Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Second Life Magazines and Newspapers



Photos: Pie or Cheese?



Written 13 March, 2008

Second Life Magazines and Newspapers

My brother Peter has a strong preference for publications presented in HTML format, like blogs. Think SL Forum. I like my magazines to look like magazines, and so I favor PDF files (think Metaverse Messenger and The Avastar). Both of us consider in-world magazines-on-a-prim worthless because they rez so slowly. (Even with my dual-core PC and nVidia 7200 256 mb video card I have to go downstairs for milk and cookies each time I turn a page.) But some people adore zines on a prim.

Having edited and published magazines in real life, I know how much work goes into periodicals. I respect and admire those who produce Second Life’s magazines, for they’re very much labors of love. A readership base the size of Second Life’s active population isn’t huge, and there certainly isn’t much profit in journalism here. So here’s to you editors and publishers. My hat is off to you.

I love the entrepreneurial spirit that runs rampant in Second Life. It’s great to see so many people writing. There’s an immense pool of undiscovered talent, and I’m happy so many people are finding empowerment and unleashing their creativity in periodicals and especially in blogs about Second Life.

In general, though, I find the periodicals difficult to read regardless of format. Some seem to suffer from translation to English from other languages. I find the quality of the translation excellent, but even great translations need a tweak by a third party to read properly. Others are written in grammatically-correct English, but lack a certain vibrancy in the reading. They would all benefit from editing.

Then there’s the content. Some publications are aimed at a general readership and some toward niche markets (think Prim Perfect). I find most a bit boring.

I’m going to pick on Metaverse Messenger a bit here, because it has the potential to be a wonderful read. It arrives regularly (although consistently late by a day or so) and is beautifully laid out by Peregrine Psaltry. It thoroughly covers the news, highlights a sim and resident of the week, and has columns on a variety of topics. And yet it makes me yawn.

Why? Well, some of the columns are so specialized they don’t particularly interest me. I mean, I find it egregious that child avs are harassed in public simply because of their appearance. Not all child avs are into sexual age play, folks. But even though the child column is well-written, I really don’t care much about what the child av community is doing.

Other MM columns just bore me. One columnist is consistently full of ennui and anger; another writes about library matters. My favorites are The Walking Dude, although I find myself wishing he would get a life, and the tech column, which is written by someone so geeky I can’t understand what he is saying much of the time.

The features that are potentially most exciting—Sim of the Week and Resident of the Week—are just awful. Well, I do love the Pie or Cheese—and Why? Question, but the rest of the ROTW template needs revamping. And the SOTW—well, just let me say I went to visit the last sim highlighted and found it so laggy and full of the Red Fences of Friendship that I just left. WTF was up with that? Why is a sim of the week such a nasty damn place? What criteria did it meet to be so prominently featured?

I could dissect other SL publications, and what I would have to say would be far harsher than my words about the Metaverse Messenger. I like the MM and read it regularly. I’m just saying: make the magazines interesting, huh? I mean, here we are in a virtual world in which almost anything is possible. How about putting some pizzazz on your pages, all you editors?

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