I tell you what I’d miss about SL…

My blog.

That’s all.

Well, sort of.

You see I had this post planned a few weeks back when I was totally pissed off with SL. Since then I’ve had a new surge of fun and joy from being in-world – I’ve started writing again, I’ve actually built something, ideas are tumbling out of me and I have even found a work-around for the still fucking annoying snapshots-to-email bug(1).

But back then, in the Dark Weeks when I seriously did not want to log in, I got to thinking about what I was in SL for. What made me log in? Could I identify what I wanted from a virtual life and could I then find somewhere else to get it?

At the time several of my friends were having a rough time in SL. Osprey & Eladrienne were just two old hands among many who were finding, for various reasons, either more fun elsewhere or not enough in SL. It looked for a while as if a exodus of people I had ‘grown up’ with was about to start.

Things have calmed down but in that time I was thinking about what kept me in-world. Yes there are my friends, but I can keep in touch with them outside of SL as we all have email, Flickr, YouTube, blogs, twitter, facebook and therefore SL is only one of many ways I can be with them. What then about the things that have kept me in there in the last couple of years? The exploring stopped a year or more ago, I ditched my island months ago, even the show can no longer go on as it once did and none of these things seemed important. So what was it that was keeping me in SL? Try as I might I couldn’t answer that seemingly simple question until I shrunk it down to its bare, obvious minimum.

What would I miss if I never logged in again?

Now given that friends don’t count because even though I would miss them, I’d still be in touch with them, I suddenly realised there was one simple, honest answer.

My blog.

That’s what I do SL for. Something to post about. I love blogging, but need something to blog about. Without SL I was facing a very uncomfortable question. What would I write about? And that really shook me…

Now as I say, the things pissing me off about SL have lessened a little and I’ve found the time & energy to write and build. I’ve had tons of stuff to blog about and I’m happy again but the fact remains that, for me at least, SL is a sort of creative trigger for my writing, whether that be creative RP or just self-indulgent comic bollocks & waffle.

So maybe the question isn’t “What other world can replace SL for me?” and instead maybe it’s “What else do I find creatively inspiring enough that it makes me want to blog about it?”

But that, dear reader, is another question I have to ponder. For now I’m enjoying RPing in Steelhead, which constitutes about 99% of my online time now, as it is providing me with bags of stuff to write about. If that ever dries up then I’ll know it’s time to move on and look for something new – whether that will be in or out of SL remains to be seen.

(1) I save them to HD. Yes, many people told me to do this to get past the bug and I have ended up doing that, but I still maintain it’s not my preferred choice. I have to upload my emails to flicker now, an extra step in the chain I never had to think about before, but hey ho… at least I can do one of my favourite things in SL again 🙂



    1. Heh, yup. I think that as LL continue to ‘dumb down’ to attract more paying newbies in, more and more established people will look elsewhere for the creative stimulus they once had. I feel sorry for LL – they are locked into a business model that will in many ways alter what made SL so great, but that’s what happens to the hippy dreams of a utopian commune in the cold light of day when someone asks “who’s going to pay the phone bill, guys?” 🙂

      If living through forty years capitalism has taught me anything it is that I need feel no love or loyalty to an organisation who considers me a number. This is how I feel about the Lab. The Lab seems incapable of caring about people, only balance sheets. I understand this. I’m not bitching. They are no different than Tescos (or whatever your US version is). They have shareholders. They have bills. We are just revenue-generating abstracts. I can love SL and have a great time in it, but I can not allow myself to believe it is anything more than a transient accident of fortune that I came to wander into a place where I’m a walking wallet and nothing more.

      One day, maybe soon but more likely not-so-soon, my time with SL will end. The reason or reasons will be immaterial; maybe LL will piss me off royally, maybe they go under or maybe I simply find something else to occupy my limited time – it doesn’t matter, all that will matter is that one day I’ll leave SL and not come back and LL will not care in the slightest. And if they don’t care, how can I? All I can do is make my time here as fun as can be and ignore the Lab as much as possible. Nothing else makes sense. Fighting them like Prok and others do, well I don’t see the point. And that’s not a matter of “it’s their world they can do what they want”, more me being honest about my relationship with their world. I use it to write this blog. My main focus will always be this, or rather *a* blog so in many ways the question of the Lab’s loyalty to me and my loyalty to them is as pointless as the age old chicken & egg question.

