Monday June 18th was the first official day of the Second Life Ninth Birthday. Like others before it, this one began with a commencement speech. Before, it had been done by one of the Lindens. But this time, Linden Lab wasn't involved in the anniversary event at all, save for a little publicity on the destination and events guides on it's website. So someone else would be giving it.
The speech was scheduled at
11AM, and as the time approached, people began gathering at the four-sim
cake stage to wait for the speaker. It was anticipated that the four
sims would be crowded, so it was announced the speech would be heard on
the radio streams covering the road system. For some reason, the
majority were showing up in the southeastern cake sim of Tisa, including
the large dragon avatars present. When it's numbers approached fifty,
staff began asking people to move from the southwest corner to other
sims. The northeast sim of Neun had less than half, and sometimes less
than a third of the people whom were on Tisa. At one point, one of the sims went offline.
Finally at 11:30AM came an announcement, "Thank you for joining us! It
is my great pleasure to introduce our speaker. This woman is one of
those most responsible for the existence of this centralized
celebration." And to the calls of "Yay!" and "Yes!" stepped up the
speaker, Second Life media personality Saffia Widdershins of the Prim
Perfect blog and the "Designing Worlds" Tree.tv show.
"Hello everyone, and welcome to SL9B!" Saffia spoke in voice, with the
speech also announced throughout the four sims in chat, "Welcome to over
three hundred exhibits created by the denizens of Second Life and
spread across twenty sims. Welcome to a week of music and performance by
the finest in Second Life. And there will, unfortunately, be lag. And
possibly, like a rainstorm on the barbecue, there will be sim crashes.
But, you know, we live in Second Life. We’ll keep calm and carry on."
"There’s presents – yes. It’s just like those parties you had when you
were very young, at least you do in the UK, when you leave with a swag
bag of goodies. There’s cake. There’s beer. Please remember, though, to
take your litter home with you."
"They suggested that we take the theme of community, and celebrate in
our own communities. I think I can safely say that that decision
disappointed a great many. There were those people who had already
started their builds, in anticipation of the opportunity to exhibit on
the largest communal platform that Second Life annually offers. There
were scores – no, hundreds of people who were preparing to donate their
time and energy to the celebrations: the musicians, the educators, the
greeters, the estate managers and assistants."
"But we nearly didn’t carry on at all. Back in April, on April 16th,
just over two months ago, there was an announcement by the grid
operators, Linden Lab, that they would not be donating any sims for the
community birthday party this year. What would we have lost, if we had
accepted what Linden Lab had said, and partied in our own communities? I
think the clear answer is that we would have lost our sense of a
"Many of us belong to strong communities: lifestyle communities,
national communities, role play communities, study or work-based
communities, communities of interest. And we have parties there –
fantastic, wonderful parties."
"But … We would have lost the sense of being part of the greater
community. We could have done that for the Birthday. We would have lost
our sense of awe and wonder at what we can achieve individually, as new
exhibits continue to astound us and delight us. We would have lost the
crazy serendipity of seeing wonderful things rubbing shoulders with each
other. We would have lost the chance to salute people who make our
virtual lives, and our real lives, a better place."
"But that didn’t happen."
"For what was an agonizing month, there seemed to be hope. But finally,
on May 9th, just over a month ago, it became clear that there would be
no communal sims from the Lab. And with that final 'No,' it all seemed
hopeless. How could the huge birthday party, the biggest annual
celebration in Second Life, be gathered together, organized, built and
launched in what amounted to ... five weeks?"
"And that was when we found our fantastic sponsors. Let’s salute
Zeebster Colasanti and his team from DreamSeeker Estates, who donated
ten sims, and his lead here at SL9B, Samantha Ohrberg. Let’s salute
Callie Cline of KittyCatS and Equinox Pinion and Dennis Lagan of Fruit
Islands, who donated two sims each. Let’s salute our anonymous donor,
who gave a further six sims. Thank you – for having faith in the
Birthday, for having trust in the community that we would make the
birthday happen. Thank you for your belief in the Second Life community."
"As we started pulling things together, I heard one question more and more: 'Why are you celebrating Second Life’s birthday, when Linden Lab can’t be bothered to?
Why are all you people putting in time, and money and so much work when
Linden Lab can’t even drop twenty sims on the grid for a month and say,
'Here you are. Get on with it.' ”
"And, you know, I have an answer for that. It’s not Linden Lab’s birthday. It’s ours."
"Yes, Linden Lab have created the framework. They have given us the
grid, the land on which to build our dreams, and sometimes our
nightmares. They hold the data that drives our Second Lives. They’ve
given us the power and the ability to shape our imaginations in virtual
forms. Amazing, wonderful virtual forms. But, it’s not their birthday. It’s ours."
