It all began an few years ago when I was in Second Life looking for an job and stumbled upon DJ Uncle Pedro and the club he was DJing in. Since it was an while back, I don't remember much about how I found it. But I do remember the things we did.
I had fun in hosting and made an good income (tips only), traveled club to club with Pedro and sent loads of VIP notices and cheerfully met a lot of people. I even remember Pedro loved me so much, he asked a band to make me a song. I listened to it it, and it was so beutiful and kind. He really was a gentleman and an amazing Blues DJ. It only ended when I left Second Life for another grid called OSGrid.
After two years, I returned to Second Life. I tried making Lindens through scripting, but my scripts wouldn't sell. So I was searching for a new job. I went and searched for job groups, found one and then joined Friendlys. I chatted an bit with one of the staff and filled my application, which got accepted. I will have my first shift this Friday. I talked to an few people like Debbie, Tabs, and some others. It was amazing and I hope to have fun and can't wait to hype up people, make friends, party, chill, and hope to earn some lindens with tips.
What do hosts do?
A club host's job is to send notices, entertain the users, have fun, advertise the club, send notifications, and thank people for tips and such in group chat. It's an amazing way to meet people and earn some hard cash if they like you and the club is full enough.
So I wanna become an host, how does one become an host?
If you go to clubs, ask them for the application format and if your lucky, you get accepted. Be sure to ask them if they train hosts.
Bixyl Shuftan had been a reporter covering Second Life for 12 years now. He worked with the SL Newspaper from November 2007 until June 2010, which then closed because at that time the owner, JamesTJuno, was leaving Second Life. The editor, Dana Vanmoer, didn't feel she had the authority to just up and grab ownership without his permission. Dana gave the news to the crew in April 2010. After their initial shock, Bixyl started talking to the others on what they should do. Gemma Cleanslate, Shelie Sands and Grey Lupindo agreed to form a new paper. "Since I was the 'office manager' of Second Life Newspaper, taking care of it when Dana couldn't," they felt Bixyl should be the editor of it.
Because Dana didn't want Second Life Newspaper to end with just a simple and sad goodbye article, instead she wanted to have a party as a tribute to their time and work together. SL Newser was officially announced at the closing party of the old one, on June 5, 2010. In SL Newspaper's final article, Dana credited Bixyl in keeping the old paper regularly updated. "The paper's front page was 'closed' with a link to the Newser at the bottom," said Bixyl.
Bixyl helps out with the Relay For Life, both as a news reporter and a volunteer. He gets the news about Relay For Life out through the Newser by Press Releases and news stories of events. But he's also a member of the Sunbeamer team. According to Bixyl, the Relay for Life is the largest fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. "There are chapters all over the United States, and presumably in Canada and elsewhere." replied Bixyl. "The Second Life chapter, last I heard, we were the 17th largest." Bixyl believe that the Relay has been going on in Second Life in some form since 2006. Bixyl covered some of their events for the Second Life Newsppaer, and under the Second Life Newser, it remained a priority.
The Sunbeamers are the team of the community of where Bixyl make his home in Second Life, the Sunweaver/Angels. Covering their events gives Bix a chance to both highlight the good Second Life does, and putting his community in the spotlight. Rita Mariner is the team captain. Every year, they have gotten an award for fundraising. The first year, it was silver. Last year, it was Jade. "A couple times we've gotten one for the campsite, which Cynthia Farshore and Shockwave Yareach deserve the bulk of the credit." said Bixyl.
He writes on more than just news stories. At the moment, Bixyl is working on a novel. "The working title for it is 'The Corsean Encounter,'" he explained, "While science-fiction, it's not your standard space opera with spaceships shooting lasers at one another. In a sense, it turns the scenario of the evil alien invader upside down with the invaders being human. The hero of the story, a human who came to the world to help out, has to help his new friends deal with them."
I asked him about who his inspiration is, and he said, "I guess you can say the rest of the Newser crew is one inspiration." Bixyl also liked to read and have kept up with the news in real life. "I guess it's fitting. Here in Second Life, I help keep residents posted about it." When we talked about a single high point when it comes to the Newser, he said that it was interesting coming face to face with Ebbe Linden.
