Interview – Sakai Openlife (Openlife founder)

As we reported earlier this week, Openlife is a promising new alternative grid to Second Life. Its founder, Sakai Openlife (RL: Steve Sima) is based in Brisbane and we caught up with him via Openlife’s Live Chat for a discussion on everything Openlife.


Lowell: Sakai – Openlife came out of the blue for me but it’s obviously been a labour of love for you – can you give a potted history of how Openlife came to be?

Sakai: Sure, we kicked things off approximately four months ago and clearly had to do a lot of work to understand a workable solid method to approach it. Number one has always been and will be the Users. So with this in mind it has been quite a colourful ride trying to foster the community together and maintain the best user experience we can with the code available.

Lowell: what made you start this huge undertaking?

Sakai: Well, I’ve had a passion for 3D interactive platforms for ages and my background is IT infrastructure. So to provide a solid platform being feature rich and extensive for different uses is most certainly up my alley. After following the OpenSimulator project for a while I took the decision to make the plunge and start treading the water with the OpenSim Application Platform – Second Life had some big drawbacks for me.

Lowell: I’m assuming you’ve used Second Life extensively prior to this project? What was it about Second Life in particular that you wanted to improve on?

Sakai: Some towards content creation and development of content and some towards the user experience. Second Life itself I see has been hugely popular with its social interaction and it’s a great environment to see this in action. They have been pioneers in this area for years but to have an open source platform where as a company you could develop very feature rich immersive environments and provide them to users is something that Second Life falls short on in my opinion, but the potential for this to happen with the Openlife Grid & OpenSimulator Codebase is very much a possibility.

Lowell: What areas do you specifically see Openlife having advantages in?

Sakai: One thing we are keen to see in the near future is the ability to content create and develop a region on your local environment ie. home PC or workplace network then export that entirely to a published region existing in the Openlife Grid.

Lowell: So, fully offline region-wide content creation?

Sakai: Correct, exciting isn’t it. This can bring in the quality of in-world environments to a whole new level.

Lowell: I can see that would get a lot of people excited – is that option close?

Sakai: Yes it is close, currently we can take the terrain and prims created. Clearly there are other things to bring over such as textures, scripts etc.

Lowell: So for the sake of the potential new user – is Openlife in beta at present or a fully functioning option?

Sakai: No it is not a fully functioning option at the moment. We work closely with, and implement the Opensimulator source code which in itself is only recently version 0.5. However, community interaction and involvement in the Openlife Grid is important as the code moves forward.

Lowell: So is there a roadmap and/or timeline for OpenSimulator and subsequently a fully functional Openlife?

Sakai: With the source code being a community project ‘exact’ timelines can be difficult to adhere to. However, the OpenlifeGrid is at the tip of releasing the Foundation Resident Event, enabling Openlife users to have their own region in-world. The other side of this is that it will help full-time developers to work on the code on a professional level. Naturally, this work is in conjunction with the OpenSimulator effort and is released back to the community.

Lowell: So in regard to Openlife specifically – how many are involved in its development?

Sakai: We currently have two people including myself, but receive invaluable contributions from the Openlife community, making the Openlife Grid very much a community effort.


Lowell: And can you tell me a little about yourself? You’re based in Brisbane?

Sakai: Yes, sunny (but raining a lot lately) Brisvegas. I have a strong history of IT, and a passion for pioneering new technologies.

LLowell: Do you run your own business or are you from the academic side of the IT fence?

Sakai: I do run my own company. But it should be mentioned in regard to the Openlife Grid that there is some university involvement and it’s very much welcomed.

Lowell: Are you able to discuss which universities are involved?

Sakai: Hmm, good Question. I think it may be best that we give them the opportunity to express any involvement through the site, and their own sites.

Lowell: On interoperability – Linden Lab’s release of the SL code has helped get things where they are today but do you have any ongoing communication with Linden Lab in regard to your work?

Sakai: Personally I have only recently had some conversations with Linden Labs at a Finland event in relation to the Openlife Grid. But we are not ‘Anti-Linden’

Lowell: And were they receptive to the work you’re doing?

Sakai: Yes, I believe Linden labs has been fairly receptive of the Openlife Grid and also the OpenSimulator Project. There are even Lindens in the Openlife Grid as

Lowell: So what are your plans over the coming weeks? I’m assuming more sleep isn’t part of it.

Sakai: Wow, sleep I almost forgot that thing. Since we started we have steadily grown to around 6000 users as at a week ago. I’ve been working on this new website which is still being implemented (but online) with the aim to foster and grow the community. But in the weekend past we saw the number of users jump to (as of a few hours ago) 10,000 users.

Lowell: So as of now, what can a new user do in Openlife?

Sakai: Hmm… really it’s a very free environment limited only by the features of the current code level. But there are the natural ones similar to Second Life -meeting new people, making friends, getting involved with Openlife Communities. Building your own creations, and as of tommorrow owning your own regions.

Lowell: So people can log in now and intereact as they would in SL?

Sakai: Correct. You can login with the existing Second Life viewer and interact very much the same as Second Life, with the only limitations being the features that exist in the current code level.

Lowell: Ahhh ok, that was my next question. So there’s no need to download a different viewer?

Sakai: A different viewer is not necessary just a change to the shortcut or you can use a little program on our website to redirect your viewer to the Openlife grid. However, on an exciting note, an alternative viewer will be available very soon. That is in development by the RealXtend team.

Lowell: So if you had to sum up in a sentence or two why people should sign up to the Openlife community, what would you say?

Sakai: Wow, it’s really hard to sum up so short with such a wide community involved. Joining the Openlife Grid community is a chance to be involved in a pioneering new platform where your suggestions and ideas are very welcome, your feedback is important, and your participation is valued. Currently we are playing catch up to the number of new users, however since you can decide your own name, if you are a current SL user it’s a good idea to at least register to follow the news and secure your Second Life name in the Openlife Grid.

Lowell: Most people will want some key aspect to convince them to make the effort to experiment with a new platform – do you see superior community support as that key aspect?

Sakai: Absolutely – a lot of work has been going into the new site, to bring communities together including blogs for community regions, live online chat rooms for when you can’t be in world (like at work – ooops!). Foundation Residents have regions in-world and they also recieve a blog for their region to help bring the users together. Whilst blogs are not everything, there are also ‘Community Regions’ in-world. These are free to participate in and are provided free to the community.

Lowell: Is Openlife looking for venture capital in the future?

Sakai: The Openlife Grid is new territory and clearly funding would accelerate the efforts, however it must be noted we would not take on funding at the expense of the user or the future goals of the Openlifegrid. So in short it’s welcome if the funding can match the desires of the community.

Lowell: Do you have a proposed pricing structure for users when Openlife is fully functional?

Sakai: At this time we do not. It is important to note there are key differentiators between the way the Openlife works and Second Life. Linden Lab provides all the land (servers) and so has a monopoly on land (resources) to an effect.


Lowell in Openlife for the first time

Lowell: Whereas people can supply their own servers in Openlife?

Sakai: Openlife is moving towards a ‘provider’ path where ISPs and Web Hosts would also be able to provide resources. So as a user or company, having your own presence or land in-world could be purchased from many providers, reducing the cost and keeping it affordable for all.

Lowell: I’m assuming users could purchase land from you if they don’t want to provide their own server?

Sakai: Currently we don’t support external user connections, as we have stability and security to be concerned with in order to bring the best user experience.
The Foundation Resident is the first opportunity for Openlife residents to own a region in-world.

Lowell: So to clarify – people will eventually be able to host their own region or buy a region from Openlife

Sakai: Eventually that is one of the aims. But it will be gradual process as the code develops. The Foundation Resident is only a limited release of regions. They have no ‘purchase’ price, only a monthly fee. When we reach the limit of the Foundation Resident regions we will evaluate the next steps.

Lowell: Well I think that pretty well sums it up Sakai – thanks for taking the time.

For instructions on connecting to Openlife using your Second Life viewer, go here.

Interview – Paisley Beebe

Paisley Beebe is an Australian Second Life resident who I’ve run into a number of times over the past year or so. I finally caught up with Paisley for an interview on her dual activities of musician and TV presenter in Second Life.

