details to another listing, and links to additional images.

Stay tuned for more features
We  are very excited about the SL Marketpalce as a new platform for virtual  goods and will continue to refine it and add new features. The SL  Marketplace you see today is only the tip of the virtual goods iceberg.

We’ve  been working closely with Resident merchants to create the best online  shopping experience for everyone. We are now just weeks away from launch  and want to fill you in on some of the logistical details. Over the  next few weeks you will notice changes on the SecondLife.com site as we  begin to retire XStreetSL links and rename and redirect the shopping  links to the SL Marketplace.  Also, we will be making informational  announcements about the changes that will occur to the XStreetSL Linden  dollar exchange and the XStreetSL Real Estate listings.

As  with all the projects at the Lab, we couldn’t do it without the help  and guidance of our Residents, and we would like to thank the SL  merchant community for their ongoing support. 

Sincerely,
The Commerce Team

Quick Links:
SL Marketplace Help Pages
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Let the Games Begin!

by Linden on ‎08-27-2010 06:44 PM

Are you a winter sports fan? Do you like fast-paced, competitive action? Do you enjoy being part of a big friendly community? Welcome to Second  Life's fantastic new winter sports area, Chamonix City! This winter wonderland is a group of Regions connected to Braggiani and is opening   Saturday August 28th. It is the result of a collaboration between Linden Lab and one of our inworld partnership groups, Global Online Hockey Association (GOHA). If you have a similar, winter sports themed community that is free and open for all to enjoy, please let me know! I would love to stop by and have a look.

Chamonix Final small.jpg

Chamonix City is modeled on the French town where the first winter Olympics were held in 1924. The area is nestled in the French Alps and offers  incredible opportunities for sports fans everywhere.

Here in Second Life, Chamonix City opens with fantastic community offerings for both new and old Residents. Global Online Hockey Association (GOHA), a longstanding active community, has constructed ice hockey  rinks, skating ponds, a replica of Chamonix, and many exciting areas for  events and Resident assistance. You can join the community, get  involved, and find a plethora of new friends and activities. Play hockey  or cheer on the teams! Check out the 2011 game schedule HERE! Grab a snowboard and explore or try out the ice skating rink with your friends. There’s plenty to do and see!

Highlights include:

Neutral Zone: Find the quaint village of Chamonix. Head over to the Post Office to contact GOHA staff for assistance or help if you are a new Resident. GOHA hockey hall of fame is centrally located right next door. There are shops containing free merchandise for new and old Residents alike. Check out the community area which features information on how to get involved and make new friends. Events planned here include live music and meet & greets.

Offsides: A beautifully constructed bridge leads you to more winter wonderlands of the Sansara mainland.

Crosscheck: Hold on to your seats! Two beautiful rinks (one indoor, one outdoor) await you. Grab a hot chocolate and a bench and get ready to watch some fast-paced professional level ice hockey action. The game schedule is busy, and you can catch practices and special events in action. When  a game is not in play, you can get some free sticks and try it out  yourself. League members are available to assist you.

This area also features a free ice skating pond (a great spot for a romantic night or a group night out with friends) and free snowboarding equipment.

Empty Net and Blueliner: These Regions host professional quality hockey rinks where free equipment, uniforms and other goodies are available. GOHA features an active schedule of games and is in its 11th season. You can get involved in active regulation league play by checking out  the kiosks located in various spots all over Chamomix City.

Breakaway: Stroll over the high mountain bridge and look down: This area features a highly detailed Training Area where you can practice your burgeoning hockey skills independently or as a group. On the south side, check out the Pond Hockey area.  Hockey players are often firing up an exciting, no-holds-barred game of  outdoor hockey action in this area, and anyone is welcome to join in  these games.

Important Updates From Support

by Linden on ‎08-26-2010 02:43 PM

As you know, there have been a lot of changes recently at Linden Lab and the Lab is rallying around the principles of  “Fast, Easy, and Fun” that you have heard about from Philip and BK.  These concepts also apply to Customer Support. We want to make sure  that your Support experience--whether it be direct interaction with our  Customer Service team or with our online self-help tools--is as  effective and helpful as possible.

The  day after our reorganization announcement, we quietly launched brand new case reporting and live chat systems. Both systems are easier for  you to use and will provide us with better data and insights to more  proactively address and resolve your support issues.

Updated Self-Service Offerings

We  are also investing in technology and the development of self-service  tools to enhance the support portal, including our public wiki and knowledge base. And we’re looking for more opportunities to put basic account administration tools directly into your hands, informed by the metrics we’re gathering in the new systems.

In  addition to new metrics, we also asked for your input on how we can  provide a more effective self-service offering. Based on the results of the self-service tools survey,  we are in the process of developing new and better self-service capabilities that can help you resolve basic issues quickly. Big thanks  to all of those that completed the survey! And, you can expect to see  the results of our efforts soon.

Customer Support Changes

As  we strengthen our self-service offering, we’ll be making some changes to Customer Support. You may have noticed a few of them already.

  • Concierge support hours are now available at our high-traffic hours which are 8am - Midnight (PST), M-F, and 8am to 8pm (PST) on Saturday and Sunday. 
  • We will also be reducing our non-English language support to German, French, Spanish, and Japanese. 
  • Finally, we'll be examining all of our support channels and simplifying the  support contact types and issue types we allow for our various account  levels.  We’ve not taken the impact of these changes lightly and want to provide a higher quality support experience balanced with the costs of  deliver those services.
New Abuse Appeals Process

One  thing that we updated already, as part of our new case and chat platform, is the Abuse Appeals process.  As you will notice if you peruse the case submission form, you will see that the abuse appeals option has disappeared.  Our new approach is directly targeted at those affected by disciplinary action.  If your account is suspended or  banned, then secondlife.com will allow you to log in on the affected account and will take you to a  form designed specifically for creating an appeals case.

Unfortunately, a secondlife.com authentication bug has temporarily disabled this function.  While our  web team works on that issue, we've established a temporary process.  If  you need to file an abuse appeal, please log in to secondlife.com with an alt account.  Then, file a new ticket from http://secondlife.com/support, selecting "Account Issues" and then "Second Life Web Login Issue."  Be  certain to include any information you believe is relevant to our re-evaluation of your case. As soon as the new Abuse Appeals process is  reinstated, then we will let you know.

