The SL8B Opening

aka “don’t blink or you’ll miss it.”

SL8B opening: the crowds are gathering

Today saw the opening of SL8B.Now I’m going to be honest here. The official SL blog post about it did say “Kim Linden will give a short opening address at 11am SLT”.

I just didn’t think “short” was meant literally.

I got there a half-hour before things were due to kick-off. The main stage, at the juncture of four sims, was gathering a nice crowd – 30 within a 60 metre radius of me when I moved towards the centre of things, rising to over 90 shortly before things were due to get underway (ah, the wonders of Firestorm’s radar!).

Lexie Linden

I had a little wander around before things got too laggy, looking for familiar faces. I spied Anne Otoole from a distance and a few names from the SLPC. Lexie Linden was also there from the Lab. The last time I’d seen her was Saturday, during my tour of the sims, when I helped her track down an illusive Linden Squire Bear who had naughtily set himself for sale at L$10, rather than L$0.

As well as Lexie being there, the Lab was ably represented by ummm… by … well… no-one actually.

Now I know the “official” official birthday isn’t until the 23rd – but come on guys!  Show some interest, please! There was a time  – admittedly a goodly while ago now – when SLB openings would be somewhat awash with Lindens and while I don’t want to (again) sound churlish, given this is the start of a week of celebrations, one couldn’t help but find the visible turn-out somewhat underwhelming. I wasn’t alone in feeling this. a comment on Twitter brought this response:

@InaraPey agree and no lindens, what does that tell you. My first SL5B, here at opening stage lindens everywhere.

Anyway, 11:00am SLT approached, and Kim duly arrived, taking her place on the stage. Ears were preened, and air of expectation settled over the main stage and…

…someone asked perhaps the most important question of the opening, “Will this be in Voice?”

Kim Linden preparing for her address

“Yes,” Kim replied, amidst the ensuing hubbub. Cue a scramble to turn-on sound etc, grateful that Kim added, “I haven’t started yet”.

As per usual, Voice took a bit to kick-in on my machine, and when it did, Kim was talking about Winterfest. I’m not sure precisely what she was saying about Winterfest (didn’t we used to call that “Christmas”, once upon a time?), because Firestorm chose that exact moment to blow a raspberry at me and crash.

Typical of my relationship with technology, really.

Now, I swear I wasn’t offline for more than a couple of minutes – three at the most. As soon as the Viewer was gone, I was re-starting it, and while I was refused log-in the first time (“still logging you out of the system”), I tried within about 30 seconds of clearing the message, and I was in.

And by the time I’d arrived back at the main stage, Kim had gone. Open speech over. Done.

Now, I admit, I didn’t exactly expect her to be there for hours; I didn’t honestly expert her to be talking for more than 10 or so minutes. But even allowing for my crash, it all seemed to be over very quickly and, well, dreadfully anti-climatic. Going by the comments and a few IMs I received, I wasn’t alone in feeling I’d just had a “say whut?” moment. Things weren’t helped by a microphone being left on somewhere being left on, treating us to sounds of someone typing, moving stuff around and muttering comments (including, “The speeches will start in a minute. Or whatever”, delivered in a flat, nigh-on bored monotone).

All-in-all, I came away feeling somewhat down. For something designed to kick-off a week of celebrations on Second Life, this was so low-key, I’m not even sure the note was on the piano; it certainly failed to leave me with any sense of anticipation. It’s not fair to point the finger solely at LL, while their presence was lacking, they weren’t responsible for the overall execution of the opening; why not a word for the organisers themselves? Perhaps the fault lay with me – I honestly expected more, given the time and effort that has gone into the overall design and layout of the sims and the care people have clearly put into their exhibits.

Nevertheless and albeit with a pop rather than a bang, SL8B is now officially open, and I hope to see some of you there over the course of the next week.