Lowell: Tell me your story in regard to discovering Second Life

Paisley: I read about SL in an Australian woman’s magazine it mentioned Frogg Marlow and Cylindrian Rutabaga, both wonderful real life musicians playing music on Second Life. I was curious about it. Downloaded the client and then spent about 6 hours a day discovering SL. Spent about 2 months just getting acquainted before appearing at French Musician Fabrice Crosby’s venue and going on from there getting gigs and a manager and moving into SL TV.


Lowell: You are a singer in real life – how hard has it been adjusting to the challenges of in-world performance?

Paisley: The hardest part is trying to financially support my gigs in SL. The actual gigs are fun and easy. I’m used to being very interactive on stage due to my theatre and show band background in RL, and the technicalities of streaming live music are not a problem once you figure it out.

But I pay my RL accompanists RL money to play on SL with me (my voice is my only instrument) and have brought in some real Aussie jazz headliners including guitar legend George Golla, pianist Ray Aldridge, and bassist Craig Scott. I was determined in the beginning not to use backing tapes or recordings to sing along with, as the fun for me being a jazz vocalist is the actual interaction and improvisation between us during the playing of the music and I wanted to present a high quality show. I have managed to stick to that so far, but have had to inject quite a bit of money in order to do that as the SL payments for my concerts are nowhere near covering my expenses. As a result I have cut my gigs down recently to once or twice week in SL (I have done up to 8 gigs a week in SL in the past). The SL music scene is financed mostly through small tips from the audience, which results in under $5 Australian dollars a gig for most musicians for an hours work and even less for the venue owners. Yes everything in SL costs less than RL, but by comparison to other SL businesses, SL musicians are paid very very low wages…for a product they can’t keep selling copies of in a store. And MP3 sales are very low on the whole due to the low music-going population in SL, and so do not compensate for the fact that most of the in-world audience will see a musician for free if they can and won’t even tip. This will change with population growth and more professional artists but right now you do not play SL for money, only for fun and a little more international exposure than you can otherwise get.

There are sometimes one-off events to promote or launch new sims or businesses, which can pay more, but they are rare. The majority of my SL music audience are American due to the time zone and population, and they are somewhat more used to tipping in RL but this means that using the American based tipping model for other cultures doesn’t really work. Europeans and Aussies don’t tip so much, and that then becomes a disincentive for musicians wanting to play in Australian and European time zones, and no one wants to be the first club to charge entry at this stage, so most musicians play for the Americans who will at least throw some virtual coins in the hat for a musician who wants to at least pay his tier, pay for stream rent and buy stuff. Some of the clubs are part of a mall or have a shop and the club owners benefit from the increased traffic to their rentals or shops, in which case they may be able to pay their artists a very small fee, often only about 5 Aussie dollars. But many of the best clubs are there just for the music patrons only, with no money making business attached, and they are really struggling now, getting artists to play only for tips. My average tips are about 2-3 K for an hour so it’s not much. You can’t live in SL off that, and own land…

Lowell: It’d be fair to say you’re very ambitious and keen to promote your talents – do you see Second Life as a competitive environment?

Paisley: No, I don’t see SL as an competitive environment first and foremost. I see it as a social network and another dimension to the Web as we know it. It is an avenue for me to work in the field of work I was trained to do, but had to give up throughout my 30’s when family responsibilities and difficulties took first priority, and it was impossible for me to continue with my career of choice in entertainment. I have a Theatre Arts Diploma from the Ensemble theatre, 5 years of singing training and some radio presenting training through the AFTRS extension courses they offer, and experience in film production, advertising, graphics, theatre and singing as a soloist and as part of a successful concept band. I have also worked as a volunteer presenter for community radio for 3 years. For me to work in RL as a TV host now, is really prohibitively competitive and some would say an impossible dream at my age being in my early 40’s. Having given up my entire career in my 30’s and into my 40’s to deal with some major personal family issues, now that things are getting a little easier for me personally I have a second chance to start again back where I was in my 20’s. And have a second chance, through Second life, where age, demographics, opportunity, experience and looks are no issue at all. You can have a go and make something successful as long as you have the right stuff.

Also the music climate here in Australia particularly in Jazz, is very very bad, worse than most non-musicians really understand. Lack of RL gigs due to closing venues (as a result of 20 years of draconian licensing laws and poker machines), makes it impossible to develop a fan base (we hope the new licensing laws will change things but it will be sloooow going). At least I can develop as a singer on Second Life through virtual gigs, and create an international fan base that would be otherwise impossible.

I find SL at the moment less competitive in the field of what I’m doing in TV and Jazz than RL of course, because its all so new, SL has not been saturated yet with competition in those areas. Like many people in SL who are in business, we hope that when the big guns figure out what SL’s advantages are, and how to utilise them, that we have enough experience and brand loyalty that we can survive the inevitable competition.

As far as ambitions go, Second Life business is such a risk right now, as its all so untried and new, you need ambition and a quite a bit of Chutzpah (and a little madness I think). It’s certainly not for the faint hearted. I don’t think ambition is a bad thing at all as long as you don’t sacrifice integrity and family to pursue it, and I would never do that. A lot of Australians in the past have viewed ambitious people, especially ambitious women as abhorrent. It’s not really been seen as part of our culture, but I think we really have to let all of that fear of being seen as ‘ambitious’, if we want to be successful on a global scale. Keep our individuality and our Australian unique culture sure… but I’m not going to sit back and wait for my ship to come in….

I’m keen to promote my talents in as much as it’s all I have to promote. Singing and hosting is my RL job, it’s what I do, what I was trained for. I don’t have a ‘full- time’ job in RL other than my music, and that can hardly be called full-time due to lack of opportunities for work. So far I haven’t been able to break even financially in Second Life but I believe in what I’m trying to do, and enjoying it so much that I think that one day I might be able to earn some money from it.


Lowell: Where do you see yourself in a year’s time in regard to your work in Second Life?

Paisley: If all goes to my plan, and plans are well, who knows. I would like to be playing music in Second Life with other Second Life musicians in real time with no latency and a better stable SL client, without having to worry about going into debt to pay my musicians. I have plans to release a Live in Second Life album, it’s all but finished…and I would like to see it selling well at shows.

I would like also like to see continued success of my production company and TV shows, the audience is growing but we are still chasing sponsors to finance it. I really hope in a years time to really still be enjoying my time working and playing in SL. And I would like to be able to earn at least a wage above the RL poverty line on SL, to help support my family in RL and perhaps cut my working day down to 9 hours instead of 16 🙂 Dream on 🙂

Lowell: Have you had any involvement with other virtual worlds?

Paisley: Nope I’m not a gamer at all, and I don’t consider SL a game. And the other virtual worlds I have read about appear to be less developed and inferior at the moment. I was fascinated with having a virtual self to start with, and sort of playing dress up dollies with my avatar, but I really just see it all as an extension of my self in RL that’s all, but lots of fun too.

Lowell: If there were three real life musicians you’d love to convince to perform in Second Life, who would they be?

Paisley: Well selfishly, I would want them to perform with me….and that would be Christian McBride on Bass, Harry Connick Jnr on Piano and harmonising with me on vocals, and John Clayton on Guitar. Basically Dianna Krall’s Band without her.. and with Harry in her place sigh. The other band I would love to have on SL would be a big band …and Duke Ellington’s Band would do 🙂 I’m afraid although I love to listen to music the most fun I have is performing it and interacting with other musicians, so that would be my dream.

Lowell: Who inspires you in Second Life?

Paisley: Circe Broom, the owner of the Laurel sim and the music venues she has built there, for her dedication to music and musicians, her desire to promote it at a great cost to herself financially and overcoming all the obstacles she has personally, to do so. Slim Warrior is also another great inspiration, in that regard. Also Wiz Norberg and the team at SLCN.TV in Melbourne, and my own team on Tonight live also inspire me greatly with their drive and ambition creativity, humor and honesty in business. I trust them with my business and my future.

I also admire Cylindrian Rutabaga for her dedication to her music and her unwavering stoicism and Frogg Marlow and Jaycat for their talent and humor.

There are many many more who inspire me, mostly people who see the potential in Second Life and are willing to stick their necks out to use it in an innovative and creative way to bring pleasure to others, or support, or to start their own art or business.

