Zonja Capalini

SL vs. WebEx: The myth of Second Life as a platform for education [Update 2]

Surprisingly, Opensim fares quite better than SL in that respect

[See the list of updates at the end of the article]


A Google Buzz by Mo Hax alerted me of the existence of an article in PC Pro containing yet another interview to M Linden. M explains there that SL is being used for “meetings”, as a “virtual collaboration tool”, and that it provides “incredible savings”. This is not new. If you google for “Second Life Education”, the second hit leads you to “How Education Enterprises Use Virtual Worlds“, a page by LL detailing how great is SL for educators. Similarly, the Second Life Blogs are full of references to SL as a tool for educators. For example, in a one year old article, As Seen on CNBC: New IBM Case Study Showcases Value of Meeting Inworld, Amanda Linden compares Second Life to Webex and says that Second Life “creates a [more] immersive experience”.

Does really “immersion” provide an advantage for online meetings? Is “immersion” something that can be asked of somebody, a student or an employee, for example? What is the cost of being able to offer “immersion”, and how does it relate to the supposed benefits? Are Second Life/Opensim and other tools, like Webex, comparable? If yes, how do Second Life and Opensim fare when compared to them?

In this post I will try to address these questions. To do so, I will use two strategies: on the one hand, I will make a product comparison between SL, Opensim and Webex, comparing features, price, quality of technical support, etc: on the other hand, I will resort to my own experience: I have been working for companies that have used Second Life and Opensim for education and meetings for more than two years, and I’ll share some of the things I have observed. Continue reading

February 21, 2010 Posted by | OpenSim, Product Comparison, Second Life, WebEx | , , , | 55 Comments

An interview by Alyne Dagger (with some final remarks)

At the end of June 2009 I was interviewed by Alyne Dagger for the online magazine Bad Girls Magazine (BG Magazine). The interview was planned around may, and I received a draft questionnaire by email at the end of June. I wrote a first working draft with my replies, and we interchanged some emails until we both were satisfied with the results. Working with Alyne was fantastically easy, and the interview, first appeared on the portuguese edition of BG Magazine, no. 19, and later in the english edition, no. 19, was very nicely presented; big thanks to Alyne for her wonderful, careful work :-) I reproduce the interview here in its entirety, with permission. Text in italics is from BG Magazine, while my replies use a normal font; image subtitles, when present, are also from BG magazine. The images are all mine; some of them where proposed by me, and some of them were chosen by the interviewer.

Most of the material covered in the interview can also be found here and here, but the presentation is different — being in an interview format, the reading is probably more agile. You’ll also find two arguments about why Second Life cannot scale; these were previously published, in a similar form, as comments on other people’s blogs.

When speaking about virtual worlds, two months are like two years in RL. That’s why I include, at the end of the post, a small section with some corrective remarks; these were not part of the original interview.

The interview


Intense and passionate in every project she’s got herself involved, ZONJA CAPALINI was a mix between muse and investor of the Metaverse when the Openspaces crisis blew up in 2008.

Revolted, she’s began to try to revert the price policy through mobilization and protest, but seeing doesn’t worry with the investors and residents like her, she went to the fight and had searched for solutions for her business in other metaverses, before to begin her own grid, using the Opensim as a tool.

She tells us with exclusivity how was this painful process which can have opened horizons and frontiers for the age of the free metaverses.

0369 - Second Life needs YOU!

BG Magazine: How did you come to SL and what you did in your first SL year?

Zonja Capalini: I was captured, as many other people were, by the hype about Second Life at the end of 2006 and the beginning of 2007. I first created an avatar in december of 2006, but I had some difficulties with it and did never log in. Zonja first rezzed on february the first, 2007. It was a pure adventure. Complete immersion from the first second.

At the time the process was more complicated than it is today, and it was almost not localized. I spent several days at Orientation Island, then Help Island, until I found a way to get to the mainland. I first teleported into a german-speaking infohub (all europeans seemed to be routed to that hub at the moment), and started to socialize.

