Saturday, December 31, 2011

Twenty-four Hours in Second Life – The Look Back


Well, I did it!  I spent twenty-four hours in Second Life (SL) and lived to tell about it. 

I had a great time.  As I had planned, I met old friends, made new ones, revisited places from earlier stories, visited new places, and had new experiences.  All within the virtual world of SL.

What did I learn?  First, that SL isn’t terribly different from Real Life (RL).  (A word of warning here, I’m an unstoppable optimist concerning the overall good nature of people.  Yeah, there are a few clunkers out there.  But, eventually, and sometimes at great cost, they get tossed aside.)  People want to help other people.  People have issues in their lives.  Illness and unemployment are just a few examples.  But, there are happy occasions too, people leaving SL to go celebrate the Christmas Holidays with family and friends in RL.  The people I met as avatars in SL are not some fictional cartoon representation of an alternate reality.  They are there to express their lives in a form that is only a different expression of their day-to-day reality. 

Next, I have not even begun to scratch the surface of all that is going on in SL.  Games, different communities, sites to visit, I did a few in this recent journey but there are tantalizing hints of much more over the horizon.  This is why I continually return to SL, to go over one more horizon to see what’s on the other side and then to bring the stories back to my readers.  And, I haven’t even gotten close to the builders and creators in SL who make it all happen.  I’ll try to reach out to them next year. 

Finally, there is a rich, vibrant social community in SL.  I was at three dances.  I was invited to several parties which unfortunately my schedule didn’t permit me to join.  (Don’t you just hate it when someone uses that lame excuse!)  I’ve been invited back for tea.  One resident has asked for my assistance in drafting an article.  A car was sent for me when I arrived at a train station.  I could go on.  People are coming together in new ways and then going off to do something else. 

Alright, these are all the positives.  What about some of the things that didn’t go to plan?  First, I had to quickly move away from doing hourly posts because I found myself interacting with people continually and new situations arising.  I decided to go for being with people and consolidated my posts. 

Second, lag and response time inworld slowed my progress and my activities.  At one point in the final hours, I was afraid that I might have to abandon my quest.  Others noticed this as well.  Maybe more residents than usual were inworld because of the Holiday season.  I don’t know.  But, this will be an issue in the future for Linden Lab (LL) if platform investment doesn’t anticipate these needs. 

Next, one of my friends has lost a lot of valuable work and the time she invested in creating it.  LL needs to be better able to handle these situations.  There’s no magic here.  Data retrieval and customer service models to support it have been around for years.  A thriving economy is possible in SL but only if LL acts more proactively to protect intellectual property rights and secure their physical protection.    

Finally, and this is a small point, but, I believe it’s an important one.  All the while I was in SL, I never met one Linden.  To be fair, there was no expectation that I would meet any.  No one had said they would meet with me.  (Even though, I did write ahead and say I was coming.)  When I meet residents who remember the Golden Age of SL just a few short years ago, they always talk about the Lindens who used to walk among them and bring truth and work minor miracles.  Maybe these tales have morphed into the creation myths that every society has.  But, as a relative newcomer to SL, I put Linden sightings right up there with Elvis and Sasquatch.  This is an unfortunate turn of events. 

One last point before I wrap this article up.  As I made this journey, people opened up and shared personal stories with me.  I want to respect their privacy and will do so.  But I want them to know that I heard them and I believe that the SL community can help them, should help them.  SL isn’t like World of Warcraft where we run around in green skins and animal hides bopping each other over the head with clubs and stealing one another’s gold pieces.  Nor is it like Facebook where we run off with our own little cliques and like each other’s opinions on the local weather.  2011 has shown how new technology can be used to bring about great change in societies.  I’m not talking about overthrowing the world here but maybe we can help make a difference just one resident at a time.  I’ll write more about this in 2012. 

Before I go, I want to thank those who came out in the last couple of hours to encourage me to keep going.  Spec, Hibiscus, and World, you guys rock!  Janey, thank you for joining me as I crossed over the finish line and thanks for trying to teach me Greedy, Greedy! 

Happy New Year to all and please visit and support the sites mentioned in these stories! 

For everyone’s convenience, I’ve included links to the four articles about my twenty-four hours in SL:

I want to thank all the others for coming out to meet and travel with me during my twenty-four hours in SL.  I also am grateful to all of them for helping me along the way! 

I welcome feedback from readers, please either comment on my blog or e-mail me at . 

