Educators, Musicians and the Well Connected – Reach Your Audiences in Second Life

It’s all about connections, this metaverse, and social media tools abound to enable them on the Web. We created the =I= NetConnect to let your friends and colleagues connect to you from within virtual worlds. The possibilities are endless.

NetConnect (Low Prim)Are you a musician in Second Life, working to be discovered? An =I= Netconnect next to a tip jar gives your audiences the ability to connect to you across the metaverse. Your NetConnect may have buttons for your SoundCloud or Vimeo sites, for example, and there’s room for up to 12 buttons. The screen (shown with the =IcaruS= logo) can be customised to show your own logo.

Are you an educator or researcher, using Second Life as a teaching and study medium? You may be a frequent lecturer or presenter in different venues, which are ideal places to find new people to connect to you – newfound colleagues, research collaborators, students and others. With the NetConnect, your audiences can link to you through your LinkedIn, SlideShare or Tumblr accounts. It even serves as a presentation aid for you!

=I= NetConnect MiniBadgeEven when you simply want to let other people connect to you beyond SL – you can wear the =I= NetConnect Badge, which is a miniature, wearable version for your avatar. It’s especially good in those places where you cannot rez the full size NetConnect.

You can configure custom buttons for any of your networks, but the =I= NetConnect comes with a selection of presets:

Second Friends
Your Website
SL Marketplace

NetConnect (Single Prim)

Give your fans and followers or just the curious a great way to see your social links.

Future Selfies

We’ve observed a trend in social media, like the one of people documenting even the most mundane, eye-rolling things in their everyday lives: “Ooh, my cat just rolled over!” Overshare much?

This trend is selfies, self-taken photographs that are plastered onto the Instagram, Flickr, Facebook and Pinterest accounts of self-absorbed Gen Xers.

Andy WarholIt can be fun to snap a self-pic and toss it up onto a photo sharing site – there are even apps for Android and iPhone that make it alarmingly easy to do this. Done with purpose, they can be quite effective. Some celebrities have it down to a near science while others elevate it to an art form. Still others haven’t a clue and so they relentlessly snap and upload, shot after redundant shot. The famous and beautiful aren’t the only ones, however. The ‘regular people’ among us share their life stories through selfies as well; some perhaps a bit too much.

It could be said that the next generation won’t need to watch TV soap operas (not that anyone needs to anyway) as they publicize their own lives in an ‘I feel famous’ sort of way, but the reality of it is somewhat off the mark. Breakups, engagements, love lives, all becoming public view. To be seen as being fun/happy and enjoying, seems more important than actually enjoying the moments yourself, as many music artists have noticed at their concerts these days. Rather than enjoy being there, people will hold up their phones and watch through a small shaking screen or text to show & tell to others they are there in some ‘don’t you wish you were me’ way. It’s a paradox: being more social makes you more selfish, almost narcissistic for some.

There are also very many of us who haven’t a single selfie, for fear of being seen as vain, vulnerable, or flawed in some way. Help is available, if you want to give it a try.

The self we show to others in the form of a snapshot is exactly that – a snap taken of a single moment in time, frozen for anyone to view. It is different from the moving, living image in the mirror that we see. It’s not vain to present an image of yourself to others that you hope projects what you want; we rely on the feedback of our peers and others to develop and continually refine our self-image and social self.

Creating selfies is free, fun and easy. We can even learn more about ourselves and others. But please…do it wisely.

For your reading pleasure: The Rise and Rise of the Selfie, Bim Adewunmi, The Guardian.

Google Reader: Exodus to Feedly

Faced with the practical reality that Google Reader is going away, we exported our Reader data via Google Takeout, then sought and found our new reader: Feedly.

Just sign in using your reader account for hassle free use. Feedly offers the familiar list and timeline formats of Google Reader, but there are more layout choices and interface customisation options. Adding new feeds is very intuitive. There’s also one very nice feature: Feedly will seamlessly import your Google Reader content when Google flips the switch on 1 July. By no means are we telling you to stop searching for other alternatives; to each his own, we say. This is merely a suggestion that may be less painful than others.