More Enhancements to Come

You'll  be hearing and seeing more from us over the coming weeks as we make some additional changes to improve the customer support experience.  While contacting us with service-related issues may not always be  ‘fun,’ the changes you’ll see from us will certainly enable a fast, easy customer support experience that we believe will ultimately exceed the  high expectations you’ve come to count on from the Lab.

In the meantime, please pardon our dust.  Change is always a resource-intensive process and we are putting a lot of effort into  building our new Support structure and infrastructure.

sandbox-logo-small.jpg

Main Entry: sand·box
Pronunciation: \ˈsan(d)-ˌbäks\
Function: noun
Date: 1572

A sandbox is a place for creativity and, on occasion, chaos. It's a place to play, a space in which to build, and also a place to break down then build anew. In the context of virtual worlds, a sandbox can also be an open place to roam and create freely without limits to your imagination.

Sound familiar? We think so, too. That's why we've decided to name our new official newsletter The Sandbox.

It's a nod of recognition to the Second Life experience.  Unlike any other virtual world, Second Life is a place that is constantly being redefined and re-conceptualized by and for our community through the development and exploration of new spaces, the creation and distribution of virtual goods and fashions and, critically, the invention of the new ideas that fuel it all.

Each month, The Sandbox will provide a glimpse into what’s going on inside your virtual world by showcasing  some of the most intriguing creations imagined by the Second Life community.

In the first edition, we'll shed light on the fashion community in SL.  Expect an advance peek at the upcoming Fashion Week events, the new Lookbook 2010, and even a head-to-toe fashion "look of the month" put together by a resident fashionista!

How can you get involved? Several ways, actually. At the bottom of the newsletter, there will be a Feedback link that you can use to share your ideas. If you want to be considered for our new "Look of the Month" section, you can submit a head-to-toe avatar image to the official Flickr feed (please be sure to tag your images with The Sandbox so we can find it!).

The Sandbox will be distributed to our Residents beginning with our September issue, distributed in late August.

We hope you enjoy The Sandbox and we look forward to your participation!

One of the things we’ve recently been thinking about at Linden Lab is how we can better highlight the value created by the communities of Second Life: the concerts Residents put on, the role-playing experiences they create, the replicas of real-world locations they construct, and so much more. We believe the new-user experience for Second Life works best when it is fundamentally connected to specific user-created content, and one of the  things we’re working on now is making those connections stronger.

As we move towards this goal, we are ending the Community Gateway (CG) program, effective immediately. Ultimately, we want new Residents to be able to begin their time in Second Life at any location, connecting immediately to user-created experiences that interest them. For example, if you’ve joined Second Life because you’re interested in a re-creation of an historical site, then we want you to begin your  experience not by walking through a welcome area, but by exploring the space you came to enjoy, and learning basic functions as you go. With our current model, there’s too much distance between new users and the amazing Resident-created content they come to Second Life to enjoy. We’re working now to close that gap.

The  Community Gateway program was a step in the right direction. It was intended to help give new Residents a starting point associated with a  particular inworld community, often based on geography and language, and a few were successful in turning newcomers into engaged Second Life  Residents. However, many showed lower rates of retention than our own Welcome Island. Additionally, we’ve found that many new users were  confused by the option of starting in Community Gateway and abandoned  the registration process at that point. We will remove Community Gateways from the current registration path on August 19 in order to  simplify registration and give us a more reliable baseline metric to use  for comparison as we go forward with our new approach.

We’ve  already seen this strategy -- directly connecting newcomers with the  content they’re most interested in -- work for interests like vampire  roleplay and music venues inworld. We’re going to continue to iterate on  this approach, but the initial results indicate that we’ll be better able to engage new Residents with Second Life by connecting them with  content based on their interests right away, rather than having them start in an orientation space.

Communities are certainly an important part of the Second Life experience for many Residents, and many Community Gateways offer compelling experiences for specific communities in Second Life. Though we are ending the Community Gateway program and changing the registration experience, we will keep these spaces in the Destination Guide, so that Residents can easily find and join these communities.

I’d  like to thank the participants in the Community Gateways program for  all of their hard work. It is always a difficult decision to end an initiative like this, but it’s what we need to do to focus on making Second Life a faster, easier, and more enjoyable experience for all.

Please make sure to read the Guidelines and Submission Form before posting your quesitons.

Thanks for your interest in participating!

This September, we are launching a monthly newsletter, which will highlight fun and exciting things happening in Second Life--Residents, fashion, events and locations inworld.

In alignment with New York’s Fall Fashion week, September’s newsletter will focus on fashion in Second Life, and will include the 2010 Fall Fashion Lookbook, showcasing SL designers and some of their fresh new looks for the season.  Check out last year’s 2009 Fall Fashion Lookbook.

To reflect the vast variety of designs in Second Life, the submission process will be open to all Residents.  Here are the specifics:

  • To submit your designs, please review fill out the 2010 Fall Fashion Lookbook Submission Guidelines and Form.
  • Designers are invited  to submit up to 10 different designs.
  • We will be featuring styles that speak to those featured on the runways in New York, namely “Street Fashion” and “Haute Couture”. (no nudity please)
  • All submissions must be uploaded into the new SL Marketplace and follow the submission guidelines.
  • All submissions are due by 5pm PT on Wednesday, August 11th, 2010.
  • After August 11th,  Linden Lab will review all properly submitted applications and assemble the Lookbook. Participating merchants will be notified by email no later than August 16th, 2010. Please make sure the email address associated with your Second Life and SL Marketplace account is up-to-date.

We are excited for the first edition of the newsletter and this year's Fall Fashion Lookbook. If you have any questions, please add them to this discussion forum

Thank you for participating.

Blondin Linden

Fall fashion week is right around the corner, and we're looking for a few events to feature that reflect the unique creativity and innovation of our Residents. So if you're holding any fashion shows or other fashion-related events in September, please let us know in the comments below. Tell us what's happening, where and when, who's putting it on, and how to get in touch with you, and provide a link to any related Web pages or product listings, if you can. We'll be using some totally unscientific methods to choose a handful of events to feature on the Destination Guide and in other places, and we expect to see you decked out in your finest come September. See you on the runway!