"Covering the Relay and Second Life Birthday has always been nice, even if it does make me busy." Bixyl went on to say that he often calls May and June his "busy time," between the SL Birthday and Relay Weekend. Though that could also apply to October and December, with Halloween and Christmas. "I've written about many people, places, and events over the years. "I guess it can be a challenge keeping it up." replied Bixyl. "But the compliments and people saying 'thank you' have been another inspiration. I asked Bixyl what he thinks when someone like me says that he is an inspiration. "I feel happy, proud," said Bix with a smile. Bixyl added that he has very intention of continuing the Newser to its' tenth anniversary, and beyond. "Probably until that one day Linden Lab makes the decision to close this world, whenever that is. Probably not for several years though," commented Bix.
On the same night I was working on the article, Bixyl got a "thank you" from the Veterans Tribute team. Keep up the good work, Bixyl.
Fearless Nation is a group and sim in Second Life with the purpose of helping people with Post-Tramautic Stress Disorder, or PTSD. Their description is, "Fearless Nation PTSD Support is an RL 501c3 Nonprofit Organization for people with PTSD, their families, partners, children and communities: We provide education, support and advocacy. Since 2009 we've had a virtual, online community that spans distance, with a small carbon footprint bringing people together in a common goal: Trauma Recovery."
I recently had a talk with Anya Ibor the director of the group, at the main building at the sim. "This is Main Library," she told me, "where there is lots of education/info about PTSD and an art gallery upstairs." After I asked how the group got started, she told me, "We started in 2009, on parcels I pulled together. There are many misconceptions, and lots of stigma about PTSD. We had a Library there, a small house, and meetings. I started to play around with virtual environments for people with PTSD, like a couple of nice meeting places, a Remembrance Place for loss and grieving, companion animals, Yoga Nidra (a mind/sleeping yoga), information on nutrition and bodycare for PTSD, creative arts and art therapy. The idea is: Engage with your avatar, and then take it to RL for PTSD symptoms."
I asked about the misconceptions. Anya answered, "Misconceptions about PTSD include: Thinking that we are 'ticking time bombs,' that we pose a threat to others, that we are weak and unreliable, that we are psychotic. Not true, unless there is a co-morbid psycholigical condition that includes psychosis or voilence. That is rare. Also, veterans and military make up only a minority of PTSD sufferers, most of use are victims of crime, and all abuse (psychological, physical, sexual). Our group includes military in real life, but mostly police personnel, trauma therapists, EMTs, survivors of abuse--and we have people engaged here who are trauma therapists and friends and family who have what is known as 'secondary' or vicarious PTSD."
And when did Anya think the public was starting to take PTSD seriously? "In the late 70s/early 80s," she told me, "through the work of Dr. Bessel van der Kolk and Judith Herman, working with Viet Nam vets and crime victims -- I can send you more detailed information about the pioneers of PTSD. Now it is more widely accepted however, there is still a great deal of misinformation out there. After 9/11 and all the wars of the last 20 years PTSD has gained much more ground in research and simply 'being believed.' The psychiatric/psychological community has made great strides in PTSD understanding. For example, the DSM-5 (2013) separated PTSD from anxiety disorders and put it in its own trauma-centered category. Because there are different types of PTSD, C-PTSD, Combat PTSD, etc. and PTSD is the only condition caused by external forces. For example, some ppl with PTSD have a 'before trauma' and after trauma" view, and some never knew anything but trauma from childhood. But the symptoms remain the same across the spectrum of PTSD.
"So far we have gotten strongly positive feedback. So because I have been getting my Ph.D. in psychology, I focused in doing my Dissertation research on the lived experiences of ppl with PTSD who engae in SL (virtual worlds). The formal name of the study, conducted under Walden University's Institutional Review Board is named: 'The Experiences of PTSD Sufferers Who Participate in Internet-Based Virtual World Activities in Desktop Virtual Reality Environments (DVREs).' ”
I brought up the study, mentioning she was looking for volunteers. Anya answered, "Yes. I need 5 more people with PTSD who are active in SL/virtual worlds to answer a ten item questionnaire about how their lived experiences in SL might affect, or not, ther PTSD. The study is completely confidential and private per APA Ethics Code and Walden University standards. All identifying information will be coded and hidden. So no one has to worry that their real-life identification will be revealed."
