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Friday, September 30, 2005

REBUILDING BIG EASY

As promised, Linden Lab has loaned out two linked regions for events to benefit hurricane Katrina victims. Appropriately dubbed "Big Easy" and "Biloxi", anyone who joins the in-world group "SL Katrina Relief" will be able to help decide what events to sponsor there. Last I heard, group members have scheduled a meeting this Saturday, with a plan to build and stage a Mardi Gras-style parade through a recreated New Orleans.

What with Hurricane Rita and numerous political scandals now dominating the front pages, it's easy to forget how deep Katrina's damage was, and how much effort it'll take, to get all her victims back on their feet. This would include the family of SL Resident billy Madison, last seen in New World Notes hosting a 9/11 memorial site, in 2004. As reported then, he had just joined the Air Force. Since then, he's served a tour in Iraq, and was at Ramstein air base in Germany, when he got word of Katrina hitting his home town.

Uploading digital photos into the Big Easy, he showed ReallyRick Metropolitan and me the swath that Katrina had cut through his mother's home. "[The house] wasn't half as bad as my Dad's [home]," he tells us, "Which was filled with canal water. Nasty ass canal water. Like you fall in it, you grow another hand type of s***... front of the house was kinda ripped off."

To make matters worse, for awhile there, he couldn't even find his father. "[H]e was missing for a good week. No one could find him. My mother called Red Cross. [The Air Force] sent me home ASAP and then like two-three days after being there, I found my father. Was on the way to his summer home in Texas and got stuck in Baton Rouge. Couldn't get out, traffic and storm." (And no cell phone either.) Other Second Life Residents impacted by the storm are slowly rebuilding their lives too, and I hope to check in with them soon, too.

So the relief effort continues: Contact ReallyRick Metropolitan or Katt Kongo for more information on upcoming projects planned by SL Katrina Relief.

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Thursday, September 29, 2005

ABBATOIR ECONOMICS

A leading virtual currency exchange site decides to call it quits, and the in-world economy feels the churn...

It's sort of like what would happen to the economy if a major commodities exchange suddenly closed its doors. Though if the Chicago Board of Trade up and decided not to deal in pork belly futures any more, I'm guessing it wouldn't adversely impact a French woman who's putting herself through art school by selling virtual fetish wear in an online world.

"Be careful with it when you travel in some drama toxized zones," Kyrah Abbatoir warns me gravely, when she hands me one of her black rubber gas masks. "It's all over Second Life of course, spread like a powder trail." She means the fallout from the recent announcement that Gaming Open Market, the premiere 3rd party exchange site for Linden Dollars, was closing down on October 2nd. "For peoples like me it might even have real life impacts," she says in between the gasping hiss of her breathing respirator. "I depend on my SL funds. I need it to pay my school-- gonna be harder." There are other 3rd party sites that buy and sell Linden Dollars for US$, but to her, none have the utility and freedom of GOM. She runs a brisk Second Life business selling leather suits, stiletto heels, handcuffs, and other bondage gear, and depends on GOM to expedite her tuition payments. "My school cost me around $1600 every two months," Kyrah tells me. "Problem is the school is more or less already paid. They have the bank notes for all the year. But on my side I have to provide the money for these banknotes when they cash 'em out. If I don't, 'big problems'. Banks doesn't like banknotes that have no money tied to them."

Just a sample of the reaction, from street level. On a market level, the news has boosted the value of Linden Dollars from $3.35 for L$1000 to about $3.50, currently.

"Since we announced our intent to suspend trading the exchange rate has, unsurprisingly, gone through a period of high volatility," says Ricky Zamboni, CEO of Gaming Open Market. "It seems now to have settled down at a somewhat higher price level than it has been trading at in recent weeks. I attribute this to the idea of people 'stocking up' on L$ while they can."

The decisions behind GOM's suspension-- and Linden Lab's response to them-- after the break.

According to Zamboni, GOM itself isn't closing, or being put up for sale. 'We've simply suspended Linden Dollar trading," he e-mails me. "We are planning on using the time freed up to be able to develop the platform further... to make the software that runs GOM as flexible and general-purpose as possible." That may include opening their exchange to other MMO currency. "We have several ideas for new markets including, but not limited to, other games," he says.

