A look back at 2016 in Second Life – Year In Review

10 years later
My 10th rezday – 31st October 2016

This is my special year in review post looking back at the biggest news, events and more during 2016 in Second Life. There have been so many good memories and some not so good ones during 2016. See the bottom of this blog post for month by month highlights of 2016. ūüôā

Improved communications

I do think communications between the lab and the Second Life community have greatly improved during 2016 through various channels like the official Second Life blog, on the Second Life status grid reports page, via Twitter and inworld.

The lab have already posted their highlights of 2016 here including raising the land prims limit for the mainland/private estates, introducing the new horizons experience, adding 360 snapshots, extending Bento, adding new community gateways and much more.

New Horizons Experience
Improved grid status page

State of the grid in 2016

The amount of Main Grid regions and private estates have declined further during 2016 which is not good news but that’s what’s officially happening.¬†I hope that in 2017 there will be some sort of region growth because that would be cool. The lab needs to work out and try to come up with workable solutions to stop the decline happening.

Back on 3rd January 2016

  • Total number of Main Grid regions: 24, 886
  • Private Estates: 17, 775¬†
  • Linden Owned: 7, 111

As of 25th December 2016

  • Total number of Main Grid regions: 23,¬†975
  • Private Estates: 16, 792
  • Linden Owned: 7, 183

There have been many well known places that have closed down this year¬†in Second Life because of various reasons and some places managed to be saved. ¬†Yay! ūüôā

Mont Saint Michel

Amazing Events This Year

There have been so many enjoyable events that have happened during 2016 including the Second Life 13th birthday celebrations, One Billion Rising, Lab Chat events, the VWBPE conference, Relay For Life of Second Life events,

Don’t forget the incredible Bay City 8th anniversary, BURN2 events, the annual faires and the list goes on.

Thanks to all those that organised and volunteered these amazing events this year. ūüôā

Fantasy Fair 2016_006
Fantasy Fair 2016
Bay City Eighth Anniversary_016_011
Bay City Eighth Anniversary
SL13B Day 1_001
Second Life 13th Birthday
RFL of SL 2016_001
RFL of SL 2016
London City 7th birthday_007
London City 7th birthday
BURN2 2016 Festival

Sansar is almost ready 

There was huge interest this year for Sansar with hundred’s signing up for the Creator Preview and testing it out. The lab have released various interesting Sansar photos, demos and updates during the course of 2016.

Sansar is due to open to the public sometime in January 2017.

Some shocks in 2016

The big shock of 2016 has to be when Donald Trump won the US Election 2016 and will become the next US president from mid January 2017.

Donald Trump supporters area

Another big shock of 2016 has to be the terrible Orlando shootings earlier this year because that was really sad. In Second Life the community came together and raised L$ to support the victims.

Orlando Shooting SL_001

We lost some great talent during 2016 

Sadly a few well known residents that I knew in Second Life passed away during 2016. If anyone knew anyone else that passed away in Second Life during 2016 – please let me know so I can add it below!

  • Ladyslipper Constantine¬† Involved with Virtual Ability events, Virtual Worlds Best Practices education events, One Billion Rising, BURN2 events and she was involved in past Second Life birthday celebrations
  • Latif Khalifa¬†– Developer of the Radegast Metaverse Client, Singularity Viewer and Replex¬†Viewer

Here is a month by month highlights during 2016 on what happened in terms of big events and news. All links below are from my blog posts ūüôā¬†

January 2016

February 2016

March 2016

April 2016

May 2016

June 2016

July 2016

August 2016

September 2016

October 2016

November 2016

December 2016

2017: the year ahead

I hope everyone has enjoyed reading my blog posts during 2016 and I am looking forward the blogging more in 2017. I will be covering Second Life, Sansar and OpenSim next year. Wooot! ūüôā

I hope 2017 will be a good year ūüôā


Sneak Preview: The Drax Files Episode 35 – Metal Mole Moshpit Time

On Wednesday 3rd February Draxtor uploaded a sneak preview for the new upcoming¬†episode of The Drax Files. Episode 35 will be available to watch on Friday 5th February 2016 and it’s all about the Moles in Second Life.

