February 23, 2007 10:00 AM PST

Rescuing search in 'Second Life'

With at least a couple hundred thousand users, hundreds of stores, endless commerce and millions of objects, virtual world Second Life is begging for a top-notch search tool.

Yet search is one of the systems most in need of help in Second Life. The latest evidence is the recent selection of a team working on such a system as a finalist in the Second Life business plan contest.

"There's a lot to be desired in the current (Second Life) search, quite a lot," said Tony Walsh, the editor of Clickable Culture, a blog about virtual worlds and other online cultures. "We need a Google for Second Life, something that works quickly and produces intelligent results."

Some might wonder how important search needs to be in a virtual world. But as the number of Second Life stores, places and objects explodes, it is becoming crucial that users be able to find what they need without trying keyword after keyword. And while that dynamic is more true today than ever, many people believe the search system has been insufficient for years.

And Second Life is not alone. Other online games and virtual worlds suffer from the same limited tools, say those familiar with environments such as There.com and World of Warcraft.

"The built-in search functionality (in online games) can be rudimentary and somewhat frustrating," said Ron Meiners, who works in developer relations for Multiverse Network, a creator of a platform for virtual worlds. "I think the problem is in part that we are still discovering ways to organize information in these worlds that is effective and meaningful. Aside from simple text searches, it's hard to define what a user can be looking for. It's one thing to say a dance club, but you really want to know other things, too: how many people are there, age ranges perhaps, or what music is playing."

That's why organizations like Electric Sheep, the largest of a growing number of third-party companies that build projects and software for Second Life, are putting a significant amount of effort into trying to solve the search problem in that virtual world.

The complexity of Second Life has gotten to the point where better search is a requirement, much like it was on the Web in the late 1990s.

"One of the problems that you have with virtual worlds is that you want to know where to go, whom to meet and what (to) do," said Giff Constable, the general manager of Electric Sheep's software unit. "People are looking for things to explore, and that's a huge information flow within Second Life that's extremely inefficient. I almost feel that within Second Life right now, if you do want people to discover you, it's like throwing a dart at a dart board made of cement. It bounces right off."

Linden Lab, the publisher of Second Life, also recognizes its search tools are not up to snuff, and says it is working on updating them.

"It is time to make search in Second Life really work," Linden Lab CTO Cory Ondrejka said in an in-world town hall meeting in December. "We are in the early technical and interface design period on search, but expect to be hearing more about it in (the first quarter of) 2007 with a goal of rolling (out) new search in" the second quarter.

"We need a Google for Second Life, something that works quickly and produces intelligent results."
--Tony Walsh, editor, Clickable Culture

Linden Lab would not divulge any details about its plans for new search tools.

But Constable said he has been spearheading a search project that is likely to bear fruit sometime in the next couple of months. And that's despite the fact, he explained, that anyone besides Linden Lab trying to create a new search tool for Second Life faces the obstacle of not being able to directly access the virtual world's database of people, objects and places.

Electric Sheep's probable approach to solving search in Second Life is a work-around. Constable explained that one idea he's trying is to employ an automated bot to gather data.

The bot would "basically crawl the (Second Life) grid and then figure out what we want to pull, what we want to save," he said, "and what we want to keep of the data."

Ultimately, he explained, the idea is that the aggregate data collected would give Electric Sheep enough to provide users with a searchable database, one that, while not as complete as what Linden Lab could offer, might be better organized.

Another approach could be that of Mario Gerosa, an Italian journalist, and Laura Cassara, an Italian architect.

The two teamed up to create a proposal for the Second Life business plan contest that was chosen as one of four finalists.

Their concept, Gerosa explained, is based on the idea of Second Life users weighing in on the places and objects they encounter, rating things as they come across them, and having all the resulting data be organized into a searchable system.

