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  1. Today we are shining a spotlight on Aurora Mercury, a community-building YouTuber that creates high-quality diverse content in Second Life! How long have you been in Second Life and how did you first hear about it? I have been in Second Life since 2008 on an old account. I heard about Second Life through an episode of CSI where they were trying to find a killer who was playing Second Life. I was so intrigued as I had always played slightly similar games like Sims and wanted to know what it was. I googled it and saw it was a real virtual platform. I created an account and was instantly addicted. In my previous account I was mainly doing fashion modeling, I joined modeling schools and even became a tutor for a short while. Real life took over and I didn’t login for 10 years. The short story of it, I couldn't remember my login details and had no choice but to create a new avatar and that's where Aurora was born, who is now nearly 6 years old. Second Life allows you to have that escapism from your day-to-day in real life. It is also a platform that you can use to manifest your dreams. I have seen so many people who have used their talents from real life to create businesses in Second Life and vice versa. It is not just any old game; it is the original metaverse platform that has the potential to achieve a lot in the future. How and when did you get started with your blog and youtube channel, and what sorts of topics do you like to cover? I used to film for events and performances back in 2018 and upload them to my YouTube channel (I have removed them now due to copyright). I then started to take a different angle and began filming my experiences and journey in Second Life in 2021. I was inspired by SL youtubers like Quincy Robin and Meela Vanderbuilt who are women of color like me and share their experiences, skills, and vlogs in Second Life. Being that I own a women's community called Sisters in SL, I saw that I had a skill of communicating with people of all cultures by just being me. I create a mixture of videos exploring Second Life, interviews with residents, tutorials, and lifestyle topics. I really enjoy filming and sharing my journey in SL. You have a wonderful avatar! Who are some of your favorite content creators that really blow you away in terms of offering diverse choices, and what would you like to see more of? Thank you so much. There are so many amazing creators here and what I love is that new creators are continuing to grow, especially within the black community. I can now buy a lot more items that are relatable to me and my culture and I am truly thankful to the creators for bringing diversity into Second Life. I love creators such as Lelutka, Rowne, ISON, Studio Exposure, Rosary, Movement and that's just to name a few. I can't wait to see how our avatars will evolve. I am excited to see how our avatars will look in the next year or so. I have a feeling we will look even more realistic. Can you tell us more about Sisters in SL and some of their activities and projects? Sisters in SL is a women's networking community created in 2019 where we hold events, explore, do photoshoots and also have a lifestyle magazine. Sisters in SL is a diverse community that has members from all over the world. I did take a break last year as real life did get busy again after the pandemic but I have tons of plans for this year. I will be focusing more on filming and touching on interesting topics, so make sure you stay tuned! Are there any current or future projects that you are working on that you can tell us about? Currently, I am working on a film project for Valentine's day where I am having discussions with residents both who are single or married in SL and they will be sharing their experiences which will be very interesting! I will also be hosting the SL Video Awards Show, so look out for me there! I have lots of plans to work on more projects and I can’t wait to share. Where can people see your work? Please share links to your sites and social media accounts. The main platform for me is Youtube: Aurora Mercury - YouTube Instagram: @aurora.mercury Tiktok: @aurora_mercury Linktree: @aurora.mercury Thank you Aurora for all the engaging and diverse content you’ve been sharing about Second Life, we look forward to your future projects! 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
  2. Today we are shining a spotlight on Ethan Evergarden, co-owner of the Highlands of Scotland in Second Life. He’s a virtual builder with fifteen years of historical builds under his belt. 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) Facebook Personal Facebook Kringle & Co Twitter 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
  3. This week we are shining a spotlight on The Wastelands, a post-apocalyptic community celebrating 15 years in Second Life this weekend. Learn more from the founder and curator, NeoBokrug Elytis. How long have you been in Second Life and how did you first hear about it? A little over 16 years ago I saw an article about Second Life on the Make Magazine blog. And then a few more articles about Second Life later... I decided to sign up on Halloween of 2005. I was instantly hooked on building with prims and visiting the virtual spaces all over SL. How long did it take to build The Wastelands, and what goes into maintaining it? The first region (The Wastelands) took a few months of planning, but only a couple of days to build its infrastructure. I distinctly remember working with my dev team and not sleeping until it was done. After that, the first Residents had their initial builds done within the month. All of this was before mesh or even sculpts existed, so when folks built things, you could see prims take form in real time -- and it was amazing! Because we're a themed community, most of the land in The Wastelands is owned by its Residents, so all due credit for maintaining those spaces goes to the folks who live here! They are always building and changing their builds. There are some Residents who have had the same parcel of land since the day we opened, and there are others who move to a different chunk of land every month to build a brand new thing. Despite the ever-shifting sands of the estate, the general aesthetic always stays the same. These days most of the maintenance comes in the form of greeting and helping new Residents, planning and hosting events, and working on the game we have here. The community of The Wastelands is always helpful to visitors and each other, so in its own way it's very self-maintaining. Part of the fun of exploring such a vast region is noticing the different design styles throughout, such as industrial, desert, and psychedelic. What are some things that inspired these stylistic choices? The majority of The Wastelands is owned by its community members, and so much of the stylistic choices of what is built is left up to them. The whole estate has an overarching theme of post-apocalyptic ruins, which is inspired from all flavors of post-apocalyptic tropes. Certain regions also have sub-themes. For instance, The Junkyard region is more of an industrial ruin, while The Great Fissure {features} more tribalistic ruins made of recycled debris. New Residents tend to plant their roots in regions that are visually interesting to them, so regions tend to stay cohesive all on their own. We also have a "Public Works" department, where Residents make thematic assets for the community. We've got a respectably big heap of free stuff now, and I think that helps glue the different aesthetic builds together. As long as our estate management can see that you're making a good faith attempt at building within the theme, we're typically fine with what you make. If not, we'll make some suggestions and offer help; more commonly, your neighbors will likely offer to help you before we do. My account may be 16 years old, but I constantly remind myself that we were all new users at some point, and that we only get better at building as long as we have some place to practice those skills. How would you explain getting started in roleplaying to someone with little to no experience? What a complex question to try to answer! I'll do my best to keep it simple and generalized. Over the years I've found that roleplaying in Second Life is done in many styles and methods. It all really depends on what the destination offers, how the other characters interact with the setting and each other, and what you want to get out of it. I guess the most important thing to know is that everywhere does things differently. But I'll try to explain some common ground... The first thing to do when you arrive at a destination is read up what they're offering when you land there. It's essential to remember that they've built their roleplay setting with certain ideas in mind, and you should think of their setting as a book of rules to follow. At the same time, don't try to shoehorn in your own ideas that don't really fit within the setting. If the destination you're visiting allows you to lurk as an out of character spectator to their roleplay, I would highly suggest starting off with that for a session or two. One universal rule that most places adopt is designating how local chat should be interpreted. Most chat in a roleplay setting is by default considered to be ‘in character’ {so} a way that folks show that chat is out of character is by encapsulating the line in single or double parentheses, e.g. ((such as this)), or (like this). There's a shortcut in the Firestorm viewer: if you press ALT-ENTER when typing out a line, it'll automatically add double parentheses. This is useful to ask participants questions out of character, because if you're ever unsure about literally anything, it's ALWAYS best to ask questions. Another universal thing is that there are generally two primary types of accepted styles of chat-based roleplay. One is Paragraph or Para-RP, and the other one could be described as script style roleplay. There have been huge debates about these two styles, so I am going to very broadly explain them. I am not going to cover if {the written text chat} is first, second, or third person perspective, because everybody does everything differently. Paragraph roleplay is where the participants usually take turns in order by typing about a paragraph's worth of text for players to read and react to. Because players are taking turns writing a long paragraph, it may be quite some time before it's your turn to react and respond. It's typically best for smaller groups of roleplayers, as the wait time in larger groups can be rather long. But it gives the players time to think about what they'll say or do. Script style roleplay is where a player writes just a sentence or two, and anyone at any time can react and respond. Because the flow of roleplay is faster, it takes more attention to react to what's happening at the moment. It's better suited for any size group of players, but could be a bit chaotic with lots of players. The primary downside is you might feel pressured to keep up with things, but I've seen it used at a slower pace just fine. I think consent among roleplayers is critically important, because you can't have people join and say "Bang! You're dead. I win!" No one really enjoys players who command what happens to others unless the setting allows it. There are instances where players plan among each other before roleplaying what might happen between each other to push a story forward. But if you want to try to do something that may affect another character, you may want to {convey} that you're taking an action and let the other player choose how it plays out. Perhaps you're drawing a gun, and maybe they react by hiding behind a dumpster, and then you position yourself to corner them, but then maybe they try to disarm you, and you let them. That's how things should play out in my opinion, by giving folks opportunities. Perhaps even discuss what should happen ((out of character)). I think the above info is good for a general understanding of how roleplay works in Second Life, but it is certainly not the be-all, end-all of what roleplay is and can be. At best, it's the tip of a very deep iceberg. I didn't cover a lot of things such as dice-based resolutions, or HUD-based combat, or anything like that. The beauty of Second Life is that we can build settings and tools to augment how roleplay can be enhanced inworld beyond just text. Roleplay in The Wastelands isn't mandatory, it's opt-in and completely at your own pace. Feel free to visit and lurk because we honestly don't mind spectators. The Wastelands will be celebrating their 15th year in SL very soon, can you tell us about some of the events you have planned and how people can participate? We've got three days of partying planned, starting on Friday, January 14th at 5pm SLT. We're going to have live music, DJ sets, combat & sports, roleplay sessions, giveaways, storytelling, and more! It's free to attend and open to the public, and there is no dress code other than wearing some dang pants, so feel free to stop by and enjoy! On Friday and Saturday most of our events take place at our Arena stage: http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/The%20Wastelands/38/146/75 On Sunday the rest of our events take place at our Junkyard stage: https://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/The%20Junkyard/122/162/72 Our full schedule of events and locations is here: https://bit.ly/3JGH4RU Tell us about some of the other Residents in SL that inspire you and whose work you admire. Haha, that's such an unfair question! I've been on the grid too long, and I've seen too much to pick a handful out of literally hundreds of creators I admire. Besides, I could easily play favorites among longtime personal friends, Wastelanders, and folks I've worked with professionally. So instead -- and I hope that this is an acceptable answer -- I will list some qualities of various creators that I admire. Because it's very hard to not be inspired by content you see in Second Life. First and foremost, anyone who makes ruined, broken, or wrecked content from scratch in Second Life is doing amazingly hard work. It's far easier to make something that looks fresh from the factory and has a new coat of paint; it is extremely difficult to make it look weathered, ruined, dented, or broken. Great post-apocalyptic content is few and far between on the marketplace and inworld events. So I do what I can to spread the word and buy it all up when I see it. Anyone who creates mesh and does proper LODs (Level of Detail) earns the highest of marks in my book. I don't personally create mesh, but I am very technically knowledgeable about the whole process and the time involved in creating mesh LODs *properly* for Second Life. It's a lot of hard work, and it might cost more LI (land impact) for customers to rez -- but in the end mesh that looks great at any distance is something I can really appreciate. Creators who make great use of textures and materials deserve far more praise than we give them. I specifically appreciate those who avoid using a lot of high resolution textures. They're making the viewer run better for everyone, and I think it's one of the least understood and most underappreciated skills among content creators. I love all the 3D art installations in Second Life, too! I could literally go on and on forever about how, what, and why certain Residents inspire me, but the truth is, anyone who creates in Second Life inspires me. I am always eager to see what people are making, or participate in what people are doing. From creators to performers, to bloggers, to communities, I think it's all super amazing because there's always something new to see. Where can people follow you to learn more about your work? Please share links to your sites and social media accounts. Our website has important updates around the community and unique roleplay articles: https://the-wastelands.org Twitter: https://twitter.com/Wastelands_inSL Mastadon: https://s.the-wastelands.org/@wl Plurk: https://www.plurk.com/TheWastelands Are you visiting and taking pictures in The Wastelands? Please post them to our flickr group: https://www.flickr.com/groups/thewastelands/pool Finally, we have a pretty active Discord server where folks can stay connected and share pictures of cats, food, and post-apocalyptic memes when not in SL: https://discord.gg/cdkhzb4QCh Watch this fun video about The Wastelands: Video Production by NeoBokrug Elytis Music written and performed by Irk the Mutant (shannonwilsonbell) We hope you enjoyed learning more about The Wastelands. See you at their 15th-year celebrations this weekend! 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
