Our community blogs
How long have you been in Second Life and how did you first hear about it?
I was an avid fan of the television show “The Office” when it was still in first-run production and on October 25, 2007, an episode called “Local Ad” came on which featured a segment in which Dwight Schrute was exploring Second Life. He had created an avatar, Dwight Shelford, and was flying around in-world and talking about what his character was doing. As soon as the episode was over, I went online and found out that Second Life was real, and I immediately created an account. Once I had passed Orientation Island, I was sent to the region of Violet, a telehub, where I began meeting people.
There were teleport boards to different places in SL and I found one that took me to the Cetus Galleries Art District where I discovered a single-region city filled with beautiful architecture, art galleries, and a thriving community of gallery owners, residents, and event facilitators. I quickly felt a bond with the community in Cetus and it soon became my new home. I have been in Second Life for fifteen years now and during that time, three communities have been my home, including Cetus for two years, Avalon Town Art District for five years, and the Highlands of Scotland in SL for the past eight. The common thread in all these places has been community, which is very important to me because even in Second Life, we all feel like we need to belong, to find our place among others. Second Life has given me that in abundance.
You are the Co-owner of Highlands of Scotland in Second Life, can you tell us more about that?
I found the Highlands of Scotland in Second Life in 2014 after hearing about it on a musical stream hosted by one of the owners, Magnus Brody, that was broadcasting on a land parcel I was on. As an American descended from deep Scottish roots, I was fascinated with the Highlands, which consisted then of two regions, Inverness City and Urquhart. Avalon Town was changing, and I was looking for a change, so I began hanging out there and going to events. Eventually, they adopted me into their community. The Scottish Highlands, within reason, attempts to recreate the real-life Scottish experience, including geography, landmark buildings, and places of interest. We have events each night at Nessie’s, the main pub, which brings together both the “locals” who are regular daily participants, as well as many visitors who come to get a taste of Highland life.
After two years of living there, I approached the owners of the Highlands, Elizbeth Beaumont and Magnus Brody, both natives of real-life Scotland, about my desire to add a third region to the Highlands, and I became a co-owner that year with the addition of Beauly. Since then, our team has expanded to include Axaria Evergarden, also from Scotland, and that team has added four more regions to the Highlands. This allowed us to expand our waterways into Loch Ness and Greater Loch Ness, as well as having one region devoted to nature in Glen Coe, a residential shopping village in Dornoch, and much more. Inverness City, the oldest of the regions and the central city of the Highlands is our hub, which has been the heart of the Highlands of Scotland in Second Life since 2008, when it first came into existence. Elizbeth (Liz) Beaumont keeps us all on our toes and we have a lot of fun there. We care about each other, and many of the locals have annual meetups in RL Scotland, coming from all over the UK, as well as Germany, Denmark, and other places. They gather at the Loch Ness Inn, which is recreated in our virtual Scotland, to spend a weekend in the real Scottish Highlands. This community has endured a long time and this year we look forward to celebrating the 15th anniversary of the Second Life Highlands. I hope someday I can join them for a meetup.
Tell us how you created your two most complex builds, the Cathedral and Castle at the Scotland destination.
One of the reasons I stayed in Second Life was building. I have a passion for architecture and had designed and built a number of small churches in Second Life over the years. What eventually became the Cathedral of Dornoch was originally intended to be a small chapel, and as I like to tell people, it quickly got way out of hand. The footprint or shape of the building is known as a cruciform, as in the shape of a cross, and the architectural style is gothic revival. I originally built it in 2014, but over the years, as my skills improved or as I found new elements I wanted to try, it has literally been rebuilt a few times over. I’ve enlarged the bell tower, added spires, flying buttresses, newer and better textures, had custom stained glass windows created, and much more. It has “resided” in three different regions during its long life and like a person, it has evolved and changed over time. For me, the Cathedral has been a labour of love, because I have been so intimately involved with every prim that went into it. It's proportional and symmetrical, which I usually prefer in buildings, yet many people who might find that form uninteresting have told me how inspiring they find it. Axaria and I spend a lot of time in there listening to music and our community holds church services there occasionally, as well as musical concerts and of course, weddings (which is why we opened a wedding shop across the street!) One of my proudest moments was when it was featured a couple of years ago in a Linden Lab produced video about spiritual places. I find it a peaceful and contemplative place to just sit and look at the details, wondering sometimes how I built it and knowing I could probably never do it again.
