Author Archives: Inara Pey

About Inara Pey

Eclectic virtual world blogger with a focus on Second Life. My blog can be found below and I'm semi-active on Twitter and Plurk.

Second Life is [in] Good today

Nalates Urriah pointed me to an article in Good magazine in which freelance writer Mark Hay discusses Second Life.

Now, before you start groaning, the piece is actually pretty good. Unlike wannabe writers of the Marlon McDonald ilk (whom I rebutted last year), Mark Hay has actually – shock, horror! – researched his subject prior to putting fingers to keyboard.  Not only that, he’s actually taken the time to comb through Flickr and found images that both reflect how Second Life actually looks today – so double kudos to him from the outset.

Don't be fooled by the look: Mark E. Hay offers a perceptive take on Second Life (image: Mark E. Hay)

Don’t be fooled by the look: Mark E. Hay offers a perceptive take on Second Life (image: Mark E. Hay)

What’s more, while at a little under 1500 words in length, Second Life is Staying Alive may not be a in-depth piece of analysis, but it is a considered and balanced peace which offers a largely impartial and fairly accurate examination of the platform – and a thought-provoking one at that, and in a number of ways.

For my own part, what makes this article particularly interesting is the social bent it takes. That it does is not precisely the interesting point, after all, Mr. Hay has something of a background in sociology by education. Rather it is the views he offers up which may not only be eye-opening for those who have heard about, but not really looked at, but which also offer food for thought on a number of levels even for those of us already engaged in the platform.

Some of the latter may not be immediately obvious, and may require a second reading in order for them to fall into place. As such, they may not even have been intended at the time of writing, although I suspect some of the examples he cites are far from mere happenstance when one looks at the wider context in which SL is at times held within the media.

This really kicks-in after he gives a very short potted history of some of the platform’s highs and lows and the apparent loss of interest in it that occurred within the wider world. Here he points out that despite all the claims otherwise, the platform does continue to enjoy widespread use around the globe with average monthly log-ins not that far below those enjoyed during its “peak” popularity. from this, he offers his own explanation to why this is the case: the ability to socialise and create / join communities in which those who are otherwise globally dispersed to engage with one another and create environments for that interaction which go beyond anything achievable through other mediums.

Give Us a Kiss, Dear, by Serena Snowfield on Flickr Not only does Mr. Hay offer an interesting and thought-provoking take on SL, he also takes the time to search through Flickr and locate images for his article that offer a fairer indication as to how the platform can look, such as with this image called “Give Us a Kiss, Dear”, by Serena Snowfield on Flickr

OK, so for those of us within SL this may generate something of a “no s*** Sherlock,” reaction; we are, after all, seeing this on a daily basis, either directly through our own involvement in the platform, or as a result of our travels within the platform.  However, other than the “fnar, fnar” finger-pointing or feigned outrage  at “the porn”, the ability for SL to provide a means to generate such societal interactions and ties seems to be something that has gone right over the heads of most of those willing to comment on the platform. Thus, Mr. Hay’s view is a timely, and welcome counterpoint to the frequent negatively which accompanies public mention of Second Life.

But this isn’t the sole thrust of his thinking. as he points out, the ability for SL to generate such social and sub-cultural networks and groupings isn’t actually new; it’s actually pretty much the way in which the Internet as a whole has grown. What does make SL unique, however, again as he identifies, is in the manner of the depth of creation and tangible persistence it offers all these various groups and sub-cultures, something what hasn’t previously been found within digital mediums and which has thus become the reason why many of us keep coming back to SL.

In this – and while he doesn’t point to it directly, but rather references it obliquely in mentioning attempts to bring the likes of the Oculus Rift into SL – his piece also highlights another potential within Second Life. Because it it can and does present the means for the creation, growth and sustained use of sub-cultures and societal interactions and structure which might not otherwise exist, it stands as the precursor for things to come in the promised VR revolution over the course of the next decade. Hence, his reference to Tom Boellstorff‘s seminal Coming of Age in Second Life: An Anthropologist Explores the Virtually Human, although offered in a broader context, is both unsurprising and entirely appropriate.

