Sansar Product Meetings week #8: communication

Sansar: Treehouse Overlook

The following notes are taken from the Sansar Product Meetings for 2018 week #8,  held at 14:00 PST on Tuesday, February 20th. Unfortunately, illness kept me from attending the second meeting on socialisation, held on Thursday, February 22nd.

These weekly Product Meetings are open to anyone to attend, are a mix of voice (primarily) and text chat. Dates and times are currently floating, so check the Meet-up Announcements and the Sansar Atlas events sections each week. Official notes, when published can be found here.

Communications – Ideas from the Lab

The following is a list of some of the communications elements the Lab is actively investigating for Sansar. Note none of the following currently has a delivery time frame associated with it.

  • Group chat: somewhat similar in nature of SL conference calls: starting an IM with someone and then inviting others into it, to allow a select number of people to jointly converse together privately in Sansar as a whole (e.g. when in an experience or browsing the Atlas or working in LookBook).
  • Multiple instance communications: currently, users can only converse with one another in open chat if they are all in the same instance of an experience. The Lab would like to broaden this to allow some form of open chat between users in different instances of the same experience.
  • Broadcasting: the ability of nominated people in one instance of an experience to “broadcast” out to all other instances of that experience. This is being developed specifically for events such as presentations, concerts, etc.
  • Chat App improvements: including time stamps, and hopefully copy / paste – the problem being here that at the moment, the Chat App UI can break if trying to copy a large swathe of text. Hence why the option was disabled.

Ideas that are not currently being pursued, but may be considered in time include:

  • The ability to see where friends are in Sansar and teleport to them.
  • The ability to send a teleport invitation to friends to have them join you in an experience.
  • The ability for users to engage in private, one-to-one Voice conversations (Voice IMs, so to speak).

Voice Chat

A number of issues have been identified with Voice chat:

  • Audio occlusion: this does not always work as expected, allowing shows from part of an experience to bleed into a neighbouring part, even if the two are separated by a solid wall.
  • Voice roll-off: it’s been noticed that recent changes mean that where there was a clear break between different voice chat sessions scattered over an experience, there can now be times when multiple conversation overlap, potentially confusing the listener as they move around.
  • There needs to be a quick, effective means to focus in on someone talking in a group, which can be applied to both Desktop and VR modes.
  • there needs to be a more granular approach to being able to adjust the volume at which a users hears those around them talking.

Text Chat in VR

The Lab is looking at ways to surface text chat in VR mode, so that VR users can read what is going on in text and respond to it via Voice. This alone would be a huge improvement, given that in groups are VR dominant, anyone using Desktop text chat is essentially ostracised, as one of the VR users can see what they have typed.

User Profiles

Spanning both communication and socialisation is the user profile. Familiar to everyone in Second Life, it has been lacking any kind of implementation in Sansar. However, this is now changing.  Being prepared for a future release is the first iteration of a Sansar user profile. This will initially include:

  • The user name and an avatar head shot (obtained via the LookBook).
  • A field in which a short biography can be added.
  • And option to friend others through their profiles.

Additional options such as instant messaging, recording an avatar’s rez date and having a field in which notes on an avatar can be recorded.

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Melusina’s minimalism in Second Life

DiXmiX Gallery: Melusina Parkin

Less is More is the title of an exhibition of Second Life photography by Melusina Parkin, featured at the basement Womb exhibition space at DiXmiX Gallery and which opened on February 20th, 2018.

As an aphorism, the phrase is most readily associated with the German-America architect, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, regarded as one of the pioneers of 20th Century modernist architecture, although he appears to have lifted the expression from Robert Browning’s 1855 poem Andrea del Sarto  (also called The Faultless Painter). Van der Rohe used the term to define a form of architecture with a minimal structural framework that could suggest free-flowing open spaces, and which could explore the relationship between people, shelter, and nature.  Given Melu’s own unique approach to photography which very much encompasses the refined, minimalist use of structure balanced against the idea of natural,open space, the aphorism is an ideal title under which to exhibit some of her work. 

DiXmiX Gallery: Melusina Parkin

In all, 18 photographs are displayed in the Womb’s three halls – you can find it by entering the main DiXmiX gallery and making your way to the Black Gallery, where the entrance to the Womb resides. Primarily rendered in soft tones, all of the pieces perfectly exemplify the idea of minimal structure, both in terms of framing – most of the pictures carry an intentional off-centre focus – and in terms of content – the physical structures within the images are minimally presented against a broader backdrop suggestive of open space, whether offered by open water, cloudy sky or a blank wall. 

Also evident in these images, and in keeping with van der Rohe, is another of the architect’s adopted aphorisms: God is in the details. Yes, the over-arching aim of this type of photography is to present something that carries within in minimal structure and balances that structure against the use of space; however, this is something that just “happens”. It requires a measured eye and a flair for making what is actually a painstaking study of places and environments look so naturally easy.

DiXmiX Gallery: Melusina Parkin

Thus, while they might all look effortless in execution, considered study of each of them reveals the care and thought that went into bringing each of them to life. Even the way they have been paired within the three sets of images: views, interiors and bodies, should be considered; Melusina’s attention to detail is evident through this exhibition.So much so, in fact, that I couldn’t help but wonder if with some of the selected images, she’s not also offering a tip of the hat directly to van der Rohe. Looking at two of the images in Bodies (centre image of this article), I found myself thinking about his Farnsworth House design, and its original occupant, Dr. Edith Farnsworth.

Another excellent exhibition from one of my favourite artists in Second Life.

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