Second Life Bakes on Mesh: Mother Nature

I’m very inspired by nature – you could say Mother Nature. I look at things around me and get all kinds of inspiration daily.

—Martha Stewart

Time for yet another resurrected system skin and outfit, courtesy of Bakes on Mesh! The mesh avatar I am wearing is the Altamura Juliet full-body mesh avatar, which requires a couple of additions to support Bakes on Mesh:

  • A Bakes on Mesh relay for Altamura mesh bodies (which is available for free to Altamura group members at this exact SLURL in the store; please note that this relay only works with full versions of Altamura bodies, including the Juliet body which was a Valentine’s Day group gift earlier this year)
  • You do have to buy and install the Omega system kit on the body before you can use the Altamura Bakes on Mesh relay (it’s for sale for L$99 at this exact SLURL)

Now that that is out of the way, you can put away the Omega installer and relay HUDs and the BoM relay once you have installed them, and start styling!

And here is Mother Nature in all her glory!

This avatar is wearing:

  • Mesh Head and Body including Fingernails: Juliet mesh body by Altamura (a former Valentine’s Day group gift; Omega-compatible; more details here; the Altamura group costs L$50 to join)
  • System Skin and Body Branch Attchments: Fleurs by Fallen Gods (I’m not sure if this is still available or not, as it pre-dates mesh)
  • System Eyes: Sunrise eyes in Celtic green by Fashism (no longer on the grid)
  • Hair: Botanical Pigtails – I Am Springtime by Nushru (I believe this was a hunt gift from the Crazy hair Hunt many years ago)
  • Fruit Branches on Head: Fruit Salad Tree Branches by Concrete Flowers (no longer on the grid)
  • Dress and Earrings: Spring outfit by Lemania Indigo (an old system-layers-and-flexiprims outfit which is no longer available)
  • Shoes: June pumps by Garbaggio

UPDATED! Douglas Rushkoff: Why Most Virtual Reality is Bullshit

Douglas Rushkoff (image from CNN)

Douglas Rushkoff is an American media theorist, writer, columnist, lecturer, graphic novelist, and documentarian. He is best known for his association with the early cyberpunk culture, and his advocacy of open source solutions to social problems. (Source: Wikipedia)

Today, Philip Rosedale tweeted a link to a provocative piece Rushkoff wrote on Medium this past August, titled Most VR is Total Bullshit. And I think it’s a must-read, even if you completely disagree with his premise.

Douglas Rushkoff argues the virtual reality, originally developed to be a countercultural and psychedelic technology, has instead been turned into an experience “characterized less by imagination and creativity than surveillance, control, and extractive corporate capitalism”. He goes on to say:

The VR revival seems fixated on augmented reality, where instead of going into a whole new world, we see imagery superimposed over this one. It is a marketer’s dream technology: novel enough to be interesting, grounded enough to prevent true exploration, and perfectly suited to the task of labeling every object in the world with a price tag.

The current VR hype doesn’t offer us access to new worlds so much as new ways to package consumer entertainment. It’s Facebook’s Oculus Rift, gaming, movies, Bible stories, and of course porn. Most VR today is little more than 360-degree video, a slightly more immersive version of business as usual. This non-interactive entertainment is to real interactive VR what Game of Thrones is to Dungeons and Dragons or Windows is to the command line. The fact that the technology has become easier to navigate and more lavishly rendered is hardly a consolation prize. It’s a prison.

While Rushkoff admits that VR does have some useful applications, he offers a dire warning:

VR does appear to have value in medical or therapeutic contexts. I’m glad we have virtual experiences that can help retrain an obese person to eat less. Gulf War veterans suffering from PTSD have benefited from VR that recreates the conditions of their trauma. But we mustn’t fool ourselves into believing that these applications are delivering the Promethean power of digital fire to the masses. They turn their users into the passive recipients of content, rather than the active constructors of a reality.

And so the race is on to build a VR landscape of, say, the Serengeti, where the animals and savanna look as authentic as they do in Disney’s new CGI version of The Lion King. Never mind the climate crisis threatening the real savannah. People raised with these virtual worlds at their disposal will come to prefer them to reality, anyway, just as they are coming to prefer porn to the messiness of sex. And as members of the Frankfurt School tried to warn us, once a culture prefers the simulacrum to the world, fascism can’t be far behind.

He argues that VR must support and enhance creativity, as opposed to simply immersing the user in simulations:

By focusing on immersive simulation over active creation, most virtual reality technologies undermine the innate human abilities that they could be fostering. “It is worth pointing out that we have been making virtual realities for a very, very long time,” Terence McKenna reminded us at the dawn of VR. “When you sit the children down around the fire and begin to tell the old, old stories and pictures rise out of the flames — that is virtual reality.”