Head over to Second Life music venue The Velvet on Tuesday, July 27, for an advance screening of 'Burning," a film from the band Mogwai and directors Vincent Moon and Nathanael Le Scouarnac, who you can also check out on La Blogotheque. The inworld screening takes place at 12 noon PST, via UStream, and will be followed by Vincent Moon and Mogwai's Stuart Braithwaite answering questions submitted by fans. Jump inworld on Tuesday and hang with other Mogwai fans for the screening at The Velvet in Second Life.

The Teen Grid is invited to a birthday party.

Second Life is seven years old this week! Linden Lab is hosting some birthday fun (SL7B) over on the Teen Grid starting today, Friday, June 25 and running through Sunday, June 27.

How can teen Residents join in on the festivities? Come on over to TSL7B Bear Island, which will be open to the teen community from 10:00am PDT today through 9:00pm PDT on Sunday.

Take a break from your RL summer plans and join us for celebratory shenanigans. We hope to see you there!

We'll be taking the Second Life blogs and forums offline on Thursday morning, Pacific time, for some follow-up maintenance work related to the account login problems we repaired in early June. The site will be unavailable from approximately 7am PST until at least the early afternoon. We expect it to be back up by Thursday afternoon around 3pm.

The work we'll be doing this time will affect a small number of accounts, but will be an important fix for those people, as it will restore information to them that has been unavailable as a result of the login problems -- including the list of comments and replies you've made, and, in some cases, memberships in forum groups. With any luck, this will be the last major piece of maintenance downtime we'll need to undertake for some time. Meanwhile, we'll continue to work on fixes for the smaller bugs that affect the software.

Thanks!

The Blogs & Forums Team

Craving birthday cake? Get ready to celebrate Second Life's seventh birthday party, otherwise known as SL7B!

The SL7B celebration begins on Monday, June 21 at 10:00am PDT and runs through Sunday, June 27, spanning 21 regions with over 700 contributors, over 300 exhibits, and over 200 live performers and speakers (including special speeches from Philip and M Linden). SL7B is a showcase for the art, innovations, and ingenuity of all Second Life Residents.

The regions will remain open through July 3 for people to enjoy, but the live entertainment ends on June 27—so be sure to stop by SL7B next week to get your fill of the amazing experiences that this event has to offer.

What can you expect? The unexpected, of course.

This year's theme is "Unexpected Collaborations," a celebration of that which is only possible through our virtual world. While the event is sponsored by Linden Lab, it's really an unexpected collaboration of its own—the fruit of the collective labors of exhibitors, volunteers, and Lindens.

The gates open on Monday at 10:00am PDT, but we'll be kicking things off officially with Philip, who will be joining us at the Main Stage on Monday at 11:00. Second Life will be seven years old on Wednesday, June 23—and M will be joining us for cake and birthday wishes at 9:00am PDT on the Main Stage.

Check out the Second Life Destination Guide and the SL7B Resident Blog for daily updates. For more information about the theme and the history of this annual event, please take a look at the SL7B Wiki pages. And to get yourself amped up to celebrate, take a look at the machinima teaser by Toxic Menges.

Many thanks to the wonderful exhibitors and volunteers who are making this happen!

See you inworld!

Linden Endowment for the Arts: Update

by Honored Resident Niko Linden on ‎06-16-2010 11:00 AM

A few months back Linden Lab announced the LEA, a new initiative focusing on cultivating and partnering with art and artists within Second Life.

In that post we gave you a very broad vision of what we were hoping for, in addition to the opportunity to apply or nominate yourself or members of the community to sit on a committee that would help drive this initiative forward.

Now that we’ve had a few months to form a committee and start discussing our goals for the program, I thought it was time to give a bit of an update.

If you would like to see who has been selected to sit on the committee, and read a bit about their contributions to the SL community, please click here.

So what can you expect from Linden Lab and the LEA Committee going forward?

Our high-level goals for the LEA program are as follows:

  • Provide a starting point for artists in Second Life and for those interested in art to make connections and display their work
  • Encourage and cultivate art and artists within Second Life
  • Foster community, creativity, and innovation among artists and all residents interested in art.
  • Provide a way for artists to not only sell and promote their art but also to choose to donate it for linden preservation (optional)
  • Collaborate with existing art regions, galleries, exhibits and performance spaces to help nuture their valuable participation in SL arts

One of the main points we want to really drive home, is that we plan on working collaboratively with existing art communities, as well as creating a space for people to learn more about the art scene and get started themselves in SL.

Our first big project is to plan and host bi-annual art shows that people can apply to be involved in. These shows will allow artists to display, sell and also if desired allow for Linden to preserve a copy of the work for historical purposes (Completely optional).

Our vision for the future however includes more than just these shows, we're envisioning a calendar year packed with fun art based events. Art education fairs, sidewalk style art sales, live performance, gallery shows, etc.... These are all possibilities for how to use the land we will be providing. We still have a lot of planning to do before we can implement any of this, and we are still in the brainstorming phase on many of these goals, but we (myself and the committee) are all optimistic and hopeful for what can be accomplished.

As for the land we are providing for these events, we will start out with a central hub as the landing spot, with another larger island, consisting of 4 or 5 regions to start with that are dedicated to displaying artwork and performances. We have designed the space to be scaleable, so as events and participation in them grows, we can easily add more regions.

As more details develop, we will post updates. We are also looking to the community for ideas and feedback on ways to incorporate existing art groups, as well as fun events you would like to see come of this program! We want this to be a collaborative effort so feedback is encouraged!

Thanks for reading everyone!

-Niko Linden and the LEA committee

I am thrilled to announce that Second Life Voice Morphing -- a capability that many Residents have requested for a long time -- is now available in Viewer 2.1 (look for the "Second Life Test Viewer" link on the download page).

It's an exciting new feature that will allow even greater opportunity for fun and expression. Now, not only can you outfit your avatar to suit your favorite look, but you can also get an awesome inworld voice to match as well.

