Thursday, April 14, 2016

The Interview - Torley Linden

While I have been informally asking around about people's favorite Mainland locations, looking for suggestions for this blog, I decided to ask a few folks to do more formal interviews, which I will feature periodically here. First up, that fabulous amplifier of awesome, Torley Linden (photo on left, visiting The Pen in Bay City). For those of you who don't know who Torley is (and if not, where have you been? under a sculpty rock?) see the wiki here. Torley works for Linden Lab as a Senior Multimedia Producer, who — among countless other things — has created an invaluable series of tutorials for Second Life. His "What Second Life Means To Me" video is well worth a watch.  

Readers looking for Torley's familiar pink and green color palette, fear not! While the photos below are mine, Torley has also included a link after each destination name to a series of his own photos. Plenty of watermelony goodness to be found there, folks. And now, on to the interview!

Kinn: Torley! Thank you so much for agreeing to do this! I have two basic questions (although Question #1 has five parts). First, please name five of your favorite Mainland destinations, with a brief description of each, along with why they are favorites.

Torley: In no particular order, five of my faves... with SLurls inside the pic descriptions:

(1) ESPRESSO YOURSELF @ THE PEN (pictured above)

In my early Second Life as a Linden, Robin Linden was a tremendously positive influence on me, and she gave me a book called The Great Good Place by Ray Oldenburg. It's about the importance of social surroundings like coffeeshops in creating community. (Context: To this day, I think one of the best examples of SL heritage is the monthly event hosted by Marianne McCann that breathes life into this beatnik building, which I've had the joy of attending on several occasions with friends. You mentioned Espresso Yourself in a previous post, and I recommend that any new Resident of Second Life should explore the broader Bay City — including the museum! — to get a feel for an abundant culture that continues to thrive over the years.

(2) PIRATE'S OUTPOST @ KINGSPOST (pictured above)

This is one of my fave LDPW builds and a cool example of what used to be a blank island, transformed by our Moles. In the pics link above, you can see I stumbled across it in its "naked" state, only to revisit several years later as I was doing a photo shoot for our Linden Marauder pirate ship Premium gift. The intricate details are really nice. But it doesn't end there, as I've also been in race events that traveled past. Also, look under the water and you'll find relics of an earlier era. Simulated debris and detritus fascinates me, it gives a place so much personality. Anyway, it's a great example of somewhere you might not come across unless you're out and about exploring — and when you're feeling whimsical, isn't that the best way to do it? :)

(3) INSPIRE SPACE PARK (pictured above)

Has this really been around 9+ years? And my, how it's endured. Innovative use of vertical space on a mainland parcel. Its theme is still cool to this day — meditate and/or dance amongst the galaxies. It's a sort of progenitor build, it's inspired (get it?) the birth of many immersive scenes contained within a skybox or orb that seek to create a universe of their own. Feels a lot larger on the inside, like a TARDIS. And I'll also remember this as being one of the first places you covered on Mainland Matters.

(4) EAST RIVER AIRPORT (pictured above)

East River is one of the most prominent self-organized communities, and with great reason — ambitious, realistic, to-scale builds like this! It's fun because avatars (being the self-propelled flight superheroes that we are) technically don't need to go on planes, but as I like to say: when we surpass limits, we seek to recreate them. This airport and others have done simulated flight schedules, which is another layer of dedication. Be sure to check out the train system and connected airports, too. Much respect to cofounders Elisha Paklena and Indigo Mertel, and everyone who made it possible.

(5) BETA CONTRIBUTOR WALL (pictured above)

I periodically come to pay my respects to the earliest Residents of Second Life, those who paved the way for what we have today. While many of them are no longer with us (or in a few cases, being low-profile on alts), I will always be grateful to their pioneering steps into a brave new virtual world. Plus, this is near Lime, which contains a mirror of the old Ahern welcome area (before it was remodeled), which always takes me back to where I began and used to hang out. Though it is abandoned now, I'm glad the build is still up in interactive 3D.

Only five? I could name a number more off the top of my head with the personal stories I have attached to each, but I suppose this will have to do for now.

Kinn: And now for Question #2: Why does Mainland matter to you?

Torley: Mainland represents my roots. I will always remember where I began my Second Life in Sept. 2004 — in the Ahern Welcome Area (pictured above), in an age where you could get together with friends and traverse the grid from coast to coast, one contiguous chunk before continents emerged. Even if it took overnight. I formed bonds on these "virtual road trips", learned a lot about myself... and where I wanted to go in my first life.

To this day, there are many hidden treasures to be found — and rediscovered — on the Mainland. I am so happy your blog focuses on shining a light on these. Some of these lost gems include LDPW builds that were long-forgotten. Occasionally I will come across an object past-me left behind, years ago! It's intriguing that some aspects of Mainland are like a time capsule, such as a strip mall left untouched by a lifetime account who hasn't logged in ages, whereas other parcels in some of the oldest regions have continued to change over time. Mainland can be enjoyed by any Resident, whether you own land or not.

There's a vibrant serendipity when you close your eyes and double-click to TP to a region you've never been before. It's the engagement of the explorer instinct, where you may not find anything of note immediately, but allow yourself to wander through adjacent regions, and amidst a row of expected houses, you may discover a cool art sculpture, created solely for that artist's autotelic purpose. Come back a week later and it may be gone, yet the moment remains — and perhaps pictures, if you were wise to capture your adventures as I often do.

Sometimes there is a bigger purpose beyond the individual, a tremendous community-building, be it the Linden-guided Bay City... or the drive to team up and buy all parcels in a region and beyond in service of unifying for a shared vision, such as East River.

Ultimately, it's a curious question: how can digital land in a virtual world hold so much emotional power and intense nostalgia for so many? All I know is that Mainland is sufficiently vast, and I can only summarize in the broadest terms. I've had a diverse wealth of magical experiences in a great many, many of these places, and have constantly come away touched and inspired by what our Residents make with Mainland.

And that is why Mainland continues to matter to me.


  1. This was great article and interview with Torley. I remember with fond memories watching each of Torley videos and was so excited when he would release a new one. Hello Torley and thanks for all the help and memories.
    Also this article being about Mainland and how it has played a major role in SL, I can't imagine a virtual world without it. It's so sad to read that Sansar will not have a Mainland. I hope LL would rethink that decision. Thanks again Torley.

    1. Thanks, Jerry...I'm so glad you liked it! I can't imagine a virtual world without a Mainland, either.