The Oldest Prim on the Grid is a larger-than-real-size US 5-cent piece (a.k.a “nickel”), created almost 9 years ago (11 Feb 2002) by James Linden as a proof-of concept for the application of photographic images — “textures” — to prims. It, or a copy of it indistinguishable from the original, is preserved in a museum on the region called I-World Island.
I-World Island, in turn, is the sole surviving “product” of the I-World Team, founded by Kate Linden not long after her arrival at the Lab at the end of September, 2007. Surviving written records of the group and their island are very few… almost all of them are Office Hour minutes of the Documentation Team (of which Kate was also a member). The earliest which mentions “I-World” in any context is from February 22, 2008. The first to mention the creation of this island is from April 4, 2008. By consensus, “About Land” gives February 15, 2008 as the claim date. With the exception of two parcels, it is now “owned” by Maurice Linden of Support; the remaining pieces are the southeast square, called the Kiosk Area and owned by Elle Linden (one of the I-World Team members), and the central performance space is group-owned by “Blue Snow”, founded by Teeple Linden for organizing events there.
To the best of my knowledge (ably assisted by Marianne McCann), the I-World Team was established to focus on the “international” — that is, non-Anglophone — user experience. In the stark absence of almost any historical information, I can only guess about the Team’s short life and eventual demise. One of the first clues was: all of the instructional signs and exhibits are exclusively in English. The only concession to speakers of any other language can be found in kiosks like this one:
Note that only four languages are represented: French, German, Japanese, and Korean. Speakers of Spanish, Italian, Portuguese (including SL’s large Brazilian contingent), Greek, Turkish, anything with Slavic roots — indeed, any language at all other than the Big Five — were (and, I suppose, still are) left to their own devices.
On the other hand, it is equally probable that I-World fizzled because the pre-existing linguistic communities were already strong enough to care for their own among new arrivals to SL… which is to say, I-World was a solution to a problem that didn’t exist.
Besides the nickel, the museum houses a sparse and motley collection of items from Second Life’s past. This, for instance, is only the fourth known screenshot of “Linden World” (SL’s alpha phase) to be found in-world (though there are others on the Web):
It’s also the only one to show Oldjohn Linden’s statue “The Man” in its original setting. Here’s an exhibit of sorts more-or-less from SL Beta:
From right to left: a dispenser for the uniform of the Gold team in Jetball, which was once played in Rizal; a copy of Blue Linden’s bear; sundry memorabilia from the Tax Revolt of August 2003 (see my blog entry for Blue — the region, not the Linden); and a copy of Philip Linden’s bear… which, unsurprisingly, was farmed out to someone else (Nicole Linden) to create.
In another nearby alcove are these items (from left to right this time): a copy of Mia Linden’s bear; an easel that’s supposed to have a painting animation (but scripts are disabled); a Mentor staff; and a special commemorative bear:
The irony is as thick as Mainland lag… And it doesn’t stop with drawing attention to last year’s disbanding of the Mentors occurring almost simultaneously with “Volunteer Appreciation Day”. Not a single member of the I-World Team (Kate, Matthew, Elle, Rika, Chiyo, and Sejong are the names I could find) is still employed by the Lab — in fact, of all the Lindens mentioned in this post, the only ones who still show up in in-world Search are Teeple and Philip. The sim remains — for now — as do two more adjacent to it: the snow-covered ones in the photo above, I-World Festival 1 and 2. 1 has on it the left-overs from something called “WinterFaire” held in 2008; 2 is bare, except for multiple copies of the same leafless tree. Both of them are “Access Denied”.
I have heard that there’s been some talk in the SLogosphere lately about abandoned land, and what should be done. There’s no arguing with Tyche Shepherd’s Grid Survey reporting that the percentage of abandoned mainland has been rising… but “mainland” — that is, regions which are parts of continents — cannot be summarily taken off the grid the way islands can, for nonpayment of tier. An abandoned parcel is not an abandoned sim, and if everyone else on the sim is paying tier, the Lindens are stuck.
Nevertheless… if cost reduction is a target for the Lab, they should look to their own vast collection of redundant islands. I count 44 Welcome Islands (4 of them public), 9 Discovery Islands (which were allegedly discontinued), and 8 “Viewer2 Tips” Islands, all in the same area of ocean as the I-World group, and 12 Voice Islands off to the north-northeast. In the map inset up at the top of this entry, you can easily see two “Isle of View”s (Isles of View?) which are only used for two weeks in February, and some other garish thing that looks like wrapped presents and is called “TinselForm Me”. It’s attached to a double row of 13 that appear to be a “showroom” of pre-formed islands belonging to Estate Services. There are others… and we’re getting close to 100 Linden islands whose purpose for remaining there is dubious. How many servers is that, and at what monthly cost?
Still — I-World Island should not be summarily poofed without first rescuing the artifacts in the museum there… and I have a quick and relatively easy suggestion for the Lab, regarding those: Take them to the Governor’s Mansion, and commission someone to arrange the hodgepodge into a real museum, with explanatory placards to give the curious a real sense of history.
Can any other virtual world say that it’s almost 9 years old, to say nothing of being the benchmark by which others are measured? Maybe it’s time to be proud of that. M apparently ordered T to publicly deny that Second Life has a culture — “plausible deniability” while they were ruining it, I guess — but no amount of denial can stand in the face of the evidence. It needs first to be acknowledged, then presented in a meaningful and comprehensive way, and then celebrated.
There’s a new photo album online of photos from I-World Island… I’ll be adding captions and notes over the next day or so.