What is SL Voice Morphing?
SL Voice Morphing uses your natural voice and morphs it magically into something bigger, smaller, bolder, or completely different. As you speak, the  technology seamlessly modifies the pitch, speed, tone, and other key attributes of your voice. Depending on which morph you choose, the effect can be subtle or quite dramatic. And since the system isn't a stiff speech synthesizer but builds upon your own voice, you can continue to speak naturally into the microphone and the new, morphed voice will be heard inworld.

Sample and Purchase New Inworld Voices

Viewer 2.1 Alpha, announced today (see the blog post), has SL Voice Morphing controls built right in, and we anticipate that several third-party viewers will also support the service in the near future. (Other Residents will be able to hear your morphed voice no matter what viewer that they're using.) Since the morphed voices sound different depending on the sonic characteristics of your natural voice, you'll want to try them all to see which ones work best for you.

You can preview each morph for free from within the viewer, and once you pick some morphs you like, you can teleport to Voice Island to purchase a subscription to a themed pack of morphs from an easy-to-use vending machine.

SL Voice Morphing is available for L$750 per month for a pack of five morphs. We'll have five packs available at launch, each in a different theme:

Scary
Demon
Nightmare
Creepy
Sneaky
Beast
Feminine
Sexy
Vixen
Foxy
Flirty
Sultry
Masculine
Stallion
Macho
Thunder
Buff
Husky
Tiny
Helium
Shorty
Mini
Micro
Nano
Techie
Cyber
Radio
Intercom
Arena
Buzz

You can get as many packs as you want, and there is no limit to how much you can use a morph while it's active in your account. Of course, even  after subscribing, you can continue to choose to transmit your natural voice -- or no voice at all -- whenever you want. It's all up to you, and it's easy to control with just a mouse click or two.

Once you've purchased a subscription, your morphs will appear in a simple pull-down menu in the viewer's Speak control. You can switch from voice to voice as often as you like, and use them anywhere in Second Life.

Because our blog is undergoing some upgrades, we were unable to post images of the Voice Morphing user interface in Viewer 2.1. So, click on the Voice Morphing Wiki page to see how the feature is integrated into SL Viewer 2.1, or check out a neat video.

Get Started!
To learn more, click here to access the SL Voice Morphing microsite and get the link to Voice Island.


Share Your Feedback

As always, we would love your comments in the Viewer 2 Forum, SL Answers, and Twitter (#slviewer2).  And, as mentioned earlier, check out the Voice Morphing wiki page.

We can't wait to see -- and hear -- all the creative ways you use SL Voice  Morphing!


Taka Linden
Product Manager,  SL Voice Morphing

Our blogs and forums will be unavailable for approximately 1-2 hours late this afternoon as we deploy a fix for one of the most troublesome bugs that arose during our recent upgrade to the site: the inability of some Residents to log in to the forums using accounts with unusual capitalization. We're also pleased to have found a solution for the phishing vulnerability that led us to disable images on the site recently.

Fixing Account Logins

Many Residents whose first names start with a lower-case letter or contain more than one upper-case letter have been unable to log in to the correct forum account for some time. Instead, some have been able to log into a duplicate account with conventional, yet incorrect, casing. Others have found themselves unable to log into the forums at all. (It's important to note that this hasn't affected anyone's ability to log into Second Life itself).

This has been a frustrating bug for a number of people, and everyone affected has our sympathies. Many people have not had access to their private messages on the forums, and especially for merchants this has been a tough one to weather. On our end, it has been a tough bug to squash, as it touches not just the blog login system, but other aspects of our software as well.

Happily, we now have a solution, which we'll be deploying this afternoon. From that point, the capitalization of all blog and forum accounts will be the same as the capitalization of your inworld accounts. Note that this is part one of a two-part process. Any blog- or forum-related content associated with the incorrectly capitalized accounts, including private messages, will not be available after this fix. Instead, you will again have access to the content associated with your original, correctly capitalized accounts. But not to worry: Part two of the process, which will take place over the next couple of weeks or so, involves merging all content to the correct accounts. Content associated with incorrectly capitalized accounts may be temporarily unavailable between now and then, but it will not be lost. And again, this doesn't affect any inworld content or accounts at all.

Restoring Images

We'll also be restoring images to the blogs and forums today next week, happily. Forum signature capabilities will remain limited for the moment, but we should have a fix for soon as well.

In order to guard against phishing attacks, however, images used on the blogs and forums will have to be uploaded directly to the site or hosted on a one of a number of acceptable and secure hosting sites. Unfortunately, we can no longer allow images hosted on personal domains, as it leaves the door too wide open for possible abuse.

If you do want to use an image on the blogs and forums, either in a comment or discussion, or in a signature (once that feature is fixed), please either upload it to our site directly, or host it on one of the following sites:

We will be adding a few sites to this list in the near future, so if you have suggestions, please let us know by adding a comment to this issue in JIRA (http://jira.secondlife.com/browse/WEB-2040), and we will add the sites we're comfortable with. The sooner you can add your suggestions, the better, as we are going to try to get a stable list pinned down sometime soon.

We apologize for the inconvenience and frustration these bugs have caused people. Happily, we're near a solution. Hang in there and we should have things back on track in due time. In the meantime, thanks for your patience, and let us know your thoughts.

Blog Downtime for Bug Fixes

by Linden on ‎06-03-2010 11:36 AM

Thoughts, comments, compliments, or brickbats related to today's planned blog and forum downtime for bug fixes? This is the place to let us know.

Congratulations to Agent Heliosense and the The Tech Virtual Museum Workshop, the winner of the 2nd annual Linden Prize.

The Tech Virtual launched in 2007 with the mission of bringing faster and more collaborative exhibit development to museums worldwide using an online platform. Last year, the core concept of Tech Virtual was extended beyond prototype exhibits to virtually prototyping an entire museum gallery and share that with stakeholders such as administrators, curators, exhibit designers, and sponsors. In 2010, The Tech Virtual began to prototype and test a new and participatory exhibition, called Expolab, to institutions such as Citilab Cornella, the Science Centre Singapore, the Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation at the National Museum of American History who built a Places of Invention. The Tech Virtual has gone beyond the "virtual museum" concept  into one in which the virtual exhibits become a precursor of the real construction. These are results that those in both the virtual and real worlds can experience and appreciate--a core requirement for the Linden Prize.

