Have you heard the news? Second Life founder Philip Rosedale is back! With today’s announcement about High Fidelity’s investment in Linden Lab, we’re excited to welcome back Philip Rosedale in the all-new role as Second Life strategic advisor. Philip is a recognized metaverse pioneer who led the early days of Second Life to help form and inform the now-mainstream concepts of virtual economies, cultures, and communities. In his new role, he will bring his vast virtual world experience and vision to help shape the future of Second Life.
And today Linden Lab released a pre-recorded hour-long episode of their popular talk show, Lab Gab, hosted by the ever-capable Strawberry Linden (formerly known as the SL blogger Strawberry Singh, and now a Linden Lab employee herself):
As I have often said before, Philip is a very articulate and highly informed speaker with many years of experience in virtual reality and virtual worlds, and of course Brad is no stranger to the microphone himself! I only caught the last few minutes of the streaming video on YouTube myself, but I will be sure to go back later this evening and watch this in full! Enjoy.
As I wrote a couple of days ago, I am angry—mostly about the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and our failures in dealing with it, both at the individual and societal levels. I’m also angry at myself for my own personal failings in navigating through these past two years of pain and chaos, trying to find a way forward in these unprecedented, heartbreaking, soul-destroying times.
But that’s not the only thing that has me irked, peeved, and annoyed me lately. So buckle up, because I have some opinions to share…I’ve been meaning to write this editorial for a long while.
Featuring a trailer of footage compiled from various blockchain-based platforms (I recognized a couple, such as Decentraland and the Sandbox), the website states:
Developing the metaverse: Investment, development & infrastructure innovation across the global metaverse & NFT ecosystem.
Republic Realm is one of the most active investors in and developers of the metaverse real estate ecosystem.
We invest in, manage, and develop assets including NFTs, virtual real estate, metaverse platforms, gaming, and infrastructure. Today, we are among the largest landowners in Axie Infinity, Decentraland, The Sandbox and Treeverse.
We have holdings in 24 metaverse platforms and own over 3,000 NFTs.
We develop our own metaverse real estate NFT projects, including:
• Metajuku, the first metaverse shopping mall with retail tenants and leases • Fantasy Islands, a luxury, master-planned real estate development in the Sandbox metaverse, and • Republic Realm Academy, the first online university set in the metaverse and driven completely by tuition NFTs.
(“The first metaverse shopping mall with retail tenants and leases”? *cough*Second Life*cough*cough*)
…as well as the following explanation of what the Academy is supposed to be all about:
What is Republic Realm Academy?
Republic Realm Academy is a series of online courses about the metaverse and NFTs. Courses will be taught by multidisciplinary educators hailing from some of the most prestigious universities in the world alongside top industry professionals in web 3.0 technologies. After completing the coursework, students will earn a certificate in Metaverse Technologies and become a permanent part of the Republic Realm Academy alumni network.
Renowned metaverse expert Cathy Hackl is the dean of Republic Realm Academy.
Why Republic Realm Academy?
Republic Realm Academy is a place for people to learn and collaborate about the metaverse and NFTs, built for the metaverse in the metaverse by metaverse experts. Republic Realm Academy makes highly technical concepts easy to understand.
Apparently, they have set up a virtual campus in the blockchain-based social VR platform Somnium Space, and Somnium Space CEO Artur Sychov himself will be teaching “a class at the Academy about VR and the future of the metaverse:”
Tuition for four weeks, which includes a “limited edition Republic Realm Academy NFT Tuition Badge”, which will “be your campus ID card and unlock all Republic Realm Academy resources and initiatives at the start of the term”, six online courses, plus “limited office hours with professors, subject to availability”, costs US$1,000.
Notice anything interesting about what platforms are discussed, and which are ignored?
A relative newcomer to the concept of the metaverse would be forgiven if, after coming away from this website, believing that the metaverse solely consisted of platforms which incorporated blockchain, cryptocurrencies, and non-fungible tokens (NFTs)! And I, as well as countless others who have been working in social VR platforms and virtual worlds for literally decades, are starting to get a little pissed off at this myopic viewpoint (VRChat even felt forced to issue an official statement today).
More and more often lately, I am seeing the term metaverse being used ***ONLY*** to refer to blockchain-based platforms, and NFT-based virtual real estate, as if the previous quarter-century of metaverse history had never existed! (I take my start date as June 28th, 1995, when Active Worlds was launched.) Those of us who know better have been watching all this NFT metaverse madness unfold and grow steam since Facebook’s pivot to Meta, and now it seems as though the blockchain bros (and women!) have completely taken up all the air in the room.
