Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Year's Eve Party Tonight at Club Zero Gravity

Second Life's noted space station club, Club Zero Gravity, "the party among the stars"
will be having a New Years Party, which will go on as the famous ball over Times Square drops down it's pole.

Tonight marks the end of 2013, and as Times Square New York gets ready to drop the ball, Club Zero Gravity throws it's New Year's Eve Party. Dress up in something formal, black tie for the gents or dresses for the girls. Or perhaps dress as either Father Time or Baby New Year.

Cynthia Farshore will be DJing for the event. Last year, she was the DJ for Little Dove's New Year's Ball.

The event will start at 6PM SL time, and go on for as long as people keep dancing.

Purrfection Estates (232, 35, 3340)

Club Zero Gravity is owned by White Vixen Enterprises.

"Happy New Year!"

Events this Week December 31 to January 6

A New Year comes to Second Life, and with it a few new events. Among them, the "Lost Second Life" exhibition, with pictures from many places that are gone from the Grid. And don't forget our regularly scheduled live and DJ music events, games, book and poetry readings, races and competitions, talk shows and discussions, and church services.

Read more in Events this Week.

TV News Shows Medical Students Using Second Life

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Some days ago on ABC News on TV, there was a story about Second Life. Nova Southeastern University, has been using the virtual world as a training tool for it's medical students. The story came from a local station by Kristi Kruger, whom had reported on what the students were doing.

At the university's College of Osteopathic Medicine, students can use virtual patients to practice diagnostic skills, as well as communication with them. "The key to great health care is building a relationship, a partnership if you will, between the patient and physician, and -- the more comfortable and the better listener he is, the more relaxed, and the better that communication is -- the better the health care outcome is going to be," spoke Marti Echols, one of the university's teachers. The students can go to the virtual clinic "anytime, anywhere" to practice.

The university has also gotten a million dollar grant to use Second Life to help amputees (news story). Sandra Winker, a researcher and assistant professor at Nova's College of Health Care Services, was awarded the three year grant "in funding from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality to pursue her study. The project costs will be 100% financed with federal funds."

Amputees from all over the world will be able to join "a support group with no time or space limitations." As avatars can be made more or less into whatever appearance one wants, they will be able to choose whether or not their avatar is also missing a limb, or not. By going about Second Life, such as in the jet ski activities the news program showed, the virtual world will help them "regain their balance and mobility."

"Patients will be able to enter our virtual island and simulate what it is like to once again use their missing limbs," Winkler explained in the online article, "This has the possibility to make life better for so many amputees, and all they will need is an Internet connection."

Ms. Kruger had gotten her own avatar to help in reporting the story, calling the Second Life activities "A fun way to do some very serious learning and growing."

Nova Southeastern University has it's main campus located in Fort Lauderdale Florida. One can learn more about the school at: http://www.nova.edu/ .

Source: Local10.com , ABC News Charleston

Tales From Podex: If You Give A Mouse A Linden ...

By Bixyl Shuftan

 It was a late December day at the Podex Bank. It was after Christmas, and the influx of people coming in to get cash to buy presents had slowed down. So the tellers had more time to chat, talking about what they had given or gotten for the holiday, or for Boxing Day in the case of people from a few countries. They also talked about wintertime activities from skiing to ice skating, and some Christmas events as well as some upcoming New Year’s Eve plans.

In the middle of the talk, a short mouselike figure walked in. He was dressed all Christmasy in his green shorts and red shirt, wearing a Santa hat between his huge ears. He looked around, then headed to one of the tellers, whom greeted him “Hello?”

“Hi. I don’t suppose I can put some cookies in a safe deposit box?”

“Um, Sir, we’re an exchange service. We exchange US Dollars and several other world currencies for Linden Dollars, and vice-versa. We don’t store virtual goods for safekeeping.”

“Oh darn. I was hoping I could eat them later before lag does. I don’t suppose I could trade some Czech korunas for some Lindens?”

“Certainly Sir.” The clerk brought up a form to fill out, and in a few minutes, the electronic tramsfer was made.

“Thank you very much. I don’t think I’ve seen a client like you from the Czech Republic before.”

“I’m not. I’m from the USA.”

“Then what are you doing with korunas?”

