25 May 2008

Sunday Supplement -The World Inside

We do not ask to be born into our first lives, by no stretch of the imagination is this truth. Some say we must return to Earth to fill a karmic destiny. Some just say it is fate or “god’s will” It could be biology, but we do not ask for this our First Life, we just don’t.

However we do choose our Second Lives and we do ask to be here to be a part of this sometimes brash, always colorful landscape of hopes & dreams, of plans & schemes of the novella written daily and the companionship offered and sought.

So this is not so much a Second Life as a Selected Life.

And why would we choose it? Perhaps because we are too much for our real lives. Too profoundly moved, too intelligent, too lonely, too shy, too intense. too talented & just TOO much for real life. I think that we are drawn to this world as we just have too much to offer in so many ways to the outside one. So we find both comfort and glory here. We log off, and deal with another set of priorities and agendas we aren’t setting ourselves all the time.

Maybe we can express ourselves more easily here, with greater meaning and even more rapidly too. You can know a lot of people in your life, but can you have 500 friends on your inworld console? Not likely. So the ability to touch others is also meaningful. And we do of course, in ways we wouldn’t have thought of before, That which we leave behind counts for so much, us humans leave tracks behind us. We leave carbon footprints, but we also leave each other images, words, music and hope. We leave all sorts- it is all about what we leave behind and how we also build, the nature of man to both build & destroy
We cant help it, we leave waste & dirty laundry- just not here. that could also be part of our inside worlds great charm.

Sometimes we see with our minds eye that which lightens our very journey, what we recall can impact us so. Haven’t you ever taken a dream with you all day? I saw a friend today and took a snapshot of him with my mind’s eye, it is no less a treasure for being of the mind. No less a treasure for making me smile, even to myself.

Sometimes what we take from 2ndLife is like a dream, And so this is an inside world, a laboratory that the outside world can not be due to its physical limitations among other things. When does the dream become reality, can it? Perhaps not, but what the dream leaves behind can also transform all life. And the dream is the ultimate inside world.

We must call the life we are born into a first life, it is the one we know for our beginning. Where we discover gravity of all kinds, magnetism too and of course each other. What if we feel more alive, more fulfilled on a site which allows us to build what we could only dream about before? What if we can use our mental energy to profoundly affect other people sitting at their seats all across the globe, here and more effectively here

We return to where we feel good, where we feel satisfied and we, as Father Richard Bartle says, “Play for the glory.” We choose this our Second or Selected Life as i like to call it. Be sure to make yours glorious.

11 May 2008

Sunday Supplement

When I was a young girl, many years ago, I sat in the kitchen of my Aunt & Uncle and spent hours discussing various topics of interest. Here the mind begins to see that the greatest high is really how we can think and connect on a mental and emotional plane.
One evening my Uncle pointed out that “People need rewards for positive social behavior”
I think of this many a day now as I have become a full fledged resident of a community where my input and existence in it gives me tremendous personal rewards. As Richard Bartle said, “You play for the glory” & as Jane Goodall said, “Humans are meaning seeking creatures.” So what is meaningful and what gives us the intangible satisfactions of emotional accomplishment, ie glory and a sense of belonging?

I would have to say community. A friend of mine in SL, someone I admire to the highest degree, said they recently purchased some land because they wished to join the community it was situated in. Community, that great fabric of invisible hands that holds us and feeds us in a nurturing way we cannot always describe, but often must have. Humans we are, and the basic human model has not changed so very much in 50,000 years. Great success in life might be measured in some ways in monetary form, as in dollars, or things or better yet I think, in some Quantifiable way.
It is my great belief that success which is available to all of is can be found in the Quality of of human relationships. To have someone whose eyes you can look into and feel “Yes this person knows me, really knows & appreciates & understands me!” This is a great human success, the reward for positive human behavior is to have this in your personal life. Perhaps today we have the electronic form of communication. Still an instant message with a friend is a communication nonetheless- we might not be able to see their eyes, all right if they have an avatar we have a better chance of imagining this, of connecting to them. Maybe this is why the form avatar and virtual worlds are so important- the connection is personalized so very much, and we can project onto that other that which we feel so very much inside.

