Friday, June 24, 2011

SL8B: Dazzle. Pizzazz. Substance?

As I mentioned in my previous post, Second Life is celebrating its eighth birthday! And in honor of this, Linden Labs have created a massive build entitled "SL8B," a series of SIMs (with names such as Dazzle and Pizzaz, seen above) that primarily house exhibits created by people from all across the Grid.

I took some time to wander around SL8B, explore some exhibits, talk to whoever would talk to me, and just see what there was to see. And there was a lot. It was so ovewhelming in fact, that I didn't know where to start. Luckily, just as I was pondering where to go, an SL8B Tour Pod whizzed past me. I clicked "sit," and before I knew it was getting a personal tour of the entire build!

I was on the lookout in particular for libraries, and while I didn't manage to find any of those, there was quite a range of more academic sites. Among these were exhibits by University of Texas Austin and NASA, as well as exhibits where one could sit in on a mock virtual classroom, calculate global time zones, and get educational materials on Cystic Fibrosis. Immersive, roleplay-type displays, which housed both academic and non-academic activities included London, where I discovered many London-based SL blogs, 3-D Germany (call me crazy, but isn't Germany already 3-D?), and A Japanese village, where I was able to meditate in an authentic Buddhist-style hut.

                                                  (3-D Germany)

 The only pitfall I found in the Pod Tours was that, because SL8B is so big, if during the tour I passed a place I wanted to return to, I found it to be nearly impossible to find it again.

Perhaps the most significant thing I noticed about SL8B was the rather high concentration of people roaming around, higher than any other place I had previously visited in SL. True, there were a lot of freebies to be had (the attractive SL8B t-shirt I'm wearing in the first picture being one of them). And yes, the most people seemed to be congregated at dances But still, I ran into a lot of people touring the exhibits, just like I was.

                                               (An SL8B dance party)
This is why I was disappointed not to see any libraries taking advantage. I do know that Linden Labs had to approve all exhibits, so this may have been a factor. The closest I saw was an exhibit sponsored by the community of Chilbo, which as I know has an established, SL-only library (which I have visited and will report on in the future). While the site doesn't link explicitly to Chilbo's library, there are places to teleport to the town, from where the library would be very easy to come upon. Additionally, this display takes advantage of some of techniques popular amongst SL libraries, such as virtual of books that, when touched, link to URLs or full text notecards.

                                       (Chilbo community exhibit)
Why aren't any libraries at SL8B? Are they giving up? More to come!


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