Sabrinaa Nightfire

I have been so out of touch the last month that I only tonight found out that we’ve lost Sabrinaa Nightfire, SL artist, patron of the arts, and generally wonderful person.

Here is a nice posting on the Prim Perfect weblog about Sabrinaa and her passing and various ways her less out-of-touch friends have remembered her.

I will just post a few pictures.

Sabrinaa's Peace and Love Oasis

That’s Sabrinaa dressed all festive at her Peace and Love Oasis build at Burning Life. She made big colorful things, things that made you happy just to look at. And she was all about peace and love and health and all that kinda stuff.

Sabrinaa Surveys Her People

That’s her at the opening of the Caerleon Museum of Identity, looking appropriately all mature and mentorly. She was always giving people things, and holding artistic Challenges to encourage people to make stuff, and generally fostering the community. (See how many of my own postings here mention her.)

She made all sorts of artworks, and not only displayed them, but also randomly dropped copies on her friends. Clothes, flowers, sculptures, solid frames full of interesting things.

Here are three of the latter:

SabrinaaIllusions

These were done for some “Illusions” show. Left to right, I think they are called “Illusions Just for Fun”, “Illusions of Time”, and “Illusions of Love”.

Utterly fitting, writing this now, that she herself is in the middle one.

Here is I think the last surprise that suddenly appeared in my inventory from her:

Sabrinaa Nightfire's Genesis

Still big and colorful and delightful, but a bit subtler, as some of her more recent things have been. I think I will leave that one on display in the Park for awhile…

Sabrinaa Nightfire, an EarlyTree

I’ve had this very festive tree sitting in my park forever (near the money-giver thing and the dogs playing poker). I’m so used to it that I didn’t even think of it when I was rustling around for Sabrinaa things to take pictures of, until suddenly there it was…

Such a happy thing.

Damn, I miss her!

She was great at prodding me into actually making things. :) Here’s the last thing that I made for one of her challenge shows.

The Red Ball

It was for “Black and White and Red All Over”, which I don’t think she ever quite had a chance to open (unless I was just offline and missed it). It’s called “The Red Ball”, and I’m very fond of it. And I will think of Sabrinaa every time I see it.

Among the Colors -- Sabrinaa's Enchanted Garden

Thanks for the dance, friend. And the art. And everything…

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Second Life’s Transformation into Profitable Chicken Farm Seriously Threatened by Second Life Users’ Hate and Fear of Change

I was recently talking to one of my very good CEO friends with whom I regularly hang out at exclusive meetups and other trendy events, and while I don’t know if he agrees with me about everything, I do know that many present and former Lindens, US Presidents, and the prophets of all major religions, including Philip Linden, probably do, because after all I am right, and Second Life is doomed unless it changes completely.

In particular, Second Life will inevitably vanish into oblivion unless it does three things:

  • Implements “click to move your little person around” like the Sims,
  • Integrates intimately with Facebook,
  • Transforms itself into a chicken farm.

And I don’t mean some stupid virtual chicken farm, I mean a real-life chicken farm, with chickens and stuff. Have you seen the profit margins those places make? It’s insane!

The chicken franchise is, after all, orders of magnitude larger than the Second Life franchise, or even the Sims franchise. Everyone eats chicken! mmmmm, chicken!

Of course Second Life’s current stuffy narrow-minded piggish repulsive decaying stupid users, who don’t listen to me and even satirize me in their weblogs even though they have probably never even talked to Rodvik, will moan and whine and kick their little feet about this, because they hate and fear change. And chickens. They are chicken-haters!

The inevitable changes to the UI that will allow you to click and move your little person to the window where they can buy Linden Lab stock, the only necessary operation once the company is transformed into a profitable chicken farm, will be met with stuffy narrow-minded piggish repulsive decaying stupid whining, but I will counsel my good friend Rodvik (who I call “Rod”, or even “Roddy-baby”) to ignore them, since one’s current users are always less important than the millions of users that one might have in the future if a miracle occurs.

And you should by no means read or pay any attention to people who advise listening to current users, because they are wrong.

Virtual Worlds Best Practices In Education 2011

VWBPE

I will let friend KendallQ do all of the work here, by quoting the notecard she sent that eventually got me (and got me into) that picture…

Hi all —

Many of you know that the VWBPE Conference starts today.

I had mentioned to some of you that I would be presenting on “Conflict Transformation for Organizations”. This is an unusual topic for a conference of this type and I am excited to be included.