We must use technology to stoke those collaboratively creative flames, instead of extinguishing them.

“When you sit the children down around the fire and begin to tell the old,
old stories and pictures rise out of the flames — that is virtual reality.”
Photo by Jackson Hendry on Unsplash

It’s a short, engaging read, no more than 10 minutes long, and I encourage you to go over to Medium and read it yourself in full, to see whether you agree or not with what Rushkoff has to say.

UPDATE 5:29 p.m.: Well, one reader had this to say about it!

And Peter (better known in High Fidelity and Sansar by his handle, Theanine) makes an excellent point.

The Winners of the Decentraland Game Jam Have Been Announced

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Carnival (the ninth-place winner of the Decentraland Game Jam)

Yesterday, Decentraland announced the winners of their recent Game Jam contest. While there are still approximately 14,000 people waiting for their opportunity to enter the current closed beta of the blockchain-based virtual world Decentraland, the company has thoughtfully included links in their blogpost that will allow any readers to visit the winning scenes without having an account or an avatar set up!

There were a couple of bugs I did encounter yesterday, however. For some reason, the link to the first prize winning entry, The Farm, did not work for me, no matter how many times I tried to reload it. Eventually, someone gave me the in-world coordinates of the entry, so I just signed into Decentraland with my own avatar (which already has access to the closed beta), and I teleported to The Farm to be able to take a few pictures of it to show you here. (The coordinates are -3,-33 if you are interested and want to visit it yourself.)

The first place winner is The Farm (all links were taken from the original blogpost, so this one might not work for you, either):

Another bug that kept coming up is the pop-up message that you see at the top of my screenshot above: a message telling me “You received an exclusive wearable NFT (non-fungible token) mask! Check it out in the avatar editor.” I was told that this is a bug that DCL is aware of and is working to fix as soon as possible.

The Farm appears to be some sort of gathering and manufacturing game around food. If you click on a book in the farmhouse, a series of recipes pops up:

Second prize went to Enchanted Wood, which reminded me of a brain teaser from the venerable puzzle game Myst:

Third place winner Koko Jones had an Indiana Jones adventure theme:

Here’s a list of the remaining Game Jam winners, along with links to visit each one:

Congratulations to all the winners! Have fun exploring! I haven’t even had an opportunity yet to visit all these locations myself.

Also, I have decided to finally create a new, separate category for blogposts about Decentraland on this blog. I may or may not have time to go back and assign that new category to every blogpost I have written about DCL in the past, though. (The old category is Blockchain-Based Virtual Worlds.)

The Joys of Second Life Photography

Among them

Image: Among Them, by Karin Verwood

In 2017, I decided to take a blogging course offered through BVuNiversity, the educational arm of the Blogger & Vlogger Network of Second Life (BVNSL for short). I was unique among the students attending, in that I was blogging about Sansar more than Second Life at the time (remember, this blog first started out in July 2017 as a blog about Sansar, launched when Sansar opened the doors to the public).

You can see the “test” Second Life blog which I set up to use for the course here. I’m no longer updating that blog; I just find it easier to have one blog (this one), where I can talk about various social VR/virtual worlds, including a section devoted to Second Life!

Anyways, a few of the weekly BVNSL classes were devoted to learning how to take good photographs in Second Life. And ever since then, I have found myself attracted to well-done SL photography, like the image at the top of this blogpost by Karin Verwood (you can see the rest of her pictures on Flickr, which is home to many talented Second Life photographers).

There are so many exceptional SL photographers that it would be impossible to list all of my favourites! Some focus on landscape or home and garden photography; others do portraits or fashion shoots; some focus on telling a story with action scenes!

If you are at all interested in Second Life photography, may I recommend you follow Wurfi on Twitter, who is a friend from both Second Life and Sansar? I have learned about so many wonderful SL photographers through his tweets.

Here are just a few recent examples of work from the many talented Second Life photographers whom I follow on Flickr. (You can click on each picture to take you directly to the Flickr page for the photo; from there, you can click on the photographer’s name under the picture to see all his or her work in chronological order.)

. you make me feel... like i'm alive again .
Crystal Gardens
Beauty is the ordinary
FGI19 Contest Entry: White As Snow
you are born to be real, not to be perfect
| { P A P P A D O } | CLOSED
Lost in the thrill of it all.
airplane mode.

The BVNSL also hosts an annual awards show, The Bloggies, where the public votes for bloggers and vloggers in various categories. Voting takes place from now until Oct. 19th, 2019, so don’t delay! The full list of categories and nominees and the link to the voting ballot is here.