SL9B: end of an era?

Linden Lab have issued a call to help with SL9B celebrations, which reads in part:

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!

On the surface, this sounds great – until one realises that what is in fact being announced here is effectively the end of an era.

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.

SL8B sims – not this year

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.

NY HealthScape roller coaster, SL8B – just one of the amazing and informative builds

I’ll personally miss the great gatherings like SL8B and its predecessors. I’ll miss the ability to wander through sim after sim of incredible builds, meeting talented content creators and designers and learning about the unique work of groups such as NY HealthScape.

Why LL have chosen to go this route is hard to fathom. Certainly, as mentioned above, previous SLB events haven’t been entirely free from controversy or headaches – but such upsets have rarely intruded into people’s overall enjoyment of the events themselves, and it is fair to say that where drama has occurred, it’s been somewhat confined to those involved, going largely unnoticed among those from across the grid who have attended events within the SLB sims and spent time exploring the exhibits.

As it stands, this announcement in some way reads less like a call for celebration and more like a renouncement of involvement in a key event in SL’s annual calendar.

And at the risk of repeating myself, that’s a shame.

14 thoughts on “SL9B: end of an era?

  1. I think we could perhaps say that this marks a clear division. After all, the date would mark Second Life’s birthday, not Linden Lab’s. In the past, they have funded it. Now they choose not to. They are moving increasingly to the position where they supply the technology but make no attempt to foster the communities – cf Facebook. In fact, cf, if you like, Live Journal or eGroups.

    If you look at it that way, their stepping back from being seen as the “organisers” of a special event makes sense. It’s now up to the residents to decide whether they have the energy and wherewithal to create their own event – the residents, after all, have always run the RFL events on their own (although Linden Lab has, at some points, donated the use of land for the Relay Weekend).


    1. ” (although Linden Lab has, at some points, donated the use of land for the Relay Weekend)”

      Which, for many, has been the focal point of the RFL events – with no disrespect to those who organise “individual” activities.

      Not sure where LL’s “birthday” comes into it – the event has always been about SL, even when initially “decentralised”.

      We’ll have to see how things pan out. I’m guessing that this year SLB celebrations are liable to be low-key – and reading your blog post, I think you’re of the same mind.


  2. I obviously cannot speak for LL but I would imagine one of the driving arguments for a de-centralized celebration is the almost intolerable lag the large centralized events incur. It makes no sense to try and put everyone in the same place when we are in a world of easy simple near instantaneous teleports. Maybe they are just trying this out to see how it works. I expect it will work well if the community supports it and it is organized so people are aware of when to go where. Personally, I would prefer to teleport between decentralized low lag events rather than try to move in a high lag environment. So, the fact that all the event locations are not on the same sim or sims doesn’t really bother me.


    1. That comes down to how well events are supported and seen to be part of a grid-wide celebration. Again, the blog post doesn’t read as positive in this respect. Other than the Destination Guide, no mention is made as to the promotion of event within LL’s own web domains – instead they talk exclusively in terms of external media. One can understand this, to a point, as well-publicised events that are demonstrably organised by users could be a beneficial means of bringing the curious in-world. However, there still needs to be balance.

      As to lag; perhaps its timezones, but I really found lag at SL8B to be a crippling issue. Annoying at time, yes, but not crippling – and that did include a number of rides on the NYHS rollercoaster when the sim it was on was in quite heavy (for SL) use.

      Overall, I’d personally like to see a mixture of both – perhaps a smaller “central” set-up of sims in which there are some celebrations, with other events encouraged among estates, sim owners and larger bodies such as LEA.


      1. Yes, I agree – it comes down to how well events are supported and seen to be part of a grid-wide celebration. It also will depend on how enthusiastic or turned-off the SL community of content creators and event organizers are about this de-centralized model. Who knows, it could be a cost-saving measure on the part of the Lab but I hope it is just a “hey, we could do these big events better if we spread them out and collaborated more closely with the community”. I guess I am a half glass full kinda gal.