     If you would like to read about my other adventures in Second Life
please click here.

Photo No. 1:
Flying Crane Tour

Photo No. 2:
Kevin the Bird Behind web

Photo No. 3:
Topographic Map of Phaze Demesnes

Photo No. 4: Linden Realms Portal Area

Photo No. 5:
North Pole Sleigh Ride Adventure Off Season Arrival Area

Photo No. 6: web on a snowmobile

Photo No. 10: Fashionably Dead

Friday, December 30, 2011

Twenty-four Hours in Second Life – Hour IV

          As I’ve written earlier, I’m way off base in the number of stories I’ve posted from my Twenty-four Hours in SL journey.  All I can say in my defense is that I accomplished my objectives of reaching out and meeting the SL community. If anything, I probably surpassed my original expectations because I spent far more time with other residents than I’d planned which prevented me from blogging hourly.  (How’s that for a rationalization?)

I also believe that I’ve given a full and complete account of my time in SL over these twenty-four hours.  This post will cover the last major activities before I wrap the journey and summarize my observations.  The previous segment in this series can be found here.    

Shortly after posting the last story, Page Eames, a friend and one of the leading designers in SL, also,  the owner of La Flat, contacted me and suggested that I visit the Fifty Linden Friday Sale in SL.  This is an event where several of the top designers in SL come together to offer one special item on Friday for 50L.  The participating shops rotate each.  This Friday turned out to be the last such event.  I visited a store Page recommended, Fashionably Dead,  specializing in women’s hair, and Split Pea Manistore on Lloyd, specializing in women’s accessories.  Both stores were mobbed.  (By SL standards, I’m not talking Black Friday at Macy’s in Herald Square.) What I found interesting about both of these stores was that I didn’t encounter the usual, post-modern glitz associated with high end shops in SL.  The first store was in a rundown set of shops and Split Pea was open air.  Yet the merchandise and the clientele were definitely top drawer.  An interesting lesson here for marketers in SL. 

After this excursion, I met two friends, Janey Bracken and Hibiscus Hastings,  at the Jamaica Inn sim to learn how to play the game of Greedy, Greedy.  (BTW, Jamaica Inn is a bit of a misnomer, snow was everywhere when I arrived.  My two friends found this hilarious.)  Now, I pride myself on my ability to play games.  I have a good head for probabilities.  (Significant Other may say otherwise but I’m not going there.)  I was totally clueless.  Written instructions were given to me and I was still lost.  Then to my chagrin, I’m leading by 2,300 points.  Despite Janey and Hibiscus saying this skill on my part, as far as I was concerned, this was pure dumb luck.  Before I left for my next appointment, I was a hair’s breadth away from first place.  Buying lottery tickets is more of a science than this game.  Somehow, I got away with my pride and reputation more or less in one piece. 

          My next stop was a modeling class at AvCon productions  led by two friends of mine, Chelle Hawker and Furry Fizgig.  Three students were in the class including IFo Hancroft, one of my oldest friends in SL.  This class was one of the earlier introductory ones and included the basics of learning the craft, walking, posing, and behavior.  Chelle and Furry shared their experiences, war stories, and perspectives.  I was particularly impressed with how the instructors did not run out after class but stayed and talked with the students. 

          After the models, I visited the Masked Ball held in the 1920's Berlin sim hosted by Frau Jo Yardley. The event was held in the Odeon.  There was music, dancing,and food.  The company was enjoyable and pleasant.  This sim always offers an enjoyable look back to a time before madness descended on the world.

I was getting close to the end when I accepted an invitation from any1 Gynoid  Turns out that this was a series of two parties during which time I danced with any1 and we discussed politics and economics.  From any1 and her friends, I sensed their strong feeling for those whose rights, whether civil or economic were affected.  The need for full and fair employment came through loud and clear.   

I want to thank everyone for coming out to meet with me during my twenty-four hours in SL.  I also am grateful to all of them for helping me along the way! 

I welcome feedback from readers, please either comment on my blog or e-mail me at

     If you would like to read about my other adventures in Second Life
please click here.

Photo No. 1: Fashionably Dead

Photo No. 2: AvCom Productions Modeling Class

Twenty-four Hours in Second Life – Hour III

As you’re all probably aware by now, my intention of blogging every hour has fallen apart.  However, I am enjoying myself and accomplishing my goals of meeting with old friends, meeting new ones, and going to new places.  I will continue to blog over the course of today so fear not in that regard. 

