New Book on Second Life: Living and Dying in a Virtual World

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Last October, Dr. Margaret Gibson of Griffith University posted to the official Second Life forums:

Hi everyone, my name is Dr Margaret Gibson and I am writing a book with Clarissa Carden titled Living and Dying in a Virtual World: Digital Kinships, Commemoration and Nostalgia, to be published by Palgrave Macmillan. See link:  We are writing a chapter on sentimental objects in SL and we would love to hear any of your stories. These could be things in your inventory that matter to you because someone died or they remind you of an important part of your SL or RL.   If you are interested in participating in the book more fully and being interviewed via chat in SL we would love to hear from you. As you can see from book title we are interested in death, grief, family relationships in SL, nostalgia…

Any responses will be anonymous and if you do not wish for your response on this forum to be included in the book please say so. Thanks!

Well, the results of that research have now been published by Palgrave MacMillan. Titled Living and Dying in a Virtual World: Digital Kinships, Nostalgia, and Mourning in Second Life, the book is described as follows:

This book takes readers into stories of love, loss, grief and mourning and reveals the emotional attachments and digital kinships of the virtual 3D social world of Second Life. At fourteen years old, Second Life can no longer be perceived as the young, cutting-edge environment it once was, and yet it endures as a place of belonging, fun, role-play and social experimentation.  In this volume, the authors argue that far from facing an impending death, Second Life has undergone a transition to maturity and holds a new type of significance. As people increasingly explore and co-create a sense of self and ways of belonging through avatars and computer screens, the question of where and how people live and die becomes increasingly more important to understand. This book shows how a virtual world can change lives and create forms of memory, nostalgia and mourning for both real and avatar based lives.

The book is rather expensive ( lists it at CDN$93.54), so see if you can get it through your library (I was able to access the electronic version via my university library’s SpringerLink ebook service). Thank God for libraries!

I am looking forward to reading this, and I may write a book review afterwards. Here’s a brief excerpt from the introduction:

Now that it is 14 years old, SL attracts less news attention. Where a reporter is assigned to cover a story relating to SL, their copy carries a faint air of astonishment, as though the author believes that this world ought, surely, to have disappeared by now. The fact that it persists goes against the grain of consumer media logic of upgrading, replacing, and letting go of the old for the new. It also speaks to an implicit recognition that the demographics of SL are not “young people” even though the image culture of avatars valorises the appearance of youth.

Despite this disconnection with media logics, SL has in no sense disappeared. Instead, it has been transformed. We argue in this book that SL is now a mature virtual world. It is a world in which residents have lived and lost. It is a world which has seen significant social changes. This is a typeof virtual world that has never existed—and which could not exist—at any previous moment in history. This is a book about the maturity that has come with age. Inevitably, as an extension of that, it addresses the memory, loss, and grief that have marked the lives of SL residents. It is also a book about the care and compassion residents show towards one another and about the strength of the attachments that are formed online.

Also, an older blogpost on a topic related to this: Why I want to leave my Second Life avatars to other people when I die.

Linden Lab Issues the Shop, Gift and Spend Release of Sansar

The latest update to the Sansar client software, dubbed the Shop, Gift and Spend Release, came out on Sept. 10th. Among the new features is the ability to pay another avatar in-world, a long-awaited feature that will encourage music performers and other types of jobs in Sansar.

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With today’s update, we are now adding the ability for you to gift Sansar Dollars to another user. You will find the option to to this in the same menu where you can add someone as a friend, or mute someone. It is also available on a user’s profile through the People tool, which can be opened from Chat.

Sansar Dollar Gifting will start a default value of 100 and can be increased or decreased in increments of 10 and 1. There will also be a transaction fee of 15% for any amount of Sansar Dollars gifted (to a minimum of S$1). This is in preparation of (eventually) being able to gift objects, to prevent users from circumventing the Store.

For more information, please see the Gifting Sansar Dollars document.

In addition, you can now browse the Sansar Store from within the client. However, you will still be taken to the Sansar Store website to actually make a purchase.

Also, users in VR headsets will no longer have to take them off to style their avatar in Lookbook!

VR users will no longer have to edit their Avatar in desktop mode. You can now edit your Avatar in VR and you can enjoy adjusting Marvelous Designer clothes by simply reaching out and grabbing them.

And (in an answer to builders’ prayers), Linden Lab has finally added a Folders feature to Edit Mode. You can find this option in the Scene Objects windows. I’m sure I’m not the only builder whose inventory was getting rather unwieldy!

You can see the full list of new features and bug fixes here.

Unfortunately, as Inara Pey reported on last Friday’s Product Meetup, the eagerly-awaited permissions and licensing system in Sansar was not part of this release. due to some last-minute problems that still need to be addressed. Maybe next release.