Friday, February 28, 2014

Going to Mardi Gras in Second Life?


I'm supporting the New Orleans economy by maxing out my credit cards in a prolonged blackout.


          Well, it’s that time of year again.
          Winter is drawing to an end.  (Maybe for some of you.  I’m sitting here at -1° F with wind chill and another ice/snow storm around the corner on Sunday evening in Real Life (RL).  Is there any wonder why I spend so much time in Second Life (SL)?) 
          Which means that Mardi Gras is not too far away! 
          For those of you not familiar with the Mardi Gras tradition in New Orleans, it is the local version of the carnival season common in many Catholic countries in the period between Epiphany and Ash Wednesday, the start of the Lenten season. 
          Since Lent meant fasting and abstinence from life’s pleasures until Easter arrived, the tradition of parades, masquerades, and generally riotous celebrating beforehand somehow began.  Someone once told me that the excesses of these days goes back to the times before modern refrigeration when everything had to be used up prior to the start of fasting or be thrown away unused.  (I’m still trying to figure out why some of the world’s wildest public parties came to be associated with one of the world’s most conservative religions and most solemn holydays.  But, I’ll leave that to someone else’s blog to ponder.) 
          Perryn Peterson, my good friend and someone who has never met a holiday he didn’t like has taken on the challenge of throwing Mardi Gras inworld this year. 
          Of course, the festivities will be located in the Victorian Steampunk New Orleans in Mieville.   Recently, I took a quick tour while the site was being prepared for the celebrations. 
          I meet Perryn at the landing zone which is on the waterfront right by The Mark Twain, a traditional Mississippi steam rear paddle wheeler docked by the quay.  Perryn has not yet put on his costume but I guarantee he will stand out from among all the other partyers. 
          Looking down either way along the dockside, I see merchants’ booths and shops fitted out with holiday merchandise and Mardi Gras decorations.  The traditional colors of purple, gold and green are everywhere. 
          Perryn and I walk along the quayside as he tells me of the preparations and the events planned.  Our walk takes us along the parade route where if there are enough entries a parade of floats will occur. 
About fifty merchants will have their goods on display.  Perryn points out the voodoo shop.  Other highlights were Miss Moonsugah Monday, a food specialist whose delicacies and treats will be at the CafĂ©.  Other notable shops are SebastianTiogar's "A Rare Vintage and Peckbeth’s.  Both offering merchandise in the spirit of Mardi Gras.  Perryn always has a good selection of merchants with unusual merchandise at his his events. 
          Perry tells me that many of the merchants are in the Mardi Gras spirit of “lagniappe”, or, giving customers a little more because of the holiday.  (Think baker’s dozen.) 
          Later, when I return for pictures for this story, I meet Joanna Claremont, the proprietress of Cherie’s, a high end women’s clothing shop.  She designs and makes her own clothes and they are of particularly high quality.  Joanna is setting up her booth and arranging her merchandise. 
           Joanna has the spirit of a SL merchant.  She’s excites about her goods and can’t wait for customers to see them.  If you’re in the market for quality late nineteenth century women’s dresses then do please check out Cherie’s! 
          Mardi Gras will run from March 1st to 4th. (That’s why this story is a day early!) 
          On the Saturday, the first night, March 1st, there will be a dance starting at 6:00PM SLT at the Mardi Gras sim.  Rabidd Alter will be the DJ and is not to be missed!  This will also serve as the kickoff for STEAM IX: The Hunt.  But, more about that later!
There will be cash prizes for best costumes and titler at the dance.
          I’d like to thank Perryn for taking the time to guide me around as well as for all his efforts in arranging these fun, inworld activities which help to bring the SL community together. 
          I’d also like to thank Joanna Claremont for stopping her work to talk with an itinerant scribe. 
LAISSEZ LES BONS TEMPS ROULER!!  (Let the Good Times Roll!)
My Twitter handle is @webspelunker.  Please feel free to follow me and I’d be happy to follow you.
As always, I’m grateful to all inworld for their kindness and time in stopping to talk with a stranger who was passing through their lives.    
I’ve included below links to a few pictures of Mardi Gras while it was being set up.  But, pictures never do justice (especially mine) so go and see the results of all the hard work of Perryn and his team. 
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. 5 Merchant’s Booth I

