SL11B Community Celebration: how was it for you?

Well SL11B has come and gone and the Community Celebrations are over for another year. Sadly, physical world commitments and other things meant that I didn’t actually get any time at all to explore the regions and the events as they happened, so I’ll just have to look to next year.

But that’s my misfortune; right now, there’s an important question to ask: how was it for you?

If you managed to attend SL11B, then the organising team would like to hear your honest and fair feedback. Please take a couple of minutes to complete the form below, or if you prefer, complete it via the SLBCC website, and let the organisers know your thoughts.

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SL11BCC: get ready to party

Loki Eliot's Main Stage at SL11BCC
Loki Eliot’s Cake Stage at SL11BCC – click any image for full size

Note: as per my usual policy, this article does not utilise the SL11B Community Celebration banner, indicating it is a personal piece, rather than any “official” communication on the event. 

The SL11B Community Celebrations get underway at midday SLT on Sunday June 22nd, kicking off a week of music, events, partying and more.

This year sees eleven regions (one for each year SL has been open to the public) full of exhibits, event stages, activities and  – shortly after midday – people!

For those wishing to jump to the quick and start enjoying things, here are the key landmarks, up front:

The Welcome Area, Live Stage and DJ Stage can be found in the southwest, northwest and northeast corners of the SL11BCC regions respectively, with the main stage occupying its traditional centre point, spanning half each of the two middle regions in the cluster.

These are all impressive builds – and kudos to their respective builders: Kazuhiro Aridian (DJ Stage), Aki Shichiroji (Live Stage), Loki Eliot (Main Stage) and Donpatchy Dagostino (Welcome Area, with the time capsule display below it).

Pygar Bu designed the SL11BCC Auditorium, located in SL11B Facilitate, which is a further eye-catching build.

Kaz
Kaz Aridian’s stunning DJ Stage

Given the theme for this year’s event: The Empires of the Future are the Empires of the Mind, all three stages have a decidedly futuristic / sci-fi feel to them. When visiting Kaz Aridian as he was working on the DJ Stage, for example, I felt I wouldn’t have been at all surprised to see Luke Skywalker passing by on his way fix a Moisture Vaporator on the orders of his Uncle Owen. Not that the stage is in any way directly modelled on Star Wars, it’s actually an entirely unique build; it’s just that it put me in that general mindset as I chatted with Kaz.

Aki’s Live stage also left me with an impression of other-worldliness. In the centre is a huge metallic head-and-shoulders statue of a gigantic helmeted figure, hands held outward and palms up to form the stage area. Around this are tall structures with a slightly industrial aspect around them, somehow suggestive of a city on a distant world.

Aki
Aki’s brilliant Live Stage – the giant robot android literally has performers in the palms of its hands

However, there is no mistaking the inspiration for Loki’s Main Stage (calling it the “Cake Stage” this year somehow doesn’t seem to do it justice): dominating the SL11BCC regions sits none other than Tron’s MCP.

It’s an astonishing tour de force of mesh, materials and more – this is one where you’re going to want to enable ALM in your viewer if you can (remember, you don’t also need to enable shadows as well, so the performance hit shouldn’t be too great – allowing for the numbers of people there and your GPU!). It’s also worth having a little play with your windlight settings as well, as the entire build can look even more astonishing under various lighting conditions.

Elevated information highways span the width of the SL11B regions, their arrow-straight lines leading directly into the huge cylinder of the Main Stage as ribbons of data twirl and twist in the air around it.  Step into the Great cylinder and more awaits, as lights play across material surfaces, the central round stage glittering in reflected light. Make sure you look up as well; there’s a remarkable light / data show going on overhead – complete with suspended platforms over the main dance area for the more intrepid dancers. Keep an eye out, as well, for the hidden gifts. After all, a Program isn’t anything without his  / her Identity Disk …

I admit to loving the imagery Loki’s Main Stage evokes when seeing it; so much so that I couldn’t resist having a little fun … :).

If I could insert my Identity Disk into the data stream, would my user get my message? - Having a little fun at Loki's Main Stage
If I could insert my Identity Disk into the data stream, would my User get my message? – Having a little fun at Loki’s Cake Stage

The full list of performances throughout the week can be found in the main SL11BCC performance schedule, together with details of events at the Auditorium. Direct links to the schedules for each stage and the Auditorium are as follows:

You can also find a list of exhibitors at SL11BCC starting here (use the menu to display exhibitors by SL11B region). Oh, and don’t forget the Big Hunt taking place throughout the celebrations.