  4. Today we are shining a spotlight on Andee Tophat, a lifelong songwriter and musician that has written over 150 songs - including his latest single which is all about falling in love through Second Life! How long have you been in Second Life and how did you first hear about it? I first discovered Second Life when I was shopping and saw a computer magazine with a CDROM on the front advertising a 3D World. I have always been interested in computers since my school days when my first computer was a Sinclair ZX81 with 1K memory. So seeing a magazine with a program on it that offered a 3D world to build and explore caught my attention. So on 5th January 2007, I installed the software, signed up and logged in, and was instantly hooked! My first avatar was nothing like today, as you can imagine. Clothing was just a texture you applied to your body, there were no voice features at that time that I remember, so there I stood in a world that was immeasurable in size wanting to find out how to build my first house! 16 years later and I look a lot different, and enjoy live music, building, and making friends. How did music come into your life? I come from a family of music lovers! From a very young age, I would play on the family upright piano that sat in our dining room. It was never properly tuned but that doesn’t matter when you’re little. My mum told me later in life that she remembered me running into the kitchen to tell her that I had written a tune. She didn’t believe me but followed dutifully to listen and actually smiled when she heard that I had actually composed a little melody with a chorus. I must have been around 7 or 8 at the time. My father used to play his records of Big Band or Classical, and would often call me into the living room to “listen to this one” or “isn’t this good?” and I used to enjoy his love and excitement for his favourite songs. Out of my four older sisters, two of them would listen to artists like ABBA, Carpenters, Neil Diamond, and Neil Sedaka and the other two would listen to Lionel Richie, Alexander O'Neal, Luther Vandross, and Motown-type tracks. I would then be listening and picking up on the latest 80’s music, so you can imagine I have an Eclectic music taste! My first “written” song was in 1986 when I wrote a song for one of my sister's weddings. Looking back it’s awful and very tacky but, like any musician, that becomes the start of your musical future! Since then I’ve written over 150 songs with lyrics and about a dozen other instrumental songs. I can’t read music and play by ear, so I can often pick up a song quickly if I wanted to create my own cover version of a track. I would say that over 85% of my music is based on some emotion or experience I was going through at the time. I remember years ago having dinner with a friend and letting him go through my ring binder containing all my lyrics. They were alphabetically in order of title and I left him to wash the dishes, only to return to see he had taken them all out of the folder and was organizing them by date! Reading them like that was almost like reading a personal diary! I have also written some songs based on an idea or story that I felt would make for a good song. My sister once challenged me to stop writing songs about love and to write a song about boats. So armed with that snippet of an idea, I wrote “Sea Breeze”. Another time I allowed an encyclopedia to fall open and closed my eyes and pointed to a page and said I would write a song about whatever topic my finger landed on. It landed on “Klondike” so I wrote a song called “Gold Rush”. A few years ago, I formed a band called “Balladeer” with my brother who played guitar, my brother-in-law who played drums, and some other friends that could sing. We enjoyed getting together regularly and performing my music. I’ve performed a few times in front of Wedding Guests and we also held two small shows. The first one was in 2001 and was a tester mainly with friends and family and we filled a small community hall with about 120 people. Then in 2003 we hired a small theatre, and managed to fill it with 350 people. It was a risky move as we were not performing any cover songs, only original music. But after a 2-hour session of almost 20 songs we had so many people come up to us after to congratulate us, that it was a heart-warming result. My mum even told me that she heard somebody whistling one of my songs as he walked back to his car after only ever hearing that song the first time at the show! Sadly, because my family moved away to different parts of the UK, the band closed and I decided to go solo, creating a new name for myself “Never Ending Fire.” The thought behind the name was that each of us has inner emotions that resonate with the music we hear throughout life. And they can either quietly burn like a candle flame or are ignited when we hear a song that means something to us. It never goes out, it is just waiting for that moment. Our Never Ending Fire. When did you start performing live in Second Life, and what venues can people visit to hear you play? I think the Covid pandemic changed a lot of things for a lot of people around the world. Being restricted from traveling meant that a lot of people stayed at home and discovered new hobbies. For me, it gave me the opportunity to explore my music again and create some YouTube videos. I started getting some positive comments, which was encouraging, and then a discussion with a friend of mine in Second Life pushed me into performing live at the beginning of 2022. After visiting a lot of live singers, I found that quite a few were using the same commercially available backing tracks which then made me start comparing one singer's voice to the next. In some instances, the backing tracks were so close to the original artist, that it made me compare that live singer to the original artists and that’s something I’ve never wanted to do personally. I’ve always been keen to perform my own music. It’s nice to hear original songs, so I’ve ensured that about 70% of the show I perform is original and the other 30% are covers. I like to compose my own backing tracks when I perform and play piano live too as it allows me to keep control of the quality of the music and sound for the listeners. I currently perform regularly at Café Musique on Wednesdays, bi-weekly at Cornerstone and The Night Owl on Mondays, at Pantheon Temple on Tuesdays, and at Riptide7 on Wednesdays. I’m also going to perform weekly at my own place, NEF Live Music Venue on Thursdays, along with other singers. Tell us more about the NEF Live Music Venue in Second Life. When I first started performing, it was really hard to find places that would accept an “unknown” artist. A lot of venues had a reputation to maintain, or regulars they didn’t want to upset. I can understand this, but it made me realize how hard it would be to get that opportunity to start singing and build a fan base. Thankfully it was the likes of Café Musique and The Night Owl that gave me the chance to start getting heard. Looking at the Destination Guide, it lists over 650 venues for music, but less than 60 for live musicians. I’ve always enjoyed building in Second Life and so having an opportunity to own some land and build a small place to perform and invite others to perform appealed to me. Apple and I partnered up and the idea of NEF Live was born. We wanted a place with additional features to encourage people to visit even if there were no artists, so we provided a games area, beach sitting areas with cozy places to chill, and a few shops too. It wasn’t long until we were approached by another Manager, JR, who looks after the amazing singer Tay and he asked if we would be interested in expanding a little and allowing Tay to have her own purpose built venue in which she could also host performances, etc. This gave us the excuse we wanted to expand into a quarter region and create additional performing areas on the ground, while JR built a beautiful venue up in the sky for Tay and her followers to enjoy her performances. Since then, we’ve been busy looking out for artists that have recently started singing in Second Life and need a place they can regularly perform and supporting them with additional artists that can bookend their performances so that listeners can hear their favourite singer and also get introduced to a new act at the same time. After all, if it wasn’t for my dad and sisters all playing different types of songs to me, I wouldn’t have grown up with such a rich interest in a variety of music! You recently wrote and released a single, “Digital Love” which is about falling in love through Second Life. Can you tell us more about the story behind this song and where Residents can listen to it? Back in 1993, I wrote a song called “Digital Love” but the words were very geeky and specific to the technology available at the time. I loved the idea of the song, but it started becoming a mental block on how to update it. So I decided to start from scratch, clearing the music and the lyrics and only keeping the title. I was thinking about how Second Life allows so many people to connect and live a life they can’t always live in the physical world. It allows us to embrace people, dance with people, and fall in love with people. That inspired me to write a new song reflecting how we can fall in love and even meet our future partners from Second Life. Some people in Second Life suffer from an illness that impairs their ability to get out of their homes or live as others do. One person told me recently that Second Life “gives her a working body, a home to enjoy and a job she can do, which she cannot do in Real Life” which meant so much to me. So in April 2022, I wrote the new version of “Digital Love”. I hope the lyrics resonate with most of the Residents of Second Life. I used a “Vocoder” sound in the chorus to give it that digital feel and have been receiving so many messages saying how they love the tune and how it sounds like an “anthem” of Second Life. After performing it in Second Life a few times and getting such positive feedback, I decided to take a big step in signing up with a Music Distribution site to release “Digital Love” as my first publicly available song. You can download or stream it from most Music Sites, including iTunes, Spotify, Amazon music, YouTube, TikTok, Snapchat, etc. I’ve also created merchandise that features the two robots from the artwork of the song, which is also available through my website – neverendingfire.com. Where can people follow you to know more about your next live shows and releases? Please share links to your sites, calendars, and social media accounts. In Second Life you can visit NEF Live on the Blue Island region. When you arrive at NEF Live you’ll see a large calendar that shows events occurring at the venue as well as a smaller calendar showing a list of venues where I am performing at. You can also visit my little shop which has a subscriber and free gifts, as well as a bookcase containing notecards that have all the lyrics to my songs. You can join the Never Ending Fire inworld group to follow my performances in Second Life. You can also join the NEF Live venue inworld group, to get an update on what artists are performing and when. Outside of Second Life you can still follow my music and find out where I’m performing. All this information is available on my website: neverendingfire.com On the website are links to my music on my Soundcloud account, as well as a live calendar showing where I’m performing. There is also a tab for merchandise where you can get t-shirts or mugs with various Never Ending Fire designs. I have a Linktree Account which has all of my links in it. In conclusion, I would like to thank Linden Lab for providing such an amazing social platform. It’s allowed me and others the ability to connect with people all around the world from the comfort of their homes and share common interests. It’s a unique platform that continues to grow by the power of its users and allows people to showcase their creative abilities in all avenues. I’d also like to thank those that have followed and enjoyed my music so far. It’s inspired me to continue sharing my songs for others to enjoy and even if just one song touches your heart and stirs your soul then I feel warmed to have been honoured to do that. And lastly, to my fellow performers, whether new or established artists, I encourage you to continue following your dream and bringing your gift to the world. People that are at your venue have chosen to be there over everything else they could be doing with their time. Spending an hour or two listening to your music might connect with somebody that cannot physically get out of their home to a real live show. So make sure you enjoy your time with them and make it count. I look forward to seeing and meeting you inworld some time! Thank you, Andee, for sharing so much of your talent and passion for music with the Second Life community! 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
  5. Today we are shining a spotlight on Caligula Aquila, a talented Resident that has been creating content in Second Life for 15 years, and just in time for the holidays, he’s released a new machinima series! How long have you been in Second Life and how did you first hear about it? I have been in Second Life since 2008. It all started when I was on a business trip, and while watching the news in my hotel room, they mentioned in their highlights, a real estate lady who made the highest revenue in Second Life. When I traveled back to my office, out of curiosity I typed “secondlife.com”. That day, I didn’t realize that it was a beginning of a new era in my life. You have been creating content in Second Life for many years, do you have a background in fashion or 3D creation? Not at all, I worked for many international companies, and I used to travel all around the globe to open new properties. A year before entering Second Life, I participated in a graphic design competition, organized by a well-known international tv station. I won the first prize, and it was a hint that my passion is somewhere else. Can you tell us more about the various brands you have in Second Life? I have five brands in Second Life: CA WEAR carries men's casuals, smart chic, and street fashion styles. CHIC carries women’s fashions. HATSWORLD carries a wide range of hats, caps, headdresses, helmets, and more. AZALEA is a premium furniture store. CALIGULA is our oldest brand, specializing in uniforms. You also have an interest in machinima, when did you start creating videos in Second Life? I made machinima in my early days in Second Life. Back then we used to use Fraps to capture our scenes. Unfortunately, it was only a tiny experience before I started focusing on retail for the next 15 years. Until this last October, when we filmed Scrooge – A Second Life Christmas Carol, as a tribute to Second Life in its 20th Anniversary year, and it was a great comeback! You have now started AVTV, can you tell us more about that and your future plans? AVTV is our newest project with a unique new concept of delivering a quality, realistic, and decent image to all our viewers in Second Life or even outside the grid. Besides AVTV’s newscast and the special reports, we will be presenting many programs and interesting shows, like “Garry inSL Show”, “Live the Adventure”, “Fashionista” and many more. Our aim is to reach a wide audience in SL, highlight Residents' success stories, talk about new SL trends, recommend quality products and great offers in the market, visit popular events, and many more SL activities. How has Second Life impacted your life? I strongly believe that SL changes RL. And this is my case on a personal level. I don't know if the fathers of Second Life predicted back in 2003 the positive impact of their motivational project on thousands of people. How many times have we seen RL disabled people running and flying in SL? How many times have we seen RL veterans proudly wearing again their uniform in SL? How many times have we seen couples who met in SL and got married in RL? And there are plenty of similar great stories. Where can people follow you to know more about your work? Please share links to your sites and social media accounts. Our inworld Stores are located on the “Shores of Joy” region and on the Marketplace. Regarding AVTV, I encourage every SL resident to subscribe to our channel! YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/@AVTVinSL Facebook: Avtv Insl We hope you enjoyed learning more about Caligula and his exciting new project! Watch his new six-part machinima series on the AVTV channel this holiday season. AVTV - SCROOGE - A SECOND LIFE CHRISTMAS CAROL PART 1 AVTV - SCROOGE - A SECOND LIFE CHRISTMAS CAROL PART 2 AVTV - SCROOGE - A SECOND LIFE CHRISTMAS CAROL PART 3 The rest of the three episodes will be released over the next few days before Christmas! 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
  6. This week we are shining a spotlight on Prophet (Nightmare Rain) a creative blogger that adds a slice of life narrative to his virtual photography. How long have you been in Second Life and how did you first hear about it? I discovered Second Life through Twitch about 10 years ago, which got me interested in roleplay at first. How did you get into Second Life blogging, and what kind of content do you like to showcase? I got into blogging once I delved further into the Secondlife community and discovered Flickr. I learned how to do in-world photography and later on, was taught how to photo edit. I developed my own style and learned how to express my creativity through blogging. I tend to lean on the slice-of-life type of pictures, however, I still do throw in some fantasy in the mix now and then. When taking photos in Second Life, what is your process for creating a narrative/story in the picture? Life itself is inspiring- one can choose to see beauty in everything and I think we tend to be blind to it because I feel that it is easy to take for granted when we’re comfortable. I like recreating scenarios that most people find themselves in on the daily and showcasing it on my blog using the items made by talented creators in order to depict and illustrate the common, but in such a way that people actually take notice and pause to appreciate them. I also utilize Windlight a lot- Light, shadow, contrast and color create mood and visual weight. Visual art is such an effective way of expanding ideas about diverse representation and you do that so well with the use of avatar components and tools in Second Life. What inspires your avatar’s styles? My styles are usually inspired by everyday looks varying from casual to formal- Simple but refined pieces- I let the clothing and accessories speak for themselves as it’s usually what I’m blogging although when I have free time I do take pictures for fun and so with those I tend to focus on what I want to wear rather than what I’ve been sponsored to wear. Tell us about some of the other Second Life Residents that have inspired you, or whose work you admire. I admire my mentor, business partner, and good friend Mia (Counterfeitmint Resident) as well as: Anika Cluny Quincy Robin Maria Rou Nasyala Oceane Ebony Alexa Maravilla AshaRhia Dondallia Digi Pera Where can people see your work? Please share links to your sites and social media accounts. Flickr Twitter We hope you enjoyed learning more about Prophet and find his vibrant and diverse images as inspiring as we do. Each of our Spotlight posts will feature 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.
