Eidola: reality and perception in Second Life

Eidola

Eidola (a phantom; an apparition; an ideal) is a new installation by Livio Korobase, which opened on March 16th, 2018. It’s a daring, imposing – and possibly overwhelming – build; seeking to explore the eye and the idea; how vision has helped form our perceptions and understanding of the world around us.

It’s an ambitious subject, one that dates back at least to the time of Pythagoras, as is indicated in the installation’s liner notes. He believed that we could see because the eye emits rays of light, and that these rays gave a person information about colour and shape. From this idea through Democritus to Johannes Kepler by way of Da Vinci, and with a mention of gestaltism along the way, the liner notes provide a framework for understanding the installation, including the fact it uses, as a means of both presenting ideas and navigating it, the five chapters of Ruggero Pierantoni’s  1981 book, The eye and the idea. Physiology and history of vision.

Eidola

Visitors arrive at a near central arrival point, which offers significant reading – including an excerpt from Wassily Kandinsky’s ruminations on the geometrical elements which make up every painting, and the basic plane, the material surface on which the artist draws or paints. This sits alongside extracts discussing the nature of visible light and the brain’s reaction to light entering the eye.

From here, visitors are invited to make their way through six vast houses, most of which are elevated in varying manners – on the backs of great statues, atop basalt columns, up in the branches of trees. The first five houses reflect the chapters of Pierantoni’s book, and the sixth something of a conclusion.  These are linked one to another by raised ladders on top of scaffolds laid out as horizontal walkways. The first of these can be reached via a short walk over the landscape, or a teleport board is available for those short of time, or returning for a further visit and wish to resume where they left off.

Eidola

Each of the houses is packed with information on its specific topic: Myths of Vision; Space, Inside and Outside; Light, inside and Outside; Proportions, Symmetries and Alphabets; and Illusion and Pleasure. Some of the walkways are on a single level, some are there to be climbed in order to see the contents in a house, and one includes a teleport. Outside of the houses, the walkways offer views across the surrounding landscape. This is filled with what might at first appear to be curios watched over by gigantic humans – but they are all in some way related to the overall theme of the installation.

At the end of the elevated walkways, beyond the sixth house, is the frame of a house. Approach and enter this, and the frame is revealed at an animated work of art built in reflection of the themes from the rest of the installation: perception, perspective, line, point, and more.

Eidola

Trying to quantify this installation is not easy; it is one that needs to be personally experienced. The amount of information it contains can be overwhelming if trying to take everything in during a single visit. But there is a lot of food for thought to be found in the houses for those interested in science, philosophy, psychology, history or art; therefore more than one visit might be the best order of business.

SLurl Details

  • Eidola (LEA 24, rated: Moderate)
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Sansar Product Meeting #13/1: events, new users, fees

Sansar: The Whyst Garden, scene of the Tuesday, March 27th product meeting

The following notes are taken from the Sansar Product Meeting held on Tuesday, March 27th. 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.

The subject for this meeting was events, although the discussions were inevitably far more wide-ranging.

Events

The mid-March release, now called the It’s A Party release, included the client-side option for Sansar experience owners to promote events they are running through the Sansar events listings in both the client and on the web. This is part of the Lab’s desire to increase the active user count within Sansar and to encourage more social / fun activities on the platform.

Event Surfacing

Some issues have been identified with the way events are surfaced in both the Sansar Events web page and the client.

  • Currently, the Events app in the client and the Events page on the web have a Featured tab which only lists upcoming events. Ideally, this tab should only list those events selected by Linden Lab to be Featured events; there should be a separate tab for Upcoming events, listing them in chronological order.
    • The Lab has not actually started curating user-submitted events. This will start happening in the near future.
  • Within the client Atlas, Upcoming events are only displayed when the Featured experiences tab is selected. Switching to any other Atlas view – All, Sansar Studios, My Friends, Favourites – and the list of Upcoming events vanishes. Ideally, the Upcoming events should persist across all client Atlas views.
    • A suggestion is to add an Events tab to the Atlas (as well as having the Upcoming list), which could either list events, or (preferably) open / switch to the Events app window.

Promoting Events / Inviting people to Events

The Lab is currently considering way to promote events and inviting people to events, both within and beyond Sansar. This is seen a part of building a comprehensive notifications system.

