Home of the brave

Everybody has their own Freebie horror story, from the ‘cute little dress’ with the fatal flaw that you only notice when it’s way too late, all the way up to finding one of your generously donated creations being sold on some scuzzy sim. Put the words Freebie and Open Sim together and, for most people (especially anyone with a L$ axe to grind) they conjure up an image of utter tackiness, plus a boring re-hash of the whole creative rights issue.
 The free culture of Open Sim has so little to do with the make-a-buck mentality of SL that it may be hard for closed-worlders to grasp what’s really going on in places like the boutiques of Wright Plaza on OSgrid, or Greg Prince‘s Freeland megastore on Craft Grid.

Creators may outnumber consumers many times over in worlds other than Second Life, but even pioneers sometimes want a little Sears Roebuck in their lives. Vanish Tomorrow has a new website, OpenSim Creations where you can download (and upload!)  free items for virtual worlds. Straight onto your computer, so you can import them to any world you like. The ultimate in online ‘shopping’, perhaps?

Vanish Tomorrow:  Actually, my blog was kinda something like that for more than a year now. I just thought others would post their creations on their websites as well, because it’s just so easy to do. Well, not many people did, and so I thought about how to make it easier for people. There were mostly technical considerations, what software to use, how to manage users, that kind of thing. One big consideration was whether or not it was supposed to be “commercial”, i.e. allowing the sale of content. After talking with Pathfinder about it in general terms,  I just sat down and played with a lot of software to see how it would look.

Eloh Eliot‘s skins are probably the most famous free items on the web, and she has always actively encouraged others to modify and redistribute versions of the starlight skins. When Ina Centaur made some of her skins free to download and modify at OSAvatars , she worried in her press release that by “creating and releasing an open source collection of virtual goods, in an ecosystem where third party creators rely on micro-transactions, I run the risk of disturbing the economy.” The skins she’s made available are mostly male, and while not terribly handsome, they are certainly distinctive. A few weeks later, the economy seems to have handled it pretty well, but to Ina’s credit few creators with such a strong connection to SL have volunteered as much.  What about the whole ‘hey, they’re selling my freebies!’ thing? Pam Broviak of govgrid has a practical solution.
Pam Broviak: I figured people have to be pretty desperate to try that. Anyway, if we do a good job advertising the site, everyone should know they can just get it for free there.

Destination shopping is not going to disappear any time soon, though. It’s an adventure, and a fun way to meet new people, and discover new grids. It’s also going to take time to aggregate all the free things available. Many creators would like to use their items as a way to attract the public to their blogs and websites, which is why Vanish is focusing on things not offered elsewhere online.

Vanish Tomorrow:  Yes, I guess so.  It’s kind of a fine line. Right now, I’m focusing on things that are CC licensed, but only on a certain grid.  OSGrid has loads of that, and since I started OSC, people told me about things in SL too, that were CC.  When it comes to quality, well, you know, we’re all amateurs. Some make better stuff, some less good so. In the end, it’s not up to me (or anyone) to decide. You pick what you like, and leave the rest. Webspace is cheap, and code is patient, but if rubbish really becomes a problem, I’ll look into a possibility to sort stuff by rating.  I don’t think of it as “my” site, it’s a platform, it’s up to the users on how they, well, use it. That’s what I put the forum there. If someone thinks we need an extra category, or something, they can suggest it.

Speaking of suggestions, what about better clothes for men?

Vanish Tomorrow:  I see there’s such a lack of – well, anything! so I’m playing around with hair, clothes, and stuff, out of pure necessity. I’m really not made for that. I really really really would love to have just one clothing creator upload their stuff onto OpenSim Creations. They come by the thousands in SL, and there are so few in OpenSim. But honestly, men aren’t too worried about their appearances. If anything, I get requests for non-human avatars. Give men a generic shape and skin, and they’re fine mostly.