After my last set of adventures (Which can be read here.  I moved on to meet with another friend, Farwolf Armastus, invited me to join him and a group of his friends at a bar called Muddy’s Music Café.  

The place was jumping when I arrived. Dozens were dancing and a DJ kept the music going.  I met Farwolf and was soon dancing out on the floor myself.  The owner, WilliamD Bracken, surveyed the dance floor from his perch at the bar.  Holiday decorations livened the place up and everyone was in good spirits. 

While I was boogying away, Perryn Peterson, IM’d asking if I could join him because he would be away for a while in RL.  Due to some serious lag problems, I had some difficulty in extricating myself and responding to his TP.  I crash landed in mid-boogy at Perryn’s feel in Mieville – Chinatown.  Lag was still killing me when the region was taken down for service (Don’t you just hate it when that happens?) not long afterwards and I only got a brief glimpse of what Perryn wanted to show me.  Hopefully, later this evening, I’ll be able to reconnect with him and see what promises to be another interesting journey to another one of Perryn’s sims. 

By now, I had to shut down my computer and restart.  This had been my longest uninterrupted session in SL since I joined and am noticing that the longer I stay on, the more likely I am to experience response problems. Especially, if I’m with crowds or have multiple IM’s going.  Which is what today is all about for me.

Returning to SL, I meet with another old friend, Jan Kharg, from Ankh-Morpork.  I meet her in its suburbs which are in their winter finest and are decorated for the Christmas Holidays.  She makes me feel good right off the bat when she asks if I’ve been noticing considerable lag in chat and other activities today.  I share my theory that I think many more people are on the grid today because of the Holiday season and its impacting system response time. So much for the pleasantries! 

Jan tells me about the recent difficulties she’s had with Linden Lab (LL) concerning the loss of four years’ worth of shoes and other objects created by her when a folder disappeared.  LL has been unable to assist her and she is, rightly in my opinion, very frustrated about the matter.  We talk about SL’s long term prospects.  While both of us are SL enthusiasts, we sometimes wonder if LL feels the same way. Jan and I then talk about how SL has helped, and continues to help, people who are either shut-ins for one reason or another and whose only access to the wider world is SL.  Topics like that make some of the LL issues seem trite by comparison.

Taking my leave of Jan, I go to see Rosemary Thyme Chesnokova, whom I first met in 1920’s Berlin  several months ago.  We meet at her home in Taro and we decide to visit the Tiny community of Raglan together.  Another friend, Sisson,  had recommended this as a fun place to visit. 

We TP over and arrive high in a tree which is obviously inhabited by Tinies.  Christmas decorations, the size of houses, hang from its branches.  We take an acorn elevator down to the lowest levels and fly down to the ground after that.

As before, the local environment is snow covered and decorated for Christmas.  Rosemary and I come across a group of snowmen recreating an automobile accident. 

We walk along a street looking in at the shops. Few Tinies are about, the few that are direct us to shops where we could present as Tinies if we wish.  Only planning to stay for a short while, we decline.  While we walk, Rosemary and I talk about the structure and meaning of SL families.  (I promise a story about relationships in SL for next year.) 

Then one of those moments occurred that when they happen in Real Life (RL), we take it for granted.  However, in SL, it’s really something.  Out of nowhere, Spec Belfire, a friend of mine, asks via IM how I’m doing and where am I in my quest.  I reply and he says he’s in the neighborhood.  He walks over to join us and I introduce him to Rosemary. This is the first time I have ever run into a friend in SL away from our usual haunts and the first time that I’ve introduced friends of mine to each other.  Either SL is getting smaller or I’m getting more friends. 

After talking together for a while, we go our separate ways.  I felt good about this.  (Not sure how Rosemary and Spec felt, but, hopefully, they have similar feelings.)  I grab some RL lunch and come back to finish this post. 

I’m really excited about this day in SL.  I’m meeting with old friends and seeing new things with them.  I’m even running into people by chance.  The diversity and camaraderie of SL are at their best as far as I’m concerned. Maybe it’s because I’m still in the Holiday spirit but I think something else is here. 

Hourly stories are hopelessly gone.  I did not allow for the human interaction and the spontaneity of SL.  I hope my readers are not disappointed but I am trying to give a full and faithful account of my day in SL.    

