We shape our buildings ... thoughts on remodeling ...

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Charles Courtois
Posts: 3
Joined: Mon Sep 21, 2009 2:15 pm

Re: We shape our buildings ... thoughts on remodeling ...

Post by Charles Courtois » Tue Jul 20, 2010 3:14 pm

First of all, let me say that I think I think that revamping Hamnida is a great idea. I'll offer a few ideas of my own on how it could be done at the end of this post, but first I would like to address some of the more "philosophical" (not the right word, but it'll do) aspects that have been discussed earlier in the thread.

Firstly, I think the reason that Kuula has more "community", in my opinion, has a lot more to do with factors other than how it's laid out: things such as being the oldest and largest, on the historic oldest continent (as much as I am fond of the southern continent, I am aware it has had a reputation for being geographically boring, neglected by LL, and full of ad-farms, though all of those things are less true than they used to be). Possibly the biggest factor is merely the self-fulfilling prophecy that "everyone's at Kuula".

Secondly, it has been my experience that while a space can encourage or inhibit community formation, ultimately they can't make communities happen. In fact, in my experience true community can't be made: it has to evolve (or not evolve) on its own.

Thirdly, Kuula works for many people: it doesn't work for everyone. I think this is very important to keep in mind as this process evolves. One of the dangers I see in this process is that the people who prefer Hamnida will be ignored, and instead of creating community, damage will be done to what already exists. Ultimately, I think that while suggestions and ideas from all quarters should be welcomed & discussed, ultimately for this whole process to have any chance of success, it must be led by the people who value Hamnida the most: there must be a sense of ownership by the people who are already there.

Okay enough of that...now onto my thinking about what I would consider doing. To me, even though I consider Hamnida "my NCI", I think it's currently quite functional, but capable of being improved. I definitely agree with previous suggestions that the textures need to be changed, but I have one or two more radical ideas.

I visited Hamnida yesterday to look around and sort out the reconstructon ideas I had. One thing that struck me was that I counted 6 different paths leading into & out of the main area, 4 of which were clustered in the northern section. The most impressive looking was actually the one leading out to the sandbox, which I think is NOT how it should be.

My idea is to move the main building as far west as possible, to create an open area on the eastern side facing the Linden land. If possible, terraform the land on the eastern side so that it's more level with the sim next door. Create as spectacular a main entrance as possible on the east side (say about where the newsstand is now). Make the land in front & around the entrance as pretty as possible, including some small amount of seating (say a bench or a picnic table) & put the landing point and possibly the home area if it can be moved, there. Have at most one small entrance in the north, and put things like the newsstand, ads, etc. there. have one or possibly 2 exits west out to the sandbox. Leave the class roughly where it is. Make the eastern walls low (say 1.5-2m high), high enough to define the spaces, but low enough for visual contact. In this design, the north would be a social area. Make the northern and western walls (as well as the walls near the classroom) taller, to accomodate ads, freebies, schedules, etc. Possibly have the fountain slightly back from, but in front of the entrance, to channel traffic towards the classroom & the hang-out area.

I think something along these lines will make Hamnida a warmer, more inviting space, while retaining functionality. Feel free to comment on my suggestions!!

Charles

fr43k Paine
Posts: 34
Joined: Tue Sep 01, 2009 8:52 pm
Location: Germany

Re: We shape our buildings ... thoughts on remodeling ...

Post by fr43k Paine » Wed Jul 21, 2010 1:05 am

Hello everyone. :)

After reading the ongoing discussion I'd like to share my thoughts and experience from the view of a newbie and also from the view of an experienced user.

First of all; I think everyone has a valid point, but in the end it comes to the same result; it is the people.