      The only difference is that I could be loyal to them, but to do so would require them to change so fundamentally as to be unthinkable. And who knows, maybe what I want from them would render them unviable as a company and therefore would mean they’d never progress past being a niche product. Who am I to stand in the way of their progress? It’s not like they are bulldozing babies into ditches, are they? Just trying to make more money, keep people employed, live their lives.

      SL isn’t my utopia, but it’s all there is on offer. For now.

  1. We’re in general agreement about this, HBA.

    In one of life’s little coincidences, there was a (non-SL) blog post last week on the topic of “what Google owes its users.” The thrust was that someone had a bad customer service experience with Google, but gee, that might be because the service is free, and what can you expect if you’re not paying anything?

    I replied that this was looking at it the wrong way. Google (and LL) are in the business of making money. Just because they’re not charging YOU directly doesn’t change that fact. Like any business, their continued success depends on pleasing enough customers – certainly not everyone, but enough to keep the business model viable.

    I’m with you that it does no good to complain that LL’s current business model isn’t one that maximizes our enjoyment of SL. I admire people who fight the good fight and try to get LL to change for the better, but I don’t have the time or energy for that fight. I don’t understand their current business model, which seems to minimize the importance of the RP community, among others. It seems to me that SL is a good platform for people like us, and not so good a platform for serious businesses – why would, say, DuPont want to hold meetings in a virtual world where the employees can’t even log in under their real names, and where a giant penis – or even a cursing, gun-slinging woman in Western gear – could wander through? Then again, I don’t know their business or their technology very well. Maybe they have a good plan after all, and I’m the one mis-analyzing things.

    So yeah, don’t be mad at SL’s shortcomings, or LL’s apparent indifference to you and me. Their role is to make money. Ours is to spend our leisure time in pleasant ways. Enjoy what they have to offer until someone offers you a better deal.

    One of the things that keeps me coming back is being able to interact with interesting folk anywhere in the world, including an Ozzie with an extraordinarily eclectic music collection, an opinionated polyamorist from the U.S. West Coast, the aforementioned gun-slinging woman, and a certain Tesco shopper. 🙂

    1. Hi Rhia – sry about the delay in replying 🙂

      I’m determined to simply enjoy my online life no matter which world it’s in. I read Prok’s post about the Woodbury/w-hat lot being booted out (like permabans work, heh) and it flat out depressed me. All that energy expended by all sides just arguing. What they’ve done to Prok in tha past is horrible, but it is all just a waste of energy.

      So I’ll stick with LL & SL for now, but as soon as someone shifts Steelhead out to OS I’m gone. I’ll vote with my feet. Or wallet. You get the idea 🙂

  2. http://arianeb.wordpress.com/2010/04/25/why-open-sim-is-the-future-metaverse-and-why-it-is-not-the-present/

    Nice. Thanks!

    “The development of a 3D web requires the ability to move from grid to grid, and from host to host.”

    Makes a lot of sense. I’ve played around with Reaction Grid some but not OpenSim yet. I hope prim based content creation sticks around… I’d miss it.

    But again my main problem is computer power presently. I can’t even navigate one grid presently, yet alone a number of ’em (!)

    I’ll miss the exclusive SL geography/mythology as well.

    1. Hi Baker,

      It does make a lot of sense, doesn’t it. If you look at the Cobolt video (Cobolt Grid? I forget the name) they show you opening an internal browser window object that leads seamlessly to another world – just open & walk through. It’s such an obvious and cool method that I want it in SL for internal TPs NOW!