Google’s claim of declining usage may be true, but they seem to be overlooking a very vocal, and not inconsequential, number of users (conservatively estimated in the hundreds of thousands, more likely in the millions, directly and indirectly). Petitions have even been started with over 100,000 signatures added in a matter of hours. The decision is Google’s to make, however. Mere users have no say in the matter.

A Quick Look Back, A Big Step Forward

So much has happened in 2012. Technological storms roared through like the cars on a Formula 1 circuit and left the unmistakable tracks of change on the landscapes of various virtual worlds. The ripple effect of these shifts have affected many of us; =IcaruS= is no exception. We’ve been working on different projects while maintaining our presence in Second Life and elsewhere, carefully choosing our steps and iterating through the creating-experimenting-observing-implementing process in our work.

When issues in the blogosphere came up that resonated, we spoke up. We also observed (and learned from) what others had to say. This was an exciting year with Kitely, Cloud Party, Creatorverse and Patterns, 3D printing, pathfinding in Second Life and OpenSim, convergence trends, mobile apps and tablet computing, to mention just a few of the developments.

Come what may, we are ready for this new year. We at =IcaruS= hope for continued progress forward into 2013. We hope for a new spirit of healthy competition and more collaboration in this big world of ours. The image below is of a card we created and distributed in Second Life. Each of the subscribers to our inworld group received a special free gift with the card. We invite you to join us there, too.

Should We Still Fall For Marketing Hype?

Marketing is a way to promote a product or service so people are aware of it. However, a few simple truths:

  • A product’s quality bears no relation to the quality of its associated advertisements.
    • (i.e. An advertising agency doesn’t look at a product and say, ‘This is good, so we will do a good advert’ or ‘This product is bad, so we will do a bad advert.’)
  • A product that appears in a popular TV show doesn’t mean that product is better than one that isn’t in that show.
  • A more frequently advertised product is not necessarily better than one less advertised.
  • A product is not somehow better simply because a celebrity is paid to endorse it.
  • An advertisement featuring someone known to be ‘intelligent’ or a free/radical thinker is not going to make you that way if you buy the product.
  • If the advertisement portrays someone as ‘cool’ for using a product, it doesn’t mean you will be ‘cool’ if you buy the same product.

The list could go on, but the point is that all of the above and many other techniques are used to consistently fool people into thinking that a certain product is somehow what they want, even need. After all, a company that makes a lot of money from you told you it’s what you want, right?

Being delusional seems to be a popular pastime these days for many. Rather than fooling yourselves, what we suggest is this: try using the intellect you were born with to make your own decisions. Don’t get things based on what you think others expect you to have. Don’t think that having a product will get you into some exclusive group of intellectual oracles. That doesn’t come from buying something, any more than does buying a bag of beans that you were told are magic.

Do the sensible thing. It’s a dull approach, we know, but compare the product with others. Which one(s) will do what YOU want, at a sensible price? Are any of the new features actually those you really want or would use? Are there other products that do the same for a lower cost – or a higher purchase price, but with lower running costs? Think objectively. Be honest with yourself, not shallow. Don’t convince yourself that a particular item is good just because you THINK you will be considered more popular for having something that actually is no better than another item. A brand isn’t a sports team to be a fan of – it’s a company that wants to make money, that’s all. Base your brand preference on quality, reliability and value for money, don’t assume those are included just because the brand is popular. After all, it may only be popular because so many fall for the techniques mentioned above.

This doesn’t only apply to gadgets and technology, however. We seem to be slightly better at decision making about other types of products. We don’t really see people clamoring for the latest model of washing machine, do we? Yet if something implies we would be popular, intelligent, professional or socially active, all common sense goes out the window.

We’ve observed how conventional advertising in the 21st century is struggling to fit in between our skybox/Tivo fast-forwarding and product placements across the media board. So long as people fall for hype, the companies will still spend fortunes creating it and pass the cost on to you, the end user, whichever way they find you. Thus you would do well to understand the basics and – dare we say, view the hype in a cynical way – to avoid becoming the equivalent of an energy source for your masters, akin to ‘The Matrix’.