The Moles are banging their heads to an old rehearsal room recording of a band I was in 1993ish = excuse the bad audio but it seemed fitting….

Episode 34 called¬†Cheeky Pea has now been viewed¬†14, 394 times on YouTube. Wooot! ūüôā

Watch previous episodes of The Drax Files here.

The Drax Files: World Makers: Episode 32 now available featuring Jayjay Zifanwe

Draxtor Despres has released episode 32 of the amazing¬†Drax Files World Makers series featuring¬†Jayjay Zifanwe. This month it’s all about¬†Machinima and¬†this epsiode runs for 4mins/59secs.

In this episode JayJay Zifanwe and the University of Western Australia in Second Life helps people to express themselves through using machinima in Second Life. The UWA in Second Life is a great place for artists to come together and take part in many interesting projects.

I thought this episode was¬†fascinating and¬†informative giving a more in-depth look into¬†machinima which is a great way of promoting.¬†Here are some more details about this epsiode…

“The backbone of the our university’s presence in the virtual world is the art and the film. It keeps things alive at all times!” says Jayjay Zifanwe from the University of Western Australia in Perth.

With the blessing of his Dean Jayjay is actively promoting immersive art and machinima made by Second Life residents from all walks of life all the while emphasizing giving voice to creators with disabilities or chronic illness.

The relationship between UWA and the SL art scene illuminates how a major university can use the creative and social aspects of virtual environments to enhance their mission of inclusive learning on a global scale.

May this be a model for other educational institutions to follow?

With the resurgence of interest in VR JJ’s efforts may just be a template to emulate in the future…

More information on UWA in Second Life is at http://www.uwainsl.blogspot.com

Great job Drax and¬†Jayjay ūüôā

Tom Boellstorff featured on Episode 31 of The Drax Files

Episode 31 of The Drax Files is now available to watch featuring Tom Boellstorff talking about avatar identity and the use of virtual worlds. Tom is an anthropologist from the University of California in Irvine. Tom is the author of Coming of Age In Second Life which was published back in 2008 and many may find the name Tom Boellstorff familiar. 

When Tom signed up to Second Life back in 2004 there were only around 2, 500 members with an average concurrency of two hundred. Tom said that you could fly over every region across the grid within a week at two hours a day.

Tom says that Second Life’s a place with places in it, people are still interacting¬†inside the virtual world, there’s still plenty to observe.¬†Tom feels¬†if the virtual reality explosion happens then virtual worlds are going to be a major use case.¬†Tom says that VR won’t take over virtual worlds, it will be a different way of accessing them.

The interview is around five minutes long but there is great footage of Second Life throughout the episode and its really worth watching.

About Epsiode 31

“The challenge is always time” he says: “You need to get to know the people you are studying, you need to live among them, so they can get to know you!”

For over 12 years Tom Boellstorff has been an active resident of Second Life, not only writing books about his research there and the methodology used in exploring user-centric online societies but engaging hands on with diverse communities such as the Parkinson’s support group and Virtual Ability.

In a recently published new edition of his book “Coming of Age in Second LIfe” [http://press.princeton.edu/titles/106…] he cautions against dismissing sustainable digital communities like Second Life simply because they are not the hot tech property of the day: “The biggest obstacle in studying technology is the obsession of the media with what is new and what is big. Nobody asks me why I am still going to and writing about Indonesia for instance. From an explorer’s point of view the culture in Second Life today is as vibrant and fascinating to me if not more so than when I started out!”

In this 5 minute mini-documentary Tom Boellstorff not only addresses the issue of big data, avatar identity and what role the new wearable VR technology may play for revitalizing interest in virtual worlds but elaborates on a more nuanced way to address the difference between what we tend to label “real” versus “virtual”.

