New Social Island

Linden Lab has quietly launched a complete rebuild of the Social Islands in Second Life. These are the spaces new Residents visit after they leave the official tutorial islands. I spent some exploring time at Social Island 9 (SLurl) with friends and was quite taken with the beautiful architecture and the brilliant instructional activities.

To encourage you to visit I’m going to limit myself to one picture (for now) but I will mention some highlights. When you arrive, a HUD will attach and almost guide you through various experiences – building, using a boat, dancing, learning your camera, and more – and pays a special version of the Linden spacebux that can be used in the Social Island shop. I write almost because the exploring is very free-form with no help from a plethora of weasels.

This fourth iteration of the Social Island concept is by far the most peaceful and lovely one. There are fewer attractions than the previous one (blogged about here), much more useful than the second one, and lacking the sandbox of the first. If you search diligently, you should be able to find at least one copy of all these old islands. The Lab is clearly aiming to increase Resident numbers with this rebuild, an early part of the revived Gateway program that lets in-world groups solicit new Residents.

As you tour the new Social Island you might come across things that could be better (like I found some issues with the items for sale in the shop) or you might just have suggestions. Feel free to leave comments on this post and I’ll direct them to various folks I know that might be able to help. Now get out there and have some fun with this new experience!

Mainland Find

Drainaige in AstarteA huge part of Second Life is, at least to me, about exploring.  For years I let my fears keep me indoors. Then I found myself working as a 24/7 caregiver so getting out wasn’t much of an option. Visiting Second Life was my escape and thanks to quite a few talented Moles in the Linden Department of Public Works (LDPW) there has been plenty to see over the last eight plus years.

Like when I was walking down Route One yesterday, I spotted this little culvert (SLurl) and had to stop for a look. If I had been driving I might have missed it. Where the Moles could have simply put in a road and left well enough alone, they went the extra mile and added this little point of interest. Exploring isn’t just about going places. It is about finding new things. Thanks to the LDPW, there are many fun things to find.

Civic Regulation

A friend of mine bought some land in Zindra recently and one lot was an attractive beach front piece. With a good ground texture plus access to the ocean and a Linden road this seemed like a really good place to buy. However it suffers from Mainland diversity. Sure, I’m a champion of Mainland and the craziness which it generates, but I have to admit that my land is surrounded by nice neighbors with good taste in what they put on their land. Not so with the land heretofore mentioned.

On one side, as pictured above, is a sex club (Zindra, remember) with excessively large Full Bright signs, some in neon. The structure itself is fairly tasteful. The interior is very poorly put together, but you don’t have to go look. If I drop my draw distance from 128m to 64m most of the building would disappear from this vantage point, but that’s not a solution. It gets worse to the south.

That land across the road is a series of unfinished sky platforms and terrible fireworks 24/7 regardless of the day cycle. The latter I could live with. Not the sky platforms. They are more disruptive to the experience than are the bright signs on the other lot.

Mainland needs some regulation and I strongly feel that this would improve the Resident experience and possibly save Mainland, bringing in more revenue for The Lab. It has been done before. That his how Zindra was created. The Lab came along and told people “If you have adult activities such as sex clubs, shops with pornographic images, or other such content, you need to move to this new continent.” To aid the mandatory move, The Lab swapped out land anywhere in SL with new land in Zindra. Early adopters and volunteers to go first got some favorable swaps. Others were simply forced.

A similar move could be done to separate residential and commercial land. I don’t want my home next to a huge department store and I sure don’t want my scenic landscaping next to Full Bright signs advertising boobs. Mind you, I like boobs, but sometimes it is better to conceal to reveal. To paraphrase the real estate mantra, “Atmosphere! Atmosphere! Atmosphere!” Harmonious districting of land would let those who wish to have attractive homes cluster together and set all the commercial properties together so shoppers and clubbers wouldn’t have to wander all over for their needs.

SL11B – Embargo Lifted!

The official Second Life 11th Birthday blog has published more than a few sneak peek pictures of the event in the building stages as have quite a few Residents on their blogs and on their MySL pages. Many of the pix from the latter forums turned out to be more than carefully cropped previews, but no one went all Snowden on the event. Some of the mystery is preserved. I held off until today and here are some of the images I’ve been collecting since I was given access last week. These and more can be found in my SL11B Flickr album. Many more will be posted directly from the Second Life “Share” viewer I’m testing. The event officially opens June 22 at Noon SLT.