This will be at 2 SLT on Friday. The SLURL is http://slurl.com/secondlife/VWBPE%20South%203/120/117/43.

ABSTRACT is:

Is your way of handling conflict like Howard Stern, Oprah Winfrey; or do you avoid conflict, possibly at all costs? Regardless of the world you are operating from, conflict is a natural part of every-day life and also part of every organization.

“Conflict is normal in human relationships, and conflict is a motor of change. Transformation provides a clear and important vision because it brings into focus the horizon toward which we journey – the building of healthy relationships and communities, locally and globally. The goal requires real change in our current ways of relating.” (source: John Paul Lederach, “The Little Book of Conflict Transformation”)

By reconsidering the way we think of conflict and learning new ways of communicating and relating, we can build stronger relationships with our allies as well as those we inspire to a different way of thinking and feeling.

Not only do we feel and work better with easier relationships but the real “winners” are the individuals who will have fuller, richer lives and are more productive.

OTHER PRESENTATIONS TO CONSIDER:

  • “Digital Literacy and the Death of Community: Implications for Education” by Kaseido Quandry aka John Carter McKnight, Friday, 1:00 p.m. SLT
  • “Learning about Community in Virtual Worlds” by Elisabeth Hayes (aka Nila Indigo) and John Carter McKnight, Friday, 5:00 p.m. SLT
  • “A Virtual Traveler’s Notebook: Some Reflections on Professional Learning & Sharing in Second Life” by Kimberly Flack aka Kimmer, Friday, 6:00 p.m. SLT
  • “The Perky Pug: Engineering Play With Strangers in World of Warcraft” by John Carter McKnight, Saturday, 11:00 a.m. SLT

You can find locations for the other presentations by checking out the Master Schedule tab on the left here — http://vwbpe11.vwbpe.org/.

Please feel free to share this information with anyone you think might be interested.

Best regards,
KendallQ

I got there just too late to hear botgirl and friend give keynote. :) I am not really a Educator, and will prolly not go to many Sessions myself, but lots of inneresting people will, so if you get a chance, pop in! Never know who you might meet, or what thoughts you might encounter…

Gamificationing

Little people with letters on themI think I’ve figured out why I so often disagree with Hamlet Au‘s opinions about how Second Life should change. As I speculate here, I think Hamlet is talking as an investor or a business consultant, saying what he thinks will improve new-user signups, or retention, or profitability in general; whereas I’m talking as a resident, saying what I think would make the world a better place to be a resident in, for people who are at least to some extent like me. Of course the world has to continue to exist :) in order to be a good place to reside, so I am somewhat concerned with profitability, but it’s not primary.

So for instance when Blue Mars decided to give up development of the actual virtual world, in favor of an “is my AV hot or not?” app for cellphones, that may have been a great decision in terms of bottom line, but presumably was not great news for those who enjoyed the actual virtual world.

And when Hamlet praises the new “Rank” system on the Second Life official forums, and hopes that it will soon have an equivalent inworld, I think he means that he believes (based on his knowledge of similar systems in places like the 2.5D Habbo Hotel (“Habbos Like: army cool diceplaya elite police force financier football friends fun funny habbo habbo government job justin bieber lol love music nypd pays police white house”)), that this would increase new-user retention, concurrency, profits, etc; but when I say I think it would be an awful idea, it’s because I have a really hard time imagining how such a thing would actually improve my experience of the world, aside from any profitability impacts it might have.

I remember when I briefly tried “vSide” awhile back, there was some system of “Creds” or something, based on something like a ranking system or achievements or friends or money spent or something, and various items that I might have wanted to buy were only available if you had enough “Creds”, and I didn’t. And this turned me off, and was one of the reasons I stopped going there; one thing I don’t want a virtual world telling me is that I Am Not Good Enough!

On the other hand I do appreciate the value of a constant little stream of validation in any activity. So maybe it would be possible to imagine some sort of “Gamification” of SL that would, rather than telling you that you are currently Not Good Enough to get some particular item or upload some particular kind of content, instead give you little attaboys, little blips of praise or accomplishment. Might be worth thinking about.

World of Warcraft has (at least) two almost entirely separate reward and rank systems, one of which I think is completely inappropriate for SL, and one of which might actually be interesting.

The inappropriate one is the obvious one: every character has a level, and the most obvious driving force behind the entire game is leveling up. You level up very very fast at the beginning, which provides a steady stream of little rewards to start with, while you’re still perhaps finding out what-all there is to do in the game. Low-level characters can only go to low-level places, and use low-level items, and fight low-level monsters. A high-level character can kill a low-level character of the other faction with a single blow.