If the Cathedral has been a labour of love, Beaufort Castle, my Second Life home, has been an exercise in both frustration and rewards. Modeled after the real-life castle in Beauly, Scotland, I have had to conform to it, and architecturally it goes against my natural instincts for orderly design. It rambles and makes no sense in its layout, yet it manages to be both grand and fun. It has hidden passages in several places and it’s interesting sometimes to watch visitors find them and get lost in the walls. Over the years, I’ve become quite proud of it, even though it has grown to enormous proportions and is far bigger than any one avatar would ever need. I didn’t set out to build it but when I decided on Beauly for the region, Magnus Brody told me that I had to build Beaufort Castle if I was going to live on Beauly. I took one look at the real one and decided I would be crazy to attempt it. A few months later I gave in to crazy and started on it and six years later, I’m still tweaking it, changing it, adding things, and taking things away. Like the cathedral, it evolves as I do and I’m just its caretaker. We get a lot of drop-ins from time to time and the nice thing about a large house is you can just go to another side of it and let them enjoy it. I’m always happy to answer questions about it and feel like if I ever get to see the real one in person, I’ll feel right at home in it. While I don’t sell my builds in SL, I do enjoy creating miniatures of them and selling them in my Second Life store, Kringle & Co.
You also created the Frank Lloyd Wright virtual museum in SL, which is no longer open. Tell us more about that build, how long it was open for, and do you have plans to bring it back?
I was one of the co-founders of the museum, but I must share credit with a lot of talented people who made that happen. I had created an SL group for architects and fans of the American architect, Frank Lloyd Wright, called the Taliesin Society. The group grew quite quickly and on June 5, 2009, I hosted a Society event, with Debe Wise, an in-world expert on Wright, giving a lecture on Frank Lloyd Wright Architecture. The event, which was held in voice, drew a surprising 62 people, including many of SL's best architects. Following the gathering, some of us held a discussion about creating a virtual museum of architecture. This meeting was the genesis of the Frank Lloyd Wright Virtual Museum of Architecture. The late Frey Bravin mapped out how it would be accomplished, and we created a group for the museum. I was the 2nd one to join and later was elected as Chairman of the museum board. We obtained a licensing agreement with the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation and we also set up a RL corporation to function as a 501C3 charitable foundation so that we could accept donations. Along with Frey and I were Troy Vogel, Miltone Marquette, the late Rosalie Oldrich, Supremius and Sensuous Maximus of Builder’s Brewery, Terra Tepper, Ethos Erlanger, and others. We opened in July 2009 and ran through December 2010. Our most talented builders meticulously recreated several of Wright’s most notable builds and put them out for display on the region, and we also held many events, fundraisers, and a series of lectures on Wright architecture. The most fun though was holding build-offs, where both amateur and master builders would compete by building a complete, Wright-inspired building based on a given theme. Unfortunately, when the Foundation realized that the museum could not be monetized in a beneficial way to their needs, they elected not to renew the licensing agreement, and we had to close the museum. It was a sad day for all of us, but I think that it really showed the full potential of Second Life as an educational medium beyond just lectures and presentations, by drawing people from all over the world to learn, appreciate and discover Wright’s works in a virtual environment that they otherwise might not ever get to see.
Tell us about some of the other Residents in SL that inspire you and whose work you admire.
Saffia Widdershins comes to mind. A true media mogul in Second Life who I have had the fortune to be friends with for probably a dozen years. I used to write for her publication, Prim Perfect Magazine, and I have never seen a harder worker in SL. I honestly don’t know how she has time for a First Life, given her many irons in the fire.
Miltone Marquette and Terra Tepper are two very talented builders. Miltone works to this day on refining his individual Wright builds, creating stunning replicas of his incredible buildings. Terra is one of my best friends in SL and was my building mentor for many years. She pushed me to make continuous improvement in everything I built and when I think something is good enough, I’ll ask myself “would Terra leave it like this?” and keep plugging away. Scottius Polke, a loveable Otter with a razor-sharp wit and a successful Real Life art practice which he has shared through his in-world galleries for more than a dozen years.
Chigadee London, the noted hatter of SL, and her partner Balthazar Fouroux, two longtime friends. Chigadee owns one of Second Life’s most successful hat businesses, “Couture Chapeau” and Bal owns “The Prop Shop”, making lovely items of all kinds, whatever strikes his fancy. Chigadee and Bal are probably the longest-running SL couple I know of, and I admire how they support and love each other in everything they do.
Magnus Brody is one of the best DJs and musicologists in Second Life. His delivery is as smooth as Scotch whisky and his knowledge of music is formidable. That voice brought me to Scotland in SL. Elizbeth Beaumont, who works tirelessly to keep the Highlands interesting and relevant and whose witticisms keep me in stitches. Taro Firanelli, a prolific master of Second Life and a longtime regular of the Highlands. He knows more about SL than most people I know and what is amazing is that he is over 80 years old in Real Life.
