Sunday, June 27, 2010

Heritage Key Update: Expansions

No more duck walk
Location: End of the Cosmos, Heritage Key Grid

IggyO Heritage razzed in his old spot, the Amarna sim, and he quickly found that a good deal more of Heritage Key's grid had changed. He found his way to the Rezzable starting point in order to pick up an animation override. These were on offer when last I visited HK, and I've been eager for them because it's a pleasure not to walk like a duck. In time, I'm sure Rezzable will offer variations on these AOs, so we don't all walk like Billy (or Billie Jo) Badass in exactly the same way.

I'm planning a post on the journal HUDs that will guide explorers though Heritage Key, but as usual, a map view distracted me to just, well, do what novice users might do: jaunt about randomly. The map view is enticing; it indicates how many sims Rezzable is adding to its virtual world.
Heritage Key Map

Rezzable's coders are also moving things around, so none of my old landmarks work. That Heritage Key even has working landmarks, teleportation, and a good map shows that the virtual world is nearly ready for explorers. It was also good to see that I did not crash, even once. I used the Hippo client rather than Rezzable's, but I don't think that accounts for the good performance I found.

I suspect that a lot of other work remains--such as avoiding my mistakes of "pick a spot on the map and teleport," which left IggyO stranded underwater or on desolate parcels with the real content nearby in a large box or bubble. This is, of course, how any precocious student would wish to travel. It's also intuitive: pick spot on map by name (or green dots) and go there. I'm certain these anomalies will vanish as quickly as Rezzable's staff sets default landing zones for each sim.

The Travel Center remains a great place to start, and from my peeks behind the scenes, Rezzable has many areas planned for Heritage Key. The teleporter boards--rather like the old Linden Lab telehubs?--provide a sense of that. The entire system worked well, except for a then-offline Collections Gallery I'd wanted to visit, until I went off script and began my random map-hunting.
Heritage Key Teleporter

Thus far, Heritage Key passes my test for what an OpenSim world should be with one exception: user-generated content. Right now, with so much in flux, that probably should not be a high priority. Opening building up could also invite griefers still angry over the Builderbot program that Rezzable briefly considered offering to the public (and DO I want a copy to back up my Usher build in SL). If Rezzable wants residents instead of occasional explorers of Heritage Key, however, some sort of educator's sandbox would be an excellent start.

That lack of a "dwelling" keeps me out of HK, but even a small academic office as a base for my research and teaching, and a place to stash my archeological finds. Such spaces for regular users, even for a small monthly fee, would retain the metaphor of time traveler meets Indiana Jones.

CEO Jon Himoff has noted, many times, that Linden Lab made a mistake by becoming a landlord. So I can see why Rezzable might not want to begin renting us offices. Yet like many faculty, I like being in charge, or at least the illusion of being in charge. If I cannot build stuff or scatter the virtual equivalent of my books and academic impedimenta, I'm still a tourist, not a creator.

But I can wait for such improvements. There's a lot of Rezzable's plate: the Chinese Terra-Cotta warriors, more at Stonehenge, and of course Ancient Egypt will keep the company busy for a long time. I got a peek into the test-area for the Unity-based viewer, so I confirmed that it's part of the main HK grid. That means that avatars using the full client should be able to interact with the web-based users, a very exciting prospect indeed.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Balancing Act: Philip's Back

Location: "Capricious" Build at SL7B Celebration

I really want there to be an 8th birthday party worth attending. With Philip Rosedale's return to the throne as "interim" CEO, will the magic I felt in 2007 return? I'm no "oldbie" but one of the "midbies" who came into SL during the "hype" years. I don't know that I want those sorts of expectations back, at least until the world can scale up to host hundreds of thousands concurrently. I want Rosedale to pull off the sort of balancing act needed to make SL vital again, to fix its problems. It will be a hard balance to maintain in economic times like ours.

With those thoughts in mind, I went to the celebration just to see what is up.

Here are a few standouts I saw on my random wanderings. SLURL links follow. It was a fun event for me, but it had more of a county-fair feeling, perhaps mandated by the closeness of many contrasting builds, than Burning Life's expansive Playa.

1) "Capricious" by windyy Lane, shown at the top of this post. This would be a build worthy of Burning Life. I think the metaphor is very apt for these times in Second Life.

