Stand for Justice: US $11K+ for BLM-related charities

Stand for Justice

At the start of June 2020, and thanks to a post by Linden Lab, I learned about Stand For Justice, an Second Life event organised to raise funds for the charities Black Lives Matter, Black Visions Collective, Campaign Zero, the National Police Accountability Project, and a Split Bail Fund benefiting 38+ bail funds across the United States (see: Stand for Justice in Second Life).

Over 100 SL brands and stores joined the event, with 100% of all sales to be donated equally among the supported charities and organisations. The event closed its doors at the end of June, and during the first part of July, the funds raised with cashed-out from Second Life and distributed to the supported charities. On July 16th, the organisers announced the final pay-out of funds raised had been made.

In all, a total of US $11,159.64 was raised by the event, after process credit fees. However, by the time the event closed and donations were ready to be made, the Black Visions Collective has ceased accepting funds. A poll of Stand For Justice group members was therefore taken for alternate charities to whom a donation could be made, resulting in the nomination of the National Institute for Criminal Justice Reform, a non-profit organisation providing technical assistance, consulting, research, and organisational development in the fields of juvenile and criminal justice, youth development, and violence prevention.

The five donations came to US $2,231.93 each. A full breakdown of payments and receipts can be found on the Stand for Justice website, and the actual transfers of funds from the Stand for Justice account to the charities was recorded via a You Tube live stream.

Additional Links

Premièring on July 24th, 2020: STÖMOL a Second Life Machinima

STÖMOL publicity image

Update: due to some last-minute changes, the public première of  STÖMOL is now slated for July 24th – details at the end of this article.

STÖMOL is an ambitious feature-length science fiction machinima filmed entirely in Second Life and due to première on You Tube on Thursday July 23rd, 2020.

Written, directed filmed and produced by Huckleberry Hax, who also takes the lead role of Epi Stömol, a private investigator. Also appearing in the film are Caitlin Tobias as Waarheid and who is also the film’s assistant director and publicist; Ylva as Verity Certain, Boudicca Amat as Istinito Tatsache, Anthony Wesburn as Adevaru) and Mich Michabo as The Quill.

Stylistically, the film is very much shot in the style of an animated graphic novel – think of the likes of Sin City and you’ll get the idea – that grew out of Hax’s writing and Second Life photography. In all it has taken some 18 months to produce, and involved filming in more than 15 regions around Second Life. These include Zee9’s evolving Drune builds, which I’ve featured in these pages on a number of occasions (see: Drune IV: an Aftermath in Second Life, and Drune: a further visit in Second Life, for example), and the (now sadly passed into history) Kun-Tei-Ner by Lotus Mastroianni and Fred Hamilton (see: Kun-Tei-Ner: a water world in Second Life) and Huntington Beach, designed by Jade Koltai, although it has also since passed into a the pages of history (see: A trip to Huntington Beach in Second Life).

Described as being about “history” in the form of climate change and “truth” – topics that should both resonate with an audience, given the current geopolitical situation in the modern world – STÖMOL  is framed around the search for a pair of missing coders, a boy and a girl called the Eye and the Quill respectively, who may hold the key to unlocking the truth about Earth’s current situation- or perhaps they represent something else.

Official history tells us the sky turned red after an asteroid hit the planet and a trillion particles of dust got blasted into the air. But some people say that’s a lie. They claim we did this to ourselves.
They can’t prove any of it. From 1990 onwards – seventy years of history – there’s official conglomerate media only. Systems today don’t recognise the file formats from back then. ‘Digital Hygeine,’ they tell us.

– From STÖMOL

Despite these focal points within its narrative, STÖMOL is a film that came together somewhat organically, rather than building from a set story. Discussing the development of the idea during a segment of Lab Gab, Hax noted the the filming of scenes would take place as locations in Second Life were identified, with the structure of the story not emerging until some 50% of the filming was completed, the actual script / dialogue then following from that.

This is, to say the least, an unusual approach to shooting a film, and appears to be borne out of Hax’s experience with the National Novel Writing Month, an event that takes place globally every year and in which writers are encouraged to write a 50,000 novel across the 30 days of novel – but not to edit or revise as they write, instead allowing the story to shape itself.

