Sunday, August 20, 2006

The Second Part of the California Report

Time for a wrap-up of the rest of the week.

Wednesday was the day the rest of the Sheep descended on Santa Cruz. I finally got to meet DNA, Cory and Mak, Mark and Flipper and Jennyfur. The flights worked out, the rental cars worked out, the hotels (mostly) worked out; it was nice to see the logistics fall into place. And I was even feeling healthy enough to go for a run in the afternoon! We all gathered into one non-virtual place for dinner. We ordered pizza and drank beer and celebrated the launch of the project. Not too late though, because there were a bunch of people who were worn out from traveling.

Thursday was the first day that I felt like Sibley's vision for this company meeting finally came to fruition: Every one of the Sheep came out to his house, and we spent the whole day together. A big part of the day was spent on introductions. Instead of asking each person to talk about himself, Sibley gave a brief introduction to each one and then asked others to add information. It ended up taking a long time, but being entirely worth it. We heard about their strengths as employees, their characteristics as friends, a handful of funny stories, interesting personal histories, etc. It made me realize what an amazing group of people I work with.

We took a break at noon to tour The Mystery Spot, which is quite close to Sibley's house. It was wonderful. Our tour guide was nice and ironic about the hokiness of it all, but the illusions and experiments were still super fun to see.

In the afternoon, we broke up into smaller groups. I really would have liked to stay for one of them but did grocery duty instead. Fortunatly, Mark went with me, and his company made the trip much more enjoyable/less lonely. We got back to the ranch around 6, and Sibley and I started cooking up a nice big batch of Groundnut Stew: rice, vegetables, peanut butter, spice. I was a little disappointed that I wasn't on the porch drinking beer with the rest of the flock, but only a little. I got to talk to Scott, ate my stew, enjoyed a massage (Sibley hired one of his massage-therapist tenants to come over for 3 hours. Brilliant.), and then headed up the hill for a company campfire. Sibley talked about our mission/vision/direction, and then we all told jokes and roasted marshmallows. I have a pretty good job, don't you think?

We left Santa Cruz on Friday morning and stopped by Yahoo! HQ on our way to San Fran. They had invited Sibley to come in for one of their regular Friday lunchtime talks, and he asked if he could bring 18 people with him. They obliged. As a result, we got to hear Sibley and Giff and Jerry wax eloquent on what Second Life is about and what our company is about, and we got to watch DNA, Cory, Mak and Giff build things in-world. It was incredible. Inspiring. I can't wait to get in there and try to build something cooler than a pair of cubes stuck together.

We had lunch in the Yahoo! cafeteria (where all the espresso drinks are free!), and then continued north. We checked into the hotel (which took a little sorting out), relaxed for a bit (I finally cleaned off the last of my chipped silver toenail polish! Only to reveal bruised toenails underneath! Rock on!), picked up our fantastic glow-in-the-dark Electric Sheep Company t-shirts from Amanda, and left for the opening party of the second annual Second Life Community Convention. I spend very litte time in Second Life, and I don't have any non-Sheep friends in-world right now, so I didn't think I'd have much fun at the party. Au contraire, I had a great time. I got to meet a bunch of cool people, including some of the Lindens (who sort of like celebrities, because they actually work for Linden Labs, the creators of SL). Just about everyone I introduced myself to had something nice to say about the Electric Sheep... I felt like I was a part of a little celebrity clique too. It helped that a bunch of us were in our fabulous matching t-shirts, of course. The absolute best part of the night was DNA's DJing and the rest of the Sheep dancing. He plays awesome music, and we are a bunch of awesome dancers. Such a great bonding experience. When he was done, we all headed back to the hotel for pizza and beer and, quickly, bed.

We spent all day Saturday at the convention, mostly listening to various panels. And I got my first taste of networking! Nancy, the publisher of New Moon magazine, mentioned that it might be interesting to give new Moon a virtual presence, so I made a point of talking to Kim A. of The Magicians about her work for Global Kids in SL. Kim introduced me to Claudia Linden, who heads up the education stuff at Linden Labs. Both Claudia and another one of The Magicians had heard of New Moon and said very nice things about it, so it was neat to tell them that I was a founder. :-) Who knows if anything will happen with this; the SL teen grid is only open to kids aged 13 and above, so that cuts out the majority of the New Moon audience. But there are so many cool directions that it could go! In any case, I hope some of the older New Moonies get to check out the Global Kids island.

At the end of the day, we headed back to our hotel, met up with Chad, who had just flown in from LA, and all went out for dinner. It was lovely. I got to catch up with him, he got to meet a bunch of Sheep, we all got to debrief on the conference. Afterwards, I hung out with Sibley and Morton and Chad at the hotel while others hit up the convention afterparty. No regrets.

Today is winding to a wonderfully peaceful close. We got a late start, since most people didn't get to bed until 5 or 6 in the morning. We breakfasted at Lori's Diner, checked out of the hotel, and made our way to the convention only to discover that all the sessions we were interested in attending we either already over or all filled up. So we went to Starbucks, which quickly became our unofficial headquarters as more and more Sheep filtered in. We caffeinated, worked, gossiped, and designed quilts. (I'm working on designing one for Scott and I, and I got Morton interested in designing one for Kim to sew.) We all parted ways after that. Most people headed to the airport, and I headed to Mavis and Nia's house. Now the evening is winding to a wonderfully peaceful close. It's been great hanging out with Mavis and her roommate Maya. We had dinner, and now we're sitting in a very quiet living room.

I'm jealous of all the Sheep who will be home tomorrow. That's not to say I'm not looking forward to seeing more of San Francisco (and more of my SF friends) tomorrow, because I am. Absolutely. But it's going to be one more long day in a series of long days. That's not to say they haven't been long in good ways, because they have. I've learned so much about the Sheep and about SL, and I'm incredibly motivated to go home and work on ESC projects and spend more time in SL. I feel nice and invigorated in that respect. It's been a successful trip that way for a lot of people, and we're already trying to figure out when we can do it next.

But my headcold is on the offensive again, and for now I just want to go home to Delafield and the office and BRDM and my routine.

1 comment:

Jerry Paffendorf said...

Libby, you are the proverbial bomb. Meeting everyone all together was the best. Thank you ten tons for helping make it so successful and logistically stress-free. Rest up, feel better, and we'll see you back on the east coast real soon.