Turning 60 – Ryan Schultz


It wasn’t until I received an early-morning text message from my brother in Alberta that I remembered: holy shit! This morning at 6:00 a.m., I officially turned sixty years old.

I consider myself a fortunate man on this milestone birthday: not only do I have power, water, sewer, and broadband, a roof over my head, food on my table, and a nice new car to drive (all paid for by my full-time job as a science/agriculture librarian), I also get to work on a virtual reality lab project for my university library system (more on that below), and I even get to lecture about my beloved Second Life to a university class!

I mean, c’mon now. Having been through rough and even truly horrible times in the past, I am now wise enough to realize—and appreciate—when the good times do happen. Enjoy them while you can, because they are often fleeting! My single piece of wisdom to impart to all of you reading this is: Appreciate. The. Moment.

As I mentioned in a previous blogpost, I have been invited to give a lecture on Second Life for a graduate-level virtual worlds building and design course being taught this semester at my university, co-taught by a computer science professor and an interior design professor. I have been quite busy trying to put the finishing touches on my presentation, which I will be delivering in Second Life to the students, all of whom will be represented by Second Life avatars.

Doing a test run of my presentation
My professional librarian avatar, named Notecard Writer, dates back to 2007 (and if you think that I actually look like this at age 60, I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you! 😉 )

For the course, I have rented an entire Homestead region (256 square metres), with full build and terraform rights, where the students can practice their virtual world building. The rental is currently only for three weeks, but it can be extended if any students wish to work on a building project in Second Life for the course.

Here’s a sneak preview of the region; it came pre-landscaped by the landlord, and much of it I have kept as-is, but I have also worked to terraform a large, flat space for building projects (located in the foreground of this picture). I do have a small area where I will demonstrate just how much content creation has changed in Second Life over the 20 years of its history, with examples of houses and furniture from basic prim building to highly detailed mesh models! 

Some Second Life land with full build and terraform rights, for the use of the students taking the Virtual World Building class I am lecturing (and yes, I made the spiky peak to the far right; I haven’t had an opportunity to play around with the Second Life terraforming tools in such a long time!)

As for the virtual reality lab project, the project is moving ahead slowly but surely. I am one member of a committee of people working to move the project forward (my role is to specify VR and AR hardware and software for the lab, to support the use of VR/AR/MR/XR for faculty, staff, and students in their teaching, learning, and research). At the moment, we’re focused on room renovations to the chosen space for the lab: walls, floors, lighting fixtures, etc.

Depending on when the Department of Computer Science sets up their VR lab (I’ve heard that they are ordering a bunch of Meta Quest 3s), the Libraries’ XR Lab will be either the second or third such lab on campus, after the School of Nursing, which is now regularly using VR to train student nurses (more info here in a Mastodon post I made about that project).

So, at the ripe old age of sixty, my passionate hobbies (virtual worlds, and virtual reality) are actually intersecting with my paying job! I know how lucky I am to have these opportunities, and I do not take them for granted.

Now, I have to go—I’ve got two different Libraries training sessions to deliver today, one this morning and another this afternoon—but I just wanted to write this blogpost to let you all know that I’m still here, still blogging, and once my work for this course I am involved with winds down, I will once again be writing “News and Views on Social VR, Virtual Worlds, and the Metaverse,” as the tagline for my blog states. And not just about Second Life, but all the metaverse platforms I can find!

Here’s to another sixty trips* around the sun! Woohoo! (Well, okay…maybe 20? 30?? 40?!?? 😜)

Photo by NIPYATA! on Unsplash

*Actually, it’s sixty-one trips around the sun, so far!

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