Importantly, it’s a ranking system among characters (“toons”), but not among players; in general each player is expected to have a number of toons, and the level 15 druid that you’re talking to is quite likely just the latest toon of someone who also has two or ten level 85 characters of other classes and races.

And this would all be completely inappropriate for Second Life. SL isn’t about some ubiquitous overarching story that everyone is taking part in, some set of predefined ladders that everyone goes up and that everyone is interested in. It’s not about creating a character, leveling it up one of the available ladders, improving one’s gear, and then starting a new character with different abilities, to climb a slightly different ladder. SL can be this, if you get into one of the RP systems, but that’s entirely up to the player; it’s not baked in. And it shouldn’t be; changing SL to be that way would be like making it into an “is my AV hot or not?” app for cellphones, or for that matter into a sales platform for dishwashers. It might be profitable, but I (and I think most residents) would lose all interest.

On the other hand, WoW also has the more recently-added “Achievements” system. Achievements are things that you do outside of the level system, and that get you at most little decorative rewards, like a new title to display over your head, or a pet that will follow you around but doesn’t actually do anything in the game. And the vast majority of achievements don’t even do that; it’s just another achievement that you’ve achieved, the game makes a cool little noise and informs anyone standing nearby and anyone in your guild who happens to be logged in at the time, but that’s it. There’s a “compare achievements” mechanism that you can use to compare your achievements with those of anyone nearby, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen or heard of anyone using it.

Could we have a similar system in SL? Maybe. It wouldn’t be like the thing on the forums at all, with every person having one single rank-like title (“Honored Resident”, “Member”, “Advisor”, gak); instead there’d just be alot of checkboxes that you could either ignore entirely, or work more or less hard on getting them checked off. Having checked off alot of them would not get you any special powers on the forums or in the world. I can’t emphasize this strongly enough; tying them to special powers leads to cheating and hacks and drama and destruction.

There could be a bunch of very easy checkboxes, so that new residents get a nice welcoming stream of validation messages when they start out. And it should be easy to ignore those checkboxes you never intend to check off; someone who has no interest in combat games should not be constantly prodded by the viewer because they have not yet checked off the “kill or be killed in a combat game” box. (I really hate the thing on Facebook or wherever it is that’s always reminding me that I’ve provided only 47% of the intimate personal information that they’d like me to reveal; that’s all I ever intend to provide, thank you very much!)

So what would be some fun checkboxes? I’m sure people are making lists like this all over the SL web even as I type. :) Maybe:

  • Find the Friends List panel
  • Find the IM and Group IM panels
  • Say something in open chat
  • Walk!
  • Fly
  • Teleport
  • Find the world map
  • Teleport to somewhere on the world map
  • Receive an IM
  • Send an IM
  • Offer friendship to someone
  • Be offered friendship by someone
  • Buy something / spend Lindens
  • Sell something / receive Lindens
  • Rez a cube
  • Change the texture of something in Edit mode
  • Create a new piece of clothing / body part / notecard…
  • Join a group
  • Create a group
  • Take a snapshot

And so on and so on. :) Most of those are newborn sorts of things; I think I’ve done all of them but “create a group”.

We could argue that once someone’s been inworld for awhile, they will have found other sources of validation and fun besides the little achievements. On the other hand it’s easy to imagine the occasional olderbie achievement: “Rez your 500’th cube” or “delete your 10,000th thing from inventory” or “make your 100th friend”. Even “own an entire sim”. How about “be hired by Linden Lab”? :)

I dunno. I think I can convince myself that these things might be fun, and might increase new-user retention some. On the other hand I’m not sure, given all of the things that might be fun and might increase new-user retention, if this is anywhere near the top of the list. (Get sim-border-crossings working first, ffs!)

:)

Avination and the Freebie Issue

No freebies!Another alternative grid that’s been getting some talk lately is Avination. It’s another OpenSim grid, technically pretty stable from my small amount of experience there, with a functioning currency system, and a couple of interesting potential differentiators (i.e. things that might make it different enough from Second Life and from all of the other OpenSim grids to be notable).

The first differentiator, which I won’t mention outside of this sentence, is gambling; they haz it.

The second one is their novel and as far as I know unique Freebie Policy. Or, as it might also be called, their anti-Freebie Policy.

The Freebie Issue is another one of those controversies that I’ve studiously avoided in weblogifying about virtual worlds. The issue has enough facets and subtle nuances that it would take a whole essay to treat well, and on the other hand lots of people seem to have strong one-sentence opinions on it; not a great combination.