Photo No. 6 Merchant’s Booth II

Photo No. 7 DJ’s Booth

Photo No. 8 Street Scene

Photo No. 9 Mardi Gras Delicacies

Photo No. 10 Gacha Machine

Photo No. 13 Street Scene II

Photo No. 14 Mardi Gras Poster

Photo No. 15 STEAM: The Hunt IX Poster  

Photo No. 16 Cherie’s Booth

Sunday, February 23, 2014

A Second Life Wish List for Ebbe Altberg


Rome has grown since its humble beginnings that it is now overwhelmed by its own greatness.


          Recently, as part of my efforts to use social media with Second Life (SL), I tweeted a request for items for a wish list (#SLwishlist) for the new CEO of Linden Lab, Ebbe Altberg.  He was kind enough to retweet and several folks have replied. 
          With this story, I’ll list out what I’ve heard back since, including the fanciful, and maybe we’ll get some more residents to join the discussion.
          The wish list so far includes (direct quotations are shown): 

·       More intelligently targeted marketing that doesn't reduce SL to an online dating service, & focuses on diversity

·       Absolutely. Fix the back end of marketplace. Make the value of premium accounts not necessarily tied to mainland

·       Should get someone to communicate with us, and have him/her sift through all the wishes.

·       Create incentives for destination/art/music/RP sims. (No, I don't own one.).

·       Deal with the rapidly increasing problem of theft on MP. Understand the correlation bet. land and MP & fix BOTH

·       Broad consultation, not just land barons and top merchants. This is the internet: there are tools.

·       Emphasize the joy of creating to non-pros. Not everyone can create mesh.

·       Give residents back their last names!

·       A mesh partridge in a linden tree?

·       Also: more group slots, please. Anything less than 200 seems not to be enough :)

·       24 hour days! For some reason day cycles last 4 hours in SL and we can't change that!

·       Direct LL engagement with residents in world, Linden podcast / radio maybe…

·       I'd like to see the return of Lindens to the Grid in #Secondlife I missed the #GoldernAge when they were inworld.

           So, that’s what we have so far.  So that I’m open about everything that last one is mine.  I haven’t met a Linden since I’ve been inworld and those blue dots of theirs are the stuff of legend.  I’m reminded of the stories I heard growing up of the ancient Greek gods on Mount Olympus, often talked about but never seen.
          Some of these items I’ve heard before, some are new to me.  A few things that I expected to see aren’t there.  Let’s see what else comes in!
          Please let me know if you have any other #SLwishlist items and I’ll add them to the list and try to give updates.  (If there’s anything to update you about!) 

My Twitter handle is @webspelunker.  Please feel free to follow me and I’d be happy to follow you.
As always, I’m grateful to all inworld 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.



Saturday, February 22, 2014

Anti-Valentine’s Day in Second Life?

Love is only a dirty trick played on us to achieve continuation of the species.

