Second Life 13th Birthday Community Celebration has proven itself to be the biggest event of the summer, if not of the year, for all the Second Life residents. From organizers and exhibitors, to performers and interviewers/interviewees, to visitors like us, hardly any active Second Life Resident, regardless of their Second Life occupation, had been completely indifferent to what had been happening there over the course of two weeks.
An event of such a volume requires colossal attention to details – nothing ever goes perfect, but one can try to make it go as close to perfect as possible. That was the task before the organizers of SL13B, and each of us can judge for themselves how well they have carried it out. In the end of the day, the celebration was a great success and (hopefully most) residents had had an amazing time – I know I did. You can judge my experience by the previous post, where I recapped my adventures at SL13B. To me, the things done right in the organization outweigh the things that could use more attention. Nevertheless, for the sake of clarity, I will bring up both sides.
Also, perhaps many things I will mention here have took place in the previous SLB celebrations and therefore are nothing new to those who had been participating in the previous ones – I was not one of those people, SL13B is the first one I paid this much attention to. Therefore, expect the obvious discoveries, and take into account that this is the perception of a fresh attendee, not a community celebration veteran. And of course this is a subjective point of view, and you probably have your own, so be ready to agree to disagree on certain points.
Let us get started!
First, the moments that have contributed to making SL13B so special:
- The celebration starts right at the welcome area, at least during the first week. Friendly greeters, who welcome attendees and point them in the direction of SL13B swag, while dancing and waving the flags, give one a immediate feel of something epic right ahead!
- Separating it into two weeks, different in the character, is a fantastic idea in a sense of catering to different groups of people. First week, with parties all day and all of the night, as well as other kinds of live events, is fantastic for people who love their celebration to be crowdy, noisy and dynamic! But there are people who are not as happy with the crowds right at the neighbouring region, for one or the other reason. Those phlegmatic souls can take a trip around the SL13B regions on the second week, undisturbed by the large parties taking place and enjoying the more tranquil, but still festive atmosphere;
- Making the first week the week of dynamic, lively celebration is a good idea for one more reason. Going straight from a big live event back to daily routine may get disturbing, if not depressing – these are two completely opposite rhythms of second life. Therefore, having the second week to continue celebration, but now at one’s own pace, without a need to hurry up from one live event to another, helps the resident to prepare for the return to the everyday second life;
- Chaotic placement of the exhibits. Frankly, grouping exhibits by categories would make my documenting easier, but if I have to exchange the fun of exploration and discovery of different sides of Second Life for that – I do not want it. Two exhibits on the same theme located next to each other keep a resident locked mentally within that theme. Two exhibits next to each other on the different themes keep the resident’s mind open to not sticking to but one field, and the resident ends up taking interest in some different field as well!
- “Meet the Lindens/Community/Nonprofit/Designers/etc.” events hosted by Saffia Widdershins of Designing Worlds. We may visit their exhibits, but the real appreciation of the work they put into the projects they make and the art they create comes from hearing them talking in person about their second lives, about whatever they create, how they do it;
- Shoutout to all the exhibitors who have turned their exhibits into interactive installations. Thanks to you, SL13B had been a real adventure. Interactivity is what Second Life has always been about. Keep it up!
- Fun accidents with the newbies. One may think that I am being sarcastic here, but I am not! I have watched quite a number of performances and talks at SL13B Auditorium, and now and then, there have been newbies wandering onto the stage, flying over the stage installations, and getting themselves in all the possible fun situations. While it probably was supposed to be annoying, it was enormously adorable instead! It’s like watching children and remembering how one was at their age. We all have been newbies once…
- Lindens crashing, like us mere residents. Enough said;
- Whoever came up with the idea of dragging the Lindens before the live audience should get all the praise in the Grid. As well as being a great magnet to the SL13B auditorium, this had been something the community needed so badly – the feel that Linden Lab has not deserted Second Life, that they care, that they take interest in what’s happening on the Grid. This has been inspirational beyond imagination. This has served as a wonderful reminder for the residents that second life goes on, that Linden Lab supports that life, and there is something to stay on the Grid for.
- (UPD) And how could I forget The Flashback Party! This was so much fun for both Second Life veterans and relative newcomers, when we got to show off our first avatars, and Lindens have been sharing the fun with us as well!
