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Avatars, Unite!

Kila Shan

Posted: 29 Jan 2010 10:10 AM PST
Second Life made strides in 2009, as T talked about in his recent blog post, but we still have work to do. There are some big changes ahead this year as we start to make SL more intuitive, more relevant and more connected to the social Web. Today I want to talk about one of the social strategy initiatives we have planned, and tell you about an acquisition we've just completed that will help us in this area.

I've met many amazing people in Second Life and I am sure you have too. This is a big part of what makes Second Life so powerful. It's the "social glue" of experiencing an online world together that makes being there worthwhile. When we talk to the users who sign up but then decide not to stay, they say they left, in part, because they had a hard time finding people to hang out with. Either their friends weren't there, or they have a hard time meeting new ones inworld, or sometimes both. We need to fix this.

Another part of the "social glue" of any community is the concept of sharing. Inworld, it's easy to share and we'll make it even easier. But sharing between Second Life and the larger social Web is not as easy. As an avid photographer (well, aspiring to be avid), I'd love to be able to easily share my snapshots from Second Life with my friends on other Web services, and be able to watch a feed of the people I'm interested in. It's a great way to meet new people, find cool things and interesting places to visit. Sure, I have my own work-arounds for those capabilities, but it's standard practice to build easy sharing into experiences today and that's what we're going to do. More people will share in more places, and through that more people will discover the wonders of Second Life.

One of our priorities this year (and there are many, from making the experience more intuitive to reducing Lag), is to give Residents new and better ways to connect and share, through features like the following:

  • Searchable profiles
  • Friend and activity feeds
  • Widgets and viral content
  • Optional registration and sign-in using credentials from other properties (Facebook, Yahoo!, etc.)
  • APIs that enable developers to create widgets, tools, and sites pulling from selected SL data feeds
Our goal is to extend and support the great work done by so many on their SL-related blogs and Web sites, because they are a powerful network in themselves. We want to give you more tools, feeds, and connection points to build even more richness and depth into the experience of SL. This is something we only want to encourage. Hamlet did a great post recently about the power of the Second Life "family" of blogs and sites.
One thing I want to be clear about: The first design principle in this social strategy is respect of your privacy. We aren't going to take away any privacy or anonymity for those that want it. We are not going to "out" people. We are not going to force anyone to reveal any private or personal information. But for those who want to connect their various online identities, we do want to offer that option. Second Life has always been inclusive, and although there are many Residents who keep a strict separation between SL and the rest of the Web, others wish there was a better way to actively link their SL account to other Web services, and do things like share screenshots, locations, wish-lists, experiences and stories more easily. Our proprietary stance on naming and social networking hasn't served that second set of Residents as well as we would like, and that's one of the things we'll change and improve. But for those who don't want to opt in to an arrangement like that, nothing at all will change.
To help us do all this, we're excited to announce an acquisition we've just made that will soon start to give Residents new and better ways to connect with each other and with the rest of the world: Enemy Unknown AB is a Swedish company that runs Avatars United, a Web-based community site designed especially for avatars. We're proud to announce that they are now part of Linden Lab.
Avatars United lets you make some of those connections that I'm talking about above. It's a great site. Check it out and add me, T Linden, and others to your friend list. As you do, you'll start to build an activity feed (similar to Facebook or Twitter) that keeps you in closer touch with the people you're connected to in Second Life. This is one of the most exciting things about the acquisition, this ability to reach my friends more easily, with more interesting information (and photos!), and in a more meaningful way. As we go, we'll be adding to these capabilities -- and because Avatars United provides developer APIs, anyone else can add to these capabilites as well.
One thing we're really excited about is the team behind the AU site. Thor Olof and his team bring a wealth of talent to Linden Lab. More importantly, these guys get it, they know that the social needs of avatars are often unique, and they know how to serve them. One exciting side effect of this acquisition is the prospect of having an ecosystem of Second Life apps grow up around Avatars United. The AU team already has an active and growing developer program, and we're looking forward to seeing what the endlessly talented SL dev community can do there. (I'm betting/hoping that a groups app will be one of the first to emerge.) What kind of Second Life apps would you like? What kinds of APIs would you like to be able to develop on?
In coming months, we'll be looking at the best way to create new services for Second Life around some of the sharing and networking tools that Avatars United has to offer. The AU team is focused on how to extend their platform out to other social networks, sites, and blogs. That will also be key to how we want to connect the expanse of Second Life-related sites, and give them a higher profile on the Web. In the meantime, we invite you to create a profile for your Second Life avatar (or your avatar in another online world), and let us know what you think. As we work to bring AU closer to Second Life, we'll also be helping the company scale its own offering; the AU site itself isn't going away. One of the most interesting elements of AU is that there are profiles from many MMORPGs and online worlds on the site. We love this aspect of AU, and we're committed to keeping this ideal of a place where avatars from multiple worlds and games can come together. While our focus is SL, we will continue to support these communities and keep them engaged. We're looking forward to seeing what kinds of connections people build with the new tools we're working on, both within Second Life itself, and between SL and elsewhere, for those that want it. What kinds of connections would you like to see?