The decision to suspend operation is at least partly motivated by a recent Linden Lab announcement that a US$-L$ exchange would soon be built into the Second Life website and interface itself.

That would, says Zamboni, "be a major setback for us. They have access to SL users' credit card and billing information, can integrate directly into the client, and have a far greater ability to mitigate losses due to the inevitable credit card fraud that will occur. It's tough to go toe-to-toe with someone when there is such a significant power imbalance."

Many Residents have begged them to stay and compete with this coming internal system, Zamboni adds, "arguing that when launched, Linden Lab's market will only list orders from sellers, and our ask-offer market structure would still have a niche to fill. However, that would only last as long as Linden Lab permitted it, and it's difficult to move forward when your competitive advantage exists solely at the whim of someone who holds such a dominant position."

Before their decision to end operation, Zamboni continues, "We were working to convince LL to adopt a protocol by which an XMLRPC-based order query API would be implemented. This would have allowed users to purchase currency through Secondlife.com or the SL client by pulling 'best price' quotes from any new or existing currency exchanges in real-time, and presenting the quotes to the user, who could then choose whichever she wished. The instant purchase and L$ transfer would have been handled by Linden Lab to keep the user's experience simple, but market making and order listing would still be handled by the users. Unfortunately, the decision was made to move forward with an internal market service."

Reached for his response to Zamboni's comments, Linden Lab CEO Philip Linden, unsurprisingly, sees things differently.

"Clearly because we already have the credit card information, and because most currency purchases will be small or impulsive, competing with Linden Lab on efficiently collecting payment information makes no sense," he acknowledges. "Of course this is the reason why it is so important that we do it-- because it can make the market so much larger by making buying so much easier." Philip Linden believes there are numerous currency and banking related services that Resident-run businesses can still provide, after this. "Things like more feature rich trading systems targeting larger block traders with better stats and more complex order filling and management schemes, better rates for volume, or different payment methods (how about all the international niche payment methods like Premium SMS or other examples like that). There there are advanced services like leveraged options, interest-bearing holding accounts, and so on. The list goes on.

"I think there are a ton of ways to compete successfully with any exchange Linden creates," Philip Linden continues. "Our focus will be to maximize the overall flow by making buying currency extremely simple... It makes more sense to build a feature into the platform that everyone can use (like our new exchange) and move forward, as opposed to unnaturally advantaging one provider."

Regarding the XML features Zamboni enjoined Linden Lab to add, he continues, "We are definitely going to add a set of web APIs that make it even easier to build something like Gaming Open Market or other financial services, or to place and manage orders in our system. It would have taken longer to provide those features, and we didn't want to wait given that a basic system would be adequate to start increasing the overall volume, which benefits thousands of producers of content in Second Life. GOM said they would not put trades into our system unless we created that API first, and we didn't think that it made sense to stop the process. The interfaces themselves make total sense." He expresses a hope that the Second Life community somehow keep Gaming Open Market part of the economy. "We'd definitely support an effort like that in any way that we could."

For now, however, that doesn't seem to be an option. Leaving Residents to guess what will happen to the dollar value of their in-world currency, between the time GOM closes shop and Linden Lab launches its own trading system.

"Once we've left Second Life," Zamboni speculates, "I imagine the spread between buy and sell prices on [3rd party currency] vendor sites will widen significantly. Our existence has meant resellers... have had to keep the buy-sell spread comparatively tight, frequently within 10%-20% or so. When one looks at the buy-sell spreads in other games, they're often close to 100% markup. It wouldn't surprise me in the least to see buy and sell prices of $2.50/L$1,000 and $5.00/L$1,000 respectively in the future. Perhaps once Linden Lab opens their marketplace this will tighten somewhat, but I think in order to really pull that in, a two-sided ask-offer market is needed."

On October 3rd, Zamboni and his partners will make the rounds in Second Life, removing their ATMs from the world. "I'm a firm believer in 'keeping Second Life beautiful'," he says. "When the ATMs are gone, customers can still withdraw any L$ left in their GOM account by using the 'Pay My Avatar' function on our site."

