Calling Craft

[11:44 AM]  radionne: [ CW ] »en» ☻ Thirza Ember ► hello all ◄

Want to venture into new worlds but afraid of missing out on the gossip, or being a lonely newb? Pick up the Latest accessory from Vadrouille Zepp, the Radionne. It’s a walkie-talkie for the omniverse. Anyone owning a Radionne can see messages from any world! (no private conversations as yet, but Vadrouille is working on that, probably refining it down to group use first.) You just wear, touch and follow the simple instructions.

Available in English German and Classic French flavours, the Radionne is Free on SLMarketplace and will be available in all good Freebie drop-off points in Craft – look on sim Hydra first – from this evening.

Here’s Tao Quan modelling the nifty device on a white belt. I wear mine on my left hand because I’m a dork and enjoy trying to click hopelessly for five minutes before sending messages of any kind. The Radionne has a nice ringtone to let you know people are getting in touch – lots of “good night” and “bon apetit” for now, but this is a great way to find out if other grids are working, who’s inworld, and what the weather’s like elsewhere.

Wow, a blog post about Virtual Worlds that’s not anguishing about Identity Monologues. You might have to mute me.

[11:39 AM]  radionne: Reminder, no insults, no sex, no ads except for events.



It doesn’t look like much, but it’s only ten minutes old.

This my sim on the Craft grid. It is Theta, named for a friend who went away 3 years ago today.

More importantly, it’s Craft’s 100th sim. Congratulations to Licu Rau and Tao Quan, and all the people of Craft, for the amazingly harmonious growth that the grid has seen over the past 12 months.

I am so glad I came here.


It’s party time! Craft grid celebrates its first birthday this week. Sim Jubilee is the main venue for the event, which starts tomorrow, Tuesday, 25th January. Artists and builders have been working hard to show off how much the grid has accomplished in just twelve months.

There’s an exhibition of photos taken over the past year, a music venue, and displays of the wide variety of activities and interests of the grid residents, from physics to pirates.

How did the grid get going? The owners explain, standing next to by their sim-sized cruise ship.
Licu Rau: Well, what happened is this. Carlos Roundel, the owner of Cyberlandia, decided to try a different grid organization, with a central grid (Cyberlandia) and other sims not linked in grid, but autonomous. We thought we could solve the problem to send IM and teleport between different grids and hypergrids but were not able to do that. So I organised my sims like a grid making a ‘home’ for Tao and myself, and Tosha and Lumiere.

Tao Quan: Craft is a baby which we have nursed.
Licu Rau: There are some interesting projects we are achieving.
Tao Quan: There is a game sim, like a paper chase, on White Heat. There is the beautiful landscape of delta, and the underwater seaworld of aquarium there is the restaurant of Lyth, our poet, and come RP sims. There’s the beach and yacht at Playa.

The greatest challenge has been keeping pace with the growth of Craft, from just two people to around 500 in less than 12 months. The joy has been seeing their expectations come true. They have not actively sought new residents, but the numbers have grown partly because when Cyberlandia closed, the old website directed previous users to Craft, and partly thanks to the arrival of the Museo del Metaverso, (seen here from above) which has actively recruited artists, and made them welcome on their numerous sims.
(..and Yes, I am aware that my skybox is very pink.)
Licu Rau: it has been difficult at the beginning to gain the trust of people.Many people were going to osgrid and advised us to go there too. For us, it’s a question of freedom.
Tao Quan: …and companionship, too. I wandered alone in SL for months, and here I found friendship, friends who are there is you do not feel well or are alone. There is always someone here to talk to to comfort you if you are feeling down.
Another great difference, is, of course, the lack of money. In Craft almost everyone is a builder, and sharing, rather than selling, is the norm. As the grid grows the sharing becomes more organized, with a texture library and soon a sculpty library too. On the Craft Store sim, close to Hydra the Welcome sim, you’ll find freebie shops for clothes and a Garden Centre full of free plants and trees. A literature library, to be opened in the grid meeting place, is also in the works.

Change can be a two edge sword. Do they worry that Craft might change in a way that they did not plan?
Tao Quan: It is up to us to ensure that we do not fall into those traps.
Licu Rau: What I am noticing is that there is a sort of selection of people whoo come here. Only people who like the way we doe things seem to stay; it’s a sort of natural selection. This is the beauty of opensim. You have several choices, so if you don’t like here, you go somewhere else!
Tao Quan: It is hard for people coming from SL at first, but we do try to integrate people, make them feel welcome, and some people begin to enjoy the new way.

Lumiere Noir, the creator of SL’s building mecca The Ivory Tower of Primitives has a been a Craft resident pretty much from from the start, and is making an equivalent construction for Craft,  on sim Sophia, where builders young and old can come and learn techniques and problem solving tricks. The new building has an organic feel to it, part of Lumiere’s move towards buildings that grow with the landscape, rather than imposing themselves on it. Sim Sophia is also the home of Paidos Woodall’s Sloodle-based learning centre.

But it’s sim Jubilee where most of the action is taking place. For the celebration, Jo Ellesmere and the  Odyssey group have an install, as do Lollito Larkham and Artistide Despres‘ Saltimbanques, and the Cassiopea group and you can also see the gorgeous art of Frau Ra, peeped at in the above photo, our good friends from CARP Diabolus, and other builders and artists too numerous to mention. But my favourite place is sitting on the little island off Locus, watching Oberon Onmura‘s twin sims Elena and Titania with their tower and mountains, as the lights and shapes play hide and seek with the shadows.

The first anniversary fun starts tomorrow Tuesday 25th January. See you there!

Bird uncaged: Ruben Haan

Dieu aima les oiseaux et inventa les arbres.
L’homme aima les oiseaux et inventa les cages.

Jaques Deval,  Afin de vivre bel et bien

First there is orange. This orange is not the fruit, nor is it not the only fruit. It is alive,  slightly fevered;  a cartoon dune, treeless, bright. A baked beach. This is the art of Ruben Haan on his sim Kliederaar in OpenSim. You get there via Hypergrid, here are some hints on how all that works.
Ruben Haan: Running an opensim attached to 2 grids, OSgrid and hypergrid server is pretty easy. I chose not to add any artwork to the Linden Lab servers anymore because they restrict freedom. Hopla hehe, let’s go…
We came in to Kleideraar from Craft grid, where we had been looking at the MdM. It was night in Craft, and night in OS too. A hen lay sprawled across our path. Haan’s hen. A hen with a key, like canned ham, or an open hand; primary, piecemeal, on a bed of parched clay that not even the metaversal sea seems capable of quenching.
Ruben was smoke, when we got there. Not that unusual in OSgrid, to find yourself or your bits suddenly disappearing. I thought of the peacocks of Second Life, with their precise primskirts and impeccable attachments. This place is not like that. But you only miss it sometimes.
Ruben’s sculptures are littered around the shallow lagoon. Oil and acrylic paint make the prims look weighty, flexible, rubbery. No wonder they call Ruben a clayworker. Their names are mostly in Dutch, except for Bleu Bird, ranging above us like a sumo wrestler. There are a lot of birds here.

Ruben Haan: Yep they are easy to paint, just start with an eye, then some weird things around that, and it’s a bird.
Birds teetering on the edge between horror and humour. Bold colours mirror your mood, find you anxious or ready to laugh, and throw the feeling back at you. Both paintings and sculptures frequently include a speech bubble spouting symbols, an urgent message: is it hostile or having fun?
He led me over to a round island ringed with canvasses.
Ruben Haan: These are some of my ‘rl’ paintings and collages and more. I use my paintings in opensim but I also use work from opensim in my paintings. I don’t really distinguish between ‘real’ and ‘virtual’. Take the Bleu Bird. I don’t call this virtual. It is not more or less virtual then my paintings and sculptures. Ruben’s 2010 project ‘Ava’ illustrates this well. The acrylic painting spans both realities, both bodies.

Ruben Haan: I started an irc channel on freenode so you can have contact even when you are not on the same grid or when the sim is crashed or if you feel like trying some ascii art in an irc place.
He’s not a fan of Skype and its ilk – but itsn’t Skype just a way to say things like “I’ll see you in Jokaydia?

