Celebrating International Women’s Day in Second Life

Celebrating International Women’s Day in SL

Sunday, March 8th marks International Women’s Day, 2020, a global opportunity to celebrate women’s achievements while calling for greater equality.

Held on March 8th  each year, IWD is over 100 years old, the first official event being held in 1911, IWD is a focal point in the movement for women’s rights, and is marked in multiple ways around the world, and in many countries is now a recognised holiday or holiday for women.

The theme for this year’s IWD is #EachForEqual, a call for gender equality, and the the day will be marked in Second Life at Celebrating International Women’s Day in SL, a series of events throughout the day organised and hosted by the Confederation of Democratic Simulators (CDS). The these will comprise music, dance, live performances and interactive activities.

The core entertainment comprises (all times SLT):

  • 09:45 – opening with MC DJ QT, who will be playing a range of music from the blues through to contemporary songs and music between Debauche sets.
  • From 10:00 – Debauche Dancers: Debauche combines outstanding choreography, creative stage settings, gorgeous costuming to present artistic entertainment that has been pleasing audiences across Second Life since its first performances. Whilst having a core rooted in burlesque, Debauche also incorporates many other dance styles in order to present a memorable theatrical experience for its audiences.
  • 14:00: Aleykat: Aleylia Resident is a highly regarded singer in SL who takes listeners on a musical journey, her range including upbeat pop, classical renditions and timeless material.
Celebrating International Women’s Day in SL

In addition visitors to CDS are invited to:

  • Visit the Making Wave Exhibit: over the last 300+ years, women made enormous strides in establishing for themselves a place of their own in the world, achieving legal and political equality throughout much of the globe. A great deal of this success has derived from the power and insight lent by the rise and ongoing evolution of Feminism. Making Waves chronicles the historical contributions of Feminism to the continuing struggle for social justice, acknowledging the past while looking ahead to the future of the women’s movement.
  • The sharing Wall: a wall of posters for YOU to participate in! Bring your favourite poster or images and you’ll be able to set them up for display on our Sharing Wall! It’s free, fun, and can be thought-provoking.
  • The Doodle Board: a chalk board for visitors to play on.

About the Confederation of Democratic Simulators (CDS)

Currently comprising six regions, the Confederation of Democratic Simulators (CDS) is the oldest, continuously-running democratic estate in Second Life.Loose themed on Germanic, Alpine, Tuscan, or Mediterranean styles, the regions present an all-encompassing government based on citizen participation, with elections to the Representative Assembly held each six months, and the work of the Representative Assembly supported in its work by a Scientific Council.  This governing structure is not role play, as might appear to be the case: it is more a residents co-op, not unlike the way apartment buildings are managed in real life, where every landowner is a “citizen” and is granted the right to vote and be elected to manage the overall space.

Among the goals for this project are: to enable ownership of high-quality public, private, and open-space land; create a themed yet expressive community of public and private builds; and implement novel democratic forms of self-government within Second Life.

SLurl Details

2020 SL project updates week #10: TPVD and CCUG

Countryside, January 2020 – blog post

The bulk of the following notes are taken from the TPV Developer meeting held on March 6th, 2020. These meetings are generally held every other week, unless otherwise noted in any given summary. Also included this week are notes from the very brief Content Creation User Group (CCUG) meeting of Thursday, March 5th. These are indicated by [CCUG] appearing before them.

The embedded video is provided to Pantera – my thanks to her for recording and providing it. Time stamps are included with the notes will only the video at the point(s) where a specific topic is discussed.

In terms of the TPVD meeting:

  • The core of the meeting (10:05-45:08) revolved around specific issues TPVs that have implemented their own shader changes are encountering with merging EEP (note: not Firestorm) and views on EEP assets and permissions. In the interests of brevity, these are not recorded in the notes below.
  • The latter part of the meeting (45:15 onwards) is an esoteric, somewhat tongue-in-cheek discussion concerning on-line status.

SL Viewer News

[1:46-5:02]

  • The new Premium RC viewer, version 6.3.8.537335, was released on Tuesday March 3rd. See the notes below for more.

The remainder of the current SL viewer pipelines were unchanged for week #10:

  • Current release viewer version: 6.3.7.535996, formerly the Yorsh Maintenance RC viewer, dated February 7th and promoted February 20th.
  • Release channel cohorts
    • EEP RC viewer updated to version 6.4.0.536347, February 11.
    • Love Me Render RC viewer, version 6.3.7.536179, February 10.
    • Camera Presets RC viewer, version 6.3.6.535138, January 24.
  • Project viewers:
    • Copy / Paste viewer, version 6.3.5.533365, December 9, 2019.
    • Project Muscadine (Animesh follow-on) project viewer, version 6.4.0.532999, November 22, 2019.
    • Legacy Profiles viewer, version 6.3.2.530836, September 17, 2019. Covers the re-integration of Viewer Profiles.
    • 360 Snapshot project viewer, version 6.2.4.529111, July 16, 2019.

