GhostyKips: SecondLife Twitter Group

GhostyKips
Ghosty Kips (@GhostyKips) is not a secret agent. He is most definitely not a rhinoceros. He is an artist and ring-leader behind the SecondLife Twitter group, Listen below to see how SecondLifers are finding each other on Twibes, then check out Ghosty’s blog: agents don’t do housework.



Adam Loving:

Hi, is this the elusive Mr. Ghosty Kips?

Ghosty Kips:

Yeah, it is. Hey, man.

Adam:

How’s it going?

Ghosty:

Good.

Adam:

So, yeah, I still don’t know your real name.

Ghosty:

And you won’t.
[laughter]

Adam:

Excellent.

Ghosty:

You can just call me Ghosty, man. That’s cool.

Adam:

All right. Cool. I’ve got your blog up here. "Agents Don’t Do Housework."

Ghosty:

I’m really sorry to hear that.
[laughter]

Ghosty:

My condolences.

Adam:

It’s quite a… quite something else here. I’m trying to figure out what’s going on. I see a man with a plunger, a guy building in Second Life, and some kind of rhinoceros or is that like a llama?

Ghosty:

No, that would be… Wait a minute, hold on. Let me pull up the blog myself so I can see what the heck you’re talking about here. [mumbling]

Adam:

I forgot to turn my video on.

Ghosty:

OK, yes, there’s a guy with a plunger. The guy with the plunger, [laughs] has been with me for a very long time. And I don’t know where you’re seeing an elephant.

Adam:

Rhinoceros or something in the middle there. Your avatar. Just next to your name.

Ghosty:

Well, you have the red-and-white eared thing. That would be me. A lama. Oh, down by the "post the empty feeling." That would be Ganesha.

Adam:

That’s, that’s… recognize that one. But, I was going for your avatar there which is kind of a tough looking rhinoceros looking guy.

Ghosty:

Rhinoceros? You know, I get called everything. I get called a horse; somebody called me a sheep one day; somebody else thought I was a yak; I’ve never been called a rhinoceros, that’s new. Especially since I don’t have a horn on my nose. It’s not a very big picture though.

Adam:

Yeah, it’s very low resolution. Anyway, so I’m calling as you know, because a lot of people have been asking how they can promote their Twibes. I figured the best way to find out would be to talk to the people who already have successful Twibes and you are the founder of the Second Life Twibe. So, the first thing I have to ask, and forgive me, don’t take this the wrong way, but are people still using Second Life? It was really big about two years ago, three years ago.

Ghosty:

[laughs] Question of the week!

Adam:

It’s on everybody’s lips.

Ghosty:

Well, let me ask you a question. Compared to the other Twibes that are in the system right now, how big is mine?

Adam:

292 members.

Ghosty:

And how many Twibes are there on the system that are bigger?

Adam:

Well, let’s see. Definitely, probably about 100 or less than 100 or less.

Ghosty:

Really, oh, OK.

Adam:

Over 20,000 Twibes, you’re in the top less than 1%.

Ghosty:

There’s lots of people using Second Life. [laughs] Lots. I mean, yeah, that’s a fair question because it, I mean it’s not the Internet darling that it was three or four years ago, where you couldn’t turn on the news without seeing a story about Second Life.
So, that era is sort of gone now and most of us that are involved with it are kind of happy about that. Because it’s like anything that ends up in mass media, there ends up being a lot of misinformation and a lot of bad press and a lot of people end up commenting on the thing that don’t have the first clue what it’s about or anything else. So, we’re sort of glad we’re past that era, you know. But, I don’t know what else to say about that beyond that…

Adam:

Clearly, you’re finding a really active community there. It’s a community that wants to reconnect outside of Second Life, so it’s alone as far as you’re concerned.

Ghosty:

Well, I mean Second Life is sort of an odd bird as far as the people that use it. You tend to be talking about a demographic that is a little bit older. I think the average age range is 30s to mid or late 40s with a healthy segment of the population being even older than that. I’m 50 myself. I know a lot of folks in Second Life that are in my age bracket.
You’re talking about a large population of people that are at least somewhat tech savvy. They tend to have better computers. They tend to have a better awareness of what it is to be connected online. I mean, that’s not global, but it’s a sizable percentage of the demographic there. So, when you have something like Twibes, it’s just… what’s the word I’m looking for?

Adam:

It’s an easy transition.