Pam Broviak and I disagree. The lack of decent clothes and shapes is a big deal for many men who don’t want to wander new worlds in prison tats and tee shirts inscribed with the grid logo all over it.
Pam Broviak: I am surprised no one seems to ask for clothing – would think that would be a much-needed item.  I know someone who tried OS, and I think he never came back because he hated going through the noob process. Well, a little more serious than clothing in his case.  This guy had trouble with his avatar and couldn’t change from a girl to a guy. I guess i can see how that would be disturbing.

Jokaydia Native Cider Jack has his own brand new site called  KJS and it offers another kind of free resource for all.

Cider Jack: No one is an island – or, no avatar is a region, as the case may be. We all need help sometimes. A person may be a programmer at heart and an absolute wizard with scripting, but doesn’t have the desire or the time to learn how to build effectively. It is a very rare individual who can master all disciplines.  KJS has just started with oars or at least empty regions, because it seems to be quite a gap in the market at the moment. Many OpenSim users (myself included) often want to just start building and planting their garden from the moment they initially acquire their new region, and this is a way to help people get started creating their vision more quickly. At this point, future plans for  KJS include offering more complex oar files with complete built environments, and  individual prim-based objects as well. I expect Kitely users to benefit from this too.

And before you turn your nose up at the prospect of a ‘freebie OAR’, bear in mind that The Far Away, AM Radio’s much visited sim in SL,  has been licensed as Creative Commons.

Vanish Tomorrow: I took the liberty to rip it from SL, and make it available to anyone who’d like it.  I actually posted that on my blog 9 months ago, just nobody noticed it at the time.

What’s the future of freebies? Among the dragons and chickens of his Jibe worldPathfinder Lester gave his verdict.

Pathfnder Lester: I think quality freebies for OS, distributed as import/export files on a website, is the way to go right now. Build awareness of your freebie products on the web,  get folks using them in OS,  then folks may be interested in buying things from you. The only thing worse than piracy is obscurity. Give away what you are comfortable giving away, and use that as a way to interest folks in things you want to *sell*.

Cider Jack: I’d love to see it continue as it has, with – I hate to say this – yet another Digital Rights Management tool in place. Something like a checkbox in the permissions of an asset that would read ‘This grid only’ which would be unchecked by default, allowing the next owner to take it off-grid either via hypergridding or by exporting to their local hard drive. And maybe some way to permanently affix the creator’s name (and possibly the name of the originating grid) & license to every object would be great as well, especially for those objects that do get taken off the original grid. I am not looking forward to the day of a universal metaverse-wide currency, although there is no doubt that day is coming. The advantages of the current freebie economy which allows everyone to share freely works in everyone’s favor and builds a strong community. JokaydiaGrid right now is an excellent example of that.

Bearings

Maps are nice. You can read them. They are even nicer when someone explains what you’re looking at. This is the hypergrid map by Pam Broviak, of govgrid. Pam Broviak: The hypergrid idea and setup, while very cool, is confusing. The continents represent the different versions of opensim/hypergrid software. An avatar based on one continent can only travel to other grids on their continent – they cannot go “across the water.” So for example,  if you want to visit the German Grid, you can create an avatar in Craft then hypergrid to the German Grid because they are on the same continent. I left some “brown” space between the regions on each continent to try to designate the levels or locations of the regions. On each continent, there is a lower region, a middle region, and an upper region separated by barren land. Each grid is located within one of these 3 regions depending on the coordinates of the grid. The reason for showing this on the map is that an avatar can’t travel directly from a lower to an upper or the other way – they must go from lower-middle-upper or upper-middle-lower. So the map should accurately depict this relationship between Craft and German Grid in that they are on the same version of hypergrid (on same continent) and you can travel directly from Craft (an upper region grid) to the German grid (a middle region grid).

Pam says it’s a work in progress, and always will be, as she continues to figure out where in the world certain grids like Metropolis fit innot to mention the new grids that came online over the past few weeks. On top of that, grids shift on the map – sometimes even changing continents! – when they upgrade. An endlessly fascinating task, and a big Thank You to Pam for taking the time to do it!

Talking towers

When it comes to my stupidity, let’s face it, the cat has been out the bag for so long that it can’t even remember if it was paper or plastic. Thank goodness you don’t have to be smart to know smart when you see it. More than that. Imagine having a problem with a building project and being able to ask, not just a clever builder friend, but Lumiere Noir, founder of Second Life’s Ivory Tower of Primitives, and have him come right over and take a look!

Lumiere Noir

You’d like to know what he fixed for me. No.

Let’s just say that our conversation ended with the words:

Lumiere Noir: You’ve got to know all you can about the tools available to you 🙂
Well, I think we all know that’s never going to happen.

Licu Rau owner of Craft, at the Ivory Tower of Primitives, Craft

Craft Grid now has its own updated, wooden version of the Ivory Tower of Primitives, on sim Sophia, which will soon be filled with streamlined information on primpinching of every kind. And there’s more – Lumiere has started a Prim Wiki at http://ivorytoweronline.com/primwiki/index.php?title=Main_Page .
Lumiere Noir: The wiki is a lot of fun to work with. I hope that by putting it on the web, people will be able to get instant translations. For now the wiki is closed because the last time I tried this it got spambotted out of existance, but the blog and forums part is open to all (I think!) – I just set it up a couple of days ago.

Paidos Woodall, the first speaker in Craft, with Tao Quan and Thirza Ember

Yet another source of buildery goodness. Also in the news, Craft has Voice! Today was the first test of the system. Not everyone’s a fan of voice, both in SL and other worlds, in fact moderately grumpy sources inform that it’s properly termed as ‘Voip’ and not that sophisticated, technically speaking. But I don’t care. I was the first person ever to giggle audibly in Craft, and they can’t take that away from me.

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.

Compleanno

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!

party crashing

To everyone like soror who’s bundling up in front of virtual beaches, or roasting their nuts in front of particle fires, and feeling glad they’re not stranded in an airport on the way to Marrakesh, I have five words for you Road trip to Palm Beach; woot, but let’s be honest,  I’m not going to find anything as gorgeous as this in Florida, am I? No no, not Oberon Onmura although of course he is geek-chic in his glasses and Jo Ellesmere skin; however, I meant his new creation. I’ve been having cloud/clothing issues in Craft all week, so his greeting didn’t come as a big surprise. Except that is was in Italian.

Oberon Onmura: vicino allarme donna nuda!
He was wearing one of those translator things, which work fine about 60% of the time and, like many an Italian Studies undergrad, can’t cope with the gap between received and idiomatic English, creating some hilarious lapses. In preparation for what may be a long stay in this decidedly Italian land, Oberon has been working on his Definite Articles as well as a new installation…
Oberon Onmura: if I was Italian, I’d call it Waves of Desire
Oberon Onmura: se fossi stato italiano, lo chiamerei Waves of Desire
Don’t ask me why it didn’t translate the name into onde del desiderio. On the other hand I could tell you why it used the past subjunctive, but then I’d have to kill you, because term time is over, thank God.

The problem with the Translator is that, no matter which two languages you’re mixing it up in, the ‘translation’ give the illusion that you’re learning the other language when in fact you’re picking up botspeak. But don’t let that stop you visiting the MdM on Craft. It is more beautiful and interesting every time. The Italians are doing some cool RL/SL  crossover work this December, in collaboration with the prestigious Brera gallery in Milan. Thanks to Imparafacile Runo and his team, the Brera Academy Virtual Lab has a presence on the grid, and Second Life has taken up ‘residence’ on screens in one of Milan’s biggest railway stations, San Giovanni. Merlino Mayo wrote a little about it, if you’d like to know more, he can point you in the right direction.

Back on Oberon’s region in Craft: he’s currently working on getting the colors of Waves of Desire to change gradually. Right now they ‘just go’, changing hue rather more suddenly than he’d like, but gradual color changes wreak havok on the server, which he monitors closely -in fact, it’s getting to be a bit of an obsession, watching all the values, and that raises another question: does all the reporting out to the console eats up a lot of processor time? Yeah, like I would know.

