Sunday, June 28, 2015

Dreams of Second Life

The annual Second Life Birthday celebration is the grid's largest party, in both size and duration.  This year marks Second Life's 12th birthday.  Perhaps the most amazing thing about this event is that it's a perfect metaphor for SL itself.  SL is a world created by and for its residents.  Some years ago, Linden Lab organized and ran the Birthday event, but about four years ago they dropped their participation.  The residents were not about to let the Birthday die, however.  They stepped in and organized and ran the entire thing.  The Birthday, like Second Life, is a creation of Second Life's residents.

Today, Sunday June 28, wraps up the "live" week of the grand SL12B celebration...the last day for live performances and events.  But even if you missed it, the 15 "Birthday" regions and exhibits will remain open for the next week.

If you have haven't been, you REALLY should go.  The Birthday is always an event that can only be described as "sensory overload."  This year's theme is "What Dreams May Come" and the residents of Second Life have outdone themselves in exploring that theme.

Find the SL12B official website here:

You can use the many SLURL links on that site to teleport to the Birthday sims, or just enter "SL12B" in Search/Places or on the main Map.

Here are some of the things I ran across, while wandering about and trying to hold on to my sanity...

Abigail Tempest Performing at the Cake Stage

Alien Visitors (The UFO they came in is behind me)

Fighting Sail on the Blake Sea

The Ginormous Cake Stage, Straddling 4 Regions

Caledon Oxbridge Exhibit, featuring Cavorite

The "Dreamitarium"

Evolution of Dreams, or an Escape?

The HuntSL Tower

Relaxing at Impressive Roads

Moles in Black!

POW-MIA Support Group Exhibit

Amazing Textures in the Sarcophagus of Sleep

"Shattered Dreams" Statue by Isabelle Torok

Sailing in Second Life

Aviation in Second Life

SLUniverse - The Oldest and Largest Independent SL Forum

Strum Diesel Performs Live at the Main Stage

Inside an Amorphous and Surreal Build

Dreams of Trains

Another Surreal Experience - "Visions"

The Entry to "Visions"

One exhibit that I forgot to get a picture of is The Forum Cartel Hangout.  The Cartel is a group of people brought together by their love of the old Second Life discussion forums.  They have a group in world that anyone can join, and an in-world Hangout.  The old forums are gone, but the Cartel lives on...its members are still chatting, and still dreaming.  If you want to find a bunch of friendly (if sometimes eccentric) people, look us up!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Linden Lab Announces End of Third Party $L Resellers

Well, dear readers, our friends at the Lab have done it again -- shafted the residents and merchants that support Second Life, and shot themselves in the foot into the bargain.

Today, LL announced that the Linden Dollar Authorized Reseller Program would close as of August 1.  The link to its SL Wiki page already has been deleted, and only an announcement that the program is closed remains.  Read LL's blog post here:

The reason given is that LL has, over the past two years, provided more ways for residents of Second Life to buy $L, especially non-US residents who do not have access to PayPal, so the third party resellers are no longer necessary.

The changes made to the Terms of Service two years ago, when LL closed two-way third party $L exchanges, impacted a lot of residents.  Many believe that new US regulations on virtual currencies, or at least the Treasury's interpretation of the laws, was the driving factor behind this move.  The $L Authorized Reseller Program was put in place as at least a partial solution to those difficulties.

Most of the largest third party dealers went along with this.  Even though they could no longer buy back $L from residents, creating a two way exchange, they remained in the business of selling $L.  Over time, the program gained additional approved resellers, until there were about 29 choices in addition to the official Linden Lab exchange.

Now LL has decided, once again, to intervene in their virtual economy.  In my opinion, the move is not, as the previous one probably was, in response to a changing Real World legal environment, but yet another attempt on the part of LL to appropriate a Second Life revenue stream developed by the residents for themselves.  (In their blog post, LL even states this is a "business decision.")  I am also bemused by the fact that LL is now calling it a "pilot" program, a term that was never used to describe it before.  I suspect they did this to try to make it look like they are canceling a small, unproductive, or even failed effort -- when in fact the Reseller program was large, active, and growing.

This sort of behavior on the part of the Lab is not new.  They increased the costs of private estate ownership to give a greater competitive edge to their own Mainland regions and keep more of the income from estates for themselves.  They introduced themed areas like Nautilus and Bay City to try and get a share of the themed estate market.  They decided to charge fees for people making skill games and running skill gaming regions, skimming off a goodly percentage of that income.  Linden Homes took a huge share of the "first home owner" market away from resident landlords and estate owners.

Second Life is a business.  I understand that, we all do.  Unless Linden Lab earns a profit on Second Life, our beloved virtual world will vanish.  That's a fact of life, and no one with three working brain cells would assert that LL should provide us with our world simply out of the goodness of their hearts.  But when clever residents come up with ways to make money in SL, it smacks of bullying for LL to usurp those income streams by fiat.  Moreover, moves like this lead to uncertainty on the part of entrepreneurs.  No one is going to invest a lot of time, effort, and money to build up a virtual business if they think that as soon as it's a success, LL will come and take it for themselves.

The right way to profit from a virtual economy is to set the rules and then LEAVE THEM ALONE, for pity's sake.  If the economy is stable, it's more likely to grow...and so will LL's cut.  Trying to grab a bigger slice of a smaller pie is self-destructive over the long run.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

FLASH! New Limit on Groups for Premium Members

The maximum number of groups you can belong to has just jumped from 42 to 60!  That's a very unexpected surprise present from LL.  Because the number of allowed groups increased the load on the servers exponentially, tech-savvy SL residents all said it would most likely never happen.  Now it has...but only if you are a Premium member.  This is a very nice addition to the Premium benefits package.

