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The many hats of Ulrika Zugzwang: SDF member, artisan, and forum monkey.



Ulrika Zugzwang was born into Second Life on the 10 June 2004. Within a week of her arrival in SL, she was creating and uploading animations, a new feature then just supported by the SL client. Within a month, she won first prize in the Second Life New Moves for a New World contest with her "Thriller" dance video. Coding of the synchronized dance machine was performed by Eggy Lippmann and Christopher Omega.


On the 8 August 2004 Ulrika ran for President of Second Life in a mock forum-based election and placed second, being bested by Darwin Appleby. During the election, Robin Linden asked if residents were interested in self-rule, which immediately fascinated Ulrika despite causing a near revolt among the general populace. What followed were weeks of wrangling in the forums over user-run government and the creation of the Social Democratic Faction (SDF) by Ulrika Zugzwang on 14 August 2004, Second Life's first political organization. During this period Ulrika Zugzwang met Kendra Bancroft the first member of the SDF and future Neualtenburg Projekt.

A week later, Ulrika submitted a proposal for the Neualtenburg Projekt to Haney Linden's call for proposals to preserve and protect the then-new Snow Sims. It was at this time she also built her signature Neualtenburg Fachwerk, what would become the defining structure and logo for the Projekt. On the 12 September 2004, the Neualtenburg project was approved and construction on the city in the sim of Anzere began.

Because of the medieval Bavarian theme, the preparations for Oktoberfest made the month of October 2004 an especially productive one. Kendra and Ulrika created several of the city's signature items, including the Neualtenburg Bier Stein, the Neualtenburg Chicken Hat, and a city vendor that is still in use. At the Oktoberfest celebration the members of the city and several guests, including Torley Torgeson danced under a tent on the Marktplatz, the only existing city structure.

On the 25 December 2004 after several days of nonstop writing over her holiday vacation, Ulrika published the Neualtenburg Constitution and finished SL's first hybrid in-world, web-based voting machine for the city's first democratic elections which were held on 9 Jan 2005. Due to the heavy workload of writing a constitution, building a voting system, and then proctoring a vote, Ulrika took several weeks off from the project.

Upon her return, Ulrika proposed the second phase of the Neualtenburg Projekt to the remaining group on the 1 Mar 2005. Created to solve the problem of declining participation and to create a truly binding governmental system, it was proposed that the city would move to a private sim and sell plots of land similar to the methods used by land barons. The fundamental difference would be that the group would operate as a nonprofit cooperative, with all members sharing in the reduced land-use fee without an overhead going to a single individual.

On the 21 March 2005 the group then consisting of just four individuals took possession of the then-new private sim, named Neualtenburg, an exact duplicate of the sim of Anzere. To prepare for the sale of lots in the city, Ulrika spent two months from April until June 2005 working alone to rebuild the city. Some of the notable achievements include the creation of the Neualtenburg website; the creation of the Neualtenburg Flag; the construction of seven new models of Neualtenburg Fachwerk; the creation of multiple unique street and building address signs; the writing of the city Deed, Covenant, and Terms of Service; and the creation of the city streets, structures, and lots. On the 4 June 2005 the city's first new citizen Satchmo Prototype purchased land.


In addition to animation, politics, and Neualtenburg, Ulrika also took a keen interest in ethical business practices. Around the 5 August 2004, she experimented with the principles behind being a land baron with the hopes of exposing their methodology; on 11 August 2004, she voiced in the forums that she felt the new SL advertising campaign was overtly sexist; protested on 8 December 2004 that Linden Lab's regressive land-use fee unfairly placed the cost burden on small land owners while enabling the exploitation of Land Barons; on 15 January 2005 she organized a boycott against SLExchange for unethical business practices; and created a web page that decrypts the SL client's "name.cache" file, allowing all artisans to convert between name and key.


This timeline was originally posted by Ulrika Zugzwang on her first birthday.


