Monday, February 9, 2015

A Visit to Linden Endowment for the Arts 17

The Greatest Story Ever Told—The History of Second Life™ 1999-2015

By DrFran Babock

Perception is Everything

Over the years there have been numerous displays that covered the history of Second Life. It’s hard to deny that SL was and is something new and different and completely different. A lot of the past has been destroyed and built over, but the facts remain, and they chronology of this virtual can be laid out. What differs in each presentation that has been created is perspective and viewpoint. Different displays have focused on different aspects of the evolution. This is perfectly understandable. At the risk of getting too philosophical, it has to be said: The way in which a person sees things is clearly their truth and their reality.

Marianne McCann’s Second Life Tenth Anniversary (SL10B) build ( ) focused a lot on the early days. There is hardly anyone around who has a bigger collection of SL memorabilia than Marianne, nor anyone who can speak to it with as much eloquence.

That said, there is yet another display now that focuses on the history of Second Life™, and it opened February 8th on the LEA 17 sim. It is the work of Sniper Siemens, who had attempted this challenging task once before on very short notice in LEA6 last year and was determined to try again.

I ran into Sniper, perched on an interesting armchair at the entrance to the installation, and she told me that she was very pleased with how this year’s version had turned out.

What about perception? Well, I found that a lot of the time, as I walked through this amazing installation, that I thought I might not have covered things the same way. Everyone loved the Greenies, but Sniper spent a lot of space covering them. It could have been that she had a lot of content from that time, but I can’t really know.

From 1995 to 2015

I loved the intelligent design of this exhibition. There is a definite path (a beautiful stone walkway that has outstanding specularity, created by Kriss Lehman of Botanical) that meanders from 1995 to 2015. The specularity is important, because it adds to the overall look of the build. As I wandered from year to year, the gleam on the ground and the trees that surrounded the paths created a sense of unity that was artistic at the same time that it decreased some of the confusion that often occurs when trying to get the sense of a large installation.

I won’t spend a lot of time covering the individual exhibits, because I just noticed that genius writer and blogger Canary Beck has discovered this gem of a build, and will focus on the history details and the quiz contained on the sim. ( )

What I Noted

The installation is a knockout for those of us who love and appreciate the history of this virtual world. One thing of note: If you don’t like to read a lot when visiting, you will miss a lot. There are many signs with a lot of writing on them. I don’t know how to get around this, when there is a detailed story to tell, but I am not sure many will stop to read unless they want to complete the History Quiz.

The only other comment I have is that Sniper is a good builder. Her mesh seemed to add a lot to the build, especially when there is not a lot of 3D content about the early days. 

For anyone who has ever built a history build (as I did for SL10B and SLL11B) the big problem is always how to represent residents, because the human/furry, etc. form has a high land impact. Sniper’s solution was to use these bean type cartoon characters along the paths to represent the human aspect of SL. They added color, and another level of uniformity to the build, but they didn’t really seem to be part of SL history, so they struck an incongruent note to me.

What I Loved

It is clear that this build is a labor of love, and that Sniper poured her soul, and her time into its creation. I especially loved the Linden Lab San Francisco build, and the silliness around the Zindra build.

This build is a must for anyone who wants to learn about the history of Second Life™. Sniper had a vision for creating this history, and it is accessible and understandable.

The build focuses a lot on the financial aspects of the history, and for me, it provided a revelation. I never knew that the “haptics” equipment that is now becoming so popular with the current virtual reality craze, was actually the catalyst for Phillip Rosedale to create Second Life™. The Rig, as its called, supposedly still sits in boxes in Linden Lab.

There is a great display for those of you who don’t remember a time when Burning Life was very much a part of the culture. I have always thought, along with many others, that Phillip Rosedale was trying to create a virtual Burning Man when he first envisioned Second Life™.

The Greatest Story Ever Told—the History of Second Life™ 1999-2015 will run through the end of May of this year on LEA 17, allowing you plenty of time to learn about what came before, and what might come in the future.

LEA 17:

DrFran Babcock

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for your kind words, the link to my quiz, and for spreading the word about this fantastic exhibition!