Community in other people, and what they give to us, makes us feel whole and more in touch with a greater sense of purpose- Is this “reward?” Yes of course it is. The efforts of individuals on this site has been heroic at best, and it is to the greatness of their accomplishments, that SecondLife will be known more and more. It is a community based on heart because no one would labor that hard unless it was for love, and the rewards of accomplishing what we do here is for more than oneself- something greater than ourself alone. A kind of altruism steeped in benefit for the self, but also one that benefits the many, and the many more to come.

I am reminded of that old saw- “They who can do, do - they who can’t, teach” I have heard “those who don’t have a Life get a second life.” Both of these statements, perhaps easy to make are totally wrong because-
Those who can do it better, teach those who want a Better Life, come to SecondLife to actualize this.

MetaMetric observations - March

Meta Metrics -

No data exists in a vacuum in fact all data is relative-

SecondLife continues to dominate in the older demographic age group. SL provides a platform in which so many more adult VW residents participate and the oldest age groups indeed show the greatest activity on the site. According to March statistics, when there were over half a million people in Second Life. 59% were 18-34 years olds and they spent 50% of their time here. However, in the 35 plus age demographic, which represented only 40% of the March population, this group spent 49% of their time in SL.

Index Of Interest - What is the IOI
The IOI of Second Life

Lets create an index estimation: % of time spent here divided by % users. This is a great way to quickly judge participation and interest by segment or group. For the age demographics, the index for the over 35 year old population is1.22 and the index for 18 - 34 at .85. Using the IOI we see clearly older people are using the site more relative to their numbers.

Gender breakdown over time is also revealing. When SL opened in Sept., 2003, women represented 35% of the population spending 22 % of the time in SL, versus men, who represented 65% of the population spending 78% of their time here. For women the IOI was .63 versus an index of 1.2 for men. In March of 2008, this figure hasn’t changed for men, it is still at 1.2 while the IOI for women has grown to .76. Women, most likely older women if also pay attention to the age IOI are playing Sl more and more. Older women and online games, yes studies from the internationa game developers association, MSN, AOL and Nielsen Net ratings all confirm this. Women’s IOI is growing and will continue to grow on SL.

The IOI of Nations
Of the top 10 countries who participate in SL, the United States has an almost 36% participation in population, the largest of any country, followed by Germany, the UK, Japan, France, the Netherlands, Italy, Canada, Brazil & Spain. However if we look at time spent and the IOI we see that the Japanese have th highest IOI at 1.38 , the Dutch 1.29 and the Germans1.22 spending more of their time here relative to their population than the US or Canada (both slightly over 1.05) , with the Brazilians having the lowest of the 10 at .70. What this would mean for the marketing team at SL could be profound. We will try to get some metametrics on amount each country spends inworld for enxt weeks show. What is the ROI of the IOI?

Growth & Slagnation
In terms of premium accounts we have seen the slowest growth recently, with a less than 1% of the population having premium accounts as of in March of 2008. This is relative to 1.5% of residents a year ago, and almost 28% of SL-lifers in January of 2005. However, while percentage change may sound like a disaster, the sheer numbers be-lie that figure.

At $9.95 per month, (I use this figure as a monthly charge, because users are added though-out the year. The base number of users in March is less than base number in subsequent months, so even though a yearly rate is 72$, we can reasonable estimate using $9.95 / mo for revenue) This premium membership means annual revenue of almost $11 million dollars, up $1.7m from a year ago and up from $630,000 in 2005. Having a smaller percentage of the population buying premium accounts is not as significant if the population is growing as fast as this one is.
The Pop U Nation
Sl increased its population by over 150% from last year. From March of 05 to March of 06, the population increased 615% . In absolute numbers, though, we are looking at over 13 million registered users, not 164 thousand, as was the case in March of 2006. Although the rate of growth is slower, the numbers in dollars spent is huge. Spending this quarter, in Lindens alone, was up 4% from last year .

What about land?
Resident owned islands and mainland are up 115% over last years figures, with the ownership of islands leading the way. There are 143% more resident-owned islands right now than a year ago and mainland ownership went up only 42%. As we know, islands cost more to both buy and pay tier upon. Individuals are deciding still to buy their own places, but the trend seems to be towards larger parcels, owned by companies or groups, or for investment with the longer term goal of renting.

This brings us to our top story on recent land price drops.

More land: Good or Bad for Second Life, and for whom?

