Victorian Bushfire support continues in Second Life

Across the Second Life grid, fundraisers continue to occur for the victims of the Victorian bushfires. Tonight I heard about a fundraiser occurring at Bringiton’s Music Hall of Fame.


Australian owner Bringiton Paine is hoping to raise up to half a million Linden Dollars overnight, so if you’ve got some spare time and want to have a dance, join the party and make a donation. There were more than 40 people having a good time when I jumped in, including a significant proportion from Austria, Germany and France to name a few. Another example of grass-roots fundraising at its best.

Don’t forget there’s a growing list of Second Life vendors selling goods to raise money for the cause.

“Gender Freedom Day in Digital Worlds” – hooray for diversity!

Extropia Central Nexus

The 25th October 2008 heralds the coming of a new celebration: “Gender Freedom Day in Digital Worlds.”

Gender Freedom Day is the brainchild of Sophrosyne Stenvaag, a digital individual who inhabits digital environments such as Second Life. Stenvaag envisions the Day as a promotion of “freedom of expression of gender identity and sexual preference in digital worlds” – a celebration of all choices of gender identity and sexual preference, and the ability of all the individuals to interact in a civil and respectful manner. Stenvaag is disappointed and horrified by the cultures in digital environments – the hatred of, hate crimes surrounding, and general uncivil and unnecessary expression of biases surrounding gender and sexuality difference of expression.

"That's so gay?"

The hub of the Day’s activity will be at Extropia, Stenvaag’s paradise of difference in self-expression in Second Life. However, Stenvaag hopes to spread the word of the day far and wide, and to have events engaged in throughout Second Life predominantly. Individuals from other digital environments, and even those in the atomic world, for those who have the resources to do so, are welcome to join in with the fun and festivities. As of a couple of days ago, event organisation was in full swing, with several speakers with academic backgrounds giving their commitments to makes presentations, DJs having been approached to provide entertainment throughout the fundraising party (running 2pm to 10pm SLT on the Day), and discussions with a welter of other communities and organisations progressing apace. Individuals wanting to inject their own brand of creativity, make a presentation, or generally volunteer to help out are most welcome to do so: you will want to liaise with Sophrosyne Stenvaag in Second Life.


The fundraiser will be collecting money on behalf of organisations who promote the ideals of the Day. The exact organisations will be determined before the money is dispensed. Stenvaag is currently open to nominations for existing organisations and start-ups who could benefit from the money. Stenvaag herself is starting the kitty at L$125,000.

The most heinous crime.

“Walk into one of the capital cities in World Of Warcraft, or the infamous “Barrens Chat,” night or day, and you’re likely to hear the foulest expressions of homophobia, gynophobia, racism and anti-Semitism. Of those, the most prevalent seems to be homophobia: “gay” and “fag” are stand-ins for anything bad, and used with abandon, despite their being in technical violation of the Terms of Service. The culture permits it.”

In a digital setting, this kind of attack via speech, in which individuals are treated as though their expression of self is invalid, in which individuals are treated as objects or “things”, and other such attacks upon the self, is more heinous than any other kind. In the atomic world, far worse things can happen to you, of course, but for those of us who live in a digital world, we have a responsibility “to not sit silent and permit a culture of hatred to flourish” in our homes.

“Attacking people for presenting their gender in the way that suits them is not okay.”

The digital advantage.

There are other reasons for holding a Day like this in a digital world, too.

  • Because the denizens of digital worlds represent a subset of the individuals represented in the atomic world. Not only does that mean that there is a smaller sample of people amongst which to spread the word, but also that folks from digital places can take the word back with them to the atomic world and make a difference there too.
  • Fewer resources are required, compared with similar efforts in the atomic world. One side effect of this is that more money can be donated to the organizations, instead of being spent only on the celebration.
  • A more diverse lot of people are recognised and represented. Not only are the common (gay, lesbian, transgender, etc) expressions of gender and sexuality able to be represented, but also those that have emerged through the existence of digital environments.

All are welcome.