CONTINUED: The solution could be anywhere…
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34 comments

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Add your comment
You still work here?
Shouldn't your stuff be on a second life blog somewhere?
Posted by Dachi (797 comments )
Reply Link Flag
LOL
LOL
Posted by dondarko (261 comments )
Link Flag
You still work here?
Shouldn't your stuff be on a second life blog somewhere?
Posted by Dachi (797 comments )
Reply Link Flag
LOL
LOL
Posted by dondarko (261 comments )
Link Flag
Please stop with the SL articles
Nobody cares except for the few pathetic geeks who were stupid enough to get swindled by it.
Posted by extinctone (214 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Please stop with the SL articles
Nobody cares except for the few pathetic geeks who were stupid enough to get swindled by it.
Posted by extinctone (214 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Easy solution - just use the web
The big problem is that SL isn't integrated with the web. If it was, the Search problem would be solved, by Google.
Posted by tparisi (10 comments )
Reply Link Flag
The Big Problem
Reader post by: tparisi
Posted on: February 23, 2007, 1:41 PM PST
The big problem is that SL isn't integrated with the web. If it was, the Search problem would be solved, by Google.

The BIG problem is that SL is new and different and this scares people. All the other problems - like poor search - will be solved by those who preceed the masses. Now shut up and let Daniel do his job.
Posted by direlobo (5 comments )
Link Flag
Tparisi Is Right
Parisi is right.

SL is a private subnet, a server farm using Internet plumbing but not the web. Metadata systems for the web are plentiful, user tagging systems are everywhere, even the laboring semantic web that was the last darling is further along than what the SL entrants are discusssing.

The fact is nothing about SL really is novel and the problems being discussed have already been solved. It is the business model that relies on a closed system that prompts the need to reinvent the wheels such as search systems. The implications of that to the customers, investors and owners should be obvious.

All that said, there are far more interesting possibilities for searching in 3D worlds than are being discussed here or in the contest submissions.
Posted by Len Bullard (454 comments )
Link Flag
Easy solution - just use the web
The big problem is that SL isn't integrated with the web. If it was, the Search problem would be solved, by Google.
Posted by tparisi (10 comments )
Reply Link Flag
The Big Problem
Reader post by: tparisi
Posted on: February 23, 2007, 1:41 PM PST
The big problem is that SL isn't integrated with the web. If it was, the Search problem would be solved, by Google.

The BIG problem is that SL is new and different and this scares people. All the other problems - like poor search - will be solved by those who preceed the masses. Now shut up and let Daniel do his job.
Posted by direlobo (5 comments )
Link Flag
Tparisi Is Right
Parisi is right.

SL is a private subnet, a server farm using Internet plumbing but not the web. Metadata systems for the web are plentiful, user tagging systems are everywhere, even the laboring semantic web that was the last darling is further along than what the SL entrants are discusssing.

The fact is nothing about SL really is novel and the problems being discussed have already been solved. It is the business model that relies on a closed system that prompts the need to reinvent the wheels such as search systems. The implications of that to the customers, investors and owners should be obvious.

All that said, there are far more interesting possibilities for searching in 3D worlds than are being discussed here or in the contest submissions.
Posted by Len Bullard (454 comments )
Link Flag
SL is soooo 90's
Will you people please get a REAL life?

This SL fuffery is getting real old... SL is nothing more than a ad
and marketing moguls wet-dream to get lifeless gamers to feed
them buzz words they can sell to ad clients. THAT SIMPLE.

Any pretense deeper than that is a lie. A REAL ONE.
Posted by avfolk--2008 (37 comments )
Reply Link Flag
SL is soooo 90's
Will you people please get a REAL life?

This SL fuffery is getting real old... SL is nothing more than a ad
and marketing moguls wet-dream to get lifeless gamers to feed
them buzz words they can sell to ad clients. THAT SIMPLE.

Any pretense deeper than that is a lie. A REAL ONE.
Posted by avfolk--2008 (37 comments )
Reply Link Flag
What is this daily BS Hype of 2nd life!!
I said this before and will say it again because this Article requires same comment that is:
2nd life is nothing special or new or hot:
1- Who wants to download a 40MB software package which changes every few weeks requiring another download of the darn thing
2- It is slow, slow & slow
3- Why put up with this download & slowness when all 99% of people want to do is chat in a place like 2nd life. There are plenty of great chat software which offer Avatar chats and movement and are instant to access, as the best example check out SiteSticky:
www.sitesticky.com
which offers Avatar chat with Voice over IP, something that 2nd life still does not offer.