General Viewer Notes

  • Given the delays to EEP due to some late-breaking issues (see below), it is now possible the Lab may opt to promote one of the other RC viewers in the period between now and when EPP is ready for viewer-side release. In particular, the Premium RC viewer may be fast-tracked to release status (although the back-end support will not be activated until Premium Plus is launched later in the year).
  • The Camera Presets RC viewer remains “crashy”, and any merge with releases is currently being held pending a decision on whether EEP is ready for release or if another RC should be promoted ahead of it.
  • Viewer build tools update viewer (using the VS 2017 + a more recent Xcode version, etc.), has become “complicated” due to the repository migration, the need to update libraries, etc. As a result, and depending on the amount of work involved in the libraries aspect of the work, this may become a two-phase project: put the RC viewer out, then finalise the libraries for future builds.

Premium RC Viewer

[5:34-8:33]

  • This viewer is contains new code to specifically handle benefits information related to benefits / limits applied to accounts based on subscription level (Basic, Premium or the upcoming Premium Plus).
  • This data will in the future be provided by the server at log-in, rather than being received through an assortment of mechanisms or being hard-coded into the viewer. However, until the server-side support is turned on, the viewer code does not actually do anything.
  • Once the back-end support switch for these changes is thrown – which will not be until Premium Plus is launched later in the year -, it is possible that users on viewers / clients lacking the necessary code changes may find things like uploads failing (due to the incorrect L$ value being applied).
  • However, TPVs are encouraged to start trial integrations with the code so that they are ready to go with updates which the switch is thrown, as the code will be required as a part of the log-in process, so TPVs need to be ready for it in order to avoid users experiencing log-in issues.
  • Other than these changes and some UI improvements, this viewer is functionally identical to the release viewer, and it is anticipated it will rapidly move to release status because of this – possibly ahead of any EEP release, depending on how the final issues resolution process for EEP advances.

EEP Status and Deployment

[CCUG] The full resources of the rendering team (including Runitai Linden, recently returned to SL from Sansar) are now working on trying to solve some remaining shader issues with the Environment Enhancement Project, which is having some lighting problems that need further work

Note the with regards to EEP:

  • It is no longer a goal to make all environments across Second Life appear *exactly* as they do under Windlight.
  • Because of this, some content may look different under EEP lighting than it does under Windlight.
  • This means some region designers and some content creators may have to make adjustments to their region environments  / their content for optimal viewing with EEP.
  • There will be some known issues with EEP when it is released, but the belief is that these will be minor.
  • There will be fixes for rendering issues following EEP, mostly likely through the Love Me Render project.
  • If there are what LL consider to be “significant” breakages, then effort will be made to address these.

Fun facts:

  • The current EEP viewer (RC 6.4.0.536347 at the time of writing) has accumulated over 185,000 user hours thus far, and has a crash rate 2% below the current LL release viewer.
  • Over 600 Jira issues have been filed against EEP, the vast majority of which have been cleared by LL.

ARCTan

[CCUG]

Project Summary

An attempt to re-evaluate object and avatar rendering costs to make them more reflective of the actual impact of rendering both. The overall aim is to try to correct some inherent negative incentives for creating optimised content (e.g. with regards to generating LOD models with mesh), and to update the calculations to reflect current resource constraints, rather than basing them on outdated constraints (e.g. graphics systems, network capabilities, etc).

This project is in two phases:

  • Phase 1: viewer-side changes, primarily focused on revising the Avatar Rendering Cost (ARC) calculations and providing additional viewer UI so that people can better visibility and control to seeing complexity.
  • Phase 2: provide updates on in-world object rendering costs, etc., using the avatar ARC methodology as a basis for this work.

Status

  • Vir’s  fix for the appearance / Bake Service issue he encountered appears to work within the text environment he has created, although it is still awaiting a QA thumbs-up
  • The next element of work he is anticipating is putting together a “version 2.0” of ARC calculations, which may use a similar scheme to Animesh.

In Brief

  • [8:49-10:05] viewer updates: a reminder was given that users should update to recent viewer updates from the Lab / their preferred TPV on a regular basis, as necessary changes (such as the Premium RC updates plus others in the pipeline) will mean that older viewers lacking the necessary code will cease behaving as expected in certain ways.
  • The next CCUG meeting will be on Thursday, March 28th, and my summary of that meeting will likely be back in its own separate blog post.

Lab Gab 16 summary: marketing Second Life

via Linden Lab

The 16th edition of Lab Gab was live streamed on Friday, March 6th, featuring three members of the Second Life Marketing team: Brett Linden, the Lab’s Senior Director of Marketing, Darcy Linden, Performance Marketing Manager and Strawberry Linden, who was also acting in her role as the show’s host.

