Monday, November 25, 2019

Commentary: Twelve Years of Reporting SL News

By Bixyl Shuftan

It was twelve years ago this month that yours truly started writing the news about Second Life. The actual anniversary was a few weeks ago. But as so often, have been busy with both keeping up the Newser, as well as other activities in Second Life.

I'd been in Second Life for a little less than a year, and logging in regularly for the past few months, hanging out at Luskwood and the now-vanished STA. I was browsing newsletters and blogs, and in October 2007 came across an invitation by the Second Life Newspaper for reader submissions. After sending in a few, in early November 2007 owner JamesT Juno and editor Dana Vanmoer offered me a position as a reporter.

And so for two and a half years, I would write articles once or twice a week for SL Newspaper, writing on a variety of subjects about the people, places, events, and things around this virtual world. I was part of something that kept readers new and established in the know about Second Life.

In June 2010, my mission here would change as the Second Life Newspaper closed it's doors, and a new newsletter, the Second Life Newser, opened with Gemma Cleanslate, Grey Lupindo, Shelie Sands, and myself as it's writers, with me as the editor. So it was up to me to go through the articles of the others and post them in addition to putting up my own. Most weeks, I only have two good-sized articles up. The Newser being a team effort, the rest are done by other reporters.

Over time, I've written many stories about Second Life. This includes some annual events such as the Second Life Birthday and Relay Weekend done again year after year. The latter is one example of the good that virtual worlds are capable of. I've also written about some interesting new places, people continuing to find inventive ways to express themselves in an online landscape that's gone on for over sixteen years.

And then there are the people. Some are well off in real-life, successful on both sides of the computer. Others have physical or mental disabilities, and Second Life allows them to accomplish what they couldn't in real life. I've had to write about some great places closing down, though happily a few have come back. Sadly though, I've had to write about a few people here passing away, including a few I had personally talked to. While I do feel some sense of pride in helping that they will not be forgotten and people will know more of the good they did, it's still a sad feeling that I won't be talking to them again, at least not for a few decades.

"So how do you find the time?" and "How do you keep it up?" some might ask.  Over time, I have ended up with additional inworld responsibilities, such as helping a friend with her club. And I do enjoy some gaming, a little time to relax, often with friends. But I've always liked writing, and have almost always found some time to do so. Occasionally, there's so many things going on that catch my attention, I need to pick and choose what gets written about now, and which gets put to the back burner. There have been a few subjects I haven't been able to write about in detail, or at all, due to so much happening at once.

The reaction I've had in real-life to my writing has been mainly positive, especially when it concerns topics like the Relay or Veterans. I have had a few people tell me it's time to move on, such as writing for a "red meat" political blog for some quick cash. But I'd rather not alienate half my audience. I am writing a science-fiction novel on the side. But the Newser has been my best audience as a writer, as well as the means as a writer I've done the most good. I am not giving it up any time soon.

As for the future, how long I keep writing about Second Life depends on how long Linden Lab will keep it going. For years, there's been predictions that the virtual world is on the verge of dying. Over time, the Lab has made no shortage of decisions that looked like they were going for a quick buck and not thinking of the long term, or made no sense to anyone but themselves. But unless there's some great calamity such as a worldwide depression, it's a safe bet to assume the virtual world will be around for many more years. Eventually, someone will make a better product, and Linden Lab will be bought up or close it's doors, taking Second Life with it. But until then, or I end up in a real-life accident I don't walk away from, I have no plans to quit writing.

Happy to keep you informed about Second Life for twelve years, and here's to many more.

Bixyl Shuftan

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