I’ll start this week’s column off by graciously thanking each and every Resident who took the time to comment on last week’s post. The responses were as diverse as those of you who expressed them — it was lovely to see a lot of really heartwarming anecdotes describing what Second Life means to you, alongside championing of Issue Tracker bug reports some had filed (I’m thrilled to see that!), next to some very witty “They don’t get its!” in reference to “older media”… and constructive criticism and concerns about the future too. My interest in asking you how you felt, of course, was never to scrutinize TIME or any single viewpoint, but rather, hear your personal stories. For it is what you’ve done and can share that matters. We’re all human — well, many of us are furries and an incredible assortment of other avatar forms, but that’s Second Life, right? 😉
One common theme I’ve noticed over the years in SL is, if you have friends here, mutual support helps a lot when technical woes threaten to put a damper on your fun. It wasn’t too long ago that I hung out with some peeps wearing “I Hate Update Wednesdays” T-shirts — it has a meaning unique to our SL culture. And while the shirts aren’t “real” in the physical sense, they make a clear statement which we resonate with, which is why we’re so excited to deliver Message Liberation, a major move towards freeing you from the tyranny of the older update schedule. (It’s all connected!)
Now, I want to share a beautiful movie that’s had a lot of Lindens abuzz, and I’ve seen a lot of oohs and aahs in the community about it too. For your viewing pleasure:
In Robbie Dingo’s words:
This work is dedicated to the many weird and very wonderful strangers from around the globe I have met, but have never really met.
Via New World Notes, learn more about how he “remade the stars”.
Incidentally, I learned that when both Qarl Linden and myself were hoping to work at Linden Lab, we visualized an eventual Second Life as being akin to the special effects in What Dreams May Come — living in paintings.
They say art’s not created in a vacuum, and neither is Second Life. For all the messiness, like the archetypical chaos on swaths of the Mainland, there’s an ample amount of beauty that’s arisen. I’m not just talking about things or places, but people too, and how we express ourselves here. In other words, the collected incarnations of our emotions.
Emotions may be intangible, but so is knowledge. And both are foremost to the history of creating art, a process which irrevocably becomes magical when you see it take place within your eyes, like the time-lapse mastery of Robbie Dingo’s vid, and even moreso, when you actively interact in the content creation flow.
To this day, I swear one of the kewlest things about Second Life is that if you see something you like, contact is just an instant message away, and this facilitates telling someone “YOU ROCK!” Going beyond text chat, you can visit with them, in-avatar, and until such time we get “RL teleports”, I’d say this is pretty swell. And this sort of activity happens every hour in Second Life, involving strangers (possibly soon to become friends) you “have never really met”.
As we add aesthetic enhancements to Second Life in addition to much other work, we continue to think + feel these social dynamics despite misconceptions which don’t show “the big picture”. I’ll elaborate: on occasion, visual and even usability improvements to Second Life are perceived as merely being “shiny”, meaning that they’re about style and not substance, when the reality is they are often both. To illustrate this point, can you imagine the actual shiny graphical feature being removed?
Yes, you can “live without it”, but there’s so many existing and forthcoming builds which depend on good-looking shiny for Resident creators to accurately convey the art they made, how they intended you to see it. These features are like supporting players which enrich the main cast, making the figurative stage, the literal platform of Second Life that much more valuable.
Can you imagine discontinuing the rest of the spectrum that improves the immersive quality of the inworld experience, amplified when you’re sharing it with family & friends? It extends a broad range from more drastic changes requiring supported hardware, like WindLight (coming soon to a public release near you!):
to fine details of the user interface, the controls everyone uses to interact in SL — this loops us back to why even bugs that seem minor can and will result in cumulative pain after being repeatedly encountered, as I know firsthand from participating in many issue-specific discussions.
To use a metaphor, if stability is our easel, then the canvas is the basic functionality you expect, and the layers of paint upon it are the richness you’ve made, as a result of the tools, or paintbrushes, we’ve given you.
I sometimes relax by creating artistic renditions of post-processed Second Life snapshots taken of inspiring locations. I call it “Alternate Virtual Reality“, and some are quite painterly:
and after being motivated by a series of events this week, I thought about how through creating art, we’re also creating the future:
Truth can be stranger than fiction, and life imitates art; if the art we create becomes our Second Lives, then the truth isn’t necessarily strange, but is truly beautiful…
I’ll be back next week with eclectic tips ‘n’ tricks to make your Second Life easier, and hopefully more fun!
Until then, live in paintings,