Here's the official announcement: 60 Groups for Premium Members

And you read it here first!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

FLASH ! Silent Art Auction to Benefit Relay for Life

If you like to sail, like art, and want to help in the fight against breast cancer, here's an event for you!

Sail4Life, the Second Life sailing community’s Relay for Life team, will hold its Silent Art Auction, May 22-24. All sailors and landlubbers from across the grid are invited.

Original, one-of-a-kind, maritime-themed artwork by SL artists will be available for auction.  An anonymous donor has volunteered to match the total donated in the auction kiosks.  All proceeds go to Relay for Life. The artwork will be on display at the serene, seaside Holly Kai Park at

The Silent Art Auction begins with a party featuring DJ Joy Canadeo, Friday, May 22, 5-7 p.m., in the Holly Kai Park Party Pavilion at The auction closes with a party featuring DJ G. Winz on Sunday, May 24, 3-5 p.m.

For more information, contact Winnie Sweetwater, chair, Sail4Life team.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

What You See Is What You Get

This week, the blog buzz has been about the controversy between two virtual world bloggers, Eric Grundhauser and Hamlet James Au.  Mr. Grundhauser wrote an absolutely wonderful piece about his exploration of Second Life, guided by the knowledgeable Ziki Questi (who has a wonderful blog of her own...go read it and bookmark it!)  He was taken to a number of stunning regions that showcased the skill and imagination of Second Life residents...the "Best Of Second Life," if you will.  Do read his article here:

Hamlet James Au runs the longtime New World Notes blog, another place I recommend bookmarking.  But this time, Hamlet stirred up a lot of controversy by taking exception to Mr. Grundhauser's portrayal, saying that it ignored all the Second Life sex and porn.

Inara Pey posted a very reasoned response to this, in effect saying that yes, SL has sex and porn...but that it is definitely not the "main thing" on the grid.  Depending on how you estimate it, pornographic content is somewhere between 5 and 20% of the virtual world.  Nalates Urriah also has a great rebuttal post, with links to other thoughts by other writers.

My purpose here isn't to join the debate on one side or the other.  I just want to make four points.

First, to Mr. Grundhauser:  You noted the strange absence of people in the places you visited, and speculated that they must all be off hiding in other locations.  Well, yes and no.  Second Life is limited by technical considerations to small groups of avatars in any one place.  The maximum number of avatars that can possibly fit into a region is 100 (40, on the Mainland) and things start to lag very badly well before that limit is reached.  The recent Linden Meetup event filled its region to bursting and frame rates were down in the single digits.  In the second place, there is a huge amount of land area on the grid, compared to the number of concurrent users.  With over 20,000 regions, and a typical concurrency of around 40,000 or so, you can see that even if we were spread out evenly, there would be only about two avatars per region.  Because we are NOT spread evenly, but clustered at popular places, there are a great many empty regions on the grid at any given time.

Second, to Ziki Questi:  Congratulations!  That was one amazing tour de force.  You took Mr. Grundhauser to some of my favorite places, and showed him (and me) a lot of places that I really must find time to visit!  This brings up a very vital point:  Second Life has many of these pockets of artistry in world building, but they are not always easy to find.  Unlike the stores and clubs, they don't advertise.  They may not hold Events, so you won't find them that way.  The only way you can find these wonderful places is if someone takes you there, or you read about them in someone's blog.

Third:  What that means is, it's up to YOU, the Second Life user, to find the really amazing places.  Talk to more experienced friends.  Read blogs.  Go charging around the Map, teleporting to random locations just to see what you might find.

Fourth, and last:  We make our own world.  That's true in a literal sense in Second Life, where everything in the world has been built by us Residents, but that's not really what I mean.  We make our own world, in Real Life and in Second Life, by our choices, every day and every hour.  Are all your groups stores?  Your world is fashion and shopping.  Are they all clubs?  You're a socializer and a party girl.  Are they all sex places and kink?  Then Second Life is, for you, a world of pornography.  Our choices make our virtual world...and our real one...and our inner, spiritual one.  What You See Is What You Get...and What You Get Is What You See.

Make good choices.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Be a Part of the Biggest Party on the Grid - SL12B

Just a quick note!  If you have an idea for an exhibit, or a presentation or a discussion forum or an entertainment...or even if you just want to volunteer...applications are now open for SL12B, the celebration of Second Life's 12th Birthday!

It happens next month, June 21-28.  This year's theme is "What Dreams May Come," which seems to me to be both eminently suitable to Second Life and an invitation for the most surreal Birthday ever (and that's going some, they are ALL surreal and an invitation to sensory overload.)

Cruise on over to the website to read more.  Bookmark it to keep up with news and announcements.  And start making your plans now to be a part of it!  It's a week long, nonstop party, the biggest annual event in virtual reality.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

FLASH! Inworld Meetup With the Lindens

Hello again, faithful readers!  It's been a while.

Today I noticed a blog post on the SL website.  Xiola Linden announced the date of the next in-world Meetup session (May 14), and threw the location of the meeting out for Resident inputs.  You can suggest a spot to hold the event.

To let your voice be heard, cruise over to this Forum thread: