Posts Tagged: slcc


20
Aug 10

SLCC10: Thoughts on the Other Side

“Are you crazy?”  That was pretty much the sentiment when I told friends in April that I’d decided to help try to pull something, anything, together for this year’s Second Life Community Convention.  The timing, the workload, the politics – for all sorts of reasons it felt like a terrifying commitment.  I’d not attended SLCC in 2009, my grandpa had passed away a few months prior and I didn’t have the heart for it, and my experience as part of the organizing team in Tampa 2008 hadn’t been exactly positive.  But when the phone call came…

Stuffing bags and folding tshirts on Thursday…
Image courtsey Sitearm

The hardest part of organizing something in such a short time frame wasn’t the sleepless nights or ignoring the house cleaning (and friends and family) for weeks on end,  it was the fear that it would all be for nothing.  That no one would show up, that no one would come, or worse that the people who had paid to come would ultimately feel it had been a waste of their time and money.  We stressed about the budget, the program, the venue, the logistics, and all the things that every event planner worries about going wrong, and perhaps even moreso given the shortened time line to nail down all the details.

Conversation the night before the convention over drinks.
What’s Wiz Nordberg saying?  Image courtesy DirkMcKeenan

But more than the logistics, and venue, and schedules, and updating the website and all that .. stuff that goes into making a convention, we were far more worried about something less tangible.  Something invisible that it’s harder to put your finger on, that’s hard to even describe – that amorphous “community spirit” that threads through a diverse group of individual people to weave a sense of belonging together, an identity separate from one’s own that makes you feel a part of something larger.   Was the “community” still out there?  Did they still want to come together in person, and especially after such a difficult roller coaster ride of a year for the platform?

Hanging out with Tomkin Euler, fellow Chilbo resident, and Amulius Lioncourt,
one of the 11th hour in-world builders who did an amazing job.

I can only speak for myself, but I am so thankful that the answer to both questions was “yes” – a resounding, boisterous, defiance in the face of all challenges yes.  Yes, the people who discovered something new about themselves and found each other through this platform called Second Life are still out there, and though many could not come due to timing, cost, or circumstance, enough of us made our way to Boston and engaged in the annual ritual of baring our real life avatars for a weekend of fun, laughter, hopefully some learning, and lots of passionate discussion and debate about the future of the metaverse.  I was too busy to engage in much of it myself, but watching it unfold was a beautiful thing to see..

Stopping by to chat with Olivia Hotshot and AJ Brooks at lunch.
Image courtesy OliviaHotshot

The question I heard so many times over the last few months as we planned the convention is why, if the virtual world is so powerful, do people want to come together in person in the first place?  The answer isn’t so simple, but it has something to do with the fact that those of us living simultaneously in the metaverse and the physical world are living complicated lives.   Life itself has no guidebook, but virtual life has even less of one, and there is something inordinately powerful about being in the presence of hundreds of other pioneers in this space who know on a deep level some of the challenges you yourself have faced.

Laughing hysterically with Beyers Sellers..
Image courtesy Imjsthere4fun

Second Life is a platform, a technology, a tool.   But it gave us a glimpse of the future, and in one way or another has forced all of us who have immersed ourselves deeply to ask fundamental questions with a new perspective – Who am I?  Who is Fleep?  Who do I want to be if I can be anything?  What is real?   What is virtual?  What do all these technological changes mean for the future – for me, for society?  And where is this all going, anyway, this platform called Second Life, and this concept we call the metaverse?  Is it stalling?  Is the vision we shared breaking apart or are we just hitting some stumbling blocks?

AvaCon board meeting at PF Chang’s on Thursday…
Fleep Tuque, Misty Rhodes, Peter Imari, Rhiannon Chatnoir

My personal goal for SLCC was to provide a space for that conversation to take place.  Nothing more, nothing less.  All we needed was a place to sleep, a place to eat, and a place to talk.  It didn’t have to be fancy or out of the box, indeed there wasn’t time for that, and the end result was a very conventional convention with some very unconventionally wonderful people.  I think for this year, that was enough, for us to see each other in the flesh, to know that these deeper questions that drive us to put up with the lag and the deficiencies of the platform are not the result of some madness unique to ourselves, but a madness shared by many to understand what the future holds and hopefully to help shape it.

