Saturday, January 19, 2008

Trivia, Saturday edition

I bought a copy of Windows XP Professional today, the first money that Microsoft has ever had directly from me, largely because I was fed up with being unable to ask for assistance and worried about downloading updates for the—what shall we say?—borrowed copy I had been using on my old PC for the last few years.

I'm blogging now on my Mac Mini while installing Windows on that very same computer, to run under Parallels Desktop in parallel (as the name implies) to the Mac OS. I have my doubts whether this will be as fast or as smooth as running Windows in Boot Camp, but not needing to reboot when switching between systems is very appealing. We shall see.

Had a nice day yesterday, went downtown for lunch at a fish restaurant and permitted myself a glass of Blanc des Blancs with it; very pleasant. All manner of bloggable topics ran through my mind as I sat there watching the pedestrians, but none left traces deep enough for me to recover now. I guess I shall have to carry my Moleskine around town to record my thoughts in, as I did in Venice two summers ago. Doing so would be quite appropriate, in a way, because one of my first impressions of Germany (before coming here) was that everyone carried around a little black notebook all the time, to jot down the poetical and philosophical insights that crowded their day (of course). This idea came, as did many of my early ideas about what life was like and how the world worked, from the cinema, in particular from Wim Wenders, Werner Herzog, Herbert Achtenbusch and Rainer Maria Fassbinder (pretty much in that order). I was quite disappointed when I started visiting Germany, to discover that not one of my friends carried a little black notebook, and that some of them wouldn't know a poetical insight if it bit them in the arse.

Linden Labs has published the in-world economic and user-base figures for Second Life for 2007 in the official SL Blog, and a fine piece of sleight-of-hand they are too. Start with that first graph, titled "LindeX Volume Millions of USD," noting please the nice straight arrow leading smoothly upwards for eighteen months. Bullshit. It is a lie. Look at the grey bars behind it, the actual monthly figures, and you will see a different story: traded volume peaked in March and has been flat since. Bah. I can understand the impulse to massage information, but why would anyone be so blatant about it; how could anyone intelligent enough to make this graph be so stupid as to think that we would believe it? It's a mystery.

The Economic statistics page also makes interesting reading (this may be members-only, I can't tell because I get logged in automatically (it's a Mac, it Just Works)). I draw your attention to the second table, un-informatively titled "Linden Dollars." This does in fact show who earns how much in Second Life, and the executive summary is that 472 people earned US$ 2,000 or more in December '07. There are already more than 470 people active in Second Life who could close down their First Life businesses and still earn an adequate to very good living. I find this fascinating and very encouraging. But read on:

What I find greatly discouraging is the statistics on sign-ups and returning users posted on Dwell on it, the blog of a SL avatar who is keenly interested in such things (scroll down and look in the green column at the right). They tell a depressing story: the rate of new sign-ups is slowing and the number of residents who actually visit SL is declining. Attendance (let's call it that) dropped by 20 percent between July 07 and January 08. If I were one of the 472 lucky high-earners, and had actually taken the step of closing my First Life business, I would be getting worried.

To end with a laugh file this under "E-Mails that I didn't finish reading."
Dear Customer,

We've noticed that customers who have purchased or rated John Tavener: The Veil of the Temple [Hybrid SACD] have also purchased Greatest Hits by Spice Girls...
Ermmm, no, I'm fairly sure that they did not. You must be confusing two quite separate groups of people. But thanks for trying.

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Anonymous JoeInVegas said...

Hmm, you aren't planning on dropping out of real life and doing it all in SL now, are you?

January 21, 2008 at 5:28:00 p.m. GMT+1  

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