Friday, April 10, 2020

Reflections: Ten Years Ago ...

By Bixyl Shuftan

I forget the exact date, but it was one weekend a decade ago that the decision was made by it's editor to close the newsletter I worked for at the time, the Second Life Newspaper.

It had not been the best of times. Second Life's Golden Age was behind us. This was partially due to the hype from the 2006-08 years having faded as stories in real life media about the possibilities of what could be done here such as the Relay for Life became replaced by tales of marriages broken by virtual adultery and "flying penis" griefing attacks. So fewer people were signing up. The global economy was still sluggish after the 2008 crash, and it was reflected in Second Life with fewer people having plenty of money to spend. The number of private sims down began a long slow decline, and it was harder to make good money.

For the Second Life Newspaper, we had our own troubles. One of our sponsors had suddenly up and went under in a very public collapse that angered many of his customers and some of it went our way due to his sponsorship. There were also fewer reporters on the staff. The owner of SLN, JamesT Juno, had left Second Life for personal reasons. Editor Dana Vanomer was in charge, but was also being dragged down by real life matters. Fortunately, the paper had a short-term contingency plan for times she wasn't available for a day or two. The "office manager" of the newsletter, me, would post articles when she couldn't. So we continued on.

But eventually, Dana came to a realization. So it was one weekend in early April 2010 that we met for an "emergency meeting." I had hoped it was a new sponsor. But instead, she told us the newsletter would be closing in three months. I was, stunned. For over two years, most of my time here in Second Life, I'd spent my time as a reporter, and it had become my online identity. And now, we were faced with it coming to an end. Gemma Cleanslate was the most outspoken of us, saying there had to be a way to keep things running. But the way Dana saw it, it was James' paper, and she had no right to give it to anyone else.

And after that, some of the team dropped out. The rest of us continued to do what we'd been doing, reporting the news about Second Life. But we talked to one another. And four of us came to a conclusion: start a new paper, a new newsletter. And the very day Second Life Newspaper folded, the Second Life Newser would begin.

If it was in my power, I would have taken the chance in an instant to be the owner of the old Second Life Newspaper. But after a rough start, we continued to do well under the new name. Perhaps there's a lesson to be learned here. Life, virtual and real, is full of change. But life goes on. Sometimes it means saying goodbye to something, or someone, you've cherished. But still, life goes on. It always has.

Ten years later, Gemma Cleanslate and I have been part of the Second Life Newser, having worked with some fantastic writers over time, Grey Lupindo, Shelly Sands, DrFran Babcock, and many others. Numerous sponsors have backed us over the years. Times have changed, both in virtual reality and real life. But our mission remains the same: reporting the news big and small about the people, places, and events across Second Life. And we have every intention of keeping it up.

Bixyl Shuftan

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