  • The ability to promote through social media platforms requires the inclusion of the authorisation processes / APIs for those platform, something which isn’t on the immediate list (at the current point in time, inclusion of something like Facebook authorisation might not be viewed positively anyway).
  • An idea raised at the meeting to include the option to export event items to meetup.com pages or Eventbite pages, for those who wish to use those services.
  • Inviting people to events is, in the Lab’s eyes, a complex issue, as it is tied to the permissions system, and to things like future abilities for event organisers to host their events in experiences built and owned by others, etc.
    • However, being able to directly invite people into an event is seen as critical, and far more beneficial than simply placing an event notice out on the web or broadcasting it purely through social media in the hope of attracting interest.

Paid Events

The Lab’s initial thinking around paid events takes two forms:

  • Ticketing: allowing event organisers to set up a “paywall” in front of their event (e.g. those wishing to attend must purchase a ticket through the Sansar Store).
  • Tipping: the means for those attending an event to tip the organisers at some point. This would include scripted support so tippers can be recorded / acknowledged. There will also be a means for event organisers to see how well their events are helping to monetise their experiences. Tipping can be approached in a number of ways:
    • Via a scripted object, which pays the experience owner / object owner directly;
    • Via gifting – payment from one person to another, although this requires the permissions system to be in place.
    • Via the Sansar Store – purchase a set price “tip jar” to pay the creator / event host (as both will currently likely be the same).

Event Co-ordination

The question was raised about encouraging event co-ordinators from Second Life into Sansar.

  • On the plus side, some event co-ordinators are content to obtain space (available for free in Sansar) and build-out their event using purchases from the Marketplace (or in this case, the Sansar Store).
  • One the minus side, there is no way, currently, for event co-ordinators to collaborate with experience owners in developing and building-out an event in partnership nor is there any means for event co-ordinators to be paid via the platform by an experience owner to plan and run an event on the experience creator’s behalf.

Other Events-Related Items in Brief

  • Support for Recurring Events: currently, events can only be created on an individual basis – there is no means to create a recurring event. This has been requested multiple times since the It’s A Party release was deployed, and it is something the Lab as added to their list of capabilities to be added to the events feature.
  • Linden Lab’s Current Events  / Marketing Approach: Linden Lab is currently experimenting with pulling live stream events into Sansar and trying to build an audience around them. In early Mars, for example, there was a series of Twitch live streams – painting, playing chess, dungeons and dragons discussions, etc.
  • Offering gifts: gifts can form a major part of events in Second Life. currently, event organisers cannot easily offer gifts directly to visitors to their events in Sansar – gifts can only be made available through the Sansar Store, which means they are available to anyone, rather than exclusive to the event.

New User On-Boarding

The Lab is in the process of developing a more advanced new user experience. This is to include a new tutorial, and may take the approach of dropping new users into a lobby space where they can socialise together, learn how to control their avatar, etc., prior to moving them on to the Atlas and broader explorations.

Events are seen as an important element of this work, as ideally, the Lab would like to direct new users coming into Sansar through their on-boarding process to places where there is activity and they will likely be welcomed.

Payment Channels for Sansar Dollars

The Lab is still looking to provide more channels for purchasing Sansar Dollars – e.g. PayPal, with plans to broaden the choices to match those in Second Life (e.g. credit / debit cards, PayPal, Skrill). However, this work has been on hold for a while, and it is not clear where it sits in the Lab’s current road map.

Transaction Fees

Sansar operates on a fundamentally different model to Second Life, in which transaction fees play a much large role as a means for Linden Lab to generate revenue from the platform.

This means, for example, that tips, as with any form of monetised transaction will be subject to a transaction fee (the same fee as applied to the Sansar Store). This will be applied on top of the tip / transfer amount, rather than subtracted from it (as with Second Life). So, for example, if the Sansar transaction fee is 15%, someone tipping another person S$100 will be charged S$115, including the transaction fee.

The Lab has been considering a minimum threshold amount that can be gifted that is fee-free, but once payments / transfers exceed that amount, the transaction fee is applied, the thinking being the payment is essentially for services rendered, and thus subject to “tax”.

It has been pointed out that for creators, up to 26.5% in fees can be levied (15% transaction fee, 10% fee for converting a S$ amount to fiat currency, and a bank transfer fee applied to the amount).

