December 2021 Web User Group summary

The Web User Group meeting venue, Denby

The following notes cover the key points from the Web User Group (WUG) meeting, held on Wednesday, December 8th, 2021.

These meetings are generally held on the first Wednesday of the month, with dates and venue details available via the SL public calendar. A video of the meeting, courtesy of Pantera, can be found embedded at the end of this article (my thanks to her as always!), and the following is a summary of key topics / discussions.

Web Properties – Past Month

  • Search: most of November was focus on the Search facelift that launched on November 22nd – those interested can see my own thoughts here.
    • LL are aware of criticism the new look has received, both performance-wise and in the design. The latter drew the comment, “we like it, so we’re keeping it.”
    • Again, as a reminder, this was a cosmetic update, the underpinning Search engine was not touched or altered as a part of the work – see below for notes on functional updates.
  • E-mail preferences changes: part of November was spent preparing for splitting the receipt of Group notices away from general IM receipt via e-mail when off-line. See the official blog post here, and my own notes.
    •  This change comes into effect from Wednesday December 15th.
    • There was a bug within the Change Email Settings page whereby re-enabling the receipt of Group notices would disable the receipt on IMs via e-mail. This is said to now be fixed.

2022 “Roadmap”

Whilst not a roadmap in the strictest sense (as no specific order was assigned to them), the Web team was looking to implement (or start) the following projects in 2022:

  • Search: an attempt to overhaul and refine the way the current web search engine works.
    • The two watch-words for this project are to make Search more useful and to return more relevant results.
    • This work is to be undertaken with a 3rd party SEO specialist company, rather than being handled by LL themselves.
  • Web Properties facelift: a facelift of all of the Lab’s public/user-facing web properties.
    • The two watch-world for this are to make all web properties more user-friendly and mobile friendly for tablets and smartphones.
    • This is seen as a major project to run through 2022.
    • This work will include the Marketplace, which is going to see “a lot of changes”.
    • Presumably  – and this is purely my personal take on this – the facelift work will see more utilisation of the Flat Design approach seen with the Search front-end and in things like the Second Life landing pages.
  • Infrastructure updates: 2022 will include various infrastructure projects aimed at better leveraging the tools and capabilities that are now available to LL via Amazon.
  • Premium Plus: the hope is that Premium Plus will be revisited and launched in 2022. Any questions on what it might look like, fees, etc., will not be answerable until the option is available for deployment.
  • Other projects: there is the potential for other work to be carried out in 2022, some of which may not be user-visible, but the details on other work for 2022 are still in a state of flux, and updates will likely be given at WUG meetings through the year.

Place Pages

Reed Linden asked the question on what would people like to see Place Pages actually do, and what would they like to get out of them.

Second Life Place Pages
  • It has been accepted by the Lab that as they stand, Place Pages are under-utilised and with a genuine raison d’etre for their existence, having been left hanging since their introduction in 2017.
  • There is functionality within Place Pages that might be better leveraged to help people find out more about specific locations within Second Life, but it is acknowledged the capability requires tuning and a more clearly defined purpose.
  • Some of the suggestions that were put forward included:
    • Allowing more than the current 3 screenshots + hero image.
    • Better integration between Place Pages and web Search.
    • Allowing Place Pages to be filtered by Maturity Rating and also selected options such as “private island”, “mainland”, etc.
    • Better promotion, so that people actually understand Place Pages exist and can be used as a promotional / informational tool about locations in Second Life independently of Search.
    • Offering the ability to provide information on events / activities, etc., allowing Place Pages to become more of a general web presence for locations in-world (which was actually part of the original promotion for Place Pages when they first launched).
      • This might be seen as something between a simple listing of events and a blotter-like feed of information and updates, possibly with ability to have it displayed as media in-world, removing some of the the need for script-intensive event boards.
    • Displaying historical  / predictive information on a location – e.g. how many have visited in the past week / month / how many are present at the moment, when the best times are to visit and find people there, etc.
    • Providing the means to include links to other social media / platforms utilised by a venue / business (e.g. Twitter, Discord, etc.).
    • Possibly de-coupling Place Pages from public search – useful for private groups who wish to have a central place for information that can be used purely by Group members, without it necessarily being surfaced through Search, etc.
  • It should be noted that currently, updating Place Pages is not a planned project from the Lab – Reed is simply seeking feedback on directions the capability might be taken should it become a focus for overhaul / update.