      Also I know what you mean about building – there is something raw & gripping about dropping lego blocks down live in front of you, something I don’t get from Google SketchUp. Having said that, I’m not really a builder, so will have to adapt to whatever builders develop – I’m sure there willl always be an easy version for novices like me… I hope! 😀

      I cross-posted this article link to the Steelhead forums and one interesting point made was that SL, Reaction, OS, etc. are all unsuited to mobile devices and it’s these that will help drive forward a wider adoption of virtual living and a 3D web. Some one will have to make some serious in-roads into that problem I think.

      As for your point about the history & mythology of SL, I totally agree but at the same time those memories can come with us and will be enhanced by the trip over to new, fresh pastures 🙂 The only problem I see right now is the the OS type places are still just a playground for techies – the artists & storytellers have yet to move over. Until Caledon was built by one man, there were no Caledonians…

      hba/rb – sent from my phone ***********************

  3. “As for your point about the history & mythology of SL, I totally agree but at the same time those memories can come with us and will be enhanced by the trip over to new, fresh pastures”

    Right, good point. I get really surprised by what people focus on in Second Life. For me, avatar appearance is looow priority, while others really pay attention to that. Instead I focus on the terrain and environment and geography… always have tree rendering set high and avatar rendering low in graphic preference settings, for ex… rather be surrounded by Linden trees than avatars and rather be in a place of beautiful, natural-type surroundings that a dance club.

    (oh, btw, I’m getting a new computer!)

    I’ve also decided (or discovered what perhaps most oldies know already) that SL is really about the size of a small city, population-wise, if you count only those that log in every day. Say 20000 (?). Most of those are out on the islands and not bouncing around the mainland continents, as I usually do. A place I “live” on the edge of now, Chilbo, although a highly respected mainland community — outside of special events — may have 5 or 6 avatars roaming around it at any one time. Hardly a comparison with a rl community of even a few 100 permanent souls. In saying this, I understand, though, that there are advantages to a virtual community over a rl one as well. But people are not *living* there, is my point or one of them.

    And if you move into Reaction Grid and OS — those are really empty, obviously. No comparison to even SL in population. I felt no emotional attachment to Reaction Grid, unlike even for an empty Nautilus City before the land auctions, say. It has no hold on me, but for some reason SL mainland, and before it Azure Island and also Otherland (both now sold, and with the largest island of each now being hacked away by new, non-original owners – the islands closest to continent-size, in other words) did or do.

    So, yeah, we have to have the tie-in eventually to this 3d web environment and grid connectivity, in whatever shape it forms, just to keep things “fresh” and as we move away from the Rosedale origin and personal vision for virtual reality. But what is good about exclusiveness, lying more and more in the past? And what will be good about future inclusiveness that is obviously on its way? For SL, I mean.

    On a personal scale, this is what I’m trying to figure out. I think a lot of it is about group energy. To create a mythology, at least from my perspective, you have to tap into a group consciousness of some sort, largely unconscious but still with the ability to mold and shape, just as you could a physical piece of marble to create or “unleash” a sculpture within. This seems to involve tracing the shape within through points of connectivity, like a game of connect the dots. I’ve identified Chilbo as having such a locus, but there are others. SL, because it is quite small really, still has a high pliability factor in comparison to the world at large. In a group manner, observer can be more clearly identified as affecting observed, it seems. Working theory.

    Didn’t mean to go on and on about that! Too much caffeine. Thanks again for the reply. 🙂

    1. Hi Baker – sry for the delay in replying 🙂

      I think you’re right about group creativity being a key. The one thing that stops me going OS is that there is no Kahruvel or Nova Albion or Steelhead… yet. They will come, but when? Who knows. Soon I hope.

      One thing I really hope is that the Steelhead owners figure out how to take the city I love out of SL & onto private servers – that way we get to keep the jointly created mythology & RP fun, but at a much lower cost!

      My SL is 99% based around 1 or 2 places and always has been – in effect I’m paying for stuf I have no interest in, will never use or visit and have no stake in. Being on OS might mean I’m no longer conected to the rest of the grid, but in a way I’m not when in SL… I’ve come to realise my SL does not have to be SL 🙂

      p.s. Congrats on the new PC!

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