Last, but not least, Axaria Evergarden, my best friend, confidant, partner in crime, window and texture maker, enabler, and guide to all things Scottish. Every building I make has something of her talent in it, from stained glass windows, doors, textures, and more. She won’t hesitate to tell me something isn’t right in a building, and we share a common love of many different genres of music. She is a notable clothing and wedding dress designer in her own right, yet she manages to find time to make anything I need and last year, we opened our own store, Kringle & Company, selling all kinds of stuff for Christmas, and now we have expanded to other things relevant to the different times of the year. We might not sell a lot yet, but we’ve had loads of fun doing it. We even have store alts, Kriss Kringle and Jessica Claus!
Where can people see your work? Please share links to your sites and social media accounts.
The Cathedral of Dornoch (slurl)
Beaufort Castle (slurl)
Kringle & Co (slurl)
Dornoch (slurl - region I built)
Glen Coe (slurl - region I built)
Thank you, Ethan, for fifteen years of historic contributions to Second Life!
Each of our Spotlight posts features a different Resident to showcase the spectrum of experiences and personalities found in our virtual world. If you have created something inworld that you’re proud of, or have had a deeply meaningful experience that could brighten someone else’s day, please sign up! More info here: https://second.life/spotlight-signup
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"Since the Covid lockdowns, working from home has become far more common than ever before. We are extremely blessed that Troy working from home means that we are still able to enjoy the comfort of staying in contact throughout the day. It is important when working from home that you have a dedicated space, and the Love-Tech set from Lagom and Chroma Plants by ZAKER make having that space not only functional but fun!" Decor info on the blog.
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It's time for renewal and excitement as GentleMonsterr and friends celebrate life, love, and friendship! Happy Chinese New Year!
For a chance to have your image featured as the Second Life pic of the day, submit your work to the Official Second Life Flickr Group, but don't forget to read the rules!
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The Puppetry User Group meeting is a bi-weekly meeting discussing an experimental new feature that allows hardware and other software to connect to Second Life and provide animation data for an avatar. The purpose of these meetings is to connect with developers and coders who might want to experiment with it.
Join the team every other Thursday at 13:00 PT on the Aditi beta grid, Castelet region.
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We’re writing to remind everyone that we’ll be holding our monthly Web User Group meeting today at 14:00 SLT in our usual meeting place, where we’ll be discussing our status with ongoing projects and our near future plans for our web properties. As always, we’ll leave plenty of time for Q&A from the community. We look forward to seeing you there!
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The Concierge and Land User Group meeting is a monthly, public meeting for discussion and education on Second Life, useful to both Mainland Residents and Estate owners.
Topics include any issues relating to Customer Relations/Support or concerning Land in general (mainland, islands, Linden Homes, estates, auctions, etc.).
Join Wendi, Vix, and members of the Land team, on Wednesday at 12pm PT at Linden Estate Services. All are welcome.
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I would like to introduce a new member of the Linden Support team, Boxy 5000.
Boxy 5000 is a virtual assistant/support bot trainee.
But wait, wasn’t there already a chatbot who answered questions for premium users? Indeed there was! Boxy 3000 was the earlier model of the trainee chatbot.
We are learning from some design flaws and moving forward with a more advanced bot. Boxy 3000 has been re-invented and given an extra 2000!
But wait a second time! Won’t this bring about the machine apocalypse? Not just yet–Boxy 5000 is more advanced and learns as they go but Skynet is still a few upgrades away.
The upgraded bot will be a 24/7 support option for both premium and non-premium residents! (Previously only available for premium customers.)
Boxy will have the ability to answer commonly asked questions, keep you up to date on current issues, help with ticket submission and in some cases handle a support request.
Boxy has uses for all residents, from early adopters to fresh new faces.
For new and more casual residents Boxy is available to help them find the support they need.
For our seasoned veterans Boxy can offer support options for some specific requests. Specifically, Boxy will be able to submit an abuse report on your behalf and in some cases help with the restart of a region!
Boxy will continue to learn as we go. Boxy might not have all the answers currently, but we will continue to review questions posed and help the bot to better answer your support queries.
We realize that a chat bot is not a substitute for a customer support representative, and this bot is not meant to be. It is however meant to help when we are unavailable or may be experiencing higher call volumes.
For premium residents Boxy will only be the first point of contact before being passed to a support representative during office hours. Utilize Boxy to help better explain your issue once you are transferred to a support representative. Outside of office hours Boxy can help or create a ticket for when we are back in the office.
The ability to get an answer to your question or to get your issue resolved without having to wait until our Support Lindens are available is Boxy’s primary directive.
Anyone interested in saying hello to Boxy can access it by logging into our support portal. The Boxy 5000 chat widget should appear in the bottom right hand corner of your screen.
Boxy 5000, it’s advanced…
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