German artist Karen Eliot ran a recent experiment in Second Life: she paid for a sim and opened it to everyone. By joining the free landowning group, anyone could build or rez there, nothing was disallowed, and at times even terraforming and other land control rights were unrestricted. Sometimes it looked like this:
and at other times like this:
Karen documented the project on her Anarchotopia blog, which is the source of the photos above. To read the story of the project in chronological order, scroll to the bottom of the page and start at Day 1, then work your way up to the conclusion.
I stumbled upon the project in December when my partner was without access to SL for a while, so I signed on with an alt and jumped around to random places to see what I would find. I joined the Free Land group and visited a number of times. Unlike some who criticized Karen for letting griefers run free, I think she accomplished what she intended and it was certainly interesting.
My experience of the island was much different than Karen’s. I recognized a lot of the old freebies that she may have mistaken for unique creations and I wasn’t enamored of the core anarchist artist group that she seemed to prefer. My goal was never to become part of a community there, though, but just to stop in as a tourist. I had conversations with friendly people twice, if I don’t count the time a giant wasp considered implanting eggs inside me. Usually my avatar was killed or ejected within a few minutes of arrival. Once I built a home there. I dropped some L$ into the donation box to keep the experiment going after the initial month. I set up little displays — like an oversized antique diving helmet with a fish swimming inside it — on the island and waited to see how long it would take for someone to remove them. I started wearing a shield and carrying weapons so I had a chance of circumnavigating the area before being murdered. Then, my partner got his computer back and I stopped visiting.
Karen’s blog is worth a look and read. I’m using the experience to contrast what I’m seeing as I poke around the hypergrid a little. More on that in the future.