But even without all of this deeper ponderings, which as Mr. Hay correctly states, are all part of the future, his article neatly encapsulates why Second Life has endured and will likely continue to endure for the foreseeable future, as he points out in his closing statement:

For now all we can say is that Second Life is not as dead as many think. It just wasn’t the world we thought it was half a dozen years ago. Rather than a place that would reinvent everyday life for the masses, it became a place for the gathering, manifestation, and expression of societies and ideas that might not otherwise get to exist. And as long as it fulfils that purpose, it will most likely not fade away any time soon.

If you haven’t done so already, go read what Mr. Hay says about Second Life, and if you like what you’ve read, Tweet him. Better yet, get your SL-dubious friends to give him a read, they might just change some of their perceptions.

Related Links

Going Inworldz with Seanchai Library

Seanchai Library's presence in Inworldz opens at 12:00 noon PDT on Saturday, March 28th, 2015 at the Community Library

Seanchai Library’s presence in Inworldz opens at 12:00 noon PDT on Saturday, March 28th, 2015 at the Community Library

At 12:00 noon PDT on Saturday, March 28th, Seanchai Library opens their latest presence in a world beyond SL; this one being Inworldz. The new centre (https://inworldz/region/Sendalonde/217/144/28) is located on Sendalonde, or “Peaceful Heaven”, in Inworldz, the home of the Community Library there. It occupies a small parcel on the east side of the region, across a bridge from the imposing build of the Community Library.

With Seanchai new already well established in Kitely, where they have a central home world as well as number themed “satellite” worlds for storytelling and which has most recently seen them launch their new Explore the Arts series with the highly successful Explore The Great Gatsby, I asked Caledonia Skytower, one of the driving forces behind Seanchai today, what prompted the move to Inworldz and the Community Library.

The imposing design of the Community Virtual Library in Inwroldz

The imposing design of the Community Virtual Library in Inwroldz

“Well, they asked us, nicely!” she replied, with a smile. “More than once, as well, so it was clear they wanted to build a relationship with us, and saw in us something aligned with their own core values and they reached out to build a connection.  I admit, I was a little slower on the uptake that Shandon [Loring, Seanchai’s chief storyteller] was.”

Not that invitations were enough; there were  a number of meetings between Caledonia and Shandon and Alexina Proctor and Prax Maryjasz, co-founders and directors of the Community Library in Inworldz, along the way. These were used to exchange and discuss ideas, along with opportunities for collaboration explored, with Alexina and Prax both being aware of the Seanchai Library’s evolution as a result of their own time in SL.

The Community Library offers rich resources and facilities for residents: reading rooms, social spaces, information kiosks and - and pictured - a theatre - for just a part of the facilities which can be discovered when exploring

The Community Library offers rich resources and facilities for residents: reading rooms, social spaces, information kiosks and – and pictured – a theatre – for just a part of the facilities which can be discovered when exploring

Another factor that played a hand in things is the degree of ebb and flow of users between SL and Inworldz, with many people moving freely back and forth between the two, having a foot in both camps.  “This includes Seanchai performers as well,” Cale said to me. “Aoife Lorefield, as an example, and Lani Kaikalani both have a presence in Inworldz, as does Rosslyn Guardian who read at Seanchai way back when.”

Inworldz also has its own rich culture of events, which the Community Library, under Alexina and Prax’s leadership has been busily plumbing, so there is the opportunity for Seanchai Library to offer an additional stage  on which voices can be heard – and which may additionally attract those who do move between SL and IW to come along to both Seanchai and Community Library events.

The Community Library's cafe area

The Community Library’s cafe area

Indeed, the Community Library in Inworldz has become something of a nexus for language & arts based programming; presenting a means by which literature, storytelling and the arts can become a vital, functional part of virtual communities in a wide range of roles. Founded in 2011, it has has enjoyed steady growth and success, initially being associated with the Elf Clan, but more recently having relocated to better fulfil its growing role, and to meet the needs of wider networking within the world-wide virtual community as a whole – such as through the new links with Seanchai.

