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Metabirds: Interview with Naoyoshi Shimaya,CEO

Tue, May 27, 2008


I met Naoyoshi, CEO of Metabirds, at the Electric Sheep Company’s party during the Virtual Worlds Conference, 2008. And, ever since then, I have been looking forward to hearing more about Naoyoshi’s vision for the future of virtual worlds and his pioneering company Metabirds that has developed 25 sims in Second Life ™ (A registered Trademark of Linden Lab).

The first part of this interview began in a gmail conversation and then we met in Second Life to talk at length about a number of directions Naoyoshi is exploring; including his blog portal web site and point service “SLMaMe”, his ventures in OpenSim with a brand new project OpenNebula, and his pioneering of manufacturing 2.0 with Naturum Islands Resort in Second Life.

SLMaMe (for the Google translation see here), Nao points out, “gets 14,000,000 page views per month.” Also SLMaMe’s innovative point service, Nao explains below, is the basis for micropayments in 2D/3D virtualworlds.


Interview with Naoyoshi Shimaya, CEO of Metabirds: Part One


Tish: Could you tell me a bit about what Metabirds have been doing lately? What are your latest projects?

Nao: Our biggest project is “SLMaMe”, which is blog portal web site about virtual worlds. It gets 14,000,000 page views per month. We produce the “Naturum Islands Resort” project in SL. It’s an outdoor resort region that uses 2 SIMs. Naturum is an EC website which is the biggest outdoorgoods EC. They have blog comunity. Metabirds brought them into SL.

And we are planning to create real outdoor product using SL creators’ design.

Tish: Are you still mainly focused in SL? Or are you working in other virtual worlds?

Nao: We are interested in the OpenSimsolution, and we have started creating a grid, OpenNebula. Also, we are interested in other metaverses.
Especially, we are interested in:
* virtual worlds in which we can create objects
* virtual worlds in which we can do business
( sell and buy objects, services, lands… using virtual money which can exchange
to real money.

Tish: How is Second Life doing in Japan? I sometimes visit Japanese sims and see a lot of enthusiasm for music and fashion? What are the most successful parts of SL from you perspective?

Nao: Creatives/arts and businesses. I believe it’s absolutely necessary for us to develop the virtual world.

Tish: What do you think is the way forward for SL in Japan? And for Virtual World adoption in Japan?
Nao: I think time will provide a solution to many of the Hardware/Software/Network problems. And the problems will be solved soon, if we keep wanting an ideal virtual world.

And, most companies will come into virtual worlds after people/users come into virtual worlds.

Tish: What are, from your point of view, the biggest changes necessary to SL to make it more appealing to a large audience in Japan?

Nao: *stability, using world wide distributed processing servers

Tish: and… for all virtual worlds..

Nao:

*output devices ( e.g. glasses )
*input devices ( e.g. brain waves )

Tish: In the US there has been a recent upsurge in 3D chat rooms and lite weight 3D and walled garden virtual worlds. Is this the same in Japan and are you still optimistic that an immersive free form 3D programmable space like SL can expand its appeal to a mass audience?

Nao: I think…
“3D chat rooms and lite weight 3D and “walled garden virtual worlds” are just services.
Second Life and other CREATIVE virtual worlds are next infrastructure for the internet.

The former can boom and can get a lot of users in the short period (1~5 years)

The latter can get a lot of users in the long period ( 3~10 years )
Because there are a lot of interesting services that can be born in these platforms.

Tish: What do you see, if any, is the role for virtual worlds in positive global development?

Nao:

*Business
The virtual market can be the biggest market we have ever found.
It will show a hidden labor force all over the world.

I think virtual wealth can be as valuable as real wealth, in the meaning that they provide – happiness… to make our life happy.
We can exchange virtual goods with each other using virtual/real money.
Businesses can develop that also provide real life goods,services for people.

*Community
We can connect with other people more richly using virtual worlds than previous internet services.
It will be able to create more powerful “Imagined communities” using real/virtual mixed world.
Some will fail, but, some communities will gain influence in “real” life all over the world.

Part 2: In Second Life

Tara5 Oh: Adam Johnson mentioned to me that Metabirds and Genkii are working together?
Nao Noe: Genkii is our partner.

Tara5 Oh: Does “Open Nebula” have an English client?

Nao Noe: “Open Nebula” is small now, because it has just started. You can join using SL client in English. But we don’t have English website, and English information yet

Nao Noe: You can log in “Open Nebula” using SL client launched with ”  -loginuri http://60.32.217.116:8002/ -set systemLanguage ja”
-loginuri http://60.32.217.116:8002/

Nao Noe: You can register user account at

http://opennebula.net/RegistUser/entry_1.php

Tara5 Oh: Cool I will try and go in! Do you anticipate putting up an English website soon?

Nao Noe: We want to make English website…… but we don’t have time now.

Nao Noe: “Open Nebula” is a wasteland now, and not stable. It’s just a test project.

Tara5 Oh: I am very interested in how people feel assets will be built up in OpenSim projects? Are u thinking of building a virtual economy and using micropayments in the future?

Nao Noe: Yes I am. We have SLMaMe, which is blog portal website. In SLMaMe, we have a point service.

Nao Noe: I think the point service will be used for micropayments in 2D/3D virtualworlds.

Tara5 Oh: What do you mean by a point service?