W. Somerset Maugham

          I start tonight by apologizing to my readers.
          (Good, right after mentioning sex, this is a great opener to get everyone’s attention.) 
          I begin this way not because I’ve misspoken or somehow screwed up a prior story.  Although, I’ll be the first to admit that I’m quite capable of both.
          I apologize because by the time most readers see this story, its subject will be long closed and gone from Second Life (SL).
          Several days ago, my good friend inworld, Perry Peterson, and impresario extraordinaire told me about his current event taking place in Mieville Midway.  It was an anti-Valentine’s Day function based on Edgar Allen Poe’s famous short story, The Tell-Tale Heart. 
          Now, given how Perry is the same person who brings us more traditional holiday festivities, I was admittedly a little surprised.  But, since he always has a unique spin on things and has never disappointed me with his who factor, I took down the details and promised to visit soon.
          A little bias on my behalf must be owned up to.  Poe is one of my favorite writers, right up there with Orwell and Hemingway. (I’m nothing if not eclectic.  Significant Other sometimes wonders what this says about our relationship.)  Some say he is the father of the modern mystery.  Others, one of America’s greatest poets.  Some, a diseased mind who somehow managed to capture his thoughts on paper before dying under mysterious circumstances.  They’re all true. 
          The Tell-Tale Heart is one of Poe’s darker tales which is saying a lot.  I won’t give away the plot.   Read it for yourselves if you haven’t already.  I just think it was a stroke of genius on Perryn’s part to play the idea of this short story against the heart associated with Valentine’s Day. 
          Late one evening in Real Life (RL), I take the time to visit the Mieville Midway and see the Gacha Expo: A Tell-Tale Heart for myself.
          I’m in a darkened room in RL, hunched over my machine and enter into Poe’s world of madness as Perryn has laid it out.  (Significant Other is more sensibly camped out in front of the television watching the Winter Olympics.)  I arrive on a dock in a nineteenth century port surrounded by ships of sail and steam.  A light house’s beam cuts through the night and the fog.  Given the hour and that the end of the Expo is nigh, I’m all alone.
          Turning around I see a town above me with roads leading into it and some hills.   Ravens (what else?) fly overhead.  The colors are dark with touches of drab added in.  The scene is atmospheric and brooding.  I think of Poe.  I feel that I’ve entered his consciousness.
          Yes, Perryn has done it again. Although, as he pointed out to me as this was posted, Jalynne Ohma did the actual builds.  Perryn only donated the prims, sent out applications, and collected fees. But his structure provides a unique marketing venue for inworld builders.
          Jalynne  has captured the essence of an idea and created a visual image of it inworld.  Walking through the empty, silent streets with brooding buildings looming over me, I have the sense of something out there which is maybe way Poe tried to convey in his story.  I can’t help but glance over my shoulder both inworld and in RL.  (Significant Other’s been known to startle me when I’m sometimes too deeply engaged.  Claims I need to keep a sense of balance.)
          Yes, there are shops filled with merchandise and gacha machines in the streets but I’m not here to do business.  I’m here to experience an author’s work in a way that is impossible to do on the printed page. 
          A circuitous path takes me through the edges of the town through its center and back to the waterfront.  This is one of Perryn’s finest creations.  He has captured the feeling of the story and laid it out for all to see and experience.
          Unfortunately, since I’ve been running around doing other things in both RL and SL, I post this story on the night the Expo closes.  And, since, Perryn doesn’t repeat these experiences if you haven’t seen it already then you never will.
          For this then, I apologize. 
          If there’s a lesson here, it’s keep close to Perryn and his future events so they won’t be missed.  (BTW, I’ve been given a peek at a highly confidential project of Perryn’s and it’s going to be really something.  Watch here for more details!)

          I include some pictures from my short visit and I hope you enjoy them for this is all many of you will get to see. 
          I’d like to thank Perryn for taking the time to tell about Gacha Expo: A Tell-Tale Heart and all his efforts to bring this sim about.  I look forward to his next projects!  I'd also like to thank Jalynne for her very creative work! 
My Twitter handle is @webspelunker.  Please feel free to follow me and I’d be happy to follow you.
As always, I’m grateful to all inworld 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 Waterfront LZ

Photo No. 2 Dock Area     

Photo No. 3 Main Street

Photo No. 4 Manor House

Photo No. 5 Statue in Town Center

Photo No. 6 Gacha Machines

Photo No. 7 Masks for Sale

Photo No. 8 Side Street

Photo No. 11 Steampunk Parts Store


Saturday, February 15, 2014

Are There Real Life Relationships in Second Life?

 The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed.