        1. I try to be glass-half-full – but the wording of this announcement seems to indicate to me that LL are going totally hands-off & leaving it down to the community, with minimal involvement on their part. I can’t see this as a major cost-saving effort – other than the manpower aspect.

          In this respect, I think Saffia is nearer the mark on the line being taken: all part of LL’s retrenchment from actively engaged to provider of technology. There is actually a lot to be said of the latter in many respects. However, I do find it a shame that whenever something occurs with SL, the pendulum has to swing from extreme to extreme, always bypassing the middle ground.


  3. I have done two, SL5B and SL8B (RL blocked 3 and 4 otherwise I would have). It is fair to say that while both events didn’t meet the promise and expectation, both were good for everyone involved and I very much enjoyed being a part of it. I would have done SL9B in the same format.

    Less Lab involvement .. that can only be read one way. No involvement. ” If you want to do something you can, whatever, we don’t actually care, but will bury your location in the destination guide by way of token acknowledgement. ” .. Sorry, but I want MORE Lab involvement. I want the Lab to get off their collective backsides and give a crap.

    There is however one minor point; Staff members assigned to birthday events tend to get fired during or shortly after. So either no one is up for the chop with a last couple of weeks to kill, or everyone got a clue and found something far more important to do .. damn wrenches won’t paint themselves pink!


  4. LOL trinity, but i will side mostly with missy and try to see this as a glass half full. It’s at least worth a 1 year experiment. Perhaps people will reeeeeally get into it in an openhouse sort of experiment and we’ll all get to go touring around. it really is a shame that there is no central locale or gathering spot at all though. I think rather than just a posting in the destination guide, something like a party venue and a return to telehubs with updated where to go next should have been considered.
    Quite ironic that the focus on community will be the first time there is no gathering OF the community.
    but let’s give it a whirl.


    1. “Quite ironic that the focus on community will be the first time there is no gathering OF the community.”

      And it’s somewhat at odds with Rod Humble’s statement about wanting to recapture some of the old “frontier” spirit within SL, with the Lab and the community very much treading the path together. OK, so not every SLB was a huge centralised event, but there was a sense of joint involvement. Not sure that will be the case this year.

      I sincerely hope my disappointment is proven wrong – it is only early days as yet (and it’s why I’ve phrased the article heading as a question, rather than a statement – things may yet be turned on their head in a positive way); but I can’t really escape the feeling of disappointment I am feeling. Despite the odd dip (such as SL7B, which admittedly didn’t really do a lot for me), I’ve always enjoyed the celebrations and sims (lag and all).


    1. That’s grossly unfair statement.

      While there have been changes in policy of late coupled with some unfortunate issues with various elements of the SL service, there is absolutely no evidence to support the contention that these are leading to some kind of forced mass migration.


  5. The why this is good crowd, if they exist; have these arguments:
    – SLxB has always been an impossible lagfest.
    – Its always been very FIC-like. Who gets in and why and such. Probably just first come first serve, but it seems to end up being a certain kind of set.

    – Two very powerful arguments against a centralized SLxB. So you’d think with me opening there I’d see this as good.


    – SLxB just really is a place for everything to be together.
    – It generates a lot of internal buzz.
    – Folks who don’t get out much learn about other things through it.
    – We get an idea of what’s up with SL through it. Showing off the platform.
    – Community, community, community…
    – Its one of the few things that makes SL not just ‘another MMO.’

    Kinda got the sense things were going this way though – when the Lindens had almost no part in the last one, 8b. And with the shutting down of more and more lines of communication of late.

    The last names fiasco where they lied and then said no at the end, then asked for communication, only to shut it off hours later and retreat to hidden doors…
    – That kind of betrayal of the community pretty much is the signpost through which this could have been predicted.

    Makes you wonder what’s next…


Comments are closed.