Oftentimes, when exploring brave new worlds or re-visiting old and forgotten ones, the ever-churning mind of the futurist sometimes has to endure the very things that others would be so quick to dismiss. It's not an easy job, and it certainly thrusts the futurist far outside the comfort zone.
I find this when studying Kaneva, one of the other virtual worlds that may surpass There.com to be one of Second Life's major competitors. One of the areas that I see success for Kaneva is with music-- live and otherwise.
But before I go into that, I have to explain a bit about how I have to prepare for the exhibition of Something New: I must know what the criticisms are before they are said (I probably share them too!) and I must understand how people react when presented with Something New. I am aware of the following behaviors:
More often than not, a loyal user is a loytal user-- if something is better, well, frankly, it doesn't matter.
In other cases--and this is especially true for the techie mind--if Something New does not match 'item for item' then it is immediately disregarded as inferior, a waste of time, pointless or, simply, "I don't get it".
There are valid flaws and room to grow in the future. Just because something doesn't work like A,B,C *today*, is not necessarily how it might work in the future.
And naturally, the presence of the strawman will always exist. "It's Windows only, ergo, it sucks for all time!"
Now, with the place settings of expectations neatly arranged at the table, let's talk about Kaneva, another virtual world, that might hold much promise for live (and not live) musicians that currently perform in Second Life.
Kaneva (kaneva.com, windows-only), is curently an interior-only virtual world that feels a bit like There.com. It is in no way as flexible as SL is for content creators, and building is probably one of the more frustrating exercises I've ever engaged in (Second Lifers will be inside Kaneva, most certainly complaining about how crappy their hair is. Trust me, I'm a hair geek. We SO have it better).
One thing that Kaneva does right out of the gate is something Linden Lab is possibly working on for our own grid: a web-based interface to do SOMEthing, although the release date has not been announced. Kaneva's web-based front end is online, active, populated and resembles the architecture of mySpace-- this is important.
Before I go a step further, let me attempt to adjust thinking on mySpace, because there will certainly be an eye-roll or bashing of mySpace. What I look at when I talk about or use mySpace is not the oftentimes *hideous* designs or performance, but the structure of data. Indulge me. :)
If you go to kaneva.com/spin, you'll see my profile-- everything starts with a profile. I can receive private messages there; I can maintain friends; I can blog; I can share media (audio, video and pictures). Other users can comment on my blog; other users can comment on my profile; and most importantly, I can start my own group-- my own community.
When you first start in Kaneva, you are given a place-- an apartment, which can be upgraded later. That's a concept that doesn't exist in Second Life or There. Instead of being on the street, on the beach, in the forest-- you have a roof over your head (amusingly, you can't go outside in Kaneva but hey, you start someplace where you can stash your stuff).
And more importantly, when you click that 'start a community' button on your profile, you are essentially creating a group, complete with the functionalities I mentioned earlier-- blogs for the group, media files just for the group, access control *just for the group*. And that community creation process also generates a community hangout in the world of Kaneva, which, like your apartment, can be upgraded into a conference room, coffee shop, or nightclub.
Now let's talk about inventory inside of Kaneva, at least, the inventory of media--- textures, audio, video, photos. It all starts on the web site-- something which is certainly not foreign to us in the Web 1,2,3,4,5.0 era. If I want to put a texture on something, it has to be uploaded web-side. If I want to make a playlist of music or video-- it's uploaded to the web, and I can access it in-world.
This makes what I create bi-directional-- something of great importance to the performing musician. Upload media to a player that others can embed on their own sites (or their own profiles), very much a la YouTube, and have it readily available in the world.
Having even a fraction of that group/inventory management inside of SL would be a blessing-- sadly, it's not for a long time to come.
The final point to illustrate is about who is a creator and who is a consumer. It could be argued that in the event of a live concert, there are concert-goers (shut up and dance!!) and the musician and finally, the venue owner (which can very well be one in the same). The *need* for content creator certainly leans toward the musician in this case, while everyone else is there to consume, watch, listen or dance.
The figures aren't a secret that most people in the world consume and a much smaller percentage of the population creates. Forrester Research has yet another testament to this by way of the graphic shown here.
This whole idea is a very early, high level overview of what *could* be. Live broadcasting is on its way as indicated by a brief conversation I had with a VP from Kaneva at the Virtual Worlds 2007 conference in New York a couple months ago.
But put those pieces together--- mySpace-like structure to managing media inventory AND community, that is accessible to the outside world AND the in-world world, with pre-fab places to get started. That could be a recipe for expanded success for a musician or band that wants to tackle those new frontiers. Your hair won't necessarily be as hot, but you'll have an infinitely larger amount of control over groups and announcements.
We're not yet at the point where an industrial indie band can perform atop a mech in Battlefield 2142-- but who knows? Second Life, Kaneva, and many others to come-- they might very well change the video game industry to evolve to a social platform. It's the same conversation all over again that we had about blogs and podcasts and videoblogs and of late, Second Life, and that's what excites me the most.
See ya at the show?