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Monday, January 31, 2011

Insight from SL Elders. Is SL losing its luster or is it just us? Lanai Jarrico Reporting…

The SL Elders are becoming harder to find these days because many of them have left the grid altogether or visit once in a while to observe progress. Most are usually harder to spot then a UFO.
 Often times they can’t believe I’m still here but my response is simple. I’m a shameless SL addict and I want to continue to write about this virtual world and stay in touch with all the friends I have made through the years, but… I do question our future as the virtual world community evolves.

    Being called an elder makes me feel old, but it is what it is and I have been here long enough to have seen many different phases of Second Life and a multitude of personalities come and go. It saddens me when they are avies I have known for a long time that have done great things for the SL community

Lanai circa 2005 sporting pink silks a black bikini and pasty skins in the company of another newbie

  I remember rezzing in SL as a brand spankin newbie before the voice chit chattering was going on.  The year was 2005 and this virtual world was primitive because avies were just beginning to explore all the different creative possibilities and gather up as many freebies as they could until all the professional designers took notice and exploded with SL’s Fashion scene.   Even with the Smut boom and swinger lifestyles, we had our own hippie revolution until the Lindens stepped in and started implementing more terms of service rules to help contain the shenanigans….somewhat.

Every day is supposed to be full of new and exciting things to do including some things that shock or intrigued us, but lately it seems like many of us have grown numb to the excitement or caught up in the mini dramas that plague residents here on a daily basis.  Those who have managed to avoid the chaos are starting to feel like they have travelled most of the SL world, turned over almost ever stone and unsure what to do next. 

Even though the possibilities are endless, for many they have come to the end of their own interests here and ready to move on to something new. What can we do to bring back that wonder and magic of Second life, like a kid on Christmas morning?  Has SL lost its luster like when you were told Santa wasn’t real?  I mean… according to some heartless parents that insist on snatching imagination from their kids, scarring them into adulthood...

True story, I actually had a helicopter mom over at my kid’s bus stop call the school to file a complaint that my child (supposedly) told her child Santa didn’t exit. This resulted in the school calling me to ask me to please tell my daughter to basically lie to keep hope alive for the other 4th graders. I mean seriously, it got that far? Needless to say some people are fanatics to the point of causing a scene only to look like a big fat liar later on anyway.

The point is, if there was one…..the Lindens have always had their own way of doing things in the background by changing and rearranging SL options to try to cater to the residents needs. But at times it seemed as they improve on one thing, another thing falls apart, mainly having to do with the stability of Second Life’s grid.

One of the biggest questions that came up at the elder summit recently was, why haven’t the Lindens been able to figure out all the lag and crash issues that cause so many problems in SL?

Isn’t there some super duper master server thing that can do the job?
 Many are losing or have lost patience with the same old problems that have been around for years now.

There could be many different reasons why SL doesn’t run smooth enough. Most of the technical difficulties occur right in the middle of events, business meeting and transactions, and it becomes a complete nuisance. 

A lot of business minded people are realizing the level of stability in SL and would rather invest their time, money and energy elsewhere.  It is true for many, SL is becoming less appealing and more time consuming.  It’s becoming harder to trust for a reliable or steady source of income too.  Should people continue to invest hundreds and even thousands of dollars on such an unstable virtual world?  It’s a fair question from elders who see the effects on business here and who have invested a decent amount of money here as well.  

Many establishments have shut their doors and left Second life thru the years with the same reasons I listed.  It seems people just don’t make enough to pay their tiers and employees, have employees who are not committed or can’t dedicate the time it takes to help run a successful business in SL.  

Many people are tired of the random inventory losses and poor LL Customer service and end up seeing SL as just a game that wasted their time.

Back to the Grid wide technical difficulties, one reason for the delay in fixing the problem could be that the system SL uses, is barely able to handle the loads of support tickets they get and the amount of avies that are online at any given time.  It appears their servers just can’t handle all the users.  Maybe it isn’t their fault because something that can fix the problem is nonexistent with no real timeline on being available.  So they continue to slap band aids on the problem in hopes it heals itself.

