(Virtual) Reality Check
As we begin a new circuit around the sun and I scratch what has become a Fibonacci sequence of five o'clock shadows this brief holiday hiatus has borne the gift of a little time for a little reflection on where this little discussion of ours has been and where it is going (er, little by little).
The most striking aspect of Second Life thus far has been the sheer variety to be experienced in every aspect of the platform - avatars, objects, events, and opinions. It could be suggested that within this variety certain preferences seem to predominate among many individuals, especially with respect to aspects of a stylistic or visual nature.
As much as it might be seen to be otherwise, there has been no intention thus far to polarize our discussion around a predominant architectural style. Those elements that are most prevalent need not be discounted somehow as too 'mainstream', nor do the remainder of perspectives need be dismissed as 'elitist' or 'irrelevant'. Second Life is a far richer experience than other online worlds that are shaped entirely by professional animators and artists, and herein lies the possibility to showcase and celebrate the freedom that everyone enjoys to express themselves as they wish (with Premium Members being slightly more free, although not necessarily in the Orwellian sense of the word).
That said, to this point our discussions have been focused primarily on structures that differentiate themselves from the majority of builds personally experienced to date, which admittedly in my short time here is but a miniscule fraction of a fraction of the whole. Beyond the skill or craft that is often inherent in the quality of the build (but not always), the works of architecture we have examined seem to differentiate themselves in that they seek to examine spatial as well as formal ideas, provide an expressed relationship to their property's topography and surrounding context, and act to enhance and facilitate the activities and events of the avatars to which they are in service and not the other way around. As a result of such criteria it would seem that a number of commonalities and threads have thus emerged, but this hopefully has not come across as a judgmental preference for any particular 'style' over another. On the flipside I would humbly submit that just because I don't understand or appreciate something that it is of any lesser value to the richness of the SL experience, nor should it devalue the goal to provide exposure to architectural ideas that appear to be under-represented in the broader context. An aspiration for future postings is that discussions of style be secondary to a focus on how a build deems itself to be appropriate to the 'reality' of virtual space, albeit through an admittedly personal lens.
Despite the feigned exhaustion of the last post, the ongoing development of Virtual Suburbia has been thoroughly invigorating and invaluably enriched through the comments and feedback that have been received (except for the spammers that is, youse guys can screw off), and I deeply thank you for taking the time to visit and participate. Rather than being required to suffer through more long posts like this one it is an intention to make future reviews somewhat more compact. It is also hoped that some of the learnings from this exploration of amazingly talented SL architects can be allowed to inform my own attitude toward building, in an attempt to put my mouth where my money is, so to speak, contributing to the built environment of SL as well as simply musing upon it. Stay tuned :)