Mar 26, 2014

Diagnosis and Denial

Facebook buys Oculus VR for $2 Billion. Internet not amused.



The End 


Dr. Cameron: That's not necessarily bad news.

Dr. Foreman: Do you ever watch "Gilligan's Island" reruns and really, really think they're going to get off the island this time?



Looks like you’re gonna be taking your Oculus with an unhealthy dose of Facebook integration in the future. If you think Linden Lab is suddenly going to stop their Oculus integration, you’re wrong. Instead, it’s safe to say that they are going to go all-in and cozy up. It’s a nice diversification strategy, looks like an easy way to flood SL with new users, and of course gives them an official social media platform to connect to.


If you listen to Zuckerberg, he’s talking about a future of immersive gaming and selling virtual goods. Who better to offer that than Second Life?


Already, Markus Persson immediately cancelled Minecraft for Oculus the moment he heard Facebook bought them out.



Mojang Tweet


So let’s recap... Oculus does a Kickstarter, raises money to build a prototype. Convinces everyone to buy that prototype dev kit and test it for them. Then they raise 100 million or so dollars in VC, explode with a bunch of hype (which everyone drank up and echoed), and still didn’t release a consumer product to the shelves. But they did announce a DK2 (Dev Kit 2) which they’ll gladly sell you. Amid all the hype, companies like Sony decide to jump on the gravy train and announce Project Morpheus for PS4 as the future of gaming.


There was, of course, a virtual reality alliance where the manufacturers were going to ensure that developers could publish their titles and it would work across all headsets... but apparently Oculus decided not to hang with the cool kids. This immediately segments the market and makes it tough on developers.


Take a wild guess how many studios are going to justify all the extra costs in cross-publishing to different headsets now, let alone platforms.


Screenshot_2 Essentially, in a recent WIRED article, they nailed it down exactly:


Why Facebook’s $2 Billion Oculus Buy Is A Bet Too Far


I bet that reads familiar to you if you’ve spent any amount of time reading this blog. Except this time... we’re talking about WIRED, an analyst from Gartner, and Jaron Lanier. You’re now far out of “whackadoodle” country and firmly back in reality. If you think any of this is wrong at this point, the only whackadoodle is you.


We also need to check you for abnormalities in cognitive thinking as a differential, just in case. Luckily, it doesn’t hurt when we poke you in the brain.


I’ve been saying this since the debut of Oculus and the hype train began (again). Actually, I keep saying this over and over again for each phase of the hype bubbles and nobody likes to listen. Damn, what the hell are they putting in your Kool-Aid, people? No... seriously. Clearly it’s stronger than these over the counter vicodin. It’s like watching a time-warp, repeating history, and nobody wants to put down the Kool-Aid long enough to actually listen. That’s some powerful denial ya’ll got there.


We’ve been through this before... you know this for a fact. Wishes, rainbows and glitter fart hopes aren’t going to change reality.


If you know the history, and you know it is repeating, then you already know how this story is going to end. VR Client –> VR Web –> VR Headset –> Repeat


Woo! Second Life is the future of virtual worlds! [crash]


Wait, no! VR in a Web Browser with WebGL and Unity is the future of - [crash]


Look! VR headsets are the futu - [crash]


Sounds suspiciously like:


ActiveWorlds is the future of the 3D Internet! [crash]


No, wait! VRML and VR in a Browser is [crash]


Hold on! Atari is launching Jaguar VR and Sega is working on a headset too! And look, VFX just released a headset for PC games compatible with - [crash]


All we really need are a couple of movies over the summer of 2014 about virtual reality like Lawnmower Man or Johnny Pneumonic. ‘Cause it ain’t over till everyone makes a buck on the wave before it busts again. Omni Treadmill, Sixaxis controllers, and all sorts of gimmicky peripherals they’re gonna sell you.


I think you’re all just really, really gullible.


With all of this crashing, we just need to add some snow and we’re closer to a realized Metaverse than we’ve ever been. We’ve certainly got the crashing part down pat.


The WIRED article nails the sentiment exactly...


VR headsets are like a trampoline. They’re fun and exhilarating once in awhile, but not every day – let alone 3-4 times a day. And just like a trampoline, few people actually own one despite how cool everyone thinks they are.


And that about sums up the market for this realistically... assuming the industry doesn’t overhype it before anything comes out, or Facebook buys out Oculus VR before they ever release a consumer model for Christmas...


That was obviously tongue in cheek.


“This is really a new social platform,” Zuckerberg said Tuesday afternoon during a conference call with analysts and reporters. “We’re making a long term bet that immersive virtual and augmented reality will become a part of people’s daily lives.” At one point, he even said that Oculus has the potential to be the “most social platform ever.”