Should you feel in need of a break from all the hustle and bustle and dancing, many of the individual exhibits in the regions offer places to sit, rest, and contemplate. So too, does the SL11BCC Auditorium, which sits amidst trees and flowers and features winding paths, water and, of course, plenty of seating for the events which will be staged here. In this, Pygar’s design strongly counterpoints the general “busy-ness” of the rest of the regions, forming something of an oasis within the crowds, so to speak.

The SL11B CC Auditorium by Pygar Bu
A part of the SL11B CC Auditorium by Pygar Bu

While 11 regions may well sound a lot smaller than the previous SLB events, it doesn’t mean there is necessarily less to see in terms of creativity and diversity of exhibit builds. I’ve barely had a chance to scratch the surface of things (and I’ve been sort-of helping-out “backstage”, so have had many opportunities to drop in on the regions!). I will say, however, that I’ve already found one or two personal favourites, and  – time allowing – I hope that over the coming days I can bring you shots of the builds I’ve particularly liked, and why they appealed to me.

So, with things ready for the off from midday on the 22nd, and running through until Sunday June 29th (although the regions will be around after that date, just without any performances, etc.), it only leaves me to wish Second Life a happy 11th anniversary, and to leave you with a brilliant preview video by Pallina60 Loon.

Facebook and contests: the Lab comments

Following this and other blogs picking-up on the SL11B photo contest the Lab announced yesterday and the fact that it may be off-putting to some SL users (see: Lab launches SL11B L$10,000 photo contest), Pete Linden (Peter Gray, the Lab’s Director of Global Communications) posted the following comment on why Facebook has been used (which he also posted to Ciaran Laval’s blog):

 We realize that a number of Second Life users have reservations about using Facebook and other platforms. In this case, we chose to run the contest through our Facebook page simply because we have a tool on our page that facilitates running a contest with all of the legal stuff (technical term) we need in place to run something like this, and we thought it would be of interest to the more than 366,000 followers of the official Second Life page. Our aim certainly isn’t to discourage participation, and we’ll certainly explore alternative ways to run similar contests in the future.

The issue of “the legal stuff” is actually something I mentioned in my original post when ruminating on using alternatives such as Flickr, pointing out that “ensuring T&Cs are read might be a little harder.”

Given that the Facebook approach requires that people at least click-through the T&Cs prior to entering a contest does make the Lab’s position somewhat understandable. It doesn’t matter if people read them, the fact that they’ve clicked through them absolves the Lab of a degree of potential nastiness after the fact if someone decided to get severely upset (probably unlikely, but the kind of thing lawyers are paid to worry about and mitigate). Truth be told, a link on a Flickr group doesn’t provide the same level of in-your-face immediacy.

I did also flippantly mention the visibility aspect as well – particularly if a fair proportion of those 366,000 followers on Facebook aren’t active SL users. I’ve actually no problem with this; if the contest increases SL’s visibility among non-SL users, then so much the better. Particularly as we’re all pretty much agreed that SL needs more positive advertising, and a fun-looking competition among users does look and feel positive.

Nevertheless, it would be nice to see competitions like this, which are not constrained by external considerations (as was the case with last year’s Dell Alienware competitions), to be put forward in a way that encourages SL user participation, rather than potentially discouraging it. In this, it is pleasing to hear that the Lab is taking the feedback onboard and will seek alternatives for the future.

My thanks to Pete for providing the feedback.

Lab launches SL11B L$10,000 photo contest

SL11B contest
(image courtesy of Linden Lab)

On Tuesday June 17th, in the run-up to the SL11B events across the grid, the Lab has launched a birthday themed photo contest.

The blog post announcing the contest reads in full:

Starting today, you’re invited to take part in the Second Life: Celebrating Your Second Life Snapshot Contest, in honor of 11th Birthday of Second Life.

Participation is easy – submit your celebratory snapshots from inworld to the contest page on our Official Second Life Facebook Page. Click the contest tab, review the contest information and rules and start sharing. This year you will be able to submit up to one snapshot a day for the duration of the contest. Full rules, submission and voting dates, and details are all on the Facebook page.

Looking for some inspiration for pics? Then drop by Hairy Hippo Fun Land to grab your Limited Edition SL11B Robot Avatar. You can also get your free avatar off the Marketplace.

Browse the SL11B category on the destination guide to see what the community has planned to mark the event inworld.

