I made an SL thing that makes other things! I call it “the Thingmaker”. ’cause it makes things.

Here is a picture of it:


(It doesn’t actually matter what it looks like, it could even be just a plywood box but then it would be hard to tell from all of the other plywood boxes.)

Here’s a picture of the first interesting thing that it made while I was working on it:

The first interesting thing

Here’s a picture of the Thingmaker making a thing:

Making a thing

(It rezzes the prims of the thing above it, one by one, links them, positions and colors them, and when it’s all done unlinks itself from them.)

Here’s (a picture of) the thing that the Thingmaker was making in the previous picture:

Another thing

Thing-like, eh?

Here’s a picture of another thing it made:

Yet another thing

Lower-prim! Shiny!

And also:

Colorful thing

Higher-prim! Colorful!

An’ here you’re probably thinking, an’ you’d be right, that the Thingmaker can only make a pretty small set of things, mostly made of these shiny overlapping eggshaped prims. But! Now that the basic Thinkmaker is working, I’m gonna teach it to make a whole bunch other more kinds of things. If I don’t get distracted…

Oh look! Ants!



Having picked up a copy of AM Radio’s lovely roadster (Michele and Chestnut both wrote up the event), I naturally wanted to drive it around. I was frustrated on one racetrack, designed more for puny go-karts than big muscular roadsters that want lots of room to devour. Then Michele suggested the big empty salt-flats of (appropriately enough!) an AM Radio build.

Here I am, having just rezzed the roadster. Does it not go beautifully with the setting and the sky?

AM Radio 32 Roadster (KelvinBlue Oh edition)

(Click through to flickr on all of these for access to larger sizes etc.)

Michele got hers out as well. They were different colors!


We didn’t figure out until later that there’s a dashboard control that lets the driver instantly recolor the car. Another advantage of SL! That, and harmless crashes. :)

Here’s roughly the same picture with the HUD showing. (The roadster includes a lovely HUD dashboard, that also puts the world in a very AM-Radio soft light.)


Tearing happily around the salt flats:


(And yeah, I was by coincidence wearing a dress shirt and vest that went very nicely with the overall ambiance.)

Parked out by AM’s 1912 Spring Racer airplane, available for a mere 700L (I bought one):


Proceeds go to the Heifer International charity.

AM Radio’s sense of design is amazing. These pictures just take themselves. :)

Quick Evony Update

Since I’ve mentioned Evony here before, I thought I ought to link to Bruce on Games on Evony, which reveals all sortsa interesting things about the game, including the fact that the curvy females in their ads are apparently ripped off from like lingerie catalogs, and the Evony owners are aggressively spamming all sorts of gaming-related venues to try to lure more players in.

zomg hax.


OdalisqueIn the last few days, two different artist friends independantly sent me landmarks to Odalisque, with IMs of the “you HAVE TO see this” kind. And this is my landmark to you: you have to see this. Ideally you should see it before you read the rest of this, ’cause I’m going to talk about it; but in fact the visual (the visceral) effect of the piece is strong enough that whatever my words of mine you might have read beforehand probably won’t make much difference.

I happened to arrive (much too late last night) while Calli Christensen and some other friends were also there. Calli said something very true.

listening to people here is interesting

Seeing the piece alone would be a powerful experience. Seeing the piece with other folks there, being touched by it in their various ways, and saying or not saying their various things, adds a whole ‘nother layer.

She’s gorgeous!

That was me. :) I love bodies, atoms, concreteness, earthiness. And the woman in this piece embodies all of those things, real and unretouched, not airbrushed or edited or decorated, just there, relaxed, maybe sleeping, being reality itself. There’s this great little crescent-shaped mark just under her right knee, an benign indentation from the world.

Other people said similar things. “She is beautiful,” “she is real,” “beautiful and brave,” “I love her,” “she is very beautiful and sexy”.

i see enough fat c–t working at the supermarket
nice sculpt, but why couldn’t it be slim chick

These two gems from the same person in the crowd, a woman. (I’m actually fond of the c-word that I’ve censored there, but not when it’s used like this.) A couple of people opined that she must be a (rude) young man in RL, but she and a friend responded that she was female in RL, and would be glad to prove it in voice.