Lowell: Our staple question: three locations in SL that you love the most (with SLURLs if possible 😉 )

Paisley: 1. My home ….no SLURL 🙂 – it’s private.

2. Sailors Cove for its very pretty New England Theme and all my wonderful friends there.

3. Circe Broom’s Laurel sim for her Egyptian Themes buildings and of course Sunset Jazz Club.

Lowell: What new features would you like in Second Life?

Paisley: I would like a more stable client of course, crashes during my show and during my TV show are just awful..

No lag! At all, without having to have a computer with a graphics card that could run a Space Shuttle pleeeese…(I know that doesn’t make sense but you know what I mean).

The ability to stream my concerts without any delay. It varies from 3 seconds to a 30-second delay. Between what I say or sing and when the SL audience hears it..

The ability to play music together with other SL musicians without having to use Ninjam which is really hard…perhaps voice with really really great sound quality….

The ability to have mouths moving on my TV show without it looking like you are pulling faces and eating something like really sticky toffee that is flavored with pepper….

To have better mic animations and singing animations without….see above…

To have prim eyelashes that blink when your eyes blink…

To not have shoes and hair and jewelry go up your bum when you teleport…

To get rid of Ruth!!! Or give her a real make-over so she looks like Claudia Schiffer instead of Cro-Magnon woman (or George Clooney if you are a male ). Please can we get rid of the low brow Donald Trump hair that Ruth has….

To have better support for Macintosh on SL…so I don’t have to use Bootcamp for Windlight.

To have the ability to switch off group notices from time to time…when Im doing my show.

To go to busy mode without a busy sign above my head which looks so rude…

To increase the Group Limits to about 100.

To increase the sim limits to 200 and have no lag…yeah right.. bring on Havok!

To have better security against griefers..

To not have Capped IM’s…

To make the SL Client look more like a Mac design instead of DOS…..

To have Preview as in Mac OS Leopard on your inventory so you can see the jewelry, dresses etc without wearing it or rezzing it .

Hmmmm what else…

To be able to take multiple pictures in Second Life and be able to label them in SL each time I take it…

To have better privacy in SL so people can’t see into places that you don’t want them to see,…

I could probably think of a lot more but …..I think you have enough to go on there 🙂

Lowell: You host a show for SLCN TV – can you describe its focus?

Paisley: Yes…it is a Second Life live TV talk show which through interactivity with the live audience attempts to highlight and promote in a positive way the creativity of Second Life residents using Second life for fun, business or non-profit. It is then recorded and available for download and viewing on the web. It is not current affairs, but hopefully informative and fun.

Lowell: What are some of the more memorable moments on the show to date?

Paisley: Maxamillion Kleen writing and singing his first original song ever for Tonight Live and reducing some of the audience to RL tears, whilst packing out the sim with the biggest audience in downloads and watching live we ever had.

Torley Linden from Linden Labs also attracting a huge crowd and talking so fast and relentlessly that I couldn’t get a word in edgeways, whilst he was also fielding questions from the audience who were also trying to get in on the act (he was of course also taking pictures at the same time).

Having the Second Life Fire Brigade bring a SL fire engine inside the studio and setting fire to the audience whilst explaining techniques in firefighting in SL and RL, and then getting the brigade to put it out..

Having the Harry Potter Sim manager on stage and the Harry Potter sim role-players pack out the audience and the houses of Griffin and Slytherin start fighting amongst themselves across the audience….

Having the Midian sim role-players almost doing the same thing…with various factions all together in the same place……

Having Frogg Marlow and Jaycatt Nico on and having such a wonderful funny interview with them both.

Lots more for many different reasons but every show has a different funny thing happen within the audience and podcaster and blogger Crap Mariner is often responsible for it 🙂 Whether he sets himself on fire or comes as a cup cake or encases himself in ice and Razzap tries to “melt” him with a blow torch, it’s all I can do to stop laughing on set – “don’t read the chat, dont read the chat…”.


Lowell: If you had to describe virtual worlds in ten words or less to someone who’s never been near one, what would you say?

Paisley: The best Disney animation you’ve ever been in.

Lowell: I’ve seen a number of promotional items come from you emphasising your status as a Diva – what qualifies for Diva status in-world?

Paisley: That’s a joke…I get called that by my friends in RL and in SL if I get argumentative about anything 🙂 They use it to put me back in my box…and also it basically gives people a very basic idea of what I do, but is definitely tongue in cheek without using all the other stupid hackneyed words. Diva’s a bit hackneyed too probably, but so is Jazz Chanteuse and Torch Song Singer and all the other words that they use to describe jazz vocalists. When I’m in meetings my staff make sure I have no access to phones or anything else with which to hit anyone with (thats a joke too….). People think if you are a jazz singer who sings like I do, sort of a mixture of modern jazz and cabaret I guess, and a TV host , that you probably are a Diva in as much as you have tantrums. And ask for ridiculous things like only white flowers in your dressing room and not to be looked in the eye. I’d only ask someone not to look me in the eye if my prim eyelashes were not placed properly and I didn’t want them to laugh….on camera 🙂

Lowell: Anything else you wanted to add?

Paisley: I’ve just started a production company called “Perfect World Productions”. It will be producing several TV shows broadcast on SLCN.TV. The next production due for release is an arts show called “Dimensions In Art” which will be a 1/2 hour live weekly show with one guest per show. Featuring film, theatre, dance, sculpture, digital art, sound art, music and painting. I will be the host, and some of my wonderful existing team from Tonight Live will be working on it. It will be launched in April/May 2008. I think that the creative arts in SL are going to really boom as it’s such a wonderful platform for artists of all genres to get exposure for their virtual and real life art, on a real global scale. The quality of what I see in SL constantly astounds me.

We will add more shows to the production company as we build our expertise and our team. And will produce shows that are concepts from other sources not just our own, with other hosts.

My hopes for Second Life are also that more Australians discover and embrace it. The Australian community while very friendly and close is very small by comparison to many other countries using SL. Anything I can do to help promote Aussie culture on SL I will. But there are so very few of us on Second Life yet.

Interview – Pavig Lok (Rezzable)

Melbourne-based Pavig Lok is part of the Rezzable crew that have created some of the more memorable Second Life presences this year. We caught up with Pavig for some thoughts on creating something unique work in virtual worlds.

Lowell: Can you tell TMJ readers a little about your background in regard to virtual worlds?

Pavig: Many years ago I developed an interest in virtual world technologies. A whole bunch of folk, perhaps naievely, saw VR as part and parcel of the coming wave of ubiquitous net access. This was the early nineties, and hacker culture understood that until computers moved away from the programmer/user divide into visual metaphors there would not be strong adoption of them as any kind of enabling technology for the general public. VR was one of the ways we saw that going forward, understanding that games would be an element of that.


As usual, futurists get the general shape and the order that things happen absurdly out of whack. 2D visual metaphors like the desktop did pretty much what we expected them to, though are only starting to fulfil their true potential now, and 3D ran across a lot of stumbling blocks along the way. Immersive 3D (like VR goggles which we thought were “just around the corner) ran into the “simulator sickness” issue – nobody saw that one coming, but it pretty much put the kibbosh on what we thought 3D would be. Without cheap immersive 3D for the architects and industrial applications, it was very difficult for anyone in VR to convince business it was anyting more than a game technology, so I left off trying to get involved in virtual worlds until the general public caught up.

By the mid nineties most of the technologies we think of as radical in SL existed already as prototypes. Onlive had proximity based avatar voice chat (on modems!), things like Activeworlds with streaming 3D etc etc. The public wasn’t quite ready for it, business saw it as a toy, it was going nowhere. Ironically it was games that virtual worlds ended up riding on the back of to show their potential to business and the public. I figured the time was right to start looking at virtual worlds as a possible line of employment again.

Lowell: When did you first get involved with Second Life and what were your initial reactions to it after logging in for the first time?

Pavig: I’d heard about SL and kept an eye on it during development. I’d also been on the beta program for As far as a beta tester for them it came down to an email saying “your client won’t install on my machine” and that was that. After a year’s sabbatical from the net I got straight into SL. From watching what they were doing I could tell they had got it more right than anyone who had come before them.