Gone to his Head

2) Philip Linden's Keyboard and the animated Philip Linden made by dileoo Kirax. I'd just read about the keyboard being one of the older objects in SL, via Lalo Telling's blog. I sure hope the love Philip Rosedale is feeling from SL residents does not cause his head to swell up as big as the one here.


3) Primtionary. This was just pure old fun. As the host, Hotten Haller (I'd kill for that name) said in chat: " Primtionary is a game in which I (your host) secretly IM a word to the builder on stage. The builder has 10 minutes to build this word by illustrating it's meaning or its sound! The rest of you say your one-word guesses and try to be first to get the word!"


4) I like to end a visit to a fair with something quiet, even wistful. Thus I stopped at "Greater Than the Sum of Its Parts." To quote from Linden Lab's page, "This exhibit from Sand Castle Studios demonstrates how the different communities in SL are not just amazing on their own, but are improved and enhanced by existing within the Second Life metaverse."

How true. I want our hosts to keep this maxim in mind as we move forward. Here's to the chance of there being a Burning Life in 2010!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

In Praise of Second Life Content Creators

Polly wants a?
Location: Shopping and Building

Recently, in comments at New World Notes and on the SLED list, I fretted that the arrival of meshes in SL, while giving us more vivid landscapes, clothing, and avatars, might raise the bar even further for faculty who want to create their own content.

The reactions to my concerns were rather harsh, running along the lines of "hire a professional," "learn Blender--it's free," "you'll still have the old build tools," "hire students," and "most education builds are crap."

While I'm willing to learn tricks and hope to find more students with 3D modeling skills, this old dog also feels a special draw to virtual worlds that permit users to make their own content, however poor it might appear alongside professional creations. This reason, as well as the Windows-only viewer, keep me out of Avatar Reality's Blue Mars.

Yet a well devised simulation cannot come complete from a purchased box and, no matter how good it looks, the simulation has to be pedagogically useful. The trick for those of us in SL and other worlds will be to master the tools without sinking our annual reviews. Right now, evaluators do not always see the worth of dozens--or hundreds--of hours learning a new software tool when faculty time could be spent otherwise in ways that institutions value.

That said, educators should learn to build, as it provides a way to interact with the simulation and add customized elements hard to otherwise obtain. I'm surprised that a simple table I made a couple of years ago remains one of the most important and immersive elements in our House of Usher simulation. The table, retextured many ways, provides an obvious location for lots of important clues we want visitors to find as they tour the House.

I am not in the camp of educators I met who disdain spending any money in-world, as if it taints their virtual existence. Linden Lab runs a business, and many talented individuals have invested in that business to bring their own content into SL and then sell it. I'm happy to support such small businesses.

To trick out The House of Usher with a visitor counter that would fit the mood of the place, and even add a touch of levity to a rather dreary story, I purchased our own talking parrot, "Nevermore" (yeah, I know). I got him and several other well made accessories from The Golden Oriole, a shop of "antiques and curiosities" owned by Oriolus Oliva.

I hope that merchants like Oliva thrive if Second Life begins to grow again; now it's a difficult transition as Linden Lab "re-focuses" on consumers. As we educators branch out to other virtual worlds, however, let's not forget that unless we roll out an OpenSim grid of our own, our virtual hosts need to make money. And whether or not I learn a 3D modeling program, I will still be paying for good content from others.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Challenge #6: What I Got From It

Angry Iggy
Location: Rock--> me <--Hard Place

For the final BBBC blogger challenge, Alicia put this question to us:

What did you get out of your experience? Do you think it will change the way you blog in the future?

I liked being given these writing prompts. They were fun, but to be honest, I didn't learn a thing, Alicia. I am cursed to always ask "what does it mean?" about everything I encounter. So many folks, in both real and virtual worlds, recall the bound figures from Goya's "The Spoonfed," shown above in our House of Usher simulation.

We all should question more. We might even, as my colleague Beeble Baxter puts it, see "the man behind the curtain" who pulls the levers that make us dance.

Finding that man and the levers will continue to be my focus. The BBBC topics were a bit too Iggy focused for my taste. I prefer not to lifestream but to poke fun at myself while exploring Second Life and other virtual worlds.