That anyone would divide women into “fat c–t” (bad) and “slim chick” (good), is pretty sad. That a woman would do that is even sadder. I wonder if she is someone young and pretty enough that she’s never had to think about just how legitimate magazine-cover standards are, or if on the other hand she’s internalized those standards enough that she feels fatally imperfect herself, and doesn’t like being reminded of it. But either way, maybe, standing around for awhile listening to other people’s reactions, and looking at the solid form sitting there, undisturbed, maybe even she opened a bit.

(“Nice sculpt” is quite correct. A few dozen sculpty prims, amazingly detailed shape and texture. Her nose is marvelously nose-shaped, her curves wonderfully curvy. I’m very curious to know if they were shaped by hand, or from a mechanical scan of the model.)

thats the future of texture and rendering of avatars right there..i cant wait

Now there’s a thought! I’m more ambivalent about it than the speaker (who can claim her statement if she’d like :) ), but I’m not sure why. I think (‘though I’m not sure) that we’re already on the other side of the Eerie Valley, so getting more realistic isn’t likely to make us seem creepy. Maybe I’m afraid that incredibly realistic AVs will make it impossible for amateurs to get into the skin or shape business? Maybe I’m afraid that incredibly realistic humans AVs will make non-human ones (furries, aliens, robots, art) less common, or less valued? Dunno. I’m not against the idea, just ambivalent. For some reason.

RightAsRain hates women and loathes fat women in particular — so does Starax (or whoever 3D Soup is). Let’s not prettify this assault by calling it “art”.

This from a well known weblog. (RightAsRain Rimbaud is with Rezzable, who’s sponsoring the piece, and 3D Soup is the creator; rumors swirl that this is the same artist as Starax Statosky and Light Waves.)

What would make someone call a realistic (and, to my eye, sympathetic and beautiful) depiction of a human body (at rest, in no demeaning position or activity, with those parts that would offend your average prude gracefully hidden) “grotesque” and an “attack”, and to conclude that those behind it hate women? I mulled this over, driving a child here and there through a rainstorm, and the best I can come up with is that the writer of those words thinks that being that shape is shameful, and that people who are that shape must be kept hidden, that we should pretend they don’t exist, or that they’re really some other shape, and that therefore showing a woman that shape realistically is violating that shame. But I could be wrong; I hope I am.

Update: I’ve been convinced by the comments :) that someone could think (especially if they have a pre-existing dislike for Rezzable) “Putting out this work is a cynical attempt to cause destructive conflicts in the community, and anyone who would use a large woman for such a bad purpose must loathe large women, and as such the act is grotesque”. I find the argument very implausible :) but at least it does account for some of the views expressed without requiring any feelings of shame over largeness, so that’s good.

She is lovely and endearing and we all know someone like her in Real Life.

This from Bettina Tizzy over at NPIRL. I’m with her. :)

So anyway! Go! Look at it! See how it makes you feel. Listen to what the other people there say. Be part of it.

More mentions: L1Aura Loire (on both Botgirl and Odalisque), Emilly Orr, NWN, Trinity Halderstadt (on flickr), Michele, Soror Nishi (also a bit worried about the realism aspects), Sarah Nerd.

(Footnote: Rezzable seems to have a talent for finding neat art and then making it slightly annoying to experience. There’s a guest book for comments at Odalisque, but when I tried to use it it told me that my AV wasn’t associated with a Rezzable account, and did I want to visit their web page and sign up? I didn’t. I guess it’s all part of having to monetize things to pay tier, but it was a slight sour note in the music.)

Pointed Babble

Twitter bird eating a pear.  I know, pretty silly.
We interrupt our regularly-scheduled stream of narcissistic pictures to comment on this story, because we keep saying this in comment threads and Plurks and mailing lists and stuff, and we are a Twitter user, so we thought we might as well say it here:

This “study” is silly.

Silly in, I kinda suspect, the “advertisement thinly disguised as science” sense of “silly”.

