Hollywood tales, alien cats and wizardly goings-on in Second Life

Seanchai Library

It’s time to highlight another week of storytelling in Voice by the staff and volunteers at the Seanchai Library. As always, all times SLT, and events are held at the Library’s home in Nowhereville, unless otherwise indicated. Note that the schedule below may be subject to change during the week, please refer to the Seanchai Library website for the latest information through the week.

Sunday, July 18th,  13:00: Tea-Time At the Movies: All About Eve

The tea-time team turn to one of the great classics of Hollywood this week with All About Eve, the 1950 drama starring Bette Davis and Anne Baxter, directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz.

The film is not only noted for its cast and story (which, while uncredited, is based on the 1946 short story The Wisdom of Eve, by Mary Orr) and the fact that it received a stunning 14 Oscar nominations, and won six including Best Picture. To this date, it remains the only film in Academy Award history to receive four female acting nominations (Davis and Baxter as Best Actress, Celeste Holm and Thelma Ritter as Best Supporting Actress – although sadly, none actually won). For film buffs, it is also noted for the appearance of a young and then relatively unknown actress going by the name of Marilyn Monroe in one of her earliest roles, that of Miss Casswell.

The film tells the story of Margo Channing (Davis), a highly regarded but aging Broadway star, and ambitious young fan, Eve Harrington (Baxter). Following a back-stage introduction, Channing, who is worried about her advancing years as a leading actress on stage having turned 40, is drawn to the apparently besotted Harrington thanks to the younger woman’s apparently encyclopaedic knowledge of Channing’s career.

Taking Harrington on as her secretary, Channing is initially impressed with Harrington’s ability to understand her every need and whim, coming to rely heavy on her – although Harrington is perhaps a little too in control, too attentive and too well-liked – almost as if she has an agenda of her own.

Then Channing witnesses something that causes distrust and jealousy enter her thinking, and she starts trying to sideline Harrington. At the same time, Eve casts her net of manipulation even wider, determined to supplant Channing as the queen of Broadway and build a glittering career in film.

Join Corwyn Allen, Gloriana Maertens, Caledonia Skytower, Kayden Oconnell & Elrik Merlin for more of this classic tale of intrigue, jealousy, and manipulation.

Monday, July 19th 19:00: The Weigher

A world ruled by sentiment big cats where the rule of law is enforced by the Weighers, a combination of judge, peacemaker and accountant through a brutal code of honour and combat. Without their violent intervention in things, all-out war and anarchy would ensue.

When two human explorers – fragile, weak and potentially easy prey – arrive on that world, Slasher, a Weigher of skill and talent in physical combat, finds herself defending them. In doing so, she finds herself a disgraced outcast.

Join Gyro Muggins as he read the story by Eric Vinicoff and Marcia Martin.

Tuesday, July 20th

12:00 Noon: Russell Eponym, Live in the Glen

Music, poetry, and stories.

19:00: TBA

Check the Seanchai Library website for updates.

Wednesday, July 21st, 19:00 Hogwarts An Incomplete and Unreliable Guide

a collection of J.K. Rowling’s writing from the Pottermore archives: short reads originally featured on pottermore.com. These eBooks, with writing curated by Pottermore, will take you beyond the Harry Potter stories as J.K. Rowling reveals her inspiration, intricate details of characters’ lives and surprises from the wizarding world.

Hogwarts An Incomplete and Unreliable Guide takes you on a journey to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. You’ll venture into the Hogwarts grounds, become better acquainted with its more permanent residents, learn more about lessons and discover secrets of the castle . . . all at the turn of a page.

With Caledonia Skytower.

Thursday, July 22nd, 19:00 Summer Poems at the Glen

A celebration of Caledonia Skytower’s Rez Day with a picnic in the Glen and a rousing round of poems for the sublime summer months, and maybe a dance or two! Potato Salad, optional.

Friday, July  23rd, 14:30: Terry Pratchett’s Unseen Academicals

Football in Ankh-Morpork is not as we might know it. Rather than being comprised of rules and played within a recognisable ground, it is far more akin to the somewhat violent mob football of medieval Europe.

Not that this is a concern for the elderly, mostly indolent and (some might be tempted to think) somewhat inept old wizards making up the faculty staff at the city’s school of wizardry, the Unseen University. Until, that is, their very handsome annual endowment becomes subject to their playing the game themselves.

Thus, Archchancellor Mustrum Ridcully sets out a two-pronged strategy: to ensure the city’s version of football is restructured with proper (and favourable?) rules, and to put team preparations at the university in the hands of the talented candle dribbler, Mr. Nutt and his assistant, Trevor Likely, the son of the city’s most famous (if deceased – did I mention the game can be violent?) player, who are in turn supported by Glenda Sugarbean, who runs the university’s night kitchen and her assistant Juliet Stollop.

