Art and Exploration, Second Life

Rezzable, Rezzable Let Down Your Hair

I remember early days in Second Life and discovering Svarga and feeling, wow, this is POSSIBLE, there’s more to all this than misaligned prims and clubs, there are artists, and realms of possibility, and sure, even a little ecosystem, emergent environments, flowers that grow and bees that pollinate and I wonder what ELSE is possible.

Fast-forward a bit and I found myself waiting, along with all the other dot-watchers and for the arrival of the swarms that would come via CSI New York, and while the Electric Sheep folk claim that it was a success, there was a feeling of anticipation that wasn’t quite delivered - neither the numbers nor the grid failure from the inrush of new residents. I remember visiting the CSI sims and wondering how I’d react if I were a new user to all the CISCO signs and arrows on the ground and big neon banners that almost screamed out “THE MURDERER IS HERE” but had to give credit for big clear signs and an attempt at a different kind of orientation experience.

But it sure didn’t feel like enchantment or wonder, and the story was all packaged up with a little bow, and overall there was a sense of both relief and worry - if network TV couldn’t get people off their couches, then what could? And what next? Was Second Life doomed to grow older, less wondrous, filled with academics and empty commercial sims?


I want the magic back.

And I want to believe that the failures of the big brands in SL aren’t just being substituted by a lot of Open Sims and people wondering why their cheap little islands are so lagggggy (did they really think that splitting a sim 4 ways was going to be the same?), or replaced by a lot of university campuses, (sure, it’s academia who thinks through some of the tough stuff, and there’s more room for failure, but even the educators are aware there’s other options).

I want the magic of Svarga. Or the time I visited what was then Black Swan to swoon at Starax’s (oops, sorry, what’s his name again now?) ballerina, the feeling in the air, the mood, the art, the music (this is before he put up his blot in your face box in the sky with the creepy images).

I’ve taken a look around at some of the other grids, and for all the woe-is-me end-is-near doom-saying about Second Life, it still has magic, and all these other worlds are a long way off from having the depth of tools, content, best practices, insight and talent embedded in those groaning asset servers over in California or wherever.

Because Second Life is a story box. And while you can parse and divide up virtual worlds based on their usability or performance or concurrency or whatever you like, there’s very little that matches the range of expression possible in the little creaky grid some of us call home.

Bettina has me all a-tizzy, with her gorgeous art-slash-spin-primming-slash giant sandbox over on some Rezzable sims, a giant mash-up of paradise, the hell and the hereafter, what will surely be a chaotic landscape of floating trees and sculpted birds and all to be wiped away, I understand, like some giant mandala, how beautiful is THAT?

And I won’t digress and get off into how art is a hint at future tools for visualization or collaboration, or how there’s immersive and then there’s just art for the sake of it, I’m looking for the impossible here so that we can come back to what’s needed and what’s possible with fresh eyes.

And I want Rezzable to let down its hair and let us all into the fantasy that without CSI we’re far better off, that they’re up to more than just date sims, they’re looking at building environments with a deeper engagement….and I want to know what it is and how it rolls out and what next.

Because it’s time for some leading lights again, radiant hills and swooping textures. It’s time for a few new tools for telling stories that don’t involve land barons or land markets swamped with open sims, or worries about copybots, we’re moving beyond all that, it’s time for the guild halls to gather, and the giant guild that Rezzable has going to send out the messengers and blast horns from the hills.

All right - I’m off on a rant maybe. A little fantasy. But let’s face it, we’re either headed for doom and the grid is slowly crashing sim by sim, and the weight it’s groaning under is misguided policy, leaky code, and an asset server that should be sent out to the Sheep’s pasture. OR, we’re about to move up a level or two, up past a house on the beach and what we’re really getting ready to do is redefine the Second Life economy around experiences instead of linked prims.

It’s time to stop just showing and start sending out some beacons for the rest of us. Some sculpted prims and a Garden of Delights will go a long way in convincing the people like myself who stayed in SL because of Svarga, or because of Starax….but what goes further is a feeling that it underpins a deeper vision of what next. Because surely we’re not finding it in Linden. And as much as we mope and pine about the land market, it doesn’t seem like the overlords particularly care. And as much as “education and collaboration” is the next thing, a lot of those folks are decamping for Wonderland and Open Sim.

So we turn inward and look for a few hints of people who see a roadmap of their own, and wonder, and wander, and hope that someone has a clue or two, because there’s enough evidence that there’s a lot of heart and passion and talent and a few boundless dreams, enough to go around at least.


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