Hugs from Dirk McKeenan at the Avatar Ball.
Image courtesy Debi Latte

And for all those who helped make the conversation possible this year, in world or in Boston, on the web and in Twitter, I hope you feel as I do on the other side of SLCC10:

The community is as strong as ever.  Second Life, and the people who make it meaningful, aren’t dead by a long shot.

The vagaries of a particular platform are like the vagaries of the weather, something we must deal with but that doesn’t control our destiny unless we let it.

The future of the metaverse is as exciting today as it was five, ten years ago.

I can’t even think too much of next year right now, I’m too tired.  🙂   But I hope we can do an even better job facilitating that conversation in 2011.  Thank you to everyone who made it possible and I hope you’ll join us next time around.


9
Sep 08

SLCC & SLEDcc 2008: Thank You!

The Second Life Community Convention 2008 and Second Life Education Community Conference 2008 wrapped up in Tampa, FL and in Second Life on Sunday afternoon, two days ago, but it is only now that I am relaxed and awake enough to write about it. I think the things that affect us most profoundly are the hardest to put into words, but I’m gonna take a stab at it.


Last educators standing for the final panel on SL media at SLCC07 in Chicago.

My first SLCC was last year, in Chicago, and I remember driving up with such a feeling of.. trepidation and worry. I remember wondering if all those people I’d met and worked with during the organizing of the Second Life Best Practices in Education 2007 conference would like me in Real Life, worried what the dress code would be, worried I’d not feel as comfortable with people in person as I was in our virtual spaces. I ended up having a really good time, met so many great people, and spent the next year strengthening those friendships through all of our online interactions and at other educational conferences throughout the year.


Intellagirl, Fleep, Typewriter, and Decka at Emory’s Virtual Worlds conference, Feb 2008. Image courtesy Decka Mah.

This year leading up to SLCC, I didn’t have time to be nervous. Organizing the SLEDcc component of the conference was a staggering amount of work! (At some point, I really should write about the differences in organizing a real world conference that served some 4-600 people and organizing a virtual world conference that served 1300 people. With NO QUESTION, the virtual conference served more for far less work, money, time, and effort. Holy smokes. But that’s another post for another time…)


Wainbrave, Frans, Rhiannon, Fleep, Armath, and Jeremy Braver outside the hotel in Tampa.

No, this year I didn’t have time to worry or be self-conscious, there wasn’t any time for it, and when I flew in on Wednesday, got unpacked, my only thoughts were of details and things to do and being anxious to see all of my friends. Looking back on it from the other side now, all I can say is that it felt like the most excellent of family reunions – there truly is nothing better in life than spending good time with great friends.


Jeremy Koester and Sarah Robbins hanging out in the hotel lobby at SLCC08.

I think in any large scale event like this, you come into contact with so many people so rapidly, things begin to blur together, for me in just a general warm happy feeling. But I want to be sure to acknowledge, personally, the people who really made this a terrific experience for me, and I think for the whole of the SL community.


Carol Tucker and Scott Merrick, leaders of “The Stream Supreme Team” made the cross-world connection with those in Second Life possible. Image courtesy Scott Merrick

My personal heroes, the ones who I worked with and was helped by, and who gave so selflessly of their time, their equipment, their expertise, and their passion for Second Life that I simply must call them by name are Jonathon Richter, Jennifer Ragan-Fore, Scott Merrick, Carol Tucker, Suzie Medders, Jeremy Kemp, Daniel Livingstone, AJ Kelton, Anthony Fontana, Bonnie Mitchell, Sarah Robbins, Mark Bell, and Jeremy Koester.


AJ Kelton and others live blogging, twittering, and supporting SLEDcc sessions. Image courtesy http://flickr.com/photos/nkellett/

In one way or another, their contribution to the SLEDcc in Tampa was crucial to its success – they were the ones who answered the call when something absolutely needed to be done and could only happen if someone with a big heart jumped in to do it. I hope you guys know the depth of my affection and appreciation. Thank you so very much. <3 <3 <3


Fleep and Joyce trying to get the programs and sponsor stuff situated.

If I thought it would really convey the awe I feel for all of the presenters and volunteers, I’d list every one of them by name too -it seems like I never really got to sit down and hear all the presentations or thank each person who was working behind the scenes because I was on the go running from place to place myself, but every time I looked into a room, I saw passionate people giving great talks about things they worked on, believed in, and wanted to share with others, helped by great volunteers who were on stand by to solve problems, gopher supplies, stuff bags, and more.


