Geek Dad discusses “Project Sansar”

Obligatory Sansar promo shot via Linden Lab (pretty please, can we have something new, LL?)

Obligatory Sansar promo shot via Linden Lab (pretty please, can we have something new, LL?)

Taking a peek today at the Lab’s press page on the web, I saw that Geek Dad has an article by Derrick Schneider in which he discusses the Lab’s in-development “Project Sansar” virtual experiences platform with Linden Lab CEO Ebbe Altberg.

The article, Project Sansar: Giving Virtual Reality a Second Life, doesn’t give out much that is new about “Sansar” for those who have been following whatever news has been made available, but it does tend to further clarify a few things, while re-stating others.

For me, the more interesting part of the discussion revolves around the concept of the “creator”.

Ebbe Altberg: talking Sansar to Geek Dad

Ebbe Altberg: talking Sansar to Geek Dad

Within Second Life, and while it can have a fairly broad generic application, the term is most readily identified with the role of the model-maker; those people who actually create models and objects, whether in mesh or prims.

However, in broader terms, anyone who creates a region or a parcel, be it for their own use or to be shared with others, is equally a “creator”, even if they purchase the items they use either in-world or through the Marketplace.

For “Sansar”, it appears the Lab is using “creator” in this latter context, rather than identifying a specific group of skilled model makers. That is, people who can bring together models and content into a single experience and present it for use by their intended audience.

Obviously, those who build the models are an important subset of this creative group; hence why the Lab has engaged with modellers and “content partners” (itself an interesting term)” during the current closed alpha for “Sansar”. But the model makers aren’t perhaps the central focus of the Lab’s endeavours in building Sansar as some may have taken the term “creators” to mean.

Alleged / supposed / actual (take your pick)

“Project Sansar” log-in screen (?)

This leads us, by way of a discussion about instancing experiences, to matters of revenue generation, which I also found to be of speculative interest. In an almost throwaway comment, Schneider demonstrates just how different “Sansar” will be from Second Life, and offers a glimpse of some intriguing new possibilities for revenue generation which may not have been readily considered thus far, once the platform’s audience and use grows:

If you make a great experience in Sansar … you can resell that experience… which you really can’t do today in Second Life.

Picture, for example, a group such as MadPea Games, able to create and licence / sell entire game / hunt experiences to clients in the physical world, completely packaged and ready to go, branded for their client. but with full credit to MadPea Games. That the experience is actually running on the “Sansar” servers operated by the Lab is neither here nor there as far as the client is concerned, so long as they can use whatever mechanism they’ve chosen to engage their desired audience in the experience.

Equally, this also raises some potential questions around content, licensing and permissions, particularly given the earlier statements around those building an experience not necessarily being those would actually build all the models, etc., within that experience.  For example, how do you cater for the model maker who doesn’t want their creations to be re-packaged and sold on to or licensed out to third parties? Or how do you ensure that models and content remain “affordable” to the majority whilst allowing the maker to generate sufficient revenue to make it worth their while in allowing they models to be “sold on”?

Again, it will be interesting to see how questions like this are addressed – or if they are even an actual concern as “Sansar” becomes more accessible.

Sine Wave Entertainment are also looking at the concept of a

Sine Wave Entertainment are also looking at the concept of a “white label” platform – (which I wrote about here). These also encompass some of their own product offerings, such as, complete with direct discoverability through the web

Discoverability is also again touched upon, with Schneider nicely encompassing the approach being taken with “Sansar”:

Imagine going to a web page that goes in-depth on a given topic — Mayan temples, say — and then says, “here’s a VR experience that gives you another view” in the same way you might see an embedded video today. There will also be ways to find other experiences once you’re inside the ecosystem.

Alongside of this there are the by now familiar references to the likes of WordPress and YouTube, which initially appeared back in June and July. These comments have, to me, tended to confirm my own view (held since I first started reading what was being said about  the platform in places such as the 2015 VWBPE conference) that  Sansar, conceptually at least, is somewhat analogous to the idea of  a platform as a service (PaaS) providing a “white label” environment to potential users. I’ve been promising for a while to expand on this, and rather than sidetrack things here, I really will make an effort to re-organise my thoughts on this and other speculations I have about “Sansar” and get them in print in this blog, hopefully within the next week.