I want to thank Farwolf Armastus, Perryn Peterson, Jan Kharg, Rosemary Thyme Chesnokova, and my unannounced guest, Spec Belfire, for coming out to meet with me during my twenty-four hours in SL.  I also am grateful to all of them for helping me along the way! 

I welcome feedback from readers, please either comment on my blog or e-mail me at . 

     If you would like to read about my other adventures in Second Life
please click here.

Photo No. 1: Muddy’s Music Café Dance Floor

Photo No. 2: Ankh-Morpork Winter Scene

Photo No. 3: Snowmen Auto Accident

Twenty-four Hours in Second Life – Hour II

OK, like so many good plans in my life, I haven’t been able to stick to posting every hour.  But, I have been in Second Life (SL) and I have been having a good time, going places I haven’t been before and doing things I haven’t done before either.  So, hopefully, everyone will feel it was worthwhile for me to keep moving in SL.

After leaving my last destination, Phaze Demesnes  (The story can be found here. ), my friend Turnip Canningham  came inworld and we went off together to visit a few places. 

Our first stop was Linden Realms , the new game introduced by Linden Lab (LL) into SL.  I wasn’t impressed.  We arrived in an area with other avatars falling out of the sky like paratroopers on D-Day.  We then followed a path to a portal which took us somewhere else.  Once there, we had to find a basement and complete a series of tasks.

Maybe we’re not good at games, or, Turnip and I bore easily but we left.  The surrounding woods looked interesting so we wandered off the path so to speak.  Next thing I know, Turnip IM’s me saying that a rock monster had grabbed her and TP’d her someplace else. 

Being the hero wannabe that I am, I immediately answered her TP request and went to be with her.  Where I then promptly led us into a pond of toxic water.  Getting ourselves out that sticky situation, we went back into the woods (We’re nothing, if not gluttons for punishment!).  Whereupon, rock monsters continued to grab us as we stumbled about.  (I can understand they’re wanting to grab Turnip, I’m not so sure why they wanted me.)  At this point, we gave up and left. 

A quick aside about Linden Realms.  While I’m glad to see that LL is trying to introduce something new into SL, Linden Realms needs work.  It harkens back to the old quest and puzzle games of the early days in PC’s and is not done nearly as well.  I’ll return to give it another look but so far, I’m not impressed. 

Turnip and I decide to next visit The North Pole Sleigh Ride Adventure at the Atrum Complexo.  However, we appeared to arrive too late for the Christmas season as we were blocked from entry.  We’ll try again next year.  So, onward and upwards as they say!

I then suggested going to Phaze Demesnes which Turnip agreed to.  She hadn’t been there before so it was a new experience for her.  We took the flying crane tour of the sim and enjoyed ourselves.  I strongly recommend this for anyone looking for a quick introduction to the Phaze Demesnes.

Turnip then suggested that we go somewhere where we could bicycle and I snowmobile.  It sounded like fun and was a new experience for me so I joined her. 

We arrived at BikerParties Bike, Snowmobil Rezzer area and skate rink in .Loon.  With Turnip’s help, I found myself astride a snowmobile and running around all over the drifts.  The sim is very authentic and lends itself easily to the feeling of driving through woods in the snow. 

At this point, Real Life (RL) called Turnip away and I realized that I was falling behind in my blogs.  So, we went our separate ways.

So far in my day being spent in SL, I have not been disappointed in what I’m seeing and experiencing.  Maybe Linden Realms could be better, but, it’s a start and let’s see what transpires.  Now, I’m off to my next stop. 

I’m going to do my best to keep posting hourly but SL commitments may impact that.  But, there will be more stories! 

I want to thank Turnip Canningham for coming out to meet with me during my twenty-four hours in SL.  I also am grateful to her for introducing me to the fun of snowmobiling in SL! 

I welcome feedback from readers, please either comment on my blog or e-mail me at . 

     If you would like to read about my other adventures in Second Life
please click here.

Photo No. 1: Linden Realms Portal Area

Photo No. 2: North Pole Sleigh Ride Adventure Off Season Arrival Area

Photo No. 3: web on a snowmobile

Twenty-four Hours in Second Life – Hour I

          I’m at my first stop in my quest, Phaze Demesnes , a magical place I had encountered early in my Second Life (SL) journeys that I’ve been meaning to come back to for some time. 

Phaze Demesnes is based on the worlds created in Piers Anthony’s Blue Adept novel  and is a world filled with some of the most fantastic and incredible work that I’ve seen so far in SL. 

