Archive - Nov 2007

November 30th

A Brief Analysis of Macroeconomic Forces in Second Life

Recently, there has been a lot of discussion about the IPOs on the VSTEX stock exchange in Second Life. Stock sales have been going slowly and everyone is offering their opinions why. These opinions range from concerns about the secondary public offering of SLC stock to what the marketing plans and road shows of the various companies are like. On these later points, VSTEX has written some helpful information for new CEOS. Yet I think there is another aspect that needs exploring, the macroeconomic forces in Second Life.

Over the past two years, the money supply in Second Life has been growing at a monthly rate of around 9%. At some points, that growth as been as high as 15%. At other points it has dropped to as low as 3%. In the past few months, it has been around 6%. (This is based on data retrieved from Second Life’s Economic Statistics.)

How does this compare with the growth in the Second Life Markets, and with VSTEX in particular? Detailed data from the exchanges is a little hard to come by. It can be sliced and diced a bunch of different ways and may be a bit misleading based on the newness of the exchanges. Nonetheless, there are some interesting ways to slice the data that I’ve received.

During the month of November, VSTEX deposits grew by around 1.5 Million Lindens, or around 35%. In October, they grew by 1.8 Million Lindens, which was about a 68% increase over the preceding month. That is around 3.3 million during the two-month period. During the same period, the Second Life money supply grew by approximately 223 Million Lindens, meaning that VSTEX accounted for approximately 1.5% of the money supply growth in Second Life during October and November. I am impressed with that number and it emphasizes my belief that financial markets in Second Life are more important than many people realize.

Is this because VSTEX was in startup growth mode? How much of this is because of IPOs during the two months? Will this number increase over the coming months? Working with the assumption that growth will continue at between 1.5 and 1.8 Million Lindens a month, it is useful to go back and look at the status of the outstanding IPOs on VSTEX.

Currently, there are six companies with IPOs and a seventh that has a secondary offering. How does the amount of IPO shares outstanding compare with these numbers?

As of earlier today, for all of the IPO shares to be sold, 5.8 Million Lindens will need to be invested. For each company to meet the minimum 50% that VSTEX requires for a successful IPO, 2.6 Million Lindens needs to be invested over the next two weeks. The current rate of investing only can account for about 30% of this.

This brings us back to key issues about IPOs. New CEOs need to think carefully about how much money they need from their IPOs, how much it is reasonable to get, and how they are going to go out and get it. So far, I’ve only heard from one company about their IPO, and I’ve invested with them.

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Who Won Last Night’s Debate?

As with any debate, each campaign likes to claim victory, independent of what actually happened, and I like to take a different viewpoint. So, I am going to declare two winners of last night’s debate in Ridgefield.

The first winner was Howard Dean. Yes, he isn’t running for President this time around and none of the proxies were there to speak on his behalf. However, three of the five proxies had been very involved in Gov. Dean’s 2004 Presidential bid. I don’t know about the other two, although one of the other two did benefit from a fundraiser that Gov. Dean did on the proxy’s behalf.

At the 2004 Democratic National Convention, Gov. Dean spoke at various venues, and one of the key lines I remember from those speeches is, “If all you do is vote, you get a D.” He was pointing out that being involved in our democracy is so much more than just making it to the voting booth. The proxies on the stage, in addition to having worked hard for Gov. Dean in 2004, in addition to being proxies for candidates in this debate, have each run for elected office. They are the A students.

On top of that, every person who showed up for the debate, and those that listened to the stream on MyLeftNutmeg, somewhere between 70 and 100 people, are also honors students. Instead of simply catching a soundbite here and there and going to the polls as low information voters, each one of them stopped and participated in a grassroots discussion about where our country should be going. They are the other winners of last night’s debate.

Major kudos should go to Susan Cocco and everyone who worked together to make this wonderful event happen. It should be a model that Democratic committees and clubs around the country should emulate.

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Today in Second Life

The other day on the Second Life Educators mailing list, in quick succession, I received two interesting emails. One was from a group of students organizing a game of Laser Tag in Second Life. It will take place today from 3:30 to 5:30 PM (SLT). For those of us on the eastern coast of the United States, that means the games start at 6:30. You can stop by at the Educators Coop island.

Then, starting at 5:30 PM (SLT), 8:30 PM for me, there will be an art show sponsored by students of the same class. It will take place in a different part of Educators Coop island.