When I first arrived in-world I was pleasantly surprised – it was just as disorienting and insane as it needed to be. It didn’t hold your hand – you arrived there and instantly saw that you had been given a body, access to prims, access to scripts, an entire system the same as everyone else. When I saw what people had been able to make in SL I was stunned – not because it was particularly sophisticated but because there was no solid division between residents and content creators.

That was the trick that nobody outside the hacker community had ever got right before – access to tools for everyone. It’s still the most important differentiating factor – you can teach a newbie to rez a prim, and when discussing something you can go “that bit there” and rez a prim on it – not some premade tool the designers gave you for pointing at things, basic use of the world and it’s qualities to improvise solutions on the fly.

Lowell: What are the biggest changes in the SL community that have stood out for you?

Pavig: The biggest change in just over a year that I’ve been here has been very much like the change on the internet between 1996 and 1998. Masses and masses of people, many of which don’t know precisely why they’re there. Consumer culture has grown hugely and local communities have suffered. This isn’t a bad thing just a shakeup – SL hasn’t had it’s Web 2.0 revolution yet to refocus on the local, so it’s become a big world with no center, and for the folk in it less of a sense of belonging to a community.

When I arrived there was something like 250,000 registrations and now there’s way over 10 million. Even if they aren’t all real people or stayers they represent a huge dilution and expanding of the community away from it’s frontier neighborhood origins. That must have some effect on the general quality of community in SL – it certainly has an effect on grid stability too 😛

Another change is corporate flirting with SL. For a wee while folk thought SL might be the “next big thing” and so folk started pumping money into it as the next push media. Like the web, SL is proving too anarchic to really work in this way. So by treating SL as a new revenue source rather than an experiment in tomorrows media – well let’s just say big business has been less than successful so far. So big business itself has had less of an effect on the world, but certainly had an effect on incoming resident expectations. I can’t say exactly what it is, but I feel it in the community.


Lowell: What is your role with Rezzable?

Pavig: I must say from the outset I’m just an artist working for Rezzable so anything I might say about company strategy and whathaveyou should be taken with a grain of salt. It’ll just be my opinion.

Originally at Rezzable I was bought in with Littletoe Bartlett to do the Greenies build. That also ended up including some project management type stuff and…. well the roles were then, as they are now, quite fluid. As Rezzable has expanded I’ve ended up tinkering on a lot of projects, and that seems to be the case for all of us.

Though MDC’s (Metaverse Development Companies as they’re evidently called now) like to think that there’s some kind of solid job description for folk working on these kind of projects, it tends not to be the case. SL itself is a fluid medium, and changes under our feet constantly – when they beta something all of us start losing sleep over if it’ll break our current builds or change our future plans. That’s just the way it is. I can’t imagine how that must look for big company clients who come to SL for representation, probably like chaos compared to what they would be used to in other media, but that’s just the topology of SL and virtual worlds – constantly in flux.

Part of my role is probably keeping on top of that changability – knowing what works and doesn’t, and what will soon work or break. That is on top of design, building, working with other artists and scripters etc. I’m sure my boss would have a different picture of my role if you asked him. I’m probably listed as a “creative” on the books – nobody really knows what they do 😛

Lowell: Rezzable is arguably one of the biggest phenomenons to hit Second Life in 2007 – why do you think the impact has been so large?

Pavig: I think Greenies was a big part of the buzz, and that’s not blowing my own trumpet. When Greenies went into beta we got a lot of attention from the business blogs because they couldn’t figure out what on earth we were trying to do. It even came down to conspiracy theories about the secret illuminati behind rezzable. Myself and some of the artists were on the rumor mill as well, being picked as alts for anyone but ourselves – which is ironic as most of us had a history in SL for anyone with interest in digging. As insane as that was it kept us in the blogs, which kept folk coming to our sims as they began to open. At the time we weren’t quite ready for that, but we couldn’t have asked for better PR if we had done our own marketing (which we didn’t) – nothing seems to placate bloggers when they think they’ve found a mystery. That got us a lot of initial traffic.

The other thing that kept people coming to peek I think is the content Rezzable has been working on. Just about everyone who builds for Rezz is an artist in SL who was already prolific or recognised. Rezzable simply let them do their stuff and produce stuff they love, and tried to find ways to fit it all together into a cohesive whole. That’s an old school entrepeneurial approach and very different from what the other big companies were doing at the time. As with all entrepeneurial activity it involves risk that some projects might end up plain silly, but that risk is distributed over a lot of projects, artists, sims and so becomes quite manageable. There’s a different approach if we do something corporate, but we’re pretty happy doing stuff that’s fun at the moment, and it pays for itself.

The big difference between rezzable and the main MDC’s is that the larger companies start with a corporate client and their demands, and are forced into a position where they must be risk averse – this will usually produce slick but uninteresting builds, no matter how creative a team you throw at it. Since Rezzable arrived on the scene though I think there’s been positive moves by the larger companies to address that space – we laughed when MOU got their first artist in residence finally with Robbie Dingo. Considering Rezzable was almost ALL artists in residence and a lot younger it just seemed silly – MOU’s creative director is already an artist but not advertised as such.

These creatives were all there already waving their arms around saying “Heya we got ideas let us do something that’s just plain cool for a change.” So we ended up on the crest of a big wave to recognize creatives in the professional SL developers community. The big names had all started out that way too but shied away from the creative-driven way of doing things as they’d grown – now they’re coming back, and I think their creatives are pretty happy about it. Now they have a reputation they can rely on based on what they’ve done and we have a reptation for what we’ve done, so we’re in a different market to the big MDC’s and not really in competition with each other.

Lowell:Did you have a marketing plan in place when Greenies launched or was it an organic approach that just happened to take off?

Pavig: Rezzable was very hands off and open brief with Greenies – they said “big kitchen, tiny aliens, make it amazing and fun.” So that’s what we did. Rezzable trusted me, Littletoe and Light Waves to come up with the goods based on our personal work and attitude. That was probably the best thing they could have done. Every SL builder would love a sim to go crazy on, a solid theme, and a pay packet to get it done. Rezzable was pretty flexible about our vision for it – we tweaked the brief a lot to get something we thought would work and take the design probably deeper than it needed to go from the outset – that’s part of how artists and designers work, they’re fussy about stuff that really hardly anyone notices.

Light Wave’s Greenies were already known and loved on the grid so it was about making a home for them and extending that story, though I don’t think we’ve tied up all the loose ends, nor should we. The other active thing we did when designing Greenies was tp try and make it look as unlike everywhere else in SL as possible. We wanted it to be somewhere you arrived and the look was different enough that your early SL wonderment came back. So that meant researching a lot of techniques that hadn’t been done before or often in SL – the use of physical hollow megaprims, first generation sculpties, shadow and light overlays etc.

One thing we were determined to do was allow for a day/night cycle, which is unusual in builds of this type, and so control of lighting and tradeoffs along those lines were a large part of design. Locking the sun makes it easier to light stuff but takes away the natural moods of a build and makes it static.

So the real plan was to make something different. If you hit on something that people like then you have the most valuable currency available in virtual worlds – traffic. For any company wanting to get returns in the virtual worlds business that’s the bread and butter – without that there’s very few revenue models available to you. We figured the “if you build it they will come” approach to clients was also a hole in the services MDC’s provide. So L’Oreal Paris has been one of our early clients, and jumped on our Greenies traffic for a low key promotion of their own. They’re giving away skins for their new makeup looks, and we’ve integrated their build into Greenies in a way that doesn’t damage the spirit of the sim. We always saw it going that way, and hoped to keep the “branding” subtle enough and in the spirit of SL that we wouldn’t alienate visitors.


Lowell: Can you list the presences Rezzable has created in SL to date?

* Greenies, which you know.
* Toxic Garden, curently in beta.
* Surfline, currently 3 sims devoted to surfing, and officially opening soon.
* Crimson Shadow, a gothic type build.
* Cannery, predominantly photography based artwork.
* Black Swan, an art build.
* The Stratos sims, which are nearing completion.
* Carnival of Doom, also in beta
* Cascade – closed beta
* The dump – currently being built.
* and several others also in development.

Lowell: Greenies would be the most popular one so far wouldn’t it?

Pavig: Greenies had the advantage of the flood of interest we had when we opened for beta. It put Rezzable on the map and generated a lot of buzz. But visits have been fairly consistant since opening – so much so that it’s been difficult to get in there and rebuild, redevelop, or finish some of the improvements we’ve had on the cards. That’ll be changing in the next week as we push through some long overdue changes. Black Swan has got a lot of traffic as well lately.