  7. This week we are shining a spotlight on Second Pride, a destination that is celebrating 15 years of service to the LGBTQ+ community in Second Life. Learn more from their chairman, Lee McKay. Lee McKay - speech at the 2022 Second Pride opening ceremony - Photo by Jason Roach How long have you been in Second Life and how did you first hear about it? As of July 11, it will be 16 years for me. I barely remember, but I think it was around the time that Second Life was "hot" in the media and even popped up on a couple of tv shows. I was hooked right away. I took some months-long breaks over the years, but for the last 5-6 years have been here steadily. You are the Chairman of Second Pride, can you tell us more about the history of Second Pride, how it came to fruition, and what can people expect when visiting the destination? I wish I had more information about the history than I do. I know we are in our 15th year, but the Board of Second Pride has changed many times over the years. I'm not sure who the original members were, but we certainly appreciate the foundation they laid. The leadership is now more continuous, and this has allowed for more growth and stability over the last few years, including official sponsorship from Second Life, which we are so grateful for! Photo by Patch Linden Second Pride is also a Community Gateway, what kind of support does it offer Second Life Residents? You can, of course, create your Second Life account right from our website and arrive in our Gateway on day one. We have one of the more detailed and in-depth tutorials that I have seen, created by a school teacher, with interactive stations for learning various skills. We will also soon be implementing a method for a new user to be able to call a Second Pride Ambassador with questions. This should be available in the next couple of months. Photo by Tomais Ashdene June is Pride month and in Second Life many members of the LGBTQ+ community find this to be a safe space to express themselves and feel empowered. What kind of celebratory activities does Second Pride have planned for this month? Second Pride holds an annual event in June to celebrate Pride, with 10 days of activities, including DJs, live singers, stage performances, etc. across multiple venues. We also have a wide selection of vendors set up with stores, gifts, and more. The two regions, Second Pride East and Second Pride West are set up as a large city, including a beach boardwalk with amusement rides, games, and more. We usually select two "first life" organizations to raise funds for. This year they are ILGA-Europe and Broadway Cares / Equity Fights AIDS. Then after June, we switch focus to another organization or two until the next June. We want everyone to know that Second Pride doesn't go away after June. We have three other major events, Glitter & Gore for Halloween, Holidaze in December, and Mardi Gras. These are all multi-day events. We also have some smaller events over the year. Our regions are here every day, all year long for people to come and enjoy. Photo by Evie I. Ravens Aside from Second Pride, what other projects are you working on in Second Life? I manage a men's resort and club called Steamworkz, part of the Boystown community. I also help with the management of the rental land and homes there. I've been involved at Boystown for many years before working there. It's where I call home. Photo by Scarlett Amethyst Tell us about some of the other Residents in Second Life that inspire you and whose work you admire. Adham DeCuir, who created Boystown in 2007, is a good friend and an amazing graphic creator, community designer, and landscaper. None of those terms really cover what he's capable of. If I need something for Second Pride, he's always able to whip up a stunning venue or whatever we need in nearly no time. He created our replica of the historic Stonewall Inn, and our current main stage area. Tomais Ashdene, a fantastic photographer and landscaper, and another good friend. He did the majority of the work on the park at Second Pride. Grant Valeska, an amazing designer and performer that created the Lady Gaga concert for Second Pride last year, and the Britney Spears "Stronger - A Live Experience" for this year. Watching Grant create is truly watching a master at work! There are many others, and I feel guilty for not listing them all here! Second Pride 2022 Second Pride is celebrating 15 years of service to the LGBTQ+ community in Second Life. Running from Friday, the 3rd of June through Sunday, the 12th of June, this year’s main event will feature DJs, singers, and live shows covering all styles and genres. Explore both regions of Second Pride all year ‘round. You’ll find shops selling clothing, accessories, furniture, animations, and much more, from LGBTQ+ creators and allies. You’ll also find information about LGBTQ+ friendly communities, support services, art installations, photo opportunities, games, rides, and lots of fun! During this event, Second Pride is raising funds for ILGA-Europe and Broadway Cares / Equity Fights AIDS (info at second-pride.com). So, whichever color of the rainbow you are, come out and play at Second Pride, because you are Unmovable, Unstoppable, and Unbreakable! Visit in Second Life Where can Residents learn more about Second Pride? Please share links to any sites and social media accounts. Second Pride Website Second Pride Twitter Second Pride Instagram (just getting started) Second Pride Flickr Group (anyone can submit pics) Second Pride Destination Watch this Second Pride video from 2019 on the Second Life YouTube Channel We hope you enjoyed learning more about Second Pride and their mission is to serve, support, and empower the diverse LGBTQ+ communities of Second Life! Each of these weekly Spotlight posts will feature 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.
  8. This week we are shining a spotlight on Sam King-Slain (Dropyour.Knickers), a skilled singer, songwriter, and musician who credits Second Life for assisting his journey in self-discovery. Watch him play live at SL19B later this month! How long have you been in Second Life and how did you first hear about it? I'm 11 years old in Second Life which makes me about 250 in SLife experience. I heard about it after me and one of my childhood friends were playing the Sims. I think we googled 'virtual world' and it was the first one that popped up. You are an award-winning musician with quite the talent for songwriting. Second Life and the humorous and perhaps frustrating situations you encounter in this virtual world are the main topic of your songs. Tell us more about your music career and how it all began. I've always been into writing songs, raps and poetry so it wasn't totally out of character for me. But roughly 5 years ago, myself and a few close friends were hanging inworld at a recording studio and it just struck me how funny it would be to write something about Second Life. I remember saying brb and 20 minutes later I jumped on mic like 'I gotta show you guys what I've done!' That was the day I wrote my first song 'TP Me' and the chorus was literally 'tp me, tp me, I've got a platform in the sky' and everyone had it stuck in their heads for weeks! I think we all knew we were onto something and I just knew I could write more so I went away and wrote 'Relog', 'Crosshairs' and 'Prim Love' and with each song just came more laughter and enjoyment. It was those guys that said 'Sam we have to do a concert' and that was when we set up a little warehouse skybox and threw our first show - I felt like a true Second Life Popstar, with my name in lights and it was a hit! My friends had made merch and set the stage up and we felt like we had really injected the fun back into Second Life. It ended up with us having a full sim with a Record Label Office and a venue and we started going around inworld to all our favourite spots asking if I could do a show. It was hard to get people to buy into the vision but I knew all I had to do was convince them to listen to one song and they got it. Do you play any musical instruments and how do you compose the music for your songs? I have played the guitar and saxophone from a young age in real life. My song writing process is usually quite simple. I'll feel inspired, go away, and find a beat or play a tune on the guitar and then record and write simultaneously until it's done. It's very rare that I'll step away and come back to a song. If I feel it then, I just have to write something in that exact moment and I have to finish it then and there. What genre would you say your music falls in, and who are some of the musicians that have influenced your style? I would say my genre is varied, like my music taste. Sometimes I rap, sometimes I'll do an acoustic song or something on the piano, and sometimes I'll do something people can dance to. Overall for Second Life, I like to keep my music light hearted, fun and relatable. Some musicians I look up to are J Cole - a lyrical genius, Drake, Bon Iver, Beyonce, Juice WRLD & Lil Peep. I'd say my acoustic music is heavily influenced by Ed Sheeran - gotta keep it in the UK! One of your songs reveals how Second Life assisted in your journey of self-discovery. Can you share in what ways SL has impacted your life? Second Life has saved my life in a lot of ways. I'm from a conservative quiet town on the South Coast of England and being myself was pretty much out of the question as a kid. I struggled with my gender identity and Second Life gave me a means to explore that. I met the love of my life (we're back together now 10 years on!) and that taught me things about my sexuality. It's funny because in a game where you can be literally anyone - it has given me confidence to be my true self. I have met so many wonderful people from all different walks of life and it has inspired an abundance of self reflection and growth. I'm proud of my gratitude towards Second Life and I never shy away to say how much I appreciate the game - it really is whatever you want it to be. To some it's just a game but to me it's the place I've expressed my most authentic creativity and made genuine, life long connections and friendships. June is Pride month and in Second Life many members of the LGBTQ+ community find this to be a safe space to express themselves and feel empowered. You have been very active in Second Life raising awareness in the past, can you share more about that and if there are any activities or events that you’ll be taking part in during this coming month? Last year I wrote a song "SL Pride" which sort of depicts why pride is so important to me and how Second Life has helped me along the way. I won't go into much more detail than I did above because I'm much better at singing out my words than speaking them. Last year I did two big Pride performances - Burrow & Co for SL Pride and Pride at Home run by Tink Hax. Both events were hugely successful and we raised a load of lindens for various LGBT charities with a variety of really talented people. This year I'm booked for two Pride shows so far - Pride at Home and one at a fairly new venue called Eleventh House. Where can people see you perform or hear more of your music? Please share links to your sites, social media accounts, and destinations you regularly perform at. Inworld: Dropyour Knickers Facebook: Sam Elliot King Soundcloud: Sam Super-Villin Flickr: SAM KING (slim) I'll be performing at Pride at Home at the end of this month, Saturday 25th June 6pm SLT. I have a good feeling about this one, hopefully see you all there! Also just want to say although I've mainly stopped doing small occasions/parties, I'm always down for a good cause so I will happily come perform at your event if it's going to charity! And Linden Lab, if you ever want me to jump up on stage at one of your big Second Life events, just say the word and I promise I'll keep it PG! Well Sam, we heard you! Watch Sam perform live at SL19B later this month! Sam has graciously recorded a PG version of his song, Relog, for us. Watch the music video on our YouTube channel. We hope you enjoyed learning more about Sam’s many talents and enjoy his music as much as we do. We'll see you at SL19B listening to his live performance! Each of these weekly Spotlight posts will feature 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.
  9. Lab Gab is a talk show about the virtual world of Second Life. Join our host, Strawberry Linden on Friday, May 27th at 10am PT as she speaks with Carol Benovic-Bradley, the Director of Community at Flickr. Launched in 2004, Flickr is a photo-sharing platform that has become an integral part of the Second Life community. Many members of our community find it to be their second virtual home, using the platform to share their digital art and virtual adventures. We’re excited to have the opportunity to speak directly with a representative from Flickr to learn more about their recent changes, hear about some new features they have in store for us, as well as getting some tips for setting safety levels properly. We’re also looking forward to learning more about the segmentation research they recently conducted on our community. Lab Gab will be streamed to the Second Life YouTube Channel, Facebook Page, LinkedIn Page, and Twitter. For full episodes of Lab Gab, click over to the Lab Gab YouTube Playlist.
  10. This week we are shining a spotlight on Damian Zhaoying, a Second Life veteran that brings a wealth of community building experience and translation services to our virtual world. He also runs the popular Spanish Community Gateway, Ayuda Virtual. Damian also supplied the questions and answers in Spanish for our Spanish community members. Please keep scrolling for Spanish! How long have you been in Second Life and how did you first hear about it? Since December 2006, a little more than 15 years ago. In the middle of 2006 a relative asked me to help her improve her PC with a graphics card and, after doing so, she showed me what the improvement was for. It was SL, she showed me the world, what could be done, and the possibilities to create and socialize. I made an account, but I didn't understand how to handle it and then I lost it. In December I wanted to try again and, already with this account, I ended up fascinated by everything that can be done and achieved here. Can you share more information about your Second Life Community Gateway region, Ayuda Virtual, and what kind of support the destination offers Second Life Residents. Ayuda Virtual is a Spanish-speaking community that is part of the Community Gateway project and we want to help new users take their first steps in Second Life and show them everything they can do in this world. We also want them to feel comfortable in our community, feel they belong to it, have a place to be, talk, meet, socialize, share, learn and teach. In addition, we believe that Second Life is an important platform to spread the different cultural expressions of our users - musicians, painters, poets, and more. We have exhibitions and talks on topics that are of interest to the community. Our teachers teach users different disciplines, such as construction, blender, scripts, English, role play, avatar appearance, and anything that is useful for them. Have you dabbled in content creation in Second Life? I have created small, simple, and not so simple things, usually for personal pleasure or to be used in our Ayuda Virtual community, mainly working with scripts. You do Spanish translations for the Singularity and Firestorm viewers, are translation services something you offer to everyone? I offer my translation services from English to Spanish to anyone who needs it. In addition, I also offer it to Creators (often free of charge), mainly so that users in the Spanish-speaking community can have products in their own language. Tell us about some of the other Residents in SL that inspire you and whose work you admire. I admire several, especially when it comes to communicating news to the Second Life community. Since I have my own news blog in Spanish, my references in this area are Inara Pey and Nalates Urriah. On the other hand, I admire my co-owner of Ayuda Virtual, Córdoba Cluny, for her ability to work and organize, which allows our community to grow and develop. Where can people see more of your work? Please share links to your sites and social media accounts. Personal Blog Personal Twitter Ayuda Virtual Blog Ayuda Virtual Twitter Ayuda Virtual Youtube Watch this promotional video about the Ayuda Virtual community: We hope you enjoyed learning more about Damian and his quest to educate and provide a safe space for the Spanish speaking community. Each of these weekly Spotlight posts will feature 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. Spanish translation provided by Damian Zhaoying: ¿Cuánto tiempo llevas en Second Life y cómo te enteraste por primera vez? Poco mas de 15 años, desde diciembre de 2006. A mediados de 2006 un familiar me pide le ayude a mejorar su PC con una tarjeta gráfica y, luego de hacerlo, me muestra para que era la mejora. Era SL, me muestra el mundo, que se podía hacer y las posibilidades para crear y socializar. Hice una cuenta, pero no entendí como manejarme y luego la perdí, en diciembre quise volver a intentarlo y, ya con esta cuenta, terminé fascinado por todo lo que aquí se puede hacer y lograr. ¿Puede compartir más información sobre su región de Community Gateway, Ayuda Virtual y qué tipo de apoyo ofrece el destino a los residentes de Second Life? Ayuda Virtual es una comunidad de habla hispana integrante del proyecto Comunnity Gateway y buscamos ayudar a los usuarios nuevos a dar sus primeros pasos en Second Life, mostrarles todo lo que pueden hacer en este mundo. También queremos que se sientan cómodos en nuestra comunidad, la sientan propia, tengan un lugar donde estar, conversar, conocer, socializar y compartir, aprender y enseñar. Además, creemos que Second Life es una plataforma importante para difundir las distintas expresiones culturas de nuestros usuarios. Músicos, pintores, poetas. Tenemos exposiciones y charlas sobre temas que son de interés para la comunidad. Nuestros profesores enseñan a los usuarios distintas disciplinas, como ser construcción, blender, scripts, inglés, role play, apariencia del avatar y todo aquello que sea de utilidad para los usuarios de nuestra comunidad. También tienes un negocio en Second Life, cuéntanos más sobre él y cómo llegaste a la creación de contenido. No realmente, no tengo negocio aunque muchas veces he pensado en tenerlo. He creado cosas pequeñas, simples y no tan simples, normalmente lo hago por gusto personal o para ser utilizado en nuestra comunidad Ayuda Virtual, principalmente trabajando con scritps. Haces traducciones al español para los espectadores de Singularity y Firestorm, ¿los servicios de traducción son algo que ofreces a todo el mundo? Ofrezco mis servicios de traducción del inglés al español a todo aquel que lo necesite. Además, suelo ofrecerlo a creadores (muchas veces, sin cargo), principalmente para que los usuarios de la comunidad de habla hispana puedan tener productos en su propio idioma. Cuéntanos sobre algunos de los otros Residentes en SL que te inspiran y cuyo trabajo admiras. Realmente no tengo algún usuario relevante que me inspire, aunque admiro a varios, especialmente en lo que es comunicar novedades a la comunicad de Second Life. Como tengo mi propio blog de noticias en español, mis referentes en ese ámbito son Inara Pey and Nalates Urriah. Por otro lado, admiro a mi copropietaria de Ayuda Virtual, cordoba Cluny, por su capacidad de trabajo y organización que permite que nuestra comunidad crezca y se desarrolle.
