So, one of the Lab’s big secrets is now common knowledge… Following a bit of digging around the US Patents office and other unlikely sources by a few diligent spies, the rumours started to be whispered around the metaverse:
“Pssst! Have you heard that Linden Lab have named their top secret SL2 enterprise ‘Project Sansar’? Pass it on!”
Quick to still the rumour mill, LL decided to officially let the cat out of the bag and formally announced that SL2 is indeed ‘Project Sansar’, but as for the eventual proper name of our next generation virtual world, well we’ll still have to wait and see.
This is one of those bizarre faits accomplis that hackers, conspiracy theorists, and would-be industrial espionage agents consider to be a major coup, but is actually nothing of the kind. So we now know Linden Lab’s internal codename for SL2, well whoop-de-doo! It’s about on the same level as knowing who ‘Inspector Sands’ is at at the railway station, why there’s a ‘Telephone call for Mr Fish’ at the London aquarium, what a ‘Code Green’ in the vegetable aisle is, or why a cartoon dog has just walked across the screen at the cinema. It’s insider knowledge that makes you feel pretty cool, but – let’s face it – it’s essentially worthless information to an outsider.
So, what exactly does Project Sansar tell us about the new virtual platform? Zippo, zilch, nada, nowt and sod all, I’m afraid – it is still very much a mystery.
It’s fun though to toy with the possibilities… The Lab has, for example, carried on the tradition of using Sanskrit names for the new grid – a practice that goes way back, although most of us are only familiar with Agni – the Main Grid – and the Preview Grid, Aditi, (for those with an interest in SL history, (or Sanskrit), there were also Grids named: Siva, Durga, Soma, Ganga, Uma, Shakti, Vaak, Mohini, Yami, Nandi, Mitra, Radha, Ravi, Aruna, Damballah, Bharati, Chandra, Danu, Parvati and Skanda. And if you know of any others, I’d be delighted to be further enlightened). I’ve always wondered why the Lab never employed Rama – although I’ve always harboured a sneaking suspicion it’s because Arthur C Clarke had already filched it for his own imagined fantastical environment, but that is sheer supposition on my part, (would be nice if I was right though!).
As for Sansar, that’s a little more obscure. You’ll find precious little in terms of meaning in the standard repositories of all human knowledge, other than it’s a marten – a small ferrety type animal, suspiciously like a Meeroo in characteristics – not that I believe for one minute that’s anything but a meaningless coincidence.
We have to go delving a little deeper, way back to the origins of Second Life itself to solve the mystery, which is revealed in this long-forgotten explanation given by Robin Linden, former VP of Marketing and Community Development, about how the name ‘Second Life’ came about:
“Originally, during the Alpha period, the grid was known as Lindenworld. As we were getting ready to launch the Beta, we decided we needed a name that would convey the expansiveness, involvement and complexity we hoped would characterize this world as it grew. We started by debating the merits of a ‘place’ name versus a ‘descriptive’ name. We believed a place name would give people a sense of destination, and possibly some added layer of meaning. And we thought a descriptive name would help people understand this new concept of a shared, 3D collaborative space.
We had a lot of ideas for place names – one of my favorites was Sansara, which was not only euphonic, but had an interesting meaning in the original Sanskrit, meaning roughly ‘ever changing world’. Ultimately, though, we chose to go with a descriptive name, and looked at many derivatives of Terra, Viva, and life. We kept coming back to Life2, and then landed on Second Life as more interesting, more evocative and more what we hoped the world could become as it evolved and grew to be as big as life.
“And that’s how it came about!”
So, there you have it – it’s a derivative of Sansara: ‘Ever changing world’. Personally, I think that’s a wonderfully descriptive and evocative statement of intent, and I love the fact that it’s linked so closely to the embryonic SL, first time round. You’ve got to wonder whether some of the names touted for the original version might even find their way into the final mix… Life2, anyone?
Speculation and wild assumptions aside, what do we really know?
Not a lot at the moment. We do know that there’s still a long way to go before we see anything like a public Beta. We also know that the Lab is only looking for creators experienced with using Maya in the first instance, (I’m experienced with Maya!… OK, I’ve played with it a bit, but that’s experience, right? Pick me, pick me!). That tells me the Lab are serious about getting a professional and high quality feel and finish to the new platform before they let the Great Unwashed loose on it – be prepared to be able to model efficiently with mesh if you want to build in the brave new world; that’s my gut feeling, anyway.
For the time being, however, we’re just going to have to sit tight and wait. The Lab will tell us what we need to know when it’s good and ready, and I don’t think that even the most assiduous spy is going to find out a lot more until that happens.
Exciting times though!
Soon it will be over and buried with our past
We used to play outside when we were young
And full of life and full of love.
Some days I don’t know if I am wrong or right
Your mind is playing tricks on you, my dear
‘Cause though the truth may vary
This ship will carry our bodies safe to shore
Of Monsters And Men – Little Talks