"I hope that on June 23rd they’ll be opening the champagne in the Lab,
maybe some of it non-alcoholic, and much of it organic. They are, after
all, in California. I hope that they’ll be exchanging a few stories, a
few laughs, a few guilty chuckles over where the bodies are buried. I
hope that one or two will raise some bright shiny ideas, 'Hey, wouldn’t
this be cool to do?' And I hope that they then don’t spring that shiny
coolness on us without consultation and rigorous testing! And I hope
they raise a glass, a rueful, bewildered, maybe slightly apprehensive,
maybe slightly awed glass of champagne, and drink to the denizens of
Second Life – that awesome, troublesome, mulish, mutinous, sarcastic,
angry, loving, fabulously creative group of real life people who make
Second Life what it is."
"Because it’s not Linden Lab’s birthday. It’s ours. We built it.
Everything you see here – and everything you will see across the grid
was built by the denizens of Second Life. Who hoped that people would
want to come – and wondered, to begin with, if we needed more than four
sims. Or ten. And who were then deluged by people wanting to join us and
be part of the Best Birthday Ever."
"The Exhibitor Assistants who have been on hand 24/7 to make sure that
everyone who needed help and support would have it – pretty damn near
instantly. Doctor Gascoigne. KT Syakumi. Diana Renoir. Honour Macmillan.
Marianne McCann. Rails Bailey. Crap Mariner. Thank you. Without you,
this wouldn’t have happened. Without your hard work, your perseverance,
your unparalleled ability to stay patient and smiling in the face of
everything that the grid and its denizens can throw at you has been just
"But none of this celebration would have happened without the efforts
of a small, dedicated and totally awesome group of people who took those
twenty sims and bashed them into shape. The stage managers who will be
making sure the stages stay stable, and that the streams work and all
the artists appearing are happy. So, thank you. hank you to Mikati
Slade, who built this amazing four sim Birthday Cake stage. hank you to
Kaz, Kazuhiro Aridian who built the Lake stage. Thank you to Donpatchy
Dagostino, who built the Lotus stage and the wonderful train. Thank you
again to KT Syakumi who created the breathtaking Egyptian stage … and
the breath-holding underwater stage!"
"Thank you to Artistide (Artee) Despres, who made the Community Hub that
links this event to the other SL9B events that are happening across the
entire grid. Thank you to Bo Tiger – whose lovely HUD is going to have
us all bouncing happily from A to J and back over to Q ... Thank you to
Yavanna Llanfair who has made the pod tours that provide the most
amazing way of seeing the sims. And thank you to the hundreds of
volunteers who have come together to make sure this happens. And thank
you to all those people donating gifts to the Egyptian expedition and to
David Abbot for writing the fun tale you’re all about to read!"
"This was the year of the hasty training classes, the year of the flying
by the seat of our pants, the panics and the crazy improvisations and
the last minute ideas so shiny that they just had to be acted on. This
was the year of the last minute birthday party and, I hope you’ll all
agree, we pulled it off. And while all that was going on, we had to make
sure that people knew – so they would know to come and visit. o from
the beginning, there was a team of bloggers and media people dedicated
to making sure that the word got out to as many people as possible.
Daniel Voyager, Inara Pey, and Ginette Pinazzo."
"This was the year of the 'last minute.' his was the year of discovering
that more and more people wanted to join us, to help, to perform – so
this was the year of the last minute fifth stage and the frantic
re-arranging of schedules. But, thank heavens, it doesn’t have to be
like this. Next year is the Big One. The Tenth Birthday. We’ll be
entering double figures – and we’ll be shouting to the world that Second
Life is bigger and better than it ever was – a place where we have
claimed our world for our imagination. Because it will be Huge. There
will be more sims, more exhibits, more art, more music, more of
everything than ever before. And, believe me, we’ll be prepared. And
we’ll be holding our first planning meeting ... well, maybe in a month
"Because today, and for the rest of this week, we’re going to PARTY!"
"So unleash the Dragons! Bring on the dancing tinies!"
"We’re NINE and we’re going to PARTY!"
And with that, the audience cheered. The dragons roared, some flying up
into the air. A line of tinies began doing Raglan Shire's characteristic
"Riverdance." And everyone else erupted in cheers of "Yes!" "Yay!" and
"We did it!" "Thank goodness these people didn't take that 'No!'" "Happy
Birthday!" " 'cause it's OUR birthday too!!!" "Cause it's OUR
Community!!!" "WOOOT! OUR Birthday!!!! Community Birthday!!!!!!!!!"
"Happy Birthday to US!!!!!" "OUR birthday and NOT Linden Lab's!" "(I'm)
very happy to be called a 'denizen of Second Life!' Thanks to them all from the bottom of our hearts!!!"
With the end of the commencement, the sims across the SL9B region
opened, though not without some trouble as some had trouble 'porting in,
and the lag made it difficult for some to move around.
But it was a speech that made a great deal of residents proud.
*Update* The recording of the opening, by Petlove Petshop for Metaworld Broadcasting (turn up the volume).