And now, let us talk about several things which, in my opinion, should have been taken care of. This goes to everybody who participated in preparing SL13B: organizers, exhibitors, performers:
- To begin with, there is something I do not think anything can be done about, and that is what the community has to offer at all. People bring to SL13B what they can bring, what they have been doing for most of their time, and therefore SLB can be seen as the public, non-commercial part of the whole Grid in miniature. That is where all the existing over-saturation comes out. While there have been many interesting events, like most of the ones at the Auditorium, most of the events felt generic. We’re having dozens of parties with DJs and live performers every day in Second Life, and we’ve had dozens of them at SL13B. Some performers have added their own touch in their performance, like inviting the visitors to line dance on the stage all together, and a firework show during the party, and playing Hollywood Squares, and maybe there had been something else I have missed – and that was beautiful, that has made their performances memorable. The majority of performers, however, have provided the experience which is hardly different from their everyday one. There are so many amazing live singers on the Grid today, and even more DJs – and people of these professions should not expect to impress the crowd with singing alone, and even more so with playing popular music alone. Bring in the visual and/or interactive component!
- One more point about the events. At least two performing arts troops had been giving away scripted programmes for their plays, attachable as HUDs. I do not know if they had been informed that the attendees are not going to be able to run scripts due to the region settings, but that was exactly what happened. I was not able to open the programme, which had been meant to be read on the spot, not after the show. Therefore, performers, please take note to make sure that scripts can be run by the audience if you intend to hand out scripted programmes. Here is another idea: make one-page programmes that can be simply attached and viewed, without needing to turn pages, or make them in a form of a notecard. Those can be opened anywhere, guaranteed;
- I took a lot of pictures of the exhibits – I took pictures of nearly all the exhibits at SL13B to have many options for illustrating the articles. A lot of spots happened to be quite challenging to photograph. With so many exhibits located so close to each other, all of them so different, in some cases it becomes close to impossible to take a good snapshot of a sole exhibit. I know that I have complimented the random arrangement, and I do not retract that compliment. There must be some other solution. There have been exhibits where the creators made use of dividers. They have been placing transparent walls with an appropriate background on the perimeter of their exhibit, visually separating their exhibit from the rest of the SL13B area. To those who believe that this will feel artificial and out of place, may I suggest placing trees around your exhibit? It turns out that an array of trees tastefully placed is a wonderful divider – many pictures I took at the exhibits with trees turned out great! ((UPD) An example of trees as natural dividers – the picture of the exhibit below. One can spot other exhibits through the trees, but they are not distracting.)
- This one goes to the exhibitors again. A majority of exhibits was there to represent certain communities, creators, locations, organizations and this is what I like about them – because the whole point of the SL13B exhibits, as I said before, is to give an idea what exists out there on the Grid, and for us to continue exploring after SL13B is over. Therefore, it is expected from the communities, creators and locations to link their exhibit to what it represents – usually it is done through some info stand that may hand out info notecards and landmarks. To my surprise, a good number of exhibitors shied away from advertising, and while claiming the exhibit to be a representation of something on the main Grid (through the name/the description of the parcel), there had been no info stand to obtain any further information about whatever the exhibit had been representing. (Not going to point fingers, at least this time.) I am well aware of the “click the object in the Edit mode and check out the object owner’s profile for groups and picks” method, but I find it much less convenient than obtaining the notecard, where all the necessary information is lined up, in one click. The idea that it is the potential visitor who has to make an effort to learn more about whatever the exhibit represents is pretty deterring. Therefore, exhibitors, please do not shy away. It is okay to advertise. We WANT you to advertise. If we got interested in your exhibit, that means we want to learn about what you have got for us on the Grid.
Feels good letting it all off the chest! Organizers, exhibitors, performers, please do not take any of the criticism above personally, but do take notes and pay attention to these moments next year and wherever else you participate. Also, I’m going to say it one more time – the celebration has turned out to be fantastic, and the minor inconveniences remained minor.
So, an enormous THANK YOU to everybody who has made the magic happen!
Stay digitized and carry on!
Got your own opinion to share? That is what the comment section is for!