Ruben Haan: And a painting is just a thing to look at. If you are creative things are never “just things”, they are always modifiable. My objection is both technical and philosophical. You can’t be creative and are technically limited. The sourcecode of IRC you can download from the net –  you can’t do that with Skype. If you use something that you don’t know what it’s doing and you are not allowed to learn what it’s doing and you are not allowed to be creative with it.

On the other hand, which of us really knows what 99% of the things that surround us are made of. That fork you put in your mouth has a design and chemical composition that you neither know about nor agonize over.
Ruben Haan: If I buy a fork I want to know what its made of,  and if I want to study it I am free to do so. There is a fundamental difference between hardware and software. If I buy a fork they don’t make me sign a contract that I will only use it to eat, and that I will not share the fork with my friends, or make my own fork after I have looked how its made.
Well, OK, but if you copy the fork and sell it a little thing called patent law is going to catch up with you, isn’t it?

Ruben Haan: There are thousands of people dying because of patent laws. Protection is something you should do for humans, not for things.
Well, what about the whole Egg of Columbus argument?
Ruben Haan: if the first developers of opensim would have patented a lot of stuff there would not have been Craft. If van Gogh would have patented expressive painting I would not have called him a good artist. If the inventer of the wheel would have had used a stupid patent law, he would not have been able to get help from friends. I dont give away things I make, I sell them, but the people that buy my work are free to do what they want, they also have to live. Do you know that internet which is the biggest invention of this age and the place where most money gets made is for 90% run on FREE software? We are artists, we need to know how things work and we need to be free to change it.

All this implies give and take in a world rather more fond of taking than giving, caging rather than letting ideas fly free.  If you work, then give away the things you make, how do you live? Trust that other people will give you things so you can eat? Ruben says Yes.
I hope he’s right.

Moire than meets the eye

What spirit is so empty and blind,
that it cannot recognize the fact
that the foot is more noble than the shoe,
and skin more beautiful than the garment with which it is clothed

Oberon Onmura‘s been bragging for ages about his Jo Ellsmere skin, and now Scottius Polke’s Craft avie is sporting another smashing example of her work. Who is this extraordinary and fun loving artist? Among her ‘weird and wonderful’ skins is this moire avatar (actually an alpha layer) complete with stylized internal organs that seem like a set of platonic shapes being digested. We met on sim Andromeda, donated by Luce Laval to the performance art group Odyssey, run by Fau Ferdinand and Liz Solo.

She really admires the non-commercial spirit of sharing in Craft, and, since much of the evolution of art depends on trial and error, she loves the free uploads.  Scripting is something she’s been exploring over the past 9 months.
Jo Ellsmere: Scripting does not come naturally (or easily!) to me it’s been a long, slow, slog, actually, but at least at this point it doesn’t (for the most part) look like Greek to me. Now it looks more like…Spanish!

With a BA in Fine Art and a background in graphic art and typography, quiltmaking, woodwork and stained glass, Jo’s been in SL for about 4 years, and, after a short digression into following the live music scene, began building and learning photoshop. This is her first chair.

Jo Ellsmere: When I first started seriously building, I made chairs.

At the Performance’ Wedding of Selavy Oh andMisprint Thursday in SL last January, many of my chairs were used for the reception. It was fun, lots of creative people involved. Unfortunately, many of the chairs had multiple rotating elements which don’t work here in Craft but hopefully, as Craft grows,that will change. It would make my life much easier and multiple scripting rotations is a bit beyond my capabilities at this point!

Creation and inspiration is a matter of working and having one thing lead to another; it’s about playing and exploring form, movement and colour. No fanciful names for the chairs, or special meaning, but they’re clearly meant to be enjoyed; Jo has some great, goofy and weird sit poses that sadly also didn’t make the journey from SL, but she is not discouraged, and is working on mastering Qavimator.

Jo Ellsmere: This is one of my early skins from last year, I’ve gotten an lot of wear out of this one.

It’s beautiful and she looked pensive, but perhaps a little mischievous. It made me think of La vita è bella and tyre tracks. Among the red dunes down on the sim floor, the Odyssey group share space, and in one corner, Jo has her Laboratory, with fetuses, trees and lots of moire. What is moire, anyway?