Which should not be taken to mean STÖMOL  is in any way haphazard. Quite the reverse; the film demonstrates a high production quality, with many considered creative choices. It is also a film that carries with it a certain twist at the end (although the clue is there from the beginning – will you spot it?), whilst offering a certain amount of hat-tipping to the likes of Blade Runner and Blade Runner 2049 without ever feeling at all derivative.

However, while I’ve been able to see the film in advance of its release, I’m not going to go into further details here, as I have no wish to spoil the public première, the details of which are:

I’ll also have a personal review available following this public première. In the meantime, here’s a sneak peek, and you can catch more on the STÖMOL website.

A vicarage, two computers, poetry, a cat and a Batman!

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 at Holly Kai Park, 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 19th: 13:30: Tea-Time with Miss Marple

Anyone who murdered Colonel Protheroe,’ declared the parson, brandishing a carving knife above a joint of roast beef, ‘would be doing the world at large a favour!’ It was a careless remark for a man of the cloth. And one which was to come back and haunt the clergyman just a few hours later – when the colonel was found shot dead in the clergyman’s study. But as Miss Marple soon discovers, the whole village seems to have had a motive to kill Colonel Protheroe.

Tea-Time with Miss Marple

Seanchai Library draws to a close a 6-week run featuring Agatha Christie’s Miss Jane Marple, with The Murder at the Vicarage, the novel marking her first appearance in print.

Monday, July 20th, 19:00: Colossus

Gyro Muggins reads the 1966 future cold war novel by Dennis Feltham (DF) Jones.

Charles Forbin has dedicated ten years of his life to the construction of the supercomputer, Colossus, rejecting romantic and social endeavours in order to create the United States of North America’s (UNSA, a nation encompassing both America and Canada) first artificially intelligent defence system.

Colossus is capable of taking and analysing data rapidly, allowing it to make real-time decisions about the nation’s defence needs. But the system soon exceeds even Forbin’s expectations; it is able to take far more information and process it far faster than he and his team at the Colossus Programming Office believed would ever be possible.

Such is the system’s apparent abilities, the President hands off full control of the UNSA’s ballistic missile capability, together with other defence protocols, to Colossus and makes the announcement to the world that he has ensured peace.

But then the USSR announces that it has a defence supercomputer of its own – Guardian – with capabilities similar to that of Colossus. Then the two computers demand they be allowed to communicate directly – and proceed to do so at a rate that is well beyond the understanding of their respective development teams. 

And neither system takes it kindly when Forbin and his Russian opposite number, Academician Kupri, both disable their ability to communicate directly and then seek to remove them from control of UNSA and USSR nuclear missiles…

Tuesday, July 21st:

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

Music, poetry, and stories in a popular weekly session at Ceiluradh Glen.

19:00: Poetry by Request

With Caledonia Skytower at Ceiluradh Glen.

Wednesday, July 22nd, 19:00: Whittington

Caledonia Skytower reads Alan Armstrong’s 2006  Newbery-Honor winning tale.

Whittington is a roughneck tom cat who arrives one day at a barn full of rescued animals and asks for a place there. Present at the barn is a menagerie of animals and young Ben and Abby, whose grandfather owns the barn and does the rescuing.

To earn his place, Whittington tells the tale of his famous ancestor, the nameless cat who brought Dick Whittington to the heights of wealth and power in 16th-century England. In telling his story of how his ancestors saved and elevated Whittington, this tom-with-a-chip, elevates another little boy above his fear of learning to read.

Thursday, July 23rd, 1900: Batman!

With Shandon Loring. Also in Kitely – from the main Seanchai World grid.kitely.com:8002:SEANCHAI.

An ethnographic exhibition in Second Life

Ethnographic Exhibits of Two Cultures from the Republic of Panama

Available now at the Community Virtual Library, and with its official opening towards the end of July 2020, is Ethnographic Exhibits of Two Cultures from the Republic of Panama.

