Catching Up: Virtual Worlds

This is the first of a series of posts that will serve to clear out the hundreds of web pages I’ve kept around in the last couple of months to blog about. Here are some links about the happenings relating to virtual worlds.
NY Times: Foundation With Real Money Ventures Into Virtual World: “For the first time, one of the nation’s largest foundations is venturing into virtual worlds to play host to activities and discussions and explore the role that philanthropy might play there. The foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, is sponsoring events in Second Life, the online world.”
Virtually Blind: Rampant Trademark Infringment in Second Life Costs Millions, Undermines Future Enforcement: “The dirtiest little legal secret of Second Life isn’t virtual escorts, illegal gambling, ponzi schemes, or even money laundering — that stuff gets splashed across the front page whenever the mainstream media needs a scary headline on virtual worlds. No, the secret is this: misappropriation of major corporations’ trademarks in-world is so ubiquitous, so safe, and so immensely profitable, that it has become a wholly transparent part of Second Life’s commercial landscape.”
Reuters: Protecting real brand names in a virtual world: “Fake Prada purses and knock-off Rolexes are usually sold on street corners, out of trenchcoats or the trunks of cars. But on Second Life, counterfeit goods can be found even in the swankiest malls and department stores.”
Reuters: : ” Second Life entrepreneur Kevin Alderman filed a copyright infringement lawsuit on Tuesday against Second Life resident Volkov Catteneo, and Alderman’s lawyer said he plans to subpoena Linden Lab to force it to disclose Catteneo’s real-world identity.”
Chris Anderson, The Long Tail:
Why I gave up on Second Life: “Like everyone else, I had fun exploring the concept and marveling at all the creativity. Then I got bored, and I started marveling at something else: all the empty corporate edifices. By day I’d speak at marketing conferences that usually had someone pitching SL services, complete with staged demonstrations (the ‘inhabitants’ invariably paid employees). By night I’d go back to the same places, which had reverted to ghost towns once the demonstration was over. I couldn’t understand why companies kept throwing money at in-world presences. Were they seeing something I wasn’t?”
Wired: How Madison Avenue Is Wasting Millions on a Deserted Second Life: “As worldwide head of interactive marketing at Coca-Cola, Donnelly was fascinated by its commercial potential, the way its users could wander through a computer-generated 3-D environment that mimics the mundane world of the flesh. So one day last fall, he downloaded the Second Life software, created an avatar, and set off in search of other brands like his own. American Apparel, Reebok, Scion — the big ones were easy to find, yet something felt wrong: ‘There was nobody else around.’ He teleported over to the Aloft Hotel, a virtual prototype for a real-world chain being developed by the owners of the W. It was deserted, almost creepy. ‘I felt like I was in The Shining.'” Lawyers Find Real Revenue in Virtual World: “And while Second Life might initially seem like make-believe or child’s play, the firm is filing real trademark applications, landing real clients and making real money through the virtual world. By Lieberman’s reckoning, the firm has pulled in nearly $20,000 in revenue from its Second Life office in the past year. Not exactly enough to make the D.C. 20, but impressive, given that overhead is almost nil.”