Thursday, July 28, 2011

2013 PROMO: Schedules: Second Life already has a calendar. Why would we need another?

Second Life already has a calendar.  
Why would we need another?
In case you have forgotten, you can visit the Second Life event calendar at this link:
Second Life Calendar of Events

I checked out the calendar in its current form.  For this post, I tested it as a beginner might. Here is what I found.
The above display shows what beginners would see if they signed in and clicked on an event.  For people who are not signed in, the selected event panel shows blank.    
You can "Search by event date, time or category."
Well, actually,  you can search by date-time (these go together) AND category. In other words. you can pick a specific date and time, then search by category.  So I can find events going on right now or this evening or tomorrow evening.  I can narrow the search to a specific category, such as live music.  So far, so good.    
But the categories only work for me if I am looking for a category, such as Live Music, that is on the list.  If I want a particular genre, I am there without a paddle.  I can, of course, look over the live music offerings for any day and decide whether I see anything interesting.  But I can't find out whether Second Life ever has any kind of classical music on offer.  At least, not from this calendar.
This is the category list:
  • Arts and Culture    (3)
  • Charity Support groups  (1)
  • Commerce  (9)
  • Discussions (0)
  • Education  (23)
  • Games/contests (13)
  • Live Music  (34)
  • Misc (10)
  • Night Life/Entertainment (24)
  • Pagents (0)
  • Sports  (1)
The numbers is parentheses indicate the number of such events in the time period under consideration.  That period was Saturday morning, May 6-to May 7 (24 hours).
Yeah-- those numbers do look small to me.  The numbers lead me to wonder whether some some event managers are not bothering with the Second Life Calendar.  I can well understand that view, particularly if you are doing something like comedy, which has no place in the Second Life calendar.
I don't think this set of categories has changed since I last used the Second Life calendar to look for  entertainment.  That was back in '05.  Linden Lab was trying hard to show they could run 4,000 concurrent users.  They actually did run that many users. But probably not without breaking a sweat.  
Back then, I looked at the calendar a few times, quit, and never looked back. The categories were never going to give me the details I needed to find something interesting.  My guess was then, and is now, that those categories were put there as place holders for the time when a serious set of categories was available.  Apparently, that is not yet.  
In these more modern times, of course, we would not think of categories at all. (Search by category is so last century.)  We would think in terms of key words or of the interest listings, as in the Second Life resident profiles.  And that technology is readily available to Linden Lab, since they already have it operating in the profiles.    
I wonder if anybody at Linden Lab presently has the job of considering whether search in the Second Life Event Calendar could be improved.
If I do find an event that I want to attend now or in the near  future, the calendar gives me about the same service I would get from a slurl.  I can click on the Where entry and get a landmark immediately if I have Second Live open.  If I don't have Second Life open, I get the viewer loaded and an offer to open.  If I take that offer, I get signed in, but find that Second Life does nor remember where I was going.  I have to click on the Where item again to get the landmark to my destination.
So how well does this calendar do?
As usual, the answer depends on the objective.
Apparent objective:  Help residents find out what is happening in Second Life right now or in the next few hours.
On this objective, the Second Life Calendar does quite well, assuming most people are posting their events.    Whether most people are posting their events or not, I can't tell, but the daily offerings I have seen do seem sparse.
Comments, possible improvements
Prospective residents cannot see much about the offerings because they cannot log in.  I can't tell non-residents to look at the calendar to see what is happening in Second Life.  I can send them to the Destination Guide, though. That  does a much better job of selling to prospective residents.
The category search methodology is way out of date and could be improved by application of the social matching technology used in the current profiles system.  Performers and venues can use it now in their profiles.


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