C. G. Jung

          Recently, I was approached by someone from Real Life (RL). 
          Now, remember, I’m an avatar in Second Life (SL).  When someone comes looking for me I get curious.  (Significant Other does too, keeping a sharp dividing line between the two worlds is one of our few rules.)
          This someone is named Jamie Stratton and he works for Back2Back, a television production company, located in Brighton, England.   (All those years I spent living in London paid off because I could communicate with him and he understood me.  You’d have to have had grown up in Brooklyn to appreciate this.)  He and his team are researching into relationships which blossom online, through avatars, and successfully develop in the ‘real world’. The programme is part of a series for Sky Living which is a positive exploration of the more unconventional ways that people meet their partners.
            Jamie’s trying to get in touch with British users of SL or similar sites to try and understand how the communities work and how avatar relationships develop. He wondered if I might be able to help find some British couples who have recently met or gotten engaged on SL for their documentary. 
(It’s nice to know someone is reading my blog besides my six loyal readers and me.) 
Well, it turns out I can help Jamie.  I know several couples who fit the bill and a few other people who may know others.  I sent the requests and Jamie’s contact details out to them.  (Please someone!  Answer the man!  SL hasn’t had any decent press in a while!) 
Now, I’m going to ask everyone else to help out if they can.  (Don’t give me that!  I don’t ask for much from my readers!) 
The episode, currently untitled, that Jamie is presently casting for will be included in Love Across the Divide which is part of a series for Sky which focuses on the more unconventional ways that people meet.  And, I guess I have to admit that meeting inworld and then falling in love in RL is a bit unconventional. 
Jamie is looking for three couples based in Britain.  Two of these couples will have already met inworld and are now either married or together in RL.  The third couple will have met in SL but not yet in RL.  Eventually, the production company will want to meet these couples in RL for filming purposes.  (Nothing against the rest of the world but Jamie’s travel budget is a tad tight at the moment.) 
Previously, I’ve blogged about friendship, trust, and social life in SL.  But, I haven’t really touched on love or permanent relationships.  I’ve encountered these inworld and met people who were recovering from broken relationships.  I think it’s time that I start looking into this more closely.  (Don’t worry, I won’t turn this into an Agony Aunt type of blog!)
But, that’s for the future!  Here’s the ask for today.
If you, or if you know someone, who is in a relationship that began in SL and moved into RL then please contact Jamie.  If you’re about to take the big step from SL to RL, or know someone who is, then please contact him.  The only other requirement is that you be somewhere in Britain.  (I leave it to you to figure that out.)  Straight and gay couples are both welcome and Jamie hopes to have representation from both groups. 
Jamie’s email address is .  Please reach out to him if you’re interested or have questions.  Feel free to contact me if you’d rather.  I’ll pass your queries or comments along to him. 
BTW, Jamie is also starting to hang around SL as he does his research.  (Remember what I said about his tight travel budget?)  To prepare for this story, we met in Beau Belle Village in SL.  Inworld, Jamie presents himself as JayFrederick.  If you see him wandering around on the Grid, reach out say hello and invite him over.  Remember, we were all noobs once. 
Jamie and his team present an opportunity for SL to receive some favorable publicity when there really hasn’t been any for a while.  More importantly, this programme will be about its residents and how we all relate to each other.  Let’s not miss this opportunity to show the others in RL what they’re missing.  We’re all not a bunch of unemployed community college dropouts living in their parents’ basements outside of Detroit (or Watford) pretending to be something we’re not online.
I’d like to thank Jamie for approaching me with this request and taking the time to meet with me for this story.  (Significant Other also says this request falls properly within our rules of engagement for SL.) 
And, in closing, I’d be grateful if anyone who could help out here would!  It’s for all our benefit! 
My Twitter handle is @webspelunker.  Please feel free to follow me and I’d be happy to follow you.
As always, I’m grateful to all inworld 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.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

So Someone Really Does Want to Run Second Life


Ability is nothing without opportunity.