I was feeling awkward, was very shy, and besides I didn’t control my avie properly, I was crashing against all the walls I found, flying unexpectedly, etc. — as everybody else. I had the impression to have landed in the recovery area of a hospital specialized in brain injuries :-)

One of my main customers is a company dedicated, amongst other things, to education.

I saw that LL was announcing voice in SL, and I thought that creating a campus for that company in SL could be a great way to allow them to have students from all over the world. I talked to the executives of the company and showed them SL, and they agreed that it looked as an interesting platform to evaluate. So that from the beginning my SL experience was dual: on the one hand I was living my own second life, experiencing the universe as a “resident”; on the other hand, I was learning to master SL as a technological platform.

Continue reading

September 2, 2009 Posted by | Abuse, OpenSim, Second Life, SL Exodus | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2889: Working with very large linksets in Opensim

[Update 20090721:] Added links to source code and a reference, corrected some typos.

[Update 20090723:] You can download an OAR with the sample bottle and the generator at rexxed.com: http://www.rexxed.com/2009/07/klein-bottle/

[Update 20090725:] OSGrid users: the sample bottle and the generator are now available at my store in OSGrid.


Most objects in Opensim and Second Life are made of prims. Indeed, if we exceptuate avies, wearables (i.e., non-attachable clothes and body parts), Linden trees and particles, everything you see is made of prims. Prims are small, often uncomplicated geometrical shapes, like a cube, a sphere or a cylinder. By combining (“linking”) prims, builders create more complex objects like houses, vehicles, shoes, hair, jewellery, etc. When prims are linked, the resulting object remembers the order in which they were linked (which is important, for example when an object is scripted) and some other properties; the set comprised of the linked prims and these additional properties is called a link set or linkset.

Linksets in Second Life have several limitations: two prims can’t be linked if they are too far apart, and an object cannot contain more than 256 prims. This is the cause all kind of problems. For example, if you buy a big house, i.e., a house that has more than 256 prims or that it is very large (and therefore its prims are very far apart), the house can’t be assembled into a single object, because of the above rules. Then the house is normally packaged with a rezzer, a scripted assistant that helps you to position the house; once the house is positioned to your liking, you normally ask the rezzer to freeze the house in place, and then delete the rezzer.

0628 - A Klein bottle of 2889 prims (2)

Opensim (when used with an appropriate viewer, like the Hippo viewer) supports large linksets, i.e., objects comprising more than 256 prims. In this post I’ll describe some experiments I made with large and very large linksets. In one of these experiments, I created a single object consisting of 2889 prims. Such extremely large linksets are difficult to manage and create, but once you get them built they work wonderfully.

Continue reading

July 20, 2009 Posted by | OpenSim, Second Life, SL Exodus, Tech News | , , , , , , | 16 Comments

The Openspace fiasco: six months later

0499 - There's a better world ahead

The Openspace fiasco

Six months ago, I blogged about the Openspace fiasco and how it made business customers and creative residents equally angry

In case you’ve not read the post, let me make a quick summary: I work for a company which we will call “C”; C owned a standard sim C1 and three openspaces C2, C3 and C4; at the same time, I was the owner of the Condensation Land archipielago (the Condensation Land, Condensation North, Condensation Beach., Condensation South and Condensation Southwest sims); all the islands were Openspaces, except Condensation Land. When the unjustifiable increase of 66% in the price of Openspaces was announced, C’s executives asked me to start researching for an alternative to Second Life, because they had lost their confidence in Linden Lab. I was also forced to look elsewhere for my own islands, because most of my tenants were not able to afford the price increase, got fed up, and left Second Life.

In this post I’ll describe the alternatives that were considered, the decisions that were taken, and what we learned in the process. Although the experience has been bitter in many aspects (having to abandon land which you have carefully created and helped to make beautiful is awful; Second Life customer service is a disaster; etc), the final results are quite interesting. I’ve though to share them, in case somebody can find them of interest and profit from our experience.

