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Biography of a Second Life Resident
Gwyneth Llewelyn is a resident of Second Life (first rezzed in Second Life in July 31 2004; real date of birth June 15 1969 in Lisbon, Portugal), a 3D virtual world developed by Linden Lab. She joined it after searching for 3D environments available for the Apple Macintosh computer.
After a fascinating first experience learning and understanding that Second Life was a "virtual playground" where every user ("resident") was allowed to pretty much build and create whatever they wished and instantly share it with other users, she created a blog specifically for helping out new users to learn the basics of Second Life, at a time where information was rather scarce beyond what was found on the Official Second Life forums. At that time, the estimated population of Second Life was 12,000 registered users (growing to 16 million in late 2008).
Unlike hundreds of thousands of talented, creative 3D modellers, programmers, fashion designers, entertainers, live music performers, and all sort of residents that have a natural artistic talent in Second Life, Gwyn has none of these talents. She quickly focused, however, on talking with other people, understanding how the society inside a virtual world worked, and extracting the most she could understand about the virtual world and its inhabitants. Not trained in journalism — but in computer science and information technology — her blog is not the source of the latest news or interviews with residents of Second Life, but mostly a collection of essays about Second Life's society, economics, politics, philosophy, and technology. One of her favourite topics of discussion centres around the controversy of Immersionism vs. Augmentism.
She's fond of creating programming prototypes for possible uses of Second Life, mostly involving some sort of integration between the virtual world and external application servers. Her area of expertise when finishing her degree in Computer Science (in 1992) was computer graphics and distributed networking, which lead to apply her knowledge of integrating external applications in Second Life ("mashup") in her prototypes. Most were simple proof-of-concepts, like a simple method to embed in a blog her online status in Second Life, or in 2008, interfacing with the Google Translator API. Most of these concepts eventually found their way either into simple objects and items sold in Second Life, given away for free with the source code (sometimes available on her blog), or, later, on commercial projects.
Her initial activity in Second Life began by visiting discussion groups, of which the most long-lasting has been the Thinkers group, where she found an extraordinarily large number of people similarly engaged in discussing the society and technology of Second Life. This gave her some fame as one of Second Life's most fervent evangelists; later on, she was invited often to do several presentations, workshops, seminars, conferences, or give interviews or opinions about Second Life, its residents, technology, and possible uses.
Discussions on the Official Second Life forums brought her in contact with a group of residents discussing the possibilities of democratic self-government inside Second Life, a challenge that was launched by Linden Lab's VP for Marketing, Robin Harper. A group of residents (including Ulrika Zugzwang and Kendra Bancroft) submitted a proposal to answer that challenge, and the Neualtenburg Projekt was born (later renamed to Confederation of Democratic Simulators) in October 2004. The same group prepared a Constitution the principles of organising the common management of Neualtenburg and organised the first democratic elections for management of a region inside Second Life. The project has survived since then, with Gwyn having been the first elected Leader of the Representative Assembly of this small community in Second Life, which is the longest-lasting attempt at democracy in Second Life.
Starting as an in-world evangeliser, Gwyn also worked for a while for the Portuguese non-profit ARCI, using Second Life as a tool to enhance skills (technical and social) for young adults who had been victims of abuse. Since the summer of 2006, under the brand Beta Technologies, she co-founded a company specialised to develop 3D content for virtual presences of companies and corporations in Second Life. She currently runs the European Business Operations for Beta.
Starting in 2007, Gwyn and her partners forged closer ties with universities, participating or sponsoring academic seminars and conferences, and providing training to students. In October 2009 she completed her Master's thesis about Second Life, studying remotely at UTAD. She's now studying for her PhD, also about Second Life.
- "Economic Statistics". Linden Lab. Retrieved 2008-12-25.
- Several (June 21, 2006). "Neufreistadt". SL History Wiki. Retrieved 2008-12-25.
- Several (July 24, 2006). "CDS". SL History Wiki. Retrieved 2008-12-25.
- Several. "Constitution of the Confederation of Democratic Simulators". Official Portal of the Confederation of Democratic Simulators. Retrieved 2011-10-03.
- Imagining Peace, Gwyn interviewing R. J. Rummel in Second Life, New World Notes, Sep 2006; Rummel's own blog about the seminars on democratic peace, held in Second Life, could be found here. Google still caches those pages.
- Gwyneth Llewelyn and the Kuurian Expedition, New World Notes, Dec 2006
- Linden Lab’s Metaverse Maths: 1 + 1 = 10, Second Life Herald, Aug 2007
- Making creative ends meet, The Guardian, Jun 2007
- On Second Life Celebrities, New World Notes, Sep 2007
- The Future of Business in Second Life, Writers in the Virtual Sky, Nov 2008
Interviews and References
- Second Life Teaches Life Lessons, Wired, Apr 2005
- From Net 0 To A Virtual World: New Ways To Use The Net, UgoTrade, Mar 2007
- Interview to Gwyneth Llewelyn, GETA, Dec 2007 (in Portuguese)
Participation in Conferences, Seminars, Debates
- Future of Virtual Worlds Panel Discussion, Xerox presence in Second Life, Apr 17, 2007
- Immersionism vs. Augmentationism Debate, Orange Island, Feb 28, 2008
- Innovation Week on Orange Island, Orange Island, Sep 29, 2008