Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Reuters Reading Diary

I have actually read the SL news before because I took a technology class that also dealt with SL. I couldn't find it this time, but in the newspaper, there is a section that is like "Dear Abby", where people write in to get advice. Maybe some of you found it? When I encountered Reuters the first time, this section was incredibly entertaining because people wrote in an asked some very personal questions that were answered in great detail. This section is where I learned how big sex actually is in SL. People wrote in saying how they feel so bad because their spouse had no idea that they were on SL every day to have virtual sex with another person. Its not actual sex, but I couldn't help but think that if I knew my boyfriend was having virtual sex, not only would I feel betrayed because there are obvious feelings that develop, but I would also be incredibly worried about him for actually engaging in virtual pleasure. The whole idea of virtual sex is entertaining to me, because people get so wrapped up in SL that they actually "virtually cheat" on their significant others. Anyway, here are the 6 articles that I read on Reuters.

Linden Targets Buyers of Fradulent Currency:
There is a black market in SL that has a better exchange rate than that of the Linden Exchange. Although people use this fraudulent money, Linden Lab is angry that people would participate with phony money. Linden currency has also become a favorite of credit care thieves, because they can spend vasts amounts of money to buy anything they want in the virtual world that would cost a lot more in RL. Linden says that if phony money is discovered, it will be taken away from SL users and they may be penalized up to 150% for this "stolen" money. The Linden exchange makes $5 million a year, and even EBay now sells Linden currency in their auctions.
Linden Looks Outside the Company for New CEO:
Philip Rosedale stepped down as CEO of SL, and now the company is looking to hire outside of the company. They are looking for someone who has the same capacity as Rosedale, who grew a small company into a global player. The company ensures that the new CEO will be a passionate user of SL and must be comparable to the skills of Rosedale. Lastly, they hope to encourage more active users. Currently, only 3-5% of registered users are committed, compared to Facebook who has a rate of 10-15% committed users.
Study on SL and the Pursuit of Happiness:
This study claims to have found that those with strong well being and lots of friends in RL will have the same in SL. However, SL is a form of therapy to those without friends in RL. The study claims that the more time spent on SL, the happier one will be in RL. Of all SL users, only 10% have tried out the other gender. Lastly, there is no middle class in SL, one is either rich, or poor. I have issues with this "study" because I actually think the results would be the opposite. I feel that those without friends and happiness are drawn to SL, not those who already have a lot of friends. These people are probably very social, so why would they need to spend large amounts of time trying to find lots of friends in a virtual life? Also, this study tries to encourage users to spend more time on SL in an effort to increase happiness in RL. I don't like this subtle form of persuasion, because I need to see the results of the study that actually show that this claim was proven.
Nickelodeon Explores Virtual Worlds Including SpongeBob:
Nickelodeon announced that they hope to add a world of SpongeBob to SL, that will include games and multi-player interactions. They also look to launch Monkey World. These ideas came from the success of their site, World of Neopia on their Neopets Site. These additions are said to launch next year. The company looks at the new worlds as a separate business, and the worlds will include advertising within them. The sites will be aimed at "tweens" who made Neopets successful (45 million users). Finally, VooZoo applications have been added to vMTV and allowing users to send short movie clips to other users for about $1. Personally, I am disappointed in Nickelodeon's quest for new business. I think that if Spongebob is included in SL, it will encourage SL use at very young ages. Even if the company thinks kids will only stick to this world, it sickens me to think that kids may decide to explore SL and come across adult-only content, not to mention predators. SL should be made for ages 18 and up, and inspiring kids to start playing with technology at even earlier ages really frightens me and makes me wonder what the future of our society will entail.
Ageplay Sim Eyes New Grid:
A world named "Wonderland" exists in SL that depicts adult-child sex. Linden strongly bans ageplay and does not support child pornography or inappropriate content. The world is being moved to and although the site's terms of service say that child porn is not allowed, it also encourages freedom and privacy. This world caused a lot of controversy within Linden, who strongly prohibits the actions and behaviors that Wonderland exhibits. Once again, I find this to be incredibly disgusting. I realize there are creeps out in the world, but virtual worlds like SL need to be more attentive to what happens on their sites. I know that SL encourages privacy and does not ban users who are inappropriate, but seriously, for the sake of kids and teens, and even adults' psychological well being, creeps who set up sick sites like Wonderland should not be allowed on SL.
This Week's Events:
Although this is not an article, I found it to be interesting because it acts as a flyer for different events happening throughout SL that users may be unaware of. It includes pictures, descriptions, times and dates. I noticed that there are even charity events, which was reassuring, because at least I saw some good that comes out of SL. I also saw the announcement for night life events, which I may look into when exploring SL on my own. I would want to see just what these events entail, who knows, they may be really entertaining.

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