2ndHub is a social media site specifically developed for users of Second Life. In this 2-part review, I take a tour of the site and look at the various features and options.
In part one, I gave a general overview of the site, and looked at setting up accounts and profiles, as well as how to gain an overview of the various sections of the site.
In this part, I look at the various communications options for 2ndHub, including Events management, and I take a look at the tools provided free of charge by the site for in-world integration and connectivity and provide my personal feelings on 2ndhub.
You can notify 2ndHub users of upcoming events via the MY EVENTS tab, which allows you to set up multiple events which then appear in the Current and Future Events list on member’s MY HUB page (located on the left side of the page, under the Business Spotlight section.
Events are counted down in terms of the number of hours before they commence, while clicking on the + button can open-up an additional pane of information on the events (what is is, who is participating, for example) as well as displaying any SURL / URL that was included in the original event notice. I personally find it more appealing than the SL “dashboard” web page Events list.
Communications within 2ndHub are pretty impressive. Within your Profile page and your My Hub page is a Twitter-like set-up, comprising a “What’s Happening” text entry box, and a series of tabs: My Personal Feed, My Priority Feed, Public Feed and My Activity Feed.
The “What’s Happening” text box allows you to send out messages on any subject you like – how you’re feeling, general greetings, observations, etc., – a-la Twitter and Plurk. Messages can be targeted to go to all 2ndHub users, or just to your Friends, or even just to yourself. You can also set-up who can comment in reply.
Like Plurk, images (from your Flickr account, at least, if you have one) and YouTube videos can be embedded into messages. These will be displayed as a link in the message until clicked upon, which will either expand the image / video within the message window, allowing it to be viewed / played. Clicking the link again will close the displayed image / video.
In a further nod to Plurk, you can add a descriptor to a message (i.e. “Inara Pey says,”, “Inara Pey shouts”, etc.).
The HUD option that can be downloaded from the site (see Tools, below) extends the messaging capability further, allowing you to send messages to the 2ndHub site from in-world – very useful if you’re enjoying an event or something and you think others might like to pop along.
Additionally, 2ndHub includes a live chat engine, allowing you to chat directly with other friends who are online (or leave them offline messages). However, this is purely on a one-to-one basis: you cannot invite two or more people into a live chat session (or at least, none I’ve been able to find), which is a shame.
Group communications allow for the creation of Group-based notices which can be posted either to the 2ndhub website or in-world (where they will be received by all avatars within the Group, providing you have a 2ndHub delivery server set-up (see Tools, below). The system supports the sending of attachments (in-world items) with notices, making them almost as flexible as in-world Group notices.
In-world HUD. Looking like a small remote control, the HUD provides you with a means of connecting to 2ndhub from in-world. With it, you can:
- Friends: Send messages to a specific friend when they are not online (or if you are not connected to them as Friends in-world) leave a comment for them on their profile (will also appear in your Personal and Priority feeds; invite a 2ndHub friend to join one of your Groups
- Groups: Post a Group notice; invite someone near you in-world to join a 2ndHub Group you’ve created (they *do not* have to have a 2ndHub account in order to do so)
- Posting: send a message to your Profile (will be displayed on your MY HUB page in the Personal, Priority and Public feeds
- Mail: Allows you to alter your e-mail settings associated with 2ndHub
- Image Viewer: allows you to use the HUD to view images loaded into it (an interesting tool, but not overly useful, although it does rather nattily cause the HUD to rotate through 90 degrees to a landscape orientation for easier image browsing)
- Settings: Get the HUD’s help Notecard determine whether you wish to use Second Life’s chat box to enter text with using the HUD or a dedicated pop-up text box (chat line option may not work in all SL Viewers).
Delivery Server: a single-prim in-world server (think SLM Magic Box) that enables you to send Group notices in-world and add attachments to such Notices. There is a dedicated sub-tab under MY TOOLS for managing any Delivery Servers you deploy in-world.
Subscriber Boards: wall-, or floor-mounted board that allow avatars in-world to subscribe to any defined 2ndHub Group(s) you have set-up (one board per Group). Subscribers will be able to receive Group notices, etc., without losing a Second Life Group slot. Like Delivery Servers, there is a dedicated sub-tab under MY TOOLS for managing any Subscriber Boards you deploy in-world.
The tools are all available from MY TOOLS -> Tool Delivery and are free of charge. Each tool selected will be delivered in-world to your avatar.
Overall, 2ndHub is a well-considered website that offers potential for Second Life users who wish to widen their SL-related social networking links and opportunities. Business interests are reasonably well supported, while things like communications capabilities and Group support are well thought-out. The level of SL integration is very good, offering considerable flexibility of use.
Not everything on the site is completed, nor is everything entirely logical. The latter is a minor quirk, and easily overcome; the former suggests that active development of the site might be a little lacking – possibly because the current take-up is perhaps on the low side (around 2.5K registered users at present). Various items like greeters and vendor systems have been promised, but there is no clear indication as to whether these are being actively works upon or not.
Getting to grips with the site – beyond setting up profiles – can be a tad confusing, this is not helped by the fact that there is no apparent Search option. While “Browse Directory” might be a more accurate description of what someone is doing when seeking friends and / or businesses, it is not instantly intuitive – as the number of calls for assistance tends to point out.
The other thing that would be good to see – assuming the site is still being actively developed, is it being opened up to virtual worlds that are similar in nature to Second Life – such as Avination and InWorldz. Many people involved in Second Life have a presence in these worlds as well, and providing a central social networking capability that enables these various identities to be linked (given most do link them), would undoubtedly increase the popularity of the site.
The most surprising thing about the site is that it is not in wider use; indeed it seems to have been one of the best-kept secrets of Second Life these past 18 months. I personally cannot recall seeing it mentioned in ads for blogs anywhere, and it was purely by chance that I stumbled across it. I certainly hope this article will help to change that.
This is not designed to be a comprehensive look at the site – there is much that I deliberately haven’t mentioned; so think of this review as something to whet your appetite. Certainly, if you are looking for a new social media environment to which you can link your Second Life identity, 2ndHub is a very good place to start. Equally, if you’ve just been booted from Facebook and do not wish to trouble yourself further with it, or are not convinced that Facebook pages are for you, then 2ndHub may well offer a viable alternative.