Don’t forget that the Resident-driven Second Life 11th Birthday Community Celebration starts this coming Sunday the 22nd. Visit their website for the latest information.

You only turn 11 once, and we can’t wait to see what kind of celebrations and fun you create and share!

It is a shame that the Lab once again opt to use Facebook as the medium for a contest; doing so effectively slams the door on the contest for many who might otherwise take part, but who have no wish to be a part of the great Facebook machine.

Given other options are available which are not so controversial, it’s a shame that the Lab doesn’t give thought to them when running contests of this kind. Flickr, for example, would seem to be a suitable alternative. It already has a very large SL community, and establishing a group for competition entries isn’t exactly labour intensive, although ensuring T&Cs are read might be a little harder. People might also be more inclined to sign-up to Flickr if they don’t already have an account.

Of course, Flickr probably doesn’t get the same kind of visibility among non Second Life users that the SL Facebook page gets, but for the sake of encouraging more users to take part in something of this nature, does that really matter?

SL11B: Lab issues limited edition avatar

Second Life’s eleventh anniversary is a fast approaching – as if you needed any reminding! And in keeping with last year, Linden Lab have entered into the spirit of things by giving away another celebratory avatar.

The SL11B celebratory robot avatar
The SL11B celebratory robot avatar (via Linden Lab)

SL10B saw the Lab offer a large, materials-enabled bear to residents. This year, it’s a robot, and it comes as a rigged mesh avatar supporting fitted mesh. Also in keeping with 2013, it appears to be the first in a series of surprises coming from the Lab during June.

The blog post announcing the offering reads in part:

This robot is sleek and ready to explore the landscapes of Second Life. Made with Fitted Mesh, you can put your own stamp on this android by playing with some of the shape sliders. Just make sure you’re upgraded to a Viewer with Fitted Mesh enabled. There are two ways to get your robot – pick it up inworld at Hairy Hippo Fun Land in Bay City or just visit the Marketplace.

I have to say the little fellow (he is around the same height as the female mesh avatars supplied by the Lab) is rather cute and, in difference to the original release of the mesh avatars (which were updated today!), he does have a modifiable base shape, so can the height and shape can be adjusted using the supported shape sliders.

While it’s always controversial, given that AOs are very much a user creation and a part of general commerce within SL, I still can’t help but feel the Lab could also provide a very basic AO system with items like this – not everyone is liable to have robot-specific AOs in their inventory, so providing one with a basic “robot-y” walk and standing pose wouldn’t go amiss. It might even encourage people to wear the avatar more and go out and purchase additional walks and poses to add to it. But that’s just a very minor point. As I said, the little fellow is rather cute.

A closer look at the robot avatar
A closer look at the robot avatar

Elsewhere in the blog post, the Lab again references the SL11B Community Celebration, and give a reminder to all who are planning SL11B celebrations of their own to make sure they  submit it for inclusion in the special SL11B category of the Destination Guide (use the “Misc” category when submitting the form and indicate the event is for SL11B in the description). For those who prefer, they can send their entries for the Destination Guide via e-mail to: editor@lindenlab.com, and using “SL11B” in the subject line on the email.

Prim Perfect asks what makes a strong SL community, and wants to hear from you

We talk a lot about community in Second Life. It’s a concept that touches on many areas, be it the locations and people where we opt to establish a virtual home, the role-play or other groups where we spend much of our in-world time and a part of what keeps us logging-in.

Community touches on many different aspects of discussion about SL, from how the platform is promoted to the world at large, through new user sign-ups  and user retention through to possible directions the platform and Linden Lab should take to achieve and maintain real growth for SL.

Now Prim Perfect wants to hear from you about the topic and concept of community in Second Life, with a view to exploring feedback as a part of the Prim Perfect interactive installation at the SL11B Community Celebration.

The Prim Perfect pavilion under construction at SL11BCC
The Prim Perfect pavilion under construction at SL11BCC

Whether you have views on how SL should be advertised or on matters of user retention, the training which might be given to new users – or both of these together, Prim Perfect would like to hear from you.

Most of all, they’d like to  explore what “community” means to you: what is important about SL? What keeps you logging-in? What type of community would you like to live in? What do think a community in Second Life needs to remain vibrant?

If you’d like you views to for a part of the installation, please complete the form below, reproduced here on behalf of Prim Perfect (note you are not limited to the size of the text boxes when responding to the questions).