2nd, if one wants a 3d world to enter then one wants to play, one wants action games, and to
see how this is done right check out World of Warcraft:
www.worldofwarcraft.com

3rd, There were many 3D chat worlds before 2nd life, such as BlackSun, OZ, etc. they all
failed because of the reasons listed above. That is after 1 hour of chatting in a 3D world,
it becomes BOARING and certainly not worth the bother of ever downloading the software
again and waiting for it to load and being slow, so if people want to chat they will go to sites
that are powered by instant chat products such as Sitesticky, if they want to play they will
go to World of Warcraft places.

The question then becomes why this continuos non ending Hype of 2nd life by Cnet and the rest of its BigMedia machinery! Answer: They have stock in 2nd life and are hyping it for an IPO so they can dump their stock on the public or have a Google like company buy it. Whatever it is, please stop it with this non-ending almost daily Hype of 2nd life & Web 2.0 :(
Posted by Sea of Cortez (67 comments )
Reply Link Flag
What is this daily BS Hype of 2nd life!!
I said this before and will say it again because this Article requires same comment that is:
2nd life is nothing special or new or hot:
1- Who wants to download a 40MB software package which changes every few weeks requiring another download of the darn thing
2- It is slow, slow & slow
3- Why put up with this download & slowness when all 99% of people want to do is chat in a place like 2nd life. There are plenty of great chat software which offer Avatar chats and movement and are instant to access, as the best example check out SiteSticky:
www.sitesticky.com
which offers Avatar chat with Voice over IP, something that 2nd life still does not offer.

2nd, if one wants a 3d world to enter then one wants to play, one wants action games, and to
see how this is done right check out World of Warcraft:
www.worldofwarcraft.com

3rd, There were many 3D chat worlds before 2nd life, such as BlackSun, OZ, etc. they all
failed because of the reasons listed above. That is after 1 hour of chatting in a 3D world,
it becomes BOARING and certainly not worth the bother of ever downloading the software
again and waiting for it to load and being slow, so if people want to chat they will go to sites
that are powered by instant chat products such as Sitesticky, if they want to play they will
go to World of Warcraft places.

The question then becomes why this continuos non ending Hype of 2nd life by Cnet and the rest of its BigMedia machinery! Answer: They have stock in 2nd life and are hyping it for an IPO so they can dump their stock on the public or have a Google like company buy it. Whatever it is, please stop it with this non-ending almost daily Hype of 2nd life & Web 2.0 :(
Posted by Sea of Cortez (67 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Please stop the 2nd Life Articles
Dont dig the hype. Every week there doesnt have the be a lame story on 2nd life. There are way more WOW players than 2nd life anwyay. (not that I play that game either)

Find something else to report rather than these easy news stories you are fed by linden labs.

KieranMullen
Posted by kieranmullen (1070 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Please stop the 2nd Life Articles
Dont dig the hype. Every week there doesnt have the be a lame story on 2nd life. There are way more WOW players than 2nd life anwyay. (not that I play that game either)

Find something else to report rather than these easy news stories you are fed by linden labs.

KieranMullen
Posted by kieranmullen (1070 comments )
Reply Link Flag
repeats....
Kiernanmullen, while do totally agree with you on the 2nd Life issues, you'll end up with more credility if you don't double your comments. Just an observation. And Yes, 2nd Life is interesting and a good attempt at a virtual environment but it has a long way to go.....just as the Model T did, as the 8086 processor did, as anything else that is pushing the boundaries. I do remember typing commands in DOS before windows 3.1 and yes, it was frustrating but we learned as we went. And that's my contribution to the discussion. (please don't think that I'm criticizing you as I'm not !!!)
Posted by momule (17 comments )
Link Flag
Please stop the 2nd Life Articles
Dont dig the hype. Every week there doesnt have the be a lame story on 2nd life. There are way more WOW players than 2nd life anwyay. (not that I play that game either)

Find something else to report rather than these easy news stories you are fed by linden labs.

KieranMullen
Posted by kieranmullen (1070 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Please stop the 2nd Life Articles
Dont dig the hype. Every week there doesnt have the be a lame story on 2nd life. There are way more WOW players than 2nd life anwyay. (not that I play that game either)

Find something else to report rather than these easy news stories you are fed by linden labs.

