As someone who goes to Burning Man and someone who spends a lot of time immersed in the online world, I was curious when I heard about Burning Life 2008. Burning Life is a virtual experience modeled after the Burning Man event that happens in the Black Rock Desert every year. I have had a Second Life account sitting around for a couple of years and decided to log back in to check out Burning Life while it was happening.
Getting to Burning Life was almost as hard as the real thing. After installing Second Life on my Macbook Pro, retrieving my forgotten password, and then logging in finally, I sat and waited while graphics slowly loaded. It wasn’t long before Second Life began freezing my machine completely, requiring holding down the power button to reset. Turns out there’s a known issue with the GeForce 8600 GT that comes stock on the Macbook Pro I bought. The workaround seemed kind of annoying, so I just booted my laptop into Windows XP, reinstalled Second Life and logged back in.
The one thing that I instantly noticed about Burning Life was that there was no restrictions to creativity. People could build whatever they wanted, unconstrained by money and real world limitations. The next thing I noticed was that I was hopefully lost. Without the familiar street layout of Burning Man, I had trouble discerning what was where on the map. Eventually I stumbled upon the entrance, center camp, and the Man while wandering around, but not before finding some interesting spots. There was the giant Lego minifig, Godzilla, people on fire, towering teacups, hamster wheel artcars, some steampunk installations, and the “American Dream” of legalizing pot. Unsurprisingly one of the most common (and often controversial) past times in Second Life was represented at BL by the BDSM camp, Shibari Hobble’s “Burning Desire”. There definitely seemed to be a good bit of variety and people had definitely put some time into their virtual camps and there’s something to be said about that sort of commitment and follow-through.
I’ve long been a proponent of Second Life, as I feel it has several potential usages that could change things a lot. I wish it was used more for education, as I would have loved to be able to walk around a virtual Colosseum, or stood next to a dinosaur created to scale, but that’s a whole other post. I was a bit disappointed with the way the Second Life still is, with it’s lag, buggy scripts, and inability to render everything until you’re close to it. I wasn’t able to see things in the distance while walking around the Burning Life sim so it was very disorienting. I was happy to see a number of people interested in BL, but it seemed like many of them were there just to hang out and dance in Center Camp continuously. While it seemed like a somewhat interesting place, I did not find myself inspired or in awe of the things as I often do at Burning Man.
At one point I set out to find others that had attended both Burning Man and Burning Life to get their opinions. Perhaps I was unlucky or just asking the wrong people, but I wasn’t able to find anyone else that had actually been to That Thing in the Desert. Many said they’d love to go to Burning Man, but quoted financial or geographical problems that prevented them from doing such. I’d be curious to hear what other attendees of Burning Man who attended Burning Life thought.
In my search to find people to hear their opinions, I actually had an odd encounter. While waiting at the gate to catch people on their way in, I ran into someone looking for a place to rez their virtual sculpture. We got to talking and she mentioned she had a sculpture garden near Death Valley. It turned out to be the Goldwell Open Air Museum that we had visited last year. I mentioned that the last time we had been there, we noticed someone working on a mosaic-like couch sculpture and she said that was her! My first “real” world/Second Life encounter.
There were a few things that really amused me about Burning Life, such as the porta potties and the humor accompanied with them. I truly liked the ability to fly around, rather than be constrained to walking or riding one of the slower-than-walking yellow bikes I found. What I really missed though was the sheer number of people and being able to walk around and have chance encounters. There seemed to be about 2-300 people there, scattered throughout the virtual playa when I logged in. Since most of them were interested in just hanging out (and seemingly idling) at Center Camp, I didn’t really get the excitement of exploring with others. But who knows, maybe I’ll drop back in before the event ends and see if I have a different experience.
Burning Life runs from Sept. 27th – Oct. 5th. The official site and more information can be found here. For all the pictures I snapped while exploring Burning Life you can check them out in my Burning Life Flickr set.
A series of power outages in San Francisco has taken a couple of pretty large sites out of commission. Those affected include:
some SecondLife servers
LiveJournal, Vox, TypePad (and the rest of SixApart)
Some CurrentTV servers
Some ZDNet blogs
and the NSFW kink.com is also down…
All of these sites are hosted by 365 Main and I’m sure there are several other sites that are down because of this. Don’t these people have reliable backup generators? sheesh.. where am I going to get my Internet fix from today? The best part is this press release went up shortly before the sites started going down.
SecondLife is also experiencing trouble due to the power outages and has disabled logins until it is back up fully.
And for us locals, it looks like the afternoon commute might be a bit crazy if this isn’t resolved soon.
- Laughing Squid reports as well.
- ValleyWag has an interesting “drunk employee” rumor on 365 Main.
- SixApart’s Twitter has up to the minute updates.
- O’Reilly Radar has reports as well
- ValleyWag says customers are lining up at the entrance to 365 Main
UPDATE from SFGate:
At least 30,000 Pacific Gas and Electric Co. customers in San Francisco and the northern Peninsula lost power this afternoon after an explosion under a manhole cover on Mission Street, the utility said.
Witnesses said they heard an explosion at about 1:50 p.m., then saw flames coming from the manhole.
Actor Torino Von Jones, 32, said he was filming a Fruit of the Loom commercial down the block at the time.
“We were standing over there waiting for the camera cue when we heard a big explosion,” he said. “Flames came up taller than I am, and I’m 6-foot-2.”
“Naturally, when you hear an explosion, you think the worst,” said Von Jones, who nevertheless hurried back to work. “We’re Fruit of the Loom — we’ve got to make this commercial.”
So you spend a lot of time in World of Warcraft or maybe Second Life and you’re not so used to tromping out into the real world due to the shift in perspective? The Avatar Machine can help you out with that. Built by design student Mark Owens, the Avatar Machine is “a system which replicates the aesthetics and visuals of third person gaming, allowing the user to view themselves as a virtual character in real space via a head mounted interface.” In short, it’s a camera on poles wired to a video monitor in a headset that allows you to see the physical world in the same manner that you would in say World of Warcraft, from the 3rd person. In addition, it’s a “costume” that makes you look even more like a virtual avatar. I can imagine it would be slightly disorienting at first, but then strangely comfortable to most of us.
Filed Under Second Life | 2007-04-26, 12:10
Wow, Linden Labs is open sourcing the server code for Second Life so anyone can run the sim. Granted not many of us have the power to run this, but a company like Google or IBM could. But this means that one company won’t necessarily have control of the Second Life grid. I haven’t had time lately to log into Second Life and check it out, but I continue to think that it has great potential. (Just because I don’t own a TV, doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a huge impact on society) As a fan of the vision of Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash, I would love to see this whole thing succeed. I think this is a great step in that direction.
via zdnet blogs
Filed Under Second Life | 2006-11-20, 14:16
I’ve been on the road for the last week, moving to San Francisco, and haven’t had a chance to jump on Second Life. That’s not such a bad thing as I might not have been able to log in yesterday even if I had the chance. The griefers are back at it, trying to ruin everyone’s experience in Linden Land. A rogue programmer decided that Second Life needed to be a bit more Sonic the Hedgehogy and people started seeing familiar spinning gold rings appearing and replicating throughout the world. The worm quickly spread and Linden Labs shut off all logins for a brief period of time while they tried to clean up the servers.
You can’t help but start to think of Snow Crash when you hear things like this. Let’s hope that this provides even more motivation for necessary security measures to limit the impact of these attacks. With educational insititutions and large businesses making their way into SL, there will be more users, more traffic, more griefers, and a much greater need for some sort of control as far as the technical side of things.