Lab Gab returns on Friday, August 7th, 2020, with a very special guest in the form of Philip Rosedale, the founder of Second Life and co-founder of Love Machine Inc., and Coffee and Power – which would become High Fidelity.
In 1995, Rosedale created FreeVue, an Internet video conferencing product, which was acquired by RealNetworks in 1996, with Rosedale joining that company as a Vice President and Chief Technology Officer. He later left RealNetworks to form Linden Lab, initially working in virtual reality before moving to focus on a virtual world platform with the goal of demonstrating a viable model for a virtual economy or virtual society.
We don’t see this as a game. We see it as a platform that is, in many ways, better than the real world.
– Philip Rosedale, Google TechTalks, March 2006
As well as founding Linden Lab, Rosedale served as CEO and / or as a member of the Board until 2009, when – having already handed over the CEO reins of the company to Mark Kingdon – he announced he was stepping away from the board to focus on other projects (Love Machine Inc.). In 2010, he briefly returned as interim CEO through until Ebbe Altberg was appointed to the role.
Contrary to the rumour mill, Philip will not be discussing the recent announcement about Linden Lab putting itself up for acquisition (as this process is still on-going and cannot be publicly discussed beyond what has already been said by way of the announcement), but will be talking to Strawberry Linden about the history of Second Life, what he is up to now and his views on the future of virtual worlds.
Update: Venesha has closed. SLurls have therefore been removed from this article.
Once upon a time there was a place called Venexia. A full region, it offered a taste of Venice in something of a Gothic twist, largely built with role-play in mind – although it was a highly photogenic region – it was open to Second Life users between 2011 and 2015, when it and it’s “companion” region – as in, designed by the same people – closed (see: The passing of places in Second Life, June 2015).
In 2018, the spirit of Venexia returned when Zee9, one of the original region’s designers, created a Homestead region based on Venexia that she called Venesha. Referring to it as a “stripped down” version of Venexia, Zee9 nevertheless imbued much of what had made Venexia special within the mesh and prims of Venesha.
To be honest, I’ve no idea how long that iteration of Venesha remained in Second Life – I stopped by in something like August or September 2018, IIRC, but never wrote about it – and by the start of 2019, Zee9 had moved on to her futuristic 2019-XS city design, itself a recasting of her Drune build (which it was also to morph into over time (see Time at 2019-XS in Second Life, January 2019 and Drune IV: an Aftermath in Second Life, August 2019).
Now, with Venesha, the enchanted isle, Zee9 has brought all the magic of Venexia back to Second Life – and more. Once again occupying a Full region, Venesha, the enchanted isle has given Zee9 to completed rebuild the original and enhance it to offer a setting that is utterly captivating and rich in nuance and style.
Situated as a sky build in order to make use of the better performance people can oft experience with the viewer (no pesky Linden Water to render, which can affect viewer performance, particularly for those running EEP-capable viewers), Venesha offers an enticing mix of classic Venice with canals, gondolas (some of which act as site-to-site teleports within the build), humpbacked bridges, waterfront houses, narrow terraces, inner courtyards and one broad square that takes its lead from the famous Piazza San Marco.
But mixed with this is much more – the aforementioned Gothic element for example, together with something of a steampunkian edge, like the clockwork elevator that will take you up the inside of the clock tower, and the street lamps that look like they might be gas-powered. The docks, meanwhile are strong Renaissance period in styles (and shipping). Meanwhile, the taverns and tea houses look as if they’d fit into any period from the Renaissance through to the present day, whilst the preferred (but not enforced) dress-code is Victorian / Edwardian.
If all this sounds a bit of a hodge-podge, rest assured, it isn’t. Thanks to the architecture of the region, everything naturally flows together from waterfront to streets, to island gardens, going by way of theatre, churches, clubs, taverns. Rather, Venesha the enchanted isle is a genuinely immersive setting that suggests a place cut-off from time, and where role-play opportunities abound throughout. Those with a Gothic / supernatural bent will find places like the Tomb Garden and the great basilica to their liking; the interior of the latter is certainly not what you might expect from a house of God – but who said churches have to be places of worship in one particular direction? Across the region, the dungeons may similar offer opportunities for some role-play scenarios, whilst the island gardens and the library sit as quieter retreats.
Those with an interest in magic can always enrol in the local magic school, tucked away behind the Basilica and occupying a little island of its own. For the adventurous there is the ride to the top of the clock tower and a zip line ride down to a nearby tower, where a treat of wine and cheese awaits those who dare – just down drink too much, as the way back t the ground is via a pair of ladders!
As noted above, some of the gondolas found along the canals offer the means to teleport around Venesha, but I really recommend talking your time and walking around; there a lots of little corners and terraces that might be missed otherwise, as well as one or two secrets. Can you find the hidden entrance to the catacombs, for example?
Currently there are no plans to re-introduce formalised role-play into Venesha, Zee9 preferring to leave things open to visitors who wish to do so to engage in free-form RP. She does note, however, that any of the old Venexia RP groups that might still be active are welcome to hop over and try the region on for size.
Zee9 describes Venesha as her best build to date – and while I have always enjoyed her region designs, I’m not going to dispute her on that point: Venesha is fabulously designed and executed, and perfectly recaptures everything that made Venexia so popular. The default environment settings are recommended for maximum enjoyment, but with care, others also work well with the design.
Currently on display at the Kultivate Signature Gallery, curated by Johannes Huntsman, and running through until the end of August 2020, is an exhibition of art from the physical world painted by KismaKSR – or Kisma K. Stepanich-Reidling as she is known outside of Second Life.
Defining Kisma isn’t easy, as she is a woman of many talents – artist, published author, curator (notably working with Reiner Schneiber, head curator for various worldwide Biennales), gamer, therapeutic art life coach, immersive 2D / 3D artist, and currently a creativity teacher-in-training! As an artist, she works in a range of mediums including acrylics, watercolours, gouache, pastels, coloured pencils, graphite, texture paste, stencils, and more.
I paint what I see inside. I love working in art journals, creating altered book art journals, and taking my creations from the page to the canvas… and on occasion from the canvas to the page! My creative journey is based in watercolours but has taken me into so many mediums that I believe I love acrylics the most.
I love working in layers… lots and lots of layers, distressing paintings, vibrant colourful paintings, collage paintings and sketch paintings. I also work with encaustic wax and fibres, throwing in the making of journals and fibre weaving to create embellished covers.
– Kisma K. Stepanich-Reidling
For her exhibition at Kultivate’s Signature gallery, Kisma presents 16 reproductions of her physical world art that fully embody her approach to her subject: all richly expressive, some offering hints of expressionism, others perhaps leaning a little towards surrealism and still others more abstracted in nature. Every piece speak of Kisma’s Intentional Creativity approach to her work: the act of being aware of thoughts, ideas, feelings, and of self, and allowing all of this to inform and shape whatever task is being undertaken – be it making a soup to writing a musical score or – as in this case – producing works of art.
These are pieces that also include subtle cultural undertones to them that can be form in form, style, colour and symbolism. These touches add further depth to Kisma’s work, infusing them with a sense of of humankind’s cultural heritage through the ages – something we tend to too easily lose sight of in the modern age of technology and bustle.