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Have you noticed the new SL “Destination Guide” ?

I think we all need to keep our eye on the changes and new content on the SL homepages.

A few days ago a Music Island audience member came to me to say that she’d tried to point a new resident in the direction of my Music Island concert series, telling her that it could be found under the Showcase tab in “Music Venues”…. but… it wasn’t there! She’d looked on the web and discovered that there was a new “Destination Guide” replacing showcase and that “classical” had ceased to exist as a genre so Music Island had ceased to exist as well apparently. (And yet we are still hosting concerts weekly).

I finally got around to wrestling with this yesterday morning. Indeed at that time there wasn’t a single category in “Music” that I could put our series in. “Indie/Alternative” was perhaps the closest among the choices which ranged from Club/Bar, to Rock, to Blues/Jazz, Country… and so on. All the sub-sets of popular, social music were there.

With some difficulty I found a link to a submission form for a “new” listing (for a series operating since 2007) and started to fill it in. First problem, I needed a photo with specific dimensions hosted on Flickr only. (I use Picassa). Damn… searching on my old computer for an old Flickr account user-name. Edit a photo to exact specs and upload, figure out how to get the URL for the photo in a changed Flickr interface. Next problem…. the field with “genre”…. I leave it blank. Write my summary and comments. Hit submit. Submission fails. I try again picking Indie/Alternative and sending along comments about how this was just to get the bleeping submission form to load. Submission fails. I have now spent two hours trying to solve this. I do more searches on the SL site and in the wiki I find a link to an email address to send to if the Destination Guide submission form borks up on you. I pile all my information in an email … with assorted bitching attached… and fire it off.

Later in the day I tell this story at an inworld meeting and someone searches on Music Island and surprisingly finds it on the Destination Guide. It was in fact the submission I had made earlier in the day (miracle of miracles) but it was slotted with 18 assorted others in a new “genre” category called “Live Music Spots”. Hmmmm. I think a number of the rock, country, etc. venues also hold “live events” so this is confusing and a “live music spot” is not a “genre”. Since Music Island is on page 3 of the category, I’m sure that we weren’t the first ones to say… “hey where are we supposed to fit in this guide?” I was left wondering why in this age where “everything is miscellaneous” we weren’t seeing a system based on tagging with the resultant folksonomy rather than trying to create a classification system which will always be limited by the knowledge and worldview of the classifier…. as demonstrated by his/her ignoring of classical music in SL.

Although this might seem like a somewhat happy ending to the story, no one at the meeting using the old viewer or a TPV could access all of the information on the Destination Guide intuitively. Clicking the old “Showcase” tab on search brought up a link to the new Destination Guide but only showed them up only the first few categories on the guide.

Just in case you thought “search” was getting better.

This is not a deathly blow to the Music Island series because I have built up an inworld group of 1575 members and a maillist of 900 more. Most people come to concerts through group notices or at the invitation of a group member. I also post on a few other related groups where appropriate. However, I initially built the group from people finding the venue listing in events or showcase and checking us out. I don’t know how many times people have said to me that it took them weeks/months to find Music Island and once there they connected to other events, groups and individuals who led them to an enriched cultural life in SL, that in fact their attendance had been a major turning point in their participation and retention in SL. For the most part these are well-educated and affluent consumers with a lot to offer the virtual world.

So let’s make it difficult for them to find the cultural activities they crave?

p.s. Since writing this post I have heard from someone else not happy with another classification of their favorite spot.

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