Name That Continent (please!)


Here’s a small post about a personal, confusing issue I think others may share:

“What are the official names of
those large Linden Landmasses
(a.k.a. “Continents”) on
the Second Life grid?”

As more sims and regions come online, I think it’s increasingly confusing to keep SL Grid Geography straight. I’ve been in SL Sailing for four years so far; I imagine  this problem must be far worse for new users.

at the same time, I appreciate this naming issue must prolly seem a rather small item for most people. It’s far from trivial, however, and my guess is that LL sidestepped the continent-naming issue for several years, since the original SL landmass was initially a somewhat  amorphous glump of sim-soil.

The SL Knowledge Base defines “CONTINENT” as “A large landmass usually referred to as the mainland.”That definition is unhelpful, and frankly it’s pretty misleading. I guess it relates to  the primordial origins of Second Life, when the original sims were all fused into one “survival community” with no foreign matrix of external worlds.

November 2002 primordial sims

It’s  maybe no surprise that I think our current user geographic needs are more complicated, and perhaps a good deal more urgent. I’m pretty sure that both Lindens and users consider a ‘Continent‘ to be a large and physically separate virtual land mass made of multiple, interconnected sims. Here’s a diagram from Torley Linden from 2008 showing the levels of certain different geographical terms.

(Grin… I admit Tory’s text explanation made me even more confused than before, however 🙂

My point here is actually pretty simple:

Although SL continents are undeniably important, it turns out that there are no consistent, ‘official’ names for many of these large landmasses. That makes it very confusing and difficult to discuss issues that affect broad regions of the Grid. The mere lack of a name makes it difficult to plan multi-sim community activities, or even help new users find their way around the grid.

In case you think I’m overstating my case, let me point out that Carl Metropolitan’s interactive map for SL’s New Citizens Inc nicely illustrates this issue. It includes an annotated chart that details the major grid continents.

Four of the major SL  continent landmasses on that NCI map are identified by at least three names each. Let me emphasize those are just the common names; if you search the Linden threads its easy to find many alternate names for the largest continents.

As I said above, it’s pretty confusing. If you are new to SL, it may be much worse. For example, researching the SL database for a particular location or a business can prove incredibly frustrating if you don’t even know the name of the your continent.

In that context, let me make sure I don’t overstate my case here. 🙂

I know I confuse easily; I also know that many other issues are far, far more important to worry about and hopefully fix. Having said that, I also believe there is legitimate value in a standardized geography nomenclature. That rather small step is crucially important for both user navigation and regional sim development by owners.

To emphasize the common issue and relatively serious nature of this point, let me reference the Linden DPW blog from February 28 2009. Veronica Quackenbush replied to  another user who asked about the “Korean Continent.”
Veronica replied:

… Of the six major mainland continents on the SL grid so far, the third and fourth in chronological order of creation are the ones most difficult to identify simply because they never managed to acquire reasonably well known names. Continents 1, 2, 5, and 6 are named Sansara, Heterocera, Nautilus, and Corsica by fairly general consensus. The last two got their names before they were finished because unnamed regions were designated by these names followed by various serial numbers.
No such consensus exists for continents 3 and 4. Carl Metropolitan’s popular map available from NCI lists the name Jeogeot for continent 3, and others have sometimes referred to it as Meridia. It is also simply called the “southern continent” for obvious reasons. People sometimes refer to it as “the Korean continent” because many of its sims have Korean names (though others have Australian and literary names) and possibly also in part because the first mainland regions south of Sansara were a small group of 4 regions named Korea1 through Korea4, and people just got used to thinking of anything south of Sansara as Korea. …

Veronica was not alone in her frustration; Aquarius Paravane also stressed the ‘name’ problem in that thread, adding ‘Gaeta‘ to the confusion list.
(or is it Gaeta V?)

It’s worth emphasizing that over the past eighteen months this simple problem of continent names has, if anything, gotten worse. A good example might be that huge continent lying south of Nautilus City… (You know the one… But what’s it’s name? 🙂

I usually call it Satori, but it’s ‘real name’ is Mãebaleia, and some refer to it as the Japanese Continent. I’ve actually never heard anyone call it Mãebaleia… but what do I know?

After a brief, humorous discussion in DPW Office Hours today, I brought the issue up as a fun Friday chat topic in the SL Coast Guard Group. Admiral Tig Spijkers was online and of course, she was already familiar with the ‘Continental Naming Problem.’

I was rather relieved 🙂 . I like to sail, race, and explore the SL waterways, but I’d rather defer critical, consensus, cartographic details to others…  Those people who guardian the digital waterways and watch out for sailing safety, both online and in SL.

I actually think it’s somewhat important to come up with consensus names for key grid destinations… but frankly I’m thrilled to trust that job to SLCG and the Linden DPW. Whatever they decide… Just please let me know. 🙂

6 responses to “Name That Continent (please!)

  1. Another problem is with Nautilus.
    For many sailors, even old salts, Nautilus City (aka Nautilus Island) stands for the whole continent. I made that same mistake in my cruising report on dotCOM long ago, when I described my failed circumnavigation of Naut City as rounding the whole continent of Nautilus. Often they can’t believe that famous old sims like Triumphal (TrYC), Boogdolt (Weston Marina, WOOT! mainstore), Schilli (GGYC) and Dex (TYC) are actually parts of Nautilus.

    Apart from that I stick to following names for now (from S to N and W to E):
    – Jeogeot
    – Sansara
    – The Atoll (although one could see it as part of Sansara)
    – Satori
    – Nautilus
    – Corsica
    – Gaeta (leaving out the V since we’ve yet to see I, II, III, IV, VI and VII)

    • OMG, Way back then
      I spent a month confusing Nautilus City
      and the Nautilus Continent too! 🙂
      It took a few weeks of cruising to get sea-legs and stop asking pretty stupid questions like:
      “Where’s TRIUMPHAL?”
      “Where is the nearest Club I can pump out my holding tank?”
      “Mainlanders can SAIL?”
      (I was born offshore in SL, remember 🙂 )

  2. Aquarius Paravane

    Original residents of the Nautilus continent were alarmed to see Nautilus City being so named, as we recognized there would be confusion.

    Don’t forget Nascera – as apparently the LDPW have as they never got around to finishing script enabling all the water, including, ironically, Tako. And there’s Zindra…

  3. The “original source” of the “Mãebaleia” name appears to be the Second Life wikia site (ãebaleia), and one editor who decided to take it upon him or her self to name the land mass. I’ve not found any “official” use of it.

    The Satori name came from a lively discussion and eventual popular vote on the original Second Life forums. The name was selected among many others. Since that vote, I have seen it used as an “official” name by the former Jack Linden and others

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