Many Residents consider GOM an integral part of the community. (And they've certainly been indispensable in raising US cash funds for various non-profit fundraising efforts, most recently with Katrina relief.) "We've met some really great people here," Zamboni reflects. "Had some good times. Tried to help the community grow and thrive. Now it's time for us to pull back and work on other things..."

As for Kyrah Abbatoir, as she waits for Linden Lab to launch an alternate trading service, she's thinking about trying to run a real life version of her business. She could suspend her in-world work to create real latex body suits and other fetish wear, and it would probably earn her twice as high an income. She hesitates, however, because "here I make what my heart beat for."


Other thoughts and opinions on Gaming Open Market's closing at the Second Life Herald here and here.

Posted at 06:16 PM | Permalink | Comments (18) | TrackBack

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

THE HIROSHIMA MEMORIAL OF SNAKEKISS NOIR

Re-imagining the unimaginable in an online world...

The tiny Eurasian girl with flame-red pigtails and implausibly enormous breasts greets me at the entrance and bows politely. After pleasantries are exchanged, Ms. Snakekiss Noir takes me through the hell she made, built between her time in Second Life as a landscape architect and her real life as a sex worker serving clients in Japan’s thriving adult entertainment industry.

“[T]his is Hiroshima Garden,” Ms. Noir says. “The reason Hamlet-san I chose a garden is that my normal 'fame' in Second Life is for beautiful tranquil peaceful Japanese gardens and villages. So this is the real view of destruction as contrast.”

Inside her installation is a diorama of carnage, lit by red light and buffeted by black smoke. Built for Burning Life, SL’s annual tribute to Burning Man, Snakekiss created her memorial to mark the 60th anniversary of Hiroshima’s bombing on August 6th.

It is an immersive experience on several levels. It seems like you are standing in the center of the Japanese city, seconds after the bomb blast-- there are buildings ripped apart, walkways choked with smoldering rubble, and near the center, a glowing impact crater. At the same time, it’s also an interactive tribute to Japan’s contemporary artistic response to the bombing—in particular, to the many works of manga and anime that reference the imagery of nuclear destruction. (Pages from these comics are strewn throughout Snakekiss’site, as if they blown there from books caught in the blast radius itself.) “The nuclear theme is a strong one in [Japanese] comics,” Snakekiss notes.

On still another level, it’s a re-imagining of the destruction in terms of traditional Japanese culture. Corpses are represented by Japanese wooden dolls rendered in human size, sometimes with death heads where their faces would be. (They emit a horrific scream, when you touch them.) Ghostly shadows accompany some of these, too, recreating the eerie scorch marks that US military officers found, burnt into the walls and streets, when they first examined the city’s remains— silhouettes of the human form, imprinted as the blast blew through bodies. There are actual ghosts in Hiroshima Garden, too, glimpsed as flickering forms amid the rubble. (Created by Kim Anubis.)

And though she’s Japanese, the explanatory note you’re given when you enter Snakekiss Noir’s Garden takes scrupulous care to acknowledge both arguments on the right or wrong of dropping the bomb. (On the one hand, that it was unnecessary killing of civilians by the tens of thousands, unleashed on a country that was already near surrender; on the other, that it was brutally necessary to save the millions who would surely die, in a final siege on the Japan homeland that unconditional surrender required.)

“There are two sides,” Noir tells me, “like in all things.” For her own part, she believes, “Each side was wrong, each side believed as all sides do that their 'God' was on their side. Each side did what it must and what it wanted. Each side paid the price. No country yet is free of its history of war or cruelty.”

She visited last year’s Burning Life, and when the event rolled around again, noticed that it’d be happening near the 60th anniversary of the bombing. “I was inspired to think this is my statement for Burning Life. It was especially ironic that in the week of making this, my friends in USA had their city near destroyed.” (Only recently, Snakekiss had visited New Orleans.)

“Second Life is a good place to show that,” she says, “being a new world. But like any new world, it is colonized by us humans... we bring with us our fears and weaknesses and problems. Perhaps to show this in Second Life it’s a new possibility even to make one person think differently than normal.” Snakekiss Noir has received many Instant Messages, she says, from people “thanking me for making this. I’ve had people angry at their governments. I’ve had people apologize for their own nations’ past…”

As if on cue, a muscular man with cornrow hair and a dragon tattoo across his chest comes barging into the site, looking for a train.

