Saturday, February 23, 2008

metaHUD - bringing Web 2.0 to Second Life

A big part of what makes Second Life so appealing for me is the ability to meet and interact with interesting people from all over the world. I've been in Second Life for over a year now and in this time I've made some great friends with whom I love to discover new places in SL, have great serendipity moments or attend various events with. And we use a lot of different tools to keep in touch - mainly Twitter and Facebook. But I often wished for an easier way to let my SL friends know about a great event going on or a great place I'm just visiting... and that is why I was really excited to discover a new Second Life tool last week called metaHUD.

metaHUD is a HUD (Head-Up Display) that you can wear in Second Life. The developers of metaHUD like to describe it as a social networking platform for Second Life that enables Second Life residents to share their Second Life with friends. It can also be used only as a search engine for SL places and products and as a shopping tool, but its real power is in allowing residents to follow and use what their friends are doing. Let's see how this is done through different parts of the HUD.

metaTravel - Travel guide

When you're wearing the metaHUD, it keeps track of your teleport history and other activities, and stores all that into your personal Timeline. Whenever you teleport to a new place, you can rate it by simply choosing a green thumbs up or red thumbs down button. If you wish, you can also tag the place to make it easier for other metaLIFE users to find it through keyword search, and you can even leave a comment about the place. If you really like the place, you can also add it to your Favorites (works similarly as the "Picks" tab in standard SL profiles).

metaFriends and metaTIME - Social life

Next, the metaHUD offers the ability to search for people. If your friends use metaHUD, you can view their Timeline, Favorites, Home location, choose to follow that person (if you follow a person, you have their updates in the Friends Timeline), and even add tags and comments to their metaHUD profile. The Timeline feature is very similar to the Facebook Mini-Feed that tells you what a friend of yours has been doing on FB - in the metaHUD the Timeline tells you what a friend has been doing in SL. Also, the ability to add comments is similar to the FB wall feature. So basically, we can now have some of the useful features of web social networking sites within Second Life!

Now, if you're a Twitterholic like me you might wonder whether there's also a way to post your status to friends. Well, you don't have a separate place in the metaHUD to answer the question What are you doing?, but what you can do is add comments to places you're visiting - and that appears in your metaHUD Timeline, so friends can easily read a comment that says "There is a great concert going on in this place!". Of course, not always the best solutions, but when I talked about this with Robbie Kiama (one of the developers), he told me that they are planning to make a RSS feed from your Timeline and add better connectivity with Twitter and similar services, which is something I'm really looking forward to!

metaStore - Shopping channel

And let's not forget that the metaHUD also lets you use the metaLIFE Meta Mart shopping system, which enables you to browse items in the Meta Mart system that are for sale (apart form an alphabetical list you also have lists of Latest, Favorite, Popular, Purchased and Free items), search for items using keywords, rate and comment virtual items (thus making it easier for other user to find good content), and you can also buy items directly from the HUD itself. Kind of what you can do on SL Exchange or Onrez, but without having to switch back and forth between the SL viewer and your browser. The shopping feature is of course very handy, and it even allows you to teleport to the actual store if you want to (something I personally miss on the web shopping sites!) and even send items as a gift to friends.

If you're a content creator, you can find more info on how to sell your items through the Meta Mart system on this page. There is also a paid Referring Partner system that can earn you some L$, but I personally haven't tried it yet. - Web interface

And finally, the metaHUD also generates a personal password for you, which can be used to sing in to the site. Here you can manage your metaHUD profile and items (if you're selling your objects through the metaHUD Store), and manage your metaHUD privacy settings, so you get to decide whether your teleport info, shop history, and other actions are visible to all metaHUD users, your friends only or nobody but you.

I've been using the metaHUD for a few days and here's what I personally think are its strong points:
  • easy to use, the interface is consistent, and the HUD is quite fast once it loads,
  • great list of features (my favorite is the Friends Timeline),
  • customized privacy settings,
  • doesn't obstruct your view too much when minimized.
But of course, the product was just released and there is always room for some more improvement. Here's what's on my wish list for the next versions:
  • a version that can be used on the left or even top/bottom part of the screen (currently the HUD is made for the right side of the screen, which in my case is already taken by other HUDs, so it'd be great to have more choice),
  • the option to receive an IM when chosen actions from Friends happen,
  • more web connectivity (especially with Twitter),
  • added support for events (the ability to announce events and sign up for events).
But all in all I think the metaHUD is a great product that finally brings some Web 2.0 in-world. I'll certainly be keeping an eye on the metaLIFE team for future projects, as they really have some great ideas. Yesterday they also released metaPRESENTER, a presentation screen for SL that is controlled through a HUD. Pretty neat! You can of course get your free metaPRESNTER through the metaHUD, which you can pick up at the in-world Meta Mart location. And please, do feel free to leave a comment under this post with you opinion about the metaHUD, I'd love to hear what you think about it!