Summaries of Tech Virtual, and each of the finalists, were provided throughout the last 11 days, and can be found on May 21st blog post announcing the top ten finalists. And, each finalist was highlighted throughout the past few days with videos, filmed by TreetTV. You can find all the videos on the Second Life YouTube channel.

To see a video of The Tech Virtual Musem, click here. To visit The Tech Virtual Museum, click this SLurl or browse our special Destination Guide that includes brief descriptions and all SLurls for all ten of the Linden Prize finalists.

Congratulations to The Tech Virtual Museum Workshop and all of the 2010 Linden Prize Finalists.

Second Life residents learn many things about its technology and environment, but they also learn more about themselves and others in this global community. Virtual Helping Hands and its programs all started with such learning experiences that developed into ideas which became realities. The team that made Virtual Helping Hands, a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation, demonstrates that virtual actions can make real differences in the world. By reaching through the virtual world and beyond the screen, they are able to collaborate to bring their depth of caring to people world-wide. They remain dedicated to helping others achieve real-life benefit from virtual experiences with their current projects and with projects they dream may come.

Their vision to help people explore how virtual worlds can enhance the lives of those who are blind, vision-impaired, or otherwise disabled sparked one of their biggest dreams: a sound island where blind and visually-impaired people can train and explore. Imagine the benefit of using such a facility for training with a virtual guide dog in preparation for receiving a real dog. The 3D environment, with spatial sound, offers more for individuals who are blind or visually-impaired compared to the graphical media currently available on the Internet. The sound island represents only one of many such possibilities.

Virtual Helping Hands works within Second Life to bring the benefits of virtual worlds to the disabled through innovative accessibility programs. For over a year, Second Ability Mentors has assisted persons with disabilities by responding to calls for assistance. Club Accessible provides opportunities for social interaction and entertainment in a fun, inclusive environment. Accessible Builds provides a model community environment which fosters interaction and education. Helen Keller Day 2009 became a change catalyst of hearts and minds of what constitutes accessibility for those who are disabled and will again focus on accessibility in virtual worlds at the annual event on Saturday, June 19, 2010 in Second Life.

The publicity of this event created opportunities for dialog with real-life organizations assisting individuals who are disabled worldwide.The issues discussed, awareness raised, and lessons learned have prompted changes and solutions benefiting the disabled.

The volunteers of Virtual Helping Hands takes the words of Helen Keller to heart, "I am only one, but still I am one.  I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do."

For more information, please check out the links below:


SLurl
http://www.virtualhelpinghands.org/


Learn more about the 2010 Linden Prize Finalists HERE or check them out in the Destination Guide!

Teaching, Research, Art, Architecture: The University of Western Australia (UWA)
4 main elements make up the University of Western Australia in Second Life (UWA in SL) project which is spread across 5 regions. These elements are:

1) The representation in SL of iconic RL architecture
2) Teaching of SL and use/study of the medium in RL degree programs
3) Visualisation research
4) Arts and Promotion of the Arts

The aim has been to be comprehensive and to cater to every strata of society, meaning people involved in these areas in SL, also those in these areas in real life, the general public, current and prospective students and to alumni.

The art element has taken a life of its own through the UWA 3D Art & Design Challenge, which has seen some incredible outcomes and participation of artists from 6 of the 7 continents of the earth. Impacts have been huge and immediate. This Challenge is a year long competition with monthly prizes and a total prize pool exceeding L$500,000. A special collector has been set up as well here to provide assistance to all artists submitting works for the challenge, and for a good number of artists, they received linden dollars for their art creations for the very first time through this challenge, encouraging them create more, and to collaborate with other artists from around the world.

The building design portion of this challenge seeks to have a design created for an art gallery that could be built in real life. The winning across this year long challenge will be used as the foundation for the RL Cultural Precinct Flagship building at UWA to be built in the next few years.

Teaching in the Bachelor of Commerce Degree has completed a full semester despite the fact that these regions have been in operation for less than a year. Teaching has also commence in the Masters of Education Degree. The Faculty of Law has been added so the mooting competitions can be held there.

Visualization research has has been augmented by the development of special rendering techniques and the automatic representation of scientific data. Visualisation research is ongoing  across the UWA sims in the fields of mathematics, biology and chemistry to name a few.

Partnerships have also been developed with Second Physics and SL Art and Experience Italy to carry out international activities which demonstrate various principles of Physics including nanotechnology, electricity, string theory, cosmic rays and the big bang, among others.

An International Machinima Challenge (MachinimUWA) highlighting the Research, Teaching, Art & Architecture on the UWA sims (see links) that was conducted was instrumental in breaking the RL & SL barrier within the RL University, and that led directly to all the UWA SIMS being funded for an additional 3 years with grant funds being available to SL artists as prizes via Arts Competitions to the tune of L$1mil per year and L$500,000 per year for Machinima Challenge Prizes.

This also led to the ability of the UWA sims to create and offer free of charge to all art, education and charity groups, the UWA-BOSL Amphitheatre, a 4-SIM theatre with a seating capacity of more than 200 (see links).

Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) between UWA and the University of Texas San Antonio, as well as with the University of Massachusetts are being worked through  RL to ensure awareness at the highest levels of the institutions of the international collaborations being built through SL and to benchmark best practice in Teaching and Research.

Through serendipity, synchronicity, chance, luck, magic and hard work these SIMS have reached the stage they are at. It is the hope that UWA will continue supporting and building on the four pillars on which the UWA presence was founded. Arts, Architecture, Teaching, Research.

For more information, please check out the links below:

Treet TV Interview for Linden Prize

UWA in SL Blog
UWA Making Everyone Welcome
UWA 3d Art and Design Challenge: October Winners
Koinup
Twitter
iReport
Mankind Tracer opens UWA BOSL amphitheater

UWA Machinima Winners Announcement

Learn more about the 2010 Linden Prize Finalists HERE or check them out in the Destination Guide

The Tech Virtual went live in late 2007 with the mission of bringing faster and more collaborative exhibit development to museums worldwide using an online platform.  Not only did participatory exhibit design become possible for the general user, but a whole new set of abilities was introduced to professionals in the field, who traditionally developed content alone, and within small isolated teams.