And where did the idea for the study come from? The idea came from, well, me," she answered, "I have PTSD and back in 2009 when through work for IEEE Standards Association in RL I was introduced to SL/Virtual Worlds. I started noticing all the potential to work out PTSD issues in-world, and take that knowledge and lived experience into RL. Then I met other residents who were doing the same thing with their trauma, and we just banded together and, well, started growing.
"I have 15 responses now. I need at least 20 participants. Sounds small, but this is Qualitative (QUAL) research project, where the participants provide rich, robust information about their experience inworld in light of their PTSD. I will collect all the Questionnaire answers - which are meant to be easy, engaging, creative, fun - and 'code' the responses to detect patterns of meaning.
"The responses HAVE been rich and robust as well! There have been responses that have surprised me, but they will be included certainly as areas for further future research. For example, sometimes in-world, personal relationships can be as heartbreaking or upsetting as any real-life relationship. That begs a question as to whether SL might be a triggering or exacerbating influence on a person's PTSD."
When I asked how many were in the group, Anya answered, "There are currently about 275 members across two groups (because in the beginning, 2009, I didn't know what I was doing, ha-ha). We have had some terrific events, from 2009-2013 we would have 24-hour events with music (live performers and DJs), lots of art installations, and of course, information. Let me get the YouTube channel link because we had these events filmed in-world. Great videos.
"We've had outstanding support from the music and arts community in SL. Really amazing support. And Linden Labs has been understanding and supportive too, of course. (laughter) Not as financial as I'd like, but understanding and tolerance of us doing something different with the technology in here."
I asked about how much can art heal someone. She answered, "As for the power of art to heal: It can help immensely! Using creativity to express the confusion and anguish of trauma (survivor guilt, anxiety, etc) can sooth the wounded soul. In fact when trauma occurs, memories become divided into verbal and _non-verbal_ memories because the brain hunkers down into 'fight or flight' mode. Using art in-world, such as building, making art, muisc - even how one designs their avatar - are ways to express trauma, verbal and nonverbal. It helps one process the traumatic event, and work on living easy with the trauma memories."
"I am hoping that this research study might show that the engaging and creative activities in-world may prove a legitimate approach to easing PTSD symptoms. But we will wait and see what the data tells us. It is very interesting and exciting to be able to conduct this study. On these sims, I have used research in environmental design, color theory, art to create moods, curiosity,etc. Even the windlight settings are to calm and encourage relaxation and calm. This approach to the sims design has been a work in progress for over 10 years now.
"Unlike other VR sites that use VR for 'exposure therapy' we absolutely do not re-create war zones or trauma events. Exposure therapy was developed for phobias--PTSD is not a phobia. Far from it."
And what were Anya's future plans? "Well, I would love to work for Linden Labs or another VR company," she answered, "and I want to continue to explore the use of VR for trauma reconciliation. I will certainly continue working to help all people with PTSD learn to live in peace with their trauma. ... for anyone who would like to participate, or simply view the questions for the study and think it over, contact me via my Walden University email: email@example.com.
Good and evil do exist everywhere including Second Life, there are good avatars and evil ones. Dorie Bernstein is one of the many good-hearted avatars I know in Second Life. She manages Dreams sims along with several of her teams to present a safe and comfortable sim for the visitors in community and practice building in Second Life.
“Golda Stein is the rat behind the scenes," Dorie explained, "making sure the finances are in order as well as being the head boss for everything. Kely is a co-manager and ably manages the weekly Texture Contest and Speed Build, as well as many other duties behind the scenes. We have many who contribute time, support and L$ to keep our group thriving. Everyone makes this happen.
