Paola Mills: behind the avatar in Second Life

UTSA Artspace: Paola Mills

Currently open to visitors at the University of Texas, San Antonio ArtSpace gallery in Second Life is Behind the Avatar, an exhibition of the photography of Paola Mills. To be honest, it’s an exhibition I almost completely missed, the notification having escaped my attention back in September – so my apologies to Paola.

This is a small, but emotive display of work, focused on avatar studies, and which – as the title of the exhibition suggests – offers a glimpse of the person behind the camera and the avatar.

Hello I’m Angela Paola and in pixel version I’m Paola Mills. 

I signed up to Second life in 2007, after hearing a lot of Linden Lab in the media, I did not like the name Second Life, but its potential as a platform to use, because I am passionate about video games since I was a girl. Reading an article in the American Journal, I realised that Second Life was something else, it is a place used to pleasure doing business, others see it as financial speculation, for other people it’s just a 3D chat. But soon it became a niche for lovers of creativity.

– Paola Mills, introducing Behind the Avatar

UTSA Artspace: Paola Mills

Paola notes that while she isn’t a professional photographer, she always carries a small camera with her when out and about in the physical world, taking pictures of the people and things that capture her attention. In entering Second Life, she found a way to expand her photographic creativity, using the viewer’s snapshot capability to capture moods, as well as moments, and give lasting expression to the emotions she might feel at any given time.

It is precisely this emotional amplification of mood and emotion that is represented in the 12 images offered at the ArtSpace Gallery. All 12 are deeply expressive and / or representative of a mood – contemplation, reflection, hurt, fascination, and more, with the nature of the form used – human or robotic – used to present the mood and, with at least some of the images, offer up an additional narrative.

Paola notes that unlike many SL photographers, she makes minimal use of post-process editing. while she states this is more down to an inability to use such applications (when it comes to PhotoShop, I know exactly how she feels!), rather than a conscious decision. However, rather than detracting from her work, I would actually say this adds to it, drawing the audience into each of the images as they are: moments (and emotions) caught in that instant of time, without later embellishment or alteration.

UTSA Artspace: Paola Mills

I’m not sure when this exhibition ends, so I would recommend seeing it sooner rather than later, just in case.

SLurl Details

VWBPE 2019: call for proposals


The 12th annual  Virtual Worlds Best Practice in Education (VWBPE) conference was recently announced, together with a call for proposals, which combines calls for presentation proposals, proposals for exhibits, and proposals for and immersive experiences.

The conference will take place between Thursday, April 4th and Saturday April 6th, 2019 inclusive.

The theme for the 2018 conference is Re:Vision, with the organisers noting:

Rising from VRevolution, our Legacy of learning seeks to re:Vision the future of creation within the ecosystem of digital spaces that comprises VWBPE.

Re:Vision plays a role in how multifaceted communities are contributing to and expanding best practices in virtual spaces to support play, creation, and learning. VWBPE invites you, the innovator in these endeavours, to share your re:Vision at the conference. When you submit your proposal, consider how your community contributes to the knowledge base of innovation and change through the increasingly complex landscape of digital technology.

Also, for 2019, VWBPE will be partnering with vlanguages, an international collaboration effort of universities, colleges, research institutes and language educators that are working together to define and develop freely available best practices, platform and communities of support for virtual worlds, virtual reality, augmented reality, simulations and game-based language learning and training system.

Following the success of 2018, VWBPE will continue the three conference presentation formats introduced in 2018:  Spotlight Presentations, Hands on Technology Workshops, and Compass Points Round-table Discussions. There are seven tracks and three formats. When formulating your proposal, applicants are encouraged to consider the re:Vision theme for the conference.

Full details on the seven tracks and three formats can be found on the VWBPE Applications page, together with general information on presentations and a link to the proposal submissions page.

Note that the closing date for presentation proposals is Monday, January 14th, 2019.

VWBPE 2018: Main Auditorium

Exhibit and Immersive Experience Proposals

  • Exhibit proposals are open to those who wish to showcase their creative works in virtual worlds through artistic expression in order to promote their organisation or achievements. All exhibit proposals are reviewed by the VWBPE, and must apply to an already developed product for showcasing. Proposals should be made in one of the eight exhibit tracks: K-12 Best Practices; Higher Education/College Best Practices; Field Practices; Games and Simulations; Tools and Products; Advocacy; Support and Help Communities and Artists, Designers and Builders.
  • The Immersive Experiences category showcases locations whose main objective is interaction, immersion, and engagement for those who enter them, whether to play a game, solve an immersive problem, or engage participants in hands-on, interactive learning. All proposals for immersive experiences should be made in one of the seven presentation tracks:  Analytic Thinking and Complex Problem Solving; Creativity and Innovation in Design, Practice, and Learning; Essential Accessibility in Digital and Virtual Spaces; Collaboration and Distance Connections; Multimedia Communication and Multifaceted Interactions; Ethics, Responsibility, and Tolerance  and VWBPE Redux.

Note that the closing date for Exhibits and Immersive Experience proposals is Monday, 11th February 2019.


VWBPE is a global grass-roots community event focusing on education in immersive virtual environments which attracts over 2,000  educational professionals from around the world each year, who participate in 150-200 online presentations including theoretical research, application of best practices, virtual world tours, hands-on workshops, discussion panels, machinima presentations, and poster exhibits.

In the context of the conference, a “virtual world” is an on-line community through which users can interact with one another and use and create ideas irrespective of time and space. As such, typical examples include Second Life, OpenSimulator, Unity, World of Warcraft, Eve Online, and so on, as well as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest or any virtual environments characterised by an open social presence and in which the direction of the platform’s evolution is manifest in the community.

