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Way back when, I organised Second Life’s third anniversary (somewhat erroneously called SL3B). According to what I’ve been told by Linden Lab in the past, it was the single most successful anniversary event, involving more Second Life users (new and old) than any other – and by quite a large margin.

Now, while it was a heck of a job putting it together (I think I spent over 700 hours, just myself, on it) it had two key differences to all of the other anniversary events that have come afterwards. Firstly, it wasn’t centralised, and secondly, Linden Lab was barely involved.

Linden Lab was supposed to be involved in the process – but actually managed to drop almost every ball that was handed to it and provided almost nothing of the promised resources.

What it did manage to provide was access to remodel the six event regions at practically the last minute (Brilliant, Georgean, Bethel, Fortuna, Balance and Fame), though we only actually used four of them for the most part. The important thing was that these event regions were not the focus of the anniversary. Even back then, there was no feasible way to cram in everything that was Second Life – and I thought it was a daft idea to even attempt it.

Instead, parties, celebrations, events, talks, dances, contests and so forth were held grid-wide, and organised in a big calendar. Various pieces of the event regions was parcelled off for those communities and sub-cultures which didn’t have land that they could practically use, for one reason or another, and half the land reserved for an art show.

The event regions were also used for the grand parade.

It all worked. It worked astonishingly well. Apparently it worked better than any of the anniversary events before or since. (Although Linden Lab spanked me for calling it Second Life’s birthday, rather than Second Life’s anniversary, as the birthday is much earlier in the year. There was some extreme displeasure involved. It was my error, certainly, but I got my nose rubbed in that extensively).

I’ve looked at the events which followed in subsequent years, and I felt there were issues with them. Not that the people working on them didn’t perform heroically. They did! However, the events were heavily centralised, almost solely on regions set up by Linden Lab for the purpose, and the Lab got involved at every level of the events, much to the events’ collective detriment.

Now, this year, the Lab is not getting involved. No land. Fewer rules (though there will probably be some involved in the destination guide listing process).

Instead, it’s almost a return to the way it was when I organised it – which was all crazy hours, and few resources, and a shortage of helpers. Just without any actual organiser, as far as I can see.

If the Lab is relaxed with its (unwritten) requirements for listing, this could work very well – if someone steps up to give the project some energy.

If the Lab gets tight on the rules, as it has been in recent years, and nobody steps up to encourage and assist communities in getting their events together, then it will probably fall flat.

What I don’t know is if the Lab is returning to this anniversary model because it is one that is proven to work, because it realises that it is crap at doing this, it is unwilling to spend the money, or it has nobody able to handle the work. Or perhaps some combination of the above.

Your thoughts?

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