Apart from that I think many of the potentially popular Rezzable sims are still in development and not officially open yet. As such they haven’t had a chance to build the same popularity as they simply haven’t been launched. Surfline for example is the kind of place which will build community slowly, but retain a solid community of folk who come back once that’s established. Greenies I think by contrast is the kind of place everyone visits once, but the community that makes a habit of returning will be smaller – kind of like a picnic destination. This is something we’re working on improving, as repeat visitors are a huge asset to a sim, but we’ve all been tied up with so many projects it’s taken longer to get back to Greenies than we’d hoped.

Lowell: Can you describe how you work up your concepts and get them to a finished product?

Pavig: I generally work with Littletoe Bartlett when I can, and both of us are extremely different visual designers. We see the shapes of things differently, and I think we both plug around with our internal lego until a concept works then pretty much realize it complete. For me that means a lot of research, and I think Littletoe is like that too. So for project manager types it’s the old critical path type workings out, we just work a lot more flexibly and internally than most. By the time a concept has a shape in my head people can ask me about a detail of it and I can list the steps to realize it.

This is why I find working with Littletoe so fluid – we can agree on the bits and see the outcome. I’ll tend to start and finish things while she fills in the middle while I do a bunch of tangential stuff. Then I usually use up my remaining reserves of neurosis doing fiddly things I’ve worked out along the way. This isn’t so hard as people imagine, working out of your head. In order for a concept to actually have any kind of value it must be simple and elegant, and if it’s that, then the pieces should fit together to that end. An old wax and bromides designer once told me “put nothing in unless you can explain why it’s there” and that’s worked well for me in SL.


Lowell: What plans (if any) do Rezzable have for presences in other virtual worlds?

Pavig: That’s something you’d have to ask my boss.

Lowell: We always ask the question – what are three locations that you keep coming back to – outside your own builds of course 😉

Calleta’s Hobo Railroad Infohub: It’s my home, and I’ll always be a hobo. They got me started building.

NCI Kuula: Those wonderful folk are still helping the newcomers after all this time, and where I found my feet in SL.

Suffugium: a build that hasn’t aged in the entire time i’ve been in SL. It’s just “right”.

Lowell: Who inspires you in Second Life?

Pavig: This is a hard one because I always miss someone. Littletoe of course, and Mis Ordinal Malaprop for her stoic devotion to elegant and tasteful exploding things. The wonderful Arcadia Asylum who we sorely miss. Mis Tateru Nino for her balanced coverage of SL on the net. Thinkerer Melville for his can do attitude. Tooter Claxton for his builds. Light Waves, who sets the bar for what SL can do. Aley Arai who is prolific beyond belief. Orhalla Zander who established the hobos, and Yadni Monde for his freebie culture. There really are tons of folk. Oh and of course the Grendel’s Children crew.

Lowell: Any predictions you’d like to make for the coming year in regard to Rezzable, SL or the wider metaverse?

Pavig: Well Rezzable will continue to grow I’m sure. At the moment we’re in the process of consolidating builds and tying up loose ends in anticipation of a few launches and “stage two’s”. When that’s solid Littletoe, Light Waves and I are back onto another crazy scale ambitious build that we can’t talk about just yet. I also expect to see some crazy builds from other amazing artists that have come on board recently, but I can’t even imagine what they’ll be yet.

As for SL I believe the growth will continue steadily and things will improve on the grid. I really haven’t seen any other VR that is based on the philosophy of resident = content creator in the same way as SL. So I really do see SL as remaining the only game in town despite the other ambitious startups. Nothing I’ve seen on the horizon quite compares. People wave around Kaneva and so on, but today they’re beta testing 750 concurrent users – they’ve got a long way to go.

When it comes to the wider metaverse I see a lot of activity, but it’s going to be highly factional. Kaneva’s target user, There’s, Activeworlds, Croquet, SONY, etc… well they’re all after different things out of a VR. Some of the new entrants are going to be wildly popular – but I don’t see that impacting SL significantly. Barbie World user registrations make SL’s look piffling but we won’t all be there.

Pearse’d & Cut – Victorian Menswear

Pearse’d & Cut is an Australian-owned Second Life business that focuses on 19th Century menswear. Owner Edward Pearse offers waistcoats, trousers, hats and shoes and an array of military uniforms.


The whole get-up is authentic as you’d expect from a business on the Caledon sim. I even picked up a kilt for the hell of it.

Check it out in-world

Interview – Dexter Ihnen (Dexter Moore)

Dexter Moore (SL: Dexter Ihnen) is one of a growing number of Australian musicians performing in Second Life. Like most, he’s a well-established real-life musician who’s built up a loyal SL following. At present, he’s number one most played artist on, so he’s obviously doing something right. We caught up with Dexter this week to find out a little more about the life of an SL musician.

Lowell: When did you first get interested in Second Life?

Dexter: I started performing in Second Life March 2007 – SL was mentioned to me and I had seen it in passing on TV too. Since then I’ve been doing up to 8 shows a week. I’ve pulled back to 4-5 for now as my RL career is extremely busy both coming up to Christmas and after my award for RnB Song of the Year on ABC Australian Radio. Anyway, I entered in to SL in Feb 2007 and spent a month just getting used to the virtual world experience. It’s been an amazing experience since I started, right up to today.


Lowell: Was music the drawcard for you initially or were you just checking it out?

Dexter: My brother said he thought it might be a good platform for my music. I came in to have a look and a listen I didn’t really think it would become integral in my life – but I do follow up ideas

Lowell: What are the attractions of performing in-world versus real life?

Dexter: Performing in Second Life is quite unique, The most fascinating aspect is the direct personal feedback you experience whilst playing. This is not very possible in RL as one person in an auditorium cannot make themselves heard over the volume of the concert, but here they can talk directly to the artist and the artist to them – I really dig that 🙂

Lowell: Without getting too technical, how do you actually get your music and voice in-world?

Dexter: In my studio I have 2 separate mixers and 2 computers also. One mixer has in built FX and I plug my stereo Godin guitar, vocal, congas and roto-toms into it. As well as that I record any backing tracks I create and choose to use into it also ( it is an 8 track hard disk recorder too ) I send a stereo mix out of that into my main mixer which has a Firewire connection to my main music computer. This is also wher I take my headphone feed. I stream the out of my music computer with SimpleCast. Meanwhile, I run SL on my other computer which I run at standing eye level. This is the one I interact with while performing. The reason I run 2 computers is that if I crash I know that the stream is still stable.

Lowell: How would you describe the music you perform?

Dexter: Interdimensional SOUL – FUNK 😉


Lowell: How have you built up a following in SL?

Dexter: I worked my butt of for 6 months – to the point of burn out! Up to 8 shows a week, plus 3 RL shows and a major recording project. I moved around a lot in that time – but I am pretty much in a holding pattern until the New Year now until the RL Christmas season commitments subside.

Lowell: What are your goals in the longer term with performance in SL?

Dexter: I want to tour the world playing live to my SL fans plus whomever else is into my music. SL fans though will always have a special status with me. Prior to that I have a number of ideas to bring to life here in SL;

Lowell: Who inspires you in SL?

Various types of people inspire me in SL: Dane Zander – Lost Gardens of Apollo builder. Skribe Forti, Film maker. Circe Broom and Slim Warrior, entrepreneurs. And anyone having lighthearted fun 🙂

Lowell: What are three SL landmarks that you keep coming back to again and again?

1. The Lost Gardens of Apollo
2. The Wild Coast
3. Tableau – Roller Disco, 10 pin bowling, Cool shops,

Lowell: What are the pet hates you have about how SL operates that affects your ability to perform?

Dexter: In this order:
1. Crashing ( sim crash excepted – we all have a strange affection for that one lol )
2. Freezing & heavy lag
3. Notecards ( they cover up my guitar controls )

Simon’s community approach

One Australian Second Life resident I’ve met in recent months is Simon Kline. Simon is a very active resident and his approach is one that has made an impact on quite a few others. Essentially, Simon loves creating things for the benefit of the wider SL community. He’s created a great notecard of Australian locations in SL that you may have seen and he’s a regular attendee at ABC Island events.