Ferd Frederix  is the proprietor and has many freebies available for visitors.  Looking for a Roman chariot with horse?  You’ve come to the right place. 

I recommend starting in the Proton Dome.  Kevin the Bird greets all who arrive.  For a breath taking view of the world of Phaze Demesnes, click on the crane for an aerial tour quite unlike any you have seen. 

Time spent in Phaze Demesnes is well spent.  Please remember to leave something in the tip jar if you can.  Sims like this are expensive!

Unfortunately, this will be a short visit because I have to leave now for my next destination.  This is a place that I will return to in the future. 

I welcome feedback from readers, please either comment on my blog or e-mail me at . 

     If you would like to read about my other adventures in Second Life
please click here.

Photo No. 1: Flying Crane Tour

Photo No. 2: Kevin the Bird Behind web

Photo No. 3: Topographic Map of Phaze Demesnes

Twenty-four Hours in Second Life – Zero Hour

          Well, I’ve done it!  Just before midnight SLT, Iogged into Second Life (SL) to begin my twenty-four hours inworld. 

I will be visiting across the grid and blogging every hour as I go.  Please drop by to say hello or to check in on my progress. 

Looking forward to seeing everyone and hoping that my blogs will be prove interesting! 
I welcome feedback from readers, please either comment on my blog or e-mail me at . 

     If you would like to read about my other adventures in Second Life
please click here.

Saturday, December 24, 2011


A work of art is the unique result of a unique temperament.

            While researching my story on STEAM: The Hunt  earlier this year, I had the opportunity to meet Phideaux Mayo , the owner, editor-in-chief, and publisher of Retropolitan which is a magazine dedicated to all things retro in the world of Second Life (SL). 

            Naturally, being the curious writer that I am, I arrange to meet with Phideaux (“Phi”) at a later date to talk about her magazine. 

            When I do meet Phi, I rezz to her beach front house in Insulae Esoterica, the residential sim.    True to her retro roots, she has a home in a classic shore cottage style reminiscent of Key West in Real Life (RL) when Hemingway was there.  (No, I wasn’t there but it sure seems that way despite all the snow on the ground outside.  This is one of the nice features of SL, weather and geography can be matched to one’s preferences.)  The sound of waves washing upon the shore adds to the feel of the place.  Islands are visible on the horizon when one looks out to sea from the front porch. 

            I quickly learn something of Phi’s practical joker side when I pet a bird on the railing at her suggestion and the bird blows up and leaves blood AND flying feathers.  I can still hear her laughing. 

            We go inside to Phi’s drawing room and sit down on a sofa and chairs of a certain style that I typically don’t see as I wander about inworld.  The remainder of the house, from where I am sitting is in a classic décor which is not overdone.  The Christmas tree is one of the loveliest ones that I’ve seen in SL.

            I start our interview by asking Phi about Retropolitan and how she got started.  She says the idea came to her back in 2008 shortly after she arrived in SL to develop a clearing house for all things retro in SL.  Phi explains that residents were running around asking one another where a certain hairstyle, shoes, or cottage came from and no one seemed to really have all the answers.  There was no place for them to go and Phi saw an opportunity for a niche. 

            From this, with the help of friends, came the idea for Retropolitan.  Phi explains that Retropolitan is a concept.  It’s way for people to live in SL.  The readers are called “Retropolitans”.

            I ask if Retropolitan is a brand or a lifestyle like steampunk.   Phi replies that it’s more of a clearing house for all sorts of retro and vintage styles and lifestyles including steampunk. 

            Phi does not have exact numbers for Retropolitan’s readership.  But, she does estimate that 8 – 10,000 people may be exposed to each issue.  Each issue contains advertising and since many of them are recurring, I suspect that they are satisfied with the results. 

            Retropolitan is a monthly magazine.  Phi works with Retropolitan co-owner, Echo Underwood, who is responsible for art direction and layout, and Nivelm Bing  who is responsible for technical issues including the website.  In addition, there are writers who prepare the stories.

            Putting out a monthly magazine, even an electronic one, is a challenging business.  Phi describes how she has to have the dresses from the designers lined up, choosing subjects for stories and assigning writers, and keeping all the advertisers accommodated and happy.  She talks about the constant process of production, how no sooner than one issue put to bed then the next is looming. 