Ghosty:

Yeah, exactly. It’s an easy transition because you have people that are already online, they’re already networking, they’re already involved socially in some way with other people using the Second Life service. Chances are good they’re already on Twitter; so one leads to the other. It was a very natural progression. I made the Second Life Twibe as a lark. [laughs] I didn’t think anything was going to happy. I was like, "Oh, look, nobody’s made a Second Life Twibe. All right, I’ll do it." And now look.

Adam:

No, that’s good.

Ghosty:

It was very much a happy accident, you know?

Adam:

I think that’s important. Not that it’s important that it’s an accident, but it’s important that a Twibe has the right motivation behind it and it addresses the right common interests. Obviously this is a very passionate group.

Ghosty:

Oh, absolutely.

Adam:

And if Microsoft or Apple was to create a Second Life Twibe, or Linden Labs even was to create a Second Life Twibe, it wouldn’t have the same feeling behind it.

Ghosty:

Actually, that’s sort of funny because Linden Lab actually did create a Twibe. And I communicate with the particular Linden that created the thing. He comes on Twitter and he says, "Oh, I just created this thing." And I’m like, "Dude, why don’t you just come here and join ours?" And he goes and he looks and at the time there was like 200 people in it and he’s like, "Oh, sweet, well never mind that then. I’ll just do this."
Yeah, people are very passionate in Second Life about the platform because it’s so many things for so many different people. I mean, there’re a lot of folks that treat it as a game platform. But, there’re also a lot of people that treat it as a business platform or as an artistic platform which is what I do, or a social networking tool, or a marketing tool, or an educative tool.

And Linden Lab is sort of in a strange place because traditionally they’ve been a company that simply runs the grid. They do their best to keep it up and running. But, they’ve had a policy of no interference when it comes to what Second Life residents do. And now, as in the last six months or so, we’ve been seeing a lot of changes to that policy because they’re finding that, "OK, we have to start paying attention to copyright law. We have to start paying attention to intellectual property rights. We have to pay attention to the whole adult content thing. What are we going to do about that? What do we do about kids accessing the service? And in what form are they going to be allowed or not allowed?"

So, there’ve been a lot of changes that affects the entire community. When that sort of things happens, no matter what medium you’re talking about, you end up getting a lot of folks that are very excited, possibly misinformed, but all very passionate about what’s going to happen with their favorite playground. So, you get a lot of people that congregate simply because there’s a lot going on, and they want to be informed about it.

Adam:

Right. So, how does Twitter play into – I mean you’ve already got great communication channels within Second Life, what are people tweeting about when the tweet about Second Life on Twitter?

Ghosty:

Well normally it’s – there’s a lot of bloggers, there’s a lot of people that write commentary. There’re still occasional news stories that have to do with SL. And then you have commentary that comes out of the official Linden Lab blogs, and commentary from the Lindens themselves. And all of this gets filtered out into the media on some level, you know? You have the media sites like Mashable, or Rezzable is another one, that put out their own stuff related to SL, as well as a whole host of other virtual platforms.
You have a bazillion bloggers out there that are just residents that write what they think, or whatever. You know. And everybody, they’re just like any other blogger. They would use Twitter as a way of marketing their blog, or their latest post, or whatever artwork they’re coming up with out of Second Life, or what have you.

So, it’s very natural to… I found Twibes was sort of an interesting way to gather all of these different purposes that people have for the Second Life platform, and get them together into a single folder, if you will. And say "Look, we’re all doing different things, but we all have this same platform in common." And this way the Twibe serves as a way for anyone who’s involved with Second Life to go to a single place, and get a nice cross section of many different people doing many different things with the same platform.

And it gives you a better idea of the scope of creativity and usefulness that the platform actually has. And then you can break it down from there, and start chasing down particular residents, that are doing particular things from there.

And that’s been my quest for the last week or so, is I want to, now that this thing has happened. [laughs] And I’ve found myself owning this monster that’s growing by a few people everyday now, involuntarily. That’s now my new problem is how do I continue to – how do I use this? How do I take this from simply being something cool that relates to both Twitter and Second Life, and turn this into a community? You know?

I’m not envisioning an online forum; I’m not envisioning a blog. I’m envisioning maybe something that’s a little bit different.

Your introduction of the Twitter bot was actually – I found that to be rather useful. What I did was, I fed that bot the RSS feed from the Twibe. So now, whenever somebody posts something that is picked up by the Twibe, it’s reiterated by the bot. So, now it’s like, OK, it might be little difficult to follow that Twibe, necessarily. But, you can certainly follow a bot, and get the same content.