Note: This is just an archive post. The blog has moved to a new home at, where you will also find a copy of the entire blog.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Another Second Life presentation announcement

I'm having a really interesting week in Second Life: last night I was a guest speaker of a Second Life event for the first time, and today I have the pleasure of announcing another in-world appearance. Grace McDunnough, Sophrosyne's Saturday Salon guest host for this week, invited Jan (my business partner) and me to talk about our company, online communities and about what we've both learned about Second Life and virtual worlds in general. If that sounds interesting, please join us for a discussion this Saturday, February 23rd, from 1 PM to 3 PM SLT at Extropia Core. You can read the event announcement here.

If you want to know more about my presentation at ISTE last night, you can read a summary on Kevin's blog, check out the slides on SlideShare, and there are event some nice pics from the event on Flickr. If you'd like a transcript of the event (generously provided by Veritas Variscan), IM me in-world and I'll send you a notecard. And a big thank you to everyone that attended my presentation!

Note: This is just an archive post. The blog has moved to a new home at, where you will also find a copy of the entire blog.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

ISTE Speakers Series Session in Second Life

Just a brief announcement and invitation: I was invited to be the guest of the next ISTE Speaker Series Session in Second Life on Tuesday, February 19, 6 PM SLT. I'll be talking about my experience of being an online tutor and I hope you can join me for a great discussion. Here's the official announcement from the ISTE Second Life wiki:
Online Tutoring Across Different Platforms with Alja Sulčič (SL: iAlja Writer)
Alja is a virtual platform expert in Slovenia working for Artesia, a small start-up focused on building virtual communities. Prior to joining Artesia she was an online tutor at the Faculty of Management Koper at University of Primorska for three years. She will be presenting about her experience as an online tutor in an online e-business course in which students were introduced to different internet technologies, from Moodle to Second Life, and about the challenges of working with emerging technologies in general. Alja is a member of the Second Life Volunteer Program, working mostly with new Slovenian Second Life users.
ISTE hosts great regular events, so you might want to check out their wiki for announcements for other events as well or check out Kevin Jarrett's blog for great posts about what's going on at ISTE Second Life HQ. I must admit I haven't yet managed to attend any of their events in person (6 PM SLT means 3 AM for me! :( ), but I've heard great things about them. So, hope to see you on Tuesday!

Note: This is just an archive post. The blog has moved to a new home at, where you will also find a copy of the entire blog.

Monday, February 04, 2008

List of abilities and roles for Second Life groups

I wish that me spending more time in the virtual world of Second Life could be a good excuse for not blogging lately, but it really isn't. Oh well, while I try to get into a blogging mood again, I've got a little something to share that will hopefully be useful to fellow SLers. I'd like to talk about Second Life group management today (and no, it's not another we-need-more-groups rant - Grace already nailed that subject better than I ever could).

Groups are a great way for two or more people to manage a parcel of land in SL for a common project, but when you need to have a larger group of users with different skills and roles, you might want to define more roles with different abilities in the group that owns your land. For example, you might not want to give less experienced users full control of objects on group owned land, but you might want to give them the ability to send out group notices.

And something similar is just what I'll soon have to do on a group owned land. As I need to carefully define the roles, I wanted to have a table outside SL with all possible abilities for roles listed. I was surprised not to find such a list, so I made one on my own. You can get the list in Excel and PDF format on Scribd.

As there are three default roles (Everyone, Officer, and Owner) in each SL group, I also marked which abilities each of the default role has. I also copied the comments for each of the ability. These comments are available in the Abilities tab under the Members & Roles tab in the Group Information window and most of them include more details and the occasional useful warnings for group owners, so you might want to read them if you're not sure what a role does. If you're new to managing SL groups, you might also want to read the Knowledge Base articles about the Group Roles and about Group Owned Land. Torley also has a great tutorial about creating groups and using the Group Information window for beginners.

And I would love to hear how you go about defining SL group roles or any good advice/best practice you have about managing group roles and choosing abilities!

Note: This is just an archive post. The blog has moved to a new home at, where you will also find a copy of the entire blog.