Background: some soi-disant analytics company published a glitzy paper full of cartoon diagrams, the major headline of which is that 40% of Twitter postings (more than any other category) are “pointless babble”. And oh by the way just mentioning in passing they are currently beta-testing (but I’m sure have no financial interest in) a new product designed to help people filter that stuff out (and here’s the URL to find out more).

This is making lots of headlines (even here on th’ weblog, sigh), because of course people love to say either “Twitter sux0rs!”, or “does not!”. But in fact the study (and I use the term loosely) seems to have been designed to produce exactly this result, and therefore adds little or nothing to our knowledge of the world or of the suxiness of Twitter.

What they did was, they took 2000 Twitter postings, counted the ones that were stuff you could find on the National News, the ones that were spam (of two kinds), the ones that were obviously parts of conversations, and the ones that had “RT” in them (i.e. “retweets” of something someone else had previously posted), and then labelled everything else “pointless babble”. (A nice objective scientific term, eh?)

In particular, any use of Twitter for the thing it was originally designed for, posting a brief description of what you’re doing right now so your friends can follow along, was presumably categorized as “pointless babble”.

And then they got big headlines for finding out that there’s alot of that on Twitter.


(A more thoughtful discussion can be found on apophenia; I am still at the facepalming stage.)


I am for some reason Rather Sleepy, so I am mostly going to point to the press release and the SLURL (more or less) for the “Arcana” show currently going on in Caerleon. (I lurve the artists of Caerleon, but I for the life of me cannot spell the name of their sim.) It’s a show based on the Major Arcana (aka Trumps) of the Tarot Deck.

I went there! It was fun! Here are a few pictures!

The Magician, by FreeWee Ling, lets the viewer become part of the picture (interestingly reminiscent of our previous weblog entry!). Vis:

Arcana: the Magician

There I am! (The crown I am wearing is, by the way, a free gift from The Fool.)

Next is a really poorly composed snapshot of v good friend Sabrinaa Nightfire’s rendering of The Hermit; it looks much (even?) better in person:

Arcana: the Hermit

Poid Mahovlich’s The Sun is notably sunny:

Arcana: the Sun

And I’m not even going to show you Banrion Constantine’s version of The Lovers, ’cause I think it’s so cool that you should really go look; but here’s the sign outside it, to whet (or possibly perk) (perk?) your interest:

Arcana: the Lovers (sign)

There are a bunch of others, natch, all starting with The Fool, by Miso Susanowa, which I don’t have a picture of. The Fool has flavor text (as they say) with various interesting facts about the Major Arcana, including the suggestion (which I don’t remember hearing before but which sounds quite right) that one interpretation of the Tarot is as a depiction of the (no doubt very metaphorical) travels or trials or life or whatever of The Fool himself, the zeroth card of the Trumps.

So you should go and see this show! I found it slightly confusing to navigate around until I realized that the things that look sort of like doctors’ scales are teleporters, and when you activate the standing-on part, you get a menu of places organized by the name of the artist. Thus armed with knowledge, off you go!

Art Box

This is another “pictures of a neat artsy place to go” sort of post. (The next one probably will be, too, unless I get distracted.) In this case the neat artsy place to go is Art Box (that link goes to their web page, where you’ll find a SLURL an’ all). And once again it’s v good friend Michele who found the place, and I jes tagged along. :)

The first inneresting thing that the Art Box people do is take RL-type visual artworks of various kinds, and make SL versions of them. Here’s their homage to A Sonnet of Love by contemporary art-person Rob Hefferan:

Art Box 1

which is very nice, but the really inneresting that they do is give you a chance to enter into the art:

Art Box 2

That’s me in nice yellow gown replacing the person in the picture, with Michele an’ the amazing Art Box persons (more on whom below) looking on.

They’ve done this to a Whole Bunch of artworks of various kinds, and there’s some utterly lovely scripting behind it all: you select the particular artwork you want (either from a menu in a corner control box, or by selecting a picture of it on the upstairs balcony), and the entire main room of the installation converts foom into the SL representation of the work you’ve chosen. Then, depending on the work, when you sit within the room, one of the people in the work may disappear and be replaced by you, or you may fill in an empty place, or whatever. And, if there are clothing or props associated with the work, there’s a little crate off to the side where you can pick up, say, the car full of people screaming in terror at you, if you are The Fifty Foot Woman:

Art Box 3

An’ Here is Michele being the Fifty Foot Woman, before she had a chance to pick up her car:

Art Box 4

but she is nicely scary even without it. :)

Some of the pictures they’ve done can hold more than one person, even. Name That Famous Image!

