Game over! NSA and partners have infiltrated World of Warcraft and Xbox Live network

Are you a terrorist using virtual worlds and gaming networks to hide your communications? There’s no evidence you exist, but if you do, then be warned: according to fresh revelations in the Guardian, New York Times and ProPublica, the National Security Agency and Britain’s GCHQ have for years infiltrated World of Warcraft and the Xbox(s msft) Live network. Hilariously, so many agents were knocking around Second Life at one point that the NSA identified a need to “deconflict” them, ensuring they weren’t wasting time by spying on one another or duplicating efforts.

Is collaboration tech bad for office autocrats too?

New communication tools have been credited with helping spur uprisings against some of the world’s nastiest regimes. In a very scaled-down way, is the ease of connecting also bad news for office autocrats? A SXSW panel delved into the question.

How to create an avatar for work-related virtual worlds

As virtual worlds become prevalent in business, we need to learn how to present ourselves effectively. Since first impressions count just as they do in face-to-face teams, we need to take our virtual appearance seriously. In these environments, appearance is based on our avatars.

Virtual Worlds: Immersive Training, Collaboration and Meetings

Are virtual worlds really viable environments for work? According to a survey by Unisfair, usage of virtual environments is growing for marketing, training and collaboration. Surveying 550 marketers nationwide, the study revealed that 60 percent of respondents plan to increase spending on virtual events this year.

Working Together: How My Virtual Team Collaborates

In an effort to better understand the dynamics of virtual teams, I decided to interview my own virtual team members at the social media marketing agency I co-own, Conversify, to determine what helps them to work well together. Here’s what they said.

Oh! Oh! Even Linden Lab Founder Is Leaving

Four months after CEO Mark Kingdon left the San Francisco-based Linden Labs — the company behind once hot virtual world, Second Life — interim CEO and founder Phil Rosedale is leaving the company to work on his new company, LoveMachine, which is working on collaboration software.

Introduce Clients to Social Media With a New Book from O’Reilly

“What is Twitter, anyway?” I’ve been asked questions like that many times, as I’m sure most web workers have. “The Social Media Marketing Book” by tech writer Dan Zarrella, attempts to explain Twitter, blogs, Facebook, LinkedIn, Flickr, Second Life, Yelp, and even such sites as Rate My Professors.

The book is divided into sections on blogging; Twitter and microblogging; social networking; media sharing; social news and bookmarking; ratings and reviews; forums; and virtual worlds. In each section, Zarrella provides very short descriptions of leading web sites in the particular category, together with quick discussions of how they work, and how businesses could benefit from using them.

The book’s author dedicates it to his grandparents, which is appropriate, since this is the sort of book that I’d give to someone older and less computer-savvy. It sometimes gets a little technical for this audience, but the writing style is clear and friendly.

The book feels like a bit of a departure for O’Reilly Media (who kindly provided the book to me). I tend to think of O’Reilly as publishers of dense software and programming manuals. I was amused to note that the book is listed in O’Reilly’s catalog as “First Edition.” The book will need updating frequently if it’s to stay relevant — some of the screenshots are already out of date.

“The Social Media Marketing Book” is a little book. At 239 8″ x 6″ pages (in paperback or as an e-book), with lots of illustrations and white space, the content is frankly limited. But it’s well-organized, easy to understand, inviting to flip through,and approachable. I doubt that many WWD readers will learn anything new from this book, but it might be useful for lending to clients, family and friends.

How do you explain social media to clients?