Jo Ellsmere: hmmm… moire is a pattern that is so small as to make an optical illusion. For me, it’s a way to pull the viewer into the work well, it requires a bit of work on the viewers part and it’s up to them, really, just how much they wish to get out of a piece if they choose to only glance superficially then that’s all they’ll get out of itif they choose to look more closely then there’s a nice payoff. I was also playing with  llSetPrimitiveParams with these pieces, and I have some off-sim pieces here, a sort of optical illusion.

These sculptures, made using moire and gradated textures, are moored  inside the sim boundaries, with the visible elements pushed out into the ‘nothing’ beyond.

Jo Ellsmere: I love the Odyssey group (here and in SL). There’s so much creativity, and such a nice group of people in SL, where the focus is much more on performance art. Hopefully, as Craft develops, that will carry over to here, too. Luce Laval has been great. Really, everyone in Craft has been wonderful – such a spirit of camaraderie. If I hadn’t stumbled upon the arts in SL, I would have left there long ago. I found a home, really, and I’ve never become jaded about the artistic/creative possibilities of the virtual. The potential is infinite.

The great gate

Xon Emoto was there before me, testing the jump from Jokaydia to ReactionGrid; I landed on his head but I don’t think he minded. After all, we’re out on the frontier here. There’s something about the Hypergrid portal – they call it a Blamgate – that is quite thrilling, and if you have a region on an open world, you can come into Jokaydia and get one for free, to set up on your own land.

When you go gridjumping, your name in Chat gets very long, along the lines of Thirza.Ember So if you’re thinking of setting up a place from which to jump, call your grid Dave or something. You’ll thank me later.

I had been nosing around John ‘Pathfinder’ Lester’s Clubhouse, looking for treasures. Nothing doing. What proportion of the Omniverse, do you think, is given over to empty clubhouses, meeting halls, corporate offices, stadiums and theatres? There must be about 50 empty seats for every avatar ever created. Yet, there are sort of pirate hamsters and an octopus and other stuff on the sim, so it all balances out. Anyway there was no porridge and no comfy bed in the clubhouse so I wandered through the gate after Xon.

Permutation! There was no way to get back! A loud sign announced “ReactionGrid is a PG Grid, so please, no nudity, no swearing, there are young kids on the grid every day – keep it safe for us all!” So I kept my kex on, muffled my b@#$% and begged help from Xon. A SLURL pasted into the Search part of your Map, and then hit Teleport, – that’s what most hypergrid jumping involves, but the gates make it look fancier.

The Hypergrid Adventurer’s Club is Pathfinder’s way of getting people to network and share stuff from different grids. I zoned out when they got to comparing acquaintances, and talking about technical innovation, but you can read the minutes on Pathfinder’s  blog.

Here are Vanish Seriath and El Silven – they’re having a Start Party at The Gray Inn Between on the 16th of January. More about that closer to the day. We heard about the map of Open Worlds made by Pam Broviak from govgrid. Her group, which began in SL, and does what it sounds like it would do, is interested in the Creative Commons approach to virtual communities: sharing content rather than selling it. Like the rest of us, they’ve had to face the whole export-from-SL challenge: if you made a large building in SL the chances are that, even though they’re your prims and your textures, those pesky megaprims aren’t ‘yours’ and you’re not going to be able to export it.
CC, TOS and license chat ensued. But another interesting thing popped up -a place called  Unity 3D where they’re making Participatory Chinatown. I could participate in some Moo Shoo pork right now.

And then off through the Blamgate! We went to  New World Grid, woot, La France! we dropped in on this beautiful villa by Kire and Marline. Italian francophile Giovanni Molko gave us a rather bemused but very courteous welcome. Then off to Aime Socrates’ region, Physics (There’s a Cern connection – Pathfinder can tell you more, if you’re into all that stuff.)
This is Aime’s first sim and she’s been working on it for a year, it’s a wonderful achievement, but it seemed clear that not nearly enough people come visit and her informative  real-time Planetarium, complete with Trou de ver

or her amazing giant size lab, which is reminiscent of the Greenies that Rezzable had in SL, back in the day, here complete with a little rat-run around the furniture – tres amusant! So many great places out there, and kind, welcoming people, beyond the edges of Second Life. Join the Adventurers’ Club and see them all!