In conversation a few months back I mentioned to Simon that the available in-world RSS readers didn’t meet my needs and/or were very expensive. Simon mentioned he’d been thinking about creating something like that, and create it he did:


Simon’s happy to see his creations used to help the Aussie SL community and as one of the beneficiaries of his community spirit, SLOz salutes him.

Check out Simon’s work in-world

Interview – Tateru Nino

Tateru Nino is arguably the best known Australian SL resident. Over the past year I’ve run into Tateru in-world regularly at events and we’ve shared anecdotes and information here and there. What has made an impression over that time is Tateru’s commitment to what she does and how well she does it. I finally got around to asking her for an interview and as always she gave graciously of her time.

Lowell: Tell us a little about your role within SL as it stands now.

Tateru: Catalyst. Journalist. Consultant. Developer. Handy person to blame for stuff.

Lowell: It’d be fair to say your own of Australia’s longest SL users – is it a badge you wear with honour?

Tateru: I hadn’t actually thought of it like that. I’d been aware of SL since it was in Beta, but hadn’t felt the urge to try it out. Then in August, 2005 – a friend of mine and her partner (both in the UK) convinced me to give it a try. I’ve been here ever since.


Lowell: You write for New World Notes, SL Insider (now Massively) and your own blog – how do you fit it all in?

Tateru: And consultancy, and a few other things. It’s what I do, and I do it seven days a week every day of the year. It keeps the bills paid, mortgage taken care of, and the family fed. I make a living doing it – though it /is/ tight sometimes. It’s my day job – a long day job.

Lowell: And will the new site, Massively, make you even busier?

Tateru: It already has – pleasantly so. Writing more, doing more research, visiting more worlds. It keeps the wolves from the door, and that’s a good thing.

Lowell: Would it be fair to say you’re an immersionist?

Tateru: I don’t hold with the immersionist/augmentationist division. I’ve got elements of both camps – most people do, in my experience. I don’t meet many immersionists who are not also augmentationists. I think the two spectra intersect, rather than existing at opposite poles.

Lowell: You’ve written regularly about mainstream media coverage of Second Life and how they tend to get it wrong more often than not – are things improving in that respect?

Tateru: Sturgeon’s law. “90% of everything is crud” – there’s a lot of mediocrity out there. I don’t think that coverage of Second Life is actually any worse than mainstream media coverage of almost anything else. Most mainstream media pieces on nearly any topic are littered with inaccuracies. Out of the remaining ten percent? There’s some great reporting out there, but it’s balanced by an increase in truly shocking reporting. I think things are trending upwards, but I won’t bet money on it – not today.

Lowell: How often do you get SL developers lobbying you to cover a build or to alter your opinion on one you’ve already written about?

Tateru: Weekly. Store and product reviews? I only review places where I or a friend actually spent our own money. I tend to shy away from covering places that send me freebies to review. It’s hard enough to tell when you’re being unbiased. Having free swag in your inventory doesn’t make it any easier to make that distinction, so I avoid the folks who send me free samples.

Lowell: We’ve had discussions before where you’ve talked about your ability to ‘see’ the grid numerically / via the data feeds. Can you elaborate on this?

Tateru: It’s tricky to describe. I see almost everything in … non-visual pictures. Abstracts. Senses of shapes and colours, relationships in any number of dimensions. I can look at a machine or a process and ‘see’ (or sense) how it all fits together. It’s a kind of synesthesia, I suppose. When I actually look at something, I’m almost never seeing the visual part of it. I’m ‘seeing’ the qualities of it that aren’t strictly visual. It makes it awfully hard to recognise people visually from photos and such, I can tell you. Graphs and numbers have trends, curves, shapes. I’ve no particular skill at math, but I can sense trends in data- as long as there’s enough data to actually work with. Give me too little and I have to shrug my shoulders. If there’s not enough, I can’t even venture a guess.

Lowell: If you had to describe the impact on SL since population explosion in late 2006, how would you do it?

Tateru: Chaotic. Second Life as a society (and I can’t think of any other word that fits all of us in aggregate) is something of a lost generation. A bit like Japan, in a way. We have our traditionalists who remember ‘the old ways’. We’ve got our progressives who look to what it could be. The rest are trying to figure out what it is now, and how to get along. Second Life society is a society that doesn’t know what it is, or what it is becoming. In a sense, it’s a grand adventure.

Lowell: How likely is the adventure to have a happy ending?

Tateru: Ultimately people are people. There’s nothing wrong with self-interest, so long as self-interest is not at the expense of others. Most of the problems we have in RL and in SL is a result of self-serving decisions that are made at the expense of other people. Just as we’ve never solved this problem in RL, we’re unlikely to solve it in SL either. But it’s something we can live with. Most people are reasonable, honest folks most of the time. That said, there’s always a balance – and sometimes a precarious one. SL is not so solid at this time that the balance cannot be tipped, and SL would vanish fairly quickly if it did. It’s still got some growing to do before it can toddle around the house on its own.


Lowell: What’s an amusing experience you’ve had in SL in recent memory?

Tateru: Your mileage may vary on recent. I was standing with Torley Linden, and another Linden staffer at the tail end of a public meeting. A relatively new (two weeks) SL user came up to us, and tried to sell us freebies from his Library folder. The name Linden had no impact on his consciousness. He didn’t know, or didn’t remember ever hearing of the name Linden or of Linden Lab. He was very keen to sell us some things to ‘make some ellz’.

Lowell: Who inspires you in SL?

Tateru: Tough question. I’m not exactly prone to a lot of that kind of inspiration at all. I suppose I’d have to say Robin Harper. She’s got a tough job with a lot to live up to. Harper, like all of us, makes mistakes and takes a lot of extra flak for hers, but keeps on pushing. At the end of the day, it’s not success or failure that’s really so important as it is that we don’t stop trying to do our best.

Lowell: Speaking of flak, Linden Lab cops plenty. Are there specific areas you believe they need to work on?

Tateru: Communication is a big one – and I don’t think a lot of people would argue about that. They’ve been looking for a resident communications manager/community manager for months and no sign of one yet. Also, I honestly think Linden Lab as a whole presents a very timid image, as if they’re afraid of speaking honestly and openly, of lawsuits, and of the appearance of favoritism. They may not be, but they give the strong impression that they are in their methods, timing and style of communication.

Lowell: What’s your take on the Aussie contingent in SL – just part of the pack or a sub-culture?

Tateru: Depends on the people. In a group, we can be quite a pack of yahoos at times. Get a whole bunch of us together and we’re pretty distinctive. Alone, we’re just part of the pack.

Lowell: If you had to provide a new user with three must-see places in SL, what would they be?

Tateru: NCI, The Shelter, Caledon, Metabirds (that’s four, yes).

Lowell: Would you like to get the crystal ball out and make any predictions about SL in the coming year?

Tateru: Well, we’re not quite through my last lot of predictions for 2007 yet.

Interview – Lord Coalcliff (Peter Holroyd)

Lowell Cremorne: How did you first get into SL?

Lord Coalcliff: Well I have always been interested in virtual worlds since the late 80s, and so I am always on the lookout for the latest. In early 2006 I
noticed Second Life getting a good review on a website, so I went to the site and liked what I found. The graphics were like no other online community I had ever seen, and the various ways to interact with the world around were the first deciding factors that had me addicted from day 1.


Lowell Cremorne: When did doing business in SL become an interest for you?

Lord Coalcliff: Actually I took my time absorbing and learning as much as possible from others. On the first day I arrived the first person I met was a woman recruiting people for a nightclub, little did I know that she would set my future path in SL. Her employer also owned a successful home rental business so I eventually became the assistant manager. For six months I learnt as much as I could about the rental business. I loved it when I was showing homes and helping tenants settle in, and how rewarding it was being able to help people. I also saved my pay of $L4000 a week that eventually paid the 12mth subscription fee that allowed me to purchase land and start of my own rental company. I also became a LindenLabs approved instructor teaching SL business related subjects. This made me realize the market potential as the population began to grow from what was 750,000 when I first joined. My friends list also began to grow :).

Lowell Cremorne: What was your first business in SL?