“This place is great,” Antonio DaSilva announces. “Is this hell?”

“No,” Snakekiss tells him. “This is Hiroshima Garden.”

“Oh my god, yeahh,” Antonio says, glancing around. “OK. Dammmn. This is really a trip, though. I thought we were in hell.”

“In a way,” she tells him, “you are.”

To me, she says: “I hoped also with the recent events people would realize that in fact tragedy is universal. It is not long since 9/11 either. We were the FIRST Ground Zero though, we Japanese. That expression was coined for the nuclear bomb. Where it explodes it was later used for 9/11 site.”

I ask if her if she means to suggest that America was acting like Al Qaeda when it bombed Japan.

“Yeah,” Antonio interjects, confronting Snakekiss. “That’s what it sounds like when you say it like that. See, when you say ‘the first ground zero’, it’s like we [Americans] did the same thing. And it wasn’t.”

“Oh no,” the tiny woman replies quickly. “No connection. I meant that’s where the words came from. The first place to become a Ground Zero was Japanese. Later someone did a similar awful thing on America and caused similar horror.”

“Not similar at all,” DaSilva persists. “We retaliated. They just came.” He laughs. “This is very controversial, I got to say you got balls.”

His angry reaction makes me wonder what her response would be, if the roles were somewhat reserved. “I'm curious,” I ask her, “what do you think your response would be to a Chinese Resident who depicted the Japanese rape of Nanjing [in Second Life]?”

She thinks for awhile. “It’s the work which is assessed and its thought and expression,” she answers. “Someone making a crude exhibit poorly thought out and lacking in empathy on almost any tragedy would find little true response. I believe someone made a cut-out [World Trade Center] building once, and against [it placed a] plane and burning stick men in Second Life, and it caused offense? Did the Lindens not in fact remove it?”

I know the offensive build she’s talking about, a juvenile (and not a very talented) attempt to grief Residents by creating a 3D mockery of the 9/11 terror attacks. But I don’t recall it ever being removed, and I tell her that.

“Yet I believe it would be possible for an artist to make a sympathetic and powerful exhibit about 9/11,” she says. “After all, making a work in Second Life is like being a movie director. One can be an amateur, a tasteless fool, or the SL equivalent of Spielberg. Something with power, empathy and sympathy could be made here of anything.” She nods to the inferno we’re standing in. “I know when I made this, I wanted to make sure it didn’t look... exploitative, shallow or lacking in depth. It had to have... how would you say, 'soul'.

“Virtual worlds have such immense possibilities,” Snakekiss Noir continues. “Such a pity we cannot move into the digital realm when our bodies collapse on us. And preserve our minds and imaginations. Sometimes it’s interesting to me that in Second Life people are often better or more free versions of themselves than in real life. Look at the things and ideas that are emerging [here]… Surely those things will overpower the sad politics and envy and distrust we have also brought with us from first life…

“Perhaps,” she concludes, “That’s what I hoped to show by making this.”

“I have to say, it seems strange discussing such things with an avatar with giant breasts.”

Snakekiss is unruffled. “No more than winged dragons, seven foot bunnies or tiny pandas,” she says. Despite her avatar’s appearance, she doesn’t take her day job in adult entertainment with her into Second Life. “Apart from dressing [my avatar] how I feel I don’t have much to do with that adult stuff in SL.” She looks like a Eurasian Mae West wearing extreme Tokyo street fashions, she says, “‘cos my avatar is made to look like the first life me, and ‘cos I grew up on too much of my hero, Lara Croft.” She describes herself as a gamer since childhood, member of a girl gamer web ring, and a subscriber to many online worlds.

“Yes,” she says, “I’m quite opposite to some in Second Life who work in first life then play at such [sex] work in Second Life. Which I suppose is why in SL I’m a landscaper and artist and Japanese creator, not an adult club owner.”

After arguing with her awhile on the meaning of Hiroshima, Antonio DaSilva stands there in the Garden memorial for a bit, thinking.