I'll be sure to participate next year, if there even is a Second Life worth blogging about.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Educators at VWER Debate Linden Lab Layoffs, Future of Second Life in Education

Location: NOT at VWER Roundtable (dang it!)

I wish I could have attended last week's roundtable. I'm glad that educators showed their dissatisfaction at the current situation we face in Second Life. AJ Brooks talked about the LL refocus on consumers this way: "I guess if you have to focus on 8% or 30%, you pick the 30%."

It got noted that 8% of SL's usage is by education. Had I been there, Iggy would have responded that ignoring our work in SL would be an appropriate strategy for a company preparing to sell out. But if LL is indeed as profitable as it claims, long-term investors of the 8% are less likely to switch to new platforms.

Education, given our budgeting process and history of long-term planning, should have gotten a renewed focus from the Lab as well.

I feel for my colleagues with heavy institutional investments in SL. If LL leaves them twisting in the wind when it closes shop or sells out to a company that will do even less for education, it will set back other investments in 3D immersive environments for a while. Imagine, for instance, had Netscape bombed before Microsoft entered the game with Internet Explorer. How long would it have been before business and education reinvested in "that Web thing"?

Noteworthy quotations and points:
  • Educators about equally divided on whether a separate edu grid would be a good thing
  • Jimmie Veeper: [the current situation is] killing our future funding
  • AJ Brooks: well - this is more than just a layoff - this was massive, first, and quite surgical
  • Csteph Submariner: re-focus implies they were focused in the first place they ARE a business after all not a public service.
  • Trudy Takacs: I don't expect it free, textbooks aren't free
  • AJ Brooks: the RP communities drive the LL economy
  • AJ Brooks: I said over two years ago that SL is like to be the AOL of virtual environments
  • Marcia Kjeller: is there anything we should do, since this news just broke, or someplace we should petition. to see what is going to happen to the educational component/parcels/islands of SL? or just sit, listen and wait?. . . .AJ Brooks: Marcia - I think its just sit and wait it out
  • Grinn Pidgeon: surely they know our fiscal years are about to switch and we need to budget. . . .Jimmie Veeper: And not let admin read our conversations here for fear of program cuts.
Read the entire transcript here.

Challenge #5: What's On My Mind Right Now


Location: Summer Doldrums

Best late than never, Ignatius! Alicia challenged us with this BBBC topic: blogger's choice.

Even coffee cannot help this morning. I'm wondering today if I'll still be interested at all in virtual worlds in a year. My explorer's desires have waned. This is not good. I feel a little like Molotov Alva did, at the end of his journey.

I am wondering what I still need to see in SL to rekindle that flame. I'd also welcome suggestions for locales in Reaction and Third Rock Grids.

Viv has been after me to check out the Journal HUDs in Heritage Key, so this week I think I will. Maybe that will sail me out of the summer doldrums.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Blogger Challenge 4: RL & SL Age

Location: Rockin' Along in an Old Rockin' Chair

Alicia's posting of the BBBC challenge goes this way: Is your avatar more or less your current biological age? Do you portray a younger avatar, or older? Why is this?

You are, as the overused saying goes, as old as you feel. Except when my knees creak or my muscles tense up from hard physical work--and I do a lot of that on our farm, in our vegetable garden, and in the woodlot--I don't feel old.

Iggy looks like me at 30, though ironically, I have better stamina now than I did then.

The Iggy avatar, however, could not appear older without becoming a cartoon of an old guy. Aged skins were hard to find, and when I did find them and put on demos, the results were not pleasing. I wanted a bald-headed freak avatar with a gray beard, my actual look IRL, but with a well muscled torso. I'm fit and trim IRL because of my biking, yoga, and my physical work outside in all sorts of weather. I embrace my age.

I'm also a typical Middle-Eastern peacock about my appearance, and it saddens me to see how many guys in their late 40s let themselves go. They have big guts, flabby arms, and double chins. They put on Rogaine to rent some hair, though if they are fair skinned that's usually a good choice.