“It was a friend’s idea of a Christmas prank. I asked for a bowl of Chex mix, and instead, he gave me ‘Czech mix.’ “

The clerks groaned, and the mouselike client chuckled a bit before turning around, and leaving the bank, going about his way while the tellers went about their business.

The Podex Exchange is located at the Coda sim at (45, 218, 61), with a website at http://www.podex.info/. Jacek Shuftan is the CEO.

Note: The preceding is a fictional story, written for the dual purpose of advertisement and entertainment.

Bixyl Shuftan 

Monday, December 30, 2013

The ISM to be Officially Incorporated

Kat Lemieux, the director of the International Space Museum, recently spoke to Second Life Newser about an important move for the noted Sci-Lands location and the group behind it. The virtual museum will be officially incorporated in real life. But this move will not be the only one made by the ISM. Kat describes what will happen.

Read the story in Extra.

Tudor Rose

Becky Shamen continues her travels across the Grid. Her latest stop is at the Tudor Rose sim. The place got her attention for a few reasons. Among them, the detail that the sim had. The other was the times. The sim is based on Elizabethian England, when a woman found herself the ruler at a time in which men were used to being the ones in charge.

Read Becky's article in Places.

Do You Have a Story About the Past Year?


The year is almost over, and we'd like input from you the readers on what was the most important events. The Second Life Tenth Birthday? The Terms of Service Controversy?  The rise of the InWorldz Grid? or perhaps something that escaped the attention of the press altogether? What's your opinion? 

 Even better, write about this significant event yourself, or a picture of it. We're very interested in what you the readers have to say. Send us a story or picture, and if we like it, we'll post it as a Reader Submitted. Fpr pictures, jpg format is preferred.   

PLEASE include your Second Life name, and let us know if you wish it included in the story. Also ask permission before using anyone's name or picture, or use an alias.

Mail submissions to bixylshuftan(at)gmail.com.

Second Life Newser reserves the right to post in the appropriate section and to investigate any names used in submitted stories.

SL Video: "The Drax Files - Episode 15: Scottius"

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" 'Second Life is, contrary to the public perception, not a place where lonely people ignore each other; it is a meeting of minds for creative folks!'

"Now when a tiny otter says that, we have to take note: Austin, Texas based assemblage artist Scott Rolfe represents himself in the Metaverse via the energetic critter complete with fedora hat and shaded sunglasses and he has not longed for a humanoid avatar since 2008.

"Both worlds, physical and digital, complement each other, he enthusiastically states, be it transferring recycled art pieces to the virtual realm all the while adding a bit of extra interactivity or converting 2D illustrations into giant immersive exhibits.

"Scott Rolfe embraces the unique possibilities of Second Life not only by making beautiful things but also by socializing: the vibrant international arts community in SL is reminiscent of college life, says Scott - giving and receiving feedback, critiquing one another with respect, a collaborative environment that fosters free expression rather than the usual competitive winner-takes-all philosophy so prevalent in many areas of modern life.

"More info on Scott at http://srolfe.com"

Read more at: http://draxfiles.com/2013/12/27/no-radio-still/

Saturday, December 28, 2013

SL Video: "Roaring Furries"

(Click Here if the video fails to load)

From "Vilvi"

"Tough thugs & wicked ladies (or dressed like one), big bucks, bitter love and dangerous destinies."

Music: Lana Del Rey - Off to the Races

Filmed at the Shepham Estates

Friday, December 27, 2013

Memorial Performance for Second Life Musician

It was announced recently that Quantamis Navarathna, a musician in Second Life, had passed away recently. His final post on his Facebook page was on December 20th. The following day, his partner Sedona Navarathna (sedonajane.silverpath) announced he was in critical condition at a hospital. He died on December 23, 2013.

Sedona would later announce a number of other musicians were coming forward to hold a performance in Quantamis' memory. The event will be on Sunday December 29.

