Friday, October 10, 2008

Torley's art of life in Second Life - Part Three in a series

A few days ago, I asked our readers to name the first three words that came to mind when they thought of Torley Linden. Eleven of you responded with this:

High-octane Generous Resourceful Fun Love Watermelon Crazy "On" C*R*E*A*T*I*V*E Pink Green Torley Amazing Inspiring Awesome Video Cool Brilliant Artistic Kind Friendliest-Greeter-Ever! "Over the top" Exuberant! Ever-expanding-outward Giving Open Positive Super-teacher-extraordinaire

This watermelonish eye is Torley's trademark

To these I would add:

Eccentric Energetic Bodacious Giving Knowledgeable Bright Altruistic Unique Different Benevolent Magical Boundless Imaginative Weird Funny Patient Succinct Transparent Fascinating Entertaining Active Animated Bizarre Maverick Accomplished Thoughtful Quirky Soulful Vibrant Evangelist Sparkling Understanding Powerful Wacky Significant Loved Surprising Colorful Talented Wild Detailed Organized Unbelievable Credible Freestyle Inspired Inexhaustible Artful Big-hearted Open-handed Hard-working Smart Prolific Original Inventive

In fact, Torley is easily most everyone's favorite Linden and his sphere of influence is as broad as the grid is wide, for he is everyone's passport to understanding and enjoying Second Life®, from the basics to the most esoteric information imaginable.

While he may be an employee of Linden Lab, the company that owns Second Life, he has taken what could have been a thankless job and turned it into a magical one.

Torley's many Windlight Presets are among my favorite things in Second Life. A true gift! Download them here

I recently had occasion to ask Torley a few questions regarding his seemingly inexhaustible contributions to our world.

Torley, in my earliest days in Second Life, I thought you were a woman and married or in a relationship with Philip Rosedale! (It’s true! Sorry about that!). I vaguely knew that you loved watermelons and watermelon colors. Of course, it turns out that I was only right on one count. When I think of innovation in Second Life, you are the face of it. Your lively and rich communications are infectious, in the best kind of way. But do you sometimes feel the weight of this responsibility?

Torley Linden: LOL! It's certainly true I am a big fan of Philip, and one time when he was AFK, I prayed to him at the edge of the Ahern-Morris Welcome Area.

I used to feel more weight but things have changed, Linden Lab has grown, and we have more specialized Lindens helping with communication — for example, Katt is our Communications Manager, and our I-World Team in Support often gets the message out to Residents in-world and on the Grid Status Reports. As Resident Enlightenment Manager, my communications are focused on "bridging the knowledge gaps" and helping Residents solve everyday problems.

Can you point to one area or topic that we (your followers) aren’t especially “getting” yet that we need to pay more attention to

Torley Linden: I'm always fond of the opportunity to highlight little things that make a big difference: there isn't a single area/topic, but look for underused features with big benefits. For example, click actions (make buying and using objects easier) and FollowCam (better camera angles for machinima and general exploring) are SEVERELY UNDERUSED! A CRYING SHAME. It's true some stuff could be more intuitive to use in the first place, but there are plenty of possibilities which aren't being exploited. I'll continue to call out those specifics with applicable results.

Like NPIRL, I also strongly believe in getting more exposure for creativity and philosophy in Second Life, and coupling that with business stories — there are too many dry biz stories which don't have a personable, memorable touch. (Reference point: see the book Personality Not Included by Rohit, it's a gem.)

Who among us does not own many of Torley's textures? Get yours here

Torley's office hours are the stuff of legend

How can the Residents of Second Life help to promote quality content more to the Real World, beyond blogging? Do you have some insight and advice - or even requests - based on your experiences?

Torley Linden: Simply put: BRIDGE GAPS. Always, ALWAYS be looking for what other people are missing out on — unmet needs and unfulfilled desires they may not even know about yet. I get sick to my stomach when I hear "Everything's been done already!", that's so lame and myopic, because in plain view, we keep seeing innovations and incremental improvements march forth.

Sometimes on my personal blog, I'll state specifically what I want to see more of in Second Life. It's not just for my personal amusement; it's because it could bring joy to others. Get involved with coolhunters and other "trendy" groups — yes, there's a certain clique-ness to it, but PEOPLE WANT TO BELONG. PEOPLE WANT TO FEEL SPECIAL. And like it or not, to paraphrase Tim Sanders, life is a series of popularity contents. You'd rather be loved than hated — not by everyone, but by those who matter to you. And it's far better to be focused within those deliberate interests than trying to appeal to all (hint: it won't work).

Think of problems in your own life, and make something that solves your problems. Or team up with someone who has the technical ability. E.g., I started video tutorials because doing too much text was both a time-suck and insufficient to SHOW what's happening in SL. It's been both a professional + personal boon.

The usual maxims apply: be persistent (don't give up), believe in yourself, be likeable, etc. — but always, ALWAYS BRIDGE GAPS. In case we haven't made that point strongly enough, let me just say how impressed we are by SL fashions which draw from first life influences, but are wildly eclectic enough to stand on their own, and fulfill unique spots where nothing has been before. Some of it is even physically impossible, but... it creates waves of opportunity for first life to be inspired by Second Life. Therein lies the magic.

Torley doesn't preach to us about how to live our Second Life. He lives by his own maxims and shares them with us as his formula for happiness. This extraordinary list on the topic of Creativity is viewable in the sky at Here, the new sim Torley and his wife Ravenelle recently inaugurated

Is building that is NPIRL (Not Possible in Real Life) important, in your view?

Torley Linden: It absolutely is, depending on intent/purpose. I love what bridges the alien and familiar, and obviously, there's no point to Second Life if all it can do is create mere knockoffs of what we already know to be true in their analogue forms. By taking first life and extending it to areas which are physically unfeasible (for the time being, anyway), we heighten the imaginations, invigorate the senses, and demonstrate — live in 3D! — fresh possibilities.

(And yet, should we be scared, we can always return to our "ground comforts" before flying — as our avatars do — again.)

NPIRL building is also important when it's intrinsically essential and a special, unique part of Second Life. That someone can see it nowhere else and experience it the same way. That someone who's sufficiently intrigued WILL come into Second Life to witness it. (And hopefully as the registration/login process gets easier, this will become more lucidly true.) I'd love to hear stories of people who, say, have read your blog, Bett, and CAME INWORLD because they were enchanted by what you shared. I know that's true of me and Hamlet's (Au) New World Notes way back.

Editor's note: In fact, I'm extremely grateful to a number of very special people who have contacted me to say that this blog enticed them to hop in for the first time, or return after a long absence.

Torley Linden: For the record, I don't think it's sad that we have accurate recreations of things like food and toilets in Second Life where our avatars don't need them. But I do love seeing those forms extended (e.g., a commode that roams the fields and cleans up after your sculptie-goats) and think unnecessary constraints suck. I hate being in buildings that are tough to navigate because the ceiling is arbitrarily impenetrable. That's just... ugh!

Beyond any labeling, I like to see reactions, and those of delight and surprise and novelty that come with much NPIRL-ish creations is a wonder indeed.

As I like to say a la infomercial: "ONLY... IN SECOND LIFE!"

See also:

* Celebrating Second Life's Power Couple
* Ravenelle and Torley sound out on maintaining balance between both lives