The seat of power

i’ve always had a theory about the people who wield power – they’re never the ones that you think they are and the people who really are in charge are hidden away, quietly in the background, doing their thing, unnoticed by the masses.

To give a familiar example – every year, zillions of excited tourists visit the United Kingdom of Britland and pay the obligatory visit to Buck House in the misguided hope that they’ll catch a glimpse of Her Royal Majestyness hanging out her smalls on the balcony in front of Horseguards’ Parade. Of course, they’re always disappointed but, more than that, they’ve been misled… That’s not where the power resides: It’s been a heck of a long time since any monarch has had the power to consign anyone to The Tower, let alone shout, “Off with their heads!”

Where does the power lie then? 10 Downing Street? Don’t make me laugh! If you ask me, the real seat of power probably lies somewhere far from the hordes of tourists and public attention; most likely, it all comes down to a bloke called Brian from Beasley Lane, Strawberry Hill!

The same is true for sl – who really is in charge? Who’s running the show, and where do we go to get our money back?

If we knew the answers to these questions, i imagine sl would be a very different place – it’s an issue that we could debate about for hours and one which i have no intention of dwelling on right now – perhaps some other time? So, leaving all that aside for now, you might wish to consider that, just as the real world has its icons of power, sl has it’s own figurehead – an almost mythical figure imbued with great power, from whom all things virtual flow – Governor Linden.

Just as with rl figureheads, The Governor is not quite what he seems – i won’t go into details here, it would only spoil the illusion – but, for generations of residents, Governor Linden has represented the inworld face of power and authority and, just as Her Maj has Buckingham Palace and the Yanks have the Whitehouse, the Governor has his own seat of power: Governor Linden’s Mansion. The Mansion is one of the oldest buildings in sl – a survivor from the Linden World years and now a Linden Heritage Site, (whatever that means). It was built by the first resident, Steller Sunshine and, inevitably it’s been on my ‘must visit’ list for quite some time.

The Mansion is a bit of a shock to the system – it really does give you an impression of what it must have been like to build during those very early days in the virtual world – remember, this was a time when pretty much the sole purpose of building any structure was to blow it up! Steller’s intention is quite clear – here was a building with a real function; a place that would be a home and a gathering place for the great and good of the virtual world, an icon of solidity and strength. The sheer beefiness of the place is impressive – a central courtyard, complete with swimming pool and 2, two-storey wings, underpinned by a large cellar – it all feels very solid.

On arrival you’re greeted by a couple of large signs – a rather nice touch – the one from the the sl beta testers to the Lindens, the other is a kind of thank you card from the Lindens to the early content creators, the effect of which is ever so slightly marred by their misspelling of the word ‘success’! i couldn’t help thinking when i saw it that it’s this lack of attention to detail by the Lindens that seems to have plagued sl ever since… Start as you mean to go on, eh?

You get the oddest feeling as you explore the Mansion – the chunky prims that make up the furniture and the Governor’s toilet, (had to be done!), the cartoonish fish in the aquarium give off an air of authenticity – initially, you think ‘gosh, it’s a bit shabby’, but then you realise how incredibly primitive the virtual world was at the time and it really blows your mind. These were the days before scripting; even linking prims was yet to be invented, so you find yourself squeezing between half-open doors, permanently ajar and wondering at the genius of it all.

Just for a moment, i had to sit in the Governor’s chair – well, who wouldn’t give it a go? And there, in front of his chunky CRT monitor, i imagined – just for a moment – what it would be like to run sl!

The actual seat of power!

Downstairs in the cellar, which you can also access via the drop tube in the pool, is a small gallery of early paraphernalia and pictures. It had the same lost and abandoned feel as most of the olde worlde places i’ve visited in sl – almost as if the Lindens have no real interest in the past and are even a bit embarrassed about it; nothing was labelled and i found myself wondering why on earth there was no curator looking after these treasures. One picture, in particular caught my eye – two nameless avatars from an unknown date and there, in the background, watching over Linden Town was the Man Statue that i’d visited not so long ago.

Speaking of views – take a peep through the window of the Governor’s bedroom and there, across the way, in the ancient – and tiny – region of Welsh, stands another of Steller’s creations – her famous beanstalk… Of course i paid it a visit too, but that’s a story for another day!

s. x

I used to rule the world
Seas would rise when I gave the word
Coldplay – Viva La Vida 

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