Art Box 5

I’d changed clothes (and skin and hair and…) for that one, and the new outfit was gratifyingly almost-appropriate for the next one we summoned up:

Art Box 6

(Note that I am still holding my little car in this picture; shortly after I replaced it with the sandwich-prop from the crate, which was more appropriate if less amusing. The original of this picture can be found all over the Web.)

The Art Box people themselves are extremely approachable, friendly, funny, smart, and so on. Not to mention dead-cute:

Art Box 7

That’s Frankie Rockett and Violet Sweetwater, who is them. I really ought to interview them for the ol’ Virtual Artists Alliance weblog or somefing; they are neat. We talked for quite awhile, mostly about how amazing it all was.

Here is Michele being Red Hot, for the obvious reason :)

Art Box 8

and here are we both, in another “Name that Image”, waving byebye, and encouraging you to check out th’ Art Box yourself immediately if not sooner:

Art Box 9

Hey you Lindens, get offa my lawn!

On the snazzy black-background Flash-driven page that Second Life dot com shows if you aren’t logged in, it says

Second Life is an online, 3D virtual world imagined and created by its Residents.

On the masthead of the pages that Second Life dot com shows to logged-in Residents, it says more succinctly

Your World. Your Imagination.

I like both of these phrases quite a bit. I like the idea that SL is whatever the Residents make it, and that Linden Lab qua Linden Lab confines itself to making sure that the laws of physics work, making sure that the land exists, and that the most basic rules of civilized behavior (i.e. no griefing) are enforced.

If the Lab wants to have some land where they do cool stuff, and wants to like organize a Winter Festival or something now and then, too, that’s okay, although I’d rather they did it as individual Residents, rather than as The Lindens; it’s fairer that way.

It’s like how the FSM created the RL universe for us, and then mostly stepped back to let us play with it. He doesn’t reach down with His Noodly Appendage now and then to put on a barbecue or a remake of Casablanca or anything. He keeps, if you will, a clean separation between the tasks of physics and culture.

There seems to be a real tension at the Lab between letting the Residents shape the world, “Your World, Your Imagination” style, and intervening to shape and mold the world the way that the Lab would like it to be. The most obvious example of that is the Great Adult Exile, but it’s relatively easy to argue that they were forced into that by RL laws about exposing people who might be children to taboo images and stuff. More subtly, though, the Lab does things like Bay City and Nautilus, parts of the mainland where rather than just putting out land for sale and letting Residents build stuff, they do big builds of their own, with Themes, and Texture Sets, and Back Story, and all like that. Whatever one thinks of the particular builds, it’s undeniable that, having been built by The Gods Themselves, they have certain advantages, economic and psychological, over anything that a mere Resident might build.

I posted a comment on this SL weblog entry about the Hau Koda Municipal Airport, with this sort of concern in mind:

This looks like a really pretty build, and I know lots of hard work and great intentions have gone into it. And I hate to be an ol’ grump but…

Why is the Lab making large elaborate builds, again? I mean okay I can understand roads, a bit, because in order to be useful they have to cut across large areas and it would be hard for a private Resident to acquire all that land from the folks in the path of the road. But why an airport? It being Our World Our Imagination an’ all, why not sell that land to a Resident or a Group and let them build whatever the imagination suggests? Maybe an airport, maybe a hockey rink, maybe a carnival-grounds, whatever.

Not that I don’t think y’all at the Lab should have the fun of building. But why do it in an official capacity? Buy the land by the usual processes and build stuff on it that way! I dunno if it’s just me, but otherwise I sort of feel like us Resies are just sort of sitting around going “ooh” and “ahh” at what the Lindens and Moles are building. And somehow that doesn’t feel all that SL to me.