In Brief

  • Marketplace Q&A “forum”: Reed is still mulling the idea of where and how to place a means for the Web team to take and address Marketplace-specific questions / feedback.
  • Multi-factor Authentication: the work is focused on rolling the current capability across key web properties – including the Marketplace – and getting it into the viewer. This work will be in advance of any work to allow authentication using verified e-mails, etc.
  • Dashboard Communications option: the suggestion was made that, in addition to the planned mobile app, LL should consider adding a capability to the dashboard that would allow users to communicate with Friends who are currently in-world.
    • This is something LL are apparently in the process of discussing, together with providing the means for users to access things like Group functionality  / options via the web. And even – maybe – providing some level of inventory interaction via the web.

Next Meeting

  • Check the SL public calendar.
  • The core topic will likely be on the use of sub-brands within Marketplace stores vs using alt accounts to manage multiple brands / stores. That is the pros and cons, how it might work, what people expect of it, etc.

Clay and Seed in Second Life

Clay and Seed

It has been a fair while since I’ve had the pleasure of viewing Haveit Neox’s 2D artwork in SL outside of the entertainment regions he and Lilia Artis produce annually for Fantasy Faire. So when Akiko Kinoshi (Akiko Kiyori) informed me he and Lilia would be teaming with another artist I admire – Bamboo Barnes – to present a new installation at her Akimori art centre, I knew I’d have to pay it a visit.

Located within is own skybox, Clay and Seed takes as its core theme the erosion of the environment and human relationships, with the work of all three artists interwoven, each taking inspiration from the other two. But before getting into specifics, it is worth noting some key points: you should use the local EEP settings (World → Environment → Use Shared Environment); you’ll need to have ALM enabled (Preferences → Graphics → make sure Advanced Lighting Model is checked) and you should set your draw distance to 256m so that the entire skybox remains rendered during your visit, as it is a part of the overall installation.

Clay and Seed

This skybox offers a desert scene centred around a single body of water, the dunes rolling away into the distance under a sky rich in fields of clouds, the Sun low in the west. The predominant colour caught by the clouds is red, as if the light of the lowering sun is illuminating them from below. But the more one looks at it, the more the red, the more it speaks to rusting metal, its surface bubbled and marrred.

Together, the desert and sky speak to that theme of erosion of the environment, and each supports various elements making up the core of the installation. On the desert sits a number of structures. In particular, sitting close to the lake – possibly the last body of water in this realm? – is a combined 2D and 3D mini-installation by Bamboo Barnes that utilises lighting projectors within cube-like spaces visitors can wall through to experience her 2D art.

Clay and Seed

Around this are several structures placed by Akiko. Through the largest of these – a Japanese style house that partially extends out over the water – a train of horses prance before they snake their way up into the sky to where the second element of the installation, a pair of citadels, are floating.

Linked by curling paths that wind about both buildings and around a central set of net-covered rings over which fish-ships float, the two citadels are home to more of Bamboo’s art whilst their high windows offer poems by Lilia. Their combination of words and images further convey commentaries on destructiveness, growth, abuse, hope, gratefulness and loneliness. Follow the paths that roll and wrap themselves around the two citadels, and further vignettes by Haveit, each with its own symbolism.

Clay and Seed

And symbolism is very much the key here. Whilst offering something of a fantastical scene with centaurs and merfolk, Haveit’s city in the sky offer echoes of our own religious mythology. These range from painting on the outer walls of the citadels, and are also formed by the the likes of the the procession of horses that rise from the desert to climb the steps leaving up to the fish-ships in what might be seen as an echo of the story of Noah’s ark.

Further metaphor might be seen in the manner the the citadels and their surroundings float in the sky like a kind of New Jerusalem with all its promise of salvation. But the the desert below and sky above, together with the centaur vignettes speak the the reality of the matter, as do the images and words by Bamboo and Lilia: we, and we alone, are responsible for the fate that might befall us – just as we alone might yet be able to lift ourselves into a form of salvation (or at least, one of recovery), if we are prepared to work together.

Clay and Seed

Or that is my interpretation at least. Your might well be entirely different. And that is the marvel and beauty of Clay and Seed, in presenting the interwoven work of three superb artists, it has the power to speak with many voices.

SLurl Details