KieranMullen
Posted by kieranmullen (1070 comments )
Reply Link Flag
repeats....
Kiernanmullen, while do totally agree with you on the 2nd Life issues, you'll end up with more credility if you don't double your comments. Just an observation. And Yes, 2nd Life is interesting and a good attempt at a virtual environment but it has a long way to go.....just as the Model T did, as the 8086 processor did, as anything else that is pushing the boundaries. I do remember typing commands in DOS before windows 3.1 and yes, it was frustrating but we learned as we went. And that's my contribution to the discussion. (please don't think that I'm criticizing you as I'm not !!!)
Posted by momule (17 comments )
Link Flag
These SL articles make everything on the front page suspect
Really, does news.com care at all about credibility?

I've long doubted it. It's just a business, not a news source, right?
Posted by Mark Greene (163 comments )
Reply Link Flag
These SL articles make everything on the front page suspect
Really, does news.com care at all about credibility?

I've long doubted it. It's just a business, not a news source, right?
Posted by Mark Greene (163 comments )
Reply Link Flag
#1 Search on Second Life
"How can I get some real friends?"
Posted by fcekuahd (244 comments )
Reply Link Flag
#1 Search on Second Life
"How can I get some real friends?"
Posted by fcekuahd (244 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Social search perfect for Second Life
It seems to me that a social search engine would be perfect, including both i) collaborative directory building and ii) Discovery engine.

Let anybody submit anything (bookmarks, content, places, news, photos, videos, Web index feed, RSS feeds, ...). Ala Eurekster, Searchles, Del.icio.us, Jimmy wales future collaborative engine, yoople, Digger, Simpy, eSnip, Shadows, Sproose, Wink,

Let anybody tag, vote, comment, report. Ala Digg, MSN reporter, Reddit,

Add a collaborative ranking algo to surface personalized relevance ala Eurekster.

Select guides to help folks search, find, and discover stuff. Ala StumbleUpon, Flock

Add vertical, community-based engine like Rollyo, Yahoo or Google custom search, Lijit.

-arnaud
Posted by arnaudfischer (5 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Social search perfect for Second Life
It seems to me that a social search engine would be perfect, including both i) collaborative directory building and ii) Discovery engine.

Let anybody submit anything (bookmarks, content, places, news, photos, videos, Web index feed, RSS feeds, ...). Ala Eurekster, Searchles, Del.icio.us, Jimmy wales future collaborative engine, yoople, Digger, Simpy, eSnip, Shadows, Sproose, Wink,

Let anybody tag, vote, comment, report. Ala Digg, MSN reporter, Reddit,

Add a collaborative ranking algo to surface personalized relevance ala Eurekster.

Select guides to help folks search, find, and discover stuff. Ala StumbleUpon, Flock

Add vertical, community-based engine like Rollyo, Yahoo or Google custom search, Lijit.

-arnaud
Posted by arnaudfischer (5 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Social search perfect for Second Life
It seems to me that a social search engine would be perfect, including both i) collaborative directory building and ii) Discovery engine.

Let anybody submit anything (bookmarks, content, places, news, photos, videos, Web index feed, RSS feeds, ...). Ala Eurekster, Searchles, Del.icio.us, Jimmy wales future collaborative engine, yoople, Digger, Simpy, eSnip, Shadows, Sproose, Wink,

Let anybody tag, vote, comment, report. Ala Digg, MSN reporter, Reddit,

Add a collaborative ranking algo to surface personalized relevance ala Eurekster.

Select guides to help folks search, find, and discover stuff. Ala StumbleUpon, Flock

Add vertical, community-based engine like Rollyo, Yahoo or Google custom search, Lijit.

-arnaud
Posted by arnaudfischer (5 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Social search perfect for Second Life
It seems to me that a social search engine would be perfect, including both i) collaborative directory building and ii) Discovery engine.

Let anybody submit anything (bookmarks, content, places, news, photos, videos, Web index feed, RSS feeds, ...). Ala Eurekster, Searchles, Del.icio.us, Jimmy wales future collaborative engine, yoople, Digger, Simpy, eSnip, Shadows, Sproose, Wink,

Let anybody tag, vote, comment, report. Ala Digg, MSN reporter, Reddit,

Add a collaborative ranking algo to surface personalized relevance ala Eurekster.

Select guides to help folks search, find, and discover stuff. Ala StumbleUpon, Flock

Add vertical, community-based engine like Rollyo, Yahoo or Google custom search, Lijit.

-arnaud
Posted by arnaudfischer (5 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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