And it is networking which also played a role in Seanchai’s decision to add Inworldz to their growing virtual worlds presence, again as Cale explained. “Part of Seanchai’s success has been our ability to build and maintain networks and synchronistic connections between other like-minded/intentioned venues and programs.

Another view of the Community Library in Inworldz - with Seanchai Library's new presence visible of the far side of the stone bridge

Another view of the Community Library in Inworldz – with Seanchai Library’s new presence visible of the far side of the stone bridge

“We actually tried to build a relationship that had the potential to become like what the Community Library in Inworldz is, but it became readily apparent very quickly in the exploratory process that the fit wouldn’t work.  Such things are not failures, they are self-defining. We walked out of that situation into a series of conversations which eventually lead to really motivating us to develop an OS presence, to piloting Explore, and to taking this current step. That’s all good stuff!”

Seanchai’s presence in Sendalonde will be instantly recognisable to anyone who had visited their base in either SL or Kitely – and deliberately so. It gives their presence in IW a familiar look and feel, and while it may look modest when compared to something like the 4-region homeworld on Kitely, it nevertheless allows Seanchai to offer  a number of potential use spaces in the parcel beyond the main storytelling floor.

Seanchai's centre in Inworldz sits comfortably nestled on the east side of Sendalonde, and is connected to the Community Library via a wooden bridge

Seanchai’s centre in Inworldz sits comfortably nestled on the east side of Sendalonde, and is connected to the Community Library via a wooden bridge

The layout is also in keeping with Seanchai’s plans for their initial time in Inworldz. “We’ll be starting once a month (probably the final Saturday of each month – but that is not cast in stone),” Cale told me. “We still have to balance maintaining programming in SL and Kitely, and I am the first one to say that ‘more is not always better.’ Of course, Shandon and I would long-range like to make our livings producing programming like this on virtual platforms – but there are limits to how much is possible until the time comes that we can do this full time AND pay bills!”

For the opening event, Shandon Loring will be reading the inaugural story, a piece from his Hilo Tales collection of Hawaiian stories. Caledonia will then read a selection from her own story, Gorak the Gobbler. So, why not join them for this special opening event – and while there, take time to explore the facilities at the Community Library; they really are quite exceptional!

Related Links

BURN2 Burnal Equinox

Burnal EquinoxFriday, March 27th through Sunday, March 29th, inclusive, marks the 2015 BURN2 Burnal Equinox event, which will take place at Burning Man Deep Hole.

The theme for this year’s event is Balance, an explanation of which is provided in the BURN2 blog post which accompanied the announcement, and which reads in part:

Equinox is the time when the day and night are of equal length, it is also the start of both Spring and Autumn. In the virtual world we can mix all things together, so we can have bats flying down to sip the nectar from the new spring flowers in the daytime, or autumn leaves transforming into butterflies at night. As always our only limitation is our imagination.

Seventeen artists are offering builds in the region, all focus on the subject of balance, and all wide-ranging in interpretation and presentation, making touring them a fascinating experience, as they touch on the physical, the spiritual, the mental, the emotional nature of having, discovering, finding or even losing, balance.

BUrn 2 Burnal Equinox 2015: Cienega Soon

BUrn 2 Burnal Equinox 2015: Cienega Soon

As well as the art installations, the weekend will seen a range of events taking place,  starting with the opening by the Lamplighters and d-oo-b, and will continue through the weekend with a mix of live musicians and artists and DJs, and also include displays and shows at some of the installations themselves. To keep abreast of everything that is going on, be sure to check-out the Burnal Equinox schedule of events.

So, with a weekend of activities and art awaiting you in the desert – why not hop over to Burnal Equinox and join in the celebrations and fun?