He’s not making a long term bet. He’s grasping at straws because Google already made that long term bet with Internet of Things and Augmented Reality, while getting a monumental head start before Zuckerberg woke up one day and yelled “Oh shit! THAT’S WHAT GOOGLE WAS DOING!”


But then, calling Oculus VR the “most social platform ever” absolutely stinks of similar talk from people about Second Life and why they need to venture into social media. Which brings us back to why Facebook is in Second Life’s future full-steam ahead.


Let’s think about it for a moment.


Facebook had Cloud Party until Yahoo bought them out and closed shop. Linden Lab has been cozying up to Oculus in a way that could be reported as Stranger Danger (and so have you). So, Facebook buying out Oculus is like a jackpot to Linden Lab. Hooray! Billions of fresh souls... I mean... new users for Second Life!


Problem here is that if Facebook is desperate enough to drop $2 billion to get Oculus, then by definition Linden Lab is desperate for relevance again if they seal that unholy pact with Facebook and Oculus in full. They just need a nice pixel people sacrifice to open the gate...


You don’t need a magical weather control groundhog to know how this is going to end. But (as usual) nobody got the memo... so prepare yourself for a few years of stupidly high VR hype with headsets as everyone tries to really, really, really convince you it’s the future this time... for realsies... like when 3D TV was totally gonna be the future... and everyone was gonna use virtual worlds in a web browser... again.


Or, probably not... since most people reading this blog are already drinking that kool-aid and now think VR is about to go “mainstream”, ushering in a second golden age of... whatever they’re promising you this time. By this point you’ll believe just about anything they tell you.



For the record... I need a magical weather control groundhog. But you don’t. It’s a perk for writing this blog and keeping my sanity.



Facebook Rift










Mar 12, 2014

The ROI of Social Media

You won’t succeed unless you’re holding all the cards


Today I’m going to go a bit off the beaten path and talk about something that isn’t virtual worlds related, though it very well could be applied to virtual worlds like Second Life if you really wanted to. Of course, by the title of this post, you might already get the idea that this post is going to be about that ultimate of intangibles – the ROI of social media.



Royal Flush


Why is it intangible, you might ask?


Well, for a number of years I’ve listened to people like Gary Vaynerchuk give a brilliant summary of how social media is a different breed of animal in marketing, but he always brings up the concept of not knowing the ROI of a Piano as a reason for why we have to stop asking what the ROI of Social Media is. After all, how does one quantify those metrics?


We can easily qualify the metrics for impressions and reach, and indeed most marketing folks will wave those around like they are proof of their amazing social media strategy. Companies who hire them will see those jumps in impressions and reach thinking (erroneously) that their campaign must be getting the job done, and so they shell out more money to keep it going. Ultimately, it becomes a vicious cycle.


But there is a little known (apparently) method to quantify the engagement metric, and ultimately the ROI of Social Media. It’s something that quite a lot of marketing firms don’t talk about and this in and of itself is a bit disturbing to me.


Social media is an interesting case, because prior to it existing in the form we have today where it is a dynamic and engaging conversation, we essentially had impressions and reach as our only guide. This gave rise to the infamous SEO gurus who made a really good living (and still do) optimizing your search results and keywords, and producing tons of back links along with mountains of content to throw into the ecosystem as link-bait.


Of course, this was ultimately sabotaged when places like Google started favoring relevance and social search over search engine optimization alone. Now, instead of getting a top spot on a search engine based on your keywords or SEO tactics, you’re almost entirely at the mercy of the social interaction and the relevance of people.


Google will now show top results based on what other people in your sphere of social influence think, which means you no longer are optimizing for search engines but instead optimizing for humans.


This in and of itself is a game changer because no amount of keywords or content creation is going to translate into engagement. What matters now is whether what you are producing is relevant to the people you are targeting and whether they share and engage with it.


At this point it is safe to say that the old ways of doing things are right out the window, but a lot of marketers haven’t gotten the memo (or are kicking and screaming trying to hold on to their tried and true old ways).


I suppose this is also why there is such a fervor about Facebook marketing and posting best practices about Facebook, with a very biased lean on impressions and so-called reach. This is, after all, the bread and butter of the last generation of marketers in the scene and they are loathe to give it up.



Social Media Poker


If content is King, then engagement is Queen... and let’s add into the mix context being your Jack. One card in your hand does not equal a Royal Flush, and in fact to have only one card is a losing hand.


There are a number of marketing firms worldwide that follow me in social media, and I’ve had the pleasure of engaging with most of them. When I recently put out the HEO metric equation, a handful of marketing places jumped on it because it’s that holy grail of social ROI.


It’s the thing they’ve been trying to quantify for years...