Lord Coalcliff: It was an art gallery selling textures from a basic house I build on my First Land of 512sq, and it failed miserably, I didn’t sell a thing but I did manage to rent the house, and that’s when SkyView Home Rentals began.

Lowell Cremorne: When did rentals become an obvious business model for you?

Lord Coalcliff: I guess I just got caught up in the market demand. During the first few months I had purchased more and more land and provided more rental homes,that’s when I realized I was heading in the right direction. Income from the rentals covered my tier expenses and also allow me to reinvest into the business growth. I also know what customers needs are from my past and now growing experience in the industry. I have always done my best to be available to customers and tenants for enquires and advice. I get a lot of satisfaction when tenants have a place they can call home. But it’s the friendships I have developed through the business from the early days up to now that is the most rewarding.

Lowell Cremorne: How’s business going overall?

Lord Coalcliff: At the moment there are 75 rental homes across 8 island locations with only one vacancy, so overall I would say business is good. The only problem I have is the tenants don’t want to leave so I guess I am doing something right :). Now I can get to sleep earlier at night since I recently employed the much needed help of USA time zone located Trixie Timtam into the role of rental support staff, for our tenants and enquiring customers.

Lowell Cremorne: What changes have you seen in the way aussies interact in SL in the time you’ve been a resident?

Lord Coalcliff: The population growth of us aussies has been really good. And we still seem to have a great reputation with the rest on the real world in here. There are some really good groups that are active all the time and everyone sticks together. Everyone knows they can post in the group chats the latest news or ask for help anytime. Its great to see the growing number of Australian themed locations and real world companies getting involved. We all get excited when the real world aussie media reports on Secondlife and the group chats jump to life expecting new arrivals

Lowell Cremorne: What places in SL do you keep coming back to?

Lord Coalcliff: I am a fan of technology and Architecture in SL so I recommend these if anyone is like minded:

1) Dr Dobbs Island Amphitheatre for live video conferences on the
latest is SL news and technology.and Amphitheatre

2) Welcome aboard the SS Galaxy, the only full size, full scaled, and full featured cruise ship in SL. You have to see it to believe it. It spans 3 sims! (covered previously on SLOz)

2) Caledon – spend weeks exploring the 30+ sims here.

3) The Greenies Home – feel whats it like to be the size of a mouse in this amazing huge build 🙂 (SLOz coverage here)

Lowell Cremorne: What’s your future aims for your business?

Lord Coalcliff: The business is now at a manageable size and even though I do plan to have more properties, I am focusing more on features and services available to our tenants. Over the next month or so I will have finished installing tenant usable security systems at each property, I also plan to offer optional but free TVs, in home teleporters that can have the tenants favorite and most used landmarks added. We also have our SkyBar, managed and hosted by Pilar Catteneo who plans events for the tenants and their friends.

I currently list other properties that owners want to rent out and plan to expand in that area. There is also a market for renting land, both residential and commercial. The most important thing in the future is to continue the community feeling and personal customer service that SkyView Home Rentals provides.
From the first day I entered SL the business has grow by putting any profits I make back into it. I have never deposited any of my own $$ into SL. Because of this the business has grown slowly but steadly and I have been able to learn along the way the difference between RL businesses and SL ones.

Lowell Cremorne: Which other SL residents inspire you?

Lord Coalcliff: Hmm there have been many, and I meet many everyday but I will mention 57 Miles as someone who inspires me, though he doesn’t know it. He is the editor of and is my main source of the latest news in SL. He provides a fantastic informative news service to Second Life citizens. And this has allowed me to keep up to date on the latest technology available to implement into my own business. I also have to mention my staff Trixie Timtam and Pilar Catteneo.They both enjoy their work and often come up with innovative ideas and of course they have personalities like magnets to anyone around them.


Lowell Cremorne: What excites you about SL in the coming year?

Lord Coalcliff: I am excited about how SL is attracting new people with the skills to integrate our community with the real world. Being able to do
everything that you do at your home or workplace on your PC from within Second Life. I believe SL is evolving at an incredible rate when it comes to the various content and this is what will attract new residents and feed the needs of everyone. I only hope Linden Lab can see this.

Interview – Wolfie Rankin on Furries

Recently I was chatting to well known aussie SL resident Wolfie Rankin and we discussed the idea of covering what it means to be a furry. I posed a bunch of questions to Wolfie, and his responses are below:

Lowell Cremorne: What’s the history of furries?

Wolfie Rankin: It’s difficult to say when the genre began, some have said that it reaches back to the 1960s. Some say movies like Watership Down, Disney’s Robin Hood, Jungle Book, and Fritz the cat got the ball rolling.

Human beings have had affinities with animals for thousands of years, and have dreamt of having the strength and speed of animals. Look at our cars – Viper, Jaguar, Bronco, Mustang etc.

Women call their hubbies “Tiger” and men wish they were horses (at least in part). Then there’s the US Bald Eagle emblem.


Lowell Cremorne: How does one become a furry?

Wolfie Rankin: Being furry is not something you do one morning for the sake of fashion…although it has occured in the fandom now and then. I have seen times when skunks were “in” this week and foxes were “in” the next.

Disney was probably a furry, and I’m sure that Mel Blanc, the voice behind Bugs Bunny, was a furry. as he once said in an interview that Bugs was his alter-ego, that he didn’t just play Bugs, but he was Bugs on the inside.

Lowell Cremorne:What made you decide to be a furry?

Wolfie Rankin: In my case it was automatic, The thoughts were already in my head. When a friend introduced me to the internet in the late 90s, I found there were werewolf and furry newsgroups. I joined alt.horror.werewolves, where incidentally, I met Jakkal, who made the Avatar I use on SL.

To discover there were people who felt a lot like me well, that was great.

Lowell Cremorne: Is there any significance in the type of animal persona a person takes

Wolfie Rankin: There can be, it could be a spiritual thing, or even an expression of sexuality. I’m really just wearing my insides on my outsides, I suppose that’s how it works.

I’ve had some deep talks about reincarnation with some people and wondered if souls of animals could come back as people, why not?

Listening to Dr. Karl on the radio years back, he said that “if reincarnation is real and there’s more people every year, then where are all the new souls
coming from?” A good question… I noted that there’s less animals every year too, so where are their souls going?

Lowell Cremorne: What are the downsides of being a furry in SL?

Wolfie Rankin: Not many really. Furries often worried what would happen when the broader populace discovered furries and especially after certain TV programs (MTV and ER) focused on the “shock horror” aspects of the genre.

But I think most people I’ve met are very comfortable having furry friends. If anyone has been worried about it but wants to talk about it and find out what it’s
all about, they discover that there’s nothing to fear.

Lowell Cremorne: What are the upsides?

Wolfie Rankin: Ahh well we did “sorta” have a Second Life in ye olde internet which were MUDS, purely text based, but had to remember who and what each other was, for me that wasn’t always easy. It’s partly why there’s so much furry art, as people would hand draw their avatars or pay someone else to do it… and say “this is me, this is what I look like”. It was fine for the day, but to actually see each other in Second Life is a lot nicer. There’s still art though, and it’s bloody good too.

Lowell Cremorne: There’s a perception I’ve come across that furries are gay. Thoughts?

Wolfie Rankin: There’s no real difference between furries and anyone else as far as sex goes, all tastes are covered and catered for, which includes straight furs too.

Lowell Cremorne: If I like the look of a furry avatar but I don’t “feel” furry, can I still wear one?

Wolfie Rankin: Of course, by all means have fun… it should make no difference to anyone what you choose to wear as an avitar in SL, as long as it’s not deliberately offensive, of course!

Lowell Cremorne: Any furry links you’d like to share?

Wolfie Rankin:


Furry comics: [try these out, they’re loads of fun]

Buster Wilde [Gay Werewolf]

Kevin and Kell

A doemain of our own

Carpe Diem

Interview – Kim Pasternak (Kim Flintoff)

Kim Pasternak is one of Australia’s passionate education users of Second Life and runs the AusSLERs site. We caught up via email to discuss education and more.