The official video of the segment is available via You Tube, and the following is a summary of the key topics discussed and responses to questions. Note that this is not a full transcript or summary; I’ve tried to keep this summary to the core discussions on the Marketing Team’s work, so be sure to refer to the video as well. Also, items provided below may not all reflect the chronological order in which they were discussed, but have been grouped together where appropriate. Time stamps are provided for those wishing to jump to a specific point in the video, which is also embedded at the end of this summary.

Note that further information on the Lab’s Marketing work for Second Life can also be found in the official blog post, The Heart & Science of Second Life Marketing, which is mentioned on several occasions during the video.

Brett Linden (l) and Darcy Linden (r) will be joining fellow Marketing team member Strawberry Linden for the March 6th edition of Lab Gab

Marketing Team Goals for 2020

[4:02-5:17]

  • Continue the drive for greater user acquisition (sign-up and conversions to retained users) and grow the active user base.
  • The retention focus is also on existing users – helping to keep them engaged and feeling a part of SL’s very broad “community”.
  • Helping the Second Life economy – highlighting and encouraging creativity in Second Life and the potential the platform offers in terms of creativity and potential income generation.
  • To re-energise the Second Life brand. The platform is 17 years old – no mean feat for any technology product  / platform – but that longevity  and history means that it’s important to keep SL relevant in pop culture, the media, etc., so the fact that it is still thriving is not forgotten.

General Marketing

  • [6:44-7:43] One of the major aspects of marketing material production has been SL related videos (e.g. in-house tutorials and videos exploring different regions in SL, plus the Made in SL series).
    • These have seen a dramatic increase in the volume of available videos for people to see through various channels and many of them have been localised into other languages for ease of digestion.
    • They also feed into market segmentation and efforts by the Lab to probe what resonates with users (potential, new and established) and generate greater interest / awareness in the platform.
  • [9:05-10:22] What is the target demographic LL looks at for SL?
    • LL has done analyses of audience segmentation, communities, themes, etc., and a lot of demographic data has been gathered in respect of this.
      • There is a lot of interest in the platform from the 18-24 year age bracket.
      • Conversely, with users who have spent 1,000 hours or more in SL, the age range is much broader (18 through to 60+).
    • Given the latter point, and  that as a virtual world, SL allows people to do pretty much anything they want and be whomever they wish, the Lab focuses more on breaking age barriers, and focuses on the richness of opportunities and experiences available within the platform, rather than on specific age groups, and helping communities active within SL to grow, regardless of age, race, gender, etc.
    • [46:35-47:22] That said, campaigns that are targeted for older users are being developed.
  • [24:32-25:49] Where to SL ads go, and how are channels selected?
    • Ads go to all suitable channels across the web – Google, Facebook, Microsoft, etc., and more recently Twitter and other social media.
    • Videos go to You Tube and Facebook.
    • LL always willing to experiment with new channels – social media, for example, has given “very mixed results”.
    • All advertising is subject to analysis and time has been put into enhancing the tools available for doing to and which will allow LL to extend their reach even further.
    • Part of this drive also involves identifying active communities in SL that can be used as a focus for ad campaigns.
  • [27:23-28:52] and [37:50-39:48] Is SL marketing work being localised for languages other than English? Yes. The new user video tutorial series, for example, has been translated into around 8 languages.  The same is also being done with SL ads.
  • [29:02-30:29] Why don’t SL users see these ads?
    • The fact the active SL users rarely / never see on-line adverts for SL is testament to the targeted nature of the campaigns and that they are reaching the intended audience – people who are not active in SL.
    • Advertising specific to existing users (e.g. promoting events, etc), goes via different mechanisms.
    • Investment is being made in technologies and capabilities to extend SL’s reach via marketing and potential user acquisition.
    • Most tech-literate people have heard about SL, so a portion of the work is focused on piquing their curiosity to the point where they go from reading / hearing about it to actively taking a look.
    • Some of this has been geared towards encouraging former users to log-in once more.
    • Work is also focused on audiences who may not be aware of SL.
  • [32:22-35:23] What is happening with regards to more organic marketing?
    • LL wants to to curate, create or assist the SL community in strong word-of-mouth marketing, including high-quality social media content.
    • Also looking at possibly using non-paid product placement opportunities with established TV programmes and media channels to more directly pitch SL.
      • An example of this that unfortunately didn’t go ahead, was the potential for Second Life to be placed / referenced within the British-made Black Mirror anthology series.

Marketing Second Life’s Adult Content

[10:28-16:00]

Two core questions were asked on the subject of adult content.