Except Mr. Nutt soon discovers he has problems of his own to deal with, and Trevor has promised his Mum he’ll never get involved in the game.  Meanwhile, Glenda has the daily responsibility of baking the Discworld’s best pies, and Juliet is about to find herself whisked towards the heights of fame as a fashion model, thus potentially leaving the team a little short on practical advice…

Join Caledonia Skytower as she presents the 37th novel in the Discworld series, and possibly one of its greatest satirical undertakings encompassing football, academia, traditions, the fashion industry, politics, love, fandom, and which mixes in more serious themes of identity, crab mentality and self-worth.

Saturday, July 24th, 13:00:  Seanchai 101: Story Presentation Tip and Tricks

Caledonis Skytower discusses presenting readings of stories and more through the medium of a virtual world at the SLEA Literary Corner.

African wars, feline protection, music and wizards

Seanchai Library

It’s time to highlight another week of storytelling in Voice by the staff and volunteers at the Seanchai Library. As always, all times SLT, and events are held at the Library’s home in Nowhereville, unless otherwise indicated. Note that the schedule below may be subject to change during the week, please refer to the Seanchai Library website for the latest information through the week.

Sunday, July 11th,  13:00: Tea-Time At the Movies: The African Queen

As World War I reaches the heart of the African jungle, Charlie Allnutt, a dishevelled trader and Rose Sayer, an English spinster missionary, find themselves thrown together by circumstance. With the Germans closing in on them, they must fight time, heat, malaria, and bullets to make their escape on the rickety steamboat The African Queen, pausing only to hatch their own outrageous military plan.

Originally published in 1935, The African Queen is a tale replete with vintage Forester drama – unrelenting suspense, reckless heroism, impromptu military manoeuvres, near-death experiences and a good old-fashioned love story.

Most famously, perhaps it became a 1951 film directed by John Huston and produced by Sam Spiegel and John Woolf. It starred Humphrey Bogart as the hard-nosed, crusty Allnut, and Katharine Hepburn as the prim and proper Methodist missionary. Unable to provide an English (or more specifically, a Cockney) accent, Bogart’s Charlie Allnut was re-cast as a Canadian.

The film opened to somewhat polarised reviews by critics who either found it “contrived” and “implausible” or who saw it as two powerful performances by two exceptionally well-matched Hollywood talents which, together with Huston’s panache behind the camera, elevated the film to worthy Oscar status, something reflected in the fact that Bogart’s performance as Allnutt gained him his only Oscar.

A year after the film’s release, the script – written by Houston working with James Agee, Peter Viertel, and John Collier, was turned into a radio presentation by Lux Hollywood and with Academy Award winner Greer Garson taking over the role of Rose Sayer.

So why not join Corwyn Allen, Gloriana Maertens, Kayden Oconnell & Elrik Merlin  in the first of a series of special garden presentations, celebrating great movies of the 20th Century?

Monday, July 12th 19:00: The Weigher

A world ruled by sentiment big cats where the rule of law is enforced by the Weighers, a combination of judge, peacemaker and accountant through a brutal code of honour and combat. Without their violent intervention in things, all-out war and anarchy would ensue.

When two human explorers – fragile, weak and potentially easy prey – arrive on that world, Slasher, a Weigher of skill and talent in physical combat, finds herself defending them. In doing so, she finds herself a disgraced outcast.

Join Gyro Muggins as he read the story by Eric Vinicoff and Marcia Martin.

Tuesday, July 13th

12:00 Noon: Russell Eponym, Live in the Glen

Music, poetry, and stories.

19:00: TBA

Check the Seanchai Library website for updates.

Wednesday, July 14th, 19:00 Hogwarts An Incomplete and Unreliable Guide

a collection of J.K. Rowling’s writing from the Pottermore archives: short reads originally featured on pottermore.com. These eBooks, with writing curated by Pottermore, will take you beyond the Harry Potter stories as J.K. Rowling reveals her inspiration, intricate details of characters’ lives and surprises from the wizarding world.

Hogwarts An Incomplete and Unreliable Guide takes you on a journey to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. You’ll venture into the Hogwarts grounds, become better acquainted with its more permanent residents, learn more about lessons and discover secrets of the castle . . . all at the turn of a page.

With Caledonia Skytower.

Thursday, July 15th

19:00: The Dragon of Og

With Shandon Loring.

21:00: Seanchai Late Night

Contemporary sci-fi and fantasy read by Finn Zeddmore.

Friday, July  16th, 14:30: Terry Pratchett’s Unseen Academicals

Football in Ankh-Morpork is not as we might know it. Rather than being comprised of rules and played within a recognisable ground, it is far more akin to the somewhat violent mob football of medieval Europe.