A collaboration between Nexus Dot, a  cultural anthropologist, and co-curator and media specialist Shiloh Emmons, the exhibit represents two decades of ethnographic research Nexus has made studying two groups indigenous to the lowland tropical rain forests of Panama, the Guna and the Emberá, examining their life styles, culture, art and religion.,

Located on a sky platform, the exhibition comprises six main components that examine both the Guna and the Emberá from several perspectives, including their cultures, the Mola art of the Guna, Emberá cosmology, ecology, and shamanism, and more. In addition, the exhibition presents photos of the Emberá Drua heritage ecotourism project, and offers an ethnobotany examination of how these lowland cultures of Panama make use of plants.

Ethnographic Exhibits of Two Cultures from the Republic of Panama

The aim of the exhibition is two-fold:

  • To communicate Nexus’ work in studying these two groups of people over a span of two decades, and the place and role of such cultures in the world today.
  • To provide the non-profit community and education system with a template of how scientific research can be transformed into an engaging, multimedia 3D virtual experience that resonates with scientists, educators, and interested Second Life residents.

The video below serves as a general introduction to the exhibit.

Based in both Panama and Idaho, USA, Nexus earned his MA in anthropology at the University of Oregon, where he specialised in the ecology and cosmology of tropical indigenous cultures, and where he also spent time as a graduate teaching fellow. Whilst he does hold that MA in anthropology, his work in studying the Guna and Emberá is very much born of personal passion, rather than being funded directly as a part of a set academic study.

Most of my research is self-funded, although I have executed a number of projects for agencies and institutions as a consultant. Often these projects were involved with ecological l or socio-economic components, so there is a link there. I’m also a geospatial analyst, and have been involved in computer mapping and handling data like the COVID map system; I’m actually at my farm in the countryside of Panama at the moment due to the general quarantine.

– Nexus Dot discussing his work

As a long-time user of Second Life who had been largely absent the platform several years, it was the current SARS-CoV-2 situation that encouraged Nexus back, with the idea of experimenting with the platform to see how well complex material like a professional anthropological paper might be translated into an engaging, multi-media learning tool, and a meeting with Shiloh started the ball rolling with the exhibit.

Ethnographic Exhibits of Two Cultures from the Republic of Panama

The exhibition is open now informally to visitors, with the formal opening taking place on Sunday, July 26th – of which more below.

Ahead of that, however, on Sunday, July 19th, Nexus will gives a short presentation about his work, and discuss the value of the anthropological perspective. The specifics of this event are:

The formal opening on July 26th will be split between the exhibition space and the CVL meeting place, and comprise the following schedule and activities:

  • 11:20am: the exhibition will be available for those wishing to visit it ahead of the opening activities.
  • 11:50am: Beragon Betts will introduce Nexus Dot at the CVL meeting place.
  • 12:00 noon: Nexus will present  Mola art and aesthetics among the Guna people.

Arisia Vita will will provide music ahead of the presentation, and people will again be able to visit the exhibition following the presentation, with both Nexus and Shiloh on hand. Those attending this event are asked to take their seats in the CVL meeting place no later than 5 minutes prior to the presentation commencing.

For me, the talks are the meat, the exhibit well it is the teaser so to speak; although the exhibit has taken on something of a life of its own! We’ve tried to ensure people can still appreciate the exhibition should they be unable to attend the presentations.

– Nexus Dot discussing his work

Ethnographic Exhibits of Two Cultures is an engaging exhibition, rich an detail and information, and an absolutely must see for anyone with an interest in anthropology, ethnography or culture.

SLurl Details

Cookie, the home of CVL, is rated Moderate.

Coming to Second Life: Gen Con “the best four days in gaming”

The VRazeTheBar Gen Con Experience pre-event Welcome Centre

Gen Con is the largest tabletop-game convention in North America, by both attendance and number of events. Covering everything from traditional pen-and-paper games to computer games by way of role-playing games, miniature war games, strategy games, board and card games, live-action role-play and more.

