So who does Second Life’s birthday belong to?

Disclaimer – perhaps, as Tateru Nino points out, is should strictly speaking be called the Anniversary – but we are all so familiar with the SLxB designation that I’m going to stick with that.

Resident Builds at SL8B
Resident Builds at SL8B

Discussion has been going on all day following the Lab’s announcement of the Second Life Birthday celebrations, with Marianne McCann hosting a fascinating discussion thread. Various people have commented on the changes that are happening, with Linden Lab stepping back from hosting a centralised event – including Inara Prey and Honour MacMillan.  The general feeling is clearly disappointment, but people are beginning to make plans.

To me it feels oddly analogous with the time that Treet decided they would cease live filming.They would give us every help and support but really, it was now our responsibility to make sure that our shows made it to air.  And some shows folded – but I think I can say that many have gone from strength to strength. At the time I said it felt we were like baby birds being kicked out of the nest (aw, Mum!) by parents who knew that we jolly well could fly (you can get you own ruddy worms!).  But developing Designing Worlds has been an exhilarating experience, and we’ve even started new shows like Happy Hunting!  Above all, our relationship with Treet is now far closer to the standard TV one where the channel broadcasts the show made by the independent production company.  It’s not 100% like that, as Treet producers and camera people tend to work on different Treet shows irrespective of the production company … but it’s a model with some validity.

I can see similarities with Second Life.

windyy Lane - Soaring with magic at SL8B: photograph by Beq Janus
windyy Lane - Soaring with magic at SL8B: photograph by Beq Janus at SL8B

Let’s remember, first of all, that this is not Linden Lab’s birthday – it’s Second Life’s – in other words, the birthday of one of their products.  At the moment, yes, their only product – but one of several they are planning.  It seems to me, therefore, that their stepping back from the final event they organised (even if their involvement has, in recent years, been pretty low key) suggests to me that they are increasing defining themselves in terms of platform providers and not as community creators or even supporters.  They are moving (as I commented on Inara’s blog) to a position more like Facebook that provides the infrastructure for things to happen in (or in), and then builds in updates to foster development.  Perhaps an even closer parallel would be Live Journal or eGroups.

So if that is the case, then it is for the residents to decide what the form of the Birthday events will take – whether scattered celebrations or a larger centralised festival. Certainly there’s a very large team of volunteers who were looking forward excitedly to being part of the event this year – they were rather downcast on the Second Life Birthday group last night. Many of them would, I believe, be happy to work for a largescale Birthday venue.

Colors from the Void was designed by Shellina Winkler and Solkide Auer: photograph by GM Nikolaidis at SL7B
Colors from the Void was designed by Shellina Winkler and Solkide Auer: photograph by GM Nikolaidis at SL7B

But what about the land, usually donated by Linden Lab?  Well, here I think we have to be pragmatic.  If we want a large centralised celebration, we need business sponsorship.  Estate owners and businesses would have a unique opportunity to get their names out in front of the wider Second Life public.

What about the large scale builds? I imagine that in the past, the builders were paid (maybe at Mole rates).  This year it would be a case of builders contributing their work for free – again it would be a great opportunity to showcase work.  Would that be enough of an incentive?

One of the stunning builds at SL6B: photograph by PJ Trenton
One of the stunning builds at SL6B: photograph by PJ Trenton

And the last element, people to organise what is undoubtedly going to be a chaotic and demanding few weeks.  I would think we need a committee of people, prepared to work together with low drama, taking responsibility for different areas of the event, and supporting each other throughout.

It’s not going to be easy.  But it could represent an enormous opportunity to demonstrate a united community.


  1. For what it’s worth, I wasn’t paid for my main builds and architectural pieces at SL5B or SL6B, and I doubt the chief architects since have been, either. So one less thing to worry about 🙂

  2. Nice post and I agree wholeheartedly. Also, thanks for sharing Mari’s thread, I have offered my contribution as well.

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