Thursday, April 07, 2011

My "issues" with New World Notes

New World Notes is one of the oldest and well respected SL blogs. It's founder, Hamlet Au, was once Hamlet Linden, Linden Lab's own embedded reporter in SL. I heartily recommend it to people and read it myself daily.

However...I have issues with NWN and have apparently have been blocked from commenting there. That disappoints me, though I can understand why.

I probably mentioned Hamlet's indirect financial relationship with Facebook a few too many times when Hamlet kept flogging Facebook as the be all of what SL should be more like. He consults for a company that uses Facebook for game logins and thusly, indirectly financially benefits from it. I was a bit perturbed that he did not mention that connection earlier in his promotion of SL becoming more like Faceook, unlike his Blue Mars thing, which he was quite open about.

My issues with NWN are as follows:

1. Hamlet lives in the tech journalist bubble in California and is thusly disconnected from "average people". This in part led to my disagreement with him about the future of Blue Mars, because while he probably knows people who upgrade their computers often and buy a new iPhone whenever it comes out, that's not the case amongst the SL userbase. He simply didn't understand that Blue Mars had no future as a desktop virtual world with it's Cryengine based graphics when the mass market "Marts" of the US have machines on their shelves with integrated Nvidia 6150SE's in them.

2. Hamlet talks to much to the people behind virtual worlds, when it's the USERS who are the important people...without users, the worlds cannot survive. That also leads to him being a sucker for buzzwords like "the cloud" He thought that "the cloud" would save blue mars, that it wouldn't matter that all those housewives in SL had low end integrated chipsets on their PC's, that BM would be rendered in the cloud and displayed locally.....dumbest thing I ever heard. They didn't have the money! or the number of users to justify doing it. They'd have needed to start on that years ago, and they ran out of time.

3. Hamlet is guilty of the "if it's popular it must be good and anything that wants to become popular should be more like that" fallacy. That's the Facebook thing. Facebook truly does. It's interface, it's privacy tools, the requests for "facebook aps" to do things to your info. But Hamlet thinks that because it's popular SL should be more like it, or become connected to it. That's kind of like the people who say smartphones should be like the iPhone, when the iPhone might not be the best device for someones needs. Facebook is all about real world identities and not. Hamlet says that SL users could use facebook to learn about events in world which tells me that:

4. Hamlet doesn't spend enough time in world talking to "the masses" in world. If he did, he wouldn't say half the stuff he does about SL users. Why use facebook for event listings when there's google calendar and SL's own group system....that he doesn't use effectively. Go on, check the NWN notices...and the group is assigned land that is not covered by Tier:

More Land Credits are needed to support the Land in use."

That picture above was taken at the NWN headquarters location in Waterhead...his building is gone and his furniture and pot plants are just floating in mid air. The man really needs to spend more time in world doing the things that other SL users do, like maintain their land and socialize and stuff. You may not believe it, but in the old days, NWN actually sponsored events in-world!

Another thing that leads me to believe that Hamlet isn't as connected to the masses of SL users as he ought to be is his avatar appearance. Most avatars, even male ones that don't shop much...update their appearance quite a bit. Could you imagine a female SL blogger looking like she just stepped out of 2006? No. Sure, Hamlet's a guy, and a tech journalist and doesn't himself cover SL fashion, leaving that to Iris, but still. DJ's shop, Land Baron's shop, content makers shop. Shopping, especially of things related to avatar appearance, drives the SL economy.

5. He doesn't talk about the SL economy as much as he did in the past. That's hurting SL more than anything. It isn't sim crossings or group chat problems that really hurts SL, but people NOT spending L$.

6. Hamlet doesn't get that SL is a niche product, like hex based strategy games and roguelikes are. The same applies to Minecraft. Sure it's a lot of buzz, but it's coming from hard core nerds who love that sort of crazy complex stuff.

7. The core SL user is probably a 30-50 year old woman...but Hamlet rarely talks to them and would rather talk with Ex-Lindens starting up micro-worlds based on SL code that are going to go nowhere without content that will attract those 30-50 year old women. No pretty shoes, big hair, sexy dresses to make their avatar look kardashiany? They aren't going to be there.

8. Hamlet doesn't realize that NWN is a bubble itself. He's not getting true feedback on
how the masses see and feel about SL via the comments on NWN because NWN's readers are oldbies, FIC and near FIC. Almost all a part of what calls the 100000 That's a problem because the things they care about sometimes don't matter to the "masses" of SL. There's folks in SL who don't give a damn about group chat...and there's plenty of people who simply don't cross sim borders...they d on't need to. In fact, I tend to only cross borders in the steamlands! Everywhere else, I TP.

So that's pretty much it. It's not that I dislike Hamlet or NWN, since it's still a great source of information, it's just that Hamlet needs to be more "grounded" like he used to be.

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