Short profile: Bjorn Laurin, VP of Product at Linden Lab

Speaking at the Meet the Lindens series at SL12B on Thursday, June 25th, Danger Linden (Don Laabs), Senior Director of Product, Virtual Worlds indicated that, having been running both Second Life and the Lab’s next generation virtual worlds platform (code-named Project Sansar) had relinquished management of the latter to his boss – Bjorn Linden (Bjorn Laurin), the Lab’s (relatively speaking) new Vice President of Product.

Mr. Laurin’s appointment slipped in somewhat under the radar around the end of March, 2015, most likely at the end of March / beginning of April.  His official bio at the Lab reads:

Bjorn Laurin, the Lab's VP of Product, directly managing Project Sansar
Bjorn Laurin, the Lab’s VP of Product, directly managing Project Sansar

Bjorn Laurin serves as the VP of Product for Linden Lab, and to that role he brings more than a decade of Web, mobile, and social networking industry experience. Prior to joining Linden Lab, Bjorn held several high-level management positions at MySpace and Yahoo!. His previous roles include VP and General Manager of Mobile at Myspace, VP of Product for Tagged, and VP of Product for Peel.

Before that, he was Director of Mobile for Yahoo!, where he launched the company’s first mobile advertising solution in the Americas, Asia Pacific, and Europe. Bjorn studied Economics and Social Geography at the Universities of Uppsala and Stockholm, Sweden.

Mr. Laurin’s time at Yahoo! spans almost a decade, during which he worked in Sweden, the UK and the USA. He was at Myspace for some 3 years, with a year-long stint at Fox Interactive Media between the two.

That Mr. Laurin has such an in-depth and extensive background in mobile technology and services may have some Second Life users questioning his appointment on the grounds that “he has no experience” with virtual worlds. While the latter may be true, the Lab does have plenty of experience with virtual worlds, and Mr. Laurin has a lot of experience in product development and delivery, and in management – all of which would appear to be ideal qualifications for the role at the Lab.

Furthermore, it’s worth remembering that the Lab’s next generation platform is designed to be accessible through multiple means and services – of which, mobile will be a central part (it is, after all, something Second Life users have been wanting), ergo, having someone with the knowledge and experience on managing mobile related projects in a senior position at the Lab makes a lot of sense.

So, a belated welcome to Mr. Laurin from those of us in Second Life, and a quick note to say I’ll have more on Project Sansar in an upcoming article.

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Art and artistry at SL12B: a personal selection

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David DuCasse celebrates the work of visionary and dreamer, Georges Méliès

Art is always well represented at SLB events, and 2015 is no exception; there are a lot of art focused parcels scattered throughout the celebratory regions, as well as those which have been judged by the organisers to be worthy of special recognition.

It’s fair to say that the event can offer a great introduction to the many and varied forms of artistic expression that can be found within Second Life, and such is the range of art on display throughout SL12B, I’m not going to attempt to cover everything; rather what I offer here are some of the parcels that I’ve particularly enjoyed visiting this year, and why.

Loki Eliot – Childhood Dreams

Digital mischief maker Loki Eliot is one of Second Life’s great creative talents – his magnificent cake stage from SL11BCC remains one of the stand-out build from 2014, while his SL10BCC Behemoth will long stand in people’s memory, combining originality, mesh, storytelling and metaphor into one of the most entertaining visits of the 2013 celebrations.

Loki Eliot - Childhood Dreams
Loki Eliot – Childhood Dreams

This year, he uses the forthcoming Experience Keys to take people on a journey; a story combining drawings, mesh constructions, voice and imagination to demonstrate the freedom Second Life gives people to rediscover the joys of childhood and childhood dreams, and show just why child avatars are so popular within the platform.

Loki Eliot - Childhood Dreams
Loki Eliot – Childhood Dreams

He does so with a beautiful story visitors are invited to travel through and share; a story without  the need to couch anything in matters of unhappy childhoods or metaphor or anything else; but which rather shows the unbridled joy of escape that can be found, of sharing something which – for whatever reason may have been lost or denied at an earlier age. In doing so, he also blows away the fog of misconception surrounding people’s self-expression through child avatars and offers a gentle, engaging challenge to those who persist in looking upon other who use child avatars with doubt and suspicion. This is a brilliant and captivating piece, and one that should not be overlooked by anyone visiting SL12BCC.

Juliana Lethdetter – Second Life Maps

I first visited Juliana’s marvellous collection of Second Life Maps back in 2012 (you can read about that visit here). For anyone remotely interested in Second Life’s history, it is a must-see destination (and one overdue for an update visit for this blog!). So it was with delight that I found her display at SL12B enjoying a prominent position just across the road from the main auditorium building.