 The lag and crashing are especially noticeable more on the evenings and weekends leaving us to believe, capacity is to blame. What can we do to fix the problems or will they get worse as the population of curious newbies and lackluster business population grow.

Can these problems ever get fix, was another question at the elders roundtable. I responded with that question was as good as mine. I’ve been here 6 years and I still crash, loss inventory and cannot use my voice chat without continuously crashing upon log in.

 I’ve come to the realization that Second life may be losing its luster in a lot of ways and heading towards its very own demise as everyone just floats around in the same slurry of residents doing the same old things, day in and day out until all of the elders and professionals have gone leaving just the Lindens to redirect all the newbies, half assed business people and greed driven tyrants that are taking over the grid.

That idea may seems farfetched but  The SIMS Online, came to an end in a similar fashion as people moved on to better and more innovative virtual landscapes like There (which is no longer existent), WOW and Second Life.  I was a Sims online immigrant myself, arriving here 6 years ago on a banana boat stacked with Mafia members, but I’ll save that story for another diary entry….

Speaking of the SIMS Online,   I heard they are coming back or back already but I am unsure I would want to reinvest my time there knowing that when I left that virtual world my net worth was over 33 million simoleans with an inventory stacked with rare items, which ended up valueless on the market after a few years. That’s like hitting the lottery and finding out there was a glitch in the system and your prize is a free ticket to play again…. Pfft that just totally kills any kind of mood.

 It would be very sad to see the original creativity of Second Life crumble like ancient ruins and turn into baron wastelands or flooded with empty shops or shut down in the disgraceful manner The SIMS did. I just know that it will create chaos for those who invested thousands in SL and were unable to make it back or Linden forbid… any kind of reimbursement. Especially those issues that involved domestic monetary disputes.

 One of the Elders couldn’t contain himself and stated that Second Life was becoming a joke and everyone involved in it are guinea pigs on a wheel, keeping the LL lights on. We all agreed and acknowledged his good analogy, accept for one elder who argued that we were still in the diaper stage of virtual world business and we have a lot of growing up to do.

 Until then we are just worker ants constantly moving and building until Second Life is strong enough to support corporate big wigs and investors while smoking out the little “bugs” that flood the grid.

You can see this happening now as the market continues to grow with new venues, shops and boutiques popping up across the grid all the time and barely enough lindens to give this economy a nice boost.    Many of the complaints I have heard from business owners are, avies are cheap and they want everything for free. All the elders agreed with that statement too.

  An interesting example of this happens all the time over at the SLE Media Center. I meet people who contact me expecting me to give them exposure for free and get upset to learn there is a fee for advertising.  This truly boggles me. I find it interesting how some person would be quick to use another to get ahead without the slightest regard for any mutual benefit. This isn’t just happening to me, it is a problem with many of the businesses and media outlets here in Second life and it’s a shame because marketing and media are two of the main tools for spreading awareness and helping boost businesses.

 I think the reason for such ignorance in business is that the majority of people who come to second life initially, are here for fun and don’t really have any real business sense at all until they realize to upgrade their avatars and sl experience, they need to either get a job to make lindens, get a premium account or invest their own money to do anything really worth while in like shop, take up residence or start up a business or venue.
Another point the elders all agreed on was that it appears that SL is becoming a place where there are just too many chiefs and not enough Indians and it is creating a brewing problem that will only get worst over time.

One Elder asked, how do we fix all the problems as a community?
That was a tough question because a problem becomes an issue when there are too many opinions that are impossible to come up with the best possible solution.

We can’t make it work unless we all come to the agreement of  stopping support those that lack good customer service or create drama that disrupts the flow of Second Life.  Like content and concept thefts and other griefer types that do absolutely nothing for the community but drains its economy right into their own pockets or waste others time, energy and resources.

