Second Life Community Convention 2011 and Beyond

San Francisco, CA, where the Second Life Community Convention 2011 and future
conventions will be held in odd-numbered years.  Image courtesy: El Frito

Hello all and welcome to the planning process for the 7th Annual Second Life Community Convention 2011!

As many of you know, SLCC 2010 was a transitionary period as the previous convention organizers handed over the reigns to a newly formed non-profit organization created by Second Life residents and volunteers that we named AvaCon, Inc., an independent organization. There is often the misconception that the convention is run by Linden Lab – but it isn’t. SLCC is organized by the community for the community and we truly hope you will be a part of it.

Last year was a tremendous learning experience for us, and we’ve spent the months since the last convention planning to improve upon the overall convention experience for attendees at both the physical and in-world conventions. We have some new ideas that we’d like to share and we want to invite you to join us on the planning committee to help make this year’s convention a community event like never before!

Picking Permanent Cities – Boston & San Francisco

One of the things we’ve learned is that choosing a new city every year has a tremendous cost both for convention planners and attendees. Each year the convention planners have struggled to select a city that would be both affordable and accessible to a large contingent of Second Life Residents, but invariably some group of residents would feel left out and the uncertainty made it difficult for people to plan.

Beyond considerations of convenience, starting over from scratch in a new city every year also had other costs. The organizational overhead to establish new relationships with new venues and new vendors every year meant that we didn’t get better pricing deals on our events, which meant increasingly higher ticket costs, and the process to scout venues for appropriateness also meant long delays in being able to announce the locations and dates of the convention – something we know has been very frustrating for everyone!

Boston at night

Boston, MA, where the Second Life Community Convention 2012 and future
conventions will be held in even-numbered years.  Image courtesy: Manu_H

This year we are excited to announce what we call the “Bi-Coastal Convention Plan”. Moving forward, we plan to hold the convention in the Boston area in even numbered years, and in the San Francisco area in odd numbered years, and always in the first half of August (the first or second weekend, depending upon venue availability).

The reasons for this are pretty simple. It’s partly out of convenience, since AvaCon is headquartered in Boston and Linden Lab is headquartered in San Francisco, and limiting the number of states where we must apply for non-profit status to two helps us with the paperwork and ensures that we receive tax exemptions on many services for the convention which lowers your ticket costs. In addition, we also feel it is a very good thing to visit Linden Lab in their own back yard (so to speak) every couple of years to ensure that our voices are heard. SLCC is the one time a year where we gather as a community and speak not just with each other, but also with Linden Lab face-to-face and voice our passions, our creativity, and our concerns. We’ve also done extensive surveys of attendees and both Boston and San Francisco have been the highest rated cities. Finally, though no date is good for everyone, early August tends to catch the majority of Residents after summer vacations but before the start of the school year.

Of course this decision probably still won’t please everyone, but we believe that establishing a set schedule of convention cities and general dates will be of great benefit to the community and to the planning team. We’ll be able to negotiate much better pricing on hotels, venues, services, and A/V vendors if we can secure multi-year contracts, and this will in turn lower the cost of attendance for the community. In addition, if you want to attend, you’ll be able to start planning for the convention much earlier than before, even if you don’t know the specific dates right away.

We hope that this will eliminate those long winter months of wondering when and where the next convention will be, and this means that we can announce today that we plan on having next year’s convention in Boston!


Open Positions for Convention Staff

Volunteers at SLCC 2010 in Boston.  Image courtesy:  Sitearm

Another lesson we’ve learned is that it requires a committed, professional, well-organized volunteer staff to put on a truly excellent convention. In past years, a few core volunteers would stick around from year to year, but the majority of the planning for each convention was packed into a few short months with a new group of volunteers each year. This meant a real loss of knowledge, experience, and know-how from convention to convention, and this is something we hope to avoid moving forward.

This year, the Executive Board of AvaCon invites the community to join us as year-round planners of the convention. These volunteer staff positions not only provide excellent professional experience, but also the ability to help us shape and continue to transform the convention into the kind of event that Residents want and need. Though the planning is a lot of work, collaborating with terrific people and helping plan the premier “real life” social event of the Second Life calendar is also a ton of fun!

Visit the Open Staff Positions page to see what year-round positions are available, and we invite you to apply.

If you’re not up for a joining the permanent planning team, no worries!  We’ll need plenty of volunteers both on the ground in San Francisco and for the in-world convention, too.

Fewer Tracks, More Cross-Pollination of Ideas

Pooky Amsterdam presents at SLCC 2010 in Boston.  Image courtesy:  rjheyden

Last but not least in terms of broad changes to the convention, we intend to reduce the overall number of program tracks in 2011. In past years, planners didn’t want to leave out any significant community in Second Life, and this led to an increasing number of conference tracks as the years went on. Musicians went in one track, artists in another, educators separate from enterprise users, and so on. The upside to this approach is that the convention clearly covered most major user segments in Second Life, but the downside was that communities remained segregated and missed the opportunity to learn from one another!

This year we’ve reduced the conference tracks from nine (9) to five (5) in the hopes that broader overall categories will help us better learn from each other.  We also hope to encourage more “how to” – the process and concepts of creating in Second Life – and a little less “this is my neat build” sharing.  Though fantastic builds are always wonderful to see and we hope to see many of them at the convention, we also want to see more hands-on demonstrations, interactive sessions, and in-depth learning opportunities for everyone from newbies to experts.

This year’s convention tracks will include:

  • Artistic & Creative Expression
  • Commerce & Marketing
  • Developers & Open Source
  • Public Service & Education
  • Social Experience & Communities

We hope this offers presenters the opportunity to “break out of the mold” and present their ideas to wider and broader Second Life audiences and for more mingling between and among communities than in previous years.

Interested in helping develop one of these new tracks and draft the call for proposals?  Visit the Open Staff Positions page to apply to be a track leader for SLCC 2011!

More Info Coming Very Soon!

We look forward to announcing the exact location and dates of the Second Life Community Convention 2011 next week, and we’ll have more information for sponsors, volunteers, and the call for proposals for presenters very soon.

In the meantime, thanks for your continued support and we look forward to seeing you in San Francisco!

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