Stenvaag wants everyone, of all gender and sexual persuasions, to be welcome at Gender Freedom Day, even though she is aware that this will not be a globally popular response:

“Speaking for myself, I support the freedom of expression of … any other group: as long as they refrain from hostile expression against those who differ with them, consenting members of their community should have the right to their own practices.”

Future freedom loss creeps up unawares?

Above and beyond Second Life‘s many attractions, many residents prize the ability to make and enjoy user-created content. It is the main thing that separates Second Life from the profusion of other virtual worlds making their appearance, both recently and further in the past. Nonetheless, Linden Lab is pushing for a more “mainstream” approach. Does this spell out the demise of user-created content? During this push, does Linden Lab plan on cravenly sidling up to each step necessary to achieve this end?

It seems clear that Linden Lab is ready to start making changes, both in their business model and in their approach to the governance of Second Life. In “mainstreaming” the running of the Lab, one hopes that the plan is to move from a start-up model to a corporate model. Right now, the Lab seems to function as a conglomeration of start-ups, each of which has a large amount of trouble communicating with the other start-ups in the system. Improved communication between the parts should improve the overall capacity of the business to run efficiently and competently. In “mainstreaming” Second Life, the newly effective and better-resourced Linden Lab might have less trouble governing, even as they bring in tighter measures to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for all-comers. Unless, of course, they continue in the current vein of slowly taking away our favorite toys and making it look like they’re hoping to keep the patronage of the current crop of residents until the money from future residents – “mainstream” residents – comes flooding in. Hey, Linden Lab? We’re adults – do you seriously think that we’re not going to notice if you pull the table-cloth out from under us, even if the flowers are still standing? Also, as mature-minded folk, we can accept that sometimes you need things for your own benefit – just don’t try to pass them off as things that are for our benefit.

It looks like the coming changes are destined not to be necessarily popular with current residents. Perhaps as the residents we should be concerned about this, about the welfare of our virtual tribes, virtual locations, and virtual hobbies. Linden Lab, perhaps, should not be concerned about our reactions at all. They have a business to run, and profits to be made. If this a major priority for them, they should by all means be looking to the future, to future residents and their desires. If this is the case, it would be nice to see two things happen:

1. A removal of the potentially hypocritical slogan “Your world. Your Imagination.” (or even “Your world, Your Way,” a trademark Linden Lab recently applied for);

2. For Linden Lab to “supercharge” the changes in Second Life and get it all over and done with as fast as possible. They should risk losing all the residents they have now, if that is their end goal anyway. Much better that to be strung along and hugely disappointed in the end.

Despite being supported by observation of the news and current events within Linden Lab, this is to some extent just speculation. Things are certainly changing within Linden Lab, but without more straight from the horse’s mouth, it is very difficult to see where the next few months might take us. I’d personally like to say to Linden Lab, “Don’t take away the thing that makes Second Life special. Let us keep our freedoms, and let us deal with all the consequences that come with them. We live in the real world. Virtual worlds can be a reflection of that reality, as well as having their own unique aspects of reality – don’t make it a sheltered thing, a lesser thing than it has been.”

Linden Lab has claimed repeatedly that they and the residents are partners in this world building – shouldn’t partners tell each other what is going on?

Auntie’s Avatars

This week there’s been a flurry of activity by a number of Australian Second Life residents on ABC Island this week. That activity has led to the establishment of a blog and forum, both called ‘Auntie’s Avatars’.


It’s early days with not a lot of content but hopefully it’ll enhance the already active in-world community that already exists on ABC Island.

The ABC in Second Life: one year on

The 19th March brings up the one-year anniversary of the ABC’s launch of ABC Island. Launch night coincided with the screening of You Only Live Twice on Four Corners. Since that time, there’s been a steady stream of events, including a great number organised by the Australian community of Second Life residents who frequent the island.


ABC Island’s presence is a modest one when compared to the Telstra build, but it packs a lot of variety in the area it does inhabit. The Sandbox remains the most popular area, but themed areas like Melbourne Laneways provide a lot of ongoing interest as well.