For more information about Tom Boellstorff go to http://faculty.sites.uci.edu/boellsto…

Big thanks to Marianne McCann for creating powerful sets, Apple Fall for custom props and all the great extra actors who had the courage to film with us at the Welcome Area [especially Hexapoda, Bryn Oh, Gidgette & Wilber Adagio and Chorister, Calisto Amato and williarenato]

Special thanks to the Drax Family – young and older- for participating in the filming of this episode.

Super special thanks to Jacki Morie for getting great footage from the SoCal VR Expo 2015.

Spread the word about this episode ūüôā

Watch previous episodes of The Drax Files here from 1-30.

More at draxtor.com

The Drax Files: World Makers [Episode 26: Absinthe] now available

Draxtor Despres has just uploaded Episode 26 called¬†Absinthe and it’s now available to watch on YouTube. This episode is all about the¬†fashion industry & identity in under 5 minutes.

‚ÄúSecond Life is so multifaceted that you can‚Äôt really make a judgement as to whether somebody‚Äôs activity is more serious than somebody else’s!‚ÄĚ says Absinthe, a virtual super model: ‚ÄúI get up in arms when people put down Second Life as escapism!‚ÄĚ

Yes Absinthe, who works with HIV/AIDS children in her day job, fully embraces her SLelebrity status despite the raised eyebrows of friends and colleagues when she mentions what she terms “my hobby”.

Check this out and spread the word! ūüôā

More info about Episode 26

Indeed there is no shortage of articles which dismiss in particular the fashion industry in this largest user-created virtual world as lonely adults playing Barbie & Ken after-hours.

But there is so much more underneath this playful engagement with avatar dolls: exploration of identity, ethnicity, class and embracing the creative impulse in all of us, those are just a few themes that run alongside Absinthe’s story.

Not to mention that her FEROSH project has brought her recognition beyond the virtual realm as this fashion compendium is available in physical print, rivaling RL publications in its beautiful presentation and style.

But let us for now simply embrace the wonderful distraction of some talented women in gorgeous dresses, accessories and hair.

I think this episode is fantastic and I have to say¬†Absinthe is amazing from watching. Thanks Drax for another great episode and I’ll look forward to the next one. Glad that Second Life was mentioned once again. Yay! ūüėÄ

The last Drax Files for 2014 – Episode 25: Oblee

Draxtor Despres has uploaded episode 25¬†called¬†Oblee on 30th December 2014 and this month it’s all about music.¬†Oblee performs every week in Second Life reaching out to a global audience via live musical performances.¬†Oblee is¬†definitely one of the top performers in Second Life playing amazing music.

The episode runs for 4 minutes and 59 seconds. Check it out and spread the word about episode 25 with friends.

This is the last Drax Files for 2014. More great episodes to come in 2015 i’m sure.¬†Well done to Drax for an incredible series of the drax files during 2014. I can’t wait to watch more in 2015.

Episode 25 details 

“I do not see a conflict between the virtual and the natural world!” says Indie Musician Oblee.

He lives – with wife, chickens and a brandnew puppy – on a remote 7 acre piece of land in Durango Colorado, but through virtual reality he can connect to a global audience: “I can do a world tour in one day”, he says about his gigs in Second Life, where he plays solo shows as well as collaborative ‘multi-streams’ with fellow musicians from all over the world: “I can feed my chickens during the day and play concerts at night.”

Oblee owns only one synthesizer alongside an eclectic assortment of acoustic instruments: ” I am actually bringing a bit of the real world into virtual reality!”

And so Oblee’s debut album “Wow Bob Wow” – produced in the physical realm but financed entirely through the virtual currency Linden Dollar [Oblee’s Second Life earnings from club and gallery owners who book him to play their venues] – is a perfect example of the synergetic effect of being engaged in both worlds.

“This is what I tell fellow musicians who do not understand VR or SL: that money is to be made here! When I mention that, they are interested all of a sudden. I mean, these are people, when you dangle a dollar bill in front of them, they will play Rolling Stones cover songs for an hour easily…”

The success Oblee has in Second Life has boosted his self-confidence to keep pursuing a music career outside of the digital realm as well:

“When you can do something in virtual reality, who is going to stop you from doing it in REAL reality?”

