More SL – Ben Folds, Infinite Mind & Vega guitar

I must seem Second-Life obsessed… there really are other things going on in my life. (Getting over a horrible horrible cold, for one.)

But this seems to be the week of Second Life. They just hit a million registered users … and their media coverage has hit the tipping point. It’ll be amazing if they really have the hardware to keep up.

I had the pleasure of going to a big-time media event last night. The W Hotels company was promoting their Virtual Aloft hotel prototype thing, and it was in partership with Sony promoting Ben Folds’ new album. I lucked into a ticket in their ‘lottery’ and got to go chill on the new Aloft island (and the new Sony Media island). Apparently only about 60 people were able to go (mainly because of limits on how many avatars a given ‘sim’ or region in SL can handle at a time).

At first there was dancing to your basic dance stuff, and then Ben Folds showed up and they played music from his new album. He didn’t perform it or anything, he just introduced songs and danced with us. They had some sound issues here and there, but he was a blast — he really got into the zaniness of having an avatar that allows you to do whatever you want. (Like run around shirtless with a can of Duff beer, falling all over the floor, then attacking people with a lightsaber.)

We all got to give questions to a guy beforehand that he’d ask him (they were doing the interview live at Sony BMG in NY and streaming it). Since I kept telling myself I wished my kid could see this, I put one in that I thought my daughter might ask — who is Ben’s favorite character in Over the Hedge, the movie he did the soundtrack to. Turns out it’s Hammy 🙂

ben folds secondlife 1 Ben Folds on stage Ben folds with lightsabre
Pictures (click for the big version): First one shows Ben Folds on stage greeting everyone, and me in the bottom left evidently pretending I’m a bouncer or something. Second one is a closer look at BF. Third is BF after some partying, having ‘slain’ a fan with a lightsaber somebody handed him.

What’s very strange to me about all this is that it doesn’t take long to feel like you’re really there. The avatar eventually blends into your sense of self in a powerful way, and it’s like you really did ‘go’ to an event like this.

More SL related stuff:

The Infinite Mind public radio program has had a series going on:

The Infinite Mind programs
We here at The Infinite Mind relished the opportunity to enter the 3D arena of virtual technology and within eight weeks had constructed our own 16 acre virtual broadcast center in Second Life. From our virtual studios we went on to produce live broadcasts with guests including author Kurt Vonnegut; singer/songwriter Suzanne Vega; internet visionary Howard Rheingold; and world-renowned designer John Maeda, of the MIT Media Lab, along with others who plan, build, live, work and play in on-line “virtual worlds.” The series was taped for broadcast, in front of a live audience, from inside The Infinite Mind’s virtual studios and broadcast center on Second Life.

I haven’t heard it, but I’ll listen to the podcasts (hm, I’m not sure if they have them though).

To support Suzanne Vega’s visit, they got an SL resident to construct a beautiful guitar model for her that will supposedly help her look as if she’s really playing it along with her performance. Here’s a pretty amazing video of the guy building it in-world … I suspect this is tricked out animation wise, because I can’t see that he could possibly build that fast, no matter how good he is. Still… it’s very pretty to watch: (that may not work later, when another showcase item is up, and they didn’t have a permalink… but you should be able to see the Quicktime version here.)

Author: Andrew Hinton

I use information to architect better places for humans. More at

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