            Besides Retropolitan, Phi and Echo also own and manage the Esoterica sims which are dedicated to the retro lifestyle.  They had started it up (after Echo had built a beautiful home in the style of Frank Lloyd Wright), as Phi puts it, on a wing and a prayer and a 4096 sim.  The rest is history. 

            Today, Esoterica contains many thriving businesses dedicated to the retro lifestyle.  Within Esoterica proper, there are Flashmans, a long time popular pub; shops; the Esotericum; the Galleries along with The Follow's Music Hub and DMA.  Additional businesses include Old Time Prims, a four story store filled with retro clothes and furniture, Timeless Hats, and 1-800-Bettie’s.

            Flashmans sits on a slight rise and looks out over Escoterica proper where the other businesses are located.  Phi is especially proud of Flashmans which she and Echo took over from its fabulous creator, Martin Ren, when he decided to retire from running the establishment.  Flashmans will have been open for five years in 2012.  She says it is still a great place to drop in, dance, and bring friends.  Phi claims the music is famously offbeat as are the clientele.  (Sounds like my kind of place.) 

            Phi came to SL four years ago on the tail of her brother. He is a Furry, and while he lives in Insulae Esoterica, he is a private person and isn’t involved in his sister’s business activities.  Although, they do manage to get together on occasion and have some fun times. 

            Linden Lab (LL) policies about pricing and service are a concern for Phi because, for her, maintaining two sims is a challenge.  She proudly tells me that they are one of the few successful such operations inworld despite being in the middle of nowhere.  Revenues come from advertisers, tips, and donations.

            As for the future?  Phi looks forward to a very successful 2012.  The recent Vintage Fair brought an influx of new contacts so she expects to have a lot of new talent to feature next year.  Specials are planned from Retropolitan and its advertisers.  Phi expects more residents subscribing from her inworld kiosk and joining her group to obtain these. 

            I take my leave of Phi and return home inworld.  I’m impressed by yet another community that has formed in SL and is thriving.  The tools and opportunity of SL have permitted another group of strangers to come together and do something that would either be very difficult or impossible to do in RL. 

            I recommend reading Retropolitan (or, “Ret” as Phi puts it) and visiting Esoterica to see what’s in the shops and participate in the social life.  I promise that you won’t be disappointed. 

I would like to thank Phideaux Mayo for taking the time to meet with me and talk about Retropolitan.  As always, I’m grateful to all for their kindness and time in stopping to talk with a stranger who was passing through their lives.

I welcome feedback from readers, please either comment on my blog or e-mail me at . 

     If you would like to read about my other adventures in Second Life
please click here.

Photo No. 1: Phideaux Mayo

Photo No. 2: Retropolitan’s Offices, Esoterica

Photo No. 3: Phideaux’s Exploding Bird – Don’t Touch!

Photo No. 7: Downtown Esoterica

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Follow - Performing in Second Life and Real Life

Rock'n'roll saved my soul. 

            Recently, my friend and Second Life performer, Spec Belfire, told me about a band, The Follow, that besides playing great music, coexisted in both Second Life (SL) and Real Life (RL). After writing my earlier story about what is SL I was especially intrigued about what was going on here.  So, I reached out to Powers Avon whom Spec told me is part of the band and its inworld spokesperson. 

            The band styles themselves as a panoramic rock group from the heartland of America and consists of Troy Rickertsen (Troy Shoreland in SL) Mat Matlack (Powers Avon in SL), and Amy Rickertsen (AJ Darkwatch in SL).  Troy does voice and guitar; Mat, drums and samples; and, Amy does bass, voice, and fatar.  Albums released to date  Bu
are Building Machines to Reach the Stars, Mixtures (The Remixes), Up with the Sun, Nowaitingplease, and Origins.  The band plays concerts in both SL and RL.  In addition, its albums can also be purchased inworld at the SL Marketplace. 
ixes), Up with the Sun, Nowaitingplease, and Origins.  T
            The origins of The Follow go back to when Troy and Mat were teenagers running cross country track, skateboarding, and riding ATV’s in backfields.  Apparently, the skateboarding required music (I learned something here) which led to long discussions about music on equally long bus rides to track meets.  Troy credits U2, REM, The Church, and The Cure as being early influences on both of them.  (Notice I haven’t said anything about Amy yet?  Don’t worry, she’ll be here soon.)  A friend had some recording equipment which he lent them and this allowed them to record fifteen to twenty cover songs and two originals. 