Juliana Lethdetter - Second Life Maps
Juliana Lethdetter – Second Life Maps

In many respects, the idea that Second Life is a world is actually an illusion; while we can cross the mainland continents, and in some cases travel between continents and some estates, it simply is not possible to travel the entire “world” without resorting to the use of of the teleport – even, at times, for the simple act of visiting a neighbouring region.

But, the fact is that the illusion is a consensual one; we all freely engage in it; and through it, we gain more of a sense of place within Second life than might otherwise be the case. The rich diversity of maps which have been created over the years, both by the Lab and by residents, is both testament to the power of this consensual illusion, and a means of really understanding just how vast and diverse this digital realm really is – as Juliana beautifully reminds us:

 The collective dreaming of Second Life Residents past and present
has resulted in the creation of a unique consensual reality:
a shared imaginal space far greater than the sum of its individual parts.

Ziki Questi – Matter and Memory

When it comes to SL photography, I wish I had just an ounce of the talent Ziki Questi consistently displays in her work. She has a eye for subject, composition, depth of field, colour, and framing that always has me in awe.

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Ziki Questi – Matter and Memory

Matter and Memory presents a series of Ziki’s images captured from around Second Life between 2011 and 2015, which range from landscapes through unique takes on art installations through to the “not possible in real life” category, where the builds and creations to be found in Second Life far outstrip anything to be imagined or created in the physical world.

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Ziki Questi – Matter and Memory

The images displayed represent regions past and present, offering something of a glimpse of Second Life’s history through the lens of an exceptional photographer, all of which are shown in what is, for me, one of the most visually appealing pavilions in SL12B, designed Anthony (ADudeNamed Anthony).

Continue reading “Art and artistry at SL12B: a personal selection”

Windlight: a new magazine for art in Second Life

WindlightWindlight is the the title of a new arts magazine for Second Life which will be launching in July 2015.

Founded by John (Johannes1977 Resident), himself a SL photographer and also RFL of SL activist, Windlight brings together a talented team to cover art in all its forms in SL with monthly news, reviews, articles, interviews, commentary and more.

A joint venture with AviChoice Productions, organisers of the the Avi Choice Awards and publishers of Avi Choice Magazine, Windlight’s goal is to cover the Second Life art scene and to support  artists, photographers, galleries, and art-related events. The first issue will feature artist Bryn Oh, and photographer Skip Staheli alongside Sasun Steinbeck, Nikki Mathieson and more.

When I call the team behind the magazine talented, I’m not exaggerating. Joining John, who is the magazine’s co-publisher and editor as well is its founder, are: Nikki Mathieson, owner of Avi Choice Productions and Windlight’s co-publisher, Jessi2009 Warrhol, the magazine’s Marketing Manager, together with contributing writers Emma Portilo and Shakti Adored.

Windlight brings together a talented team: John (Johannes1977 Resident), Founder, Publisher & Editor In Chief; Nikki Mathieson, Co-Publisher & Owner of Avi Choice Productions; Jessii2009 Warrhol, Marketing; Emma Portilo, Featured Contributor and Shakti Adored, Featured Contributor
Windlight brings together a talented team: John (Johannes1977 Resident), Founder, Publisher & Editor In Chief; Nikki Mathieson, Co-Publisher & Owner of Avi Choice Productions; Jessii2009 Warrhol, Marketing; Emma Portilo, Featured Contributor and Shakti Adored, Featured Contributor

The Windlight Magazine Art Gallery Fellowship Programme

As a part of the magazine’s desire to help promote and support artists and photographers, Windlight is launching the Windlight Magazine Art Gallery Fellowship Programme. this offers those accepted into it with gallery space free of charge for a period of 30 days.

Applications are now being taken for the first round of awards, so if you are interested, do make sure to check the application guidelines and complete the application form.

The Windlight Gallery will provide free space to artists under the Windlight Fellowship Programme
The Windlight Gallery will provide free space to artists under the Windlight Fellowship Programme

Commenting on the magazine as we discussed the upcoming first edition, John said, “In establishing Windlight, we hope to provide a means by which the rich, incredible diversity of art within Second Life can be more broadly enjoyed and appreciated, by both Second Life users and, hopefully, an audience beyond the platform as well.”

As someone who genuinely appreciates art within Second Life, that’s a vision I can fully support, and I am both honoured proud to say that I’ll be joining Windlight from August 2015 as a contributing writer. I’m really looking forward to the opportunity; joining the team will not only allow me to extend my friendship with John and Jessi, both of whom I’ve come to know by way of Relay for Life; but will also further increase my own understanding of, and appreciation for, art in general.

So – keep your eyes out for Windlight this July!