During 2009, the core concept of Tech Virtual was extended. What if you could not only prototype exhibits, but also virtually prototype an entire museum gallery and share that with stakeholders such as administrators curators, exhibit designers, and sponsors?  Where traditionally, a concept in development would rely on a delicate and static model made from foam board, balsa and paper, we were able to utilize an immersive Second Life environment built to scale. The model was built over several weeks, then modified in a session with the curators and designers. By utilizing both walkthroughs and screenshots, the entire gallery transformation was visualized and shared in an afternoon.


From a kickoff event on International Museums Day on May 18, 2009, The Tech Virtual ran a 45-day program of screenshare trainings for over 100 registered museum and educational professionals about the program.  Screenshare sessions were used for this series, specifically to train non-users.  These were not merely virtual meetings, but real outreach and training to show first-hand and in real time the speed and visualization benefits of using Second Life. Two museums who had personnel attend these trainings are now active in using the platform.

In 2010, The Tech Virtual became instrumental in bringing this mode of prototyping and testing to these other institutions. Citilab Cornella in Barcelona utilized Second Life to prototype its radically participatory exhibition "Expolab" . Participants designed two meter by two meter spaces for an interactive exhibit concept chosen from categories such as education, programming and museology.  Science Centre Singapore has begun to explore exhibits revolving around the properties and facets of "Water" for new installations in the tropical country.


In March 2010, the Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation at the National Museum of American History sent a dedicated team member to incorporate these abilities into an upcoming project called "Places of Invention". In this context The Tech Virtual has gone beyond the "virtual museum" concept  into one in which the virtual exhibits become a precursor of the real construction.  These are results that those in both the virtual and real worlds can experience and appreciate.

Skoolaborate aims to transform learning experiences for students by using engaging and relevant Internet-based technologies to deliver learning experiences around global understanding, tolerance and inclusion.  It also aims to make these experiences available to students whose disadvantage may exclude access to those opportunities.

By developing 'easy to follow' systems and processes that incorporate virtual worlds and online learning we are encouraging more teachers to take up the challenge.  When you are making transformative changes you must bring people with you.  They need to see the benefit, feel ownership and be comfortable and confident is being able to achieve genuine outcomes whilst making a real difference to the lives of kids. Second Life plays a vital role in this strategy by providing the collaborative tools needed to connect students and teachers from around the globe in a single virtual viliage.

With over 50 schools from 10 countries, we can promote a needed change in education practice all over the world. The global nature of the community allows them to learn from each other as they explore significant issues that affect our world.  By interacting with each other, at such a personal level, they can develop understandings of the similarities and differences and the a variety of viewpoints around global issues.

Subjects taught in Skoolaborate range from traditional to contemporary, but always incorporate tasks or events that encourage teachers and students to 'break down the walls' of a traditional classroom. Students debate in a virtual forums .  They share their culture through virtual museums, art galleries and displays. They participate in multi lingual activities that promote global understanding and explore how to learn math and science through building tools, or creating crime scene investigations with interactive lab equipment. By removing physical boundaries, previously unthinkable opportunities emerge. The community particularly welcomes  and supports schools or student groups that are disadvantaged by distance, resource or socio economic situations.  They aim to work together, share the load and share resources to make their world 'Skoolaborate' a better place for all.


For more information, check out the links below!

TreetTV Interview for Linden Prize

Skoolaborate
Pacific Rim Exchange

To learn more about the 2010 Linden Prize Finalists, click HERE or check out the Destination Guide!


One of the most original, immersive and innovative projects in the last year was also responsible for a craze that captivated the Second Life community before finding its way into the mainstream media. Love them or hate them, sionChicken was a technically sophisticated achievement in which many new techniques were created in order to accomplish the end result. This includes technologies like self-replication, path-finding-algorithms, growing-bodies or fractal-tree-generators and many other core elements.

After a difficult development period, the first sionChicken eggs were available on Xstreet in January 2009. With 75,000 Google hits outside of Second Life, the project had a huge impact on not only the day to day life of the Residents in Second Life, but also created a new business for those buying and selling chicken accessories. Soon, all over the grid, chicken markets were born where eggs of rare color or gender were traded within the community; it motivated countless people to create companion products and establish entire regions dedicated to chicken farmers. Soon, other creators like Petable or Ozimals followed that concept and launched other products adding value and diversity into this growing market. People were socializing in and outside of Second Life, sharing their experiences about their beloved pets.

8 months after its introduction , sionCorn was released, allowing people to grown their own food. The corn is a virtual plant, watered, tended, fertilized, and on maturity produces ears of corn in various colors. This corn, when fed to the chickens - if in the right combination, has the ability to encourage the laying of a special, rare breed of chicken. The implementation of SionCorn was, in itself, a powerful innovation, both in execution and the way residents interacted with it.

TreetTV interview for Linden Prize

For more infomation, check out the links below!
THE PLIGHT OF THE DIGITAL CHICKEN

Artificial Life

Chicken Run

Learn more about the 2010 Linden Prize Finalists HERE or in the Destination Guide!

Play2Train™ was developed in 2005 under the IBAPP (Idaho Bioterrorism Awareness and Preparedness Program) funded by the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness nd Response (ASPR). While only a small fraction of the funding was allocated to Play2Train™, it turned out to be the flagship product of the IBAPP project and attracted a lot of attention. Play2Train has collaborated with over 50 institutions including federal agencies such as the CDC, companies such as Medcases, hospitals such as Bingham Memorial Hospital, VA San Diego Hospital and universities such as the University of Michigan, Seton Hall University, and University of Illinois at Chicago. The collaboration involved activities such as information outreach, course design, identifying learning objectives, defining tasks in virtual environments, developing orientation stations, developing instructor and student manuals, offering virtual environment space for exercises, sharing of interactive content, scripting, producing educational machinima, building interactive content and mentoring, and evaluation activities. Play2Train designers paid significant attention to a range of fidelity factors ranging from visual fidelity to interaction fidelity in order to provide better opportunities for immersive educational experiences.