Not that this is a concern for the elderly, mostly indolent and (some might be tempted to think) somewhat inept old wizards making up the faculty staff at the city’s school of wizardry, the Unseen University. Until, that is, their very handsome annual endowment becomes subject to their playing the game themselves.

Thus, Archchancellor Mustrum Ridcully sets out a two-pronged strategy: to ensure the city’s version of football is restructured with proper (and favourable?) rules, and to put team preparations at the university in the hands of the talented candle dribbler, Mr. Nutt and his assistant, Trevor Likely, the son of the city’s most famous (if deceased – did I mention the game can be violent?) player, who are in turn supported by Glenda Sugarbean, who runs the university’s night kitchen and her assistant Juliet Stollop.

Except Mr. Nutt soon discovers he has problems of his own to deal with, and Trevor has promised his Mum he’ll never get involved in the game.  Meanwhile, Glenda has the daily responsibility of baking the Discworld’s best pies, and Juliet is about to find herself whisked towards the heights of fame as a fashion model, thus potentially leaving the team a little short on practical advice…

Join Caledonia Skytower as she presents the 37th novel in the Discworld series, and possibly one of its greatest satirical undertakings encompassing football, academia, traditions, the fashion industry, politics, love, fandom, and which mixes in more serious themes of identity, crab mentality and self-worth.

Alien cats, the natural world and wizards

Seanchai Library

It’s time to highlight another week of storytelling in Voice by the staff and volunteers at the Seanchai Library. As always, all times SLT, and events are held at the Library’s home in Nowhereville, unless otherwise indicated. Note that the schedule below may be subject to change during the week, please refer to the Seanchai Library website for the latest information through the week.

Monday, July 5th 19:00: The Weigher

A world ruled by sentiment big cats where the rule of law is enforced by the Weighers, a combination of judge, peacemaker and … accountant … through a brutal code of honour and combat. Without their violent intervention in things, all-out war and anarchy would ensue.

When two human explorers – fragile, weak and potentially easy prey – arrive on that world, Slasher, a Weigher of skill and talent in physical combat, finds herself defending them. In doing so, she finds herself a disgraced outcast.

Join Gyro Muggins as he read the story by Eric Vinicoff and Marcia Martin.

Tuesday, July 6th

12:00 Noon: Russell Eponym, Live in the Glen

Music, poetry, and stories.

19:00: The Lost Spells

Since its publication in 2017, Robert MacFarlane’s The Lost Words has enchanted readers with its poetry and illustrations of the natural world. Now, The Lost Spells, a book kindred in spirit and tone, continues to re-wild the lives of children and adults.

Now, The Lost Spells evokes the wonder of everyday nature, conjuring up red foxes, birch trees, jackdaws, and more in poems and illustrations that flow between the pages and into readers’ minds. Robert Macfarlane’s spell-poems and Jackie Morris’s watercolour illustrations are musical and magical: these are summoning spells, words of recollection, charms of protection. To read The Lost Spells is to see anew the natural world within our grasp and to be reminded of what happens when we allow it to slip away.

With Caledonia Skytower.

Wednesday, July 7th, 19:00 Hogwarts An Incomplete and Unreliable Guide

a collection of J.K. Rowling’s writing from the Pottermore archives: short reads originally featured on pottermore.com. These eBooks, with writing curated by Pottermore, will take you beyond the Harry Potter stories as J.K. Rowling reveals her inspiration, intricate details of characters’ lives and surprises from the wizarding world.

Hogwarts An Incomplete and Unreliable Guide takes you on a journey to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. You’ll venture into the Hogwarts grounds, become better acquainted with its more permanent residents, learn more about lessons and discover secrets of the castle . . . all at the turn of a page.

With Caledonia Skytower.

Thursday, July 8th, 19:00: Time Capsel

With Shandon Loring.

Friday, July  9th, 14:30: Terry Pratchett’s Unseen Academicals

Football in Ankh-Morpork is not as we might know it. Rather than being comprised of rules and played within a recognisable ground, it is far more akin to the somewhat violent mob football of medieval Europe.

Not that this is a concern for the elderly, mostly indolent and (some might be tempted to think) somewhat inept old wizards making up the faculty staff at the city’s school of wizardry, the Unseen University. Until, that is, their very handsome annual endowment becomes subject to their playing the game themselves.

Thus, Archchancellor Mustrum Ridcully sets out a two-pronged strategy: to ensure the city’s version of football is restructured with proper (and favourable?) rules, and to put team preparations at the university in the hands of the talented candle dribbler, Mr. Nutt and his assistant, Trevor Likely, the son of the city’s most famous (if deceased – did I mention the game can be violent?) player, who are in turn supported by Glenda Sugarbean, who runs the university’s night kitchen and her assistant Juliet Stollop.