Continue reading

April 30, 2009 Posted by | Abuse, OpenSim, Second Life, SL Exodus | , , , , , , | 96 Comments

“We believe this is fair”, or how to make business customers and creative residents equally angry

“We believe this is fair”
M. Linden, in A Letter to Second Life Residents


Let me tell you a story. I work for a company, let’s call it “C”. C had two full sims in Second Life, C1 and C2; C1 was mainly used for education (a very few hours a week, maximum 10 avies), and C2 was used to hold vanity offices for C’s top executives. At the same time, I had two normal sims, Condensation Land and Condensation Beach, which I was renting to some SL and RL friends and to some of C’s employees, losing a small amount of money every month in the process, but it was all so fun that I really didn’t care very much.
Then came the announcement and later the price change: you could have an OpenSpace, 1/4 of a sim for 1/4 of the price, this seemed fair, allowed finer control of the investments, to landscape more beautifully, to make places less congested, etc.
[As an aside: I don’t think you can “abuse” a program. You can abuse a child, your husband or a resident, but not a program. Think about “abusing Excel” — it’s simply ludicrous.]
I met with C’s executives, and decided to do the following: C2 would be converted into four openspaces; three of them would be put around C1 and would hold, apart from the then current offices for C’s executives, more vanity offices for C’s personnel; one would be sold to me and become part of the Condensation Archipielago.
C thus paid US$ 250 to Linden Lab for the conversion, 40 hours of my time = € 4000, and was unable to use C2 during the two months it took for the Lindens to process the ticket, but had to pay for it anyway (= 2 * US$ 300); when you convert an island to an openspace you can’t keep the terraforming or the contents, all is wiped in the process.
C had invested or lost 250+4000*1,2+2*300 = 5650 US$, and had sold one void (US$ 250), but had now 256K sqm instead of 128, everything was nicer and ampler, and everybody was happy.
On my side, I received the new island (Condensation South), for which I paid US$250 to C and US$ 100 to Linden Lab, and I started to convert Condensation Beach to a void. Condensation Beach was hosting one of my best customers, my RL friend and fellow flickerite Ludmilla Writer. Since the conversion to a void wipes the island and Ludmilla is an active resident who can’t be without a proper house, I ordered another void (Condensation SouthWest), for which I paid US$ 250 more, terraformed it, and helped Ludmilla to move temporarily to it while her former place of residence was converted. Then I paid US$ 250 more to have Condensation Beach converted, waited two months more, during which I could not use a full sim I was paying for (US$ 600), then got four openspace sims; one was Condensation Beach, another was Condensation North, and the other two I sold in the market, for which I got US$500. Then I helped Ludmilla to terraform her Island, terraformed the other three islands, and gave my tenants nice terrains on the new islands. Most of my tenants never log in, but they kept paying me because it was not expensive and it was nice and fashionable to have a small piece of land in Second Life. I have not made an exact calculation of the amount of time I invested in terraforming the Condensation archipielago, but it’s for sure more than 100 hours; let’s put it down 100 hours for the sake of the calculations.
Of course it was my free time, but if I had been working this would have costed € 10,000 = S$ 12,000.
Ludmilla, who’s not a rich person IRL by the way, was making a big effort to be able to pay for her own island, but she was so proud of it that she spent a lot of L$ in buying trees and stuff to make it beautiful anyway.
So I had invested or lost 250*3 + 300*2 + 12,000 = 13,100 US$ and had earned US$ 500 by selling my two remaining islands, but everybody was happy: the new islands were wonderful and although I had put a huge amount of time in terraforming them, everything was so beautiful and my friend Ludmilla was blooming.
We then threw out a party for the opening of Ludmilla’s island:
Since Ludmilla’s island was an openspace, we made the party in Condensation Land, which is a full sim, so as not to stress the lesser sims (yes we were caring!).
A month later Linden Lab announced the price changes and the protests started:

0369 - Second Life needs YOU!

Continue reading

November 6, 2008 Posted by | Abuse, Second Life, SL Exodus | 17 Comments