Both events are sponsored by students in Joe Sanchez’ class, Working in Virtual Worlds. For more information about what Joe and his friends are up to, I strongly recommend you stop by and read his blog.

I haven’t gotten a chance to read it as thoroughly as I would like, but looking briefly, it looks like a great blog. In particular, one of the groups from his class raised L$ 72,00 for charity. I’ve also spoken with some of the students, as well as with Joe and I’m looking forward to attending at least one of these events, if not both.

If you can make the time, I hope you’ll stop in as well.

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November 29th

Advancing the Dialog - Presidential Proxy Debate

This evenings debate is part of an ongoing series to discuss the major issues of our day at a grassroots level. These sort of grassroots discussions are key to promoting democracy. During the introductions, Rudy Marconi, First Selectman of Ridgefield, who was elected for a historic fifth term with over 70% of the vote was introduced as was Selectperson Di Masters as well as a member fo the Ridgefied Board of Education.

Several DTC chairs and former chairs were then introduced, including Karen Dolan of Redding, Martha Aasen, former DTC chair from Westport and State Central member, and Fran Besmer of Kent. Jim Himes, Democratic Candidate for the Fourth Congressional District was also introduced.

The proxies for the candidates where then introduced. Richard Brodsky, NYS Assemblyman from the 92nd district which is around Dobbs Ferry is speaking on behalf of Hillary Clinton. David Stevenson, a long time Democracy for America activist is speaking on behalf of Kucinch. Kim Hynes is speaking on behalf of Edwards. Susan Cocco who is running the debate noted Kim's patent in anti-fungal research, as well as her involvement in the Dean campaign and running as a State Rep candidate. Lex Paulson is representing Obama. Lex was also involved in the Dean campaign and ran for State Rep. Jim Sullivan is representing the Dodd campaign. Jim ran for Congress in the Second Congressional District in Connecticut in 2004.

Following this, Susan introduced the bloggers, Matt from MyLeftNutmeg, Jackie from YourCTBlog and myself.

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Polling machine auditing and Presidential Debates

Spending time in Waterbury yesterday gave me a lot to think about, some of which may find its way into the debate in Ridgefield this evening. Kathy Dopp of the National Election Data Archive writes that “the major problem with CT's audits is that it takes place so long after the election that anyone wanting to rig the election has loads of time” to tamper with the results. She points to efforts in Utah to require a mandatory vote count audit. There will be discussions over the coming weeks about how the vote count audit can be improved, and the concern about the time between the end of voting and the auditing of counting needs to be considered.

Another topic that was discussed at the Registrars’ office during the vote counting was the great income disparity between the poorer parts of Connecticut and the gold coast. When I got home, I found an email from a friend pointing to a great website for analyzing the 2000 census figures, www.zipskinny.com. It provided a stark contrast between parts of Connecticut.

In Weston (06883) and Darien (06820) the median income is $146,000 and only 2% of the people live below the poverty level. An hour up the road in Waterbury (06702) the median income is $11,000 with 40% of the people living below the poverty level. Head up into Hartford (06120) and the poverty level goes up to 44%.

This evening at 7 PM, there will be a debate in the Dayton Room of the Ridgefield Public Library, Main St. Ridgefield, CT when the Democratic Town Committees of Ridgefield, Wilton, Weston and Westport present representatives of various Democratic Presidential campaigns. Hopefully, this event will inject a bit of retail Presidential politics into Connecticut and many of you will attend. I will be there wearing my blogger hat.

I’ve been toying with questions that I would like to ask. Being there as a blogger, my thoughts for my initial question were something like, “With the growth of use of the Internet, the media landscape is changing. Anyone can publish online, and this has great potential for our democracy. How will your candidate make sure that the Internet’s potential to facilitate our democracy is not impeded? It is a broad question providing candidates opportunities to talk about net neutrality, copyright issues, media consolidation, media education, and so on.

Yet as I look at the numbers from Zipskinny, I am considering asking how the candidates plans will affect the vast income disparity in our country, and in our state, where one community, less than an hours drive from its neighbor has 20 times the poverty level and the median income level is less than a tenth of its neighbor.

Perhaps these questions are linked. What role does the mainstream media have in its lack of coverage of issues of poverty in America? What role does the Internet have in providing tools to help people out of poverty?

Let me know what you think should be asked for questions, and check back this evening, where I hope to live blog the debate.

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