My job this year was to be Doc Gascoigne’s body guard.
Whenever he was AFK I’d protect him with a tub of lime Jell-O®.
Pygar Bu created a lovely stage complex for the Auditorium. The detailed, bucolic setting has paths to explore, prep stages for presenters, and a spacious main stage.
Did I mention there were snacks? (SLurl)

On rehearsal day at the Auditorium I watched Hamayu Andel and a Modern Chinese Ballet go through their act. Clear your calendar for June 26th at 6PM SLT to see this amazing performance. Amazing music, gorgeous sets in brilliant colors, and a great story, too. Must See! (SLurl)
These next three images are of the Bay City exhibit (SLurl) crafted by Marianne McCann. It has a very 60s vibe to it and is a good reflection of corporate promotional style. Be sure, as with many of the exhibits, to have Advanced Lighting active to see the intricate details that Mari has added. This is the future of Second Life, people. Get used to it.

The Cake Stage (SLurl) is another amazing build. Loki Eliot is always pushing the envelope in everything he crafts and this venue is no exception. Again, use Advanced Lighting when you can.
Multi-region bridges connect all of SL11B to the Cake Stage, with lights pulled right out of the Tron movies pulsing, swirling, and flowing. Fly around out side and you’ll see some cool sculptures, too.
Inside the Dome. It would be a crime if you attended an event in the Cake Stage and didn’t fly into the dome. Imagine this picture in 3D and moving.
Look for the VIP boxes. There be gifts hidden in them. Plus, look a the stuff near the seats on the dance floor and click the white buttons. Heck, click everything!! Loki is a master of details.
Just wandering the regions is fun, too. Here is a typical scene. Just like Mainland SL you’ll find jarring juxtapositions and harmonious habitats so wander around on foot for at least some of your visit. Many buildings are very tall so do some flying, too.
Just a street? (SLurl)
One of the Time Capsules near the Welcome Area (a treat in itself) (SLurl)

Above is one of my prides and joys, the Time Capsule for SL7B. That year I won the design contest so I have a lasting presence on The Grid. Each year some of the past Time Capsules and select items donated to these repositories are set out to show people what Second Life looked like in years past. Go here to read about this year’s contest.

Lastly, a reminder to look up. Not all you can see is at ground level. Cam, climb, or fly and you might see …

Somniatis – Ascension of the Digital Consciousness (SLurl)

Rolling Eyesores

Here is a post (and the pic above) from Shigeko Tachikawa on My Second Life (here) that I think everyone should read. Shig started …

The bus got stuck there several days ago. Contrary to AnnMarie’s claims, it did not auto-destroy itself either after becoming stuck. [x] AR filed (SLurl)

shigeko.tachikawa By the way… I wonder why there’s no response from the lab yet about her (self-replicating in order to circumvent the auto-return) bus stop signs which she dropped at all rez zones all over the mainland.

vick.forcella Since those zombie vehicles run just about everywhere, since she rezzes them from her own land (she must own quite a lot of land), since she attends quite a lot of Linden Lab meetings, I suspect she is Uber FIC and above the TOS.

vick.forcella I guess Noobs will like them, residents that like to explore and drive don’t.

shigeko.tachikawa She does not rez them from her own land most of the time. There are her “Bus Stop” signs now all over the mainland and they are self-replicating to make sure there will be a new one in place as soon as the old one is about to be auto-returned. Worthy an AR for abuse of region resources and littering, if you ask me.

vick.forcella Oh. I haven’t noticed she uses/ abuses the rezz zones. Worthy of an AR, next time I see one.

uccello.poultry May I publish this thread on my blog, Vick and Shig?

shigeko.tachikawa @uccie: Sure, but it’s probably even better to point to the ongoing discussion at SLU, where AnnMarie is even commenting on a few things: http://www.sluniverse.com/php/vb/general-sl-discussion/86077-guess-whos-again-exploiting-mainland.html

vick.forcella I’m ok if you publish Uccie.

vick.forcella She makes monies from those zombie vehicles: http://community.secondlife.com/t5/General-Discussion-Forum/Beware-of-others-spoofing-your-SL-account-in-messages-to-Lindens/m-p/2157101/highlight/true#M124061

uccello.poultry Thanks, y’all!