That being said, it’s also a disturbing metric that validates their fears as well but in the same light gives a lot of insight into trends that they’ve noticed all along but couldn’t really measure in anything tangible. This is why that popular thinking is on impressions and reach, while the engagement and social ROI is left more to unknown and mysticism.


But here we are in the age of social media and most of us completely suck at it, even the high paid marketing firms who are supposed to be wizards at it for their clients.


So let’s quantify the ROI of Social Media for a second...


SEO gets you the impressions and reach, but that’s only one part of the equation. relying on this alone is like showing up to the Indy 500 rolling a single tire and proclaiming that you’ve already won the race.


What we need is to figure out our engagement score. Which is to say, if content is king... engagement is queen.


Let’s say you are the New York Yankees, and as a brand on Google+ you have a brand page and plenty of posts. Your “Follows” for the brand are 748,037 which is your impressions/reach number. That’s how many people chose to hear about what you have to say.


We’ve already got the King down pat... but where’s the Queen in our hand?



The Queen of Hearts

Do they love your content?


As of this moment in the equation, you’re reaching 748,037 people... or are you?


We know from traditional marketing that stuffing people’s mailboxes with junk mail constitutes “reach” and “impressions”. This is roughly where you are at right now if you’re riding on impressions and reach alone. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.


Being a well known brand, you come with a pre-existing fan base, and so those people liked your brand well before you had a page, so it’s not a measurement of reach that counts here or impressions. That’s just the tire on the car.


So let’s look at the other numbers for a moment.



Coctail Party


As Gary Vaynerchuk would say – Social is like a cocktail party. You walk into a crowd and you engage in conversation. You’re not on a stage blaring out a message to a silent audience, they are engaging and discussing things as well. If you wander into a cocktail party and start shouting over everyone or constantly try to steer the conversation back to you or make everything about you...


People generally think you’re self-centered and obnoxious.


If you’re the most popular person in the room and are generally great fun to be around, genuinely engaging and authentic... people will talk to you and also positively about you.


So let’s find out who is talking about and with you using the handy-dandy HEO Metric Score calculator.



The HEO Metric Score (Human Engagement Overview) is a simple equation and goes roughly like this:


Take the average number of “Likes” for your posts, average number of reshares, and average number of comments on your posts (discussion), add them together.


This is your base number.


You can add other numbers in there as well, if you want to get a completely accurate number based on extended engagement and ripples, but for now we’ll just deal with the brand page for a statistical sample which should be in the ballpark.


You can do this for every post you’ve ever made, or just take a random sample to get your average. Either way you’re likely to get roughly the same score depending on how much time you want to put into collecting that information. For this example I’m taking the quick n dirty route and going with median and calling it average.


Mostly because I can’t be bothered to run a full analysis to get numbers that would likely make the HEO lower than what I’d get if I were just going with the median... so I’m erring in favor of the brand.


Now, in the circumstance of the NY Yankees on Google+ we get roughly the following numbers for their brand page:



Average # of Likes (+1s): Between 50 and 500 on a good day. So let’s go down the middle and say 250 is a good average.


Average # of Reshares: Between 0 and 20, so we’ll go with 10 average.


Average # of Comments: The highest number I saw (off hand) was 66 and the lowest was 0, so down the middle again – 33.



Of course, these averages are just off the cuff and to get a full average we have to take into account total comments (etc) divided by total posts, but for this example we’re going to use rough ballpark estimates here.


This gives us 293 to begin.


So to calculate the engagement score, we divide that number by the total number of followers/impressions. In this case, 748,037.


That big number is your “reach” or impressions number... the one that so many marketers hail as the proof that their strategies are working miracles. But of that reach, who is engaging?


Who thinks what you have to say is actually important enough to share, like and discuss?




If a score of 1 is 100% engagement and 0.1 is 10% and 0.01 is 1% then 0.00039 is about 4/1000th of a percent.




This is actually down since the last time I did the metric score for them a week ago when somebody who used to work for the New York Yankees asked me to calculate it. Last week they were at a solid 0.0004


So what changed from last week to this week?


Well, they gained more followers but remained stagnant on engagement, which lowered their effectiveness overall.


This works the same with Twitter and Facebook. High Followers/Impressions do not mean you’re always doing better and in a lot of cases it actually sabotages your engagement metrics.


What this HEO Score does is more or less validate the Quality over Quantity thinking and actually quantifies the ROI of Social – or as Gary Vaynerchuk would say “The ROI of Your Mom”.


Impressions are important still (reach) but we must take into account what happens after we reach those people if we want to get an accurate picture of our marketing campaigns.


After all, reach/impressions only account for inviting people to the party and may as well be akin to people who have driven by the party on their way to somewhere else or who may have heard about the party but didn’t stop by.





So we’re littering the Internet with flyers for our party but we seem to have nothing interesting to talk about or offer at that party when people show up.