The schedule is as follows:

10:30 AM………Avantgarde Frequency
11:00 AM……….James Corachea
11:30 AM……...Phillip Moura
12:00 PM………Lisa Brune
12:30 PM……...Alex Mays
1:00 PM…..…....DennyMac
1:30 PM………..AMFORTE Clarity
2:00 PM…….…..Frets Nirvana
2:30 PM….…….Freestar Tammas
3:00 PM…..…...David Csiszer
3:30 PM……….Terrylynn Melody
4:00 PM……..…Anek Fuchs
4:30 PM………..Noma Falta
5:00 PM………..Sassy Nitely
5:30 PM……….JimmyT49 Dukes
6:00  PM………ReggieSunset Rookswood
6:30 PM…….…Donn Devore
7:00 PM……….Maximillion Kleene

The performance will be at Tryst Ridge (106, 118, 1527)

Sedona had this to say, "I am overwhelmed and humbled by the incredible show of love and support that each and everyone of you have shown me over this horrific time in my life. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Later today I will post the line up for the memorial Dec 29th. The SL music community is alive and Strong! The amount of musicians who have come forward to be part of this is a testament to our strength and resolve. I only wish I could let Quantamis know of this outpouring of love. I'm sure he is watching from above. Again, thank you everyone... You have all made me a better and stronger person. Love and Peace to all."

Press Release: Wounded Warriors Fundraiser Concert this Sunday

This Sunday evening December 29 we will be conducting the last of this year's Wounded Warriors benefits. What a lineup ...

PonDman Haalan 5 PM SLT
David Csiszer 6 PM SLT
Frets Nirvana 7 PM SLT
Max Kleene at 8 PM SLT!

It is my hope that everyone that can will come and support this great cause ...we are targeting sending $13000 RL to Wounded Warriors this year and this is our last chance to hit it. Year to date we have sent a little over $12000 to WWP. So we need to get those donation jars to at least 225k Linden on Sunday night ….the equivalent of about $900 to hit $13000 in 2013. This is a high target but we have done it before. Second Life you can do it!

And what a great way to end 2013 ….giving back to those who allow us to have holidays that are free and secure ….with a total figure that matches the year!

If it is in your heart to help please come and donate. If you cannot come but want to help support ….give a donation to a friend (I am available ) and have them put it in for you. It would be a proud day in Second Life if we can meet that target of $13000 for 2013.

Thanks again to everyone who has helped and continue to support this great cause. God Bless our military service personnel! 

The event will be at Veterans Isle (73/216/23)

From Frets Nirvana

Steamed Custard

Becky Shaman, or rather her alt Joshua, has been exploring around. Her journeys recently took her to the Custard Developments, a steampunk themed area. Joshua found scenery to explore, as well as a couple near-freebie vehicles to take home to drive.

Read more in Places.

Palestinian Extremist Sim Gone

In November last year, Second Life Newser reported on the Jordan River sim (article), of which the owners had built an area to support the cause of Palestinian terrorist groups whose goal it was to topple and overthrow the state of Israel. Taking a look back there recently, the Arabic scripts and black, red, & white flags were gone. The sim was now in someone else's hands for whatever other means they wanted, and all of the propaganda gone.

It is unclear exactly when in the previous year the old owners lost the sim, and why. Perhaps Linden Lab finally decided to put their foot down about residents actively calling out for the end of a democratic country, and it's people (which include Muslim and Christian Arabs among it's citizens and government, in addition to the descendants of Jewish people from Europe whom had returned to the place of their ancestral orgin). Or perhaps it was closed from the owners not being able to pay their teir. Or maybe it's builders closed it on their own, deciding there was a better use for their time and money.

Whatever the reason, while the end of a sim is usually a sad occasion, this time most residents are more likely to take the news with relief.

Bixyl Shuftan

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Virtual Gettysburg

If you're looking for a change of pace from the Winter events and places, there is an historical exhibit up: Virtual Gettysburg. This location depicts the field of the Civil War battle that raged in southern Pennsylvania from July 1 to 3, 1863, resulting in tens of thousands dead or wounded. If you're interested, don't wait long. The exhibit is scheduled to be gone after December 31st.

Read more in Places.

Roma's Saturnalia Festival

For two days on Saturday and Sunday, the Roma sims will host several events for their Saturnalia Festival. The fun starts with the "Saturnalia Ritual & Tavern Celebration."

Saturnalia events begin with ritual to honour Saturn and Sol Invictus, followed by a party in the Tavern with dancing, music, and general merry-making. Saturnalia in ancient Rome was one of the most popular festivals of the year. It was marked by a license for mischief and high spirits (within limits) and reversal of social roles, in which slaves and masters switched places. So put on your pileus (freedmans cap), your most colourful clothes, and come party like a Patrician (Even if you're not)! Io Saturnalia!

