Update on the 6th annual Burning Life festival of fire, art and community

As we roam the grid enjoying Winterfaire in Second Life, we wanted to take a moment to update you on some of what we did and learned at a different Resident-created event this year, Burning Life. The 6th annual Burning Life festival of fire, art and community took place from Sept 27 through Oct 5, 2008.

First, we would like to extend our appreciation to all the Residents who did such amazing work creating an environment that felt unique, held true to it’s real-life inspiration, and still used Second Life’s wonderful properties to full advantage.

at Burning Life 2008

Burning Life 2008

Much of what we report here builds on the Resident, Builder, Volunteer and Ranger surveys, conducted in part so we would be able to learn how we might improve Burning Life next year. We’ve learned a lot this year as the event grew in scale and ambition, and so we share those revelations to continue to build upon the legacy of Resident Burners before us.

Let’s start with some new things we tried this year:

Co-Community hosting with the Burning Man organization, which enabled the following:

  • A partnership with Burning Man Information Radio that brought sounds of the Nevada event to Second Life
  • A link on the Burning Man website and several mentions in their email newsletters, inviting the global Burning Man community to extend their experience into Second Life.
  • Official designation of Burning Life as a Burning Man Regional, which is a worldwide network of year-round, local, Burning Man communities.
  • A separate Burning Life micro-website in the secondlife.com domain, to help explain the event, provide a SLurl list of places to visit, and display a running list of events.
  • We were also able to keep improved traffic statistics with new web and data warehouse analytics. This is to help us plan for better event design, layout and traffic management for next year.
  • Use of an Event-only custom last name (Burner).
Sundown on the Burning Life Playa

Sundown on the Burning Life Playa


During the week, Burning Life was visited by over 25,000 of you, for about 42,000 hours, with an average of 36 minutes per visit.

To put that into context, almost 2% of all Second Life Residents came to Burning Life during the week. On a daily basis, an average of 4200 visitors came, with a high of 5213 on the 29th, the first Sunday of the event.

US Residents led the way with 59% with UK second with 9%. Germany and the Netherlands represented 7% and 4% respectively.


  • Email Invitation to the Burning Man community: These were sent before Burning Life but after Burning Man, and many Burners reported that they did not look closely at Burning Man communications after the event–precisely when we sent the invitation email! Next year, we will try to send the invitation letter before Burning Man, then reinforce with follow ups later.
  • Direct Slurl: for curious people unfamiliar with Second Life, we need to do a better job providing context, and setting expectations along the entire signup path, from clicking a web link to getting inworld.
  • No matter where they start out on a region, people are social. At Burning Life, they kept gathering around center camp, which makes everyone feel like they are part of a happening, but degrades performance in that spot. We need to try different strategies to spread out natural gathering places to optimize the experience for everyone.
At Burning Life one Evening

At Burning Life one Evening

Resident Survey Results: Lots of 1st Time participants made this year’s Burning Life a success.

To our surprise, a significant number of the builders, volunteers and Rangers who created such a successful event were doing it for the first time! It is a testament to the legacy created by earlier Burners, as well as the influx of new ideas and creativity every year. And, though Linden Lab needs to improve its events listing and the ability for builders to draw people to their creations, over 80% of them have indicated a desire to participate again next year.

Visitors: For 53% it was their first Burning Life. Visitors heard about Burning Life through a variety of sources (including friends, landmarks and search) but the most popular was the Second Life Log-In page. 82% of visitors said they wanted to take a more active role next year, which is exciting feedback in turning curious visitors into engaged participants next year.

Burning Man Founder Larry Harvey visits Burning Life

Burning Man Founder Larry Harvey visits Burning Life

Volunteer Organizers
:  The surprising stat— this was the first volunteer experience for 65% of them. The feedback on the core organizing team and the team leaders were very positive.

Builders: Remarkably, 76% said it was their first Burning Life experience. 85% said their experience was good or excellent, and 81% rated the organization of the event as good or excellent. Areas of improvement center around getting the word out about their builds to a wider audience. They wanted a better events calendar, a way to create plot-level landmarks, and better uses of group chat. Great news for next year: 91% want to be included next year, and 77% said they wanted to be contacted about ongoing building and creation events throughout the year.