The major factors that influenced their choice of platform, Second Life™, for developing multi-user virtual learning environments are its basic infrastructure for user content generation, content sharing, social networking and its growing interface for web integration. In addition, significant aspects of the platform have been open-sourced and there are large communities of users and developers helping to keep this medium vibrant.  The rapid development and deployment of Play2Train™ products have demonstrated the necessity of a plastic underlying platform such as Second Life™ to meet the evolving demands of courses and their evaluation mechanisms. On a weekly basis, content experts, content developers, many from very geographically dispersed locations of the world, together with subject matter experts and students met in world to discuss subject matter content, virtual content development, new user orientation station development and in world competency evaluation tools. Play2Train™ has hosted more than 200 course design, training and evaluation events since its inception. Information about the evaluation of Play2Train™ training activities have been and are being presented at various emergency preparedness conference venues and through academic publications.


More detailed information is accessible at the Play2Train home site. The following presents an overview of some of the motivations for Play2Train™ and the current infrastructure in a graphic novel format.

For more information, check out the links below!

TreetTV Interview for Linden Prize
Home site
Youtube

Check out more of the 2010 Linden Prize Finalists HERE or in the Destination Guide!

The Neil A. Armstrong Library and Archives at NASA CoLab contains many exhibit materials of interest. It is the first virtual world library or archive recognized by the Library of Congress of the United States of America (ID #38392, MARC Code CaPsLAN).

The mission of the library & archives is to house and make available records and other documentation relating to NASA and NASA CoLab in SL. A reading room and meeting space to review archival materials, books, and audio books or hold conferences is available on the third floor in The NASA CoLab Archival Research Center .

Major collections include the history of women, African-Americans, and the working class in aeronautical and astronautical history, as well as the histories of Apollo 11 and Space Medicine. For example, women working at NASA from 1943-1964, including the now famous “human computers,” and Female Aviation Employees working for organizations such as the U.S. Navy, Consolidated Aircraft, North American Aviation, Inc., and Douglas Aircraft Company.  Displays include digitized, born digital, and born virtual materials. Some items were donated or created specifically for this project, including a photo of Patty Wagstaff and a 3-D replica of her flight suit, a photo of Nobel Prize winner and co-discoverer of the structure of DNA, James D. Watson, and an original oral history interview with a Tuskegee Airman.

The project uses SL as a platform for “gaming as learning.” This philosophy was implemented using existing NASA educational materials by creating virtual world versions of historical publications, links to NASA web sites, current and former astronaut Twitter pages, and NASA TV. The Library and Archives originated new content for Web 2.0 social networking and communications applications. Some of these produced excellent participatory responses, such as the Flickr group "Apollo 11 40th Anniversary Celebrations Around the World" which currently has 203 members and 1,147 pictures.

For more information, check out the links below!

TreetTV Interview for Linden Prize

Flickr
Virtual Worlds Best Practices in Education Conference feature presentation
iReport
Youtube
mixed reality poster session at the FCVW Conference at the National Defense University

Nobelprize.org's Photos - Ask a Nobel Laureate, John Mather

To learn more about the Linden Prize FInalists, click HERE! or check them out in the Destination Guide!

The OU has been in SL since June 2006 as a multi-platform space for staff and students to experiment with teaching and learning. An area of Open Life was reserved for residential apartments, recognizing that new users often identify with physical roots. This area became the catalyst for what is now a community group of over 800. Staff and students in the emerging community used the island for both serendipitous and organized social events, group builds, invited speakers, exhibitions and more. They aligned this activity with the physical world concept of Third Place: first place is an individual’s home and family, second place is the workplace, and third place is an informal public/neutral gathering place, essential to community social vitality and to fostering broader and more creative interaction.

Many individuals in the community study with the OU because they have commitments that would prevent them attending a physical institution, eg physical or social disabilities, caring responsibilities, financial restraints etc. The University provides a variety of online forums for informal interest, but belonging to the SL community brings a sense of physical presence and the opportunity for social serendipity that proves far more engaging than simple conferencing. Students are able to meet and chat with other students, develop friendships, participate in group activities and find a sense of belonging to what might otherwise be seen as an intangible student body. In addition this environment has allowed students to enter into learning without social baggage and other disadvantages they may carry in the physical world.

This project represents huge potential for the OU in overcoming one of the most fundamental challenges for its students – working in isolation. With traditional education institutions across the globe expanding their distance programmes to address a rapidly escalating market for e-learning, this model has significant capacity for influence well beyond the OU.



For more information, check out the link below!

TreetTV interview for Linden Prize

Open University Home

Linden Lab case study on sucess stories

Learn more about the 2010 Linden Prize Finalists HERE or check them out in the Destination Guide!

Comprised of four sims, the NPC provides free virtual office space for nonprofits, lowering the barriers to entry to Second Life for organizations that operate on limited budgets. Weekly in-world meetings and networking events help organizations augment their existing communications efforts; create virtual action and awareness campaigns; and build their real-world volunteer base. The NPC also provides a bridge to TechSoup Global and its suite of, services, including the TechSoup.org website and community, which provides technical assistance and advice; TechSoup Stock, which provides low-cost discounted and donated technology products for qualifying nonprofit organizations; and NetSquared, which harnesses the social web for social change efforts. In 2009, the NPC went vertical with the creation of two new sims that provide community space for organizations that work in specific issue-areas: Eco Commons, for environmental organizations and Health Commons, for organizations working on public health issues.

As a capacity-building organization, the best way to measure the real-world impact of the NPC is through the work of the residents and other nonprofit beneficiaries of the program. For example, NPC resident Kiva.org has raised Linden dollars in-world which they convert to U.S. dollars and then invest in microfinance projects in the developing world. To date, Kiva has given out 227 loans with money raised in Second Life, helping entrepreneurs in the third-world on to a path to sustainability. Details on the loans can be found here.

It is often said that the nonprofit sector runs several years behind the ever-evolving technology curve, but through the Nonprofit Commons (NPC), many nonprofits have vaulted ahead. This interactive digital community increases the real-world impact of nonprofits by building on the potential of Second Life to develop ideas and foster connections.

For more information, check out the links below!