As long as ignorant people or big businesses come into Second Life thinking only of themselves and what they can get out of it. There will never be a balance of true teamwork and creativity to improve on this virtual world and its economy. If everyone used SL to make an income, this virtual world would be like a vacuum sucking up the linden economy leaving little to no real income for the small businesses here.

With all that said, what can we do ourselves?
Improvement begins from within. Once we sift through the drama, greed and immaturity that cause so many of the problems in SL, than would we be able to move forward and bring about change.
I’m no oracle of Delphi or claim to have all the answers, neither do the elders, but I’m sure if we each took a step back and accessed our situations, questioned our own motives and understand what Second Life really is to us, rather than wasting energy trying to outdo the next person. We will see the power of working together with benefits for everyone involved. This is when Second Life conservation begins.

Some of the steps we can take as residents are being committed to jobs and businesses we are involved in. It is extremely hard for SL employers to keep a strong business going if the employees don’t take their positions seriously or are unreliable. This seems to be one of the biggest problems that business owners must deal with.

 Many will argue, SL is for fun, why take it so seriously?

 The truth is whenever money is being invested or made and people are depending on it, taking jobs seriously has to be a priority. If you can’t commit, don’t get involved. Plain and simple.

Another issue in SL that takes away a lot of the fun is drama. Again, how do we fix that?

As a society of social butterflies, we are faced with multiple personalities on a daily basis. The key to avoiding drama is keeping your own personal business and other people’s business to yourself. It becomes a problem when residents feel its ok to unload their baggage on others or be the village gossip and become a backstabber spreading your dirty laundry all over the place.

The best advice is to distance yourself from those problematic avies or suggest they see a professional if you really wanted to make the point clear. Don’t even get the elders started on botched relationships and lover squabbles.  It could get real ugly.

One thing all the Elders at this summit can agree on is, once we as avies have weeded out the issues, get real with ourselves, our motives, understand the potential of Second Life, and apply certain efforts and courtesies, that is when Second Life will truly shine again.

Over and Out



  1. Great commentary Lanai albeit a bit depressing. I agree especially about the lack of commitment or rather professionalism. When I started SL, it was just for fun. I had no ideas of the seriousness of businesses and economy here. Just never occurred to me. As I got more involved however it became clear. But it also made it more fun. I think that is when SL became a real community and not just a playground in my head. That is when it stopped being a game and I started to be more deliberate and dedicated in my activities. Not everyone makes that turn I guess. They never understand how "real" this virtual world really is. I imagine though, they treat their RL in the same self-centered, reap-everything-I can-for-what-little-I-can-way. It is my theory anyway.

    I also agree that there is a problem with half-azzed business transactions (whether the avis are employees who don't follow-through or crappy content creators who resell freebies). In my very limited experience, I would suggest that on the employer side, we do a better job of screening applicants. Not that it is the businesswoman (or man's) fault, just that since we can't control other people's behavior, we can only change our own.

    As far as Linden Lab goes... I have no suggestions. That is where the depressing part comes in. I have a lot invested in-world - nothing that I paid a lot of Lindens for but much that is irreplaceable - friendships, social opportunity, opportunities to learn, etc. As people disperse to other grids, I can only say I hope we meet again in another "life".

  2. I'm fairly new to SL, having been here a little over a year, and I came initially because I had to for class and then stayed because I wanted to have fun. I, too, began to understand the "reality" of virtual worlds though I wish sometimes I hadn't. I definitely don't treat my RL in a self-centered way, which is why I did here in SL. I used it as an outlet to funny and craziness and zaniness--what I wasn't getting enough of in my very structured real life. My SL life is getting just as structured as my RL--and that's a shame, personally.

    This is a great piece, Lanai. Teaches me a lot of stuff regarding the state of affairs in SL, a state I didn't know much of. I wonder what other places these elders are going to and what these places offer that SL doesn't.

  3. most are dying off and going back to real life or getting ready for the tso restoration project to launch.


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