At Center Camp

Burning Life Ranger with Pet at Center Camp

: The Rangers are a community mediating group that evolved at the real-life Burning Man event. Again, 78% said this was their first experience with Burning Life, and apparently they enjoyed it, because 92% said they would participate next year.

A lot of credit goes to Dusty Linden and the core team’s training, with 91% rating the Ranger training program as excellent, and 85% saying both that they felt well supported by fellow Rangers and that the communication channels were effective. Areas of improvement were to create social breaks for Rangers and make sure shift schedules are completed in advance of the event.

Overall, next year we will improve our surveying of Residents at the event or just afterward, especially for volunteers and visitors. We also recognize that the first day traffic was overwhelming, and we’ll need to be more clever about how we spread out 1st location points to minimize lag and expand the opportunity to enjoy more of the exhibits.

Visit the Burning Life Playa

If you missed Burning Life and would like to learn more about it, you can get a jump on next year by visiting the year-round “What is Burning Life?”  installation or Center Camp, and exploring two regions, inworld, all year long!

SLurl: Deep Hole /162/57/23

More info on the Burning Life Web Site


The Afterburn Art Project is now happening in which we reprise some wonderful art installations from Burning Life ’08 for your year-round enjoyment. Read more at the Burning Life site.

You can also view this Founders Interview, with Philip Rosedale and Larry Harvey discussing both Second Life and Burning Man, at the Burning Life site or on YouTube.

This entry was posted in Announcements & News, Community, Creativity & Ideas, Events, Inworld Content, Resident Experience, Volunteers. Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to Update on the 6th annual Burning Life festival of fire, art and community

  1. Katt Linden says:

    You can enjoy images from Burning Life 2008 in the Burning Life group on Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/groups/burninglife/pool/

    or on Snapzilla’s Burning Life 2008 feature page: http://www.sluniverse.com/pics/BurningLife.aspx?tag=burning+life+2008&year=2008

  2. Katt Linden says:

    BTW, I was just at Center Camp and it strikes me as a great spot for a snowball fight….

    What was your favorite build at Burning Life?

    What are your favorite Winterfaire tour spots?
    Check them out here http://secondlife.com/showcase/hotspots/ and make sure to scroll down the page to see them all!

    or inworld under Search: Showcase: Hotspots

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  4. Marianne McCann says:

    I miss Burning Life. That was a heck of a fun event. 😀

  5. I coordinated the two side stages for BL. Although not center stage we had lots of DJs sign up to entertain and share their talent. Our two side stages were drama free and run by Mentor Volunteers. I had never worked BL before but when Mia Linden asked me to I took up the challenge. I was glad that I did! I had a great time. I met a whole bunch of people I would never had met before. After 4 years on SL I have to say BL 2008 was one of my fav gatherings. Dusty Linden, Mia Linden and the BL Rangers were there round the clock to give us back up and support. SL Mentors on short notice stepped up to the challenge and worked the side stages like pros. I was very proud of all BL workers, SL Mentor Volunteers and of the BL event itself. Hope to see you all there again next year. Thank you for the opportunity.

  6. Ewan Mureaux says:

    Are there statistics on those banned because of group chat, political builds being removed, usual circles of cliques in volunteer groups, builders being denied access on the whim of the core team etc etc?

    How about the inability to move throughout the camps due to the molasses-like lag. The inability to use voice because it just would not work and had to be turned off.

    Perhaps a survey on those who couldn’t read about the general feel of burning life recreating playa life and who instead decided to build rich forests, water features and housing.

  7. Katt Linden says:

    @4 Marianne, I’m glad to hear you enjoyed it!

  8. Katt Linden says:

    @5 Doctor Gascoigne Thanks for all you did to help the event be so fun! I’m so impressed with the work of the Mentors, the BL Rangers and creators; everyone really worked hard and creatively to pull off a fascinating, smart, silly, great event.

  9. Katt Linden says:

    @6 Sounds like you didn’t have much fun, Ewan. I thought the nature builds at Burning Life were great – so many wonderful and varied experiences, including very political builds, were created by a wide variety of Residents.

  10. Dekka Raymaker says:

    I know one thing that can and should be improved for next year. I made a Porta Potty for Burning Life and was surprised that the organiser of the Porta Potty was listed as Creator & Owner of every one placed at Burning Life, this is wrong, the person who spends all their time developing the idea, build and texturing of the Porta Potty has to be seen as the Creator, otherwise the exercise is pointless.