Dark skinned guys work out better as bald-headed freaks :)

Final note, since folks have asked: I added the dreadlocks after a friend in SL insisted I do so for a photo shoot, and I find it hard to say no to friends. Then, in an act of whimsy, I kept the dreads, added a tophat, occasionally a bowler or cowboy hat, and there I am.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Blogger Challenge 3: Relationships

Dr. Freud
Location: Doldrums of Slacker Land

Time for some analysis. I just cannot motivate myself during the time when my annual report, assessment data, and other tedious rituals of summer oppress me. Thus I completely went slack after my first two answers to Alicia Chenaux's Blogger challenge. In fact, I am rather bored now with SL, but Alicia managed to apply the jumper cables nicely to my attitude. I'll cover the rest of her challenge topics in coming days.

The third of her challenges involves this question:

How hard do you think it is to find a relationship in SL? If you have an SL relationship, have you met in the physical world? Would you meet them? Do you think it would change your SL relationship if you met?

I'm going to have to talk about this from a distance. Mrs. RL Iggy put it clearly when I began SL: "cyber" is the same as RL infidelity. Fair enough, but what do I think about the idea of an SL relationship?

While I've not been involved romantically with any ladies I know from SL, I do think it possible to have a satisfying intellectual / platonic friendship and even form working partnerships for writing or professional presentations. That would include men as well as women. AJ Brooks and I drafted a grant proposal, Dan Holt and I share ideas about writing classrooms, Viv Trafalgar and I have worked on a conference presentation and are drafting an article based upon our advice for developing literary simulations in virtual worlds. I plan to meet both AJ and Viv next year in person, when we travel to a few conferences. I doubt it will change much in SL, since I chat with them in real life.

I consider several of my VWER colleagues to be friends, and I plan to meet Kali Pizarro when, fates willing, Mrs. Iggy and I trek across the U.K. on foot in 2012. The nice thing about all these SL-to-RL meetings is how it gets us in touch with a network of folks who share an interest in these irreal spaces for professional reasons, a circle hard to find on one lonely campus.

Moreover, they put up with a lot from Iggy, who can be a smartass and dumbass.

So while I don't know how folks manage the pixel-to-person transition for romantic relationships, professional networking can develop into friendship and real-world collaborations out of Second Life.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Fake Money Crisis Averted!

Location: State of Relief

I'm pleased to report that my former employee, now SLebrity, Pappy Enoch, has stepped into the teeth of the financial storm.

Pappy's First Bank of Enoch Holler will provide the level of trust and security we've all come to expect from Enoch.

The Linden Dollar will never be the same again. Read more at the Alphaville Herald.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Linden Dollar Tanks, Recovers

First time Ive seen this
Location: Watching the Virtual Exchange Rate

No matter how clearly Tateru Nino explains it, the voodoo economics of Linden Lab escape me.

I have been keeping an eye on LindenWatch at Twitter ever since the announcement by Linden Lab that the Linden Dollar had declined against government-issued currencies.

275L to the US Dollar has long been my benchmark for the currency. Yet early this morning, the rate rose to 444L. If you wanted to cash out some money under those circumstances, good luck.

That sort of whipsawing must stabilize if large landholders, like Melody who appeared on a panel with me recently at Treet TV's "Designing Worlds," are to keep paying their tiers to Linden Lab. These land barons pay in real-life currency into the Linden pot, and Melody admitted that her tier runs $20,000US a month.

Her renters, however, pay up in Lindens. This current-rate fluctuation--or is it a trend?--could make bigger mainstream news than the layoffs if the Linden Dollar does not stabilize. I don't know if the current return to 280L to the US Dollar is a temporary calm before a bigger storm.

What arcane formulas get employed to set the exchange rate? If there is even a hint of manipulation by the Lab, eager to increase their income, the law suits will come flying.

If you want a clear analysis of how the crisis relates to the iffy short-term future of immersive 3D worlds, sit down if you are really in love with SL, then read Roland Legrand's post at Mixed Realities.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Me and My Big Mouth

Designing Worlds SetLocation: "Designing Worlds" Set

Did I really call the Linden Lab system of running the business "The Three Stooges Management Philosophy?"

"woo woo woo woo woo woo!"

SLAP! "You're laid off you knucklehead!"

"Why you, I'm gonna change the TOS!"

"woo woo woo woo woo woo!"

EYE POKE! "Stop it Moe! That hurts!"

"Shut up and code the next viewer!"

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Challenge Post: Why I Blog

Zoning Day
Location: Archives of Old Pics

This one, Alicia, is easy.

I wanted to write daily in a low-stakes manner. I work on fiction, editorials, and academic articles, some for pay and some for play.