This event is Saturday at 10AM, at Roma's Imperial Place, Roma (179, 183, 52). Check "Events This Week" for other events.

Eye on the Blog: Linden Lab Looks Back on 2013

2013 is almost over, and as people get ready for the New Year, we look back on the old one. Linden Lab is no exception, talking about their accomplishments in their "A Look Back at Second Life's Tenth Year" post on their official blog. First and foremost, their tenth anniversary.

This year, we marked Second Life’s tenth anniversary with inworld celebrations, special events, an infographic of some fun factoids and stats, and gave away thousands of festive free gifts and special-edition avatars. We hope all of you who joined us in the celebrations had as much fun as we did!

The boundless creativity of Second Life users that fills the virtual world showed no signs of slowing this year. The Marketplace remained busy, merchants gained new advertising opportunities, and creators submitted more than 3,000 new entries to the Destination Guide. If you follow this blog closely, you’ll note that we also began periodically highlighting some of the new and interesting entries here as well.

 Linden Lab also talked about their updates to Second Life and it's viewer, such as "Project Sunshine" which promised a better virtual experience for users. However, it declined to mention those with older computers often found going about inworld slower and buggier. Also absent were the two Terms of Service controversies, and other mishaps. It's not often corporations talk about when things go badly.

For the blog post in it's entirety, Click Here.

Second Life Newser will have it's Year in Review in a few days.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas from the Second Life Newser team

For Becky Shamen's Youtube Christmas message (Click Here).

Mystery's Christmas Party

On December 24th at Noon SL time, the Queen of Hearts riverboat club at the Mystery sim held it's Christmas paty

 DJ Blacktuplip performed for the crowd, which were dressed in a variety of outfits, some formal, some not, for a 1000 Linden prize.

A good time was had by all present.

Trade Winds Ship Decorating Contest

The Trade Wings group, noted for their Pirate vs Royal Navy wooden ship combat in the Blake Sea, recently held a contest for Christmas, for the best decorated ship.

Our judges had their work cut out for them, all 3 of the ships were amazing.  Congratulations to GM Nikolaidis for his first place ship.  He won 500 L's and a cute trophy!  Blithe Binder and Juliet Darkfold tied for 2nd place, both winning 250L's each and cute trophies.  Thanks to all that entered and all that came to watch.  Thank you also to Reggie and Tinka for judging and to Dog for putting up the prize money!

The pirates will next be decorating their ships for Mardi Gras 2014.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Cartoon of the Day: Christmas Eve

Sometimes milk and cookies can help you get on Santa's good side. Some though take a more direct approach.

Bixyl Shuftan

Events this Week December 24 to December 30

It's the final complete week of the year. Besides the Christmas and winter events, we're introducing the Builders Brewery, so you can make a nice New Year's Eve hat. But don't forget to have some Happy Holidays. And of course don't forget to check out our regularly scheduled live and DJ music events, games, book and poetry readings,talk shows and discussions, races and competitions, and church services.

Read more in Events this Week.

Eye on the Blog: Linden Lab Asking Residents Their Opinions About Marketplace

For those residents whom have had problems with Marketplace, here's your chance to sound off. Linden Lab says they'll be making some changes to the online shopping site, and are open to opinions on what needs to be fixed.

Next year, we'll be making some improvements to the Second Life Marketplace search functionality. To help focus those efforts, we'd like to get some feedback from Marketplace users (both buyers and merchants) about how Marketplace search is working for you today and, more importantly, what you’d like to see in the future.

For feedback, Linden Lab had a link to a survey, which can be found Here (click here). It will be up until January 6.

For the blog post in it's entirety, Click Here.

Pooped Fox

Yours truly has been pretty busy both getting the news and getting ready for Christmas in real life. And finally the need for sleep caught up before I could finish the additions to "Events This Week." I'll add a few more events later today.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Interview with Elenia Llewellyn, InWorldz Founder

Elenia Llewellyn, one of the founders of InWorldz, made news a few weeks ago when she took part in a discussion within Second Life to answer questions about the virtual world. Recently, she agreed to sit down with Second Life Newser for an interview. Here, she talks about her first experiences with virtual worlds, how InWorldz came about, and some of the challenges in running the place.