Kila Shan

To help us do all this, we're excited to announce an acquisition we've just made that will soon start to give Residents new and better ways to connect with each other and with the rest of the world: Enemy Unknown AB is a Swedish company that runs Avatars United, a Web-based community site designed especially for avatars. We're proud to announce that they are now part of Linden Lab.

Nachdem LL alle großen Verkaufsplattformen hat, also quasi ein Monopol haben, fangen sie nun an Foren und Communitiy Seiten aufzukaufen? oder wie soll man den Schritt nun verstehen?

Sepp Ochs

Freund/in des Forums
Die haben ja nicht mal die plumpe Martynov-Message (oder war es Ford?) ge- oder erhört. Grob granular. Naja für unsereins ist das Lästern einfach..

Trotzdem: Ich glaube eine Menge Leute zu kennen, die es besser könnten. Es handelt sich um einen abgefahrenen Zug und tja es ist zwar schade aber war wohl schon immer so: Wer zu spät kommt, den bestraft das Leben. Sei's drum! Weinen ist keine Kunst, doch immerhin ist es sichtbare Reflektion.

"Lasst Euch nicht veräppeln!" wäre ein Tipp, wenn Ihr denn veräppelt werden würdet. Werdet Ihr aber nicht, jedenfalls nicht vorsätzlich..was allerdings nix an der Nachhaltigkeit ändert.

"Lass mich doch in Ruh meine Brötchen backen!" - die angemessene wie typische Reaktion. Und über allem schwebt die beklemmende Wahrheit, dass uns das alles irgendwie nicht weiterbringt, ja dass es sogar eine Art Angst vor dem Weiterkommen gibt. Frei nach Mark Twain.

Zu philosophisch? Ihr wollt es länger, ausführlicher? Nun, die Plattform ist leider irgendwann explodiert oder abgestürzt, sie existiert nicht mehr. Und Gott sei Dank sind Leute wie Sepp, die sie vermissen, in der Minderheit. Das garantiert wenigstens den Status Quo, nicht gut, nicht schlecht, aber immerhin berechenbar. Man kann Suppengrün einkaufen ohne wirklich etwas zu verpassen. Ein handfester Luxus, das gebe ich zu.

gute Nacht


Kila Shan

Avatars Unite Update

Posted: 08 Feb 2010 02:18 PM PST

Since announcing our acquisition of Avatars United, we've had a ton of Second Life Residents getting involved and playing with the site. A big thank you to everyone who's been trying it out!

Currently, avatar ownership on Avatars United is not verified (see the site's FAQ) for any virtual world or MMO on the platform, including Second Life. However, now that we've acquired the site, we've already started working on a standard, easy method of verifying ownership of Second Life avatars. You’ll hear more about that soon.

In the meantime, note that Avatars United provides a unique URL for every profile; you can add this URL to your inworld Second Life profile. This provides a definitive way for other users to verify that the profile they see on the Avatars United site really belongs to you. We've asked that all Lindens with Avatars United accounts take this step for the time being.
Please visit the Knowledge Base for answers to all of your Second Life-related questions. Or if you have a question, the fastest way to get help is to submit a support ticket via the Second Life Support Portal.
For issues related to the Avatars United site, please use the current Avatars United Support Channels.

Thanks for all the excitement, activity and feedback - keep it coming!

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