Writer's Block is a constant for anyone who works in the field. For me, blogging seemed to be an "idea factory," and since I have a long-time interest in the history of technology and its impact on cultural practices, I figured I'd use that topic.

Then, in 2007, I began to explore Second Life. Thus, this blog. It began at our struggling local newspaper's site, and the old archive is still there. The site is such a mess that it'll probably never be deleted until the inevitable happens and the print operation folds.

As the hype about SL flagged, so did any promotion of the SL blog at the paper. So I moved over here. And here I've remained.

Monday, June 14, 2010

A Positive Challenge to SL Bloggers

Student Project Gallery

Location: Darned Crow-Dinner Again!

Lalo Telling, whose blog I greatly enjoy, alerted me to Alicia Cheneaux's Big Bad Blogger Challenge. The challenge: post three positive things going on in SL for the blogger.

Here, Lalo and Alicia, you have it:
  • Richmond now has a little showcase of my students' work in SL. I'm awfully proud of these youngsters.
  • It must be a slow night at Treet TV. Iggy will be holding forth on "Designing Worlds" tomorrow, part of a panel discussion. I plan to be as positive as I can!
  • Pappy Enoch reports that after six weeks of squatting on abandoned land, the Lindens have not yet evicted him.
How's that?
New Ol Home Place
And thank you.

Kunstlerism of the Week + Biblical Loonies

Location: Between Resignation and Ennui

I changed my Google password to make it stronger. Christian apocalyptic fundamentalists, the American version of the Taliban who believe that gays, secularists, and anyone not like them are servants of the Evil One, somehow redirected this site's URLs to a hate-screed site with all sorts of idiocy about their twisted version of Christ's gentle message.

Try getting help from Google: this they have in common with Apple. You go to a forum. There's no way to report the haters, so I just changed my password.

Kunstler is right, friends. We are seeing the rise of rampant anti-science and illogic. It makes me almost brothers-in-arms of the Transhumanists I just critiqued. At least they understand that the earth is more than 6000 years old and that the scientific method can make the world smarter and more reasonable.

Amid this, I waltzed over to Kunstler's blog, as if that would help. But he puts a mere blogjacking into perspective in his article "Fierce Urgency":

The future attempts to regulate undersea oil drilling will send many companies to do their thing in other parts of the world where nobody gives a shit what you do offshore as long as you pony up the royalties to the grifters in charge onshore. America is going to lose a whole lot more of its own oil production. Smaller companies may shut down altogether from the cost of complying with new safety rules and an inability to get insurance. The oil from deep water in the Gulf of Mexico was how we hoped we would offset the ongoing depletions in Alaska. We're going to have to import even more oil than the two-thirds-plus we already depend on. One thing President Obama -- nor anyone else with an audience or a constituency -- will speak a word about is our massive, incessant purposeless motoring.

Pretty soon, the oil missing from the Gulf will leave a message at the 7-Eleven stops in Dallas and Chattanooga, and before the year is out the cardboard signs that say "Out Of Gas" may hang on the pumps. A great hue and cry will rise out of the Nascar ovals and righteous lady politicians with decoupaged hair-doos will invoke the New World Order and the Book of Revelation in their rise to power. Reasonable men with moderate views will dither on the sidelines, afraid to offend one faction or another.

It's not just the Linden layoffs making me grim in this long hot summer.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Transhumanism Meets "Sleeper"

Location: New York Times Web Site

I recommend a June 11 feature story worthwhile for its treatment of Transhumanism, the Singularity, immortality, and other ideas I find ridiculous. As a Peak Oiler, I don't think we'll have the luxury of trying to build machines to upload our minds. We'll be busy enough trying to keep the lights on, keep the Internet running because we won't be able to travel much in person, and use electric trains and buses while we scrap our car-based suburbs for building materials and farmland.

The meat and all its demands, as William Gibson might have put it, will be our destiny in an age of permanent energy shortages.

And still the Transhumanists dream. I give you this image from the Times about the thinker's documentary film:

Throughout "Transcendent Man," Mr. Kurzweil is presented almost as a mystic, sitting in a chair with a shimmering, circular light floating around his head as he explains his philosophy’s basic tenets. During one scene at a beach, he is asked what he’s thinking as he stares out at a beautiful sunset with waves rolling in and wind tussling his hair.

