Do you think Instagram would be more fun if it were an experience rather than a site? Do you think advertising could benefit from more interactivity? Do you like playing games? Do you want to make money the new-fashioned way? Linden Lab says they have what you’re looking for.
Linden Lab, the makers of Second Life, is unveiling the beta of their latest innovation: dio. dio is a simple yet powerful site that blends website design and social web, where you can create an explorable space that people can visit, move around, and leave comments in. It works by allowing you to upload photos and add actions, which can result in other actions, or even an entire chain of events.
As of today, it’s available to beta users to design, play, and share.
Linden Lab producer Bo Barfield showed me some of what dio has to offer. I found five aspects particularly engaging.
But first, check out this video: (For more tutorial videos, look under the Help menu.)
1. You can use dio to recreate a place, such as your home, so you can show off your mad decorating skillz to friends and family (or everyone. You can make your space as public or private as you want). You can also read their comments or leave comments for them about their taste in sink skirts.
2. You can recreate an experience, such as a wedding. Give your guests and those who couldn’t attend a good look at your gown, the reception room, the wedding toast. Sounds like a typical photo-sharing site, right? Wrong.
dio is one-upping that model by organizing the experience into “rooms” (say, the engagement, the wedding, the reception, etc.), which creates a natural flow. You can also add audio and video to your site, so instead of telling your friends and family about the bouquet toss, you can upload the video of it.
3. You can create games with pictures, which makes it more visually appealing than the text-based games of yore. And in case your visitors become confused in the maze of twisty little passages all alike, they can inspect the menus on the left-hand side of the page for their next options. It also supports objects you can pick up and take with you and use elsewhere.
In fact, as Barfield said, “Any object can trigger another action on any other object, so only after you had a conversation, you can have a new characters how up in your story or a new room appear.” This makes dio perfect for recreating implement text-based adventures such as the classic Colossal Cave.
Coincidentally, you can even play Colossal Cave.
(You can also play a particularly amusing game called “A Wasp,” which locks you in a room with a caffeinated wasp. You need to find a way to leave the room using only the objects inside. Entertainingly, you can pick up a pair of scissors; the helpful notes then tell us, “Luckily, there’s not enough room to run. You should be safe.”)
4. Barfield told me, “You can combine these game-like experiences in places where they traditionally wouldn’t be. As an example, a hotel that’s trying to find a new way to advertise and make money can recreate their hotel in dio, and then make a short and easy game that takes a few minutes. Say Clare Danes lost her beloved emerald earrings. Find it somewhere in the hotel, and you get a free bottle of champagne with your stay. It’s using gamification in a richer way. It’s not just about getting badges or achievements: It gets customers imagining themselves in your hotel or whatever it is you’re trying to market.”
5. But here’s where dio can reach out and gut-punch the rest of the Internet: They will eventually pay you. Barfield said, “We want to implement revenue sharing with the content creators of dio to give people an incentive to create interesting spaces. We’re going to give them a cut of the advertising revenue that they bring.
“We’ve seen that work exceptionally well in Second Life, where users can monetize their own creation…. If I create a dio place that’s very compelling and is getting lots of traffic, then I’ll be able to monetize that as a share with Linden Lab.”
Remember a few short weeks ago when Instagram changed their terms and conditions “to sell users photos without consent or compensation” and only reversed their decision after “an outpouring of internet fury?” Linden will be giving rather than taking. It’s a great concept, one that I can’t wait to see implemented. Linden plans this for a future release.
Of course, dio is not perfect. (It’s in beta. Of course it’s not perfect.) For example, there’s a dearth of content, but the more people who participate, the more there there will be.
The look of the site is rough, deliberately so. According to Barfield, “We really want to see how people are going to end up using these products, the kinds of things they want to do and the kinds of features that are going to be priorities for them, so that can partly influence our development roadmap.”
dio could also use a few more tutorial videos, particularly as the site grows and develops.