“It’s a shame we live in a world where these things even occur at all,” he tells her. “It’s time we looked at our way of handling things. Either we gonna take ourselves out, or GOD is gonna put an end to the sorrow.”

“Well,” Snakekiss tells him, “this provokes many thoughts but the one thing is universal. The suffering and endurance and the recovery of people after disasters.”

“I agree, Snake.”

“Look in fact at Japan now. And at USA. These things do not defeat us.”

Antonio nods. “We do recover, worldwide.”

“We humans recover and rise.”

“But? Do we learn?”

“Ah,” says Snakekiss Noir, “there’s the question I cannot answer.”

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Monday, September 26, 2005

THE ARABIAN PHOENIX OF PSYRA EXTRAORDINAIRE

The Extraordindary Avatar Expo was last month's showcase for some the strangest, weirdest, and most fantastic non-human avatars created in Second Life. Voters at the Expo selected five Residents from 50 nominees, and I'll be profiling them over the next couple weeks...

Psyra Extraordinaire on the inspiration for his Arabian Phoenix

The original inspiration was from a republished story over 100 years old by Edith Nesbit called "The Phoenix and the Carpet"... I'd remodelled it based on various "classical" pictures of phoenixes from the Internet, as they all seemed to carry a few similar themes. Though it's an 'Arabian' phoenix it has a few features from other cultures' renditions of [the bird.]

On building the avatar

The phoenix evolved out of my first bird [avatar], the magpie. In fact, the body itself retained the original shape from the magpie, as did the legs. But the feet, head, tail, and wings, all went through several redesigns, improvements, and add-ons. It's thirteen objects in total, and includes scripts for the animation override, blinking eyes, opening and closing beak, toes that 'grip' when in flight, the flame-ey texture cycling on about 250 of the prims, and the particle flames when in flight. Also includes a custom Away From Keyboard [gesture]-- eyes closed and emitting a wispy trail of "Zzzzzz's", a harmless particle-based flamethrower-like breath thing from the mouth...

Prim-wise, it's at 406! I am not sure how to count the scripts, but I'd say there's about 400-500 total. No fooling-- my scripting knowledge is pretty limited... so my wings and tail, for one thing, have a script in every prim. And since there's a tail and pair of wings for fly AND walk [mode], that's almost twice as many as you see at one time.

The phoenix isn't and never will be sold mostly because the incredible amount of scripts and terribly non-efficient code causes some distress in slower machines (I know this from first-hand experience). Perhaps I'll make a non-animated version in the future that is more client friendly.

On becoming a phoenix

Before Second Life I was generally a dragon type of person, I had always assumed. I drew them, had fun creating them in art, and all that. But a few years ago, I adopted (some may claim this was the other way around) a raven at my old house. To put a long story into short form, I had a [wild mostly] raven that paid visits regularily, about twice or three times a week, every winter... So I got to reading about them and getting to know some first hand stuff about birds. I suppose being able to physically SEE and TOUCH them, rather than just dream about dragons or such, turned me from dragons to birds as my "focus". Discovering how smart they were (Archie knew how to unclasp the screen from my window from the outside and get in if I wasn't home.)

I'm a pretty friendly and gentle person I've been told (I hate fighting, I don't drink, I don't smoke, etc) and figured from the books that's a pretty pure thing. The phoenix is about as pure as birds get, and after reading all the various versions of the legends, I figured it was what I wanted to make in Second Life back in October of 2004. A greeter avatar based on something fantastic, but yet recognizeable, and gentle and down-to-earth. Dragons had been done to death, as did most other animals.

[In SL] I tend to be sort of the "gentle presense", giving out hugs and trying to give folks new to Second Life a feeling that there's a friendly, sociable aspect in here and folks shouldn't judge the whole of SL by what aberrant behavior they may see in the first days.

That, and act all confused and truly baffled when people call me a chicken. I mean, they don't fly, they don't got no tail like this. Perhaps some folks need corrective lenses.

Additional features of the phoenix

[T]he ability to blast solid projectile fireballs... [smiling] though they are not set to push or damage, and only have a 20-meter-range before they die.