The first day I visited Kuula and was looking for freebies and some additional info, I absolutely didn't care where the freebies were located, or that I had to walk a few steps, it just mattered that there were some.
The time I started to hang out there was just because there were people. Even when I said not much or nothing at all, I still liked to have some company. The simple (not meant in a negative way) layout was never a point that affected my decision to stay or leave; it was the content AKA freebies, information, (live)help, and of course: the people.
Ok, when I was giving classes at NCI and had to write notecards, prepare new materials etc. I went to the beach, because I was able to work there "undisturbed" - nobody else there. After staying there for a few days, meeting some new residents, answering questions and so on, some of these ppl came back and the number of ppl hanging out there started to grow rapidly, and there were times when we didn't even had enough seats!
Christine, and Gideon are two of the "Beach Crew", as we called ourselves after some weeks.
(I agree with Afon)
The layout never influenced that progress. Only after everyone became distracted, no matter if SL or RL stuff, and had no more time to hang out at the beach any more, less and less people were attracted.
Of course, because there was nobody to talk to. I've never met anyone complaining that it would be too difficult to find stuff at NCI.
Conclusion:
The content at all NCI locations is the same and their layout isn't misleading or somehow very contorted. Walking a few steps, or around a corner to reach freebies or Info-wall can't be seriously seen as a confusing layout. The only difference that really matters are the people. (I agree with Janet)
I am sure at the bottom of your heart you know it, cause if the layout or anything else would affect a place's attraction that much, Kuula would be dead because of "Kuulag", or "outdated" textures. But it isn't.
Speaking of textures; you need to remember that some people still have an old comp and can't afford a new one, and may be happy to find a busy place, that is not (ab)using shininess, glow, hundreds of sculpties, or high-res textures, which btw would cause an even longer loading time. Not just client-side, it also causes more work for the server, Kuula is litterally stored on, and that can cause additional lag.
I agree that there's a lot of great or even awesome looking stuff out there and if you want to go for a visual enhancemend, go for it, but only as long as it just replaces the current textures with the same size/resolution.
But if you want to make other locations more attractive, have two or three people hanging out there for about a month and you'll get a "South Crew" and, or new "Beach Crew". The only problem is finding people, that are willing to leave a busy, funny, and entertaining Kuula and stay for a long time at locations, which currently aren't busy and entertaining. Kuula is working as it is; never touch a running system.

Additional thoughts:
SL isn't Sim City. You don't have to make everything perfect. SL and all different (NCI) locations are unique, and that gives them their charme, or special thing that ppl (will) remember.
Beach -> Pier/huge classroom in the sky, Kuula -> Stage/huge Sandbox, South -> Fountain/huge classroom on the ground.
If you really want to have a Sim-City-like perfect layout, all locations would have to look pretty much the same.
Well, then make the TP entrance in the middle, put seats around that, freebies to the north, Info-walls to the east, schedule to the south and sandbox/park or classroom to the west and all within a viewing range of 64 meters. It's open and neatly arranged, sounds pretty boring and uninspired to me though.
And even then, I bet some people will still ask for the way; we know new residents. ;)
Let people walk around a bit, and let them explore! (I agree with Beverly) And let them see one of the trillions of possibilities/examples, how places can look like; be unique. If someone is really that lost, or can't find the information they are looking for (we haven't covered all stuff in notecards) he/she will ask the people, hanging out there, what closes the circle; if there's nobody to ask, they will leave, the layout can be perfect as it wants, it won't matter; the people do.

Janet Rossini
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Joined: Mon Aug 31, 2009 6:44 pm
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Re: We shape our buildings ... thoughts on remodeling ...

Post by Janet Rossini » Wed Jul 21, 2010 10:05 am

There's lots of good material in this thread so far. Thanks to so many people for chipping in positive ideas, and please keep it up. Here's a short list of things I'm getting: I'm sure I've missed plenty.

A point of "contention" still seems to be whether everything should be totally simple to find, or whether making things a bit less obvious might make for better person-to-person interaction, and whether that's a good thing.

I think we all agree that more people hang around in Kuula. I hope we all agree that having people around is mostly a good thing -- if they're the right, helpful, people.

Where I don't see clear agreement is the extent to which we want to design the space to encourage people to come into the group, or not, and how to do it if we do.

For example, suppose that a location tended to attract a group, and that in that location, freebies were on the other side of the group, and you had to walk through the group to get there. That might well be intimidating to new arrivals, especially since some groups one encounters in SL are really not friendly at all. This example shows that designing a layout to focus on group formation can go too far.

On the other hand, imagine an attractive seating area for a group to be in, that is out of sight. Suppose we somehow made it be that the "hang out" spot in Kuula was in the big sandbox across the road. Then people would TP into Kuula, and find no one greeting them and no one to ask questions of. Since to find the Freebies you have to walk pretty far forward, then turn about 135 degrees to your right, people might not find what they are looking for and just leave. This shows that if there aren't going to be people there, an open design might be better.

That's only true if we actually want people to come in, grab Freebies, and leave. I'm suggesting that we would prefer that people come in and interact. We do see people come in, raid freebies, and go. Often they are brought in by someone they know but who is not an active member of NCI. It's nice that people can get some free items, but if they do not become members of the community, there's not much benefit for NCI or for SL in general.

It's a tricky question. Having people know we exist is necessary to our survival, but its not sufficient. What would be perfect in my view would be if each person who arrives at an NCI location finds what they are looking for, and also finds that NCI is an organization of people who enjoy helping other people, and that invites them to come back whenever they're in need of help, or when they feel like helping others.