Later, Lollito Larkham showed me his brains (yuck). Nobody could see me, but at least I wasn’t all nekked on their screens, probably due to my on-the-road crappy connection. This also explains the low quality of these pictures. There was much talk of the mysterious instant rezzing script/object they give you in InWorldz. Or is that just voodoo.

Minutes I became another willing victim of the Bodimosa skin by Artistide Despres. II’ll kee those snaps for private viewing. It’s the semi-official club skin, so feel free to come here, join up and ask for your own copy… if you’ve got the nerve.

They were pushing the limits in Veesome this week, also, with a  ‘Crash my Cloud’ party on Wednesday afternoon. If, like me, you don’t really know what a cloud is, try clicking here and see if that helps.

Tessa Harrington, Victor Hua, Sunny Salamander and the rest of the team set up a version of Thoth Jantzen‘s Area 54 Club, and bots, guest testers and regulars alike tried to crash the cloud. Sunny was Cloudmaster, and had a big graph and everything!

No, you’re right, I have no clue. Bots are particularly good in this setting because they do a lot of physical stuff like running into one another and leaping strangely in the air, which is RAM hungry, I’m told.

Definitely not bots, the rocking musical entertainment was provided by Anek Fuchs and Jimmy49 Dukes. Anek has played Veesome before, and he’s blazing a trail for other musicians out to explore grids beyond SL.

Among the guest testers, Mal Burns (sitting on the toadstool) and Chantal Harvey, unrecognizable in a basic avie. She enthused over Thoth’s build (seen here in only its partial glory) and vowed to come back and make a machinima of it. Can’t wait to see it!

InWizzy

This has been Meet the Grid Owner week – wow! Namedropping Time!!  Licu Rau of Craft and Tessa Harrington of SpotOn; Jokay Wollongong from Jokaydia was at the Hypergrid Adventurer’s Club (there’s a really interesting interview with her on this week’s Gridwrap ) and Elenia Llewellyn of Inworldz! Does this mean I’m going to bump into P Linden before the weekend? Hmm signs point to 404. Anyway, as my dad used to say, it only counts as kudos if the VIP goes around boasting that they met you.

Here’s Elenia, standing in the InWorldz welcome plaza looking gorgeous in a seasonable off-the-shoulder santa dress. As you can tell from the background of the photo, which took about 5 minutes to rez to this point, I still get atrocious lag when in Inworldz, unless I’m far from the madding crowd; but no matter, the point of my visit was to see Wizard Gynoid’s colossal fractal at Ed Hinterland’s Werk gallery. Bigger is better, that’s Wizzy’s credo, and  it really works in this setting – lots of space, so you get the full impact of her latest creation. A structure of these dimensions and this sort of prim count – over 1400 for the InWorldz version, she used even more to make the one in Craft – would be impossible in Second Life, says Wizzy. It’s far from the biggest primcount on record (check out this cool half million on a German grid for sheer enormity) but it certainly is massive. We sat in the middle and she talked about what it means.

Wizard Gynoid: I find it to be a magical mystery, a surprise, a spiritual clue. A door or portal to higher dimensions of reality. More advanced entities that we come across will no doubt understand these things. I like to think that they are puzzles/tests left here for us to solve. And artistes have used phi – the golden ratio for millennia; this fractal is based on phi.

Would she like to be on a pure Math grid? Sure. But there’s something about the random miscellaneousness of grids like IWz and SL that has huge value, something you wouldn’t find in a single themed world.

Wizard Gynoid: I am surprised and stimulated by the unexpected approaches of other artists; sometimes they stimulate me to do something different, inspire me, and it is nice to discover others who are working on similar things. Some of my best experiences in SL came from totally random discoveries. just flying around the map, and I have very high hopes for the open sim grids, what i call the Omniverse. As long as it is free to all, it will evolve into something amazing.