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Thursday, September 22, 2005

YOUR WORLD-- YOUR MOVIE

Ask Residents to create a trailer that captures the essential Second Life experience and you wind up with: a catapult-wielding rabbit; a kitten shot from a cannon; a snowman built by a cowboy and his gremlin friend; a brunette in thigh-high boots dancing in the jet spray of a fifty foot water faucet; two brides with two guns, jumping out a chopper in their wedding dresses.

So, you know, pretty much what we expected. They're entries in the Second Life Trailer Contest, and though I helped Linden Lab put the contest together in a non-New World Notes, promotional capacity, each of them provides the kind of cultural sketch I try to write in this blog. (Some may think they do a better job at that, too.)

Here, have a Quicktime-enabled look for yourself:

- Trailer by Elle Pollack
- Trailer by Javier Puff and team
- "Diversity" by SecondTake Productions
- Trailer by SuluMor Romulus
- Trailer by Windswept Productions

Winners are selected by popular Resident vote-- go to Supernova to see the movies in-world, and then vote for two of them at the machine provided (at Supernova 225, 125) by October 8th.

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Wednesday, September 21, 2005

BURNING LIFE '05: THE MAGIC PIRATE CAVE ADVENTURE

Another glimpse of Burning Life 2005-- context here.

Though credited to a very appropriately-named Bourbon Montagne, the pirate ship that floated in the sky in a corner of Burning Life was the project of several creators, and was in fact a classic adventure game in miniature, with quests to solve and a plot to unravel. Team leader Keith Extraordinaire explains its origin:

"When I had applied for the [Burning Life] plot I had in mind doing a huge tropical garden, a garden of Eden kind of rebirth thing. When I got the plot I sent the call out to my friends asking if they wanted to take part and it all snowballed from there.

"I talked to CrystalShard Foo about helping, but when I found she lost her bid for a plot I asked her what she was planning, and it was an easy choice to combine the two ideas.

"There's a mailbox at the beginning of the journey. For some it will just look odd there, but for a few they will get it immediately... as they remember the beginning of the classic old PC text cave adventure game Zork. The whole adventure game idea was to do a homage to Zork...

"The quest is a simple one, seek the three keys and unlock a treasure beyond your imagination. And in the seeking you get to explore the whole build..."

"So now I had plans for a huge tropical garden with a cave adventure. My fellow texture fiend Baron Grayson and I have mused for so long about doing a garden together... so when this came up it was the perfect excuse to drop everything and play. That's when he mentioned the new Relic pirate ship that was just getting off the drafting board and I was instantly sold! It then became the pirate cave adventure. So, Bourbon Montagne got to work and built the ship in record speed.

"I asked my friend Sky Everett to the team... It wasn't a minute after the IM to ask that she was on the empty lot picking textures and yelling, 'Let's get building!' She added all those little touches that are so Sky. The quiet areas that beckon one to linger were hers...

"We had to put the ship in the air due to space constraints, [so] how do we explain that one? Enter our resident bard, Sereine Bard. She took the random things we were all doing and wove a tale of mystery, magic, and love to explain it all, and give the area a sense of real history. It is the one part of the build that really puts it over the expected fare and makes it so much more than just a game.

"What happens to it now?" Keith says coyly, when asked where the pirate adventure will go, once Burning Life is over.

"Well," he says, "I have a sim, Sky has a sim, Baron has a sim... what would you do?"

Created by Keith Extraordinaire, CrystalShard Foo, Sereine Bard, Sky Everett, Baron Grayson, and Bourbon Montagne.

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Tuesday, September 20, 2005

THE WORLD THAT TRINGO MADE

The coolest thing about the latest news on Tringo, the game that altered the entire community of Second Life, then had the non-SL rights sold to a real life media company, and now, is coming to the Game Boy Advance from Crave, publisher of Freedom Force and Tony Hawk's Skater Pro, among many other hits?

The coolest thing is that gaming press announcements of this news credit the developer only by his Second Life name. What's more, both Planet Gamecube and Gamespot even muff that up (Kermitt Quick?), effectively creating a pseudonym from a pseudonym.

I have to wonder if the next Tringo-level phenomenon isn't somewhere to be found among the winners of the SL Game Developer Contest. (Or even, he added coyly, in the next New World Notes entry.)