    Also, it would be helpful to have information supplied as to where it is placed, I spent three days looking for mine and didn’t find it. For all I know it wasn’t even placed.

  11. Temporal Mitra says:

    from the blog article…”During the week, Burning Life was visited by over 25,000 of you, for about 42,000 hours, with an average of 36 minutes per visit.

    To put that into context, almost 2% of all Second Life Residents came to Burning Life during the week. ”

    Nice to finally see the real numbers when speaking about “all Second Life Residents”…instead of 16 million plus…it seems now that the real number is 1.25 million residents…if 25,000 of them are 2%…

    That was obviously NOT a weekly login number…since that is typically closer to about a half million..and it makes perfect sense…since second life it not really growing…and typically they have around 1.5 million unique logins every 60 days…1.25 million being the current membership…and the other .25 million being first time noobs trying it out…most of whom never return…

    They need to do something to keep their hard core players…and to keep more first time noobs that try it out…

    Temporal Mitra

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  14. How did you get all those cool statistics and when will land owners get the same? 😉

  15. .*. .* *MERRY*CHRISTMAS!*


    .*. .* *HAPPY*New*Year 2009*

  16. Oops…. sorry my first attempt at posting here broke, it didn’t publish right?

    Great photos, I see I missed a cool event.

    I will have to attend Burning Life 2009 for sure.

    I was being all anti-social at the time, not one of the 2% who actually showed up haha.

  17. Desdemona Enfield says:

    After developing scripted movement and special effects for Urban Spectre, one of the large parcel allocated projects, and writing mathematical visualizations (the E8) for a smaller project, and creating a sound & dance system that the Taiko drummers used in several procession….

    … what I will recall most is that toward the end of BL08 a trigger happy Ranger suspended my account without discussion after deciding that the effect I was commissioned to create (prims moving rapidly around a building interior) was abusive.

    I suppose that this will continue to happen when there is waxing enthusiasm about passing out police power to people of whom ‘78% said this was their first experience with Burning Life’.

    That said, there were many really fine exhibits. I want to extend my thanks to the artists who created them.


  18. Poid Mahovlich says:

    @Dekka Raymaker – Dekka most residents who wanted a porta potty included in the playa project added their credits as maker to the tittle within the full perms potty so if you looked you saw who indeed created – (I did actually make some of my own maybe those are the ones you looked at) – which was a suggestion I made. I am sorry you feel so upset about it – if you have a practical suggestion as to how to manage it better next year feel free to voice it – it was thought this was the best way to evolve this project this year so that placement would be both fair and varied, taking into account the build rights and so on.

    I also note you yourself exhibited one such porta potty at brooklyn is watching – which was an unedited version as I recall. Which seems odd as you mention credits 🙂

    suggestions to improve are always welcomed

  19. Dekka Raymaker says:

    Well Poid, the porta potty was placed at Brooklyn is Watching for one week and only during the performance, and it did no harm to Burning Life or the creator of the piece, yourself, but did further promotion of the event in some small way. And yes, the porta potty was unedited so it retained it’s correct credit, you as creator, me as owner, right?

    You also IM’d me saying that the work was your copyright and I had no right to show it at Brooklyn Is Watching, so if that is the case maybe you should instruct the Lindens to state the permissions of usage regarding your porta potty next year.

    However, I do realise that it probably isn’t a easy task to deal with the logistics of so many potties and the placement of them at burning life. So you get 5 stars from me for taking that on.

  20. Qie says:

    “During the week, Burning Life was visited by over 25,000 of you, for about 42,000 hours, with an average of 36 minutes per visit.”

    It was my experience that 36 minutes was barely enough time to fully rez without moving or camming. I’m not sure how this number compares to other events, so maybe there are always huge numbers of momentary visits (stray bots, crashes-on-TP, simple mistakes, etc.), but it seems extraordinarily brief to me.

    But I’m also not sure of the math here. A total of 42,000 hours is about 2.5 million minutes; so if there were 25K *unique* visitors (was that number really collected?), then visitors would return for an average of 2.8 visits to make an average of 36 minutes per visit.

    (On the other hand, swapping the numbers: 25K hours / 42K visits would be 35.7 minutes–coincidence?)

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