Except Mr. Nutt soon discovers he has problems of his own to deal with, and Trevor has promised his Mum he’ll never get involved in the game.  Meanwhile, Glenda has the daily responsibility of baking the Discworld’s best pies, and Juliet is about to find herself whisked towards the heights of fame as a fashion model, thus potentially leaving the team a little short on practical advice…

Join Caledonia Skytower as she presents the 37th novel in the Discworld series, and possibly one of its greatest satirical undetakings encompassing football, academia, traditions, the fashion industry, politics, love, fandom, and which mixes in more serious themes of identity, crab mentality and self-worth.

Tales of mystery, leviathans, summer, Florida and soccer

Seanchai Library

It’s time to highlight another week of storytelling in Voice by the staff and volunteers at the Seanchai Library. As always, all times SLT, and events are held at the Library’s home in Nowhereville, unless otherwise indicated. Note that the schedule below may be subject to change during the week, please refer to the Seanchai Library website for the latest information through the week.

Sunday, June 27th, 13:30: Tea-Time with Dame Agatha

Corwyn Allen,  Elrik Merlin, Kayden Oconnell, and Caledonia Skytower return to the mysteries penned by the best-selling fiction writer of all time.

Monday, June 28th 19:00: Behemoth

In 1914, the world is divided into Darwinists and Clankers. The Darwinists have evolved genetics to make animals more useful to humans. The Clankers have built their society on machinery technology.

When the Leviathan, a living whale flying ship, arrives in Constantinople, a city where Clanker culture and Darwinst principles intersect in the most intriguing ways, Dr Barlow and Deryn Sharp deliver their precious cargo to the Sultan as part of a peace-keeping mission, only for things to suddenly take a left turn. Now the only way to save themselves in this hostile, politically-charged city is for Dr Barlow to offer up the thing that matters most: Leviathan itself.

Meanwhile, Prince Aleksandar Ferdinand, the would-be heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne following the murder of his father, escapes from his prison camp and once more goes on the run with his men and the Loris, while Count Volger stays behind to fend-off the pursuit, forcing Alek to take on new responsibilities.

Thus, fate once again sees to it that both Deryn and Aleks must re-evaluate their precarious situations in the world…

Join Gyro Muggins as he returns to Scott Westerfield’s alternate history of Earth.

Tuesday, June 29th

12:00 Noon: Russell Eponym, Live in the Glen

Music, poetry, and stories.

19:00: What Abigail Did That Summer

It is the summer of 2013 and Abigail Kamara has been left to her own devices. This might, by those who know her, be considered a mistake.

While her cousin, police constable and apprentice wizard Peter Grant, is off in the sticks chasing unicorns Abigail is dealing with her own mystery: teenagers around Hampstead Heath have been going missing but before the police can get fully engaged the teens return home – unharmed but vague about where they’ve been.

Aided only by her new friend Simon, her knowledge that magic is real and a posse of talking foxes that think they’re spies, Abigail must venture into the wilds of Hampstead to discover who is luring the teenagers and more importantly – why?

Join Corwyn Allen as he reads Ben Aaronovitch’s latest novel.

Wednesday, June 30th, 19:00: Carl Hiaasen’s Skink

A native Floridian, Carl Hiaasen is an American journalist who focuses on political issues (notably corruption, environmental issues and other wrong-doings) within his home state. Starting his career in the 1970s , he became renowned for being exceptionally outspoken – even against his own employers.

Carl Hiaasen. Credit: Joe Rimkus Jr.

During the 1980s, he started writing fiction in his spare time, achieving initial success with three co-authored novels published between 1981 and 1984, as well as writing several non-fiction titles.

In 1987, his second novel, Double Whammy introduced the “trailer park star tenant” and private eye, C.J. Decker, which Hiaasen fondly refers to as “the first (and possibly only) novel ever written about sex, murder and corruption on the professional bass-fishing tour.” Among the cast of characters mixed into Double Whammy is one Clinton Tyree, the one-time governor of Florida, who abandoned his office and now lives as a outdoorsman (and partaker of roadkill cuisine) in the Everglades and the Florida Keys, using the pseudonym Skink.

Skink went on to become a recurring character in a further seven of Hiaasen’s novels to date, with all the books in which he features being gathered together under the general title of SKINK, with several of them being been among the 20+ works of fiction and non-fiction by Hiaasen to appear on the New York Times best-seller list.

Join Kayden Oconnell as he continues a journey with Hiaasen’s characters.

Thursday, July 1st

19:00: Little Fuzzy

Ktadhn Vesuvino reads the book by H. Beam Piper that spawned a series by him and other science fiction authors about a small, furry species dubbed Fuzzies.

Little Fuzzy charts the discovery of small furry species on the planet Zarathustra and the attempts by humans to determine whether or not they are sentient. If they are, then their planet will be declared a protect aboriginal  world. However, The Company has desires to control the planet and its resources.

21:00 Seanchai Late Night

Contemporary sci-fi-fantasy with Finn Zeddmore.