Lowell Cremorne:Tell us a little about your educational background

Kim Pasternak: OK. I started out with the sciences, Chemistry especially, when I first left school and for a variety of reasons found my way into Theatre and Drama. After graduating with a degree from Murdoch University I worked for several years in the entertainment industry. Along the way I helped create Class Act Theatre and so my interest in Education was resurrected. A couple of years later I started my Graduate Diploma in Education at Edith Cowan University (ECU). It was there my interest in Drama and Technology was stirred. I worked as a teacher of Drama (and English, Dance, Computing, even Early Childhood Studies) in State and Catholic high schools and undertook a Master of Education (also at ECU) looking at Drama and Technology: teacher attitudes and perceptions. I also began working as a casual tutor and lecturer in teacher education. When the M.Ed was nearly finished I was invited to apply for a position in the PhD program at the Creative Industries faculty at Queensland University of Technology. I’ve got less than a year to go until that thesis is submitted.


Lowell Cremorne: What’s the topic of your PhD research?

Kim Pasternak: Like many thesis titles it’s long-winded and descriptive at the moment – Drama Teacher as Games Master: developing digital games-based process drama as performance. The basic idea is to take an extended educational role-playing form and blend it with online spaces. I want to see what happens when we extend a traditional drama form that is normally done with a focus on participation and simultaneously frame it as a performance – all mediated through an engagement with virtual spaces. I tell people it’s about Drama and Virtual Reality for the sake of ease. The output of the study is largely practical – I’m conducting 4 creative development cycles and the performances/workshops will form part of the thesis – only 40-50% will be written.

Lowell Cremorne: When did you first get involved in SL?

Kim Pasternak: Looking at my avatar’s birthdate it was November 17, 2005. I’d been told about it a few days earlier by some people at a conference in Melbourne – in fact, Lindy McKeown (Decka Mah) was also at that conference. Owen Kelly and Camilla Lindeberg from Arcada in Finland were there talking about their Marinetta project, they also referred to Neualternberg and my interest was piqued. I was already searching for possible technologies to use with my research project. At that time I was considering ActiveWorlds because I’d explored the possibilities and seen some exciting learning environments demonstrated by colleagues from AppState in North Carolina.

Lowell Cremorne: What are your recollections of those first few weeks using SL?

Kim Pasternak: Like most newbies I logged in without much of a clue about what to do – I was really just intent on finding the place Owen and Camilla had talked about. I found myself in this odd world that took a long time to resolve. I pretty much ignored the orientation experience and went searching straight away – the user interface was intuitive enough to let me clumsily get around. Like many newbies I also arrived with no understanding of the culture of SL and was terrified whenever another avatar appeared nearby. It was probably a week before I started talking to anyone. At that time there were relatively few users, around 150,000 from memory. And then I pretty much left SL while I got on with my study until about six months later when I got back into it with a clearer sense of what I was trying to achieve. By now, there were over a million registered users. The place had grown up and the interface was better and you didn’t have to look as hard to find things to do. This time I started to spend time playing with Kim Pasternak’s appearance, and took the time to learn the basics of building and scripting. I’m no whiz at either but can cope with some basic tasks.

Lowell Cremorne: Was the educational power of SL something that always seemed obvious or did you need to get to know it well first?

Kim Pasternak: Because of the context where I learned about Second Life I was always thinking about educational potential. I baulk a little at the idea of “educational power” but I could imagine possibilities from the outset and my current work is little changed form the original idea I had. I have however learned about the time it takes to create things and the great hurdles we have to overcome in convincing universities and schools about the possibilities. I negotiated for nearly 8 months with the network people at university before we could determine a workable and acceptable policy for how to engage with SL and other emerging technologies in a large institutional setting. I think we now have the basis of a very good approach to introducing and exploring new technologies. The educational and research communities have been a fantastic source of inspiration, information and guidance. The SLED and SLRL groups in particular continue to be the dynamic face of education in Second Life. The scope of educational projects is immense and growing daily.

Lowell Cremorne: What’s the most exciting learning application for SL you’ve seen? (SLURL would be great if you can provide it)

Kim Pasternak: There are so many exciting initiatives in Second Life it’s hard to choose just one. JoKay and Sean have a great listing of some of the more impressive projects. The NMC initiatives in running Symposia and other events has been a boon to developing knowledge about education in Second Life. Personally, being associated with some of the leading Australian SL educators continues to be exciting. Decka Mah and Anya Ixchel are both great colleagues and locally in the K-12 sector there are some interesting moves afoot. I started a website for AusSLERs. That’s the Australian Second Life Educators and Researchers group and we currently have about 50 members aboard. We also have the in-world group that’s also growing. I’ve been keen to develop more connections in the field of educational drama, as I think SL lends itself well to dramatic roleplay, but there don’t seem to be too many practitioners offering learning through drama. Anya Ixchel and I presented a session for NMC the other day “Teaching On the Second Life Stage: Playful Educational Strategies for Serious Purposes” that received some very positive feedback from the 30+ participants. Perhaps the DEISL (Drama Educators in Second Life) group might see a surge of interest.

Lowell Cremorne: Are you an immersive sort of SL user?

Kim Pasternak: If you are alluding to the difference between an “immersionist” or “augmentationist” I think I’d be hard pressed to make a definitive stand in either camp. But I suppose when I’m using my professional avatar, Kim Pasternak, then I make no effort to hide my real life inworld. My profile is fairly comprehensive about who I am in either context – I guess that makes Kim Pasternak an augmentation. I do however use Alts to explore SL and to play. The Alts also give me a bit of space away from the various groups and associations that Kim Pasternak connects with. It’s quite nice to wander about without IMs streaming in.


Lowell Cremorne: Putting your forecaster’s hat on, where do you see SL / virtual worlds evolving in the coming year and beyond.

Kim Pasternak: I’m hopeless at this sort of thing – I bought BETAMAX! I think the shift to the 3D Web will be slower here in Australia. All the talkj recently about how limited our internet capacity is in Australia was really brought home to me when I was in Hong Kong recently. Genuine high speed systems (not hyped up ADSL 2+ networks) need to drive something like a 3D Web and while many of the major players for these systems tend to operate out of the USA then we’ll continue to see that reflected in the types of 3D worlds that emerge. When the open source server systems start becoming more reliable we’ll probably see some local systems set in place – I think there may be some real benefits for that sort of arrangement in the various educational sectors. In the coming year, I think we’ll see the shift to voice in SL slowing down some of the innovations. I love using voice but can also see there are some real benefits to the text based mode of communication.

Lowell Cremorne: Any other thoughts on voice?

Kim Pasternak: As I mentioned above I think it offers a lot to many aspects of the SL experience – but some of the role-playing and other educational and performance activities will be adversely affected if there is a wholesale abandonment of text.

Lowell Cremorne: What are your favourite locations to visit in SL?

Kim Pasternak: Sadly, I don’t spend a lot of time exploring other spaces these days. A lot of my time and energy goes into developing the context for my own research work. I’ve just ordered an educational island so I guess I’ll probably see even less of the growing SL world in months to come. Having said that I do check out the offerings at ICT Library. I’ve also spent some enjoyable times listening to performances by Paisley Beebe (Australian jazz vocalist), I like the oddball work of Second Front and Ars Virtua gallery is often hosting some challenging works.

Lowell Cremorne: Who inspires you in SL?

Kim Pasternak: Well, I’d have to mention Decka Mah again, she’s always on the go with her own work and helping others. There’s a whole group of Aussie educators who are doing some great work – Anya Ixchel, Jokay Wollongong, Sean McDunnough amongst them. They’re always involved when something new and exciting is about to happen. There are lots of users I met through the SLED mailing list who inspire me, and in many ways they have become the shining lights of SL – Sarah “Intellagirl” Robbins, Stan Trevena, Beth Ritter-Guth, and others. Larry Pixel and his crew at NMC are also high on my list of people to admire.

Lowell Cremorne: If you had your own island, what would you do with it?

Kim Pasternak: Well, I’ve recently placed an order for an island and the sad thing is I have to say I’ll be going to work there! It’ll serve as the base for PhD investigations and I’ll also make space available to some of the AusSLERs who are still dabbling. I’d love to set up a holographic space for early career researchers to generate 3D representations of their research posters. I got a holodeck from Biscuit Carroll some months ago but have struggled to generate much interest in the idea. I honestly believe that finding new ways of expressing research will have a tremendous impact on the shift towards more performative modes of research. When my study is finished I hope to maintain the island as a centre for drama educators to incubate and expand the paradigm of their work.

Previous Posts