"You guys look like an alt rock group whose tour bus broke down in Omaha!" I tell the people I'm with, because, as it happens, they do. Foxy Xevious for one is a girl in leather with long dredlocks, while Jimmy Thompson sports a mohawk made of flame. And they're standing in a field of flowers and shrub, and a weathered farmhouse looms over them.
"I'm the groupie," their companion Dreams Lightcloud announces gamely, and as if to drive that point home, the girl with pink hair and platform heels begins to rock dance amid the long-stem roses.
Actually, what we're standing in is known as The Field of Dreams, which is also not a reference to the Kevin Costner film. It's an elaborate tech demo, and far as I know, I'm the first person associated with Linden Lab to see how a man who's spent a lot more of his time thinking about Canadian shipping routes has managed to beat Linden Lab at their own game. So to speak.
"I’m doing research [on] how to improve visual quality inside Second Life," Jimmy explains, "and the field is one of many prototype we made." He created it, he says, from "the desire to override the actual way Lindens implemented vegetation inside SL. [We needed a] more convincing and realistic solution." The result-- if I can briefly report from backstage-- got most of the developers and programmers at Linden Lab to gather around a single monitor, looking at Jimmy's field, gap-mouthed in awe.