  11. https://www.radiofrance.fr/franceculture/podcasts/les-pieds-sur-terre/sylvie3600-et-bolly-coco-sur-les-traces-des-metavers-9216095 Podcast de 28min avec Sylvie de Radio France et Bollycoco sur Second Life lien ci-dessus 🙃
  12. This week we are shining a spotlight on Jordan Lively (ohhbehave), who started her singing career in Second Life. She just released her first single, and it has hit the main page of Apple Music as one of the Best New Songs! Photo by Clearstone How long have you been in Second Life and how did you first hear about it? I’ve been in and out of Second Life for about 10 years! I first heard about Second Life on the show The Office. I am a gamer and I loved the Sims so I was like, “that sounds funny and interesting, I’m going to check it out.” To be honest I initially wanted to go in and troll, but then ended up discovering that there was live music. I made some genuine connections and it became much more than the “game” I thought it was. How/When did you first develop an interest in music? I’ve had an interest in music even as a child. I loved to sing although I was extremely shy and would almost never do it in front of people. When did you start performing in Second Life, and what venues can people visit to hear you sing? I started performing in Second Life maybe about eight years ago. There are so many amazing places you can hear me. Ugly Girlz, they are a group of some of the most supportive people in SL that put on hands down some of the BEST events. The Rayne District (I play every other Tuesday) is one of the most thoughtfully designed places with tons of personality and it is home to a lot of talent. Love Kats (I play every other Friday) is not only a venue owned by one of the most genuine and supportive people in SL but is also such a fun, friendly, and inviting atmosphere. Love Kats is a staple to the SL music community. Finally, the venue After Dark is the intimate space that holds literally some of the best musicians on the grid. You know when you play there, people are listening. You know you’ve “made it” when you play at After Dark. How would you describe your music, and who are some of the musicians who have influenced your style? My music is honestly my diary. It’s vulnerable, it’s relatable, and my passion is spreading mental health awareness through music. So I openly sing about stuff I go through, good and bad, because I know there are people out there that can relate. Musicians that influence my style…I am not sure any influence my style but there are artists that inspire me: Dean Lewis, Jason Mraz, Adele, and Janis Joplin. Tell us about your recently released first single! My first single, SOS, has just been released and is currently on the main page of Apple Music as one of the Best New Songs! It also got placed on two Apple Editorial Playlists! SOS was recorded in Muscle Shoals Alabama and was produced by another Second Life Resident, Beardy! SOS, while upbeat, has lyrics that have a raw vulnerability to it, and openly talks about struggling with emotions and feelings in life that people can easily relate to. I did this as a metaphor because of how many of us walk around with a smile but are really going through something, struggling with something, internally. It’s more common than we think. Photo by Tea Enchanted How has SL impacted your life? There are so many ways that SL has impacted my life. The first being that I met an amazing musician, Beardy, at one of the RL SL music jams. Beardy became not only a really good friend but he was also my producer and sound engineer on this song, along with a few others we recorded. A HUGE way SL impacted my life is the fact that I wouldn’t even be pursuing music if it wasn’t for this amazing community. I started SL not singing, not playing instruments, not writing songs, until a couple of people heard me sing at open mics inworld and encouraged me to start singing and doing shows in both SL and RL. I then started learning how to play ukulele, guitar, and started playing the piano more. Eventually I started writing songs and once I started, I couldn’t stop. The community in SL is unlike any other: they have encouraged me, inspired me, been supportive of me, and a lot of them have become friends for life. I am beyond thankful to SL for being a hub to meet these amazing people, to create fun one-of-a-kind experiences, and also the way that SL is so supportive of its Residents, it really is just a beautiful thing. Where can people follow you to know more about your music and shows? Please share links to your sites and social media accounts. Listen to the song SOS by Jordan Lively on all platforms! If you have Spotify please follow me, add the song to your playlist and share it with friends and family. Those are things that REALLY help independent artists. This is the first song of many coming out and I can’t wait for you to hear them! Listen to SOS Instagram Facebook TiKTok YouTube We hope you enjoyed learning about Jordan Lively, and how the support of the SL music community encouraged her to pursue her passion and share her talent with the world. Take a moment to enjoy her incredible voice and soulful music today! Each of these weekly Spotlight posts will feature 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.
  13. This week we are shining a spotlight on Christion Dinzeo, (Ahlan Wright in the physical world) a DJ with humble beginnings whose passion for connecting people through music took him all over the physical and virtual worlds! How long have you been in Second Life and how did you first hear about it? Well, I can remember being in Second Life when everything was made of the little square boxes (called prims) that I later learned to turn to different shapes, haha. My oh my, how we have grown. I just had my 15th year rez day party back in February. Wow, saying that makes me think back to when we all just had the same clothes, the same hair, and everyone was so amazed when you could just take a proof script, put it in a prim, and make particles that fly everywhere. Or when the Lindens used to come hang out with us at a nightclub like Blue Linden. What brought me to Second Life? Well, I used to play TSO and I was with an entire family, and one day we were all chatting and we found out there was a new (life) game that everybody was so intrigued by. So one afternoon I installed the game, and {it was back when} we all got to have the same last name of our choosing. I guess you could say that makes us vintage lol. I remember that anything was possible back then, and even more so now. But most of all, we could create a lifestyle and live a Second Life. It’s giving us a chance to meet, network, and grow with some amazing people from all around the world. How did you get into DJing in the physical world and when did you decide to bring that into the virtual world and start doing it in Second Life? Well, I’ve always been in the entertainment business in real life. I first started out doing radio while I was in college. After a few semesters, a couple of my college mates kept telling me that I needed to go out and explore, and enjoy the nightlife, but I was a bookworm and I was studying day in and day out. I’ve always loved playing with computers. (I guess you can say that’s the geek in all of us.) Well, one night my roommate told me that we were going to go hang out at a nightclub. They would not take no for an answer, so I said “Fine, I’ll go,” and I honestly have to say it was the best decision of my life: we went that night and as we went to get in line, this gentleman stops me and asked me if I minded holding the door for him so he could carry some equipment inside. I said sure and held the door for him as he started carrying some crates and some really heavy equipment inside this night club. A little bit of time passed, and he hands me $200 and asked me if I planed on going in the nightclub, as he could get us all VIP access. Being in college, money was always tight, so those were two things that any college student would love to have. So we accepted his offer, went into the club, and had the most amazing time. But as for me, I was more interested in what he was doing, watching his hands and how he would take each song and put them together. Later on at closing time I walked up to the DJ and told him that I would absolutely love to do something like this. He told me that he could teach me, but it has to be more something that you naturally know how to do. So we exchanged numbers and he invited me back the next weekend to be in the DJ booth with him. I started watching what he did, and I told myself I bet I could do this. So after going to the club and watching him a few times, I learned exactly how to take a song that’s on vinyl and mix it with another one on vinyl. It was absolutely amazing to watch him take an instrumental and put it with an a cappella. So I told him that I wanted to try, and he told me if I came back early the next night he would let me practice. Now fast forward a couple weeks, and he really liked what I did, so he asked me if I would be the opening DJ for one hour on the weekends and he would pay me for my time. I was so excited, I ran back to tell all my friends in school that I was going to be DJing at a nightclub and they needed to come out. They all came out to show support, and after a couple weeks the DJ started giving me a little bit more time each night. One night he called me and told me that he was sick and couldn’t come in, and that I was actually going to play the whole night and that the club would pay me. Well I accepted, and again I have to say it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made because from that point on the owner was very happy with what I did. People were dancing all night long, and after a while the other DJ actually left to go work at another nightclub. And so the owner offered me a Friday night, and from there I just started playing every Friday night, and I learned that I had a very good ear for music. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always loved music but I could actually control the sounds that people were hearing and that was very exciting to me. I eventually graduated with a computer engineering degree, and I wanted to continue to go to school and learn about the art of music and design and create my own sound. And with the help and support of my DJ mentor I did just that. I started playing at nightclubs all over on the weekends and going to school on the weekdays, until one night I played at a club called Platforms in Florida, and I found out that I was going to be opening for a major artist that goes by the name of Yung Joc. You might’ve heard of him, his most popular song was “It’s Goin’ Down.” After doing the show they told me that they would love to have me come play on some of his other shows on the East Coast. I accepted and the experience was so great. After that things got even bigger, and I started playing more shows with different artists in different states. As the music changed, people started liking more and more different styles than just hip-hop, and I started messing around with other genres of music and really found a love for electronic dance music. I started playing at a lot of different venues, festivals, and shows all over the world in support of big name artists like DJ Baby Ann and DJ Icey, and then I got to be support for one the the world’s music icons, Avicii. After that show I just started to tour in support of artists all over, from major festivals like Miami’s Life In Color. And the rest is history. I now live in Las Vegas and support many headlining acts in addition to signing on as an artist with a very big agency called Blueprint. Each week is different, and I often work with some of the biggest talents in the world. It’s definitely been a blessing in my music career and I can officially say that I too am an artist. I remember this everyday and put it to use in the wonderful world of Second Life. So now back to the story of SL! After doing a few broadcasting shows, I learned that there was a way we could add commercials about the stores or pretty much anything, and we came across a program called Shout Cast. You could use it to stream and broadcast what was being played on your computer. Later, we found out that we could take URLs and put them in Second Life. So I did that and then I was hired for a few nightclubs. What are some of the advantages or challenges of DJing in the virtual world, as opposed to the physical world? I would have to say the advantages are that anything is possible, as it has helped me grow and be able to reach out and do things I never thought were possible, like being able to work with some big and influential names in Second Life. The challenges would be not knowing if the stream is going to work or if it would coincide with an SL software update, or maybe your internet connection is giving you problems… Lol back in the day that used to happen to me a lot, it definitely was a challenge. But it was one worth putting up with. What are your favorite genres of music, and what mood do you usually go for when you DJ? I’m a future bass artist, it’s in the same family of genres known as EDM (electronic dance music), but I have to say I always fall back on my roots and I love some good hip-hop, especially everything from the 90s. I don’t play it as much irl but I definitely enjoy playing it in Second Life. For the second part of the question, I always love the ha and high energy type of setting, but I love to make people dance and knowing that I can make them dance and move to the sounds that I create is so special to me. We hear that you may be involved in a new club opening in Second Life, ELEVATE! Can you tell us more about it and when it opens? Well, I had been gone for quite a few years, because real life had really kicked off and I was away on multiple tours. One day I was sitting at my computer and I received an email saying that a customer had a problem with one of my hats (I also design in Second Life). So I log in and send them a new copy, as I had made a custom fit hat for them. And it kind of made me miss this world, as it’s always been a part of me. After looking around and seeing all the different avatars it made me think I was a noob all over again lol. So that night I was on for a crazy amount of hours, as that’s how Second Life works for most haha, but I decided to upgrade and get myself all fixed up with the help of a few friends. And then it was almost as if I never left, because all the clubs had opened their arms and invited me back, and I found many other clubs to be a part of. After a couple weeks of being back I noticed that a lot of the clubs were different, and I wanted to take the knowledge I had gained and give back to this world, so after a few days of searching and creating something unlike any other and having the support from my friends and family I created ELEVATE NIGHT CLUB. I was able to find a designer that made the dancefloor lighting go on your body like in a physical club. As you can see in the logo, it has the name of the club as well as a triangle design. The triangle represents important things in my life, the people that have always stood by me, and the person that means the most to me in both worlds. Not only has she been an SL mom to me but we have become very close in the real world as well, and she has always stood by my side no matter what the situation may be, and her name is Savvy Tomorrow. If I had to say anything about her I would have to say that she is my hero and has always supported me in both worlds. Tell us about some of the other Residents in SL that inspire you and whose work you admire. To start off I would like to thank all the people that did not believe in me and would not give me the chance, because those are the people that just made me push even harder to succeed and be where I am today. And I encourage anyone who is ever told no to turn that into a yes, no matter what it is in life. As I mentioned previously about my SL mom, she is definitely at the top of my list, but there are so many people that believe in me and that have supported me, who I’ve supported also, with another being my SL daughter Raine Dinzeo. She is definitely someone that’s been there from day one. Also there’s Havi and a few others that don’t really come online anymore. I would also like to add that there was a time when my real life wasn’t going very great and I was not always a great person in Second Life, but since then I have definitely grown up and I’ve changed my ways. Sometimes it still haunts me, that maybe I didn’t think about something before I reacted and that I could’ve hurt somebody’s feelings. But I wasn’t even thinking about it at the time because I was hurting myself. I wanna let the people know that I have changed, I have definitely grown up and I have bettered myself not only irl but also in my second one. To any and everybody that I was rude to, I am truly sorry and I hope at some point in life you can forgive me, and give me a chance to show you that I have changed. Where can people follow you to know more about your next shows? Please share links to your sites and social media accounts. I wanna thank you so much for taking the time to include me, it definitely means a lot and hopefully gives me the chance to reach out to everyone that I may have run into at some point throughout my history in Second Life. For info on our upcoming events | shows follow my Instagram: Instagram: @ahlanwrightmusic Facebook: @AhlanWrightMusic Twitter: @AhlanWright Soundcloud: @ahlanwrightmusic I also recently did another interview for the the NFL tailgating committee. Elevate Night Club’s grand opening is tonight, May 4th at 5pm SLT. Come party with Christion in your black and white attire! Elevate Night Club Elevate Night Club is one of the hottest new clubs to hit the grid, with live DJs that will be playing Top 40s EDM! Step into an inviting atmosphere that was designed to emulate the captivating light effects of physical clubs. Owned and designed by renowned DJ Christion Dinzeo, you will find Elevate to be anything but predictable. The grand opening (May 4th, 2022 at 5 pm PT/SLT) will have a Black and White attire theme, but after that, dress however you like! Visit in Second Life We hope you enjoyed learning about Christion’s whirlwind journey and the important life lessons he picked up along the way. We encourage everybody to follow their passions no matter what, just like Christion and countless other Residents have. Each of these weekly Spotlight posts will feature 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.
