SL14B Meet the Lindens: Patch and Dee

Dee Linden (l), Patch Linden and Saffia Widdershins at the first SL14B Meet The Lindens session

Meet the Lindens is a series of conversations / Q&A sessions with staff from Linden Lab, held as a part of the SL Birthday celebrations in-world. They provide opportunities for Second Life users to get to know something about the staff at the Lab: who they are, what they do, what drew them to Second Life and the company, what they find interesting / inspirational about the platform, and so on.

Monday, June 19th saw Dee and Patch Linden sit down with Saffia Widdershins, and this article hopefully presents some “selected highlights” of the chat, complete with audio extracts from my recording of the event. The official video of the event will be added at the end of this article, once available from Linden Lab.

About Dee and Patch

Dee Linden is the Land Operation Supervisor for the Lab, and her introductions often includes the phrase, “older than the terrain itself”, reflecting her experience from the physical world realty market. She discovered Second Life in 2003, and quickly decided she wanted to be a part of the Lab’s and of Second Life’s growth, taking to dropping note cards on various Lindens, including Char and Philip, encouraging them to consider hiring her.

This happened in around 2005, when she was recruited as a liaison, prior to joining the concierge team, where she was responsible for training Patch. When he moved to set-up the land team, she lobbied him to join the team, where she has a particular interest in supporting non-profits and groups seeking land for events.

Patch Linden started as a Second Life resident, first joining the platform in 2004, and has been a male fashion designer, mentor, and community lead. His efforts with the latter brought him to the attention of the Lab, and in 2007, it was suggested he consider applying to work for the company.

Initially working as a support agent, he worked his way up through the concierge team, eventually becoming the team’s manager. He later moved to the role of Operations Support Manager for a year prior to pivoting away from support entirely and joining the Product group at the Lab, the group responsible for defining the features, etc., found within Second Life. Here he developed the land operations team, which includes the Land Department of Public Works (LDPW) and the Moles. He’s now the Senior Director of Product Operations, a role in which he is also responsible for the Lab’s support organisation.

Dee is wearing one of the new Bento-supporting starter avatars which will be appearing “soon”TM

Recalling the Early Days

The first part of the interview focuses on Patch and Dee’s time before Linden Lab, on-boarding with the Lab: Patch through his men’s fashion business mentoring new starters, Dee through working with hosting events, mentoring new starters, etc. In discussing their backgrounds and joining the Lab, Dee brought up the very early days  of Second Life, mentioning two things in particular those of us with long memories are likely recall.

The first of these was the avatar rating system. Back then, the old-style profile floater (still used by some TPVs) had a tab in it called Ratings, which had five categories in it: appearance, behaviour, building skills, and two others I now cannot remember (age does that…).

These rating categories were open to others to vote on  – so as Dee said, became a kind of “popularity contest” among users (and one that tended to be gamed – “you rate me and I’ll rate you!”).  Ratings could only be awarded once per avatar per category, and cost L$25 to award, the money  going to Linden Lab.

Also recalled was the original means for the Lab to raise revenue – the “prim tax“. This started when Second Life entered its “closed” Beta phase in late 2002 and ran through the “open” beta which started in April 2003. Initially, this saw a fee of L$10 charge for rezzing a prim, with a flat weekly fee of L$3 (I think) to keep an object in-world. Over time, this system evolved to calculating taxes based on each prim’s volume and also its altitude, and with a sliding scale of fees for objects using prim lighting (starting at L$5).

These changes gave rise to the infamous tax revolt during the latter half of 2003, when users who were working to build infrastructure in SL for other to enjoy – communities, roads, event centres felt they were being unfairly penalised against. This revolt in turn brought about the shift in the economic model of Second Life from the “prim tax” to land tax (tier), with the release of version 1.2 of the service, in December 2003 – although this also wasn’t without its own controversy.