Remember the dictator from Woody Allen's 1973 film, Sleeper? He's depicted in a similar way.

Peter A. Thiel, a co-founder of PayPal and investor in Facebook, reflecting on the Singularity, feels that "there is no good future in which it doesn’t happen.”

I can think of any number of better futures, with or without Peak Oil. Kurzweil postulates that with human-computer symbiosis, our species will populate the universe. I, on the other hand, don't think we'll have the spare energy to go back to the Moon, let alone the stars.

And if we did find a wonder fuel to replace dwindling supplies of fossil fuels, the ineffably human will remain in our Transhuman selves. Like Gibson put it in Neuromancer, we'll spread our DNA out of Earth's gravity well like an oil slick: an image apt for our current stupidity in the Gulf of Mexico. Nowhere in Transhumanist statements have I encountered the human part of our intellect that can make one a Macbeth instead of a Mother Teresa.

Kurzweil's beliefs are more than optimism. They're anthrocentric hubris. How many humanists are among the Transhumanist ranks? I would send Kurzweil back to read more Shakespeare. As a respondent named Maureen pointed out in her comments about the article, there is already a way to connect to the infinite:

Guess what? The Consciousness is already here. And yogis and monks have been tapping into it for thousands of years. But the only way they have found it is by turning away from desires and wishes, and learning to still that hyperactive mind that we each have. Oh, and becoming humble and grateful doesn't hurt, either.

The hubris of the Transhumanists to escape what Time's Arrow does to their bodies is, in the end, rather sad, as sad as most attempts to live forever in fact or memory. In Sleeper, after an attempt on his life, the leader's nose is saved, at least until Woody Allen's character tosses it under a convenient steam roller.

So much for living forever.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Rezzable to Pull Greenies from Second Life

Greenies--gone soon!
Location: Cat Bowl

It's my favorite scene in SL: the little alien trying to appease a giant cat. Now if my students want to see it next year, they'll have to go elsewhere.

In a comment to an interview Mitch Wagner had with Linden Lab CEO Mark Kingdon, Rezzable's CEO Jon Himoff notes "We are deleting Greenies this month btw--it will only be on our Rezzable opensim-based grid after June. Fed-up paying money to Linden Lab and seeing others waste their money also."

I asked Himoff for confirmation that this comment came from him, and he added this short note. "Yeah that was me and that will happen. I think LL actions speak enough -- Nebraska, viewer 2.0 and all the great revenue growth . We have other topics to think/talk about ! ;) "

I'll look forward to Greenies at Rezzable's Grid. The content has been there for some time and I'm glad it won't vanish into 0s and 1s.

Rezzable's final departure from SL is another sign that while Linden Lab chases the casual social user to build a sustainable revenue stream, the cultural creatives will look elsewhere. The metaphor of a once-edgy arts and culture district turning into a gentrified and more boring place continues in SL.

My next litmus test will be whether they hold Burning Life 2010. My friend Olivia Hotshot has pictures from Spring Fling 2010 labeled "Burning Life 2010," but I can find no references elsewhere to the forthcoming event. If BL 2010 happens, it would be a great venue for some subversive art about the changes at the Lab.

Pathfinder's Memorial

Pathfinder Linden

Location: Linden Memorial

He just got it earlier than his former co-workers. It's a case of Linden Lab killing the best and pandering to the rest.

Thanks to CodeBastard Redgrave for remembering him. If you are wondering why the Memorial matters, I suggest you look at Marx Dudek's strong post about the SL in-world culture and what the memorial says about it.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

At the Linden Memorial

Location: Graveyard

Thanks to a tip at New World Notes, I found CodeBastard Redgrave's memorial (direct teleport link) to the Linden Lab staff laid of yesterday.

My fellow malcontent, Pixeleen Mistral of The Alphaville Herald, was at the site too. She agreed with my assessment that it's time to back up any creations one has in SL, just in case. I'll have to get by the House of Usher soon.


Pix took off to write a story about the layoffs, but she noted that a group of Korean residents were paying homage to the Korean SL staffers, an entire team let go as the Lab focuses more narrowly on North American operations and integration with social networks.