Read the interview in Other Grids and MMOs.

More Skating and Winter Fun: Areo Pines Park and Holiday Village

Today Gemma Cleanslate offers what will be her final Xmas and winter fun locations article before Christmas. She stopped by one popular year-round location, Areo Pines Park, to see what they had. Not surprisingly, the location known for it's horseback riding had horse-drawn sleigh rides, but there was much more than that. She also stopped by Winter Holiday Village, just in time for a celebration. And the place had much more to offer once the party was over.

Read Gemma's article in Places.

Giant Snails Race in Lemondrop

On Saturday Dec 1st, RacerX Gullwing's Snail Races, which normally took place in the Devon Dream sim, were instead in the Lemondrop sim. Scheduled at 11AM, a few clitches resulted in a few minutes delay, including the fireworks effects repeatedly going off. The race took place over roads and walkways across the brightly-colored, cartoonish, trees and buildings.

The racers reached the finish line in the following ranks.

1st Place: Tindallia Soothsayer
2nd Place: Industria Dowler
3rd Place:  DJRedRyder Resident
4rth Place: Snurky Snoodle
5th Place: Gareth8 Albatros
6th Place: Lykurgus Liebknecht

The Giant Snail Races are normally held at the Devon Dream sim (150, 102, 777)
Saturdays at 11AM

(Click Here if the video fails to load)

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Cartoon of the Day

Maru from the Sunweaver Estates gets her time on Santa's lap. But what she wants might not fit the North Pole's decency code.

By Bixyl Shuftan

What's New With the Angels in Minecraft

Nydia Tungsten's Angels group might have started in Second Life, as well as spending most of it's time there, but there are other places they hang out in. Among these is Minecraft, which they first started going to over a year ago. As Minecraft updated, so did then Angels' experiences as the server was rebooted for a new world. Now in a "Feed the Beast" server, the group has some new opportunities, as well as some new challenges.

Read more in Other Grids and MMOs.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Christmas at the ISM: Performance by Cypress Rosewood

At the International Space Station in Second Life, ambient musician Cypress Rosewood gave a performance in the afternoon. On this Winter Solstace night, the sim had been giving a wintery look, including the grounds where the event was held at Spaceport Alpha.

Join us for a mid-winter celebration at the International Spaceflight Museum, 2pm SLT this afternoon!  In addition to a concert of space music by real- and virtual-world renowned composer/performer, Cypress Rosewood, we will have tours, fireworks, model rocket launches, and more! Plan to spend the day/evening with us in a gala jubilee to celebrate this annual astronomical event.

Cypress' gentle music was played alongside some special effects, which got smiles from the audience (including through IMs, as I got a few requests for copies of the pics I was taking). One special effect though came from one of the two reindeer in the audience in the form of a lit red nose.

Cypress performs every week at the Spindrift sim south of the ISM every week at 8PM SL time on Sundays, Spindrift (156, 81, 98). The ISM is directed by Kat Lemieux.

SL Video: "The Show Must Go On! 2007 - Part 1 "

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In honor of Osprey Therian, whom passed away last week, we are showing the first episode of her Second Life program, "The Show Must Go On."

Friday, December 20, 2013

Philosophical Landmark: Professor Bergson's 500th Philosophy Class

Education in Second Life can take many forms. There are museums one can attend. If one wants something more involved, there are classes one can attend. For Philosphy, Professor Herman Bergson teaches a class, and has been at it for a while. Yesterday marked his 500th class, and the professor isn't done yet.

Read more in Events.

Reader Submitted: My First Five Years

Nydia Tungsten, a friend of Second Life Newser, recently passed a milestone: her fifth anniversary in Second Life. In her reader submission today, she looks back at her time here, and more recently in InWorldz. She also offers a little advice to those just coming to the Grid.

Read Nydia's story in People.

Club Zero Gravity's "Twisted Christmas" Party

Last night at the Club Zero Gravity space club, the venue had it's Christmas party. But this was one with a special twist, or rather a bit twisted. It was the "Twisted Christmas" party, one in which those fed up with certain elements of the holiday could blow off a little steam.

