The Drax Files Radio Hour: Osprey remembered and the future of VR

The second broadcast from the attic studios of The Drax Files Radio hour kicks-off with an introduction by Strawberry Singh, before launching into a wide-ranging segment which covers news from SL and beyond, further feedback on the inaugural broadcast, including more on the Oculus Rift, some discussion on SL’s status as a niche product and the more, and a tribute to Osprey Therian.

Osprey Therian

Vivian Kendall - Osprey Therian in Second Life, who passed away in RL in 2013, but her legacy lives on in SL
Vivian Kendall – Osprey Therian in Second Life, who passed away in RL in 2013, but her legacy lives on in SL

It is with the tribute to Osprey that I’m choosing to start this piece, as it is the core of this episode – and rightly so.

Osprey Therian (Vivian Kendall in RL), artist, long-term SL resident and both a friend and inspiration to many, passed away in December 2013, much to the sadness of all who knew her. Her legacy is not just physical through her work in SL and RL, but also emotional, because she did touch so many and in many different ways.

Through a number of interviews and discussions, Draxtor reflects on the lives – real and virtual – of someone who, while she would doubtless be embarrassed at being called such – was very much an iconic figure where Second Life is concerned, and in so many different ways.

Through the words of Marianne McCann, Jim Purbrick (formerly Babbage Linden) and Salazar Jack (Justin Esparza in RL), Drax presents an engaging, uplifting portrait of Osprey and her approach to life, virtual reality, health and more. It is a piece which touches upon many different areas of the real and virtual, all of which Osprey herself no doubt would applaud and, were she able to, add her voice to the comments and the broader discussions which could so easily arise from the subjects touched upon. As a tribute, this is a beautifully handled segment, and full kudos to Drax as both interviewer and producer, for the overall scope of the piece.

Is SL nothing without Controversy?

Controversy is hard to avoid in Second Life, and not long after the initial episode of TDFRH was broadcast, the show was tangentially caught in some controversy over the interview with Ash Qin on the subject of the NSA and eavesdropping, etc., on virtual worlds (and the Internet as a whole), which prompted a response from Ash himself. This prompted Drax to point out that the show is “not the BBC”, and the intent is not to undertake investigative journalism, but to provide general news and commentary on the metaverse as a whole. Which is a fair point.

However – and while I certainly don’t expect either Drax nor Jo to have their finger on the pulse of absolutely everything that has happened in SL, past or present, a show such as TDFRH can only be enhanced by demonstrating aware of past history, where it is relevant. This is not to say I find the critique levelled at the inclusion of the interview with Ash Qin to be valid in and of itself, but I do applaud both Drax’s and Jo’s response to the criticism and their openness and willingness to seek support from people in ensuring critical bases are covered.

Did the FBI try to get LL to "block" OTR IMs server-side?
Did the FBI try to get LL to “block” OTR IMs server-side?

As an extension of this, episode 2 makes mention of OTR and its use (most notably within the v1-style Phoenix viewer) and how, apparently, there was pressure within the Lab to have the capability for OTR-encrypted person-to-person messaging “blocked” on the server-side, with the intimation that the overall pressure for this was coming from a government agency (the FBI being specifically mentioned).

The story comes via a former Linden Lab employee and makes interesting  – indeed, curious – reading; particularly given that the OTR system itself, as members of the Phoenix (now Firestorm) team have stated, was apparently deeply flawed in terms of how well “protected” IM conversations really were / are.

High Fidelity and “SL 2.0”

As I reported this week – with an appropriate hat-tip to Hamlet Au – High Fidelity is seeking “alpha testers”. Quite what for is unclear. Hamlet points to it being a search for creative types, but the application form gives little detail and focuses on the hardware and operating systems applicants have at their disposal, rather than any skill sets they may have.

TDFRH encompasses some of the ensuing discussion of High Fidelity being “Second Life 2.0” (or “3.0”). Some of this speculation seems to be related to the fact that Linden Lab is listed as a High Fidelity investor (as is, as a slight aside, Mitch Kapor).