Which more or less is an accurate picture of how social media marketing works today. Publish a bunch of content, put it out there, pay for impressions/reach and not pay attention to who is actually joining the discussion or sharing it.


One would think this is like missing the elephant in the room when it comes to social media...


Big numbers for your reach are important only in the context of how many of that number engage with you or your brand.


Otherwise, you may as well be telling your client to add a hit counter to their website and using it to justify the marketing. We realized long ago that the hit counter on websites had nothing to do with the bigger picture and wasn’t indicative of ROI... so I’m puzzled that today we point to essentially the same thing in social media and act like it’s different.


Impressions/reach is just the modern day hit counter on a website.


Let’s look at this another way for a moment...


It’s unreasonable to expect an HEO Score to be 100% but a measure to go by is that at roughly 10% you have enough to kick off a viral spread. So if your HEO Score is .0004 you are getting 4/1000th of a percent engagement. There are (of course) a ton of marketing “experts” that will tell you another story and how you can get 140 or 2000% engagement with their secret recipe... and they’ll tell you how when you buy their book or purchase their video seminar.


But in reality, you’re looking at initial impact and HEO. The rest are essentially echoes in the valley and amplifiers (reshares and ripples). The one thing you can control is that initial impact and try to get as close to 10% as possible for an HEO score in order to kick it over to double, triple, etc impact in ripples on social media (“going viral”).


The 10% rule is not something made up, but scientifically shown.


So let’s apply this to our HEO Score.


What will it take for something the New York Yankees posts on Google+ to effectively go “viral”? We have our number... and that would be 10% of their Reach.


Roughly 74,803 versus 283


So for the New York Yankees on Google+ to have near viral engagement, or reach that tipping point for “trending” they’d likely have to average 74,803 as an average engagement which would be indicative of 10% engagement across their social media presence.


They aren’t even breaking a half of a percent engagement right now, and instead are actually sliding backwards despite their impressions/reach.


Now, that doesn’t mean the New York Yankees are failing as a brand overall. It means they are liked as a brand but not seen as worth discussion or engagement in the social sphere. In short; Sure we like the Yankees (Go team!) but we’ve got more important stuff to talk about.


Like this cute cat picture.



Adorable is Serious


Let’s talk a little bit more about that phenomenon for sliding backwards into the non-engagement trench for a moment.


In the bigger picture, if your HEO Score is in the hole, then adding a bunch of impressions/reach will only further dilute that number and actually make you look worse. See also: The New York Yankees


This can be dangerous because in social media, the internal metrics for relevancy and engagement are calculated automatically based on what each person actually engages with (those three numbers I gave you). If they aren’t sharing, liking, or commenting on your posts... those algorithms think your stuff isn’t important to them, and will begin pruning you out of their social feed until you no longer exist to them other than that initial “like”.


In a flood of information and posts, how did you think these social media companies were effectively tailoring each person’s stream to them?


Back to the bigger point: If you have a low HEO Score, and you are foolish enough to flood your brand page with impressions/reach, you have literally just wiped out a massive block of people who will likely never see your content again.


Effectively you are mass burning bridges, while also burning money.


Let’s run that HEO Metric against my own Google+ stats for a second -


Avg # Likes : 10

Avg # Comments: 10

Avg # Reshares: 15


Total Impressions/Reach (followers): 4,106


50/4,106 = 0.007 (%) HEO Score


Not super impressive, but fantastic compared to the New York Yankees at 4/1000th of a percent (0.0004). I’m just shy of 1% while the Yankees are barely breaking the silence at all. So I’m doing almost 1000 times better in the bigger picture – and that’s just on my personal page.


I’ll take 7/10th of a percent over 4/1000th of a percent any day.



One Eyed Jack

Is it relevant to the situation?


The next question is always whether or not what you are posting in a particular context has any relevance to the situation. This is a bit of insight as to why the HEO Score is so poor, and needs to be analyzed and understood on a per-case basis.


For instance, we take into account your audience.


Are you on Google+ posting about your phenomenal Facebook Business Strategies?


If your HEO is in the can, and you’re doing this... then you have a problem with context of your content and refusing to understand your audience.


In the social media world, if people use Facebook – they likely don’t give a toss about Google+ strategies and if they are on Google+ then they likely aren’t interested in Facebook Strategies. What you will attract are other marketers who are preaching to the same choir.


If you’re not actually engaging natively with the audience in their own ecosystem, then you really have no idea what they are interested in, and so you aren’t posting anything that is relevant to them or compelling them to engage. See also: your HEO Score.


This is most obvious in the SEO and Facebook marketing scene showing up on Google+ to tell the people who aren’t using Facebook about how awesome Facebook is.



