It’s already a cliche to say that the best thing about InWorldz is the people in it… but you know, cliches get started because they’re true.
Take the scene above: a bunch of friends kicking back, at the end of a very long day for each of them, in the brand new Equinox Lodge. The cuddlers on the couch are the owners, Jack and Talia Fournier. The other person on the couch is the builder, Saera Pfeffer. Continuing widdershins: Southie Allen, Ayla Holt, Astra Thorne, Cryptic Quandry (the dragon), Tranquillity “Tranq” Dexler (one of InWorldz’ Founders and ‘mad skillz’ coders), and Whiskey Day — whose challenge this blog post is intended to meet.
Except for Whiskey, I hadn’t met any of them in the pixels until a couple of hours before that photo was taken… but none of them were strangers to me (nor was I to them), thanks to the InWorldz Forum, the growing number of blogs in and about the world, and the expanding network of Twitterers.
A few days ago, Prim Perfect made a couple of InWorldz-related posts on their blog. The first, “Community After Second Life: The Case for Plan B” by Elrik Merlin, was a thoughtful musing on the topic that has entered a lot of minds lately: diaspora. Specifically, “How do you keep an established community of avatars together if the virtual world they originally met in goes belly up?” His answer: plan ahead, and plan together. The second post was (at first) a simple announcement about Prim Perfect’s virtual TV program “Designing Worlds” going to InWorldz and interviewing Tranq and Elenia Llewellyn (Ele’s another Founder and, in some ways, also the main spokesperson).
As you will see in the comments to those two blogs, they were used by someone with a very large and very dull axe to grind. I, for one, cannot fathom what Troy McConaghy’s problem is (with InWorldz, or otherwise)… In the end, neither it nor he matter at all.
Granted — if you read through those comments, especially on the second post, you may find some behavior more resembling a high school lunchroom argument than a polite adult discussion. You will also find a heavy dose of pomposity, which in my case caused the removal of a blog from the roll to the right, and its author from those I follow on Twitter. That doesn’t matter, either. What matters is that the InWorldz community, including its Founders, rose to the challenge, set the record straight, and a lot of similar phrases that mean solidarity.
In less than a month, the third anniversary of my joining Second Life will occur. The possibility of my logging into SL on December 5 to “celebrate my rezday” is vanishingly small. So, in fact, is the time I spend logged into SL for any reason at all.
In the months of research on Second Life’s first years that accompanies the photographs in the “Seconderth” series, I have learned that Linden Lab has never had a coherent, let alone consistent, idea of what to do with or about the world they created. The events of the last couple of years (that is, since I became aware of “the man behind the curtain”) are merely the continuation of a long story in which one hand grasps at straws while the other hand is busy sweeping mistakes — and other issues they’d just rather not address — under the megaprim rug.
In short, Second Life may not have failed — yet — but they also have never succeeded.
Meanwhile, there’s InWorldz: Where the Founders walk among us, do what we do, go where we go, engage themselves daily with the world they also operate and continue to improve — not as untouchable Grid Gods but as accessible, caring, responsible, supportive people for whom the needs and opinions of the populace are vastly more important than the next “shiny”… Where that populace is equally accessible, caring, responsible and supportive of each other… Where community isn’t a buzzword but a living thing.
The best thing about InWorldz? That’s easy: It’s not Second Life, and it’s not run by Linden Lab.