  • The Lab feels that while not necessarily set in stone, the fees represent a fair price point when compared to other content selling sites, where the fees and bt 30% or more. However, they also note those sites are able to offer revenue generation at volume to those selling through them, which Sansar cannot currently offer due to the user base size.

Ability to Pay Subscriptions via Sansar Dollar Income

In Second life, it is possible to cash-out Linden Dollar amount to fiat money and then leave the amount on account to pay things like Premium membership fees and tier. No similar mechanism currently exists in Sansar to allow creators to cash-out their $S balances and use the result $ balance to pay their subscription fees. This has now been raised as a feature request.

2018 SL UG updates #13/1: Simulator User Group

Soul2Soul River; Inara Pey, February 2018, on FlickrSoul2Soul Riverblog post

Server Deployments

As always, please refer to the server deployment thread for the latest updates.

  • The Main (SLS) channel was updated on Tuesday, March 27th, to server release 18#18.03.14.513292, containing the new server capabilities (see below).
  • At the time of writing, the Release Candidate channels were all TBD regarding potential deployments. This report will be updated if the deployment thread provides further information on the RC channels.

New Capabilities

The new capabilities in 18#18.03.14.513292 for the Main (SLS) channel is the first part of a set of server and viewer updates.

  • The new IM cap is to overcome of off-line IMs failing to be delivered when a user logs in. Currently, these are delivered via UDP, whether or not the viewer is ready to receive them. With the new capability (once grid-wide and implemented within the viewer), the viewer will request off-line IMs, which the server will package and deliver to the viewer via HTTP.
  • The new abuse report cap will replace the need for the viewer to have AR categories hard-coded into it. Once fully deployed, and a viewer update released, it will mean the view will request the current list of AR categories from the server when starting up, making the management of the list easier, and hopefully reducing the number of ARs filed under outdated categories.

Updates to the viewer incorporating these changes will be made available by the lab in the near future.

SL Viewer

  • The Maintenance RC viewer updated to version 5.1.3.513630 on Friday, March 23rd.
  • The Media Update RC viewer updated to version 5.1.3.513644, on Tuesday, March 27th.

The remainder of the pipeline remains as:

  • Current Release version 5.1.2.512803, dated February 23, promoted March 1 – formerly the Nalewka Maintenance RC – No change
  • Release channel cohorts:
  • Project viewers:
  • Linux Spur viewer, version 5.0.9.329906, dated November 17, 2017 and promoted to release status 29 November – offered pending a Linux version of the Alex Ivy viewer code.
  • Obsolete platform viewer, version 3.7.28.300847, May 8, 2015 – provided for users on Windows XP and OS X versions below 10.7.

In Brief

First Name / Last Name Changes

This is still a long way off from being implemented, however, Oz Linden confirmed llDetectedName() will return the current name for an avatar, no matter what the change. However, it may take some time for it to change everywhere due to caches.

More on the return of last names and name changes, please refer to The return of Second Life Last Names – update with audio.

SL Messaging Layer

Simon Linden is looking into the Second Life messaging layer, which may be the problem behind a lot of “lag” issues. “There’s actually a number of small improvements I want to make, but I’m being careful to do them one at a time and have real data showing it gets better,” he said in providing an update on the work.

Friendship Offers Failing

Some are experiencing Friendship offers failing, even when the offer is accepted – see BUG-215977. According to Simon Linden, this might require a server-side update to fully correct.

Region Crossings

Simon Linden has been looking at vehicle region crossings alongside of  Joe Magarac (animats) testing with the viewer (See Firestorm JIRA FIRE-21915, BUG-214653, this SL Forum thread, this Google document, and my update here for more).

Part of the issue, a previously noted, is viewer / simulator communications. If these are suffering latency or packet loss, then things can get rough with vehicle region crossing very quickly. This is something Joe has been trying to compensate for by introducing a script that turns off physics and freezes the vehicle when received by a new region until it can confirm the associated avatar data has arrived.

Unfortunately, excising the viewer from region crossing data handling would be difficult, as it has to be involved to move and change its primary connection for an avatar. It would take a major protocol change to remove the viewer from the region crossing loop and separate connection hand-off from crossings. Further, if such a protocol change were to be made, it would require more work to support both new and old until enough viewers get updated.

Mainland Price Restructuring

While the Lab does not issue numbers, Oz Linden indicated at the Simulator User Group meeting that since the Mainland Price Restructuring, “mainland ownership is up quite significantly.”