And to that, there is nothing more to add. Not in this world, or any other…..

Locations shown in this video: After Dark, Legion, Templemore, Firefly, Bwomp, Bay City, The Pen, Cica Ghost, Tart Gallery, Nipponbashi Club, Pinoy Hideout, The Vortex

Special thanks to Marianne McCann for wrangling extra actors on the ground and building beautiful sets. Thanks also to Pupito from Engrama for playing such forceful drums during a Depeche Mode cover…..

For more information about Oblee go to http://obleemusic.com/

See previous episodes of the drax files series here. You can follow Oblee on Twitter to stay updated on his upcoming performances in Second Life. Woooot!

The Drax Files: Episode 24: MadameThespian Underhill

Draxtor Despres has released his latest episode (#24) of The Drax Files: World Makers featuring MadamThespian Underhill who directs Avatar Repertory Theater in Second Life. MadameThespian is a Chicago-based actor who performs and directs for her local Shakespeare company which is very fascinating.

This episode is¬†amazing and really inspiring I think. I love the part about motion tracking technology in the future.¬†Once again another¬†fantastic interview and it’s worth visiting the¬†Avatar Repertory Theater¬†today. ūüôā

Watch Episode 24 below

Episode 24 details

“Second Life levels the playing field when we interact with each other”, says actress MadameThespian Underhill who directs the virtual reality theatre troupe Artist Repertory Theatre in SL.

A.R.T has been performing live theatre in the virtual world since 2008 with a cast that spans all generations and [physical] location.

Professional TV and stage actors mingle with dedicated hobbyists and community theatre buffs to dress up their colorful avatars in homemade sets to produce drama, comedy, musical and improvisational theatre for a global avatar audience.

In addition to the creative possibilities that a digital universe such as Second Life holds, MadameThespian is enthusiastic about its social aspects as well:

“The value for older people” she says, “is wonderful because of the ability to interact with other people from all over the world of other ages. You are being judged by what you say – the pure essence of who you are!”

And so you can often see the likes of Thinkerer Melville, 85, well-known benefactor of the arts in Second Life enjoying inter-generational dialogue with Madame and Mike Denneny, who at 22 years old is already a veteran in the virtual realm, having started as an entrepreneur on the Teen Grid in 2005.

The theatre a place to express a deeper kind of truth about the human condition? Certainly a tradition in physical “reality” but increasingly one that has impacted virtual reality just as much!

The Drax Files Radio Hour

Also check out The Drax Files Radio Hour #24 called Unter Den Lindens which was published this week. OMG Drax went to Linden Lab HQ in San Francisco!

New Video: Avatars for Net Neutrality!

Draxtor Despres uploaded a new video called Avatars for Net Neutrality! on Wednesday 17th September 2014. The  video runs for 1 minute & 32 seconds. See the video below! 

While we might not be able to get rid of all lag in Second Life we most certainly should raise our voice in the battle for the net.

Watch more episodes of The Drax Files here.

Virtual Health, Second Life and Oculus Rift featured in The Drax Files #22

The Drax Files #22 is now available to watch and this week it’s all about¬†Virtual Health featuring Second Life and the¬†Oculus Rift.¬†Episode 22 runs for 4 minutes and 59 seconds showing another amazing aspect of Second Life. I found this episode very¬†inspiring and most interesting from start to end about¬†amputees using Second Life. I do agree that this is a great way to¬†utilize the Virtual and experience Second Life like never before.

During this episode there is footage of the Oculus Rift which looks just incredible and shots of lovely locations in Second Life. Spread the word about this incredible episode of The Drax Files series and see below for episode details.

Episode #22 Details

‚ÄúSecond Life is the perfect place for amputees to overcome emotional trauma by sharing stories and realizing they are not alone!‚ÄĚ says Sandra L. Winkler, assistant professor at NOVA University in Florida, teaching occupational therapy.

