Hello, faithful readers! I apologize for having been an UNfaithful writer; I have not posted to this blog for far too long.
Not that I haven't written ANYTHING. I have. I have a number of unpublished posts that got done partway and then bogged down, for one reason or another.
But it seems that every blogger in existence is required to do a post at New Year's, either looking back or looking ahead or both. I especially recommend Daniel Voyager's blog...he has SEVERAL end-of-the-year posts.
So...no tutorials, no Big Picture reminiscences or predictions about The Future of Second Life today. Just a few bits of news and some small personal observations...
It's been a good year for The Masocado Resort, my 3/4 sim rental operation on the Second Life Mainland. For the last half of the year, occupancy has been at or near 100%, which is a very pleasant change from a year ago, when things were stumbling along at around 50%. I've even added several additional rentals...another liveaboard slip, and two beachfront detached homes. All of them rented quickly! It seems that property in and around the Blake Sea area is in high demand these days, and no wonder. It's one of the very best areas of SL for travel by plane or boat.
Cindi and I had fun once again remodeling the place for the Halloween and Christmas seasons. It's still snowing in Masocado at the moment, and it will continue to be winter through January. Then we'll go back to our more usual tropical climate. This ability to re-make your environment on a whim is one of the nicest things about virtual worlds, and Second Life in particular, and it's one very good reason to have your own land in SL!
My blogging and teaching skills got some flattering recognition this year. I was approached by Jami Mills who asked me to do a piece for her monthly magazine about SL and the arts. I haven't yet come up with a suitable piece, but just the offer was a wonderful bit of ego-boo. I was also offered a Dean's position at Caledon Oxbridge University. I turned it down due to a lack of time to take on another responsibility, but even so it was wonderful to be asked!
I am inclined to say that opening two of the Social Islands (the second place that newcomers to SL go, when they first start) to residents is a failure. At first, the visitors were mentors and helpers. There was even a special group formed, "Social Island Helpers". But things changed, and Social Island 1 in particular has become no more than another griefer-infested Infohub. The same jerks can be found there all the time now, they've made it their own little hangout, where they set off particle poofers, play rap music in the voice and gesture channels, and generally harass the perplexed newbies. See, children...this is why we can't have nice things.
Caledon Oxbridge University, and the other resident-run (and policed!) newcomer areas, on the other hand, remain havens of peace and sanity, and are the REAL places where a newcomer can find out what Second Life can and should be. It's proof of what I have always maintained -- that the initial SL experience requires the presence of live helpers, preferably those empowered to keep order.
Mesh is everywhere now, even though it cannot yet be re-sized to fit individual shapes...and even though all the current Mesh items will be instantly obsolete when Fitted Mesh does become available sometime in 2014. That's OK. I have come to accept the fact that things in SL eventually become obsolete. Virtual items don't wear out like Real Life objects, but they do become dated. Newer and better designs appear, and our inventory changes to reflect the improvements. I still think there is a place for the humble prim, though. It is by far the easiest method of building 3D objects for Second Life.
I'm actually surprised (though pleased) to see that there are still a great many excellent creators offering virtual goods. This is despite the Lab's serious attempt to bite their own leg off with a new draconian policy on intellectual property rights. In effect, anyone who uploads anything to SL agrees to give LL full rights to it, forever. This hugely inequitable policy has yet to be tested in the courts, but I'm sure it's only a matter of time.
Besides new and astoundingly good creations, the cleverness of people is applied in other, less constructive areas as well. Phishing scams continue, and have become more subtle. People have begun selling counterfeit items in the Marketplace using throwaway alts. Many such items are high-dollar things like skyboxes and deluxe homes. The scammers aren't even bothering to copybot the actual items any more...they just steal the advertising of the legitimate items, put up Marketplace listings, and sell you an empty box.
But, as always, the good things outweigh the bad, and the virtual world, like the Real one, keeps on turning. There are new places to see, new friends to meet, and new things to experience! I'll see you on the grid in 2014.