Again, nothing against this particular airport or the good times that ppl are having at it. But just as a matter of general principles…

And I got an answer from M Linden himself:

Well, Dale, several reasons; some more specific to this project than others.

— build theming: we think creating a theme for urban areas is Very Good. Since the parcelling, parks, and other Linden-owned land is part of the theme, we try to seed the entire area with in-theme examples.

— public event sites: helps build community without a specific Resident having to support the cost. We have various auditoriums, meeting spaces, etc. spread around the world. Some (like the Linden Memorial Zone) are created to ensure long-term stability and freedom from the perception of bias – not that Lindens can’t be biased, but at least we have to answer for it in the forums, office hours, etc.

— hub: once the load on the infohubs is balanced a bit more, we’re gonna turn on the hub settings for this region. Even when hubs are nicely balanced, it’s now thought best to avoid having Resident-owned parcels in the same Region (to avoid the “I can’t get into my own land” problem).

— land buying: the DPW (at least) tries to avoid buying land (or other content), since our sources of Linden dollars are pretty much infinite. We’ve sometimes bought small parcels, at market rates or lower, to fill out “broken” projects (like missing pieces of roads); and we buy some stuff for personal use (avatars, props, etc.). But it’s hard to stop “bidding higher” when you have unlimited funds. And, heh, how do you know the DPW didn’t buy the Region; “Hey, [Region-creating Linden], we’ll buy you lunch for a Region!” (joke!)

In the case of Hau Koda, we knew that some sort of Linden content needed to be placed there. I chose “period airport”.

I can sort of understand the “public event sites” one, sort of; I could make a case that (like roads) big event sites are a Public Good that no one Resident or Resident Group would be incented to build, and that it makes sense to build them with tax money (so to speak). The “hub” one I don’t really understand at all: all of the infohubs that I know of are in regions that also have Resident-owned parcels (unless I’m just really confused); maybe this is some new policy?

But the first and last ones are the ones that worry me. “We think that it’s good to have themes in urban areas, so we’re gonna do builds”. Well, why? Isn’t that something that the Residents should be doing? “We knew that some Linden content needed to be placed there.” Again, why?

When the people that control the laws of physics and the land supply and so on also get to choose the aesthetic theme of various areas, that seems to me to unfairly advantage those Residents with similar tastes, at the expense of everyone else. Is Second Life really “Your World, Your Imagination”? Or is it “Our World, Our Imagination, You Allowed To Participate If You Follow The Theme”?

The latter is certainly the case in many other virtual worlds. Twinity is always sending me these notes about exciting new events and buildings and stuff that they, the Twinity gods, are putting on, and what RL city they’ve decided to model next. Vside (last time I looked anyway), was entirely designed and built by the owners, not the residents. Once in a great while I see someone trying to have a Player-run event (a sermon, a beerfest) in WoW, but they’re mostly ignored and often derided, and all of the buildings and official events and holidays and so on are written by Blizzard.

But, for reasons that I thought I’d be better able to articulate when I started typing this entry, I want Second Life to be different. I want it to be a place that grows organically from the individual activities of the Residents, and voluntary groups of Residents. The place that’s most obviously and chaotically like this is the mainland (which, as you may recall, I adore); but private estates are that way also, in that each one represents a consensus of some sort among the estate owner and those people who choose to live there. Except for having put down the dosh for an island, the private estate owners are just Residents like everyone else; they aren’t the people who run the underpinnings of the world, or control the laws of physics.

Prokofy Neva recently posted two entries that brought my mind back to this worrying tension (while I have my own problems with Prokofy, at least the first of these postings is quite cogent). It seems, he’s discovered, that the Lab has a closed email list in which the Lindens are talking with some of the major Estate owners about what SL should be like. My initial reaction to this is that it’s really none of the Lab’s business what SL is like (Our imagination, guys!), and that when caught talking about it on a mailing list with certain selected Residents, the response “oh, sorry, that mailing list was supposed to be closed” is not real real comforting.

