Second Life

Here I am, dressed like a street prostitute with black and purple hair and a belly piercing, and leaning against a streetlight. I'm wearing a heavily cropped black tank top that exposes the bottom of my breasts, and a magenta skirt; the strap of my magenta undergarment rises above my skirt.
Tulum Township, August 2021 (Rated: Adult)

On both my first Second Life account and my current one, I worked quite a few years (October 2006 to June 2008, on my first account, and September 2008 to May 2011, on this one) as an escort and exotic dancer to cover my in-world expenses, or part of them. However, even in those early, heady years, an SL escort’s job wasn’t easy.

It’s always been a job that requires pretty serious role-playing and emoting skills, and substantial, regular investment in your appearance and equipment: clothes, shoes, skins, hair, accessories, sex-related avatar components (genitals, nipples, and the like). An escort needs to look the part, and sound (or read, if s/he prefers to avoid using voice chat) the part, if s/he wants to get hired.

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To those of us who have been watching the Second Life blogosphere, the existence of the Environment Enhancement Project (EEP), which replaces Windlight, has been well-known for quite a while. After all, it’s been well-documented and extensively written about, and quite a few tutorials exist for it. Furthermore, after Firestorm’s 6.4.13.63251 release (regardless of people’s personal preference, Firestorm is the most popular third-party viewer for SL), practically every SL user now has the user interface to use EEP.

I won’t mince my words: I never liked the way the Sun looked in any of the existing windlights. Historically, the Sun in SL skies has always looked like a hexagon – blurry or relatively sharp. This made shooting sunsets or sunrises in SL a rather unappealing endeavour. Thankfully, EEP has allowed us to use our own textures for the Sun or the Moon. So, not only do we get to have a decent-looking sun in the sky, but also use a custom texture for a unique effect. As far as the Moon is concerned, we can depict a different moon phase simply by using a different texture. Also, EEP gives us the chance to set the duration of the day cycle. In these regards, EEP is considerably more powerful than Windlight’s implementation has been. However, there’s still room for improvement.

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Ebbe Altberg, 1964-2021
Credit: Linden Research, Inc.

Today, the passing of Ebbe Altberg was officially announced by Patch Linden:

Hello, Community of Second Life

Second Life found new highs in 2020 between a worldwide pandemic taking grip, through the times of a tumultuous leadership change in the United States, and during movements of civil changes that will forever live in history books. Second Life provides many with the comfort of a normal that continues to exist for all of us, where many use it to escape real life pressures, stressors and day to day challenges.  In Second Life we can be our ideal, our best, celebrate all that is good across the world together.  Sadly we have also seen some people go, and they will never be forgotten as they touched us, gave us their best from their hearts, minds and souls – this thing called real life sometimes knocks on our door and makes a call.

This is one of those calls.

Ebbe Altberg started with Linden Lab as our CEO on February 5th, 2014.  He took the helm of the company and immediately went to work on reinvigorating our spirit and culture.  Ebbe brought a profound openness, and transparency in his operation which was key and that had many effects on all of us internally, and externally.  Lindens were encouraged to be part of the vibrant community in Second Life, to participate in and to cherish it as part of our daily duties.  Ebbe also worked internally on embracing all aspects of Second Life, learning about its many nuances to understand impacts of decisions we make; while being sensitive to those and utilizing all of our resources, which firstly included you, the community, and many of us who are deeply embedded in Second Life.  Ebbe’s goals for Second Life included promoting Second Life as the world’s best virtual world, community and platform.  He also sought new adventures in building next generation products.

As I am here before you today, it is with profound sadness that I share with you Ebbe passed away yesterday evening restfully and surrounded by the love of his family. 

I commit to all of you to carry forward with our mission of making Second Life the biggest, best, most vibrant virtual world that there ever can be.  Together, myself, Grumpity, and Brett, along with Oberwolf at the helm and the entire team, our mission is clear.  To grow Second Life and to ensure the Residents in Second Life continue to be respected and happy.

Rest in peace Ebbe, our fearless, kind, loving, gentle leader, and friend.

Patch Linden and The Linden Lab Team

These are indeed very sad news; Ebbe was, at least to my eyes, the best CEO Linden Lab ever had. He was methodical, hard-working, understood Second Life much better than most, and he also made it his priority to allow users to feel safe and welcome within this virtual world. He will be sorely missed. All I can say is that I’m truly shocked at his untimely death. Even from this little soapbox, I extend my sincerest condolences to his family, friends, and colleagues.

Goodbye, Ebbe. Goodbye. And thank you.

PS: I’ve written more on this here.

As is pretty much always the case, I’m the last to arrive at the party when it comes to providing an analysis related to Second Life. This is intentional. When it comes to making sense of Second Life’s progress within a certain timeframe, I prefer to sit back and examine SL and its progress within the broader context, i.e. its direct and indirect competition, and the Real Life (RL) economic, social, and even societal factors that affect people’s willingness and ability to join SL, to stay in it, and invest in it. Sadly, far too much of the commentary fails (often willingly) to take these factors into account, and, by choosing a platform-centric perspective over a user-centric one, ends up painting a picture that’s either alarmist or unjustifiably flattering.

Tulum Reserve (Rated Adult)
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Second Life remains one of the most successful sandbox-style virtual worlds and offers a great outlet for the creativity of its users, despite its well-documented technical limitations. By “creativity”, I mean literally anything a user may do in-world: from taking selfie-style snapshots to making machinima and from building a small hovel to creating an entire virtual city. Of course, not everyone invests time, effort, and money, into creating something that only they’ll enjoy all by themselves. People generally want to share their creative efforts.

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