  14. This week we are shining a spotlight on Gabriel Easton (Wassup.Bruh), who runs Highlife Destinations with his family and takes our breath away with his virtual landscaping. You know someone’s really good at something when they make it look easy! Gabriel’s attention to detail has produced numerous regions that look and feel like absolute paradise. How long have you been in Second Life and how did you first hear about it? I've been in Second Life for almost 15 years. I first heard about SL through a friend I was hanging out with, and they heard about it from an episode of CSI. They got curious and made an account and I watched them walk around for an hour. They were walking into people and we wondered why no one was talking… or doing anything for that matter. It was a strange world to us. They eventually grew bored but I wanted to see for myself what it was about and make the most of it. I signed up the next day and did the same thing. Just walked around. I learned to teleport and found some people who actually spoke. They taught me a few things, not much. I learned to shape my avi and got some freebies. I thought I was cute but man, looking back, I was still a hot mess! I rented my first apartment within that first week and met some cool people. That's what really made me stick around longer: the connections I made. Now, here I am 15 years later. I've gone with the flow of things and I'm happy I stayed to see all of the improvements. What drew you to virtual landscaping, and what styles have influenced your approach? My love for landscaping started with another platform where you could design your homes. I would spend more time building the home and decorating than I did actually playing it. The same passion applied here in SL but with more of a learning curve. I always did my own landscaping and I didnt start out good, no one does. But with practice, I kept at it and got a little better. I didn't have it in my mind to make a business of it at first. That came later through encouragement from my Second Life family. I started out doing landscape work for my family and friends only. After I posted my photos, I gained more clients and kept at it. I haven't really defined my own style per se but one thing I will say about myself is that I tend to be a perfectionist. I have my landscaping pet peeves: floating trees, bare undecorated areas with so much potential, and bald grass! I just like for things to be perfect and beautiful and I go the extra mile to make that happen. I take a lot of pride in my work and those who experience it can see and feel that. Cuban Tropical Island Since you work with your family as a creative team, please explain what role each person has, and what exactly your duties entail? Highlife Destinations is a family company. For our destinations, I create the landscaping, decor and activities. My wife Tye handles the administration part as far as bookings, events, and so much more. Our son Roman does a lot of beautiful decor work on the hotel rooms and administrative work. Our daughter Sage does a lot with spa services, helping with check-ins and much more. Our daughter-in-law Savoeigh is our main check-in specialist. We have a full staff of team members like Jordan, A'storia, Lori, Bunny, Leta, and Angel that do various jobs in our restaurants, spa, cooking classes, and sip and paint classes. As for myself, I bounce around where I'm needed. I help with check-in, I may fill in for a spa here and there but mostly I serve dinners. Everyone works hard to provide excellent and fun roleplay experiences for our guests and I appreciate them all wholeheartedly. When building resorts or seasonal regions, what types of activities and amenities do you include to make a visit to these places different from regular exploration, i.e. an actual virtual vacation? The difference is in the roleplay and immersion. With regular exploration, you go to a place, look around, take photos. Some places are interactive, but most are not. With our destinations, you are really on a vacation. People book for a day or two, sometimes more. They come with their luggage and start out in our airport, where they are greeted and checked in at our concierge just like a real hotel stay. Guests stay with us for their honeymoons, group vacations, or a quick getaway. They get to stay and make lasting memories together. Timor Isles at Bali Each resort will have activities that pretty much match the destination. In Timor Isles @ Bali, we had lots of fun water activities as well as underwater, zip lining and hang gliding. We didn't have a restaurant but we did serve dinner at their bungalows or a private romantic one on a mountainside. Winter in NY Winter in New York had ice skating in Rockefeller Plaza, a Fun Zone arcade, Empire Steak restaurant, and more. Ibiza Ibiza had water activities but it was more of a Nightlife resort with LOTS of parties on the water, in the club, and main pool area. We also had a nice mini golf and amusement park. Poconos The Poconos had lots of winter activities such as skiing down a huge mountain and hang gliding. We also included a hot air balloon ride. Las Vegas With Las Vegas we have packed it all in! Vegas has zip lining, a hot air balloon, paintball, pools, bowling, sand dunes, a drive-in movie theater, live shows, and more. We put together live shows every other week that feature showgirls, dancers, and singers. We also have a Viva Las Divas Drag show! Our shows have really been amazing and bring so much more to the Las Vegas experience that you can't get anywhere else. I am honestly so proud and thankful for everyone that has had a part in them. They have worked so hard and our guests see that and have a really great time. Ibiza How many regions is your team currently operating, and what can we expect from you next? We usually keep our destinations for six months or more and then change it to something else. We are currently running Las Vegas, and it has four regions to explore. For our next destination, we will be bringing Timor Isles back for Bali 2.0! It will be bigger and better than ever before! Where can people see your work? Please share links to your sites and social media accounts. My Flickr My Facebook Las Vegas FB Las Vegas Instagram Las Vegas Flickr We hope you enjoyed learning about Gabriel and the creative potential of virtual landscaping. Make sure you check out his website and treat yourself to a magical escape! Each of these weekly Spotlight posts will feature 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.
  15. This week we are shining a spotlight on Inara Pey. As the writer behind the comprehensive blog Living in a Modemworld, Inara reports on the evolution, current events, and vast potential of Second Life and virtual worlds. Living in a Modemworld is almost as old as SL itself, adding gravitas to the observations found in its lengthy catalog. How long have you been in Second Life and how did you first hear about it? Altogether? 16 years - but I tend to not count the first time around, as I quit after several months for various reasons (such as jumping in without knowing much about what I was hoping to achieve or why I was giving it a go). However, by the end of 2006, the media hype cycle about SL was in full swing, and that gave me enough of an understanding about what I might find that I decided to give things another go - and 15 years and 4 months later, I'm still here! When and how did you get started writing about Second Life? My SL-related blogging initially started in 2007, with a focus on what was then my primary interest. By 2008, I was writing more broadly about Second Life. {Around this time} some of the Lab's management and board (all of whom have long since departed LL) saw the future of the platform as being more of a "business application" - and that as a result, some users might not find the platform as welcoming as it had been going forward. This, coupled with other events (such as the whole OpenSpace / Homestead situation), led to a lot of criticism being directed towards the Lab; honestly, a more than good portion of it was justified, although equally, some of it perhaps wasn't. For my part, I became aware that I actually didn't understand all of the complexities involved in running and maintaining a platform like SL as well as I perhaps should, making some of my own critiques either questionable or hypocritical. So I set out to learn as much as I could about the platform (and am still learning!) whilst also trying to report on it from a more objective standpoint, keeping subjective opinion to pieces clearly noted as such as much as possible. At the same time my interest in exploring SL more broadly came to the fore, as did my interest in SL art and in taking photos in-world - as a result, Modemworld was born. You highlight the latest news, updates, and destinations in SL in such a concise and informative way. How do you stay on top of all of the information you wish to feature? It's a combination of factors. Most simply, I try to run on a schedule. I'm helped in this by the fact that some of the things I report on are themselves scheduled (such as the in-world user groups) or often announced ahead of time by the Lab or by event organisers. I also try to keep an eye on various sources of information - the official blogs, social media, various in-world groups, etc - that allow me to identify opportunities for blogging. In addition, I'm really fortunate enough to receive a lot of suggestions and requests, and to have friends who regularly nudge me about places I might like to write about (special thanks to Shawn and Cube and everyone who does so), and to have artists and gallery owners take the time to keep me informed as to what they are doing, as well as a readership who takes the time to let me know about things they feel might be of interest. I've also been very fortunate enough to attract some guest writers - Caledonia, R., Beq, and Marianne - who have all given depth to the blog. Do you have a submission process for Residents who would like to have their destination promoted on your blog? The best way is via notecard, although IMs will also generally work, and there is a Contact Me form on the blog. I cannot possibly cover everything I'm messaged about, and I do sometimes receive requests for articles that fall outside my focus, and so are not covered; my apologies to those sending them for this being the case. But generally, I try to take requests / suggestions on a case-by-case basis and blog with credit whenever there is a good fit. Tell us about some of the other Residents in SL that inspire you and whose work you admire. Honestly, there are so many, it would be hard to point to a handful without me feeling guilty about not mentioning others. I'm constantly and repeatedly awed by the regions I visit, the art I encounter, and all the work of all the creators and scripters who bring depth to our in-world lives. I'm also genuinely appreciative of the Lab (together with all the open-source developers) for all the work put into keeping this complex, aging, behemoth we call Second Life running as well as it does, nevermind constantly trying to improve and update it. What do you do to relax in-world? A variety of things. As readers of my blog know, I have a particular love of in-world building / kitbashing, which I tend to combine with landscaping. I also love spending time boating, sailing, and flying in SL (and skydiving, something I had fun introducing to Strawberry!), and am in awe of all those who create and script the boats and aircraft that make this possible. Exploring is also a means to relax (even when related to blogging!), and of course there are those who keep me coming back to SL for their company. Where can people follow your work? Please share links to your sites and social media accounts. Blog Twitter Plurk Flickr YouTube (rarely active at the moment) We hope you enjoyed learning about Inara’s extensive background in SL. Sometimes it takes a village to provide coverage of everything that goes on in here, so don’t be shy about submitting content to Modemworld! And of course, we encourage any aspiring bloggers to check out the Second Life Blogger Network. Each of these weekly Spotlight posts will feature 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.