Overall, while (again) not revealing anything that is really startlingly new, the Geek Dad article does make for interesting reading, simply because it does perhaps clarify certain things at least a little bit, and because of the possible questions which might yet be applied to the platform as more is revealed.

Related Links

A photography selection in Second Life

Hills Gallery

A Photography Selection – Hills Gallery

“Photography is my passion in here and it s what keeps me coming back,” states Hillany Scofield, “Hills” to her friends. “I love to experiment and to discover new things and  I love to get inspired.”

If anyone needed any proof of her talent as one of Second life’s foremost avatar portraiture photographers, they need only visit her Flickr stream to see her creativity at work.  However, throughout October, they can get up close and personal with some of her more recent work by visiting her own Hills Gallery in-world, which is currently featuring a display of her images simply entitled A Photography Selection.

The images are all a part of a series Hills took for Photography magazine, published by Joaopedro Oh, and which for October features Hills’ work alongside Awesome Fallen, Darklyn Dover, Migan Forder, to name but three.

Hills Gallery

A Photography Selection – Hills Gallery – click any image for full size

Within A Photography Selection there is a mix of erotic and non-erotic pieces, with the former very much focused on the sensual rather than the sexual. However, nudity is in some of the images, so they might be considered NSFW. However, there is far more here than “just” nude studies.

Noted for her use of both monochrome and a studied balance of colour, Hills’ images are always extraordinary in their composition and presentation, and this is true of the pieces on display in this selection, which offers a clear demonstration of her eye for composition and balance through pose, structure and tone.

A Photography Selection - Hills Gallery

A Photography Selection – Hills Gallery

All told, a superb series of studies, all beautifully presented in a gallery which is itself an eye-catching design, and perfectly suited to the occasion of displaying Hill’s work.

SLurl Details

2015 viewer release summaries: week 40

Updates for the week ending Sunday, October 4th

This summary is published every Monday, and is a list of SL viewer / client releases (official and TPV) made during the previous week. When reading it, please note:

  • It is based on my Current Viewer Releases Page, a list of all Second Life viewers and clients that are in popular use (and of which I am aware), and which are recognised as adhering to the TPV Policy. This page includes comprehensive links to download pages, blog notes, release notes, etc., as well as links to any / all reviews of specific viewers / clients made within this blog
  • By its nature, this summary presented here will always be in arrears, please refer to the Current Viewer Release Page for more up-to-date information.

Official LL Viewers

  • Current Release version:, September 29 – formerly the Importer RC viewer download page, release notes
  • Release channel cohorts (See my notes on manually installing RC viewer versions if you wish to install any release candidate(s) yourself):
    • Quick Graphics RC viewer version released on October 2 – provides the new Avatar Complexity options and the new graphics preset capabilities for setting, saving and restoring graphic settings for use in difference environments / circumstances (download and release notes)
    • Notifications RC viewer version released on October 1 – new Notifications floater separates incoming notifications into System, Transactions, Invitations, and Group. It provides a better way to view, interact with, prioritize and manage incoming notices for busy residents (download and release notes)
    • Maintenance RC viewer version released on September 30 – 90+ fixes, updates and feature requests (download and release notes)
  • Project viewers:
    • No updates.

LL Viewer Resources

Third-party Viewers


  • CtrlAltStudio Alpha Windows viewer updated to version on October 3rd – core updates: parity with the Oculus Rift SDK (download and release notes)
  • Kokua updated to version on September 28th – core updates: parity with the LL mesh importer viewer code (3.8.4) and RLV 2.9.14 (release notes)
  • UKanDo updated to version on September 30th – core updates: parity with the LL mesh importer viewer code (3.8.4) and RLV 2.9.14 (release notes)


  • Coll VL Viewer updated as follows: stable branch to version, experimental to version, both on October 3rd – release notes

Mobile / Other Clients

  • No Updates.