A teleport hub, restored and presented at Sniper Siemen’s Second Life 1999 / 2017 – The Story, on display from March through June 2017 (reviewed here)

Patch also discusses the teleport hubs (“telehubs”) and their impact on community and immersion in Second Life. Again, for those who don’t remember, in the early days of SL there was no direct teleporting. Everything was mainland-based, and teleporting was via teleport hubs, with a free payable to LL. These hubs naturally became the focal points for people to build around, so they’d get traffic / an audience. Thus, the hubs in turn encouraged people to hop around the mainland and then go and explore what lay around each hub and get involved in activities they discovered.

He went on to say the Lab may be looking at the surviving telehubs and doing something with them. Whether this means re-establishing the network in some manner than encourages people to use it, or whether it is a case of “restoring” them as museum pieces is something he and Dee refused to offers further hints about, other than in the most general terms.

Selected Q&A Items

Most interesting Challenging Projects To Work On

Patch: There’s PaleoQuest, learning island and social island, I think rank right up there with it; you know, coming from the whole mentor, “I like to help people, I walk in the residents’ shoes every day” perspective that I put on all of our projects, I’d have to say that one’s very important to me.

Probably the Portal Park would be my third favourite … as far as most challenging, I would say Linden Realms. You know, it’s the grandfather of the Experience Keys system [aka “Experiences” today] … it’s basically what experience tools were built upon / along side of or in parallel with, were developed for. We basically set out to say, if we were to try to give people a way to create games or put a gaming engine creation tool within Second Life, what would we do? And out of that was born both experience tools, the tool set and Linden Realms at the same time as demonstrator for it.

The interesting thing about that is, that over all of the years it’s been running it is still one of the most popular experiences, with a very high number of unique visitors daily. And it keeps us on our toes! Again, with ageing content and such, more maintenance tends to go into it to keep it running over time; so we want to make sure it doesn’t break down, and with that, we also have to have the agility to be able to respond to any changes to the tool set that it runs on, as that may occur. So keeping up with all of that over the years has probably been the primary challenge, because just short of rewriting the whole thing or just scrapping the whole thing, we’ve found some pretty interesting ways to keep it going.

Dee: Linden Realms will always hold a very special place in my heart. It was one of the first really big one that I worked on; Linden Homes as well, the originals. PaleoQuest is still my favourite to play, and Horizons, I think, was probably the most challenging of the more recent ones … Unlike Linden Homes, with Horizons parcels you can deed your parcel into your group, and we had to make the mailbox [configuration controllers] and the houses work for the group, where we didn’t have to worry about that with Linden Homes … there are now a few businesses in Horizons, but it is predominantly residential.

Continue reading “SL14B Meet the Lindens: Patch and Dee”

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The art of SL14B in Second Life

SL14B Community Celebration; Inara Pey, June 2017, on Flickr SL14B Community Celebration

Art in all its forms has always tended to be a part of the SL14B Community Celebration, and this year is no exception. In fact, art is well represented, with the familiar four art parcels around the Cake Stage, and further art parcels within each of the exhibition regions, all of which are in addition to the individual art displays to be found among the exhibitor spaces.

In the run-up to the SL14B gates opening, I was able to visit many of the art displays and installations on offer, and while this is not intended to be an extensive list / set of reviews, I thought I’d highlight those I particularly enjoyed visiting.

Illusion by Solkide Auer and Magda Schmidtzau

Location: SL14B Spectacular art parcel.

You’ll need a little viewer set-up to appreciate this piece, but the effort is more than worthwhile, as the installation is a grand demonstration of projected lights and images. In short, set your time of day to midnight and make sure Advanced Lighting Model (ALM) is active via Preferences > Graphics. If the latter gives you performance issues, try ramping down your draw distance (note you do *not* need to have Shadows enabled as well; but ALM is required to see the effects – without it, you’ll just see blank walls).