  16. This week we are shining a spotlight on Zaara Kohime, who brings the luxurious colors of Indian culture and clothing to SL through her digital creations. In addition to gorgeous lehengas and saris, a visit to her main store is an experience in itself. She has artfully incorporated many architectural styles and iconic symbols of Indian culture, such as colorful tilework and a serene temple. How long have you been in Second Life and how did you first hear about it? I have been in SL since 2007! A friend of mine pointed me to a news article about it and I signed up. I didn't quite know what to do once I logged in (don't we all?). I used to camp in those days to earn some lindens and eventually made some friends. Soon enough, I was told that if I have any sort of graphic capabilities, I should try creating something in SL. {Zaara} mainstore Do you have a background in fashion or 3D creation? What got you interested in creating content for Second Life? I went to art school and am trained in illustration and print media. I was also an art director at an ad agency that handled fashion and lifestyle brands. Advertising was on the cusp of digitization and print mediums were increasingly on the decline… we didn’t have the budgets at our disposal, or the timelines, that we were used to. It was just a high pressure environment and I was getting pretty frustrated with that way of life. What attracted me to SL was the freedom, that I could do *anything* and if it was good enough, people were willing to pay for it and appreciate it. I liked the idea of being able to reach a global audience and to be on a level playing field; there was a sense of equality about it and mutual respect. The positive feedback from customers was also encouraging, it felt like what I was doing was worthwhile and bringing joy to someone in a very direct way. I decided to make a few outfits in my spare time to see how it went... and thus {Zaara} was born. I was proficient in Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, however, I had no training in any 3D software. Luckily, SL content at the time was not driven by mesh but rather by textures, which were my strength. Luckily, I could pick up newer techniques and softwares along the way as SL evolved. My partner, Sawyer Campese, was comfortable with 3D and I learned softwares quickly. Needless to say 14 years later, I am still here and loving it! {Zaara} Lehenga As most of your clothing is highly influenced by South Asian culture, please share some common garment terms that people might not be familiar with. Are there any specific people, places, or movies that have inspired your designs? {Zaara} is a quintessential Indian brand, pretty rooted in tradition and authentic in its representation. A lot of my customers who are not from India are often pleased to discover fashion goes beyond a sari. I do try to name my outfits correctly, with the name in Hindi and English so people understand how these pieces are called. I try to focus on specific outfit styles, the most popular of which is a Lehenga - flared intricately worked on skirts with blouses with draped scarves. Most South Asian traditional garments tend to have draped scarves called 'dupattas' or 'chunnis' for the sake of modesty. Then of course there is the Sari - the ultimate fashion paradox... it is as complex as it is simple, with its richly decorated seven yards of untailored fabric. There are apparently over 100 different ways in which a sari can be draped. I have managed to make... ONE style (lol). Then you also have tops or long dresses such as 'kurtas' which are worn with pants. These have several different names such as anarkali, a patiala, churidar kurta, sharara, gararas... depending on the cut of the top and the fit of the pants. A big part of my inspiration is drawn from different fabrics, embroideries, and regional differences that stretch across the vast landscape of India. I also love color and South Asian fashion is one where strong colors and patterns are unapologetically front and center, so I like to celebrate that. A lot of my customers contribute references or draw attention to an outfit from a popular Bollywood movie and I happily comply if possible! {Zaara} Patiala Kurta (left) and {Zaara} Sari (right) You recently updated the Zaara mainstore to an all mesh build. This photogenic Indian themed location is an attraction in itself, filled with meaningful cultural markers such as a temple, colorful tilework and stained glass, and the revered cow and elephant. What was the process of building such an elaborate store like, and what experience do you hope people take from visiting? My inspiration for the {Zaara} sim was a mix of old Havelis (mansions) and the steps/ghats you see in Puskhar and Varanasi. I like this region because its architecture is influenced by Hindu as well as Islamic elements which captures the multicultural fabric of India. Zaara region ghats/steps I also understand that a lot of non-resident Indians come to SL looking for nostalgia and a feeling of home.... I didn't want to build a palace, but rather something relatable that had seen better days and was looking for a sense of purpose. The {Zaara} mainstore is housed in such a 'Haveli' with a rambling layout which spills over outdoors into the lanes leading to the 'ghats' or steps into the water. Zaara region lane I initially referenced pictures off of Google, but unfortunately, I didn't even know where to start. Rural Indian builds are so chaotic and I couldn't figure out what these builds looked like on the inside, and how one building led into another. So I traveled to Rajasthan, along with my partner Sawyer, to collect references and observe the structures firsthand. The Mainstore structure itself is based on an old Haveli in Shekhawati. The yellow building that houses the Menswear is a quaint house I saw in Jodhpur, Rajasthan. The pools are a nod to the gorgeous lake palace in Udaipur. Then there was this particular lane in Pushkar that I fell in love with and attempted to recreate a simplified version here in the sim. I could do sooo much more, the {Zaara} sim still feels like a work in progress... but I had to stop somewhere and get back to making Saris and Lehengas! Lane comparisons - RL (left) vs SL (right) How has Second Life impacted your life? Well, I met my now RL husband in SL, so it has certainly impacted my life (haha). In general, I think the most priceless thing Second Life offers is freedom. We have been able to move across countries because of how flexible we are... and because it is not a 9-5 job we could develop other interests and hobbies. I was bogged down by a mortgage on my apartment in Mumbai and my SL business helped me pay that back. We are now building a life together without the traditional constraints of a job or location, and I'll always be grateful to Second life for that. I have made so many friends from so many countries and even met a few IRL! Nothing can be quite as enriching as a culturally diverse human encounter. What keeps me going is the appreciation of customers, some of whom have been purchasing from my store for 13-14 years. Zaara region temple Where can people follow you to learn more about your work? Please share links to your sites and social media accounts. Flickr Facebook Instagram SLURL to Zaara mainstore Zaara on Marketplace We hope you enjoyed learning more about Zaara’s talent and flair for virtual fusion fashion. Each of these weekly Spotlight posts will feature 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.
  17. This week we are shining a spotlight on Saffia Widdershins, a powerhouse woman that has years of promotional work under her belt, including an incredible job of hosting many award shows, pageants, talk shows, and more! How long have you been in Second Life and how did you first hear about it? I first heard about Second Life in early 2007, when my team in the Medical Sciences Division of the University of Oxford asked me to go into Second Life and see if it might be useful to us. I went in and did a little exploration... and was fascinated by the whole environment and decided I wanted to explore more thoroughly. I created a second avatar to do this - so Saffia is actually an alt! Prim Perfect Magazine - Covers of the first (2007) and last issue (2015) In addition to being renowned in Second Life for hosting a variety of events, you are known especially for your in-depth interviews. When and how did you get into broadcasting in Second Life? My first venture into media in Second Life was with Prim Perfect, Second Life's first home and garden magazine. As my (real life) husband said... "You're planning on a virtual magazine in a virtual world, telling virtual people what virtual furniture to put in their virtual homes … and you're planning to make real money doing this?" After we'd been up and running with the magazine for six months, I thought we could also have a presence on Second Life TV, so I contacted the popular network SLCN (later Treet TV) and asked if they'd like a home and garden show. That was the start of MetaMakeover, which was planned to be a home makeover show, but it very rapidly expanded far more into looking at places and events, and so it soon became Designing Worlds. And so it is to this day! There's a longstanding team behind it - in addition to myself there's Elrik Merlin, Aisling Sinclair, Wildstar Beaumont and - recently, Bain Finch who is a second videographer. A double page spread from The Primgraph by Terry Lightfoot Designing Worlds is such an amazing resource for creators. What are some of the other shows and events, past and current, that you have produced? I've also been involved with Happy Hunting, which was produced for a number of years by Cinders Vale and Petlove Petshop. And, of course, there was the thriller/fantasy story of The Blackened Mirror, which was a group production by a very talented team which included Zander Greene, Da5id Abbott, Aisling Sinclair, Petlove Petshop, Lorin Tone, Terra Volitant, Mavromichali Szondi, Angie Mornington, AvaJean Westland, and others. And then there was The Primgraph, a magazine for the Steamlands, which ran for several years. One event that is so close to my heart is One Billion Rising. We recently held the 10th annual event, as it's been running since 2013. That's a long time in Second Life! It's part of international events held around the world on February 14th, drawing attention to the statistic that one in three women worldwide will be beaten or raped during her lifetime - which adds up to more then one billion women and girls. It's an event with music, dance, art, and poetry. For many people, men and women, it's very powerful - it certainly is for me. I've been involved with the team leading it throughout - it actually started by the editorial team of Prim Perfect; when we read about the event, we wanted to be part of it! Over the years, many people have been involved - the team this year included Dawny Daviau, Briony Writer, Adele Ward, Cherryblonde Scribe, Meegan Danitz, AvaJean Westland, Jenny Anatine and some amazing volunteers who came in all shapes and forms! Designing Worlds visits One Billion Rising in Second Life 2022 Tell us about some of the other Residents in SL that inspire you and whose work you admire. Well, quite a lot of them are people I'm lucky enough to work with - or have had the opportunity to work with in the past! Deep breath... I would have to look at people who have created some amazing events, such as the teams behind events such as Fantasy Faire. The organisational skills there (led by Elizabeth Tinsley and Zander Greene) are amazing - and every year the creations of the designers just blow me away. One of my favourite things that I do each year is to lead the Company of Faire Folk on the tours we have each year, where a group of us go and explore each region of the Faire in turn, so we get to admire the work of creators like Alia Baroque, Saiyge Lotus, Sharni Azalee, Kayle Matzerath, Kilik Lekvoda, Walton Wainwright and Loki Eliot. The Tours run very smoothly, thanks to Aoife Lorefield and the rest of the LitFest team - the Literary Festival and now the Film Festival, led by Chantel Harvey, are components of Fantasy Faire. And then there's the Home and Garden Expo, led by Kaerri Rae, which is the most wonderful way of seeing the best of home and garden design in Second Life. As well as the lovely furniture design, I always look out for Cassie Eldamar's doll houses - really beautiful, intricate models of Victorian houses - and a library, a pub, a lighthouse - all tiny with amazingly low land impact. So many people contribute to Second Life in so many ways ... Marianne McCann, OldeSoul Eldemar, Desmond Shang, Mosseveno Tenk, Maxwell Graf, Froukje Hoorenbeek, Tymus Tenk and Truck Meredith, Kaya Angel and the wonderful team behind Grendel's - Flea Bussy and Toady Nakamura. Toady also runs wonderful classes teaching people to build in Second Life every week. Final Scene of Much Ado About Nothing for Fantasy Faire 2017 Are you currently working on anything new? Actually, yes. I'm working with Zander Greene (and many others) on a new series set in the same universe as The Blackened Mirror series. It's called "Harland Quinn and the Omega Hex", and I can say this about it ... When a lethal, magical anomaly out of the pages of legend begins wreaking havoc all across the Fairelands, it falls to a mismatched band of heroes to stop it before it’s too late. A Dark-Elven femme fatale, an erudite librarian, a rough-and-tumble sanitation worker, and a hard-boiled Private Detective will have to overcome their differences if they’re going to solve the enigma of the Omega-Hex and a mysterious scientist who may not be what she seems. We're planning to release the first three episodes at Fantasy Faire this year, and the next three next year. There's a very large team behind this - as you can imagine! The first episode of The Blackened Mirror - 2012 Where can people follow your work? Please share links to your sites and social media accounts. Prim Perfect Website Prim Perfect Facebook Designing Worlds Website Saffia on Flickr Saffia on Twitter Saffia on Facebook Saffia on YouTube Saffia on Vimeo You can watch many of Saffia’s interviews with the Lindens & Moles on YouTube A Media Project from 2014 by Saffia Widdershins We hope you enjoyed learning more about Saffia’s successful years in Second Life! Each of these weekly Spotlight posts will feature 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.
  18. In honor of Women’s History Month, we are shining a spotlight on a successful woman entrepreneur. Jasmine Kiyori is a prolific virtual builder whose work aims to authentically honor various cultures and locations from around the world. Jasmine’s work includes Little Santorini, Cheri Noel, and Kiyori City. (Note: Kiyori has two components, Kiyori City, rated Moderate, and Kiyori, rated Adult. If you do not wish to visit Adult regions, make sure to adjust the settings in your viewer preferences, as this will determine what types of regions you are allowed to enter.) How long have you been in Second Life and how did you first hear about it? I’ve been a Second Life Resident for 13+ years now! I’ve always been interested in virtual world platforms and games; I’m 90% sure I found Second Life through one of those ads on the side of Adobe Flash Player games back in the day. I made an account but didn’t really get into Second Life until an old friend brought me back in a few months later and I’ve been here ever since. Do you have a background in design or architecture? How did you get into 3D building? Actually, I don’t have a background in either! I’ve been building since I joined Second Life and that started as a hobby: before I had land I would go to public sandboxes and build there. Once I started purchasing land, I would make themed skyboxes for my friends and myself to enjoy, but I wasn’t very confident with the work and would do it on the side of other interests in Second Life. Although many know me for builds now, I have pursued different paths in Second Life such as meshing, photography, managing and hosting at clubs, buying, selling, and developing land, and helping others create their own unique look. Your work in Second Life has a very international feel, with themes encompassing various cultures. How did you learn so much about all these different places? In RL I love to travel! I've learned through my experiences during travels, people that I've met, and plenty of time dedicated to research. I've always been interested in other cultures besides my own and am very eager to learn about other countries' customs and way of life. When I design new spots or rentals, I always do a lot of research and make sure what I'm introducing is true to the design of the place I'm referencing. This comes down to architecture design, landscape, and knowledge of customs and culture. I'm very careful to not include something that doesn't make sense, wouldn't be there, is mocking, or generalizes and blends it into a similar culture. I think that bringing these cultures into Second Life is a beautiful thing and a great way to learn and understand them for those who aren't familiar but are curious. I have found that with places I've designed it not only attracts people who are interested in learning and experiencing these places, it also appeals to people from those cultures as well. I plan on designing something for every continent, and aim to represent various countries and their beauty whether on a smaller scale such as a single mainland rental home, a hangout spot, or on a greater scale full region. How did you discover virtual rentals, and when did you get started? With my builds, I started to develop a small but dedicated community in Kiyori back in 2018-2019. The regulars were really impressed with my work, and would ask if they could live in Kiyori. I set up a few apartments in the city, and quickly they were all rented out! This interest from my community urged me to expand Kiyori to two full regions. I shifted the focus of Kiyori more into a community rental place along with the city being a public place for all to enjoy. At the start of the pandemic in 2020, I began to participate in land auctions, where I would find mainland plots with cultural region names and design a home based on that culture which tends to be for rent or permanent sale. I love this because, whatever becomes available on a land auction is totally random, and so when I find one that does have a cultural region name, it's usually something I haven't done and challenges me with a new style. I have plenty of themed homes on the mainland in styles such as {those found in} Mexico, Japan, Sweden, Finland, Korea, Russia, Italy, and more to come! My first mainland plot, Hygge Retreat, is a Scandinavian cabin that is still available for rent or permanent purchase today! Another outcome of the pandemic was Little Santorini! It is a full region vacation island based on the physical world location of Santorini, Greece. This was my first full region and at the time of launch was, and still mildly is, controversial due to it being a vacation island with day rates. Nowadays, many Second Life Residents are familiar with vacations within Second Life, and plenty of information can be found by reading blog posts written by Dirk Vanlager, who has been highly supportive of my works. There is also Kiyori City (moderate region), the expansion region of Kiyori. This is the clean, luxurious side of the city featuring places such as The Takai Hotel, Cat Cafe Kariko, Seiryu Blues Lounge & Bar, and much more! Kiyori (adult region) is a full region based off of various Asian cultures, and this is the seedier side of the city. Finally, I also run an annual winter vacation destination, Chéri Noël, which is based off of Strasbourg, France. I love this place because it combines French and German aesthetics. It runs yearly from December 1st-January 1st, where we go out in style and hold our annual star-studded New Year's Eve Formal! Are you working on any new projects, or just maintaining your current regions? Tell us about what it takes to maintain a vacation region year round. We just launched the Kiyori website where you will be able to find information on all my projects, rentals, and so on. I design mesh as well and run Kiyori Shop! You will be able to find all my latest items here! (There is also a new clothing store coming out soon, so stay tuned!) I am always thinking of new micro-areas for the Kiyori & Kiyori City regions, this makes the city more realistic and keeps things fresh. I am also planning on reworking Little Santorini, I have new ideas for it but there’s no set date for this. While there is no set date or specific details set in stone, Vrutega and I plan on collaborating for video content for Kiyori & Kiyori City. As far as new destinations, mainland homes pop up when I find a region with a good name to work with! I have also teased a new type of experience I'd like to offer on social media, it's kind of a cross between Santorini and the mainland rental homes. Most vacation destinations operate on closed access, meaning you have to book first to access the place. With my new experience, I will be designing smaller scale, private region destinations that are cultural, authentic, and immersive. These new destinations will be self check-in, there is no booking required meaning it will be easily accessible to all timezones and will be first come first serve. It's important for me to note that Kiyori as well as Chéri Noël would not have been possible without Megan Prumier. Megan has dedicated so much time and effort to the development of these places and I don't want that to go unnoticed. Megan understands my vision very well and we work extremely well together. When I don't know what to do, Megan knows! I haven't found anyone that matches her creative ability and we have future plans to work on new places together. I can't thank Megan enough for everything she's done, and Megan also has her own venues as well, please do check out her works on her Flickr. Where can people see your work? Please share links to your sites and social media accounts. Kiyori Website Flickr Facebook Kiyori Facebook Page Instagram Kiyori Instagram Marketplace YouTube Watch this video: Aquatic Adventures in Little Santorini We hope you enjoyed learning more about Jasmine’s work and inspirations, as well as the thriving vacation rental industry of the metaverse. Each of these weekly Spotlight posts will feature 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.
