Two months

I’ve been –mostly– away for two months, and that’s the time it has taken the airfield of which I raved about (roll eyes) in my previous post to shrink. Yes, it didn’t even survive the summer in all its original “spreador”. After all the effort its owners put forth in building this now failed two-sims attempt of yet another huge airport in SL, half the land sits, once again, desolated and empty as it was before. For aesthetic reasons, I’m delighted it’s partially gone, but when you honestly think about the cost of acquiring all that land in the first place and then the investment –in the broadest sense of the word– its founders obviously “wasted” in –poorly– planning an infrastructure for the good of all the aviation community in SL (even though it seems it didn’t have a real significant appeal for that target audience) must be terribly frustrating.

It is popularly said that in Second Life you can pursuit (and build) whatever you dream, no matter what that might be, but beware: SL dreams demand a –high– monthly maintenance cost that, for the most part, must be covered with funds from sources beyond this fantastical realm: it requires –oftentimes a lot of– RL money.

The moral of this “experiment”? Obviously, it isn’t safe to merely rely on people’s –suspected– attention or –apparent– needs. If you’re building for your own use, calculate the cost and keep a –wise– balance between personal satisfaction and real life economy. Staying small is always safe, a two-sim project is not necessarily so. If you’re going big though, why not do some marketing beforehand to, at least, secure the patronage of the community you intend to serve? At least you can extend the life of your illusion a couple of months longer (more if it’s kind of unique or not that common).

Before
Before
After
After

From my point of view, this airport’s biggest “accomplishment”, considering the available hangars didn’t rent and I never saw a single plane taking flight from there, was to disrupt and disband a long established community that, in the best-case scenario, will have –to try– to reinvent itself. But that’s something that rarely happens in SL. Once residents are gone and luckily established somewhere else (if at all), they usually never look back. Gone. Bye.

airfield

Derender the beast

For almost six years straight you’ve been the owner of an “idyllic” coastal area in SL, surrounded by water, sand, and friendly neighbors, none of which have ever ruined you a beach party. Not even that renter over there, whose tenants have always kept the same fitting vibe. They’re so sympathetic that they even let you rezz your boat on their side of the world whenever your plot is –as per usual– lacking resources.

There couldn’t be a better place than this.

All that inconceivable harmony existed until this week, though, when an outsider bought the last spot that became available one night, and unexpectedly also claimed all the abandoned land in two adjoining sims. Yes, the lots that have been empty for four years now house an immeasurable airfield complex that stretches two sims and violently corrupts your countryside. Now, from its origin as a tranquil community, the neighborhood has turned to a grey mass of humongous walls on top of which sits a collection of “brick and mortar” hangars for rent.

Airfield

There’s nothing you can do about it, I’m afraid. This is mainland, and on that mass of land controlled by the linden$, you, and your neighbors, can build whatever you want. It’s always been like that. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been living in the same spot for six years, nobody cares if you and your friends have kept some outstanding living standards way above the norm. Whoever comes after and pays the land can do whatever they please, even if it kills your vicinity and devalues your property –especially when the newcomer holds more land than you do. The Lindens don’t care that your piece of virtual real estate represents an investment to you, that you paid for it with real money, and least of all that you may have created an emotional attachment, have given it a meaning even when it’s not a tangible thing. None of that matters at all.

Now you’re hearing in your mind that classic mantra repeating on and on: your rights end where mine begin. Yes, in SL your rights end at your parcel limits. As in RL actually, only that in RL there’s usually something called zoning, a planning strategy that, when implemented, tries to keep a balance between different land uses.

Surrounded by an airfield

Most, if not all, private estates in SL, regardless of their size, put into practice some sort of zoning to keep their clients and the overall environment functioning in an attractive way. Attractive here means not only good-looking, but alluring, able to capture the attention of potential customers and retaining existing tenants in good terms. Retention is not achieved by instituting maturity ratings that only serve, according to SL’s Knowledge Base, to “designate the type of content and behavior allowed in a region.” That may help to control access to certain places in an optative way, but in more successful estates, this kind of division is, at best, secondary.

In the beginning, when all that mattered was to attract hordes of people to SL, zoning may have been fatal to mainland. In time, even the Lindens saw the reigning chaos was discouraging and created Linden Homes, themed residential communities that everybody seems to praise a lot. That undoubtedly proved to be a success.

Today, when SL growth is on a standstill (for most residents it’s clearly declining),  retaining users should be a better choice. In this case, zoning may help maintain long standing communities healthy, though it may probably be too late: working on an already developed region would indeed be a difficult task. That may have been the reason why previous propositions never prospered, and why there’s now a huge airfield where once there was a homey countryside.

Airfield

Back in February, I put a 512 sq.m. plot in that sim up for sale. At 3500L, it may have been a bargain since it sold within an hour. Today, the guy who bought the land is trying to sell a parcel twice that size for 1200L. The reason? To escape the airfield. Will he look for a place somewhere else? I really don’t know. For what I can tell right now LL is losing a client that has been paying his rights since 2009 (and may well be paying still for the foreseeable future), in exchange of someone who may only survive the summer. Today, that’s usually the case with most large-scale projects in the mainland: a season at best.

Thanks to programmers, there’s Derender + Blacklist to deal with this mess. At least, it’s an effective way to recover the lost horizon and the fake sea waves.

Neighbor

Active users?

I have a neighbor in SL that I have never met, and something tells me that I never will. I know her name and a few details of her SL past from the items she left behind in a parcel that she hasn’t visited since 2011. It’s a small 512 sq.m. lot on the western coast of Satori. By the date on the land, she claimed it on December 2009. Since then she’s been paying for a plot that gets no use and receiving a weekly stipend she’s not really benefiting from. Based on that 300L fee, her account must have accumulated some 50,000L since the last day she logged inworld, more than four years ago. That’s a small fortune for whenever she decides to come back, if that ever happens. But maybe she no longer remembers SL at all.

There are no sculpts or mesh objects among her forgotten belongings. Her oldest rezzed possession, a sofa, dates back to October 2006, just two months after she was born. It is chronologically followed by a chair and a room divider four months the sofa’s junior, and a Mediterranean pot from early 2007. From that same year are two clumps of golden bamboo that compliment the ensemble. The furniture is suspended above the sandy ground, suggesting a construction of some sort may have housed them sometime in the past.

This lady was last seen inworld the 13th of December of 2011. I know that because we have one group in common, from where it was easy to corroborate that fact. What happened after that day, maybe no one else –but her– knows.

I guess her RL self is still somewhere out there, if there’s a credit card backing up the premium subscription… or else that parcel wouldn’t be on her name this long. That, or the Lab hasn’t taken the time to clear the record even when it’s not getting any money to lock the lease.

How many accounts are there in SL just like hers? To how many disembodied customers LL keep charging a subscription fee for a premium account that is obviously inactive, if that were the case? Or how many parcels are showing a pretended ownership that only tells of a former tenancy? Does LL contact these ghostly residents to inquire what is going on and maybe try to attract them inworld once more? How many ex-residents still populate the ranks of the so-called active users? Are these inert people still holding onto SL expecting to resurface someday? Is my neighbor one of them? What about yours?