It’s about amplifying the awesome

There was a time when the words “Torley Linden” and “Second Life” were synonymous with one another. His was frequently the first Linden name and voice users would encounter on entering SL, where his weekly TuTORial and Tip of the Week videos were a much-loved and enjoyed Thursday event through the old (and vibrant) Second Life website.

Says it all, doesn’t it?

While Torley has popped up in a couple of videos recently, his infectious enthusiasm, boundless love of Second Life and seemingly inexhaustible energy have been much in absence for well over a year now. It was thinking about this last night that brought me around to thinking about Torley island, always a much a mark of Torley’s personality as Torley himself, and a place I’ve not visited in at least three years – so I resolved to go and take a look today.

Torley Island: always open to the public

Torley is rare among the Lindens in that he still maintains a sizeable physical presence in SL even when absent it himself in the form of his island region, which is always open to the public, and frequently changing to reflect a whole range of influences on Torley himself.

The last time I visited, the island was an island, surrounded by water and with hills, rivers, trees and vivid colours – not just green and pink, but yellow and blue and red and orange and purple and … well, you get the point. Vivid and vivacious. Today, all that has gone, replaces by a decidedly “futuristic / sci-fi” approach which, while still undeniably “Torley”, seems to carry a strong subtext with it.

Torley Island

All the colours and vibrancy are still there, together with everything which is quintessentially Torley: the curios, the impish humour, the sense of fun. But  – to me at least – it all seems somewhat subdued; perhaps it is just the impenetrable blackness surrounding the region which darkened my mood, although it does also seem to also cast a shadow across the region itself. There are also elements here which seem to at first poke gentle fun at the world at large and in keeping with the island’s subtitle of OMG! Cyberspace! Digital Frontier! – but which again seem to perhaps carry a deeper message.

Tickling Disney’s ribs – or hidden message?

Which is not to say the build is all doom and gloom – there is a lot to see and do and hear here. Torley is an accomplished musician and an immersionist, so having sound and media enable during a visit is a must. Down on the lowest level, where you arrive, there are bumper cars to be had  – so visiting with friends can be fun. These appear to have guns mounted on one side of them (watermelon guns? :)), although if they are weapons, I totally failed to get mine to work – disabled? There are human-voiced musical instruments to poke out, and all manner of things large and small to see – and dodge.

Torley island

Nevertheless, I have to say that throughout my roaming and pushing and prodding, I did find my visit a little somber. Torley’s infectious enthusiasm has been gone from videos and website for well over a year now, as mentioned above. It is hard to understand why; his ability to engage and inspire was already one of the great strengths Linden Lab had at their disposal.  His videos were never anything less than a boon for people struggling to get to grips with SL and were perhaps a contributing factor in getting people to “stick” with Second Life and explore its capabilities and possibilities. Silencing him – assuming it was the result of a corporate decision – seems wholly counter-productive.

….”Torley is missed”

Even as subdued as it feels, a visit to Torley’s island, particularly for those of us who have been around a while, cannot help but raise a smile and roll back the memories. Bringing back his tuTORial and Tip of the Week videos may not bring hordes of people flooding in to Second Life – but given proper placement and promotion, they could do much to encourage people coming into SL to persevere in their efforts to get to grips with the viewer and everything else, and help people reach their “Eureka!” moments a lot sooner.

In short, they could help us all once again Amplify our Awesome.

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7 thoughts on “It’s about amplifying the awesome

    1. Yup, Torley is still there on his feed. Was poking more at LL, although the “darker” nature of his region did leave me a little perturbed, as mentioned. Love the Torley Looks :).

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  1. Ah, Torley… there are so many interesting stories about Torley’s “appearance” first as a resident, and shortly thereafter, as a Linden. However, it’s unfair for me to repeat them. Let’s just say that Torley’s engagement and enthusiasm predated his position as a Linden, and that he was already a Force of Awesomeness — well known by practically every resident — many months before LL, encouraged by his engaging enthusiasm, hired him for… what? He had many ill-defined roles at LL, but “engaging the community with awesomeness” was definitely what he did.

    Not many companies would have done the same. Strangely enough, LL has these odd moments of lucidity, as if they’re almost grasping what SL is about and how to relate with the residents, and then abandoning the idea. Somehow, Torley survived through four CEO changes (counting Philip’s return).

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    1. Yep,

      It’s wel-known that Tolrey’s time in SL predated his Linden time. That’s actually true of a number of Lindens (I’m actually quite sure some people involved in technical aspects of SL would likely eat their words were they aware that at times they’ve directed critiques at Lindens for “not understanding” or “being involved” in SL when said Lindens have had active alt accounts dating back to 2004). Torley is special however, as it is his work as a Linden which did much to propel SL forward for newbies arriving in-world and those trying to make sense of the viewer and overcome their adversity to what would today be considered minor changes (remember 1.16 to 1.18?).

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