  19. This week we are shining a spotlight on the virtual wellness and lifestyle publication Sage & Crystals Magazine, which was created to support and promote the rich ethnic and cultural diversity that exists in Second Life. Learn more about it from the Executive Editor/Co-Editor in Chief, ZoeyNova Oatsmill. How long have you been in Second Life and how did you first hear about it? I first learned about Second Life from my real life mother. She heard someone refer to it on a television show, which sparked her curiosity. As soon as she signed up, I remember her telling me, “You have to join this! It’s a virtual world of some sort.” Since then, we have both been Second Life Residents for 13+ years. The issues of Sage and Crystals cover a comprehensive range of topics and feature stunning photography. Do you do everything yourself? If you have help, please tell us about your team and what they do. The magazine was born out of my desire to represent the diversity of Residents on the grid. I got together with a group of wonderful, like-minded ladies and Sage and Crystals Magazine was created. Although I do a lot of the photography, Sage Absinthe and I share the task so we are responsible for the imagery represented and we contribute some of the editorials. For some of the features, like Spotlight, we use the pictures of the Residents we are showcasing. Our staff consists of: ZoeyNova Oatsmill - Executive Editor/Co-Editor in Chief Sage Absinthe - Co-Editor in Chief Pilar Mimulus - Editor-at-Large/Editorial Coordinator and Project Manager Harper Nova - Relationship Manager/ Editor-at-Large Ari Lexington - In-House Interior Stylist/Set Designer A huge step forward in representation involves normalizing the idea that people of all backgrounds exist outside of stereotypes and are capable of a variety of interests and skills. You do such an amazing job of that with your magazine. How would you describe your approach to this? The mission statement of our magazine states, “Sage and Crystals SL is a magazine created by a Second Life collective to present a virtual wellness and lifestyle magazine that supports and promotes the rich ethnic and cultural diversity that exists within SL.” The magazine is meant to be representative of the world at large as it exists on the grid without a bow to prejudice and stereotypes. I feel that the Second Life platform takes away some of the barriers that prevent us from interacting with different groups of people in {the physical world}. On the grid, you can be who you are or who you feel you are. My goal is to make an effort to show that at the core we are all human. We are all just people having experiences that could be teachable moments; moments that could expand you, or stunt/limit you. The opportunity to bridge some gaps and explore differences as a form of education exists in Second Life. The learned opportunity is transferable and applicable to real life, too. What are some things you hope people get out of reading your magazine? By reading the magazine I hope people will suspend judgment to acknowledge and embrace the diversity that exists in Second Life. Our community is not linear and should reflect and relate to those in it. This social platform can allow us to build bridges and connect with different people and cultures on our own accord, as well as vigorously challenge the conditioned narratives and assumptions that have been echoed in real life. Also, I hope that people can see that virtual wellness is essential. There are so many places on the grid to practice self-reflection, meditation, and other wellness activities to be a better version of ourselves, which can be so beneficial. Are you accepting submissions from other Residents at this time? If so, where and how? No, we aren’t accepting submissions at this time, However, we review suggestions and comments that come in from notecards, IMs, or via our social media platforms. Where can people see your work? Please share links to your sites and social media accounts. Second Life Residents can check out our work on Issuu, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr and Instagram. Thank you for this opportunity! Watch this fantastic video from the Sage and Crystals team: We hope you enjoyed learning more about Sage & Crystals Magazine, and start living your best virtual life! Each weekly post will feature 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
  20. This week we are shining a spotlight on the one-of-a-kind Pour Up Winery & Vineyard, an estate that hosts a variety of events for the Second Life Community. Learn more about it from the owner, Mᴀᴄʜ ᴋ. Dɪsɪᴄᴋ (BhampagnePapi). How long have you been in Second Life and how did you first hear about it? I’ve been on Second Life for about five years. I discovered SL by just playing many other virtual games growing up. At first I was on and off because I found it quite difficult to use it, it was very confusing to me. I came over from imvu, everything was so easy over there compared to Second Life, but I loved how realistic things were and that you can actually do and experience things differently here. Therefore I tried again and finally got the hang of things. There are plenty of restaurants and cafes in SL. What made you decide to go with a winery? I chose to go with a winery because I haven’t really seen one here. I wanted to bring something different to the grid. I explore quite often; the places and things I enjoy in my real life I try to enjoy in my second life. I am also a big wine guy and I knew most people would love to roleplay visiting and enjoying themselves at a winery/vineyard. When I mentioned the idea of a winery to my close friends/family they loved it and immediately supported it which really influenced me to actually make it happen. What types of events does Pour Up host? Pour Up Winery & Vineyard hosts several events. We have live singers, comedy shows, movie nights, parties, and date nights. We plan on extending the list throughout the year. Some events and themes change along with the seasons. The winery has been good with showcasing the talents of others on the grid. What kind of experience do you hope visitors take away from Pour Up? Simply have fun, enjoy, and pour up. That’s all Second Life is about: having a good time online. The destination is free to visit and available to the public with many enjoyable activities from painting, horse riding, and more. There are also items you can keep as a souvenir! Where can people see your work? Please share links to your sites and social media accounts. People can see some of Pour Up Winery’s work on Facebook , Flickr, and Instagram. We take pictures of the region every time it is updated and we share all of our guest pictures. Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Pour-Up-Winery-108813901449359 Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/pourupwinery Flickr: https://flic.kr/ps/3hR748 Destination: https://secondlife.com/destination/pour-up-winery-vineyard Watch this fun video about Pour Up Winery on YouTube: We hope you enjoyed learning more about this unique virtual winery. Each weekly post will feature 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
  21. Watch a special pre-recorded edition of “Lab Gab,” a talk show about the virtual world of Second Life, on Friday, February 11th at 11am PT as host Strawberry Linden speaks with Van Star. Van is a world traveled musician, songwriter, producer, and TV actor from Los Angeles California. His span of work includes working with the likes of Chris James & Deadmaus, Groove Armada, David Guetta, Jamie Foxx, Angie Stone, MTV Awards, the Grammy Awards, and more. Parts of the official video for his new single “Closer” (also being released on February 11th) were shot in Second Life using his Second Life avatar. Get an exclusive look at that video during this Lab Gab! Follow the official countdown to the release of his single on his Facebook and Instagram! This edition of Lab Gab was recorded at the virtual NFL Alumni Association Stadium in Second Life! Tune in on Friday, February 11th at 11am PT on our YouTube channel! For full episodes of Lab Gab, click over to the Lab Gab YouTube Playlist.
  22. This week we are shining a spotlight on Sydd Sinister, an award-winning blogger who has curated an inclusive vision of beauty for over a decade. How long have you been in Second Life and how did you first hear about it? In 2006, an online friend (My dear Sheda) introduced me to Second Life as a way for us to hang out online. Unfortunately at the time my PC was in no shape to run SL (lol), so for about a year I did not play. Then, I got a brand new PC and thought, "Hey, I wonder if I can play that Second Life now?" Sure enough it worked, and I have been logging in ever since! Tell us about your avatar’s style and how it has evolved over the years. When I started playing Second Life, in SL & RL I was very much into punk style: piercings, tattoos, all of it, and I thought it was so cool to be able to have that reflected in my avatar. I still very much love that style but through Second Life I've been able to experiment with a ton of different styles, as pretty much any style you can think of can be found in Second Life. So as I've grown, it's been less about a specific ‘style’ and more “things I love, I wear." We’re so grateful for the Second Life creators of products that add small authentic details for avatars of color. What are some body parts (hair, skin, freckles, etc.) that really blew you away in terms of offering diverse choices, and what would you like to see more of? Recently, especially as far as mesh bodies in Second Life, I've been extremely impressed with eBody Reborn and Kalhene Erika, as I love all the curves you can create on these bodies. Of course as a blogger and continual shopper in SL there are so many hair and skin brands that I absolutely love. The diversity in SL has come a long way. A few skin brands who continually impress me and will always be favorites of mine are Modish, Public Figure, Leronso (seriously amazing), Revoul, Amara Beauty, Lueur Beauty, Glam Affair, Koonz, Boataom, Birth, ItGirls, Nonative, The Skinnery, Tres Beau, Purple Beauty, Nuve, Pumec. Moccino Beaute, Dernier, Velour, Ives Beauty… I could keep going forever. Skins are one of my favorite parts of SL! There are some things where I have no trouble picking favorites though. For eyes, Avi-Glam are my absolute favorite, and for eyebrows, the-Haus by Princess Usbourne and Marsh are two definite must haves for me. Hoodlem, Garden of Ku, Carol G and Mister Razzor are my go-to tattoo spots, and TOP1SALON has come out with some of the best makeup for all skin tones, from light to dark they are flawless. Tell us about how you got started with your award-winning blog and what topics/styles you get excited about. When I got back into Second Life in 2007, the most fun I had was dressing up my avatar and shopping. I started taking pics of my avi, just wanting to share with anyone. Through that I found the world of SL Blogging. Back then it was a much smaller community but it really helped me to find stores and places in SL I loved. The only thing lacking for me was diversity, and then I found Khitten Kurka's blog! She was the first Black American plus-size blogger I saw in Second Life, I related to her so much and it was because of her blog that I decided to try and start blogging myself. Not only did I want to share whatever I thought was "cool," I wanted to share as many skins with different tone ranges as possible. Back then it was a lot harder to find diverse skins and I felt like if I could show all the great skins I came across, maybe it could help someone like me who was new to SL and didn't know where to find themselves, y’know. Skin Fair is always my favorite time of year to blog, not only because it falls in my birthday month, but because I love seeing what everyone comes up with and what new brands I might find. The talent in SL always amazes me. Where can people see your work? Please share links to your sites and social media accounts. Blog: http://sydd0sinister.wordpress.com Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sydd_sinister Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sydd.sinister Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/syddsinister.sl We hope you enjoyed learning more about Sydd and her many years of contribution to the Second Life fashion blogging community. Each weekly post will feature 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
  23. This week we are shining a spotlight on Kurimu Kuma (MiruBani), a fashion and lifestyle blogger whose carefree style is often influenced by her deep interest in fantasy and cosplay. How long have you been in Second Life and how did you first hear about it? I've been in Second Life for over eight years. The first time I heard about Second Life was through an invite by a friend. She invited me to come and see her store inworld, and I remember trying to wrap my brain around the concept of having a real store in a virtual world. I wasn't sure what it was going to be like but I was very intrigued. In the end, the store was but one of the many wonders {to be discovered}. I clearly remember being excited about the novelty of being able to run and fly in such an unconstrained fashion. I was used to a completely different 3D environment in which such free movement wasn't really a thing. I couldn't find the end of this room, it just went on and on. {There} was a learning curve, definitely, but one I enjoyed getting around. I still really love flying, it's not going to get old. I do it less now because I've learnt “some” etiquette along the way. However, if it wasn't quite so rude to, I would fly through and over everything I possibly could. Walking is so terribly pedestrian now. If only I could really fly like my avatar. There is an element of fantasy and cosplay in your avatar’s style. Where did that come from? It's definitely seeping in from my real life; fantasy and cosplay do feature quite heavily. {They are} but a few of my favorite subjects. I absolutely adore cosplay and it's something I like to indulge in my everyday life. I've just never outgrown playing dress up. I really enjoy the whole process of trying to put together an outfit and if I can sew it myself, even better still. In Second Life I get to do that on an almost regular basis every time I log in, but with so many more things available to me. My first thoughts once I've pressed the button to log in are usually along the lines of “What shall I dress my avatar up in today?” And, even better, I'm less likely to go broke from it. Fantasy has always been something I've loved from my first interactions with it in books, and I have an overactive imagination to boot. Writing and creating characters, outfits, and worlds for them to live in has been something I've done since I was little. The idea of escaping into a fantastical world even for a moment is something oh-so-magically exciting. Most of my hobbies are creative in some way, shape, or form; my imagination is always being fed in different ways. My avatar herself is just a fantastical creature I made a story about. Your in-world photography is amazing. Can you tell us about your setup process for taking a great shot? I am very much my own worst critic so I'm not always satisfied with my images when they come out. I'm always thinking of things I could have done better. However, there are a few things that I do every time I take an image in Second Life. I always like to tell a story, even if I am the only one aware of it. It's how I get my ideas for what I want the picture to be. I think a lot about what the focus items are and build the story around that. I decide what the mood will be, and I find that lighting really helps with that, but ultimately the items that go into setting up the scene will reflect that also. I rely a lot on windlights and inworld lighting to help me. I love playing with shadows too, I