Has the overexposure of the season made you a little jaded? Have you heard so many classic carols, you could just say "Bah Humbug!" Has the overcomericalization made you feel like decking the next mall santa? Well then, come on over to our "Twisted Christmas" Night where DJ "Naughty Nydia" will give you holiday hilarity like you've never before heard with her range of parodies from mild to wild, with some tunes rated XXXmas. So forget "naughty or nice." Tonight is for those naughty *and* nice.

DJ "Naughty" Nydia Tungsten entertained the crowd with a range of music parodies sung by Bob Rivers, Weird Al, our very own Shockwave Yarreach, and others. Residents danced to songs such as "I Came Upon a Roadkilled Deer" (It Came Upon A Midnight Clear), "Christmas at Ground Zero," and "Grandma Got Knocked Up By a Reindeer" (Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer), and many more.


There were a variety of avatars present, furry, human, and neko, and in quite a range of outfits. Some were a bit underdressed for the camera, but not everyone. The space station's sprinkler system was rigged so a little snow could come down, which probably gave those a bit underexposed a slight chill.

There was also a 5000 Linden prize for the event.

Club Zero Gravity's events are normally Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6 to 8 PM SL time. It's at Purrfection Estates  (232, 35, 3340).

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Interview With Talia Sunsong, Author of "Twilight of the Star Vampires"

Bixyl Shuftan met up recently with Second Life resident Talia Sunsong. Talia, whom had some experience with journalism in real life, had recently tried her hand at satire, writing a science fiction parody, "Twilight of the Star Vampires." Between book readings, she sat down for an interview.

Read the story in People.

Andrew Linden Anounces His Leaving Linden Lab

At the inworld Simulator Users group meeting on Tuesday December 17th, Andrew Linden announced he would be leaving Linden Lab in two days (today). He is quoted as saying, “This is going to be my last User Group meeting as a Linden: I’ve decided to leave LL and pursue other things. I’ve really enjoyed these User Group meetings, which is why I’ve been showing up all these years.”

Andrew's profile lists him as having been employed since April 2002, while Second Life was still in it's beta, for eleven years and six months (longer than Philip Linden, who hired him, served). He described himself as "a C++ developer at Linden Lab. I work mostly on the SL servers and backend architecture." He wasn't normally available for most support issues, but was a regular at the once a week meetin to "answer questions about server bugs, architecture, and the current state of development in LL."

After today, Andrew will be heading off for High Fidelity to once again work with Philip Rosedale (the former Philip Linden), ”I’m going to join Philip and his new project. Not because I don’t love SL or am not excited about what LL is working on, but because I’m ready for a change, and I really like working with Philip.”

Inara Pey described Andrew, whom consistently appeared as a balding man dressed in a purple t-shirt and shorts as well-mannered and polite, "In the time I’ve been attending the Simulator User Group meeting (formerly the Server/Sim/Scripting group), Andrew has always been polite, inquisitive and helpful to all, and demonstrated a willingness to readily delve into issues and see what he can find and / or put right. In response to the direct enquiries I’ve put to him in the past, he’s always been more than helpful in his replies, willing to provide concise explanations and offer additional information and guidance." He's also worked on the recent Project Sunshine server-side programs to improve viewer performance on newer computers. "Also of late, Andrew has worked on a number of anti-griefing measures within the platform," and has been working on projects that should appear in viewer updates early in 2014.

Sources: Daniel Voyager, Modem World, Natales' Things and Stuff  

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Cartoon of the Day

By Bixyl Shuftan

LPP Neo: A Place of Floods and Mystery

Becky Shamen's been exploring again. Her travels recently took her to a place called simply "LPP Neo." Described as a steampunk house in a flooded region, the three sim area defies easy description. But looking around, there are things that don't seem quite right. Not glitches, but clues to what seems like a larger mystery.

Read Becky's story in Places.

News and Commentary: On the NSA's Surveliance of Second Life

It's been about a week since it made the news that the National Security Agency has been sending agents to virtual and gaming worlds. World of Warcraft, the largest of the MORPGs, has been one of their targets. But so has Second Life. The virtual landscape of Hippos and Lucky Chairs had found itself the target of "the spooks."