Let’s face it: it’s to Cathy’s and Artur’s and so many other people’s advantage to sell (and yes, I deliberately use the word sell) as many people as they can on this frankly blinkered perspective on the metaverse—even to the point of offering thousand-dollar certificates for things could probably be learned just as easily from others for free! The overall messaging here is that the non-blockchain-based metaverse platforms which predate this boom in artificially-scarce NFT-based real estate are simply not worth bothering with or investing in.
I am officially fed up, and I think it’s high time that those of us who were the true pioneers begin to push back on this narrative. There’s a whole history of the metaverse which is being completely ignored, as if it never existed. And that’s wrong. There are valuable lessons to be learned here from those who went before, which are being forgotten in the current greed-driven gold rush of the NFT metaverse.
Enough is enough of this deliberately misleading view of what the metaverse is. What good is a “2021 Metaverse Real Estate Report” which completely ignores one of the biggest success stories of the past two decades, Second Life, simply because it doesn’t have NFT-based real estate which can be inspected via the blockchain? Or the absolutely incredible content creators working in places like VRChat, AltspaceVR, ENGAGE, NeosVR* and countless other successful platforms?
This is just too simplistic a picture to paint, and if I have to haul myself up on stage in every single goddamn metaverse-themed room on Clubhouse to remind people, once again, that there is more to the metaverse that just the blockchain and NFTs, then I will.
Look, I am not opposed to the idea of a blockchain-based metaverse. I’m not opposed to NFT-based virtual real estate. I’m not even opposed to selling thousand-dollar courses to people! But I am getting rather angry that so many people are deliberately focusing on just one segment of the rich and vibrant history of social VR and virtual worlds, to the exclusion of all others. There are many ways to organize and run a metaverse, not just on the blockchain! And this perspective overlooks all the work that is being done on dozens of useful and popular metaverse platforms, which do not use cryptocurrencies and non-fungible tokens.
*Note that while NeosVR does have an associated cryptocurrency (NCR), it does not have NFT-based virtual land sales, a key distinction.
I’m currently swamped with work for my full-time paying job as a university librarian, but I wanted to take a quick moment to post that Linden Lab is hiring! Here’s the post:
We are seeking clothing creators, riggers and avatar makers (skin, hair, makeup, accessories)!
Are you a talented clothing or avatar creator looking for work? Can you put your hand into creating standard and “way out there” outfits? Are you a master of rigging? Do you have a great PC and internet connection that you can run on at a high draw distance, decent FPS and will handle all that various content creation tools?
Clothing Creators adept at using Substance 3D Painter, and experience with Marvelous Designer and Adobe Photoshop
Riggers and Avatar makers adept at using Blender/Maya/ZBrush/Cinema 4D and rigging for Dev Kits and the Second Life Starter Avatars
Skills in making textures and materials.
Mesh optimization and creating strong LOD.
Own a laptop, desktop or Mac, capable of running Second Life at High and Ultra settings with a minimum draw distance of 256.
Good internet connection with good FPS.
All of your work must be your own and original.
Be reliable, dedicated and work well as part of a team with lots of different personalities.
Avastar, Avatar/Animesh rigging. Experience making decor and accessories.
Experience working with quadruped Avatars/Animesh.
If you think you fit the bill and want to join the LDPW, with a dynamic team of wonderful creators, working on exciting projects, then please email email@example.com and provide us with a portfolio and examples of your work.
Is this a volunteer position? The moles are paid an hourly rate.
How do I apply? Send a resume to Derrick Linden at firstname.lastname@example.org – please include your areas of expertise and any links, screenshots or other information you would like to have considered so we can see recent examples of your work.
Do the contractors keep the rights to their content? In order to maintain the rights to reproduce the content and to make some of it available via the Library, Linden Lab is purchasing full rights to content created by the mole builders.
What’s all this about moles? The contractors use accounts with the last name Mole, which references a bit of graffiti that appeared in the original city Regions long ago … “Beware the Mole People!” Of course, those moles who wish to make their primary account names known are certainly free to do so.
It sounds very much that one of the tasks which those hired will be working on is a new set of Second Life starter avatars, which are refreshed every so often. But of course there might be other projects, too. If you meet the qualifications (and I know that many of you do), then please consider applying to be a Mole in the Linden Department of Public Works!