So, now we have the bot that’s simply repeating everything that comes through the Twibe. Then I took the general RSS feed for the bot, and now I have fed that to a Tumbler blog, along with a couple of other metrics from Twibes. And now that’s generating its own RSS feed, and I may just turn around a do something with that RSS feed now, to make it this accessible where anybody who joins the Twibe, can now simply take that RSS feed, pop it into a reader, and have everyday a sampling of everything that’s come through the Twibe in the last 24 hours. However they want to do it.

Adam:

Yeah, that sounds great.

Ghosty:

Well, the whole purpose of the thing is that there’s so much information about SL, it’s very hard to digest it. I mean we’re talking – SL has a current concurrency of somewhere around 60 to 80 thousand people that log in, and are in world at any one given time. We’re looking at well over a million logins every month. That’s a lot of people. There’s a lot going on all the time in SL.
And then you not only have the things that are going on in world, but you have the real life things that are going on dealing with Second Life; policy changes, what Linden Lab is up to, everybody’s different blogs, everybody’s different business activities, or artwork, or music or what have you. There’s a huge amount of content. It’s simply impossible to digest all of this by simply looking at Twitter, [laughs] or any number of blogs. It’s just too much to read.

So, I’m thinking this might be an interesting way to take this huge community, and have a way to sort of break it down into bite-sized nuggets that you can cruise through and pick out what you like, and go from there. That’s my thought anyway.

Adam:

Yeah. It’s definitely analogous to almost a city, for example. I mean with 80,000 people a day, and a million people a month, it is a city. And so in that sense it’s analogous to – like I was talking earlier today to the founder of the New Zealand Twibe, right? Where it’s just people from New Zealand trying to find each other on Twitter. It doesn’t mean they’re necessarily all interested in everybody’s Tweets, you’re not interested in everything going on in Second Life, but you do want a sampling to make sure you’re not missing out. And there will be stuff that you’re interested in, what’s happening in [inaudible 16:17].

Ghosty:

Absolutely, it’s exactly the same thing. Think of Second Life as just being another location. You’ve got all kinds that are doing many, many, many different things. But, they all have the same location in common. Very much the same thing.

Adam:

It would be interesting, Twitter’s just adding – I saw a post last week or so about how they’re adding geolocation to their API, to each Tweet, which obviously is what you do with that in the real world. It’d be interesting to hack that for Second Life. I don’t know if there’s a precedent where you could map a GPS coordinate in the real world, but it’s really a Second Life GPS coordinate, if you mapped them somehow. And therefore…

Ghosty:

Well, there’s a correlation there, sure. And that is something that Linden Lab has been wanting to do, and is only recently starting to actually work on is the interpolation between SL as a location, as a place, and the real world, as a place. So, you have sort of a GPS system, if you call it that, in Second Life, because the actual world is huge, it’s humongous. It’s simply impossible to see everything that there is to see. You’d be the equivalent of a world traveler. That’s all that you would do.
And there are folks that do that, they simply explore the grid. And some of them have been doing it for years, and they still haven’t seen everything yet. But, we have other systems that already talk to the web and systems on the web that talk back into SL. So, for example, if somebody sends me a message in world, if I’m not online to get it, it gets sent to my email. We can show online movies in SL. We can take content that’s in SL and present in on the web. So, there’s very much an open door there as far as that sort of thing. As far as a GPS kind of thing, that’s not out of the question. I think we’ll see that probably within the year.

Adam:

Great. Interesting. OK, I think what you’re doing with Twibes is exactly the type of thing I intended which is take it, remix it. I’ll hopefully come out very shortly here with some more JavaScript code that you can embed in other sites in addition to the feed. So, we might be able to take this list, this block of member photos at the top, and embed that somewhere.

Ghosty:

Whoo-hoo. [laughs]

Adam:

And in fact, take this Tweet functionality off of the Twibe page too. So, you can take that wherever you like. Because I’m not particularly married to [inaudible] on this page.

Ghosty:

Yeah, I have to agree. I have found little use for Tweeting to the Twibe, so to speak, more or less, in that fashion. I mean, it would be nice if I had a way, as the Twibe founder, if I had a way to message everybody that was in the Twibe for a particular thing. Like, "I’ve started a blog I created for the Twibe and here it is." And instead of just posting it into the Twibe, where it’s mixed in with all the other Tweets and it gets lost, to have a direct message capability. That would be great.
But beyond that, yeah, what you’ve intended seems to be exactly what’s needed. Because it’s very hard to gather all kinds of content about a particular place or a particular thing just using Twitter or just running around looking at blogs or what have you. This allows us to kind of condense the whole thing into a single feed. All right, fine, it’s from Twitter but whatever. Because everything else talks to Twitter, so that’s fine. That works great. And have that be able to be presented in a way that’s digestible.