The NSA's gathering of "metadata" has been highly controversial. Outside the United Sates, the language has often been harsh. The German Chancellor recently compared it's practices to those of the East German Secret Police in the days of the Cold War. In the United States, both liberals and conservatives overall dislike what the NSA is doing, or at least the extent that it is. But the level of criticism doesn't usually reach the level it often does overseas. Perhaps both sides are after bigger fish in political struggles, (health care, employment, etc.), some people are still jittery about a 9-11 style terrorist attack, or something of both. Indeed corporations who depend on the Internet for their survival have often been reacting more harshly than the public as a whole. Microsoft went as far as to condem the US Government's activities as an "advanced persistant threat."

Americans, annoyed that their emails could be possibly snooped on, seemed to mostly regard the news about the NSA doing the same with online games with amusement. There were a few skits about NSA agents looking for terrorists amongst the orcs (video link). Some people joked that what was going on was agents goofing off: spending working hours playing games, then claiming to their superiors they were investigating terrorism leads.

For Second Life residents, part of the reaction was interest to being on the national news for reasons other than gossip stories about virtual infidelity and "catfishing." The overall reaction from my point of view has also been amusement, cracking jokes about NSA agents goofing off with romps in sex clubs. The topic was also joked about at the Avi Choice awards, a host and hostess saying hello to any agents watching, and cracking a joke about a "favorite NSA agent" category.

Not everyone was laughing though. New World Notes reminded that it had reported in 2007 on stories about terrorist in Second Life and Federal agents also in looking for their activity. NASA and NOAA are known to have come into Second Life, Halmet stated, so "it's not really a surprise to find the NSA is there too." Judge Richard Posner, who appeared in-avatar in Second Life, commented, “The Internet offers opportunities both for terrorists and counterterrorism,” he observed. So it's an arms race between the opposing forces, both seeking maximum advantage from the digital revolution.” Hamlet would also write about an article mentioning Cory Linden visiting the NSA being misinterpereted as him encouraging the agency to spy on Second Life's residents, while in reality he was there to stop possible government censorship and regulation.

Iris Ophelia wasn't laughing either, taking the matter quite seriously. "Maybe you know better than to post drunk selfies of yourself on Facebook," she reminded, "but what have you been up to in the presumed privacy of your virtual home?" Over time, one meets up with a lot of residents here, and we talk and do things with them without a second thought. "those friends you've known for years? What are they up to? One of them asked you to hold into some L$ for them recently, do you know why? She also asked you to help her get into that invite-only group, why? What do they do? Are you a member? What about that person you paid for that item a few months ago, you know the one. What do you know about them? We just need you to answer a few questions..."

In an open letter to the people of Brazil asking for asylumn, Edward Snowden, whom leaked a number of information about the NSA after leaving the US to China, then Russia, claimed that what the NSA was doing could also be used for "economic espianoge" and "social control." While Snowden is not a neutral party in this matter, and is considered a wanted criminal, his statement was a reminder the NSA's activities can be used for far more than just looking for Al Quedia.

The NSA's activities could lead to some long-term consequences beyond just people looking over their virtual shoulders. Many countries were already less than happy with the Internet being of American design governed by American rules, and dominated by a few American companies. The NSA's snooping could very well be the final straw, seeing the Internet "Balkanized" among various countries. Online games based in America, as well as Second Life, would find it harder to get new users overseas.

Yesterday offered some good news though. A US Federal judge branded the NSA's surveillance as "Orwellian," and stated it likely was a violation of the Constitution. While the ruling didn't stop the snooping right away, as he put it on hold pending an appeal by the Government, it could very well be the beginning of the end of the wide-scale spying campaign of the Internet, and Second Life.

Sources:CNNThe Guardian, New World Notes, Microsoft

Bixyl Shuftan

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Events this Week December 17 to December 23

"It's the most wonderful time of the year" say the Christmas carols. Actually every week in Second Life is full of wonderful events. But with the holidays going into full swing, there's so much winter and Xmas festivities going on. Take a walk through Christmas Island, or watch the Ballet Pixel, or any number of seasonal happenings. And of course don't forget to check out our regularly scheduled live and DJ music events, games, book and poetry readings,talk shows and discussions, races and competitions, and church services.

Read more in Events this Week.

Reader Submitted: Willow Leafstorm

Taken by Zoelass at Steelhead Nevermoor, Willow Leafstorm, Steelhead's most noted fairy, poses in some festive holiday wear.