Illusion by Solkide Auer and Magda Schmidtzau – SL14B Spectacular

Before you step through one of the four Anywhere doors ranged before you at the landing point, make sure you cam up and catch the play of projected lights on the structure. Then when you’re ready, pick an Anywhere door, click it to open it, and click on the exposed wall to teleport up into the structure. The doors deliver you to the various levels, where you can enjoy the marvel of projected images set within individual “rooms”, each group of images offering glimpses of a setting / story.

A clever and vibrant use of projected lights and images, wrapped around an imaginative means of presenting art.

TJ’s Mediamagic – Thoth Jantzen

Location: SL14B Captivate art parcel.

Full disclosure time: I think Thoth is one of the most engaging and imaginative multi-media artists in Second Life; as such, his installations tend to be a must-see, although some caution my be warranted with this one if you can be adversely affected by flashing images and lights.

TJ’s Mediamagic! by Thoth Jantzen – SL14B Captivate

There is a certain amount of set-up to be done to properly appreciate Mediamagic! Information boards provide the full details, but the essentials are: set your time of day to Midnight, make sure you have Advance Lighting Model enabled  (Preferences > Graphics), set media to autoplay, and allow scripts to play media. An information kiosk will also provide you with the information needed to enjoy the installation as well as some gifts from Thoth.  Once you are set, explore, enjoy the use of light and sound, and do make sure yo visit the upper levels (steps and then TP). If you can, be sure to cam  / flycam out from within the build to fully appreciate the play of lights.

Tornado To Oz by Noke Yuitza

Location: SL14B Enchant

Another piece best seen at Midnight and with ALM enabled, this is a beautiful piece in both its execution and its simplicity. Description isn’t necessary – just enjoy.

Tornado To Oz by Noke Yuitza – SL14B Enchant

What is SL Without Artists? – The Dirty Grind

Location: SL14B Beguile art parcel.

While not the easiest environment to navigate at times (blame that on the people teleporting in and out of these busy regions more than anything else), the Dirty Grind’s homage to art – visual and musical – might seem self-centred, but as a community it cannot be denied they’ve done a heck of a lot to promote arts over the years. As such, this retrospective, carrying with it a reminder that SL is unique among all forms of artistic presence / expression, simply because it can instantly and immersively bring people from all over the world together to enjoy a moment of that expression.

CarnivALL Boudicca Amat

Location:  SL14B Wonderous.

“Second Life is a place that allows us to spread the wings of our imagination and let it take flight…” Boudicca tells visitors who enter her gallery space. “Our only limit is our imagination.”

Having a little fun with myself at Boudicca Amat’s CarnivALL – SL14B Wonderous

Within the gallery, Boudicca offers her take on the ideals of carivalesque – the literary style that uses humour and chaos to subvert the more dominant style or approach of a piece – through a series of trompe l’oeil art displays.

This approach to SL art is perhaps most famously exemplified in the works of Molly Bloom (whom I’ve covered extensively in the blog, and offer this link as a reminder of her work). It’s not necessarily an easy art form to bring together in Second Life, but Bou does so with grace and panache. What’s more, she offers a studio within the gallery where you can have a go yourself ! I had fun (with a quick bit of post-processing) in duplicating myself with two of the displays available to visitors, rather than going for a single 3D look to an image 🙂 .

Inside Art by Ginger Lorakeet

Location: SL14B Spectacular.

On the subject of the trompe l’oeil style of art, Ginger Lorakeet has been a part of the SLB scene for as long as I can remember. She’s back this year, once again offering her interactive art pieces – some of which have been seen at past events, others of which are new.

I always like to mention Ginger’s work at SLB events as her art is fun and interactive. Simply find a picture you like, click it, and add yourself to it. With a little camera jiggling, you can grab a photo of yourself in a photo / picture. In addition, this year Ginger offers visitors the chance to fully immerse themselves in a scene.