Friday, July  2nd, 14:30: Terry Pratchett’s Unseen Academicals

Football in Ankh-Morpork is not as we might know it. Rather than being comprised of rules and played within a recognisable ground, it is far more akin to the somewhat violent mob football of medieval Europe.

Not that this is a concern for the elderly, mostly indolent and (some might be tempted to think) somewhat inept old wizards making up the faculty staff at the city’s school of wizardry, the Unseen University. Until, that is, their very handsome annual endowment becomes subject to their playing the game themselves.

Thus, Archchancellor Mustrum Ridcully sets out a two-pronged strategy: to ensure the city’s version of football is restructured with proper (and favourable?) rules, and to put team preparations at the university in the hands of the talented candle dribbler, Mr. Nutt and his assistant, Trevor Likely, the son of the city’s most famous (if deceased – did I mention the game can be violent?) player, who are in turn supported by Glenda Sugarbean, who runs the university’s night kitchen and her assistant Juliet Stollop.

Except Mr. Nutt soon discovers he has problems of his own to deal with, and Trevor has promised his Mum he’ll never get involved in the game.  Meanwhile, Glenda has the daily responsibility of baking the Discworld’s best pies, and Juliet is about to find herself whisked towards the heights of fame as a fashion model, thus potentially leaving the team a little short on practical advice…

Join Caledonia Skytower as she presents the 37th novel in the Discworld series, and possibly one of its greatest satirical undetakings encompassing football, academia, traditions, the fashion industry, politics, love, fandom, and which mixes in more serious themes of identity, crab mentality and self-worth.

SL18B: Meet the Moles of Second Life

Friday, June 25th, 2021 saw the fifth and final Meet the Lindens special events take place for the SL Birthday celebrations, featuring Patch Linden and the Moles of the Linden Department of Public Works (LDPW).

Unlike previous summaries in this series, this article does note provide a detailed summary of the session, but instead provides some core information on the Moles – who they are, what they do, how to apply to become a Mole, etc., –  before presenting the video recording of the session, which goes into greater detail about the Moles and their work.

Who or What are the Moles?

  • Officially called the Linden Department of Public Works (LDPW),  originally formed in 2008. They are managed by Derrick Linden, the Product Operations Manager for Second Life, together with a team of Linden Lab staffers.
  • Moles are residents from all over the world hired by Linden Lab as independent contractors to undertake specific tasks. Their work was originally focused on the Mainland, adding the infrastructure – road, bridges, etc., and the landscaping, as noted in the official LDPW wiki page, although they actually do a lot more than this.
  • Notable major projects carried out by the Moles include:
    • The infrastructure within Nautilus City.
    • The development of Bay City.
    • The Linden Homes continent of Bellisseria (including all topography, flora, infrastructure and housing).
    • The facilities for events like Shop & Hop, the Second Life Birthday, town hall events, the turn-key regions available for businesses, starter avatars, etc.
    • The Lab provided games such as Linden Realms, Paleoquest, Horizons and the grid-wide Tyrah and the Curse of the Magical Glytches – all accessible via the Portal Parks.
  • They also provide support / input for / to technical projects (e.g. Project Bento and the avatar skeleton extension), and work with marketing, QA and other LL teams.
  • In keeping with their name, Moles were originally given a mole avatar, complete with hard hat. However, over the years, most have moved to having a more individual and personal look, although some say with the Mole avatar.
  • As well as being paid for the work they do, Moles also receive and allowance from the Lab, which is primarily intended to go towards the cost of uploads (texture, animations, mesh objects, etc)., but which can also be put towards developing their individual looks.

How to Become a Mole

  • Positions in the LDPW are open to application by residents who believe they are qualified to work in the team, and the team may also approach specific residents and ask if they would consider joining them.
  • Applications are made by dropping a résumé (note card or email) of qualifications / experience (including links SLurls, Flickr, You Tube, etc.) to Derrick Linden (derrick.linden-at-lindenlab.com) or to Patch Linden (patch.linden-at-lindenlab.com).
  • Applicants have to go through a former interview process.
  • Successful applicants get to pretty much choose their hours of work – providing agreed tasks are completed on time.
  • As they are from around the world, this can allow some projects to move forward on almost a round-the-clock basis.
  • Those who are more fully-rounded in skill sets  – content creation, scripting, etc., – are encouraged to apply, but LL will also take on specialists.
  • Motivated, outgoing, communicative people with a passion for SL and willing to self-teach themselves new skill sets are particularly considered.

SL18B Meet the Lindens: Brett Linden – summary with video

Thursday, June 24th, 2021 saw the fourth in a series of Meet the Lindens events take place for the SL Birthday celebrations, featuring Brett Linden, the Lab’s Vice President of Marketing.