Dorie went on, “We have support groups that meet regularly for ShockProof, Brigadoon Explorers, and ADHD. ShockProof is the group for stroke and TBI survivors and their loved ones. Those meetings happen once or twice a month. Brigadoon Explorers is our group for those on the autism spectrum as well as their loved ones. They meet once a week. The ADHD group meets once a week as well.
"Building and texturing contests happen on a weekly, monthly and semi-weekly basis. Speed Build and Texturing Contests happen once a week on the same days and times used since the beginning. A monthly contest for building centers around a theme, often tied to the time of year. Until fairly recently, that contest was a pure building contest. Now, the rules allow for folks to create their vision using objects made by anyone at any time. This change was necessary to maintain engagement in events as mesh hit the grid and changed the relationship between builders and content creation. A semi-weekly building challenge (WBC) maintains a pure build focus, for those who want the challenge of creating something entirely new to meet the theme and particular challenge. Each week, we have our own version of 'Primtionary' for those liking to do quick-draw builds for others to guess the given word.
"Art has always been celebrated at Dreams, with various events through the years focused on different forms of artwork possible in Second Life. Huntress Catteneo rents our third sim, and has created a haven for artists of all sorts. She runs an art festival each year to raise money for charities. One of our members, FionaFei, created a marvelous art installation and gallery 2,000 meters high in Dreams. It has become the site of Friday night concerts with live music each week.
"The Dream Creations store offers a spot for group members to sell their creations. It also is where we have a yard sale and gacha resale area to help bring funds into the sims for paying the tier.”
Dreams are made to help people with disability to explore Second Life. But Dreams also is a safe place for normal people. Have you ever had a problem when protecting the interests of people with disability when they are in the midst of normal people in Second Life?
“While we do have a focus on helping those with disabilities find a safe place to be in Second Life, we don't make that the most visible part of our programming," Dorie answered, "We never require folks to identify if they have any particular disability, or what it is if they have one. Our rules and culture is designed to create the safe place and allow people to choose whether to share what they're dealing with behind the keyboard. Sometimes it helps to let that all go and have a sense of escaping the normal realities. We do expect all of our visitors and members to behave in a respectful and kind manner, regardless of what disability they may or may not have. The health of the whole group is important, and won't be sacrificed to 'save' someone who is causing massive disruptions. When handling difficult situations, I do try to be aware of where someone is coming from in order to figure out the best path forward. I'm only human, of course, and will fall down on that from time to time.”
You have maintain the Dreams tradition and programs for many years, this is not easy. Do you have tips to stay consistent with these programs?
Dorie answered, “The main thing is to know just what is important about the traditions and programming. Find the essence, and work to maintain that. Embrace the changes that come to the grid and see how they can be worked into the old. I know that our group's founder would have embraced the new and found ways to use it. Trying to stop time doesn't honor the past. We do have nods to tradition sprinkled around the sims. A set of 'drama frogs' made by the founder sit by a pond. A stray micro prim from jewelry a past member is enshrined in the wall of the store. There is always a wall of some sort in the sandbox, as a reminder of our early wall-sitting sessions. We'd gather in the sandbox to chat, play with prims, work on projects, and bond over crazy fun.”
I had two questions about Dorie as a person:
With your very limited time in Second Life and real-life, how can you manage Dreams?
“We have a good team at Dreams," Dorie explained, "Each member runs their part, and that makes life so much easier for all of us. On my own side of it, I am learning how to use the word 'no' better. I do try to determine where I can save time without sacrificing quality. Engagement and participation are more valued in our events than attempting to maintain traditions simply for the sake of tradition.”
You have a unique way of thinking, including when building with basic prims. And I admire your ability to arrange SL's basic prims into new, very symmetrical shapes. What is the basis of your creative thinking?
“I like to challenge myself and see if I can do something different with prims," spoke Dorie, "I've played with them enough to know that there are a lot of shapes hiding with sufficient prim torture. With the new mesh Land Impact accounting system that can be applied to the 'traditional' prims, I'm having fun adding in the details that once were just cost-prohibitive in terms of prim counts. Some builds, I am trying to mimic something from real life. Other times, I am looking for ways to add an off-beat touch to things. This is Second Life, after all. Why stick to 'normal' all the time?”