Friday, April 20, 2012

SL Turns 9 and I'm Celebrating at Home

Linden Lab has decided against the traditional Second Life birthday celebration: a series of invited builds, designed around a theme, and placed on a series of temporary sims. The Lab's blog put it this way:

Second Life’s 9th Birthday is coming up in June! This year it’s all about you — the denizens of the grid, the sultans of Second Life and connoisseurs of creativity— and we want to highlight the many unique and innovative ways the community has made Second Life their own.

This year we will focus the spotlight on community events. No one throws a better event or party than the Second Life community! If you’re having an event to celebrate Second Life turning nine, we want to know about it!

Miss Inara Pey calls this the "end of an era" and says

In previous years, Second life’s birthday has been marked through a coming-together of the community as a whole on a set of regions supplied by Linden Lab, to create a glorious theme park of builds and ideas created around a central theme, and in and around which parties and celebrations can be held. While not always free from controversy and acrimony, this approach provided a focal point for events and activities marking SL’s birthday, and helped to bring together residents from across the grid.

Well, not any more.

Hidden within this announcement is the fact that this year there will be no large-scale provisioning of regions by LL; no central place to explore (lag and all) and see builds great and small and enjoy the thrill of celebration and discovery.

And this is a shame.

The SL8B events have traditionally been a marvellous way for the many talents and groups across SL to showcase their work, their talent and their vision. It’s hard to see how such an infinite diversity of ideas and vision can be replicated through a process of complete de-centralisation; one cannot imagine sim / estate owners / groups developing large-scale builds specifically for SL9B, especially with so broad a theme as has been offered.

I confess more mixed feelings about the announcement. On the one hand, the birthday celebrations I've been to had a sense of community about them. I've reported on bits and pieces of SL5B, SL6B, SL7B, and SL8B (spread across three entries), and found things to like about each of them. On the other hand, the lag has always been so intense that moving through the soup-like atmosphere has been a painful experience. While having all the exhibits in close proximity to one another has its advantages, teleporting to different exhibits might be more enjoyable…if people care to build them, that is.

And that's really what the concern is, it seems to me. Without Linden Lab inviting individuals and groups to submit entries, without the Lab to provide the land and organize the event, will there be an event? Why should Caledonians and Babbagers and Furries and, uh, Goreans take time from what they're doing to celebrate our platform if our overlords don't seem interested?

Crap Mariner has what seems to be a reasonable take on things (plus links to other people's thoughts, conveniently lying there for the interested but lazy reader.

Will it work? Will it fail?

I guess we'll see. I kinda like the idea of communities being able to build their own concepts, hold their own events, police their own grounds, work together on their own terms, manage their own resources, and not have to depend on well-meaning (but overwhelmed) folks like KT and Doc and Harper for fear of offending someone.

Sure, it was convenient to have it all in one place, and the hodgepodge of builds gave people exposure to different communities and experiences and expressions and arts with a simple stroll around.

But then, looking back at my spreadsheets of the maps of the past few SL#Bs, they also were devolving into shameless marketing and advertising plots, and if you looked at many of those builds, you'd have no idea what the theme was. At least some folks like RacerX combined art and whimsy in the form of an invitation and not a blatant advertisement, or pallina60 doing out and out magic and beauty.


So, it's not all going to be in one place? Fine... with region crossings the way they are, adjacent sims under heavy load are about as crossable as a teleport. And any decent event at SL#B was a sea of grey avatars and people bitching about lag and rezzing, anyway, right?

But when it comes to the barrier to entry, yeah, it sucks for the individuals and rogues and small-potatoes microcommunities, because they might not have enough resources to put something together like larger groups would, but as long as SL's pricing structure remains ludicrously expensive, them's the breaks, baby. Perhaps LEA or some other group will step up and bring those folks together... art galleries and all...

We'll see, won't we? And in any event, "your world, your community," or whatever the tag line was, should mean something, no?

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