The following is a summary of the session covering the core topics raised, with selected audio extracts. The full video is located at the end of this article.

Table of Contents

Also, information given in braces ({ and ]), has been provided by myself and did not form a part of the conversation.

About Brett Linden

  • As VP of marketing, Brett Linden manages the team responsible for developing media campaigns and strategic content partnerships for Second Life. Together, they focus on both the acquisition of new users and the retention of existing users for the virtual world.
  • Has more then 2 decades of marketing and journalism experience.
  • In the past decade, he has produced numerous virtual and “mixed reality” events and panels on various academic topics with an emphasis on legitimising and better surfacing the many cultures and communities within virtual environments.
  • From Rolling Stone to Billboard, Brett has also written for major publications and managed multimedia initiatives for Amazon.com and RealNetworks. He has co-founded numerous media sites on-line, including the Second Life Destination Guide and Rolling Stone Radio. As a co-founding editor at Billboard.com, he interviewed Stevie Wonder, David Bowie, Peter Gabriel, Shania Twain, and Bjork.
  • Was drawn to Second Life after trying the platform during its first burst of media exposure in 2006 – specifically trying to find the CNN and Reuters bureaux that were active in SL at that time.
  • At the same time, he received a grant from the McCormick Foundation to run the Virtual Journalism Summit, some of which took place in-world, allowing him to meet Philip Rosedale.
  • He moved from being a resident to being a Linden in 2007.
  • He is as fascinated and intrigued – and sometimes frustrated – but always illuminated by the platform, the residents, the diversity of use and creativity, etc., today, as he was when he started.
  • Did not work on Sansar to a great extent, his focus has always been on Second Life, which is true for the majority of his team.

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Loss of Ebbe Altberg

[Video: 6:05-9:00]

Brett offered his own words in remembrance of Ebbe Altberg, the Lab’s CEO, who passed away recently. Rather than paraphrase him, I’m including an audio recording of his comments.

As a reminder, those wishing to pay their respect to Ebbe can do so at his in-world memorial (see also: Paying respects to Ebbe Altberg in Second Life).

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Second life and the Pandemic

[Video: 10:38-15:23]

  • On a personal level, it’s been tough on the entire marketing team in both the mental toll of being in lockdown, and for some being directly impacted by the loss of others through COVID.
  • The pandemic has caused a lot of attention to be focused on “the metaverse” and virtual worlds / spaces.
  • The early months of the pandemic in 2020 saw a significant spike in SL use in terms of new registrations, concurrency and returning “old” users. This has since dropped, but the metrics are still strong.
  • For the Marketing team, it has meant a major acceleration in workload and pivoting plans and activities, with work levels still at a high level.
  • It felt odd that the pandemic turned the spotlight onto virtual spaces and “the metaverse”, with Second life sharing in some of it, and then working to provide the means for people to leverage the platform to  meet their needs.
  • Even now, media enquiries on the state of Second life remain much higher than they were pre-pandemic, thanks to even tangential things such as non-fungible tokens (NFTs),  so media and PR efforts have had to be extended.
  • LL has hired-in Elizabeth Olsen, who was a founding Executive Editor of Game Informer magazine, as a consultant to support media outreach work, working closely with Brett.

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Marketing Partnerships

[Video: 17:16-25:28]

The NFL Alumni stadium
  • More partnerships coming – possibly in late summer: comics, music, film and graphic novels, etc.
  • All of these are regarded as part of the overall “year of experimenting” for Marketing in an attempt to learn what works / does not work in attracting a new audience.
  • Partnership are not happenstance or based on brand name alone – there is an attempt to build inroads to user engagement where partners have a “fit” with SL and can make active use of the platform.
  • Such partnerships also help with media promotion of SL, allowing LL to point to the partner brands and so generate further media interest.
  • The work is not at the point of bringing in “Triple A” artists, etc., but the partnerships are with well-known entities that are open to using SL to extend their fanbase or their communities.

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Diversity in Marketing

[Video: 27:45-29:57]

  • LL does try to promote diversity in SL, but acknowledges more could be done. Work is put into promoting community work through Flickr and YouTube.
  • Promotional work through the likes of social media is subject to checking that it is being as inclusive as possible given the broad diversity of Second Life communities.
  • The furry community has recently been a focus, but rather than being self-congratulatory about it, the team notes it is something that has been overdue – and their are other communities that also deserve promotion.

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Blogs and Social Media Strategy

[Video: 30:22-36:05]

  • Social media is a core element in promoting Second Life – not just through official channels, but because users themselves are prolific in promoting the platform through their channels. Flickr is s good example of this.
  • LL tries to leverage this organic content to help amplify the community and Second Life.
  • YouTube influencers are another means for the Lab to help promote SL.
  • The Lab’s own content includes the likes of the Destination videos that help highlight locations and communities; the Lab Gab series; Second life Book Club; Music Mondays, the newer Showcase Streams – drop-in livestreams of in-world events; picture of the day, etc.
  • All of this is promoted in the official blogs, but is also amplified to broader audiences as well.
  • There’s also the Second Life Blogger Network (SLBN) that showcases users’ blogs, with 660 bloggers already enrolled.