There are also rumours of further expansion via another island. I caught up with Lisa Romano (SL: Lise Robbiani), the ABC’s Project Manager, Strategic Development for its Innovation unit, who wouldn’t confirm the rumours. We also asked her to confirm the original intent of the presence in Second Life. “The ABC created a presence in Second Life to learn more about virtual worlds so that it could understand how to create and present content and build a community in this rapidly growing three-dimensional environment. One of the ABC’s core principles is to reach audiences wherever they are and to pursue opportunities for innovation, so a new platform of this kind which shows strong audience growth and interest is worth exploring,” Romano said.

So after a year of effort in Second Life, has it been worth it for the ABC? Romano certainly thinks so. “We are thrilled with the response from audiences over the past year. The response has been overwhelmingly positive, and we feel like the Island really offers a sense of Australian community based around content, creativity and innovation for both Australian and international visitors, mainly due to the dedication and enthusiasm of the ABC Friends Group.”

That same ABC Friends Group (of which I’m a minimally contributing member) is organising some anniversary events this week. There’ll be plenty of information in-world or watch this space for details.

What are your thoughts on ABC Island’s first year? Has it been a success? How do you see it evolving in the coming year?

Ad Farms, ABC Valentines and Addiction Survey

Three mini stories in one today:

1. Ad farms are the target of the latest Linden Lab crackdown. There’s likely to be widespread praise for this move.

2. Second Life’s ABC Island is having a Valentine’s Day event:

“Bring your sweetheart or come and make new friends, or both! Celebrate Valentine’s Day (Thurs 14 Feb TODAY!) at ABC Island at 8pm AEDT on the ABC Park ice rink, near the Sandbox, or roller skate around the ‘ABC logo’ path. Join the Valentine Heart Hunt! Free skates available, or bring your own trick skates”.


3. We received this short missive this afternoon:

“I’m doing research on second life addiciton, it would be a great help if people would take a survey I set up

Australia Day 2008 in Second Life

An excellent grass-roots effort has been put in by a handful of Australian Second Life residents to ensure Australia Day 2008 goes off in style in-world.

There’s a cricket pitch with plenty of spectator seating, a special Australia Day version of Wolfie Rankin’s Rockit music trivia extravaganza and lots more.



Come dressed in your best whites from 8pm AEDT tonight (Rockit commences at 7pm)

Check it out in-world

Update: Gary Hayes has some great photos of the festivities here

Latest guide to Australian locations in Second Life released

Simon Kline has updated his excellent list of Australian presences in Second Life. I was surprised as to how many new areas have popped up and in coming weeks we’ll tour some of them for you.

Here’s the info Simon has supplied:

“This is a guide to Australian Locations in SL. If you have an Australian location in SL please IM Simon Kline to get it added to this list 😀

I sometimes get my IM’s capped so if i don’t respond keep pestering me till I do because i probably didn’t get your msg! Likewise if you gave me a LM and it’s not here it maybe because the list didn’t save properly when i added you, send me the LM again 🙂

If you didn’t get this from a notecard giver and want to be added to the handout list to receive updates automatically visit my store and touch the notecard giver. (currently 120 subscribers woot!)

If you own one of the places listed here pls check the information presented and let me know of any errors! Also let me know of any additions i can add!

Also i’m distributing these via notecard givers, if you wish to have a notecard giver at your place to help distribute this list and promote Australia in sl let me know. I now also have the bare scripts available so you may create your own notecard givers and just put the scripts in!

Please share this around with anyone you think may like it, even newbies find it handy to have a list of places to explore!

Thanks and Enjoy!,

Simon Kline 😀 ”

ABC Sandbox Xmas party this Thursday

ABC Island Sandbox is the venue for a Christmas shindig this Thursday night at 1am SL time (8pm AEDT).


Hope to see you there.

SLOz 1st Birthday Party

We had a little shindig on Saturday night to celebrate a year of news reporting for Australian Second Life residents. More than forty individuals popped in over the couple of hours and much dancing was had by all.



A big thank-you to all those who have given their good wishes in recent days. As we’ve already mentioned, there’s some changes on the way that you should enjoy. Stay tuned 😉

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