For educators, the loss of Claudia Linden is a final straw. Now that she and Pathfinder have been fired, we have the proof we need to support our claims that the Lab has been ignoring us for a while. As CEO Mark Kingdon noted in his press release, the Lab will focus on its consumer business now.

I'm not optimistic about any of this, even though the idea of Web-based SL client would be indeed very appealing, if it did not gut our inventories and creations made with the older clients.

A resident named Ratatosk Independent was kind enough to get me a memorial armband. She granted permission to quote her. I think her comments are pretty apt for this moment.

Ratatosk Independent: My personal view is that the money hunger of the current board has blinded them for the fabulous opportunity for all man kind.

Ignatius Onomatopoeia: yeah--M is the hatchet man for a bigger agenda

Ratatosk Independent: They see short sighted profit as the ONLY objective when they COULD have been able to create history for how people interact.

Ratatosk Independent: And if it feels as if I was angry, you would be ABSOLUTELY correct. I am FURIOUS of what they do to OUR Second Life.

Ignatius Onomatopoeia: yeah, SL is special. I wonder if they dare to hold Burning Life this year?

Ratatosk Independent: The irony is that tomorrow, they are going to hold a SL jubilee.

Ratatosk Independent: How merry will THAT be?

Ratatosk Independent: And Burning LIfe? Fat chance. Where is the money in CULTURE when you CAN push PORN?
Linden Bears

I often make fun of things I love. I love SL, even if the Lab has infuriated me at times. Right now, it's a grim moment. I sure don't want to be at any SL celebration. Let's hope the Lab has the remaining good sense to cancel whatever they planned for tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Day of the Long Knives

Location: Uncertain

Tateru Nino's story about the Singapore layoffs should have tipped SLers off to bigger things to come.

I am particularly saddened that Claudia Linden (pictured above, center), the remaining advocate for educators at Linden Lab, was laid off. This close up was the first time I met her, Pathfinder Linden, and AJ Brooks, at a 2007 EDUCAUSE meeting.

I won't cover the details, given the good job of reporting that Hamlet Au has done today.

Hey, Mr. Kingdon! Think you can turn off the lights when you are the last Linden left in the building? Go buy Prokofy Neva a drink for me, k?

June Road Trip: Bumps & Surprises

June 2010 Road Trip
Location: Southern Continent

I'd found that Linden Lab has been grading and paving the loop road in my part of the continent, so with the new laptop's SL problem solved, I set out to drive--at speed when I could--to complete the loop.

Mostly the Dominus outpaced the draw-distance set for the road. Unlike my trips in the 59 Caddy, which cruises and does not race, even with changes to the graphics settings, bandwidth, and more, driving the Dominus at high speed involved a good deal of guesswork as to where the road should be. The area was sparse with residents, so landing once in someone's roadside house did not result in a ban or Abuse Report.
June 2010 Road Trip

Unlike the drunken ape on my T-shirt, I was not drinking in real life, a fun element to add to SL road trips. Thus I did manage to avoid a guy on a motorcycle and an avatar just standing in the road. He didn't answer me when I said hello. But then, in real life, who would expect that greeting after a random motorist passes and shouts out the window?

A few spots of interest, like this motorcycle shop, caught my eye. I've wanted a replica of a classic bike, so I may have to get one for next month's trip.
June 2010 Road Trip

I pressed on, until technical issues forced me to quit. Somehow the camera position was stuck to slightly in front and to the right of me, making it impossible to see the road clearly when driving.

This sort of issue can be remedied quickly, but can other problems I cannot control and that threaten any attempts by Linden Lab to gain some renewed respect with business and education users?

June 2010 Road Trip
Despite the new land ratings that should ban sexual pose-balls in public areas not zoned Adult, I saw this pool table when I paused beside an empty dance club / bar. I will spare readers the descriptions of the sexual positions possible; suffice to say that these were not for playing eight-ball.

I'm no prude and no tattle-tail, so I did not report the club. Had students been doing work nearby, I would have done so. The recent layoffs at Linden Lab, reported by Tateru Nino, do not bode well for their being able to provide more than haphazard enforcement of their own policies.
June 2010 Road Trip

Linden Lab clearly is chasing social users with its road-building, signage, and other in-world infrastructure improvements. I hope this does not chase away other sorts of users who already look to OpenSim or the potentials of the Web-based Unity viewer for immersive 3D experiences.