Read more here.

Additional Links

Second Life: LL statement on creator rights and IP protection

On November 6th, 2018, Linden Lab issued a statement on their stance on protecting the rights of creators producing content for use on the Second Life platform.

It would seem the statement has been issued as a result over the ongoing debate around the use of UV Maps in mesh heads, following one designer issuing DMCA notices against a number of competing creators – although it is obviously intended to outline Linden Lab’s position on content protection and their process of handling matters as a whole.

To this end, and rather than obfuscate with subjective commentary here, I’m including the entire text of the blog post below, for ease of reference.

At Linden Lab we appreciate and support the creativity of our community – a community based on the very idea that the only limit to your creativity is your imagination. That is why we feel it is important to clarify our stance on and process for the protection of community-created content. Our goal is to nurture the overall creative and competitive ecosystem that enables each member of our community to prosper — even when that means making difficult determinations in disputes between our Creators.

While we cannot comment publicly with a definitive analysis of any one case or dispute, we want to reassure our community that we closely consider all perspectives (and applicable law) before arriving at any dispute determination. When there is disagreement in our community over the integrity of a creation, we strive to be fair in our review of the facts. In particular, we do not take actions for or against any Creator lightly as we know that our Creator community is passionate about and protective of their work.

So, why make this statement now?

Due to the size of the Second Life economy and its user base, there will always be Creator conflicts and complaints under review. Recently, there’s been some debate about one of the more esoteric aspects of content creation, which impacts many in our community. For example, one high-profile complaint under review deals with a fundamental question about whether UV mapping can be considered proprietary and protect-able or part of the public domain.

Linden Lab recognizes that there are passionate arguments to be made on both sides of this and similar discussions. However, the determining factors are quite nuanced and not easily assessed without a closer review of the facts in the context of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (or DMCA).

Ultimately, Linden Lab will always comply with the DMCA process, and continue to determine the validity of each DMCA notice (and any counter-notice) on a case-by-case basis. That is precisely why we have a team dedicated to reviewing all properly submitted IP claims and determining the fairest outcome within the guidelines of the policies and laws governing the process, which is described in the Intellectual Property Infringement Notification Policy.

We are ever-amazed by the ways this community utilizes the Second Life platform for creativity. Keep innovating – you make Second Life even better as we roll out new features and tools to create with — and keep supporting your fellow Creators!

2018 SL UG updates 45/1: Simulator User Group

Florence Bay; Inara Pey, September 2018, on FlickrFlorence Bayblog post

Server Deployment Plans

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

  • On Tuesday, November 6th, the SLS (Main) channel was updated with server release 18#, previously deployed to the BlueSteel and LeTigre RCs, and comprising internal logging fixes. It is hopped that these updates will help with some crashing, particularly some regions that get into a crash loop.
  • On Wednesday, November 7th, 2018, the RC channels should be updated as follows:
    • BlueSteel and LeTigre will update to server maintenance package 18#, comprising a fix for Animesh land impact calculations – see below.
    • Magnum should be updated to server maintenance package 18#, also comprising a fix for Animesh land impact calculations – see below –  and also internal logging fixes.
    • Snack should also receive another iteration of simulator EEP support, release

RC Land Impact Calculation Revision

The Land Impact update being deployed to the RC channels is to correct an error in the Animesh code. In short, if an Animesh object has a conventional prim as its root, the required 15 LI for the Animesh skeleton is not applied.

This 15 LI is an aggregate value for Animesh arrived at during testing Animesh performance across a range of systems. It has also been subject to some alarmist blog posts about unexpected prim returns, but given Animesh products are not generally available as yet, this is unlikely.

SL Viewer

There have been no viewer updates from the Lab at the start of the week, leaving the various pipelines as per the end of week #44.

  • Current Release version, dated September 5, promoted September 26. Formerly the Rakomelo Maintenance RC viewer – No change.
  • Release channel cohorts:
    • Spotykach Maintenance RC viewer, version, October 30.
    • Animesh RC viewer, version, October 18.
    • Estate Access Management (EAM) RC viewer, version, September 28.
    • BugSplat RC viewer, version, September 10. This viewer is functionally identical to the current release viewer, but uses BugSplat for crash reporting, rather than the Lab’s own Breakpad based crash reporting tools.
    • Love Me Render RC viewer, version, released on August 20.
  • Project viewers:
  • Linux Spur viewer, version, 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, May 8, 2015 – provided for users on Windows XP and OS X versions below 10.7.

In Brief

HTTP “throttles”: there have been questions on what any  throttles on incoming / outgoing HTTP communications might be. In reply,  Simon and Oz Linden stated:

We don’t want to block any “reasonable” use of http in with throttles, for whatever that really means. Don’t expect to write anything fast and high-load with http in, however. I’d just generally say “keep it slow”. I think the original idea for http in (and out) was it was going to be web-page speed, not a twitch game.

– Simon Linden

The amount of impact incoming http has can also vary depending on what else is on the system your region(s) are shared with (which you can’t easily determine). We have had times when we have asked users to modify how they use http-in to prevent problems.

– Oz Linden

Key binding: there have often been requests for broader / more configurable options for key binding within the viewer / SL, a subject raised at the meeting, with Oz Linden again commenting:

I have a standing offer to accept a contribution that will provide a complete key binding editor for the viewer.

Scriptable UI: another long-standing request is for a more scriptable UI for SL.  This could help with a range of capabilities – such as the viewer taking over actions that are currently dependent on simulator intervention, which and slow things down. However, viewer-side scripting support brings within it a number of issues – such as the code being unprotected, for example. So, not something liable to happen in the foreseeable future.