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External Media Advertising, Paid Ads, and Strategies

[Video: 41:42-48:31]

  • External media advertising is a strategy, and does vary month-by-month due to budget and things like the seasonality of Second Life in terms of balancing ad spend against growth.
  • The Marketing budget also covers general PR for Second Life.
  • A portion of the Marketing budget does go on ad spend / performance marketing (where advertisers pay marketing companies or advertising platforms for results achieved, such as clicks or conversion). This has seen an accelerated return over the last two years, again possible due to the pandemic.
  • A new area the Lab is now looking at is on-line video advertising. This has been taking the form of 30-second clips from the Destination videos produced for LL, which are pushed to various channel for promotion (and are not necessarily seen on the Lab’s main YouTube channel).
  • Another area for advertising is via cord-cutting platforms (essentially people moving away from traditional satellite and cable services and into streaming services, many of which are ad-supported).  This offers enormous potential for ad placement, as is something the Lab is looking at.
  • Most / all of these strategies are developed by Darcy Linden, who is now the Director of Marketing, and who has a wealth of experience in the digital advertising sphere.
  • Another aspect of the Marketing work is the brand refresh and renewing the message of what does Second Life mean to different audiences – and what it could mean to those who have never heard of it.
  • The “win back” campaign is a further spoke in the wheel – trying to win back users who have stopped using SL for whatever reason.
    • [1:23:36-1:26:47] one aspect of this is an incentive (Linden Dollars of varying amounts) and rewards (free virtual gifts) based approach. Such approaches are not uncommon in the US, and the Lab has achieved reasonable success with it.
    • Another approach to to win back former users organically – showing them the value of coming back (e.g. reconnecting with old friends, showing them new opportunities for engagement / discovery, etc.).
    • When handled correctly, such campaigns can be very successful, but they also can be difficult to get right, simply because people can leave a platform for a wide range of reasons; thus there is a lot more to be done in refining the work in this area, but the results have been pleasing.

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General Q&A

The following is a selection of the questions that generated fuller answers and / or had a marketing lean.

