There’s not much to see in Plum, and even less in Lime, but almost everything there that hasn’t been temporarily rezzed in the sandbox area has been there since the regions opened in May 2003.
The Welcome Area predominates — originally designed for Ahern by Alberto Linden, this one has not been replaced, as Ahern’s was two years later. In fact, Plum and Lime are, essentially, clones of the original Ahern and Morris — there’s even a copy of “Stage 4” (also by Alberto Linden):
Like its predecessor, it too straddles the corners of four sims (in this case: Plum, Lime, Grey and Blue). Unlike its predecessor, [a] it’s not called Stage 4; [b] it still exists. A variation of this design can also be found in the center of De Haro.
Plum is also the site of the Beta Contributors Appreciation Monument, sometimes called “the Beta Wall” (built off-site by Ryan Linden, and rezzed in place June 19, 2003):
It records the names of all the non-Linden avatars involved in Second Life’s closed and open beta phases. There are 1593 names on it, from Blooshoo Apple to Zoli Zeeman; you can read the list here.
Lime is empty — or nearly so — but I was surprised to discover that only half of it is Linden land. The western half is privately “owned”. There are a couple of abandoned vehicles in the water on that side, and a couple of prims on or above the surface, of which this is one:
You may recall from last time: Xylor Baysklef was an instrumental participant in the early history of Gray.
You may also recall that I’ve raised the topic of Welcome Areas before, in a special entry in the Seconderth series. That one was written shortly after the Lab’s announcement that the old Orientation and Help Islands were being replaced by Welcome and Discovery Islands targeted specifically to Viewer 2.
Four months later, Linden Lab announced the discontinuation of the Community Gateways program, where new users were sent after Discovery, based on a choice they made during the signup procedure. I was curious about the current state of affairs, so I posted some questions to SL Universe, my favorite source (besides Twitter) for the latest independent news and analysis; i.e., not controlled by the Lab. The first answer, from Lewis Luminos, was the best one:
I ran an alt through the newbie process yesterday. The V2 Welcome Island is a very basic orientation which basically teaches you how to walk, fly, chat and sit on an object. (The talking parrot is back).
There’s no freebies, no tutorial on changing appearance, and it doesn’t link you to Discovery Island when you’re done. Instead there’s some signs that will take you to either: a random Welcome Area or Newbie area (eg NCI, The Shelter) or a random “showcase” landmark or a random “showcase” shop. You just choose “Chat/Help” or “Explore” or “Shopping” respectively. Chat and Help are actually 2 separate signs but they both direct you to the same set of destinations – I spent a while re-clicking to see what was on each list.
Once you leave the Welcome Island you go to a random WA. You will [g]o to a diff[e]rent random one every time you click “teleport home” – it doesn’t fix you a particular one as home.
It’s just about the worst new user experience I’ve known since I first started SL in 2006.
If Lewis’ alt’s experience is typical, it also means there are, by my count, nine Discovery Island sims (4 public, 5 not) made “redundant” by policy a mere 7 months after their opening. If Ill Clan hadn’t already disbanded, they’d probably be pissed that their hard work had been treated so cavalierly… but then again, we’re used to cavalier treatment, right?
The Seconderth series is (mostly) about SL’s earliest history… but the pace of change is so rapid, and so driven by Lab policy, yesterday becomes history in more than just a semantic sense. I’m left with the same question I had at the end of the “Welcome” entry, except now there’s yet another layer of obsolescence and replacement, like the layers of sediment and occupation at an archaeological dig in the physical world. Setting aside the question of Second Life’s persistence at all, is the preservation of Welcome Areas a deliberate nod to history, or should we be grateful for benign neglect?