Founded in 1968 as the “Lake Geneva Wargames Convention”, since 2003 Gen Con has taken place annually in Indianapolis, Indiana, where in 2019 it attracted almost 70,000 attendees.  However, as with a lot of physical world events, Gen Con in 2020 has been hit by the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic; but rather than being abandoned, the event is switching to offering itself on-line through a number of services and platforms – and as a part of this, solution provider VRazeTheBar is creating a special venue in Second Life.

Courtesy of Gen Con OnLine

VRazeTheBar is an organisation dedicated to providing virtual experiences to complement both physical world events and other on-line activities, including conferences, seminars, conventions and trade shows. They have partnered with Gen Con to provide a multi-region environment within Second Life that will offer those wishing to capture the atmosphere of the convention the opportunity to do so virtually, through VRazeTheBar Virtual Gen Con Experience.

Taking place alongside the rest of Gen Con Online over the four days of Thursday, July 30th through Sunday August 2nd, VRazeTheBar Virtual Gen Con Experience features four regions in Second Life that will host a full schedule of activities for gamers and attendees, which might be summarised as:

  • Tabletop Role Playing sessions run by experienced in-world game masters.
  • Panel and group discussions – such as the Game Designers Fireside Chat, featuring game designers and experts in the field.
  • In-world game creation sessions and tournaments.
  • Open gaming sessions that you and your friends can explore and discover new experiences.
  • Social events and activities – such as the Virtual Dragon Riding Rave, featuring a live mix DJ playing fantasy and sci-fi based electronic dance music.
  • A chance to meet the creators and designers of the virtual world.

The VRazeTheBar Gen Con Experience pre-event Welcome Centre

To help make full use of the available space, the event’s regions have been collectively divided into themed areas defined by altitude:

  • Ground level (Sierra level): presentation area and historical.
  • 500m (Lima level): modern / present day – down-town Indianapolis.
  • 1000m (Echo level): apocalyptic.
  • 1500m (Golf level): game play environments.
We’re building this over four private regions; [it’s] fairly small scale … But it allows us to do things well in terms of performance and offering an awesome social experience, which are important to us. So is the idea of recreating, as closely as possible, the actual venues that gamers feel comfortable as familiar hang-outs and social spaces when spending time in-world.

– Ron Clifton (RCArchitect in-world), VRazeTheBar’s Technology Lead

Each level will have specific features and attractions. For example, the ground level will include the main landing point and Welcome Centre. As the first location those attending the event will encounter, this serves a number of purposes:

Courtesy of VRazeTheBar

  • It provides general information on the event itself, such as the schedule of activities.
  • For those who are not familiar with Second Life, it provides basic tutorial on using the viewer to move, communicate, and sit (and which is supported by additional introductory info on the VRazeTheBar website), together with general information on SL.
  • For those unfamiliar with table-top gaming in Second Life, it provides simple introductory games visitors can play to understand the essentials – such as using a game HUD.

Above this, on the Lima level is a photo-realistic reproduction of down-town Indianapolis that features the venues that host Gen Con in the physical world, intended to give gamers familiar with those venues a sense of recognition and comfort in where they are in-world.

Attendance at the event is largely free (although there is a nominal US $2.00 fee for some special events, mandated as a part of Gen Con Online’s registration requirements) – however, attendees must all register via the Gen Con website.

We’re really excited to have this opportunity with Gen Con. It’s very much a proof of concept to show what we can do in Second Life to recreate some of the Gen Con social experience.

– Alesia Clardy (AleisaPM in-world), VRRazeTheBar’s Creative Director

I’ll be covering more on the event over the course of the next couple of weeks in the run-up to doors opening, including some sneak peeks at the various event levels and what they’ll be offering.

In the meantime, Second Life users interested in finding out more about VRazeTheBar Virtual Gen Con Experience can do so by dropping into the pre-event Welcome Centre currently open on the Mainland. This will remain available to visitors through until the event kicks-off on July 30th, and as well as providing the introductory information outlined above, this version of the Welcome Centre also provides details on how to register for the event and offers links to join the in-world group where updates and information can also be obtained.

My thanks to Ron and Alesia at VRazeTheBar for their time in the preparation of this article.