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Monday, September 19, 2005

BURNING LIFE '05: QUICK TAKES, TAKE 2

Another glimpse of Burning Life 2005-- context here.

From the top down...

- *Stuff* by Aimee Weber

The founder of the *Preen* line of clothing and the SL-specific media celebrity engages in brutal self-parody, imagining a capitalist dystopia in which her brand rules the city, and her clothes are subsitutes for soulfulness. It reads like knowing satire-- which, ironically, probably makes her clothing line seem even more desirable. (Commodifying your dissent while also commodifying your commodity?)

- Jessica Qin's Burning Life installation

Two pyramids with interiors lined by vibrantly colored tapestries, a clock ticking off the time with white runes that float away, and a self-playing chess set. "Since you're frankly the first person to ask," says Jessica, smiling, after I ask what it's all supposed to mean, "I'll tell you something I've not told anyone else: the structure is something of a monument to someone I know (or perhaps 'knew' is a better word)... she's still alive and making a career out of being a trophy wife out East somewhere... time was a Seriously Big Deal to her, in ways big and small. Yet she was always late...

"The symbolism is rather personal and so I'd be surprised if anyone else 'gets' it. But people have fun riding the chess pieces and it's pretty and it was fun to build..."

- Microcosm by Cory Edo

A mobile containing worlds. An exterior view, an interior view. Created with Cadroe Murphy's Shape Maker, a Resident-made development tool.

- Creation Factory by Thundercloud Partridge

A dozen strange beings create the universe before our eyes (while squabbling among each other.) "It was inspired by reading about various movements to apply warning labels to science text books," Partridge telles me. "These labels were supposed to say something like 'Evolution is only a theory'. The genesis of life in the universe is such a complex issue... beyond the ability of humans to understand at this point in our evolution I believe. That making such a real life broo-ha-ha about it seems ridiculous and narrow minded all around. I find the whole issue easier to understand in Second Life... where Linden Lab and the King of Rock and Roll can be the creator of everything."

- SkyGarden Waterfall by Isablan Neva

- Old Time Radio by Weedy Herbst

With audio clips from old radio shows broadcasting from a radio the size of a small building. Details here and here.

- God Switch by Burke Prefect

One flip, and the universe goes black.

Continued from the top down...

- Fertility by Ryntha Sauvage

- Last Night of Summer by Uri Pasteur

- Geodesic Dome by Chandra Page
Inspired by Buckminister Fuller, a physics-ride within a ball bouncing back and forth inside the muscial interior. (Notes played when the spheres strike the dome are from the C Major scale.)

- Embracing Id by Lash Xevious

- Garden Maze by Vlinder Reitveld

- An Escape from Dragons by YadNi Monde

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Sunday, September 18, 2005

FREE LAND FOR KATRINA RELIEF?

A recreation of New Orleans' French quarter, a live music telethon with a 100+ live audience, a Mardi Gras march with avatars made up as floats-- the possibilities are infinite. Springboarding off the gratifying success of so many SL-based Katrina relief efforts (scroll down this blog to see just a sampling) Linden Lab has offered to loan out a multi-simulator plot of 32 to 64 acres for benefits and events to help the hurricane's many victims. If enough Residents express interest, this land will for a time be opened wide to the wildest events that can be conceived on such a vast space.

Details here-- express interest in getting involved (in any capacity) here.

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Friday, September 16, 2005

BURNING LIFE '05: ARCHITECTURALLY SPEAKING

I considered giving a write-up to Tyg Jarrico's strange, rainbow-hued, spherical Burning Life construction, but thanks to Pathfinder Linden's all-seeing eye, I discovered that a professional intern architect who recently created a blog dedicated to reviewing the architecture of Second Life had already done so, and with more eloquent smarty pants vigor than I could ever muster. Take:

The trans-dimensional aspect of this build is reminiscent to me of the slitscan sequence at the end of 2001: A Space Odyssey (sans giant floating fetus, although it wouldn't have been out of place), as one is bombarded with flashes of possible alternative realities, with the orbs acting as architectural skeleton. The monolith is dead. Long live the monolith.

Go thence to read more.

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