My father (God rest his soul; he died when I was just 21) had a temper. There were times when I was on the receiving end of that anger, and they were terrifying. I swore that I would never become him, but then I fell into a different, but perhaps predictable, trap: both suppressing my anger (which led to my lifelong, chronic, clinical depression, a dragon I still battle today), and projecting my anger onto other people (becoming a compulsive people pleaser, particularly to bosses and other authority figures). Neither tactic helped me.
It wasn’t until I had a textbook-classic case of hit-the-wall burnout, circa 1997-1999, when I had to come face to face with the fact that how I was dealing (or more accurately, not dealing) with what was making me angry was undermining my life and, essentially, killing me. That painful realization was the start of a long journey of healing, which is still unfinished.
I would get into my subcompact car and drive around Winnipeg’s Perimeter Highway, screaming myself hoarse in rage, with all the windows rolled up. I had inherited a brown corduroy recliner of my father’s after his death, and I would kneel in front of it and beat the seat cushion with my fists in rage, until they bled. And I did a LOT of therapy, talking things through with the psychiatrists who prescribed different kinds of antidepressants to help me heal from my debilitating waves of depression, my suppressed anger. I also talked with other counsellors and wise people through the years. It all helped.
And, for the most part, it worked. Today, when something happens that make me angry, I can usually respond by actually feeling and being aware of my anger, within a reasonable time frame (minutes and hours, not left to fester for weeks, months, or even years). I can feel appropriately angry, identify what (or whom) made me angry, try to parse the situation intelligently, and get some sort of handle on it. This is all progress, good progress.
But the fact remains that today, I am angry. Let me tell you why I am so goddamned angry. I’m going to create a list.
I am angry that, despite having had the foresight to see that a pandemic was coming (to the point that I began blogging about it, exactly two years ago!), and despite preparing logistically for such an eventuality for years (even stocking up on canned beans and rice and N95 masks!), that I was as mentally and emotionally unprepared as anybody else when the pandemic did strike. No amount of prepping can prepare you for the actual moment when the shit hits the fan.
I am angry that so many people refused to listen to me between January and March of 2020, when I was telling anybody and everybody who would listen that we needed to prepare, collectively and individually, for a pandemic. I confused and upset people when I took a blog which heretofore had been about social VR, virtual worlds, and the metaverse, and starting posting item after item after item about the pandemic. I wore myself out, and I honestly don’t know how many people were actually helped or convinced by that frenzy of posting.
I am angry—no, make that incandescent with rage—at all the people who chose to listen to the misinformation, disinformation, and conspiracy theories regarding the pandemic and vaccination, attacking the very scientists and healthcare workers to which they should have been paying attention. I am furious that, at a time when we could have all pulled together for the public good, during a public health crisis, we as a society instead chose to descend into divisive, argumentative factions, and that diviseness only seems to be getting worse instead of better. Who the fuck thinks it is okay to assault hospital workers, or send people like Dr. Fauci death threats?!??
I am furious at the collective failure of all levels of government—national, provincial and state, municipal—to provide humane, science-based responses which could have prevented so much needless suffering, sickness, and death. I am angry at all the politicians during this current Omicron wave of the coronavirus pandemic who threw up their hands, and walked away from the people who looked to them for leadership, and instead gave empty sound bites. (Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson, I am looking at you. The next provincial election cannot come fast enough to toss your entire sorry government out on its asses.)
I am angry at how negatively my depression and anxiety have impacted my life, my career, and my beloved work on this blog and the Metaverse Newscast. I could have done so much better; I could have done so much more. The pandemic has just been beating the absolute motherfucking shit out of me lately, and I hate, hate, HATE that. Hate what two years of unrelenting stress and anxiety has done to me, hate what I have become as I barricade myself yet again in my apartment, practising elaborate social distancing when I do venture out, picking up my fucking groceries between 7:00 and 8:00 a.m. on a Sunday from the pick-up at my local Walmart, standing well clear of the car while it was loaded up. I fucking hate it and I want to scream in frustration and rage, just as I had to scream out my anger at my father, only this time I don’t have a convenient target for that anger.
I am lying here, typing all this into my iPad, on the verge of angry tears which won’t come, which won’t break through. I am so angry of being scared and so angry of being tired, and frankly so angry and fed up with being angry. And yet, the situation calls for still more patience, more forbearance, and more forgiveness, than I can seem to find within myself. I’m not sure how much more I can stretch, today.
I am angry at every twist and turn and disappointment and heartbreak of this pandemic, and angry at all the collective suffering, pain, and chaos it has caused.
I am just plain angry.
And maybe that’s all I can do today, is just be angry. And perhaps use that anger as a fuel, to somehow, someway, propel me into tomorrow. To a day when I’m not so angry.