Digging for fun

The Time Team recently broadcast a programme recorded just a few miles away from where i live and, quite apart from always having a bit of a giggle about Baldrick presenting and the mad bloke in the hat with the crazy hair, it’s a programme that i’ve always enjoyed. It’s not that i’m any sort of an archaeologist or that i know anything about it – i couldn’t tell a Roman pot shard from a bit of broken brick – neither does the idea of digging a pit in the rain, in the middle of a field, or the thought of Neolithic post holes particularly grab me… but i don’t mind watching other people do it, whilst i tuck into a couple of choccy biscuits and a nice cuppa!

What fascinates me, isn’t so much the actual digging up of bits of broken pottery – it’s the process of reconstruction that really grabs my interest. i love the way that a story unfolds as the layers of soil are stripped away; how buildings and lives are revived from the distant past and how forgotten cultures, pursuits and activities can emerge from a few simple finds. Sometimes, i can’t help but feel a slight pang of regret that so much of the past has been forgotten and, quite literally, buried – never again to see the light of day.

As you’ll know from numerous of my musings, i feel much the same way about sl – so much of the early days of the virtual world have disappeared without trace that i can’t help feeling we’ve lost something of our heritage. The history of sl is surprisingly ill-documented and any physical remnants, (if you can say such a thing about virtual artefacts), are few and far between – i have a nagging suspicion that there’s a fair chunk of the past lying dormant in inventories… such a shame that it’s hidden away and unreachable. Not that i’m advocating a wholesale reproduction of sl-past – i’m not so blinkered that i think of the past as a wonderful place where lag never happened and prims were perfect; that certainly never was the case, even so, in the same way that we have museums, preserved buildings and heritage centres in rl, there’s no reason why parts of sl couldn’t become the virtual equivalent… that’s assuming that there’s sufficient SLarchaeology remaining to make that possible. So, with trowel, shovel and sieve in hand, i thought it was time for a spot of SLarchaeological detective work – somewhere out there on the Grid must remain the relics of the past, perhaps buried under the accumulated pixels of the passing years and just begging to be dug up and remembered.

Before i plunge onwards and start running excitedly across the fields like the bearded one in the colourful jumper when Time Team find a coin, i’d like you to exercise your imaginations, just a little, in order to set the scene…

Imagine, if you can, a time when the Lindens worked with the residents and shared in the fun times too; a time when they came up with a venture to encourage the residents to work collaboratively – a venture that stretched the imagination and explored the capabilities of sl and those who peopled it. A time when residents were encouraged to excel and rewarded for their success – now picture in your mind the end result of this stirring and innovative project… a place that sl residents flocked to in their thousands – a melting pot of excellence and creativity which was to become one of the most popular attractions in sl, a place whose contributors even included future Lindens.

Photo: Linden Lab.

This was  Linden World – a new venture announced by Governor Linden in September 2003 – an amusement park where residents were given the opportunity to build their own attractions and compete with each other to pull in the crowds, the most successful being granted a plot for a further month. Sadly, this incredibly successful show piece of collaborative work only lasted a short time before it disappeared into oblivion.

i couldn’t resist the allure of such an evocative place, so i set out to find whether there were any artefacts remaining from this remarkable piece of sl history – and, unbelievably,  i struck gold!

The rather unprepossessing mound of earth in the picture above is where Linden World once stood, (well, part of it – originally the park extended over two Sims – Coney and Luna). It stands at the border of Dore and Bonifacio and affords a view that takes in some of the truly historic sites in sl. To the left is the welcome area at Dore, whilst on the right is the Japanese-themed orientation station, which i believe is a replica of the original from the early days of sl. Further to the right are the suburbs of Nova Albion and centre-stage, the imposing edifice of Nexus Prime in Bonifacio – now a vastly different city from the original 2003 build – nevertheless a remarkable testament to the constantly evolving and changing nature of sl.

Cast your gaze to the left and down to the road that runs along the border between Dore and Bonifacio and you’ll see a pillar. This is one of the two pillars that still remain standing to this day and which marked the entrance road into Linden World. You can see them in the original 2003 image too – and that’s all that remains of the incredible project that was Linden World.

Or is it? You see, i did a bit more digging… The most successful resident during the first two incarnations of Linden World was Ama Omega, who went on to build a successful sl business empire and the first resident-run casino… an interesting start for a resident who was to go on to code for the Lab in the guise of Kelly Linden. Even more exciting than that, i came across rumours that some of the original Linden World attractions might still exist and, with a determination that would have put Tony Robinson to shame, i managed to track one of them down!

Sinatra Cartier’s Spook House still exists and you can still jump on his ghost train for a mere L$10 and scare yourselves silly, just as people were doing 9 years ago! It’s quite remarkable and a bit of an eerie experience, when you think just how long it’s been going – i’m so pleased that i found it. You can be absolutely sure too that i’m hot on the trail of other sl relics from the past and i’m certain that this won’t be the last of my virtual ‘digs’!

Watch out Tony Robinson… i’m after your job!

s. x

The answers could be found
We could learn from digging down
But no one ever seems to be digging
Jack Johnson – Traffic In The Sky 

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