More land at cheaper prices means there is more available for newcomers who wish to settle down, or buy for investment purposes. The lower price makes the land more affordable and therefore more attractive to new and old buyers of land.

Tier price has, however, not gone down, and this is indeed a very good economic move for Linden Labs. They can only gain from more land. More land is available and therefore more opportunity for them to collect more tier money each month. It is a win / win situation for them. They do not lose in this arrangement. Land being bought from them for less money might mean a smaller initial fee for them, but in the longer run it means greater monthly tier revenue, which more than makes up for lower initial purchase price. For example if the price of an island drops from $1675 to $1000, LL is out that $675, initially, but if the drop in price means that even one more person buys the land t is made up and quickly too. The monthly tier cost of $295 makes up for it within 2 months.

The reason *why* LL is releasing more land can only be explained in 3 words *more tier revenue* Any kind of subscription base, which is what tier represents, a monthly payment. adds to the bottom line of the companies predictable revenue stream. This potentially increases the subscription base of the business model for LL, a very solid financial move. Land sales represent a much greater percentage growth over the past year than amount of outright linden purchases, or even growth in premium accounts.

I spoke with 2 large land owners, Elliot Eldrich and Melody Regent.

Elliot has been grandfathered in tier price since he bought before November of 2006, . Although neither of them are completely happy with the new influx of land and drop in prices, overall, they had more to say on various land related and service issues.We also spoke about how the decline in the RL economy has potentially hurt SL. I will quote directly from my interview with Melody Regent now - Melody owns 15 sims, and is a RL real estate agent.
I asked her about the fact that tier pricing has not changed, though land prices have fallen. She said in the slexchange foum that land prices will, ” …fall so low it is worthless. There will be so much available that tier pricing will be crazy. No way to make tier. Many were struggling already. This will make it worse. “ I asked her what she meant by this statement. Her resonse was , “land owners will do whatever is takes to get people to rent on the sim they own. This means undercutting values drastically. I have already heard of someone PAYING people to take land.”

Elliot Eldrich points out that the asset server problems, the problems with transactions being cancelled on a recurring basis, have also contributed to a decrease in sales on his sims. As land owners they are directly responsible for the tier fees on their property. At what point do the monthly fees begin to eliminate the profits that are generated by the rentals of their rland to tenants, and the cost of the services provided outweigh again monies realized for either further investment or profit. Both parties do state that the high level of service they provide for their tenants keeps them liquid, which is a testament to the market correcting failure in things like a good landlord. And of course as more people come to Second Life, as they have been, the potential for more customers also continues to grow.

Elliot Eldrich said the greatest improvement he would wish to see is greater stability on the site. He said he would like to see a couple of weeks go by without a single announcement saying “don’t do any transaction.”

Time is in essence real money here. Elliot also stated that the service LL provides is an issue, just as the service he provides is, but he hasn’t heard of any landowners abandoning their holdings.

He stated that while the RL economy is bad at present, especially in the USA, a few points are to be made here - although this means of people do not have the extra money to spend on creating SL, it also means that only in SL, where one doesn’t have to pay what might be $4.00 a gallon of gas soon, you will still be able to go somewhere special this summer.

And while tier prices aren’t inconsequential, relative to what you can get in the inflationary environment RL is proving to be in the US, it does provide a great form of entertainment, community and fun.

I asked Melody what effect the decline in the RL economy would have on SL land. Her response was brilliant - she said, ” None, people will still do what it takes to lead the life here (SL) they cannot have there (RL). You may also want to note, however, that the RL economy’s slump isn’t hitting all countries yet, so with SL being an international platform it can skip any woes one particular country can have.”

Another point made is that the USA is certainly not the only player.

Melody Regent is heavily invested in SL. She owns 15 sims, and maintains a very high level of service. I asked her if the recent drop in land values affected her in particular.
Her response was this, ” I have lowered the prices slightly on the sims. I am also taking two full sims, and converting them into Open Spaces. Those are the future…for now.”

She also mentioned that the OpenSim will force at some point LL to revaluate the tier pricing structure, but that she thought they will hold the price on tier for as long as possible.

Heavily invested landowners do not seem to be leaving anytime soon, the increase in land available will only be a bonus for LL and future residents who pay less per sim.

and that is our MetaNews