            Amy (I said we’d get to her) attended the early rehearsals and despite the “mess” that Troy and Mat were making with them and loved what was going on.  But, she still wasn’t playing with the band.  The way Mat tells the story is that the next big moment in The Follow’s history is when they were working on their second album.  It was a major undertaking.  Amy funded the project by providing the gear that would be used for their next two albums.  The band itself was also transitioning creatively and Amy stepped in to play bass and “never looked back” as Mat puts it.  Mat tells me there’s a lot more to the story but these are the essentials about how The Follow came to be. 

            Now, let’s talk about how The Follow came to be in SL.  Mat first learned about SL in 2005 and “had a hard time understanding the concept” in his words.  (Nothing to be ashamed of, I still can’t figure out how to get a tune out of a guitar.) He created an avatar but couldn’t get off of Welcome Island.  (Hear that, Linden Lab?)  Later in 2009, a longtime friend and acquaintance of his from within the music industry told Mat about what he was discovering, a thriving music scene in a virtual world.  Mat then created the avatar Powers Avon and started experiencing live shows in SL with the awe of a young boy. (I, alas, still can’t get a tune out of a guitar.) 

             Mat and The Follow have a unique view on how SL fits into their music promotion theory.  He views music promotion as the spokes of a wheel.  One is radio airplay. Another is press coverage (reviews, interviews). There is publicity (TV appearances, speaking engagements). Next is retail (dying a slow death). Then comes video exposure (TV shows, viral net play). Followed by song placements (movies, TV, commercials). And, perhaps the most important of all, touring. Troy sees SL as another spoke in the wheel. Not just SL, but the Metaverse, web worlds, virtual worlds, whatever one wants to call it. Now, the Metaverse is its own beast because it includes some of the other spokes within it (radio, TV, press, video, retail, touring). The point here is that it’s all intertwined for The Follow. They consider RL and the Metaverse when strategizing.

            The Follow is very satisfied with its results from SL. Mat says that the impact SL has had on the band is one of the biggest impacts that any form of promotion or marketing has accomplished for them. For him, the beautiful thing is that once they engaged in the SL culture, they realized that it’s so much more than a means to promote. The Follow has made true friends here and consider their fans in SL to be a part of their family now.

                        To Mat’s last point, The Follow has a very large and active group inworld entitled “The Follow”.  Anyone interested in staying up with them should join. 

             When Mat is asked if he would do anything differently with his approach to SL, he says he would do things the same way.  He has enjoyed growing through SL. 

            The Follow has performed in other virtual worlds like inworldz and SpotON3D.  Others they have investigated include OSgrid, Heritage Key, and a couple of others.  They are also engaged actively with social media.  Troy believes that your music is not getting the exposure it deserves if you’re not.  The Follow can be found at;;; and  In SL, they can be found at The Follow Music HUB.  .
            The Follow hopes to continue meeting new people and hopefully create new fans of the music. (They’ve got me!) They plan on honoring their family of fans by delivering quality shows with excellence. More live video streams are in their current plans (about once a month) and are also building a concept with some friends around a secret show that is only discovered through a scavenger hunt. They are trying to keep things interesting, while not diverting their attention too far from the music. The band has a wonderful team that allows us to keep focused.

            As for the immediate future, The Follow’s next gig in SL is Saturday, December 17th at Key West at 8PM SLT, admission is free.  The band will be taking most of February 2012 off to work on writing and recordings. 

            The group’s website contains information about the band, its music and future shows. 
            Writing this story has once again got me thinking about what SL is really all about.  SL is not just another social media like Facebook or Twitter.  It’s not a calendaring or scheduling tool.  And, it’s definitely not a game. (I think we settled that one earlier.)  But, what it is an opportunity for people to come together from wherever and be joined by something they enjoy.  In this case, it’s the music of The Follow.  Next time it’ll be something different.  But, it’ll be there.  That’s the point of SL. 

I would like to thank Powers Avon (Mat Matlack in RL), Troy Rickertsen, and Amy Rickertsen for taking the time to answer my questions and telling me all about their band and SL.  I would like also to thank Spec Belfire for putting me onto The Follow and introducing me to Powers.  As always, I’m grateful to all for their kindness and time in stopping to talk with a stranger who was passing through their lives.  

I welcome feedback from readers, please either comment on my blog or e-mail me at . 

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Photo No. 1: Powers Avon

Photo No. 2: Troy Shoreland

Photo No. 3: AJ Darkwatch