Door to Door


Know your audience.


You might as well be standing in a Burger King parking lot telling people about the new combos at McDonalds. This strategy doesn’t make you clever, it makes you look absolutely naive and desperate. Which is why your HEO Score is in the toilet.


Of course this works both ways as well... one wouldn’t justify spamming Google+ stuff on Facebook because it’s irrelevant to that audience.


But it’s cross-promotion!


I hear you say.


Authoring an article that applies to social media in general and then sharing it on multiple social media networks is cross-promotion. Writing an article about Facebook and promoting it on Google+ or vice versa is fishing.


For instance, the HEO Score can be applied to Facebook, Google+, Twitter and likely any social media aspect to get an estimate for engagement metrics and the impact of your actual reach and impressions.



Ace in the Hole


After this very long post, you’re probably wondering what the Ace is in your metaphorical poker hand?


Content is King

Engagement is Queen

Relevance is Jack


Then the Ace is Authenticity.


And to round it all out – give your audience Ten Diamonds (reasons to like, share and discuss). If you can’t think of ten reasons why your audience would like, share and discuss what you’re about to post... then it’s time to rethink it.


Going forward, if you want to succeed in social media – remember the winning hand and don’t try to bluff.


Engage with your audience, and encourage them to engage with you. No single card is a winning hand... and there really is no way to bluff. Get involved and stop trying to pull cards out of your sleeves.


Mar 8, 2014

The Albatross

SL Go: Snatching Defeat from the Jaws of Victory


Ok... I’m taking a deep breath here. Let’s try to put this all into perspective without the stupid burning me too much...


Recently Linden Lab thought it was a whiz bang idea to make a mobile viewer officially in conjunction with OnLive. Dubbed SL Go! (I’ll use the ! here) it’s supposed to offer a mobile solution for people who want to use Second Life on their mobile device. They even made it out to be some really big announcement.


Pathfinder's Picture Photo Credit: John Lester (Pathfinder)


That’s sort of the best of the announcement right there. I really can’t find any other gems about it other than it looks good. But I suppose if you’re pre-rending and streaming something from the cloud, then it’s a given. Just ask OTOY with their Octane renderer and Brigade 3 engine.


Actually, Linden Lab should have taken a page from that book before they went down this path (or authorized it), because as we all know, OTOY was billed in the same manner when they debuted and found out pretty quick that the whole metered billing thing wouldn’t fly for gamers. Which is actually the same thing OnLive learned when they initially went bankrupt on the same concept.


Ok, they didn’t technically go bankrupt...


"a process that will assign its assets to an independent fiduciary and likely wind down its affairs in an out-of-court insolvency proceeding governed by State of California."


We’re splitting hairs here and debating semantics.


Here’s the gist: Streaming games via cloud service at a metered price didn’t work out for them like they had hoped. Instead of going totally under, they just played a legal shell game with the assets. Oh yes, the company we keep is classy, Linden Lab.


The announcement should have just said:


Remember SkyLight viewer a couple of years back and how it was discontinued and quietly shelved? We had a bottle of Tequila and thought bringing it back in full force for mobile with a metered fee in conjunction with a company that is shaky as hell was a good idea.


Because we know you’ll gladly pay a minimum of $2.50 per hour to access an account you’re paying for already so you can buy virtual stuff. But look at these shadows!




So... I’m at a loss for words here, because there is simply too much askew with this scenario to process in my head at the moment. But you know me... so I’m going to try anyway.


As Pathfinder pointed out (rightly) on his own blog, one does not simply make a mobile app in a public marketplace that adheres to the freemium or pay-once model in the industry as norm, and have the delusion of charging “as little as” $2.50 per hour to use it.


That’s just mobile marketing and brand suicide.


Let’s take into account that Second Life in and of itself is a platform that absolutely thrives on the pre-existing in-app purchase model already tied to Freemium mentality. So really... at what point did somebody think it was a good idea to charge per hour to access a freemium model?


I suppose there is the obligatory mention that the Lumiya viewer exists on mobile already for a flat fee ($2.95), and while it doesn’t deliver all of those whiz bang things that the SL Go! viewer does... it knows better than to charge per hour.





Lumiya is a Second Life and OpenSim client with 3D world view. With Lumiya, you can send and receive instant messages, teleport to your favorite Second Life locations, participate in local chat, interact with objects, manage your inventory, see and navigate the virtual world around you in 3D.


Runs entirely on the phone, no special in-world objects are required. No hidden subscription fees.


Lumiya supports mesh content, server-side appearance and is compatible with RLV.



Is it perfect? Not at all... but it sure as hell works well enough to pretty much get the same job done (though a bit less pretty) for the flat fee equivalent of one hour using SL Go! Though I suspect OnLive can’t have any competition kicking their asses... so maybe they’ll just send a bunch of lawyers over to cease and desist them.