TreetTV interview for Linden Prize

Nonprofit Commons Homepage
Youtube Video for Nonprofit Commons
Twitter
Link to NPC Community Gateway
Key press
NPC Info

Learn more about the 2010 Linden Prize Finalists HERE or check them out in the Destination Guide!

Born of the work being done on Karuna, the Second Life island devoted to HIV/AIDS education and prevention, the “Life and Times of Uncle D” is an immersive, interactive story quest that invites participants into the life of someone living with HIV.  The goal of the quest is to personalize and de-stigmatize the subject of HIV/AIDS while providing important information about treatment and prevention.

Since its launch in the fall of 2009, the Uncle D quest has generated interest across a broad range of disciplines, most notably education, entertainment (documentary and animation), health, and technology.   Participants are encouraged to not only experience the Uncle D quest, but contribute to it via a variety of social networking tools (blogs, nings, wikis, Flickr, Facebook, Twitter, email, etc.) as well.  In this way, the quest is helping Karuna achieve one of its primary mandates, which is to collect and preserve the stories of those dealing with HIV/AIDS.

Karuna is a word from an ancient language of India and means to ease suffering.  The island was funded by a generous grant from the National Library of Medicine.  In addition to the Uncle D story quest, Karuna is home to the 3D AIDS Quilt Project, the HIV/AIDS Resource Center, the Field of Story Flowers, and the Ryan White Story Tree.  Karuna boasts active arts and volunteer communities, offering new art exhibits, live music, support groups, and educational workshops each month.

Both Karuna and the Uncle D Quest are dynamic examples of how Second Life can be used to create engaging, entertaining and educational content that has the power to spark creativity and act as a catalyst for positive, life affirming change.

For more information, check out the links below!

TreetTV Interview for Linden Prize

The Virtual World Story Project
Uncle D Trailer
Uncle D Film
Uncle D and Educators
SLURL to Karuna

Learn more about the 2010 Linden Prize Finalist HERE! or check them out in the Destination Guide!

The wait is finally over! After receiving over 130 applications in January, the field has been narrowed to ten projects that we feel exemplify the criteria of the Linden Prize. Last year, we launched this annual award program to recognize a Second Life Resident, or team, with a $10,000 USD prize for an innovative inworld project that improves the way people work, learn, and communicate in their daily lives outside of the virtual world. We recognized two projects in 2009--honored as co-winners--Studio Wikitecture and Virtual Ability. To learn more about the Linden Prize, including criteria and eligibility, check out this link and the Linden Prize FAQs.

"Many programs in Second Life have greatly enhanced and changed thousands of lives around the world and we, at Linden Lab, are not only inspired by their accomplishments, but also want to formally recognize the best-of-the-best with a Linden Prize," said Mark Kingdon (SL: M Linden), CEO of Linden Lab. "There were so many wonderful projects to choose from this year and I want to thank all of the Linden Prize applicants and congratulate the 10 finalists. Regardless of who wins, the world is a better place because of you."

Drumroll, Please
I am very pleased to present the 10 finalists for the 2010 Linden Prize, listed in alphabetical order of organization name.

1)The Power of Story: Karuna and the Uncle D Story Quest
     Submitted by: Jenaia Morane & Marty Snowpaw from the Karuna Project &Lorelei Junot from the Alliance Library System

2) The Library and Archives at NASA CoLab in Second Life
     Submitted by: Archivist Llewellyn from NASA's CoLab

3) The Nonprofit Commons in Second Life
     Submitted by: Glitteractica Cookie from Nonprofit Commons

4) Open University: A Third Place in Second Life
     Submitted by: Elsa Dickins from The Open University in Virtual Worlds

5) Play2Train
     Submitted by: Moriz Gupte from Play2Train

6) sionChicken and sionCorn
     Submitted by: Sion Zaius from Sion Labs

7) Skoolaborate: Engaging all Students for Learning
    Submitted by: Westley Streeter from Skoolaborate

8) The Tech Virtual Museum Workshop
    Submitted by: Agent Heliosense from Tech Virtual

9) Teaching, Research, Art, Architecture: The University of Western Australia (UWA)
    Submitted by: Jayjay Zifanwe from the University of Western Australia

10) Virtual Helping Hands
    Submitted by: Saxet Uralia from Virtual Helping Hands

So What's Next?

Visit this blog later today, and for the next ten days, as we launch individual posts that highlight each of the 10 finalists. Paired with short videos produced by TreetTV, the blogs will give a brief description of each project and what makes them unique. Links and SLurls will be provided so that everyone can learn more and find ways to get involved.

We will announce the winner of the 10,000 USD cash prize on June 1st and launch a special Destination Guide category that features all of the finalists.

Good luck to all the finalists and come back to read even more about the finalists!

Blondin Linden

Thank you to everyone who came down to hug a volunteer and enjoy the 1950s fun at Volunteer Appreciation Day!

Almost 300 volunteers and volunteer enthusiasts visited fabulous Volunteer City, where they danced at the sock hop, played miniature golf, enjoyed a screening of the 50s-style "Griefzilla" flick, and enjoyed our Elvis-inspired volunteer bear hunt.

We hope you had as much fun as we did. Pictures are coming soon!

I would like to highlight the achievements of the content creators, communities, industries, and Residents who call Zindra, or the adult area of Second Life, home.

The Zindra Community, dedicated to adult activities in Second Life, and Linden Lab, are proud to announce that  the first Zindra Expo, a showcase of adult content, lifestyles and role play, begins today and runs through May 14th. Come visit this SLurl anytime during the week to catch live performances, participate in contests, walk around the merchant displays, take classes, or listen to panel discussions.  Celebrity guests include Abramelin Wolfe, an SL Business Innovator; Mistriss Vought, Femdom Author; and Kyra Roxan, Artist and Sculptor. For more information on the conference, visit the Zindra Community webpage.

The Zindra Community isn't the only Zindra-focused group in Second Life. Just last week, the Zindra Alliance hosted a similar event called 'Zindra Unzipped.' Join these communities, on Facebook to learn more about upcoming events and activities from both Zindra groups!

To access adult rated land, your account needs  to be 18+ verified and your maturity settings will need to be set at Adult.