I’m a Newsweek subscriber; I read it cover-to-cover every week. It has served as my cure for lack of small talk at social events for the last four years. This week Newsweek has a cover story along with several shorts about Second Life throughout the issue. As a Second Life resident, the cover story doesn’t provide any new information or insights although it does offer a very nice explanation of what Second Life is for the general public. I think SL will be swarmed with new users because of this story (currently at 8,319,768),
I’ll post the numbers again sometime next week just to see if the numbers of registered users surges because of the articles.
The story that isn’t getting that much attention from SL users is the Newsweek story about HiPiHi, a virtual world developed in China. I first heard of HiPiHi in a conversation with IBM’s virtual world guru John Tolva (the man behind the Forbidden City). I found the website, downloaded the beta client and navigated through the process, which of course was only available in Chinese at the time. It is now available as an English language website and viewer.
The Newsweek article about HiPiHi begins like many other tech articles involving China by emphasizing the role of censorship and government regulation of currency. Once we get through that however the article gives us a little insight into the development of HiPiHi. First, the developers are spending a lot of time with Beta user testing, 10,000 users from China are currently being used to work out the kinks in the program (LL can you hear this, user testing). Second, HiPiHi has developed what appear to be user-friendly building tools especially when compared to SL. Here is a neat quote “HiPiHi has decided that your average ‘Zhou’ in China would probably have issues with Second Life’s interface, and is looking to better it,”. Umm, just so you know, your average undergraduate student is also having problems with the SL interface; I hope HiPiHi can better it. On last thing that may be helpful, Avatars will not be allowed to be naked. Clothing must be worn,
read the story here