Grumpity Linden talks Second Life to Le Journal du Net

Second Life banner piece for the October 25th issue of JDN

Cube Republic pointed me towards an article appearing in the French on-line newsletter, Le Journal du Net (JDN), a reference site for corporate executives produced by media group CCM Benchmark. The interview is also referenced on the Lab’s official In the Press page. Entitled Second Life’s annual GDP is $650 million, the article is the banner piece for the October 25th issue of JDN, the piece in places makes for interesting reading whilst also covering ground with which many SL users may already be familiar.

The piece starts with a discussion of the recent rise of “the metaverse” as a catch-all buzzword among tech companies from Epic Games to Facebook, and outlining the fact that much of what is now being hyped was similarly hyped 18-20 years ago, with Second Life one of few platforms that actually attempted to achieve it, and which should now, by rights, be regarded as a forerunner and living example of what “the metaverse” might be.

From here, she draws on a key differentiation between Second Life and the vision Zuckerberg’s company is offering – and the barriers they may well face.

I think they themselves realized that the reputation Facebook has forged over time can be a barrier. This lack of confidence in the company exists and there will have to be a number of levers of confidence to allow those who wish to explore these virtual worlds. But it is still too early to get a clear idea. At Second Life, we ensure the privacy of our residents. For example, some assume their homosexuality in Second Life, but we know that some may live in areas of the world where their sexual orientation could lead them to prison. We are therefore extremely vigilant on this issue of data security. With the immense wealth of data in the hands of the digital giants, it will be necessary to ensure the protection of the privacy of the users of these virtual worlds.

– Grumpity Linden (aka Anya Kanevsky, Linden Lab’s VP of Product), talking to French newsletter JDN

Later in the piece, she goes on to make a key point that has helped Second life achieve its longevity and which seems to be a point missed in many of the discussions / statements by other companies wishing to stake their claim to a vision of “the metaverse”:

Everything in [Second Life] was created by our residents and not by Linden Lab employees. We just play the role of facilitator. This represents our vision of the metaverse. I don’t see how creating different games that would be connected to each other could be akin to the metaverse. In my eyes, this is content created by companies for users. For the metaverse to exist, it must be created and managed by the people who live there.

– Grumpity Linden talking to French newsletter JDN

The more familiar waters sailed by the piece include things like the 200,000 monthly unique log-ins SL enjoys, the uptick in engagement seen during the core months of the Sars-CoV-2 pandemic (and that the Lab feel they are seeing many of those who turned to the platform to remain even as the freedom to get out and about in the physical world gets easier, even if at a reduced number of hours per session). It is in these discussions that the article’s headline – SL having a GDP of US $650 million – is references, and that in 2020, users collectively withdrew a total of US $73 million from the platform (potentially hinting at an overall rise in general revenue flowing into / through the Lab over 2019),

Whilst being cagey on the Lab’s overall financial footing, the point is made that it has been profitable for a long time. This sits alongside a comment on the way in which the lab has attempted to be responsive to changing economic needs by realigning where and how it generates its income from the platform. Tilia Pay is also touched upon, together with its importance to Second Life – if not its potential as a revenue generator for the Lab as a whole; an honest assessment is also given on Sansar and immersive VR – which also hints towards the Lab’s vision looking to a future that is broader than any reliance on VR headsets.

While a number of early adopters shared their enthusiasm with us, we also observed resistance from some users. Many were not thrilled with the idea of ​​carrying these VR headsets that are quite heavy and require enough space at home to be able to use them. If virtual reality allows for an immersive and incomparable experience, we observed that few of our residents were ready to wear these helmets for more than thirty minutes. So we plan to keep trying new things around virtual reality, but VR isn’t the only possible future for Second Life.

– Grumpity Linden talking to French newsletter JDN

In terms of this broader view of the future for SL in particular, Grumpity notes the need to provide access to it “on all platforms and on different devices,” even if the experience in accessing SL is not identical across all such platforms / devices.

The article itself is relatively short, but covers some good ground in a manner that will met the needs of JDN’s general readership. It provides a good “executive summary” approach, transmitting its core information without undue exposition. In closing the piece, the journalist, Adrien Tsagliotis, offers a quote from Grumpity that mirrors something I’ve long believed myself (and is actually evidence by the reality of SL’s user numbers), and which stands as something all those hyping “the metaverse” should perhaps keep in mind:

We have observed over the years that the population as a whole is not necessarily open to living this immersive experience in a virtual world. Once the hype around the metaverse is behind us, I think we’ll observe that not everyone is necessarily interested in experiencing virtual worlds.

– Grumpity Linden talking to French newsletter JDN

Mareea’s pastels at Konect Art in Second Life

Konect Art Gallery: Mareena Farrasco

Until I remembered the invite sitting in my inventory, I hadn’t realised it’s been over a year since my last write-up on art exhibitions at Konect Art Gallery, operated and curated by Gonzalo Osuna (Jon Rain). Why this should be the case, I’m not sure – but in that time, the gallery has relocated and downsized a wee bit. Nevertheless, a return visit was most welcome, as was the reason for making it – to see a further exhibition of Mareea Farrasco’s art, which is a couple of weeks into its exhibition time at the Gallery.

Mareea is an exceptional Second Life artist who has a talent for taking the pictures she captures in-world and turning them in elegant digital paintings through a gentle and considered use of post-processing. Her work encompasses portraiture, landscapes, and still life that can represent an image reflecting a moment in time, or offer the suggestion of a large narrative for the observer to create / interpret, and can even touch upon the metaphorical in tone and meaning.

Konect Art Gallery: Mareena Farrasco

Miscellaneous is a selection of 16 images that between them incorporate all of the above, and which also highlight other aspects of Mareea’s work I so appreciate. These include the way in which she can bring a sky to life in a landscape image, for example, to give it depth and mood; her eye for angle and depth of field; her ability to bring forth the subtle richness of colours present within nature without any sense of them being overblown.

Most clearly in this selection is Mareea’s love of pastels to cast a story and / or mood. Within the landscape pieces the soft colours speak to the calmness and beauty of a late summer field or the quiet of an autumn’s evening; meanwhile, her use of greyscale and blue tints provide a sense of winter and of a sea storm angrily reaching the shore. Then there is the use of soft focus / depth of field to draw the eye to a specific aspect of an image, in one place particularly married perfectly with a minimalist view (Bon Voyage) so as to offer an entire story through just a pair of walking boots, a shoulder bag and a hat.

Konect Art Gallery: Mareena Farrasco

Where deeper shades / colours are in evidence,, these again frame stories the mind is free to interpret, and metaphors of expression that can hold our attention, the colours offering a richness of expression without overwhelming the eye.

Poised, captivating and suitable for gracing any SL home, Miscellaneous is a rich sampling of art is an engaging exhibition that should be running for at least (I believe) the next couple of weeks.

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