Personally I like it when people share stuff, and I think it’s healthy for an economy in general when in order to make a buck you have to work harder and/or have better ideas than the people who are producing stuff just for fun. On the other hand I do understand the argument that store-provided freebies are a sort of Tragedy of the Commons thing: that sellers would do better if none of them gave out freebies, but if anyone does, then in order to stay competitive you have to also. I suspect that the argument is true in some sectors, false in others, and irrelevant in others; but it would take significant work to get any good data on which are which.

Anyway, Avination comes down on the negative side of the issue in various ways. When you land at an Avination starting point, there are no boxes of free AOs, no stores giving away free “better than newb anyway” clothing. The Freebie Policy says “No Freebies may be given out in stores at the welcome areas”. And since you start with zero money, that means the only way to even walk like a person is to invest in the world.

It’s an interesting thought; they are counting on there being enough people who already know that they want to be in the world, and will be willing to put down cash before they’ve really experienced it.

(Yeah, I’m assuming that no one would want to experience a world while waddling around like a duck; a pretty good assumption I think!)

Not only can there be no freebies in stores at the welcome areas, no store can have more freebies than it has non-freebies, you can only give away freebies that you made yourself, and no freebies can be copy-transfer.

This led me to wonder just what they mean by “freebie”. The Policy seems to define them as “promotional gifts”, but just what does that mean? Is something that costs $1 (in the local currency) not a freebie anymore? What if I make something and want to give it away full-perm just for fun, not “promoting” anything but maybe my reputation for generosity; is that still a freebie in the relevant sense?

I posted that basic question as a thread on the Avination forums (which has since moved): does the Freebie Policy forbid me, as an individual rather than a store, from giving anything away full-perm?

For about a week it got only some unofficial answers from unofficial people (some sensible, some appearing to directly contradict the stated policy), and then finally there was an apparently-official reply from “Randolf Baxton, Forum Support”, which suggested two things:

  • Avination needs to do something about the attitude of their support people, and
  • The Freebie Policy does in fact apply to individuals just like it does to stores.

Which is pretty radical, really, if true. It’s not necessarily bad, but it’s a large departure from Second Life (differentiator, see?), and suggests a really significant outlook on the world: that this isn’t a place where the vision includes people randomly making and sharing things, modifying and passing them on, etc; on the contrary it’s a place for buying and selling, where the amount (and perhaps indirectly the quality) of stuff is carefully reined in. The rules about what you may create and what you may do with your creations are founded on the needs of commerce, whether you yourself intend to be commercial or not.

Not my kind of place, described that way, but nothing requires it to be. I think it will be interesting to see if it is lots of other people’s kind of place.

There’s an episode of Gridwrap (one of those long video things I never have time to watch) in which one of the Avination folks talks about the whys an’ wherefores of the Freebie Policy. I found it interesting both for what she talked about and what she didn’t talk about. She talked alot about how many freebies are copybotted (i.e. produced by using rogue client programs to copy other people’s stuff in violation of copyright), and most of them are very low-quality, and how Certain Other Grids have lots of “sims full of poor-quality freebies that no one wants”. She doesn’t talk at all (at least not that I noticed; my attention did wander) about how freebies compete with for-sale things, and raise the bar on how interesting your stuff has to be before you can get money for it. (Which I gotta think is part of the reason for the policy.)

And I think that’s about all I’m going to say on the subject tonight. :) Personally I like the sharing culture, where people make stuff and pass it around full-perm, or at least copy-transfer, and it passes from hand to hand forever. I probably like lots of stuff that the Avination people would consider low-quality (and when they say “freebies that no one wants” I have to admit what I hear is “stuff that isn’t to my taste and therefore should not exist”). On the other hand I don’t like copybotting or copyright violation; and on the third hand I’m not sure that freebies or full-perm things have much if anything to do with that.

I’m tempted to post a bunch more questions to that forum thread; about whether dollarbies count as freebies, about what the minimum price you have to charge before something stops being a freebie is, about whether it’s allowed to sell things copy-transfer (hint: for big sectors of the economy, like poses and scripts and textures, it pretty much has to be), and so on.

But probably I should try not to badger them (even Randolf) too much, and just keep an interested eye on them and see how they do. Maybe even log in again once in awhile…

(At the moment I am a very butch short girl in Avination, wearing boy’s clothes and walking around with a macho boxer-strut, because of the two AOs that I bought I preferred it to the hooker-slink in the female one. And I just bought some elf-ears!)