Which leaves us to the very poignant observation of Tuna Oddfellow which equates this to the Ye Olde days of the Internet when Compuserve and the like would charge per hour to use their service.



During the early 1990s the hourly rate for Compuserve fell from over $10 an hour to $1.95 an hour. In March 1992, it launched online signups with credit card based payments and a desktop application to connect online and check emails.


In April 1995, CompuServe topped three million members, still the largest online service provider, and launched its NetLauncher service, providing WWW access capability via the Spry Mosaic browser. AOL, however, introduced a far cheaper flat-rate, unlimited-time, advertisement-supported price plan in the US to compete with CompuServe's hourly charges. In conjunction with AOL's marketing campaigns, this caused a significant loss of customers until CompuServe responded with a similar plan of its own at $24.95 per month in late 1997.



There are literally so many things wrong with the SL Go! approach that I’m experiencing difficulty here... I’m trying so very hard to keep composure with this.


takes another deep breath


Ok... so... in a recent blog post “Hamlet Au”/ James proudly proclaims that he consulted OnLive with this. And of course got the sneak peek including a tablet, controller, SL Go! and about 2 days worth of credits to check it out. I may be confusing James and Hamlet here... but there’s other bigger problems and this isn’t one of them. I’m pretty certain it’s about as relevant as confusing Mark Twain and Samuel Clemens.


But I really should touch on the obvious here in that SL Go! is exactly the sort of reason why you don’t have biased media consulting you for stuff like this. This is the sort of thing that is proof pudding for my contention with the “favorites” list of Linden Lab talking heads for the public (and any company playing the same PR game, really).


You end up with somebody advising you, through rose colored glasses and bribed bias, and end up with statements like this:



  • As a cloud-rendered application which requires heavy server and bandwidth capacity, it's a metered, for-pay service. Having used SL Go extensively myself, I believe most dedicated SLers will find it worthwhile enough to pay for, at some level -- indeed, when I ran a survey about cloud rendering SL a few years ago, many said they were willing to pay quite a lot. But the price tag is worth keeping in mind.




Which in turn succinctly illustrates the danger and biased thinking I’m against in this industry.


Aside from the blatant admission that SL Go! is not for new users but caters to pre-existing user-base, and despite not doing market research and finding out that mobile apps largely do not exist as a metered service, and despite not acknowledging that a fully working alternative exists for a flat $2.95 on the mobile store, and despite doing his “qualitative” survey among a select few and including absolutely no unbiased perspective whatsoever (like asking people outside of SL, or the non-hardcore users)... this is pretty much justification out of severely stacked bias.


Hell, we’ll even throw in the part about OnLive more or less sending a new tablet, controller, pre-paid credits for two days, and the whole shebang...


And this was the guy proudly advising them?


I wouldn’t be cozying up to that statement in public and instead trying to distance myself from my involvement. I sure as hell wouldn’t be proudly waving it around like I was special for having advised on how to create a completely out of context cock-up that is corporate self serving and ignores all of reality to paint it in a favorable light.


I’d be telling people I was absolutely hammered and just sobered up, apologizing for whatever happened while I was drunk.


So for about 1 hour of using SL Go!, I could just purchase Lumiya and be done with it... much like pretty much everyone else on the mobile marketplace would do if seen side by side. Because let’s face it... are shadows and glitter really a $2.50 per hour added value?


I suppose then that SL Go! is OnLive’s attempt to target pre-existing SL users and completely ignore the elephant in the room called literally everyone else on Earth in direct opposition to reality.


30 seconds and a whiteboard is really all it would take after the initial SL Go! pitch for me to have shot it full of so many holes that Swiss cheese would have been envious.


There’s the obvious metered access to a fremium model/in-app purchase service that will definitely piss off pretty much anyone that isn’t a hardcore SL user with money to burn (read: pretty much the entire planet). Not to mention anyone with a Premium account already paying to use Second Life... this is now double and triple dipping...


Pay for the Premium account, pay for the content in-world, and pay per-hour on top of that to use it on your mobile device when an alternative exists for a flat $2.95


I find it baffling that the assertion of people being totally ok with this persists.


I mean... seriously. Who were these people in the survey saying they’d pay this and a whole lot more?


There’s the favorable talking heads consulting to make it happen, who are no longer just dripping with bias but drowning in the swimming pool of bias like the Great Gatsby.


There’s the fact that it wasn’t designed to appeal to the majority of who is going to see it in public or try to use it.


Th... there is little that is good about this. And the one thing that it does well is absolutely shot, quartered, hung and pissed on by all of the other things, and then dressed up pretty in a bad attempt at humor for the family members who just had to watch it all.