Nao Noe: For now, a blog user can get 10 SLMaMe points(named MaMeTa ), when their adsence is clicked. The user will change these points to L$ next month. And, in the near future, the user can buy “MaMeta” with L$, JPY, US$ and, can get a lot of services in many Virtual Worlds.

Tara5 Oh: So an ad on a blog can earn you SLMaMe points which you can then convert into L$ ?

Nao Noe: Yes

Nao Noe: I want to make this point service to a virtual currency.

Nao Noe: But, I’m not interested in just “exchange money”.

Tara5 Oh: What is your interest?

Nao Noe: I want people to change virtual items, virtual services……. I want people to do interesting businesses using our currency.

Tara5 Oh: One of the big challenges for OpenSource virtual worlds is to make incentives for people to build interesting assets but they also want to be able to port assets across worlds. Do you see assets being exchanged between SL and OpenNebula?

Nao Noe: I think our economies/grid can be exist equally with LL and other real countries’ economy. But, it’s small :-) we are creating very very small country. If we want to exchange money/asset with another VW, other real country, I think it’s just a political and technical problem.
But, if we want more and more, to exchange with other world/country, it will be realized in the near future.

Tara5 Oh:
Yes I agree with you!

Tara5 Oh:
How has the Japanese community in Second Life been growing? I see a lot of cool music and fashion events!

Nao Noe: I love Japanese users’ music and fashion very much.

Nao Noe: It’s very important that we introduce them into real world people.

Nao Noe: so, I made SLMaMe website.

Nao Noe: I know a lot of users become SL user, after reading user blogs.

Nao Noe: We are planning to create Real goods with Naturum. We are choosing a SL creator in fashion contest event in SLMaMe.

Tara5 Oh: There are a lot of English speaking admirers of Japanese fashion in SL!

Tara5 Oh: Cool are you hoping to do some RL integration?

Nao Noe: Yes

Nao Noe:
At first, we are trying to create clothes in small lots, using SL creator’s design.

Nao Noe: Naturum has manufacturing network, because they have large EC website.

Nao Noe: we are trying for “manufacturing2.0″

Tara5 Oh: What other VWs besides SL and OpenSim are Metabirds developing in?

Nao Noe: I’m interested in HipiHi. I want to make SLMaMe into English and Chinese version. In the Chinese Version, HiPiHi is very important.

Tara5 Oh: In the US the Electric Sheep have moved a lot to 2.5 D and closed virtual worlds!

Nao Noe: I know ESC are moving a lot 2.5D

Nao Noe: I think it’s important in the near future, to maintain the company.

Tara5 Oh: in the US there is a huge interest in 3D immersive for corporate collaboration and education . Is that true in Japan?

Nao Noe: In my opinion, it’s true. OpenSim is a strong platform for this we will introduce OpenSim to companies.

Tara5 Oh: so to follow up on my question about 2.5 D has Metabirds managed to stay focused on the 3D immersive without having to develop more in 2.5D and flash like ESC?

Nao Noe: We are very small company, we don’t need many fixed cost. It’s a simple solution for us.

Tara5 Oh: So you continue to find SL devlopment profitable?

Nao Noe: SL, OpenSim, HiPiHi, SLMaMe.

Tara5 Oh:
Which all develop the immersive 3D path which is good I think!

Tara5 Oh: Melting Dots also felt their communities in SL were strong and growing although they work across other platforms. Do you feel this about your SL communities? How many sims do you have in SL?

Nao Noe: about 25 and we have SLMaMe comunity gathering thousands of SL core users who are VW core users in Japan. it’s very strong.

Tara5 Oh: What does MaMe mean in English?

Nao Noe: Bean

Nao Noe: SLMaMe is a broad bean.

Tara5 Oh: heh Bean is a slang word for currency in English too!

Tara5 Oh: Do you have your own portal for Metabirds sims in SL?

Nao Noe: our company site is http://www.metabirds.com/ and http://www.metabirds.com/service/metaworld.html is information.

Nao Noe: And we are planning to create Social Network Site website for the metabirdssims(metaworld) user http://metaworld.jp/

Tara5 Oh: how many people work for Metabirds now?

Nao Noe: about 10.

Tara5 Oh: and you are based in Tokyo?

Nao Noe: Yes, but our staff live all over Japan.

Tara5 Oh: so you are a virtual company too?

Nao Noe: Yes.

Nao Noe: We are using SL and Skype to communicate with each other.

Tara5 Oh: Melting Dots said they saw themselves primarily as virtual world event creators and an agency specializing in social media – how do you describe Metabirds?

Nao Noe:
We are “Virtual World Business Developer.”

Tara5 Oh: I saw the recent press release from NTT.

NTT, the largest telecommunication company in Japan will invest in the NGI group with a total of 1,630,000,000 yen. NGI group is the owner of 3Di so NTT is planning to work on metaverse business with their new NGN (Next generation network) system (see Second Times).

Tara5 Oh: What do you think are the implications of this for Japanese virtual World development?

Nao Noe: I think it’s good for hardware/network infrastracture for virtual worlds.

Nao Noe: and, on their service, Metabirds can provide a lot of businesses then, then the users will become happy :) If they provide low cost and stable infrastracture, it’s very good for us.

categories: manufacturing 2.0, Metarati, Metaverse, Mixed Reality, Second Life, social media, virtual communities, virtual economy, virtual goods, Virtual Worlds, virtual worlds in Japan, Web 2.0, World 2.0
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