  • Is there any work being done to promote adult content in Second Life, including LL working with adult content creators, bloggers, etc, plus placing ads on other adult platforms?
    • Yes, LL are cautiously looking at how to incorporate SL’s adult content into messaging. But there are major  business implications / issues associated with trying to do so.
    • For example, industry “best practices” as defined by Google, Facebook, et al, tend to be conservative / limiting in what they will allow with advertising, which can impact both how LL can promote adult content and how effective any campaign might be given the restrictions other platforms have in place vis. adult content.
    • There are also serious consequences LL have to consider if they promote adult content through other platforms in the wrong way – such as losing complete access to a mainstream channel for advertising SL as a whole.
      • [58:15-59:24] The reason SL does not have a Twitch presence is because Twitch will not countenance any risk of adult content appearing on their platform. This is something the Lab is attempting to redress via discussions with Twitch.
    • Nevertheless, LL is testing more “provocative” messaging in some of their romance related campaigns – on of the more successful of their promotional campaigns in terms of click-through and possible audience capture.
  • Will adult content be promoted alongside / as a part of major SL events such as the SL Birthday, or promoting those adult regions that are thematically landscaped, or offering adult bloggers blog roll support?
    • For those logged-in to SL, either in-world or places like the Marketplace, it is possible to opt-in to seeing information related to Adult products, places, etc. via search, through the Maturity ratings.
    • There is also a Destination Guide category for adult content, allowing for the rules on image types, etc.
    • In terms of SLB and adult content, Marketing cannot speak for the Product Operations team, but how adult content might be handled vis-a-vis SL17B is something that is on Patch Linden’s radar (see also: Lab Gab #15 summary: the Moles, Patch SL17B and more).

Increasing User Retention

[18:56-24:30]

  • A good part of the marketing work is not just running campaigns and hoping they will draw users, but actively monitoring campaigns – how well / poorly they perform – and carrying out a range of testing (from simple A/B testing through more complex multivariate testing) to provide direct feedback on campaigns allowing them to be constantly refined and improved.
  • Testing also encompasses all aspects of the user sign-up process, landing pages, etc., that sit behind ad campaigns (collectively the join flow that carries an interested party from an ad through the sign-up process and (hopefully) in-world).
  • This has resulted in upticks in both sign-ups and users arriving in-world.
  • Testing initiatives also extends into the active user base (e.g. the rez day e-mail campaign) to see how the Lab can more positively engage with its existing users.
  • In terms of further plans  / activities related to user retention, The Heart & Science of Second Life Marketing provides more information on what the Marketing team is and will be doing.
  • In terms of how existing users can help SL grow, the easiest, most effective way to it tell others about the platform, what you do, invite them to give it a go and be there to help them and help get them involved.
  • [25:50-27:22] Most SL ads focus on a specific genre / theme – so why don’t users following those ads go to a related sign-up process with suitable default avatars and arrive in-world at locations that reflect the theme of the ad?
    • Lab has run several experiments with community matching between ads and sign-in / arrival in-world.
    • However they are dependent on a wide range of factors (time taken to create the relevant avatar type, work with communities in-world to ensure incoming users get the support they need on arrival, resources available at the Lab to make them happen, etc.), and so they do take time to implement.
    • Currently, much of the focus at the Lab with SL is towards other areas / requirements, so such tests are currently on hold, to be picked up in the near future.
    • The aim is very much on having people to traverse a sign-up experience and arrive at an in-world location that meets their expectations based on the ad.

Additional Discussions

  • [5:17-9:04] Lucagrabcr initiated a forum thread on SL Marketing which is mentioned in the segment, with Brett specifically picking up on the idea of “spinning off” communities into their worn worlds (“Tiny World”, for example).  In particular, while making it clear this is not on  LL’s roadmap, the idea does resonate with SL possibly having the potential to offer white label services (e.g. “Tiny World, brought to you by XYZ, powered by Second Life”).
    • Offering the platform as a white label service is actually something I thought Sansar would have been ideally suited – and early in the platform’s history, Ebbe Altberg did point in that direction. Whether it was actually promoted that way, I’ve no idea. If not, then it might stand as a missed opportunity for that platform.
  • [16:02-18:55] and [30:30-32:21] Second Life has had something of a negative stigma in the media over the years. What is being done to reverse this?
    • Negative press must be responded to on many fronts. Much of what is being put out through social media, performance advertising campaigns, the video promotions, etc., will all combine to shift such negative perceptions where they occur.
    • The community plays a role in this through positive videos that are organically created by users, blogs and other resources that help present SL’s richness, etc. user generated videos are seen as particularly effective in countering trolling videos.
    • Lab is aware that more can be done to challenge perceptions and preconceptions, and again, they see telling the stories of those engaged in the platform as a means of doing this.
  • [59:28-1:00:22] Is physical world merchandise being considered as a means of helping to promote SL? Yes, but nothing to announce at this point in time, but a review of potential merchandise, vendors, etc., has been carried out.