Masked: Carnevale di Venezia by Catalina Staheli – SL14B Beguile

These are far from the only art exhibits to be found at SL14B, and as much as I’d like, I don’t have the room to go through them all. I would, however, just like to mention in passing Kody Meyers, Anibrm Jung, Catalina StaheliJohn Brianna and Graham Collinson, all of whose work I appreciate, and all of whom are also exhibiting at SL14B. Be sure the check-out the SL14B Art Parcel SLurls and the complete list of exhibitors to make sure you catch everyone.

SL14B: Meet the Lindens

SL14B Community Celebration; Inara Pey, June 2017, on Flickr SL14B Community Celebration

Alongside all of the resident-led events and activities planned to mark SL’s 14th anniversary, one set of events are liable to draw considerable interest from Second Life Users: the round of Meet the Linden sessions hosted at the SL14B Auditorium.

As with recent SLB events, Meet the Lindens will comprise one session a day, from Monday, June 19th through Thursday, June 22nd, and offer Second Life users the opportunity to hear from – and likely ask questions of – Linden Lab staff.

Patch and Dee Linden with Saffia Widdershins (l) and Zander Greene (r) at Meet the Lindens event during SL13B in 2016

This year all of the Meet the Linden sessions will take place between 14:00 and 15:00 SLT, with the schedule lining up as follows.

Day (14:00 – 15:00 SLT) Lindens
Monday 19th June Patch Linden, Senior Manager, Product Operations, and Dee Linden, Land Product Specialist
Tuesday 20th June Landon Linden, VP of Operations and Platform Engineering; Oz Linden, Technical Director, Second Life
Wednesday 21st, June Xiola Linden, Lead Community Manager
Thursday 22nd June Oz Linden, Technical Director for Second Life and Grumpity Linden, Senior Producer at Linden Lab

Again, all these sessions will take place at the SL14B Auditorium.

Revised after realising slight opsie with the dates…

SL14B: Celebrating Second Life

SL14B Community Celebration; Inara Pey, June 2017, on Flickr SL14B Community Celebration – click any image for full size

Second life celebrates its 14th year as an open virtual world on Friday, June 23rd, 2017. This means that once again, the Second Life Birthday Community Celebration is taking place in-world to mark the platform’s anniversary.

SL14B officially opened its gates at midday SLT on Sunday, June 18th, and events run through until Sunday, June 25th. The regions will then be open for viewing for a further week, although there will be no major entertainments or activities during that time. I’ve been fortunate enough to help out in the background for the event, and so have been watching the infrastructure and exhibitor builds take shape, and I have to say that people have really risen to this year’s theme of Carnivaleqsue.

The infrastructure builds at this years events comprise the expected roads and stages – the Cake Stage, Live Stage, DJ Stage and Stage Left – together with the Auditorium build, Welcome Area, Time Capsules display, and Max Mystery Land. With the exception of the Tim Capsules display, each covers between one and two regions (with the Cake Stage centred on its usual four regions), and offer some amazing interpretations of the celebration theme, and I have little doubt they’ll all be seeing a lot of use during the festivities.

SL14B Community Celebration; Inara Pey, June 2017, on Flickr SL14B Community Celebration

For the DJ Stage, Cynimon Catnap offers  a lush forest environment with tall trees and rich colours – and which hides what feels like an entire circus within it. Giraffes offer a welcome, giant carved lions give airborne acrobats the chance to test their skills, while paths wind among the trees, leading the way to carousels, Ferris wheels, bumper cars – and hidden glades where people can escape the inevitable rush. And, of course, topping  it all, literally as well as figuratively, is the DJ Stage, standing atop – what else? – the circus ringmaster’s beautifully adorned top hat!

Facing the DJ Stage across the width of the SL14B regions is the Welcome Area, by Darkstone Aeon. This is intended to be the starting point for visits to SL14B, containing information, Teleport boards, details of scheduled events and more. All this is set within a rocky environment, with an oriental lean to it. Great Chinese-style dragons (always at the centre of festivals) undulate over and through (literally!) the landscape, or stand on high peaks keeping an eye on everything. Follow the steps cut into the rock and the paths and ways carefully, for there is much to see here. Should you grow tired, or wish an alternate view of the region – be sure to take one of the dragon or balloon rides!