Circuit-La-Corse

Not entirely sure why I’m posting this here, other than I ran across an interesting road network while being run out of a shop by griefers today. The Circuit-La-Corse in an attractive and interesting road and part of the Corsica Network (Web) on the Mainland. Right now I have a huge backlog of roads I’d like to blog about “road trip”-style, but this I just had to mention right away. There is a nice Rezz Zone in Wyrisong (SLurl) and every yellow dot you see on the map is another. If you have time for a drive, this road looks like a great place to visit.

Wherein I Question The Lab’s Efficiency

Flying around today I came upon the Former Site of Campus SL (SLurl), a prime-location region simply sitting about with no particular use at this time. It is attractively landscaped with rolling hills and the old school yet still miraculous Linden plants (just one prim? really?). Near by are two Help Island Public regions and an Orientation Island Public plus plenty of other Linden land.

With many Second Life-themed blogs decrying the decrease in Resident landholders, the economic down-spiral this means for The Lab, and other virtually apocalyptic news, a more-or-less empty region like Campus makes me wonder how efficiently The Lab manages its own lands. Yes, yes, yes, I’ve written about this before (notably here and here) so the concern is not new. But with Second Life 10th Birthday (SL10B) celebrations cranking up, I wonder how much money The Lab is spending on regions that lay fallow such as this one. Surely, moving this one to lend it out for a month to the SL10B organizers isn’t practical (there’d be a void where it was, for one), but if the cost of simply leaving it there is neglibile, why can’t The Lab donate regions for the celebration’s use or for charitable events such as Relay For Life?

Sorry, but going there wasn’t really my intent. If you are a writer, you know how thoughts get away from you. The first thought that occurred to me as I explored this region was more like “How could The Lab let Residents use this rather than leave it empty?” I guess it is nearly the same thought, but less specific.

Certainly, there are many, many regions that have been set aside by The Lab for recreational purposes. The Coastal Waterway (read several of my posts about it here) and the Blake Sea among them, plus a host of special places created by the Linden Department of Public Works (LDPW) almost litter The Grid. Just walk around Bay City sometime and you’ll stub your toe one one in just minutes.

And I’m not going to get into the Linden Endowment for the Arts (LEA) regions. I don’t know enough and there is just too much behind the scenes for mere mortals like me to understand. I refer you to Honour McMillan (and her blog) for that.

Campus and similar regions strike me as special cases, however. They were once important to The Lab but for one reason or another no longer serve as originally intended. Simply abandoning them is rather inefficient, I imagine. So what can The Lab do, particularly to enhance revenue?

As I mentioned, many of these lands are in prime locations. Sell them. There are still land barons in-world that covet well-travelled land near population centers. Set up guidelines such as successful “governed” communities such as Bay City, Nova Albion, and the Blake Sea have and sell them.

Or rent them. The Lab has had a little-known program to lend out retail space in Luna’s Luna Oaks Galleria Mall (SLurl) to Residents via lottery, though based on forum posts, I doubt the program is active (but if you visit you’ll see active shops though most vendors date to 2008 …. this is something I’m investigating). Why not renew this idea but for pay? A merchant can pay another Resident for shopping mall space or they can pay The Lab. Tie it into the Second Life Marketplace somehow. I’m not the only one thinking about this (see here). Rent space to retailers, big corporations, or just Residents, but rent out the land.

Give away the land. At least for a short period. Reward active Forum users or prominent community members or simply by random chance, lend out the land someone. This could be a great Premium Membership perk … a chance to have some free land for a fixed period (a month, six months, a year?) just because you pay an annual membership fee. Give every new Resident, Premium or not, a small plot of land to call home for a fortnight on a sim that has a tutorial-based infrastructure. Teaching Residents to use Second Life and helping them start out and retention might be higher.

The land can always be deleted. It’s just electrons, after all. Kill the sim, move others around to fill the gaps if need be, and free up that server space. Or move Residents from the hinterlands to these unused Linden lands, much as the big move to Zindra was accomplished. Remember that? Owners of adult-themed businesses such as strip clubs and such were moved from parcels that were about to be zoned as safe for folks under 18-years of age to lands where visitors needed to prove they were of adult age. Then the newly empty lands could be deleted.

Any of these options would be far more efficient than just letting the land lay fallow, though I do admit that it is rather pleasant to see a well-landscaped region in the chaos that often rules the Mainland. Perhaps there is a value after all.