So, I think, Twibes is perfect for this. I really do. I think it’s got a huge amount of potential, especially for users like us who are involved in a massive platform and there’s just so much information to be taken in. It’s like you were saying about the fellows in New Zealand. It’s so different. New Zealand, it’s a big place to walk around in. There’re a lot of people there; they all do different things. How do you mesh that all together?

Adam:

Well, great. This has been really good. Just to go back to what we started on. You said you use Second Life for your art. How do you define that? What’s your definition of art?

Ghosty:

[laughs] What’s my definition of art?

Adam:

What’s your specialty, I guess.

Ghosty:

I am what’s called an outsider artist, meaning that I haven’t had any formal training in art. So, I just kind of do what I do and for whatever reason people like it, which I didn’t think that they would. I only started putting my art in front of people a year ago.
I create digital art based on my own photography. So, I mean, I’ll go out on photo-taking sessions and I’ll just take lots and lots of pictures, wherever I go, little trips I take, whatever. And I take them for me, you know. But, if I see something unusual, I’ll snap it. And then after I’ve separated out all the photos that have to do with the vacation, I’ll have typically these photos left over that are kind of odd, for whatever reason, that maybe I took on purpose or maybe I didn’t. I’ll load them into the Gimp or some other tool. And I’ll just see what I can come up with that is visually entertaining or that says something more about the original picture that I took.

And I’ve been doing this for awhile just for my own amusement. Now, when I started working with Second Life, which was just over a year ago, I imported some of those photographs into Second Life because I had an apartment and I wanted to put some art on my walls. I said, "Well, I have some art. So, I’ll just put up my own art." A couple of people who happened to be professional photographers came over to visit one day and they saw what I had. They loved it. They were like, "Wow, where is this? Who is this? Where did you get this?" I was like, "This is mine."

So, they convinced to start showing my art in galleries in Second Life. That was a year ago and now I have my own gallery. I sell my art exclusively in Second Life for right now. And it’s allowed me to get my art in front of a lot of people. Now I’m ready to start taking the steps necessary to bring my art into real life galleries, because now I have a much better idea of what works, what doesn’t work, what people do like, what people don’t like.

And now I can start making a go at it as a professional artist, based on my feedback that I’ve gotten from other people, having them, allowing them to see my art in SL – which is a lot easier than asking them to come to New Jersey or trying to get them to go to a website. Now you have a three dimensional space where you can look and appreciate the art. I am there. You can talk directly with me. Together with viewing the piece, I get to show the piece to a group that can interact with me. It’s just perfect. If you’re an artist or a musician, SL is great for that kind of marketing. It allows you to put your stuff right out in front of people and you can get instant feedback about it.

Adam:

Well, great. I sure appreciate you taking the time to tell me a little bit about yourself and what’s going on with the Second Life Twibe today. If anything else comes up, you know where to find me – adam@twibes.

Ghosty:

Same here. And I appreciate your listening to my babbling for twenty minutes.

Adam:

No, no, no. This is all fascinating. So, I’ll keep you in the loop as we get more. We get some stuff ready to go. I’ll just be satisfied with knowing I’ve at least spoken to Ghosty now.

Ghosty:

Yeah, there you go. Man, I’m always here. I think Twibes is awesome. I think it has huge potential as, not just like the catch phrase social networking tool, I think there’s some serious potential there for – I don’t want to say social networking, I don’t think that’s really the right phrase.

Adam:

Meeting the real people however you can get it done.

Ghosty:

Yeah, exactly. And getting probably as a tool of having a much better way of getting a cross-section of different types of people then you could do with say Twitter or Facebook or whatever. Because now you have people that have self-identified with particular things. They’re from New Zealand. They’re with Second Life. They do or they live or they are whatever. And because they’ve self-identified and they talk about those particular things, it takes a lot of the leg work out of the process. I think Twibes is great, man. I think it has huge potential.

Adam:

Well, thank you very much again.

Ghosty:

All right, man. Well, thank you. Good talking to you.

Adam:

All right. Bye bye.

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