13 hours ago
Wednesday, November 16, 2016
Commentary: Second Life Could Use A Historical Preservation Process
It's been spoken that change is the only constant. In real-life people make the news and either die or fade away into obscurity, land gets built-on and the buildings are either bulldozed and replaced or rust away. Well, it's not always the case with the latter. Occasionally a battlefield or a building deemed of historic value may be preserved by law as a public resource.
In Second Life, most places quietly go up, exist for a short time, and fade away without much attention. But some become well-known and popular. While popularity can sometimes help a location stay afloat, such as donations or sales if the place has some means of making money, it does not always help. Sim owners finances can sour, or their real lives can otherwise get in the way. And so people are saddened as a favorite spot of theirs closes down, sometimes after having been up for years.
Over time, a number of well-designed places have faded away. Many of these are memorials, such as the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the dAlliez Land Headquarters September 11 Memorial, and the Pearl Harbor Memorial. Others are reproductions of real life historic areas such as the picturesque Mont Saint Michel, the cleverly-built "Crooked House" (which was up as late as July 2012 but does not appear in recent searches), Shakespeare's Globe Theater, and others. Sometimes a favorite location is saved, such as the International Space Museum. There has been one case of a vanished place being brought back: The Lost Gardens of Apollo. But so many times an owner looking for help to maintain his/her location cannot find it.
Only twice has Linden Lab stepped forward to save a location. The first time was with Svarga, an artificial working ecosystem that was considered one of the virtual world's seven wonders. The more recent time was with the SS Galaxy, which announced it's closing following a blunder by Linden Lab, but the Lab would soon step in to preserve it.
But will this be it? Will these be the only two places that Linden Lab will intervene to save?
One thing Linden Lab could do is start a process of preserving the most noted sims. Perhaps every year or every six months, it could ask the residents on it's blog "Which area should be preserved?" There could also be an option for residents to write-in a location to be brought back (or perhaps rebuilt by volunteers) should no noteable location popular with the residents. Depending on how Linden Lab stores sim data, this could take some time.
Could there be another kind of process? Possibly, though without listening to the public it would be a tricky business. One complication for any process is for places like Insilico and Steelhead, part of what made them great was the people. Having them around as preserved museum pieces would be of mixed news to their fans as they would no longer be "alive" as active roleplay and community areas.
But in any event, Second Life could use a way that allows some sims that help make Second Life great from fading away when their owners are no longer able to keep them up.