Her Virtual Health Adventures project is using Second Life to find out if virtual reality can offer a better learning environment for amputees than a traditional website.

Dr. Winkler’s 3-year study is funded by the United States for Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality  and is currently mid-way through the 3-year study period.

She adds that while it would be too early to state conclusions on the project, preliminary results clearly show that virtual worlds with their unique ability to create a sense of “being-there”, are a powerful tool to facilitate a peer-network: a place where amputees from all over the world help others [veterans of wars and non-military amputees alike] and offer emotional peer support to families.

“Second Life offers a space where clinicians can learn from patients what they might not be able to glean from textbooks”, Sandra Winkler says: a space where amputees can share insight into their lives so that able-bodied students or any other interested party can experience what it feels like to lose a limb.

More information at http://www.virtualhealthadventures.org/

The Drax Files #22

Previous episodes of The Drax Files

  1. The Drax Files: World Makers – Episode 1: Kriss Lehmann
  2. The Drax Files: World Makers – Episode 2: Jo Yardley
  3. The Drax Files: World Makers – Episode 3: Eshi Otawara
  4. The Drax Files: World Makers – Episode 4: Fantasy Faire / RFL
  5. The Drax Files: World Makers – Episode 5: Engrama
  6. The Drax Files: World Makers – Episode 6: Abramelin Wolfe
  7. The Drax Files: World Makers – Episode 7: Rod Humble
  8. The Drax Files: World Makers – Episode 8: MadPea Games
  9. The Drax Files: World Makers – Episode 9: Elie Spot
  10. The Drax Files: World Makers – Episode 10: Robin Sojourner
  11. The Drax Files: World Makers – Episode11: Dwarfins
  12. The Drax Files: World Makers – Episode 12: Ole Etzel
  13. The Drax Files: World Makers – Episode 13: Creations for Parkinson’s
  14. The Drax Files: World Makers – Episode 14: Rose Borchovski
  15. The Drax Files: World Makers – Episode 15: Scottius Polke
  16. The Drax Files: World Makers – Episode 16: Feed a Smile
  17. The Drax Files: World Makers – Episode 17: Zachh Barkley
  18. The Drax Files: World Makers – Episode 18: Paradise Lost
  19. The Drax Files: World Makers – Episode 19: Virtual Chemistry at Texas A&M
  20. The Drax Files: World Makers – Episode 20: Flockers
  21. The Drax Files: World Makers – Episode 21: Editorial Clarity

The Drax Files: Episode 19 – Virtual Chemistry

Watch the latest episode 19 of The Drax Files featuring Julia Tiraxibar who teaches Chemistry at Texas A&M University. This episode runs for 4 minutes and 59 seconds. This episode is very informative and educational from start to finish I think. There are great views from inside Second Life showing different educational areas.

It’s very interesting to hear about students using a replicated lab in Second Life to run¬†experiments and visualising the chemical processes.¬†Students who used Second Life found it better than the real life lab.¬†The results showed that¬†Second Life students data came out better.

Episode 19 Details

The students using the replicated lab in Second Life had better retention of information than the students only using the physical lab!” Wendy Keeney-Kennicutt from Texas A&M University is excited about the preliminary findings of her study about how the unique affordances of virtual reality platforms like Second Life can facilitate and enhance the learning process.¬†

Conducted together with Kurt Winkelman from the Florida Institute of Technology, the study comparing physical lab and virtual lab is funded by an NSF grant and slated to be finished in April 2015.

While the findings [so far] maybe indeed eye-opening for many who have not engaged with virtual reality in an educational context, for pioneering teachers and enthusiastic students alike they can hardly be seen as a surprise: learning in virtual worlds creates a strong sense of being together and collaborating in one shared space irrespective of physical location powerfully transcends – via avatar-based interaction – a multitude of social issues.

Episode 19 РVirtual Chemistry 

Watch previous episodes of The Drax Files here and stay tuned for episode 20. Woooot!!!