 Well, it happened.
          No sooner do I start blogging about not having a CEO at Linden Lab to replace the recently and suddenly departed Rod Humble (AKA Rodvik Linden) then the board of directors appoints a new one.
          As usual I find these things out first from Frau Jo Yardley.  (I’m convinced she’s actually a high ranking Linden who’s managed to keep her deep cover for the last ten plus years.  Edward Snowden could learn a lot from her. Or, whomever she is.  This is a joke.  The real Frau Jo would never live in California!)
          The new CEO of Linden Lab and by extension the boss of Second Life (SL) (Kinda makes him sound like Tony Soprano doesn’t it?) is Ebbe Altberg.  A veteran of Microsoft, Yahoo!, and BranchOut, he is Linden Lab’s latest attempt to turn the S.S. Second Life around.
          Inara Pey has done an exceptional job of charting Ebbe’s life and career starting with his place of birth in Sweden, tracking down his academic career, and then his time with the various companies of America’s technology revolution during the latter part of the twentieth century.  (Sounds so long ago now when I say it that way doesn’t it?)  He seems to have been at each employer just at the peak of its particular niche.  Microsoft when PC’s ruled.  Yahoo! when the Internet began to be all the rage.  BranchOut when Facebook and social media were taking off. 
          Ebbe has either the good sense to know when to move or he has been an unfortunate victim of what happens when giants or wannabe’s falter.  (There’s a lot of that going around these days.)  This is not meant to diminish his accomplishments.  (Remember what happened to Steve Jobs?  Anyone really remember Jim Sculley?)  His responsibilities and positions became increasingly important as he rose through the corporate ranks.
          But, now, Ebbe’s at Second Life.
          What’s the deal?
          In my prior blog, I had two possible scenarios for Rod’s replacement.  The first, an investment banker/finance type to figure out how to either shut down the company or sell it off to someone like a Microsoft.  (Hold that thought for a moment.)  The other was to bring in some sort of visionary who would sprinkle pixie dust all over and magically transform the situation.  Note that both of these scenarios involve protecting investors’ monies because I don’t think anyone wants to spend any more of their own money here.
          Where does Ebbe fit in all of this?
          Not sure, but, let’s go back to that Microsoft comment I just made.  If Linden Lab wanted to sell SL to Microsoft, who better than an old Microsoft hand to lead the charge?  (Presumably Bill Gates wasn’t available because he had better things to do.) 
          Let’s do a quick recap of what Ebbe is getting himself into.
          SL is an aging infrastructure which will require significant capital investment (not to mention time) to catch up with the technologies that have grown up in the last decade.  There has been significant turnover with the executive and staff ranks during this time as well.  I suspect that one reason Lindens are never sighted inworld anymore (There, I’ve said it.  Prove me wrong folks, come and meet me!)  is that they’re frightened by the strong expertise and culture that now exists within the SL community.  Real Life (RL) is safer for them.  The bifurcation of residents and Lindens is a major issue in my mind in any attempt to revive SL. 
          All this leads me to my next point.
          What is the strength of SL right now?  Where’s the value proposition?
          I return to the argument that I’ve been making for some time now.  (Significant Other says that I’m a terrible “I told you so.”)  SL’s strength and value comes from its community namely us.
          That’s right, us.  The residents of SL who come in and make things, have social lives, and sometimes spend RL monies in exchange for Lindens to buy things.  The technical, financial term is “intangibles”.
          For someone like a Microsoft, or even Yahoo! let’s not forget that one, SL is an opportunity to acquire an existing, thriving (if somewhat quarrelsome) community and do with us what it wills.  (Think of Britain’s deportations to Australia in the eighteenth century, “Shove off mates and fend for yourselves!  We’ll send a mail packet to check up on you once we’ve invented them.”)
          The SL community can talk about communications with Linden Lab all we want.  The unavoidable fact is that SL will be all about return on investment for the original investors.  Now may be the time for their payoff.  Now may be the only time for their payoff. 
          Only time will tell what happens here.  Ebbe is going to need time to come up to speed.  Let’s see how long until his avatar walks among us if he even walks at all. 
          Expect some minor changes to keep the residents happy because we’re where the money’s at for Linden Lab.  Virtual ghost towns sell about as well as RL ones do.
          I welcome Ebbe and wish him all the best and every success.  As my English friends like to say, he has a sticky wicket here.  (Sorry about the Australia jibe earlier everyone.)  SL is very important to many of its residents and we all win as long as SL continues to go on and thrive. 
          I just don’t think it’s going to be business as usual for very much longer. 
My Twitter handle is @webspelunker.  Please feel free to follow me and I’d be happy to follow you.
As always, I’m grateful to all inworld 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.