Meanwhile, this year’s event almost never happened.
Weeks passed, with no announcements of any kind regarding the 2010 event. Like those who attended previous events, I was looking forward to attending and meeting up with virtual friends. But no announcements. Was there even going to be an event at all?
By March I had personally concluded that it must be over. There is no way a major convention can be organized in such a short time, particularly by SLCC’s previous organizational track record. Saddened, I wondered how this would play out. How would the SL community go forward without a foundational event around which we can come together?
Worse news: Linden Lab suddenly revealed massive staff layoffs and a vague change in direction. The Linden Dollar significantly slipped in value for the first time in eons. Both the annual convention and Linden Lab itself appeared vulnerable and perhaps even in jeopardy.
Amazingly, SLCC 2010’s date and location were announced only weeks before the actual event. This is incomprehensible as far as event planning goes; there is no way you can expect to have a successful convention with only a few weeks notice. Nevertheless, to support the community I registered immediately, not knowing what would happen.
I arrived in Boston a day early and learned the dramatic sequence of events: The previous SLCC’s were run by “The Future United”, a group which earlier this year folded when the last board member admitted they could not put on the convention. It was at that moment that concerned and leading residents put together a plan to save SLCC: the new body, AvaCon, formed and then began lengthy negotiations with the Lindens to secure the licenses to put on the official convention. Only after these documents were signed could AvaCon announce dates and location - and then they had only eight weeks to put it all together for real.
Fleep Tuque, for doing an impossible job in an impossible time.
As for SLCC 2010 itself, I remember it as a series of moments:
Listening to the endless puns from master comedian Lauren Weyland, whose distinctive voice could be heard almost everywhere. Example heard in the extraordinarily elaborate main ballroom: “This room must have been built when America was China!” Have you found your shoes yet, Lauren?
Having an impromptu iPhone FaceTime party in the executive lounge, where several of us FaceTime virgins realized we could video call each other! So we did across a coffee table - a true NerdOut.
Meeting the notorious Prokofy Neva in person, who is actually more reasonable than many blog readers may think.
Spending time with the IBM virtual reality team, including the brilliant Zha Ewry, the delightful Dale Innis, Oura Scribe and the lovely Ahuva Heliosense, whose incredibly sultry outfit was seemingly ruined by the absence of a single rhinestone on her rather complex shoes. Or so she thought. But I didn’t.
Meeting a most amazing person: Pooky Amsterdam, whose dramatic presence simply took over every room she entered. If you’ve heard her voice on one of her shows, let me say that her personage matches her distinctive voice in every way.
Observing once again the astonishing real-life charisma of Philip Linden, who simply bent over backwards to meet and talk with everyone and anyone. Philip spent considerable time talking to the grumbly educators after the surprise announcement of the denouement of the languishing Teen Grid. It was also fascinating to watch certain women simply melt in his presence. One unnamed melting individual kept saying, “I want one of those”, while gazing dreamily at Philip. No, it wasn't Pooky!
Discussing the surprising outcomes of permitting intergrid teleports between SL and Other Grids with Philip, who has evidently thought quite deeply about the subject. I’m sure we’ll hear more about this in the future.
Spending time with Noona and Noele, who were perhaps the most unique attendees: they were simply residents! They did not own virtual businesses, perform any artistic works or organize anything. They simply enjoyed SL shopping and decided to come to SLCC for fun. While there were few sessions directed to them, their perspective on things was quite different from the ultra-creative types who normally inhabit the convention.
Watching the full-length documentary “Life 2.0” with many other avatars, and discussing it afterwards. Indeed, I found myself in the middle of a debate on the merits of the piece with Prokofy Neva, Tuna Oddfellow and Zha Ewry, a highly unlikely combination of avatars to be seen. I liked the film immensely, as it accurately portrayed (and made you feel and experience) the confusing emotional transformations that are so common in SL. This film is unlike any other SL-related piece I’ve seen, and if you are in SL, you must see it. How? You will be able to see it next year on the Oprah Winfrey network.
Catching up with old friends (well, they’re not old, the friendship is) such as Feline Slade, Daphne Abernathy, Roland Legrand, Loki Clifton, Ham Rambler, Beyers Sellers, Sloan Skjellerup, Apple & Nasus, Katydid Something, Rhiannon Chatnoir, Tuna & Shava and of course Dirk McKeenan and many others.
Meeting wonderful new friends, such as Explorer Dastardly, Spiral Theas, Anastasios Aurotharius, Landau Shippe, Tamra Sands, Fleep Tuque, Filthy Fluno, Winter Nightfire, Maggie Marat and so many others I cannot remember them all.
But by far the most special moment for me was also a special moment for two others: Chestnut Rau and Zha Ewry, long-time partners in SL who had never before met each other in real life. In fact, Chestnut had not met ANY avatars in real life before this event and was quite nervous about doing so. I am happy to say that I had a tiny role in their meeting.
Fortunately Chestnut had reluctantly posted a rather obscure RL photograph of herself some weeks earlier, and based on that image I was able to identify her standing in the hotel lobby. I approached her and introduced myself, but she seemed a little awkward as those were her first moments meeting avatars. We had a brief discussion, when suddenly over her shoulder I observed someone entering the lobby pulling a suitcase: Zha Ewry.
I immediately held up my hands to beckon Chestnut to stop talking and said in a totally calm voice, “Turn. Around. Right. Now.” She looked at me quizzically and rotated. In less than a picosecond she recognized Zha, who did not notice her. I will never forget the look on Chestnut’s face at that moment, as her emotions radiated brilliantly in all directions. After a moment she strode forward cautiously and began speaking to Zha, who still did not yet understand who this strange woman was talking to him in the lobby. But suddenly he realized it was Chestnut, and the rest I cannot say.
One memory I will definitely not cherish was the loss of my camera, which somehow became separated from me during the convention. I did not notice its absence until I returned home - having used my iPhone for most pictures. If anyone has seen a stray Canon SD980, give me a shout!
For sure, Philip didn’t mention a number of things that people really want fixed (search, for example), but that’s not fixable within this year - search is an extremely complex topic that will take time to sort out. I checked later on with Tiggs Linden, who is in charge of server development. He confirmed that the list of items shown by Philip was indeed achievable, although it will be tough. I’d rather have a shorter list of things that will actually get done than a longer list that won’t. Remember, the list shown was only the 2010 list. There will be more lists in the future, and that’s the nature of the new development process: fast iterations focused on specific features. The impression I got was that the Lab is very serious about fixing these things - and fixing SL overall.
SL is not dead. SLCC is not dead. One was resurrected this August, and the other is underway.