I remember when this was all green fields…

I’m beginning to think that I’ve been around SL too long: More and more frequently, I find myself reminiscing about the good old days inworld, much like I’ve heard many of my older friends, whose time in the virtual world goes further back than mine. Only the other day – for the second time in as many weeks – I caught myself revisiting the past and talking about how much the old sim had changed since I set up home there, now some eight years ago.

In that time, I think there’s only a couple of places that haven’t changed much at all, including the low budget motel where I first set up home in the community, other than that, there’s the homeless shelter in the more disreputable corner of the sim, and the avatar dating agency that has sat unchanged for as long as I can remember next to what is now my own parcel.

You know you’ve been around a while when you can say that you can recall a time when what seem to most to be permanent features, simply weren’t there… Not only can I remember a time that the local pub wasn’t where it is now, but I can also recall when wasn’t there at all. There were mountains in the middle of the sim too… Which may come as a surprise to many, who for years will only have known the town as being as flat as old Amsterdam.

My home sim, like the rest of SL is a dynamic, changing environment, constantly in a state of flux, as anyone who has ever seen their favourite store or club disappear off the map will know. There’s something horribly disappointing to find that that landmark which has sat in your inventory since the beginning of time now dumps you unceremoniously into thin air, or an empty plot festooned with ‘For Sale’ signs. Worse still, is when an in-depth search for that newly-elusive destination comes back fruitless too.

Such is the nature of the virtual world, and sometimes, whilst bad news for some, there can be nig advantages for those who are in the right place at the right time… On a few occasions my inventory has swollen as a result of massive reductions at closing down sales; but, then again at other times it can feel like a punch to the stomach to find a dearly loved place is no longer what it once was.

Thankfully, some of the more important historical artefacts of the virtual world have been purposely preserved – Governor Linden’s House; Steller Sunshine’s beanstalk; the Ivory Tower of Prims – all fascinating and a glimpse into what once was, preserved for posterity.

Then there are the anomalies… The peculiarities that you come across from time to time if you happen to travel the Grid as extensively as I do. Many of these places are old Linden relics – remnants of the days when the Labbies walked among us, which have somehow never been bulldozed (thankfully). To wander around abandoned Linden villages, office complexes and the forgotten remnants of the Teen Grid can be an eerie experience… You almost expect the Ghost of Torley’s Past to accost you, radiant in watermelon light, to thrust his bear into your hands. And indeed, if you know where to look, it’s possible still to find the occasional Linden bear in the wild. Then there’s the weird, but exhilarating feeling of sitting in a vast town hall conference centre in the same chair as Philip Linden once sat, with his spiky hair and magical underpants; or the thrill of finding his own personal car, hidden at the bottom of the sea; the excitement of rediscovering Magellan Linden’s smoking spacecraft, dumped on an isolated island in the middle of nowhere… Awesome stuff.

I think my most fascinating rediscovery must be the the gatepost pillars – the sole remaining relic of the Linden World Expo of 2003 – pretty much prehistoric relics in SL terms. There they stand, unremarkable and with nothing to highlight their historical significance, with no plausible reason for them still being there considering the years that have elapsed and the total annihilation of all other signs of this historic event, and I’ll bet no-one gives them a second glance and few know what they are: Just one of the weird anomalies of the virtual timeline.

I like such anomalies though, and it’s somewhat reassuring to know that in a world where things do change over time, some things – odd though they might be – do endure, some of them outlasting even their own creators.

Which is quite an achievement in a digital world.

s. x

Preserving the old ways from being abused
Protecting the new ways, for me and for you
What more can we do?
The Kinks – The Village Green Preservation Society

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