The feeling that I get from the response that M Linden wrote to my comment, and the responses that Prokofy got from Jack Linden, and quite a few of the statements by Blondin Linden and others during the Zindra discussions, are that the Lindens aren’t even aware of any tension between their views on all this and the views of at least some of the Residents. To them, I think, it’s pretty obvious that they own the world, they will be making various decisions about how it works and how it is themed and organized and managed, they will decide who to partner with in doing all this, and the end result will be a great thing for everyone, with lots of opportunities for individual Residents and Resident groups to express themselves and build stuff that they’re inspired to build. That this would seem creepy and paternalistic to lots of Residents doesn’t seem to have even occurred to them; after all, why would any Residents be all distrustful and ungrateful like that? The Lindens created the world and continue to run it in a way that lets us do various cool things. We should be happy, not moaning all the time!

One phrase from Jack’s note to Prokofy really drove this home to me. Jack is talking about the Lab looking for ways to “add value to the Mainland” (a phrase that already makes me very nervous), and he writes:

The last part is in finding ways for the community to partner with us. As you know we’ve had mixed results there, but I still feel there is a lot of value in doing that whenever we can.

Yowch. It’s hard to read this as saying anything but “we’ve tried letting Residents do stuff on the mainland, and while we don’t really like how it’s turned out, I feel that we should look for ways to continue allowing Residents to do stuff, maybe, if we can, where it doesn’t conflict with our more important goals of making everything look nice.”

And that’s just scary!

I don’t feel that the mainland, or even Second Life in general, should grow and develop through partnerships between the Lab and whoever the Lab feels like partnering with. I think it should grow and develop through the actions of the Residents. I don’t think that’s an unusual opinion :) but I also don’t think that the Lindens are really aware of it, or even understand the difference. And I think that’s too bad. I would also love to be proven wrong.

Our World. Our imagination. Remember!

Update: Related posting by Ciaran Laval.

Update 2: In the original version of this post, I wrote that “Even in Metaplace where (some / most / many / all?) of the places outside of the central hub are user-created, the decision about which worlds to link to directly from the hub is made (afaik) by the Metaplace owners, and that gives them a tremendous amount of control over what the place as a whole feels like as you explore.” Raph of Metaplace very kindly corrected me in the comments, pointing out that while they do have some rotating Featured Worlds linked from Central (sort of like SL’s Showcase), most of the links out from Central are rented by users for Metaplace coins, and so quite user-controlled. Good for them!

Send yer ideas for the SLCC Music track!

Grace says, pay attention!I love live music in SL. Doesn’t even have to be especially good, as long as it’s real and warm and connected. And when it is good, that’s even better.

As I type this I’m at The New Blue Moon, listening (and dancing) to KelvinBlue Oh on jazz guitar, and he’s good. He always is. :) And now, ’cause I compose weblog entries slowly sometimes, it’s Oldwolf Criss, who I haven’t heard before, but so far it’s triff.

One of the first live performers that I became really aware of in SL, as an ongoing person whose stuff was real and warm and connected and good, and who had (and has) a great community of fans and friends and creatives around her, is Grace McDunnough. She’s a great singer, an’ songwriter, an’ all-around smart person, so I try to pay attention when she says things. Even when it’s things about SLCC, which I have to admit I’ve never paid a whole heck of alot of attention to. :)

So anyway that was a long leadup to this here notecard from Grace, soliciting good ideas for a discussion of SL live music on Sunday of SLCC (whenever that is). Read and obey!

Live performance is Second Life is one of my passions, and if you are reading this notecard it’s probably important to you too. And that’s why we need your help.

Linden Lab has asked the live performance community for our suggestions, ideas, complaints and genius bits about how to improve the overall experience for everyone – from performers to venue owners and event planners to residents.

As part of the SLCC Music Track, we will be having a discussion Saturday at 3PM SL/PDT on the panel: Looking to the Future of Live Performance in SL with Colossus Linden.

You can help make that track powerfully meaningful- just add your ideas and insights using the embedded form found here:

Everyone’s input will be collected, we’ll organize the information, and we’ll talk about as much as we possibly can at SLCC. We’ll also make sure that the information is accessible to anyone that is interested.

Please spread the word and thanks in advance.

If you have questions, just drop me a note.

Peace ~ Grace