SL14B Welcome Area and Teleports; Inara Pey, June 2017, on Flickr SL14B Welcome Area and Teleports

To the south, and between both the DJ Stage and the Welcome Area, you’ll find the Auditorium, once again built by ADudeNamedAnthony. This year we have a design of clean, modern lines which carry within them a hint of Art Deco. Surrounded by broad avenues and bracketed by parkland, the Digital City venue would look at home in almost any city environment. Within it can be found the main auditorium, which will be home to talks and presentations throughout the week, supported by two smaller forum halls.

South of the Auditorium rises the Cake Stage. This is once again another of Mikati Slade’s gloriously colourful and distinctive designs, occupying the central corners of four adjoining regions. It will feature many activities and parties throughout the week including the Lab’s Masked Ball (Monday, June 19th 11:00 13:00 SLT) and Come As You Were party (Wednesday, June 21st 18:00 – 20:00 SLT) – find out more about these two events here.

SL14B Auditorium; Inara Pey, June 2017, on Flickr SL14B Auditorium

East of the Cake Stage, and occupying two regions, is the Live Music stage, designed by Chic Aeon. A curious design, the live stage sits within a mini urban setting which merges glowing building blocks with Monopoly like buildings. Caught in darkness (set your viewer to midnight if your environment doesn’t automatically change), it offers the neon feel of a city, beyond which, when facing the right direction, the glowing mass of the Cake Stage rises.

To the west and a little south of the Cake Stage is Stage Left, designed by Faust Steamer, and while I shouldn’t perhaps have favourites, I have to say it is one of the two infrastructure builds I particularly like at SL14B. Those who recall Faust’s Stage Left from SL13B are sure to be blown away by this year’s design, which again takes a fantastical twist on the carnivale theme for the celebrations, throwing in a Hindu incarnation of Cerberus, together with some Chinese influences.

SL14B Stage Left; Inara Pey, June 2017, on Flickr SL14B Stage Left

The scale of this build is just amazing; to really appreciate it, you have to cam out; to understand the sheer power evoked by it, simply stand next to the teleport dias / pool and look up as the great armoured beast lowers its middle head to look at you. This build also uses a local experience for teleporting – jump into the teleport pool and allow the experience too be lifted to the stage up on the beast’s broad back.

The other build we particularly enjoyed in our pre-opening ramblings and photo-gathering is the Max Mystery Land (aka Community Park), designed by Lim Pikajuna. Occupying a single region at the southern end of the Community Celebration estate, this offers all manner of entertainments above ground, in the air, underground and even under water. A theme park on (and in) a mountain, Max Mystery presents visitors with sky cars, go karts, pedaloes, boat rides, underwater bumpers cars, a disco, a mono-rail – there’s even a chapel!

SL14B Max Mystery Land; Inara Pey, June 2017, on Flickr SL14B Max Mystery Land

In addition to all this comes the exhibitor builds and displays. As usual, these are an eclectic, tumbling mix of designs and expressions, encompassing art in all its forms, promoting communities, commemorating individuals, showcasing skills, and of course offering fun and amusement or opportunities for quiet contemplation. Many have entered into the theme of the celebrations with gusto and imagination, making wandering the exhibitor regions a delight. Some have opted for displays pretty close to previous years’ offerings, and one or two still have yet to learn that slapping textures on prims that reach up into the sky might be eye-catching, but not necessarily in a positive way.

I’ll have more to say on exhibits and art at SL14B in the week. For now, I’ll leave you with the key SLurls – you can find a full list on the SL14B website, where you can also find the celebrations schedule (use the drop-down menu for individual stage, etc., schedules).

SL14B Core SLurls

All regions rated General.