Whether or not this is an accurate take on things is hard to say. In terms of virtual world evolution, and assuming High Fidelity achieves what it aims to achieve, then yes, it’s probably fair to say that it will be a form of “Second Life 2.0” or “Second Life 3.0” inasmuch as it represents the next generation approach to VWs. But in terms of being a “physical” successor to SL, with some form of “upgrade path” between the two? That, I would suspect, is perhaps more in the way of fanciful dreaming; unless the “upgrade path” is as basic as quitting SL and joining something based on High Fidelity, perhaps with some form of discounted sign-up (assuming there is a cost associated with joining any HF-based world which  pops-up).

Ever Jane: the new online game from ex-Linden Judy Tyrer, touched upon on the show
Ever Jane: the new online game from ex-Linden Judy Tyrer, touched upon on the show

There’s also a brief touch on Judy Tyrer’s upcoming Ever Jane, currently available as a prototype download (which I have, but have yet to really “drive”), and which leads to a short discussion on niche products and how perhaps SL needs to go “big”. Again, I’m not sure that the latter really is the case; there is actually nothing wrong (as I’ve said before) with the fact that SL is niche – one could even argue that being niche is beneficial to platforms like SL, as niche does tend to generate more in the way of a retained, supportive user base. However, that also does presuppose that the product itself can continue to attract new blood when churn does inevitably set-in, which is an issue SL has, and is, facing, at least to a degree.

That being said, Jo offers-up a strong counterpoint to the “niche is OK” argument, pointing out that there are people out in the world promoting a “brave new world” of activities … which have been occurring within SL, unnoticed and unremarked upon for the last decade.


This segment sees the show broaden its reach, both building on the foundations – and stories – from the inaugural episode as well as reaching into realms beyond Second Life. At the same time, it is also a deeply personal piece, focusing on the life and friends of Osprey Therian. The balance between these two extremes is handled superbly, offering us a very well-crafted show with a huge amount of food for thought and reason for reflection.

I’ve not touched on everything the show covers, and that’s intentional; this is (again) a show which should be listened to and should be shared betoh within and beyond the audience of those of us engaged and immersed in virtual worlds.

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4 thoughts on “The Drax Files Radio Hour: Osprey remembered and the future of VR

  1. Inara thx for the good words! In re us not being the BBC: I had to cut more of that discussion due to time but this is a point larger than the Ash Qin “controversy”: I am myself extremely worried how in the public broadcasting sphere the model of the commercial news is being adopted = in depth reportage being replaced by commentary and covering the “horse race” [as they call it in the USA] is replacing coverage of policy issues! Jo and I set out on this venture fully understanding we would never be able to provide a service like PBS Frontline or WNYC’s OnTheMedia puts out every week. In some younger folks I can already see how they do not understand the difference and that does scare me. So going back to our little weekly audio get-together curation session of SL/VR content: we love to hear from you and fill us in with history, backstory, added info on issues. Best is in comments or suggest guests who have expertise.


    1. Regarding Ash Qin and everyone that makes stuff like RedZone etc, I have to remind section 6.2 (i) of the Lab’s ToS, of which both the developers of such “security” devices and their users run afoul (emphases mine):

      “You agree to respect both the integrity of the Service and the privacy of other users. You will not:

      (i) Post or transmit viruses, Trojan horses, worms, spyware, time bombs, cancelbots, or other computer programming routines that may harm the Service or interests or rights of other users, or that may harvest or collect any data or information about other users without their consent;

      Furthermore, the Lab’s ToS are above anyone’s personal rules for governing their land or in-world commercial presence (i.e. you may not put devices that surreptitiously gather users’ data on your land, and you are not even allowed to sell such devices). And, of course, RL legislation is above the Lab’s ToS; and, trust me, RL legislation is much more stringent than the Lab’s ToS on such matters.

      There’s no “ifs” or “buts” about it. It’s all in perfectly high-res black & white and it can’t be misinterpreted at all.


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