The question I'm hoping to keep before us is the extent to which the shape of the space we create helps us create a community. I think the shape makes a big difference.

Keep thinking and contributing, please. I'm much more attached to the idea of getting people's minds full of good ideas than to any particular outcome.

Thanks!
I don't work here: I volunteer here. I don't have duties: I have small gifts which I offer.

Janet Rossini
NCI Supporter
http://valkyriejanet.wordpress.com

fr43k Paine
Posts: 34
Joined: Tue Sep 01, 2009 8:52 pm
Location: Germany

Re: We shape our buildings ... thoughts on remodeling ...

Post by fr43k Paine » Wed Jul 21, 2010 2:28 pm

Janet Rossini wrote: A point of "contention" still seems to be whether everything should be totally simple to find, or whether making things a bit less obvious might make for better person-to-person interaction, and whether that's a good thing. ...For example, suppose that a location tended to attract a group, and that in that location, freebies were on the other side of the group, and you had to walk through the group to get there. That might well be intimidating to new arrivals, especially since some groups one encounters in SL are really not friendly at all.

That's why we already have a perfect mixture in Kuula. People can deceide on their own if they either want to walk through the stage/seating area or just bypass the ppl by using the bit smaller 'path' between the backside of one of the freebie-walls and the plant tub.
The only improvement here might be to make that way a bit wider, so it is more obvious to new residents that may be shy and want to avoid a conversation.
Janet Rossini wrote: Since to find the Freebies you have to walk pretty far forward, then turn about 135 degrees to your right, people might not find what they are looking for and just leave. This shows that if there aren't going to be people there, an open design might be better.

I don't consider it as a long way. Think about the many stores you've been, or places like Grendel's that are really huge/open and where you have to walk and fly hundreds of meters to see all the stuff. Or take Free Dove as another example, where you have to walk around all the tables to see some of the other stuff, unless you're not using the cam. Never complained about that. So the 20 meters you have to walk in Kuula to reach the freebies are ridiculous to me and I'm sure also for 99% of the new residents. And if you're walking towards the seats or little sandbox you already made a turn, so you don't even have to to turn around any further to see the freebies, or just about 30°, and that's something I don't even think about, respectively ever thought of.
Janet Rossini wrote: That's only true if we actually want people to come in, grab Freebies, and leave. I'm suggesting that we would prefer that people come in and interact. ... It's nice that people can get some free items, but if they do not become members of the community, there's not much benefit for NCI or for SL in general.

If people are not willing to interact, it is something you can not influence, no matter how good the layout is, or how many posters/penguins there are. If they are just there, because (a friend told/brought them) to grab some freebies, they will just grab them, and leave. I am pretty sure we all had at least one person, that said they would not need help, they are just looking.
People that are really interested in the community will either ask (how to join), join themselves/on their own, or invite their friends. Even last week I had 2 or 3 ppl who brought a friend and told them that we'd teach for free and that they can click the penguin to join the group. And if you supervise a new resident, you usualy offer them to join, come back if they have any questions or need help, and they mostly appreciate that and do come back or join the classes we recommend them.
NCI wouldn't have over 10k members, if it was done wrong or too complicated. It worked in the past and still works.
No doubt that NCI would benefit from more active people/more helpers, but that's something you can't force.
Janet Rossini wrote: It's a tricky question. Having people know we exist is necessary to our survival, but its not sufficient. What would be perfect in my view would be if each person who arrives at an NCI location finds what they are looking for(N²), and also finds that NCI is an organization of people who enjoy helping other people, and that invites them to come back whenever they're in need of help, or when they feel like helping others.(N1)
(N1)As already written above.

(N²)The real thing that keeps us alive and highlights NCI from other helping areas/communities, is up-to-date content, information, live help and classes. NCI profits more from high quality content and service, because that is what people are looking for, or will remember and then they'll recommend us to others as well.
Improved buildings doesn't mean anything if the content's lousy.
We should rather focus on the stuff we currently offer and overwork it as needed, as it is the most important thing.
Doing that would also help to show people that SL contains more than "just a view chatting ppl and crappy graphics". We still have stuff that's many years old and just inappropriat/too outdated to represent SL and in some way also us. If that's fixed you may do an additional visual upgrade, or little changes to the current buildings.
But as said, from my POV it isn't needed and it also will not help to encourage ppl to be more active/helpful if they are just not interested.
And before I forget; it is summer, we all know that also affects the ppl's activity within SL and accordingly
their activity within their groups.

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