  • [36:10-41:00] Helping in-world Businesses market themselves: is there a way LL can help in-world business promote themselves and reach a wider audience?
    • First off – full credit to the likes of Seraphim and blogs that do similar work.
    • Also appreciates all the e-zines produced by SL users and made available through the likes of issuu.com.
    • LL wants to support these endeavours and draw attention to them, again through featuring on the SLBN pages, etc.
    • There are also obviously tools such as the Destination Guide, the Marketplace and events listings that can all be leveraged by users, creators and communities.
    • A new service people can sign-up to is the events e-mail list.
    • There’s also the official Message of the Day (MOTD) in the viewer’s log-in screen which can at times be used to promote events [note: some TPVs generate their own MOTD, so this may differ from what is seen in the official viewer].
  • [48:33-53:44] How can SL residents help promote the platform?
    • Word of Mouth. Now more than ever, SL is something to be proud of in the way it enables social connections through situations like this pandemic, and give people the means to reach out, connect and share.
    • Not everyone may be comfortable is talking about their involvement with the platform, but for those who are, the encouragement to do so is there to do so by showing off activities, sharing with friends, etc.
    • Also – be kind to newcomers within the platform; help them with any issues they may be having, be welcoming, etc. As much as the sign-up and New User Experience is for on-boarding, a big slice of whether newcomers stay or not is how the local population respond to them.
  • [1:02:33-1:05:59] What do you think SL will be like when it turns 20?
    • This has been a topic of discussion within the Lab already, simply because it is such a milestone, including the potential for product and feature sets, but these are outside of the Marketing remit to discuss.
    • On a personal perspective, essentially cracking the challenge that ensures incoming users have an experience that matches the promise of whatever ad , etc., than brought them through the door, and where the basics of just on-boarding and customising an avatar are so straightforward, the churn of users arriving and leaving is greatly reduced, and the entire process is much more engaging and encourages people to stay and learn and explore.
  • [1:08:09-1:09:36] Is the Lab entirely US-centric?
    • The Marketing Team is entirely US-centric, and the company by its nature is US-centric [being based in California, etc.]
    • There are contractors (the Moles) who are more global in nature.
  • [1:14:45-1:16:32] Will Mainland be promoted?
    • Mainland is an area where the Marketing team needs to do more.  There are unique characteristics available there – such as the ability to  explore on foot or by vehicles.
    • LL have done a six-part video series on the Second Life Rail Road (SLRR), which covered the Mainland tracks, and more could be done in that vein.
  • [1:18:27-1:22:43] Could LL get Facebook to allow the use of accounts in avatar names?
    • Aware that this has been a problem for many SL / Facebook users, and that some have worked around it by using Facebook pages.
    • It would be good for those wish wish, and who prefer to use their SL identities over their wallet identities to be able to use Facebook, although that’s a policy decision on FB’s part.
    • Equally, is aware that many SL users either do not want to use Facebook, and/or only want their SL identities in the public eye, and so doesn’t want to give the impression either of these choices would be at risk; it is purely in the context of helping those who want to do so, not forcing SL users to use it.
  • [1:27:02-1:31:15] Why doesn’t Twitch allow streaming from SL? Can this be changed?
    • Second Life is currently on the Twitch restricted games list due to SL supporting full freedom of expression, including adult content, which can fall outside of Twitch’s usage guidelines. This is obviously Twitch’s choice
    • There are clearly strategic reasons why LL would like to see Twitch allow streaming from SL; however, LL also don’t want to compromise the integrity of SL and all of its communities by changing the platform purely to allow streaming to Twitch.
    •  As such, there is a dialogue between the two companies that may lead to this being changed,  although it is early days, and nothing can be promised purely from LL’s side on whether Twitch will change their view of SL.
  • [1:31:23-1:36:38] Can LL get rock groups in to SL?
    • LL is looking at entertainment / brand partnerships that are a good fit. Established musicians are among some of those the Lab is talking to. The beauty here is that this is a low-risk, potentially mutually beneficial approach that lets both LL and the partner concerned try something, and explore what works / doesn’t work.
    • Critical aspects to consider (from the potential partner’s perspective) is the the potential audience reach, quality and integrity of the experience, will there been an option to embedded merchandise / e-commerce into the experience,  etc. However, there are brands and artists that LL is is discussion with, and one may be announced in the near future.
    • These initiatives should not been seen as trying to take anything away from SL’s own vibrant music community – live performers and DJs. They are purely about raising the platforms visibility and trying to extend its audience reach,.
    • Virtual cinemas and working with the likes of Titmouse is another approach.
    • [In a somewhat different context, Duran Duran once dabbled in Second Life, and in 2011 there was a competition run in SL on behalf of the group.]
  • [1:42:50-1:45:00] Has LL engaged with the arts community / museums, etc., for Marketing? Have there been successes?
Virtual Peale in Second Life
  • [1:45:51-1:50:02] What is the Lab’s strategy for attracting young adults to the platform?
    • This is an important aspect, given the success of Roblox over the last couple of years. While that audience is predominantly of an age that is too young for SL, they are a potential audience for the future as they start to look for more sophisticated creative outlets. So the question is how can SL be positioned for this, particularly given an audience from something like Roblox will already be well-versed in the concepts of user-generated content and sandbox-style environments.
    • Should Second Life itself seek a younger audience? That’s a tougher question. Yes, it would be nice to have broader, younger engagement if the platform were set-up to support it. However, the platform is mature, does have sophisticated [adult] content, so a lot of capabilities [/safeguards] that are not currently in place would be needed in  order for the platform to accommodation minors;  so how would the platform reach a younger audience without jeopardising what has been achieved would need to be carefully addressed.
    • In addition, the product development teams are developing a roadmap of feature sets that might open up or restrict how SL would be amenable / agreeable to a younger audience.
    • LL  also looks at the senior demographic as well as  an opportunity, but ultimately, what SL does today, and does well, has to be a significant factor in marketing the platform.
  • [1:51:25-1:53:08] Can LL help support those who manage communities in SL – promotion, etc?
    • From a marketing perspective, always want to support those who support SL and a positive user experience, with a particular emphasis on new users coming into the platform who are critical to growth. So in this regard, there is the Community Gateway Programme.
    • If people have a proposal for how LL can help support communities, then please submit it to the leadership team.
  • [1:54:14-End] Will data / metrics on SL use be made more regularly available for journos, etc?
    • Data does play a big role in Marketing [see: The Heart & Science of Second Life Marketing], but this does not mean that everything is purely driven by algorithms. There is a combination of analysis and data collection to ensure marketing efforts aren’t skewed in a certain direction.
    • In terms of general metrics, LL does try to be transparent, although there are some data points that are not made public. The stats that are vetted for accuracy and publicly shared include:
      • Total registered accounts: +70 million.
      • Average daily usage: currently 200,000 users across 200 countries.
      • GDP: equivalent to US $600 million.
      • Creator cash-outs in last 12 months: over US $80 million.
    • It may be possible to put these stats on the SL website.

Feedback on Marketing

[Video: 26:00-27:39]

Feedback on marketing campaigns, on ideas, etc., can be given through the following channels:

  • E-mail editor@lindenlab.com.
  • In-world IM.
  • Official forums.