Additional TPV Resources

Related Links

Space Sunday: of Martian water, avalanches and postcards

A false-colour image of Hale Crater on Mars showing recurring slope lineae (RSL) flowing downhill, which are inferred to have been caused by contemporary flowing water, hydrated salts detected within the dark-colours RSLs tending to confirm they hypothesis they were created by free-flowing water.

A false-colour image of Hale Crater on Mars showing recurring slope lineae (RSL) features flowing downhill. Hydrated salts detected within the dark-coloured RSLs tend to confirm the hypothesis they were, and are, created by free-flowing water.

On Monday, September 28th, NASA held a special press conference which, they had promised, would “solve” a “major” mystery about Mars.

As I noted in my Space Sunday update prior to the conference, the major speculation was that the US space agency would be discussing what are called recurring slope lineae (RSL) features on Mars.

RSLs have been the subject of intense debate and discussion since 2011, when an undergraduate called Lujendra Ojha published the first in a series of papers on their presence on Mars.  In essence, they are ridges and rills which appear on the slopes of hills and craters, notably in the equatorial regions of Mars. The significance here being that on Earth, identical features are always the result of free-flowing water.

Given that it is known that Mars once supported liquid water on its surface, the presence of these features wouldn’t be that exceptional were they part of the ancient landscape. However, as the “recurring” in the title suggests, the Martian RSLs appear to be active – recurring frequently, sometimes on the seasonal basis. renewing and growing, with new ones also being periodically created.

Two images studied by Ojha showing the flank of the same crater and showing what appear to be active RSLs.

Two images studied by Ojha showing the flank of the same crater. On the left, from 2007, a number of older RSLs, faded due to dust deposits, appear with a relatively new, dark RSL. By 2012 (on the right), that RSL feature has also faded, but a further new one has appeared

Given the overall similarities between RSLs seen on Mars and those seen on Earth, particularly in Antarctica, the common belief has been that liquid water is responsible for the features on Mars. If true, then it would indicate two things.

The first would be that Mars would appear to have a subsurface water table of some description – which would be consistent with the idea that as the planet lost its atmosphere, whatever water remained on the surface may have retreated underground. The second is that it would seem to indicate that Mars is still in some way geologically active, with some mechanism at work forcing this water to the surface and creating these sudden, if short-lived outflows.

The NASA conference coincided with the publication of another paper in Nature Geoscience by Ojha and his colleagues. both pointed directly to water being the cause of the Martian RSLs. In particular, they both report that spectral analysis of some of the more recent and broader RSL channels shows they are rich in hydrated salts, which strongly indicates the presence of water. These salts are consistent with the chemical signatures of magnesium perchlorate, magnesium chlorate and sodium perchlorate.

This is significant because the presence of perchlorate deposits in water can work to prevent that water freezing solid in the kind of summer daytime temperatures – around -23C (-10F) – often experienced in the regions where these RSLs are found. Thus, if held in suspension, they would create a watery brine capable for fluid motion, and which, if released in significant enough amounts, could give rise to the RSLs prior to the water itself sublimating rapidly into the tenuous Martian atmosphere, leaving the hydrated deposits behind.

Nepalese born

Nepalese born Lujendra Ojha is the student who started the investigations into RSLs and their possible relation to free-flowing liquid water on Mars (image: The Himalayan)

The conclusion is that it is indeed liquid water that is causing these RSLs on Mars, and that this water is in a liquid, rather than solid state, at least during certain periods, such that it can be forced to the surface.

However, all is still not entirely clear – something which tends to cast a shadow on the idea of a “mystery” having been “solved”. For one thing, if the RSL rills are below a certain width, they are entirely devoid of any hydrated deposits. This could mean that some other process is involved in their formation, which has yet to be determined. Further, the mechanism which is actually responsible for forcing the water to the surface a creating the outflow which result in these RSLs is still unknown.

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