Jeremy Koester manning the SLEDcc Game Control table. 7 of diamonds ftw!

I saw the products of their work in smooth sessions, great handouts and resources, terrific machinima and reports, and the collective and growing wisdom of the educational community in Second Life – I saw the pioneers of this field in person, I got to meet them and hug them and share meals with them, and I feel so tremendously lucky to be in such good company. As colleagues, as friends, the people who share their Second Life work with others are what make SLED special, no matter our other affiliations. Thank you one and all for your terrific work.


Peter freaking out on day 1 of the SLCC! Image courtesy Nexeus Fatale.

It was in Tampa, too, that I finally got to meet the voices on the phone from The Future United. Peter, Leo, Misty, and Joyce, through all those many months of stressing over the details and logistics, were a joy to work with. It’s easy for those of us in the education community to stay engrossed in our work, but SLCC really makes you look up and see all of the diversity in Second Life, and that’s what these guys did for me.


Nexeus working even during the party! Image courtesy Nexeus Fatale.

When they talk about “the community”, they are inclusive of everyone, and they taught me to see more than just the needs of educators in planning a celebration of all of Second Life’s residents. After working with them in person in Tampa, I came away thinking that we have a lot of work to do for 2009, and I can’t wait to get started.


Fleep with Robert Bloomfield of Metanomics fame.

I didn’t mean for this to turn into a big thank you note, but it seems to be coming out that way. I guess it’s because SLCC this year was such a gift for me. As some may know, my grandfather has been very ill and these past few months have been grueling and hard trying to keep up with work and still spend as much time as I can with him. I’d reached such a state of utter exhaustion leading up to SLCC, I almost didn’t come at all. I worried about spending the time away from my family at such a difficult time, I worried I wouldn’t be able to handle all the pressure of pulling things off.. I didn’t even realize what a huge and wonderful support network of friends I had behind me.


Peggy Sheehy, Sarah Robbins, Mark Bell, Carol Tucker, and Scott Merrick at the streaming table.

Sitting here even now, it really makes me teary to think of all the people who gave me a hug and told me they were thinking of and praying for me and my family. I had no idea how much joy and respite it would give me to spend a few days with such warm, caring people, my good friends. Instead of coming back feeling drained and exhausted, I’ve come back feeling rejuvenated and reminded what it is that we’re all working for – a better life, real and virtual, for ourselves, our friends, our families, our communities, and our world. I’ve come back feeling rested and recharged, inspired anew in my passion for Second Life and the people that create it.


SLEDcc folks doing a late tour of the facilities in preparation for the start of SLEDcc!

And I guess in the end that’s what makes SLCC so special. When people gripe about the ticket cost (which is really unfair because the planners do everything they can to make it as absolutely affordable as possible and still put on a good, high quality show) or wonder why anyone would bother coming to the Second Life Community Convention, I wish I could explain what makes it special. They ask, isn’t it just a big geek meet with weird laptop toting people?


Sloodle and Rockcliffe U at SLCC08.

The answer is yes and no, we’re all weird in our own ways, and you’re sure to spot a laptop or a geek around every corner, but of all of the conferences, conventions, and meet ups I attend throughout the year, SLCC is special. For whatever reason, Second Life inspires a kind of creativity and diversity and range of passions in people that when we come together in person, it feels as much like a festival and a celebration of life itself as it does a convention or a conference about a technology.


Bonnie Mitchell, Steven Hornik, and Ken Hudson at Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center social mixer.

As I look at all the pictures on Flickr, and see all of those happy, smiling faces, I feel blessed, lucky, and privileged to have been a part of it. My only regret is the time I didn’t get to spend with sooo many people who I really wanted to be with and just couldn’t, but was glad that I at least had a few snatched moments to meet and hug in person – Cybergrrl, Crap, Draxtor, Bjorlyn, Harper, Bevin, geez I could go on for days. And for all the people who weren’t there this year, whose presence was sorely missed (Randy, Prokofy, Dizzy, Douglas, KJ, Joanna, Chilbo, I’m talking to you!), I can only hope to see you at SLCC next year. It was a spectacularly great time.


Jonathon and I finally taking a break!

To Jonathon and all my personal friends at SLCC, Velks and all, I don’t think I need to say anything else other than thank you. I love you guys and I can’t wait until we see each other again. xoxo.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]