What a crazy, whirlwind first day of the Second Life Community Convention. It’s been great just being
with 800 other SL fanatics all doing interesting things in-world, and connecting with people I have only known through their avatars.
been impressed so far with how friendly people are. If you sit down
next to a stranger, they turn to you and introduce themselves and ask
how you are doing. For a New Yorker, I find this somewhat off-putting,
but better than a bunch of the usual Web2.0 geeks huddled over their
laptops and only interacting over Twitter.
The frustrating part is that I can’t be everywhere at once. With
excellent panels in the Machinima, Business, Social and Education
tracks, plus cool people to talk to in the hallways, I have very bad
“fear of missing something” syndrome.
We started the day with a very nice free breakfast courtesy of SLCC. Fresh fruit, danish and strong coffee is my favorite way to start the day. I had a lovely chat with CC Chapman about Crayon and other things he’s been up to over breakfast.
I was greatly amused to find that next door to our ballroom that there was another convention going on: ESPN Fantasy Football. That’s right, a whole other kind of virtual world colliding with Second Lifers.
Philip Linden gave a very calm and positive opening welcome speech, talking about the problems that SL has been going through but reassuring everyone that his prediction that SL would take over the internet is still going to come to pass. To paraphrase: “We are just the first people at the party. Everyone on earth is going to use this. This is going to be bigger than the web.” I’m not sure I drank the Kool-Aid, but I like how he’s delivering it.
And I love that he wore a shirt that bore the message “Missing Image.”
After Philip, I caught the keynote speech of Connie Yowell of MacArthur Foundation, talking about education, philanthropy, and virtual worlds. She issued a strong challenge to educators that they needed to re-imagine education within virtual environments. To paraphrase her:
We live in a society with fast paced changes in economy, social lives, how we engage in community. Society is changing more rapidly than it ever has before. Meanwhile our education system is organized to prepare people for the 1950s.
I also like this line from her keynote: “There will likely be 20 other platforms and virtual worlds launching this year. But Second Life has the killer app, which is community.”
Later I caught a great panel of teens creating machinima on the Teen Grid, under the auspices of Global Kids. They demonstrated the new face of education that Connie was talking about: it’s participative, social, experiential. The kids talked about how they felt transformed after the experience of creating the machinima pieces. Very powerful stuff.
I dropped in on a great panel of SL developers talking about their craft, including Jeff Barr of Amazon Web Services, Hiro Pendragon of Involve Media and Sitearm Madonna, developer of virtual Dublin and Diegoland. They had some really interesting insights into the development process, what makes an effective build, what it takes to create a satisfying user experience, and how to accommodate the desires of your corporate clients. Great stuff.
Tonight is the “Leather and Lace” ball, which everyone is sniggering about, but I think in the end will wind up going to. I’ll certainly be there, but – alas! — my chaps are at the cleaners. I’m just there for the dancing anyway. No really.
Other random observations:
- I really really really want one of those Fabjectory 3d models of my avatar. So rad in person.
- Reportedly there is at least one furry at this SLCC, although I have to see this person.
- Demographically, definitely in the middle-aged and older range, slightly more men than women, and predominantly white. Nothing surprising there, really.
- Prokofy Neva is definitely in the house. I had a nice chat with him before dinner. Supposedly Plastic Duck is here as well.
- Really nice art in the art gallery. Lots of talented painters and graphic designers in SL.
In short, having a great time.