Suzanne Vega on Virtual Ludlow St., Second Life

Thu, Jul 12, 2007


Monday, Nat Mandelbrot of Cruxy was hard at work of preparing for Suzanne Vega’s arrival, this Friday, July 13th, on a little slice of Ludlow street in Second Life. Nat was trying out his new virtual graffiti widget, and adding more textures to bring virtual Ludlow Street to life when I arrived. The Lower East Side in the ’80s is part of the fabric of my own life. So, I was impressed by Nat’s attention to detail. He mentioned Arcadia Asylum’s “open source” Urban Blight toolkit were the source of the bus, taxi, and some other objects. They also worked with builder LocK Sydney, an amazing texture wrangler, who sells recreations of popular film cars that you find can find in Erzulie.

Suzanne will be celebrating the upcoming launch of her new album, Beauty & Crime, Friday July 13th at 7pm (EST), 4pm (SLT). The event is invitation only. But, you can request an invitation through Cruxy.


The prince of virtual cool, Walker Spaight, will be hosting the chat with Suzanne Vega. Nat said they will be using the voice beta support, “which should be interesting!” Suzanne will be fully voice enabled and be able to listen to anyone else chatting that way. And, you will actually hear the voices of Suzanne and Walker coming out of their avatars instead of just the general land music stream.

I am on vacation in rural Vermont at the moment. But, luckily, even though there is no cell phone service here, I have smoking WiFi. So, I will be there Friday.

Every visitor will receive a free Cruxy Player Virtual World Widget with Beauty & Crime on it, which can be used to outfit their avatar or to host a listening party of their own. Second Life users can also create their own musical street graffiti, explore the sounds of the city, and watch concert footage recorded live at the Hiro Ballroom in New York (see for more info).

Nat explained to me that Cruxy is hosting the Suzanne Vega event/build for Blue Note Records. But, virtual Ludlow Street will also be the new Cruxy HQ, and a place for distribution of the Cruxy Player.

Using Virtual Worlds to Create Experience Around Music

The build will also feature the graffiti of Zephyr. Zephyr is a classic street artist from New York in the 80s.


I came of age in New York City and Zephyr’s work and the Ludlow Street of the era that Cruxy recreates are part of my own life story. There is a strange sensation of past and present colliding when I hang out as my avatar Tara5 Oh in virtual Ludlow. Like many people, I have an avatar that is a younger version of myself (closer to the way I feel, perhaps, than to the way time dictates in RL). So, I find myself caught in a wonderful time knot on the streets of virtual Ludlow, as my avatar moves through the world of my youth.

I asked Nat how he sees this build in relation to MTV’s VLES

Our approach is really about recreating the feeling of the Lower East Side from the 80s/90s – a little more edgy and more creative, not such a trendy scene.

Nat talked to me about his work on Second Life bringing albums to life. He is interested in using Second Life to recreate some experience around the music. Ludlow Street is one of the many NYC locations that inspired “Beauty and Crime,” and virtual Ludlow gives fans a new way of accessing the world of the album.

“Virtual World Widgets”

Also, I met Sami Savard – Nat Mandelbrot’s business partner of 8 years. Sami explained to me some of the early work he did with Nat building a data platform for mobile devices… mostly email. Their first product was ThinAirMail. “The easiest way to get your pop3 / hotmail etc on your Palm VII.” Then they built some corporate server technology.

Sami noted, Cruxy Player, “which handles all the annoying and challenging tasks around hosting the files creating playlists etc.,” kind of streaming in a box, came out of their interest in creating, “virtual world widgets.”

“The same concept as YouTube and the world of widgets, but directed at Second Life.”

Sami and I were talking when Nat began to experiment with his new virtual graffiti tool.

“Whoa spray paint fumes!”


Sami said, “We are hoping people can just pick it up and play around… but it could get annoying! [The graffiti] can hang around for ten seconds or ten hours. We are trying to figure out a way to have music come out when u spray.”

Tapping Into The Cool Physics of Second Life

I asked Sami what he particularly likes about working in Second Life. Cruxy does some work in There, and is checking out Multiverse.

The flexible rules for sharing intellectual property make Second Life ideal.

SL is ideal in a few ways… the tools are really robust. I think people have tapped into about 5% of the cool physics stuff.

At this interesting juncture, I left Sami and Nat to get on with their work preparing for Friday. But, they are an interesting team. And, I will be back to talk to them again. And, of course, the topic of tapping into the cool physics of Second Life has my attention.

“Give Trees A Second Chance in Second Life.”


Click the image to play video

I had a great time planting a Second Chance Tree myself when I wrote about this excellent project by Converseon, in partnership with Plant-It 2020, “a non-profit whose business it is to plant and maintain indigenous trees around the world.” For each virtual tree planted »on Second Chance Trees island« in Second Life (at a cost of L$300, or about US$1), Plant-It will plant one tree in the real world.

Second Chance Trees has made some very exciting leaps forward.

Now, the Second Chance Trees project has a chance to be funded to the tune of one to five million dollars (and plant a corresponding number of real-world trees) through the American Express Members Project, where Second Chance Trees has made it into the round of 50 finalists. Vote for the project if you dig what you see (3pointD).

categories: Metaverse, Mixed Reality, Second Life, social media, Virtual Worlds, Web 2.0, Web 3D, Web3.D, World 2.0

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