BURN2 Burnal Equinox 2015: The Changhigh Sisters Fireshow of Light, Life & Love

BURN2 Burnal Equinox 2015: The Changhigh Sisters Fireshow of Light, Life & Love

About BURN2

BURN2 is an extension of the Burning Man festival and community into the world of Second Life. It is an officially sanctioned Burning Man regional event, and the only virtual world event out of more than 100 real world Regional groups and the only regional event allowed to burn the man.

The BURN2 Team operates events year around, culminating in an annual major festival of community, art and fire in the fall – a virtual echo of Burning Man itself.

Related Links

Black Dragon 2.4.2 goes beta; UKanDo 3.7.26 and RLV 2.9.7 get AHH

There have been a number of rapid-fire TPV updates this week, so here’s a quick overview for Black Dragon, UKanDo and RLV.

Black Dragon 2.4.2 Beta

On Monday, March 23rd, Black Dragon updated to version 2.4.2 Beta, with Niran focusing on further updates to rendering, although there are some interesting WIP elements as well.

In particular, Niran notes that he’s done further work on the volumetric lighting capability, notably adding a Falloff slider to both Preferences -> Display and the Machinima Sidebar (F1), so that Godrays will fall off the closer they are to the camera which will be further smoothed in future releases), and working to get volumetric lighting working with FXAA and glow.

Black Dragon 2.4.2 Beta add options for both directional volumetric lighting and Godrays Falloff

Black Dragon 2.4.2 Beta add options for both directional volumetric lighting and Godrays Falloff

Also within Preferences -> Display, Niran has added a check box for enabling alphas in depth of field calculations. When unchecked, this excludes alpha from both depth of field and volumetric lighting calculations to prevent focus issues (depth of field) and odd lighting effects (volumetric lighting). when checked, both depth of field and volumetric lighting calculations will include alphas in the field of view.

The new option for enabling / disabling the inclusion of alphas is DoF and volumetric lighting calculations. The option is unchecked (alpha inclusion disabled) by default

The new option for enabling / disabling the inclusion of alphas is DoF and volumetric lighting calculations. The option is unchecked (alpha inclusion disabled) by default

Other additions with this release comprises:

  • A Custom System Memory option and a separate slider for the “linked” memory version
  • A chat colour for Friends
  • (as a work-in-progress) a new information system for Preferences to tell possible performance breakers and problems that could occour with certain options.

As always, for a full list of changes / updates, please refer to the viewer’s release notes.

Related Links

UKanDo 3.7.26

The UKanDo v3 style viewer updated to release 3.7.26.28080 on Tuesday, March 24th. This update brings the viewer up to parity with the Lab’s 3.7.25 and 3.7.26 code, and almost up to spec with Marine Kelley’s RLV updates (2.9.7 of RLV having appeared just after the UKanDo update).

UKanDo 3.7.26 includes the Lab's new Avatar Hover Height capability

UKanDo 3.7.26 includes the Lab’s new Avatar Hover Height capability

In particular, this release sees UKanDo gain the maintenance fixes from the 3.7.25.299021 official view release and the new Avatar Hover Height functionality which has just become a part of the official release viewer.

In addition, this release of UKanDo includes:

  • Disabled the RLV start-up restriction feature by default. Re-enable via the “RLVStartUpRestriction” Debug setting or the RLV tab under General in Prefernces
  • FIRE-15489 by Ansariel Hiller – Add confirmation when unlinking objects, released under LGPL
  • RLV – Quick fix Courtesy of Nicky Perian, and tidy-up.
  • A fix for the “nolink>” parser bug, courtesy of Drake Arconis (Alchemy Viewer).

Related Links

RLV 2.9.7

This release of the Restrained Love Viewer sees assorted fixes for recent RLV release and the inclusion of the Lab’s Avatar Hover Height (AHH) capability, which came about as a result of a detailed formal proposal being put before Lab by members of the Firestorm team during a TPV developer meeting in June 2014.

Currently, and as noted by Marine, AHH is not yet linked to her existing “@adjustheight” capability and slider in the top bar of the viewer.

Related Links