Why would somebody at Linden Lab authorize this?


All I can really say is that this seems more like a delayed thing from Rodvik than something I’d expect to have been authorized from Ebbe. This had to have been in the works for awhile, and so it falls under Rodvik’s watch and (obvious) thinking.


At least... dear god I hope this isn’t Ebbe’s doing.



Pros: It’s a smooth and fluid mobile version of Second Life. It looks good and seems to perform well under the right conditions. As Pathfinder has said


“Wow, it’s beautiful and fast. Seriously impressive from a technical perspective. Could definitely make mobile a more viable access point for Second Life users.”


Cons: Literally every other circumstance surrounding it.


Would I personally use it? Hell no. I don’t make it a habit to reward bad behavior, and OnLive is no different. Especially not for $2.50 per hour minimum. The hell are they thinking?




Mar 5, 2014

Age of Enlightenment

The Revelation of Persona & Person





George Bernard Shaw, (better known as GBS), was a genius of the 20 Century.


He looked at life different.


He was not a conformist.


So he could better the world.


His views and opinions on matters were different from the conventional thinking and belief. He was widely criticized and enjoyed.


It is true that all great things begin as blasphemies. The truth that the earth is round was a blasphemy when it was first told. Many great inventions were criticized as tools of the devil. In olden times, the church looked suspicious of all scientific theories.


Still, truth prevailed.


Jesus Christ was called a blasphemer by the Jews of the time, and if I were to point out that the man represented on the cross today by whom countless Christians call “Jesus” was not Jesus at all... well, I’d be pointing out the truth which is often inconvenient and widely frowned upon. 


Truth is always truth. No truth can be hidden or destroyed.


Truth need not be conforming to the present beliefs. Truth is not governed by beliefs of man. Truth needs no approval of man.


Truth is that thing which does not go away despite opinion.


So all great truths begin as blasphemies. We like to shoot the messenger and ignore the message. Time proves them the truth, and others blasphemies.


Some of my heroes in life are modeled after this thinking. Of course Bill Hicks who was a dark satirist, but he absolutely made his point and told the truth. Then there is Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) who was often full of biting sarcasm and wit in life, constantly critical, but still told the truth...


It may come to pass that the reason he was so beloved was for his books, of which his best and most candid work was only authorized to be published 100 years after his death on account of him essentially being 100% truthful and blunt about things, and he really couldn’t be bothered to deal with the backlash of popular opinion versus that truth when it seemed incomprehensible in a logical mind to deny it. So he ordered that manuscript not to be published until 100 years after his death so that it could be taken into consideration for what it was and not biased by popular opinion at the time of it being written.




However delightful his stories at the time, one thing that is little known is that his sarcasm, wit and blunt honesty got him dragged into countless duels in which somebody took issue with the truth and wished to defend their honor in the only way they knew how – by legally trying to kill him.


In the case of Bill Hicks, who if you’ve read the prior post, I honored by writing an entire post in his style. Some didn’t get that part, even when it was spelled out in the beginning... and I’m not sure whether I should be flattered or offended about those whom would confuse me with Bill Hicks in personality.


I choose to see that as a compliment, however skewed and warped by aggravation and teeth gnashing by the public.


The point, however... is this:


Just like Samuel Clemens, I keep a persona to write/interact in the style of. That persona is modeled after my heroes – Mark Twain, Bill Hicks, George Carlin, etc.


That is not to say that they are different from the “real” me. It is to say that Aeonix Aeon leans toward the caricature of that thinking and emotion as an outlet for the sake of my general sanity and to honesty convey the thoughts which traverse my mind openly. Which means that, just like any persona, it is a part of my overall person.


Spend enough time around me in person or get to know me over a longer period of time in real life (which I encourage anyone to do), and quite a few are puzzled that I am not a ranting lunatic 24 hours a day but more often than not helpful, laid back, intelligent and humorous and at times I can be the blunt, sarcastic and contentious person you see here in the blog.


Over the years (since 2005) as I’ve written in this blog, I’ve watched that play out in that this is likely the first (and only) time I’ll explain that what you read here is that dark satirist, sarcasm, Bill Hicks-esque scathing worldview to cut to the truth and never sugar coat things.


It’s a worldview that comes from being ultimately exhausted by the perpetual gerrymandering and worn down by the repeated rhetoric for twenty years.


Those that do not know history are doomed to repeat it.


Yes, this is representative of part of my overall personality... but that is nowhere near the entirety of it. Which is to say that my biggest pet peeve is simply a low tolerance for bullshit.


It comes with the territory.


What I seek isn’t opinions, or public consensus. Like my heroes, I simply seek truth and avoidance of bad things by pointing out that if we repeat history then the bad things are going to continue... just like before, and just like they continue to do so today much to the oblivious nature of those which continue to perpetrate that reprise of historical failure.