find it always makes a scene look so different when added. Working with larger scenes can be a bit daunting for me because I worry how I'm going to fill it, but I've found that focusing on a small area first and working outwards helps keep me focused instead of getting overwhelmed. Now I also have a bad habit of being very nitpicky with setting up, and I've slowly just come to accept the fact that I like to take my time about everything that's going to be in the shot… Turning it here and there numerous times only to later decide I don't want it in at all. Funnily enough I do this with the camera angles from which I take the shot. I do try out a few angles and then pick the one I like the most before going in to take the final shot. The aim is always to get as much from Second Life as I can so I don't have to change too much in editing. If I don't accomplish what I want completely? Well, there's always next time. I try not to let it get to me too much and instead take away from it the things I would and wouldn't do next time. Tell us about your blog and what kinds of topics you like to write about. When I set up my blog it was made to be like a picture diary of my avatar's Second Life adventures. The pictures I take and its subjects revolve around decorating, food, fashion and friends. It tends to be done in the style of me writing about my avatar as a person in her own right, though we are both in firm agreement on many things. In most cases it merges a lot with my real life and I end up hijacking her story for a while, but we eventually get on track and find a balance between ourselves. There is something about decorating that is even more satisfying than putting together outfits and taking pictures of them. It's the feeling of accomplishment that comes with turning an empty space into something decorated, then sitting in it and existing uninterrupted for a while. I adore decorating so I always cover decor shots. Food tends to fall into this area too but sometimes I just like to focus on the food itself. The more edible it looks the happier I become. It's like indulging sans the calories. I'm one of those people that loves to take pictures of her meals before eating, and I love cooking so much. It is strange because at one point I hated cooking. Now I love it and the level of excitement that occurs when I find beautiful virtual foods is unreal. I have a bad habit of putting it in almost anything I can. Fashion is another topic you'll find on my blog. My own fashion tastes have been projected onto my avatar, for good or bad, and I tend to lean towards girly fashion with a lot of light colours. Florals, frills, ribbons, and cute adorable companions. However, there are times when I go outside of my norm, because where's the fun if you don't? At the end of the day if I try on an outfit and I'm feeling very happy with it, chances are I'm taking a picture of it and it most definitely includes magical girls and costumes. Where can people see your work? Please share links to your sites and social media accounts. My blog and Flickr are the two places that I use the most. Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/people/137212676@N02 Blog: https://kurimu-kuma.com Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kurimu_kuma We hope you enjoyed learning more about Kurimu. Each weekly post will feature 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
  24. This week we are shining a spotlight on Colpo Wexler, an Italian Resident who is an architectural and design maven in both the physical and virtual worlds. Having been in SL since close to the beginning, his style and ability to navigate change have adapted with finesse. Custom build for PARÉ Mega Store How long have you been in Second Life and how did you first hear about it? I {have been} in SL since December 2006. I heard about it through a friend with whom I then founded one of the first Italian {regions} in SL: "ITLAND," which later also became Orientation Island as part of the Community Gateway of SL. Custom build for Palette Mega Store What first inspired your love of architecture? I studied scenography at the Academy of Fine Arts of Brera in Milan, and previously at the Art School with a specialization in architecture. From that time I imagined that my scenography in the future would be dedicated to virtual reality and that's what I did. Creating architectural set designs for metaverse. Custom build for UBER Event Had you done 3D modeling before you started building in SL, and what 3D modeling software do you use? Yes, I used to model both architectures and objects but obviously I applied meshes only when they were introduced in SL. Previously for years I specialized in the realization of buildings in prims. The software I use is Blender. Custom build for T O X I I N Store How would you describe your virtual architectural style? My style is generally minimal/modern but I often like to range and contaminate styles. Clearly I also love cyberpunk, new retrowave, and urban style. This taste for the contamination of styles comes from the requests of my clients, who often propose interesting ideas that stimulate creativity. As you can see on my portfolio on Flickr, many of my buildings are the result of the fusion of the styles I mentioned before, and sometimes also of oriental or classical motifs. Custom build for Elle et Lui store Tell us about some of the other Residents in SL that inspire you and whose work you admire. As you can see I've been in SL for a long time, and I was inspired by other architects or designers I had seen in the early periods. One of them is definitely Botha, who made houses. Then there was a beautiful furniture store (with a lot of prims also) called CULT. Obviously there are, and have been, a lot of really good creatives in Second Life throughout its history. Custom build for H A P P Y Event Where can people follow you to learn more about your work? Please share links to your sites and social media accounts. My Bio: http://www.colpowexler.com Portfolio: https://www.flickr.com/photos/colpowexler Website: http://www.mydigitalcult.com FB Page: https://www.facebook.com/colpowexlervr Custom build for UBER 2021 Colpo has been creating custom builds for content creators and events in Second Life for many years. Check his Flickr for his full portfolio. Custom build for ASCEND Mega Store We hope you enjoyed learning about how Colpo was drawn to building and designing in Second Life. Each weekly post will feature 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
  25. This week we are shining a spotlight on Sassy Nitely, a busy mom and lifelong musician who rediscovered her passion for performing through the live music scene in Second Life. Sassy about to start a show in 2021 – Photo by Kaitlyn Pruitt How long have you been in Second Life and how did you first hear about it? I have been in Second Life since October 2007. I first heard of Second Life through a coworker; she explained the platform to me. However, like many new Residents of Second Life, I had no idea what I was doing or what would come out of that decision. {Joining} Second Life was one of my best decisions and has impacted my life tremendously. I owe a lot of gratitude to Second Life. I was 30 years old when I signed up and nearly 15 years later, I can say without a shadow of a doubt: Second Life has taught me a lot about myself, shaped real life relationships, and brought me back to my musical roots. Sassy (top center) in Madrigals (1995), Antioch High School, Antioch, TN How did music become such an important part of your life? For musicians, music is our lifeline, much like the air we breathe. I grew up in the music industry here in Nashville, so this life of being a musician and being the daughter of a musician is all I have ever really known. My dad began his music career playing drums at the age of 15, and by the time he was in his late 20s, he was playing at the Grand Ole Opry behind many country music icons. When I was 11, I loved to sing. I was obsessed with lyrics and started to write my own songs with catchy hooks and melodies. At the age of 12, I decided I wanted to be a drummer like my dad. I loved to sing, but growing up around a professional drummer I naturally wanted to follow that path. I put the notepad of lyrics down and switched it out with staff paper. He taught me how to read and write rhythm patterns and I learned the bible of all drummers: drum rudiments. In sixth grade, I joined the middle school band’s percussion section. I excelled in music, but found I gravitated more toward the melodic percussion instruments like the bells, xylophone, and marimba. Playing those instruments, I had to learn how to read sheet music and become more involved with music theory. Missing the singing aspect, I signed up for choir and finished out my sixth grade year in band and show choir. In high school I continued in concert band, choir and “Madrigals,” which is a select choir of 16-18 vocalists. Those are my roots, and although so many amazing things happened musically in my youth through honor band and choir, I moved on to my college years and majored in Vocal Music Education. This era in my life taught me more about music composition, theory, and I also became a decent pianist and a classically trained vocalist. In 1999, my husband {at the time} and I started a family. The music was put on hold for a while. Then, in January 2008, due to Second Life, music came rushing back into my life and I picked up the guitar that had been sitting in my closet for years. Sassy (bottom, third from right) at a Madrigals showcase rehearsal in 1995, Antioch High School, Antioch, TN When did you start performing live in Second Life, and what venues can people visit to hear you play? In January 2008, I found music on Second Life. A new friend sent a message asking if I’d like to join him at a music concert with some friends. I was excited and intrigued because I had no idea live music was even a part of Second Life. I gladly accepted the invitation. I landed at The Freudian Slip and my Second Life was forever changed with the sound of one voice and one guitar. Lyndon Heart was singing his heart out and strumming his guitar that day at The Freudian Slip. I knew instantly that this was exactly what I needed to do. Second Life was a way that I could be at home in the evenings with my son and bring me back into performing. That concert gave me an epiphany that saved me in many ways. I found my way back to music and have been performing in Second Life since February of 2008, and in real life since 2011. Sassy performing in April 2008, photo by Sassy In my years of performing in Second Life, I have had so many incredible opportunities to help raise money for charity through music. I’ve played concerts for Homes for our Troops, American Cancer Society, Feed a Smile, Power Up for Charge, Team Diabetes and others. This gives me a great sense of purpose and the charities listed mean a great deal to me. I have also performed for the Bloggies and most recently a halftime performer at the NFL Alumni Association's ESTV event. Sassy at the ESTV Halftime Show, photo by Linden Lab I am grateful and beyond blessed to play many of Second Life’s premier live music venues. I play every other week or once a month at After Dark, The Blue Cornflower Lounge, The Black Diamond, Free Spirit Farms and Swamp Water Bluz. This family of venues has been around a while; they are a staple of live music in Second Life. If you want to hear the best talent Second Life has to offer, go to one of these venues. Those who own/manage these venues and their crew are very selective about the performers they pick. How would you describe your music? Who are some of the musicians who have influenced your style? My roots started in country, rock, and eventually pop, but I was introduced to many genres growing up. My music is soulfully strong with a bit of sweetness and sass (hence the name). I grew up listening to Bob Seger, Aretha Franklin, Fleetwood Mac, Janis Joplin, The Judds, CCR, and many others. A great singing voice is an amazing instrument and I grew great admiration for those artists who could also accompany themselves with an instrument. In my teen years I listened to Shania Twain, Jewel, Martina McBride, Whitney Houston, Taylor Dayne, Melissa Etheridge, Reba McEntire and Sarah McLachlan. These ladies are all incredible artists with strong, soulful, and sweet voices. They sing with raw emotion and conviction. If the performer feels the music and lyrics, it will radiate to their audience. Just like the artists mentioned above, I leave a piece of me on every stage and if I touched at least one person through a song, I did my job right. Sassy performing in her band “My July” Sassy with her newest music project “New Binge” Tell us about some of the other Residents in SL that inspire you and whose work you admire. I cannot miss the opportunity to point out Lyndon Heart again. I had the extraordinary honor of meeting and playing music with Lyndon at the Nashville Music City Jam in 2012. He is quite a songwriter and I encourage everyone to look him up. Other incredible songwriters I admire and consider professional in their art are Zak Claxton and Phemie Alcott. These artists not only enjoy writing, but they also accompany themselves well on their instruments and tell their stories with conviction. There is a mixed bag of incredible artists on Second Life. There are vocalists who sing to high quality tracks, instrumentalists, musicians who sing and play multiple instruments or electroacoustic artists who compose electronic music on the spot. You just have to go concert-hopping to find who fits your niche and follow them. The talent in Second Life is endless and there is something for everyone. Do a quick search of live music events in Second Life. Drop into any show and you will find greatness. The live music community in Second Life is a tight knit family and every year there are several chances for us to get together in real life to make music. My SL and RL best friend Anastasia Yanwu and I organized the 2012 and 2014 Nashville Music City Jam. This year, Yvie Caproni and Marina Sharpshire are bringing the jam back to Nashville to continue the tradition! I cannot wait to meet up with our community and make new memories filled with fun, laughter and of course, MUSIC! From Nashville to Baltimore, Dallas, Minneapolis, London, and others there are many destinations to attend a jam. Be sure to check out the SL Live Music Jams Facebook page to keep up to date on where the next live jam will be. All attendees signed this board at the first “Nashville Music City Jam” in 2012 Where can people follow you to know more about your next shows? Please share links to your sites and social media accounts. You can find me listed in live music events inworld or at any of the links below. I included my RL band information as well for our Nashville-based SL Residents. Sassy on the Web: www.newbingemusic.com/sassy Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sassynitelymusic Calendar: https://calendar.google.com/calendar/embed?src=sassy.nitely%40gmail.com&ctz=America/Los_Angeles YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC2PTVKG-njH-ekhkIwsiHtg SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/barbie-horsley SL Life Music Jams: https://www.facebook.com/groups/186627631374381 RL Band: www.newbingemusic.com Thank you for this opportunity to share my story with you all. Second Life is full of surprises, and you never know what doors can open for you as a result. Thank you, Second Life – for everything. ♥ Thank you Sassy for bringing your melodious music to the live music scene in Second Life! We hope you enjoyed learning more about Sassy today and get a chance to enjoy some of her virtual concerts in the near future. Each of these weekly Spotlight posts will feature 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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