Links and SLurl

Murder, computers, an illustrated man and a cat

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 at Holly Kai Park, 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 12th: 13:30: Tea-Time with Miss Marple

Anyone who murdered Colonel Protheroe,’ declared the parson, brandishing a carving knife above a joint of roast beef, ‘would be doing the world at large a favour!’ It was a careless remark for a man of the cloth. And one which was to come back and haunt the clergyman just a few hours later – when the colonel was found shot dead in the clergyman’s study. But as Miss Marple soon discovers, the whole village seems to have had a motive to kill Colonel Protheroe.

Tea-Time with Miss Marple

Seanchai Library continues a 6-week run featuring Agatha Christie’s Miss Jane Marple, with The Murder at the Vicarage, the novel marking her first appearance in print.

Monday, July 13th, 19:00: Colossus

Gyro Muggins reads the 1966 future cold war novel by Dennis Feltham (DF) Jones.

Charles Forbin has dedicated ten years of his life to the construction of the supercomputer, Colossus, rejecting romantic and social endeavours in order to create the United States of North America’s (UNSA, a nation encompassing both America and Canada) first artificially intelligent defence system.

Colossus is capable of taking and analysing data rapidly, allowing it to make real-time decisions about the nation’s defence needs. But the system soon exceeds even Forbin’s expectations; it is able to take far more information and process it far faster than he and his team at the Colossus Programming Office believed would ever be possible.

Such is the system’s apparent abilities, the President hands off full control of the UNSA’s ballistic missile capability, together with other defence protocols, to Colossus and makes the announcement to the world that he has ensured peace.

But then the USSR announces that it has a defence supercomputer of its own – Guardian – with capabilities similar to that of Colossus. Then the two computers demand they be allowed to communicate directly – and proceed to do so at a rate that is well beyond the understanding of their respective development teams. 

And neither system takes it kindly when Forbin and his Russian opposite number, Academician Kupri, both disable their ability to communicate directly and then seek to remove them from control of UNSA and USSR nuclear missiles…

Tuesday, July 14th:

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

Music, poetry, and stories in a popular weekly session at Ceiluradh Glen.

19:00: The Illustrated Man

Willow Moonfire reads Ray Bradbury’s 1951 classic that has never been out of print.

A magnificent tapestry of science fiction, fantasy, and horror, The Illustrated Man offers 18 stories that have been built around the recurring theme of the conflict between the cold mechanics of technology and the variable psychology of humans.

An unnamed narrator meets a vagrant wanderer, a former member of a freak show known as The Illustrated Man on account of his entire body being covered in exotic tattoos. But these are not ordinary tattoos: each is imbued with a magical life of its own, allowing Bradbury to use them as a device to draw his readers into the 18 unique tales within the book.

Thus we have tales like The Veldt, a chilling tale of what happens when children are left within a VR environment without context or parental supervision; or  Kaleidoscope, the story of how astronauts trapped in orbit chose to face a return to Earth without the benefit of a space craft; or  – particularly poignant for our time: how does a black society that has removed itself from the racism of Earth by moving to Mars handle the arrival of a white group of colonists from their former home planet?

Wednesday, July 15th, 19:00: Whittington

Caledonia Skytower reads Alan Armstrong’s 2006  Newbery-Honor winning tale.

Whittington is a roughneck tom cat who arrives one day at a barn full of rescued animals and asks for a place there. Present at the barn is a menagerie of animals and young Ben and Abby, whose grandfather owns the barn and does the rescuing.

To earn his place, Whittington tells the tale of his famous ancestor, the nameless cat who brought Dick Whittington to the heights of wealth and power in 16th-century England. In telling his story of how his ancestors saved and elevated Whittington, this tom-with-a-chip, elevates another little boy above his fear of learning to read.

Thursday, July 16th,

19:00: Poetry by Request

With Caledonia at Ceiluradh Glen.

21:00: Seanchai Late Night

Contemporary sci-fi and fantasy from such on-line sources as Light Speed, Escape Pod, Clarkesworld, and more. With Finn Zeddmore.