The frustration and aggravation that comes of that stems solely that I’ve been doing this for twenty years and things continue to repeat across the board... right down to how the community itself behalves and operates and even extending into the resurgence (again) of the mantra “VR is the future!” which has been the mantra for twenty years now...


And I’ve heard countless times how “This time it’s different because the technology is better!”... one must understand that you may as well be doing a re-enactment. I’ve seen the sales of “worlds” to parallel sales of “sims” later on, I’ve seen the hype bubble grow and burst a handful of times over twenty years for essentially the same reasons, and I’ve heard all about the future of the web being embedded virtual worlds...


Back in 1995 when people were making VRML browser plugins and using X3D and B3D (Blaxxun). I’ve heard about the hardware being the future and everyone is going to use it because it’s perfect for gaming and arcades... and arguably what we had back then was the pinnacle of technology just as Occulus VR is seemingly the pinnacle today.


But VFX1 failed for a reason... and it wasn’t technology. In the same light, another VR hardware company continued to succeed from 1997 onward to today... and that company is Vuzix. So why didn’t Virtual Reality continue to rise and support Vuzix hardware since 1997?


It’s simply because Occulus VR is riding a bubble of hype. A $100 million dollar bubble, and even Occulus isn’t even betting all of their chips on VR or gaming like they were originally doing. That should tell you something when they are desperately diversifying the use cases of their product before it gets on the shelf.


What I’m getting at is this – if we want a better virtual reality, we have to address the real issues and learn our history so we don’t repeat it (yet again). In order to really address the issues, it’s high time (and twenty+ years in the making) that we stop using soft language and ambiguous dodging.


Let’s just get to the truth.


That means we, as a collective, will have to bite the bullet and take the blow of acknowledging just how badly we’ve royally screwed up. To admit that we’ve been complacent and privileged. And of course... make the hard decisions about what needs to happen in order to transcend this black-hole we’re trapped in.


At the end of the day, I’m less of a cynic and more of a historian who has lived through it. I absolutely believe that you, companies such as Linden Lab, and yes even CEOs can (and absolutely should) hold themselves and the entire collective to a much higher standard. I absolutely believe it is reckless, irresponsible and ignorant to not understand the robust and well documented history of your industry in such a manner that situations which have been tried and failed before your company existed continue to be repeated, clear documentation of sociological implications of stratification and toxicity to your community go unheeded, and most importantly...


That the community behaves in exactly the same way with predictable results as every other time a user-generated open-ended virtual environment existed. Trust me, you’re not doing anything novel as of yet.


I hold the whole collective to task on purpose.


Because you represent the signpost of the industry. You’re the example of what virtual worlds really are today, and an indication to the other 6+ billion people on Earth whether or not it should be taken serious in the bigger picture.


They’ve heard the song repeat as well... that VR is the future of the internet. A couple of years ago it was the war cry of WebGL and everyone jumping on board trying to cram a virtual world into a web browser.


But few people use them, and outside of the pre-existing Second Life/OpenSim community... let’s face it – we’re nobody. It doesn’t hold context or relevance outside of our own little world. That’s why the community sounds like a bunch of crazed evangelicals trying to convert their friends, relatives, and anyone who will listen to the virtues of Second Life.


So how do we change that? How are we... as the pinnacle of virtual worlds (not pretending to be a gaming company) relevant to the other 6+ billion people on Earth?


Well if you want to insist on calling Second Life a game, then Second Life is immediately trying to compete side by side with Square/Enix and countless high-end game publishers and studios.


Which means in the eyes of gamers... Second Life is a horribly broken, half finished product by comparison. Immediately you’re screwed.


So let’s try this again?


Why be the half-finished, broken and busted “game” with no goals when you can be the world renowned leader in user-generated virtual worlds?


See.. there is always a reasoning behind my thinking.


More importantly, you got to be the leader of virtual worlds through initial innovations – so that’s exactly where Linden Lab should be. Back at the drawing board and innovating their flagship again to make it relevant to the other 6 billion people on Earth. Innovation is doing something fresh and new...


So let’s breathe some life back into this and give it a second wind.


In regard to myself and this blog, remember the words of Bill Hicks:


It’s only a ride.



If Second Life is the platform, what will launch from it to change the world?


I could answer that for Ebbe, and of course you (my dear readers), but I think I will wait until April 12th. Because Mr. Altberg may not realize it... but Second Life and Linden Lab could make Occulus VR irrelevant if it wanted to, and relegated to history before they got out of the gate. Linden Lab is, after all, sitting on a 100 billion dollar industry and has yet to capitalize on any of it over the past ten years.


In order to do that... it’ll take understanding and vision.