Because of Prim Perfect (homes and gardens magazine – I’m the editor) and Meta Makeover (SLCN TV programme – I’m the producer and, for my sins, the presenter), I get to see a lot of cool places – so many that it’s hard for me to pick a few, without seeming to ignore others.
Poppet, much earlier, mentioned Wunderbar. I was out there yesterday, trying out the skiing (she’s been advised by Alpinists on its creation, and it’s a lot of fun). I also swung by the Princeton Voids (the Quiet, Dyna Fleur and Liquid Light were still up), on the grounds that it was the last chance to see them before they’re gone as part of the Open Space debacle. It seems to sum up the positive and negative of Second Life at the end of the year: Creativity – and co-operation. And loss.
One of the things that does worry me – and that hasn’t been commented on much is the decline of the ‘print’ media in Second Life. It may seem ironic when there are dozens of blogs out there to speak of a decline … but the fact is that these are largely individual voices.
I believe there should be the possibility of a serious, engaged and active ‘print’ media in the Metaverse. Instead we are seeing real life media companies withdraw their support and their inworld presence. Ironically, although I’m running a lifestyle magazine, we are finding ourselves developing the serious commentary (such as input on IP issues and the Content Creators Association) more and more to ensure it gets a voice out there.
Initiatives like Mal Burns and Tara Yates’ Metaverse Week in Review show what can be done by independents and SLCN maintain steady support through programmes such as Metanomics. So the internal visual media is good – although it would be nice to see awareness of it growing in 2009. And it would be good to see more use being made of the Second Life Media Consortium. Very nice to be asked to join that – and there was an interesting Press Conference on the Linden Prize. Since then … nothing. Not even a bar where hacks can meet and (virtually) drink.
The thing that, of course, continues to impress is the people. One of the highlights of the year was the Grand Tour of vintage and steampunk sims organised by Fogwoman Gray in a deliberate attempt to show solidarity in communities badly hit (as who wasn’t?) by the Open Space. A series of events and parties in seventeen different locations over two days, it showed the creativity of places and people.
Another event I enjoyed – although I know that, on a wider scale, it had its problems, was SL5B, where the Prim Perfect and Meta Makeover teams had two gorgeous exhibition halls. Jeremey Ryan of Barefoot Designs and Dellybean North of True North Designs put together a GREAT build for us, with Kittie Munroe of Kitstar Designs doing sterling work on the graphics and interiors. Then there was the cafe, complete with Maar Auer dances – that amazing Charleston! For two weeks, it was a very cool place to be, complete with a TARDIS on the front patio (and we had M Linden visit too).
So … in 2009?
Not too late to salvage something from the Open Space debacle. January increases will happen. But something needs to be done about July. And that doesn’t mean just picking off the most vociferous communities and setting individual deals. The quiet sim owners, the small businesses, the small nonprofits – their goodwill is probably easier to attain – and their disillusionment, in the end, more dangerous to the longterm health of Second Life.
Even the large, prestigious organisations have taken a hit. Princeton didn’t make a large fuss, didn’t scream and shout, but quietly packed up its voids and retired them. If one of the primary goals is education, this is worrying.
Stability – yes, I’ll tick that box. Communication – that one too.
And perhaps being less bleeding edge with the viewers. Come on, guys – you want to be in the business of pushing Second Life, not flogging hardware by default – i.e. making it essential for your poor users to have to upgrade their computers every six months just to see what’s in front of their faces! I cling doggedly to my Nicholaz viewer – it may no longer show me all the pretties, but it shows me enough, and my one year old machine can handle it.
Premium accounts. I’d LOVE to see my Premium account being about something more than buying me mainland that I a) don’t want and b) can’t afford. Well, I suppose it gives me $300 Linden a week and, more importantly, support.
Media. A serious, viable SL magazine that draws together the best and most challenging writers – and heaven knows there’s a lot of them. One that can set up a real world presence as well as an inworld one. One that can critique in a diversity of voices. Is that impossible?
Let’s see what 2009 brings.
(Hopefully a couple of bears for this marathon piece!)