10 Jun 2004
Created the avatar named Ulrika.
17 Jun 2004
Uploaded my first animation, "sneaky walk".
18 Jun 2004
Created my first custom animations in the "Trinity" Matrix collection. This was a particularly fun set of animations to make. I didn't have the DVD at the time, so I had to create the animations from memory and from images I found on the web.
20 Jun 2004
Uploaded all the standard poses and animations that came Poser and placed them for sale for L$0 to prevent profiteering. I learned a hard lesson about permissions, when wuvme Karuna placed all my animations for sale in a prim next to mine in Aqua. I was especially surprised that she took the time to drag a prim up and over my free collection, preventing others from seeing it. When I asked for her to stop and to be compensated to help cover my upload costs, I was sent a picture of an overweight chef giving the camera the finger. (Despite the outcome, the picture was quite humorous and I wish I still had it.)
24 Jun 2004
Built my first sales stand to sell animations from my home.
25 Jun 2004
Created my "Neo" Matrix animations. This animation was different then all the previous, as I created it by stepping through a DVD frame by frame to make the animation absolutely perfect. This technique would later be used in the Thriller animation. (These animations are still for sale in Ulrikas Werkstatt in Neualtenburg -- search for it with the Find tool.)
01 Jul 2004
Created and published an animation tutorial on my web site. I receive about 1000 visits to the tutorial per month.
03 Jul 2004
Created an animated protest and celebration sign. The sign was created to support some in-world activism, of which I had been a small part. Chance Small had purchased all the land in a PG sim and was creating a mock rally to convince the Lindens to change it to a mature sim. I became acutely aware that it was not a true grassroots effort, when Chance began handing out large amounts of cash to all the participants. I had just met my first land baron.
08 Jul 2004
Had my signature bob-with-poof hair-do made by Lash Xevious. I just recently (2005-06-17) changed my hair and outfit as part of my one-year birthday make over.
11 Jul 2004
Started production work and animation for the "Thriller" video.
17 Jul 2004
Submitted the "Thriller" video to the Lindens and published it online. The Thriller web page is my most visited, bringing in over 5,000 unique visitors a month.
03 Aug 2004
Published my Poser translation tutorial online. I discovered that avatars are suspended by their hips in SL, which creates problems with feet sinking into or hovering above the ground. I first noticed this problem in the Thriller video when my avatar's feet appeared to "skate" over the ground during the animation.
04 Aug 2004
Published my first catalog of animations.
05 Aug 2004
Experimented with being a land baron to understand and expose their tactics, creating a thread in the forums chronicling my (literal) exploits. Much like the boycott I'd participate in a few months later, individuals were more upset with the messenger than the land barons I sought to expose. It's a phenomenon that to this day I still don't completely understand.
08 Aug 2004
Ran for President of SL in a mock forum-based election and placed second, being bested by Darwin Appleby. Despite spending several days in world talking to individuals one at a time, ultimately it was Darwin's clever altitude script he distributed to newbies calling out the voting URL that cinched the race.
09 Aug 2004
Robin asks in the forum if we are interested in the creation of an in-world government, starting the forum wars on the topic of government, which would persist for months.
11 Aug 2004
Created animations for Ryan Linden for the redesign of the SL web page. This redesign would lead to my infamous "SL's Website is Overtly Sexist" thread in the general forum. In what I assume was an effort to add a female to the web site banner (while simultaneously giving me the raspberry), the now-famous picture of Amy Weber with her tongue sticking out was added.
14 Aug 2004
Created the Social Democratic Faction (SDF) in response to organized forum tactics meant to stifle free speech and expression, especially concerning the discussion of in-world politics. This was in response to ad-hoc mobs, which spontaneously form to oppose outspoken forum posters.
22 Aug 2004
Wrote the proposal for the Neualtenburg Projekt for Haney Linden's proposal call to protect and preserve the snow sims.
27 Aug 2004
Built the first version of the city Fachwerk (timbered house) to strengthen the Neualtenburg proposal. A low-prim version of this Fachwerk would become the standard structure that's still used in Neualtenburg today.
04 Sep 2004
Built a giant space elevator for the 2004 Burning Life event. This was one of my favorite builds that I've put together in SL as I felt like I was really escaping up into space when I rode the elevator.
04 Sep 2004
Made Pinky Nylon's camera animation.
12 Sep 2004
Neualtenburg Projekt approved.
11 Oct 2004
Created the Neualtenburg beer Stein animations along with custom code and sound to make a more sophisticated and randomized animated mug. Kendra Bancroft made the amazing textures.
13 Oct 2004
Began work on a custom city holovendor that reported to a server.
14 Oct 2004
Created the animated SL-famous Neualtenburg Chicken Hat. The Neualtenburg Chicken Hat was the first scripted object that I made that combined prim wrangling, scripting, animation, and synchronized audio. Due to the fun factor it's remained my favorite scripted object, recently worn on camera for the world to see at SL's second birthday party.
14 Oct 2004
Oktoberfest in Neualtenburg! Imagine a dozen folks all wearing chicken hats.
09 Nov 2004
Anti-Bush rally in Neualtenburg! Dejected after the unexpected loss of the presidential election to the Sith Lord after a heroic battle in the senate with Yoda, Kendra and I decided to use the city for a controversial and experimental anti-Bush protest. While some members of the project left due to the protest, the attention brought by the protest had the effect of invigorating the project. Shortly thereafter the city transitioned from a project-management team to an interim government.
11 Nov 2004
Scripted the animated Neualtenburg bubble pipe (Weinachtenspfeife). It's the most complex object made by Kendra Bancroft and myself, scripted to support both smoke and bubbles, which emanate from both the pipe and from the avatar's mouth during exhale.
12 Nov 2004
Began work on the Neualtenburg constitution.
17 Nov 2004
Built and animated the Iwo Jima war protest sculpture for Hamlet Linden's Red Staters Meet the World event. The sculpture was a recreation of the flag raising at Iwo Jima with the flag replaced by an oil derrick shooting blood. In place of the soldiers, there were animated balls which allow avatars to take the place of the soldiers, becoming part of the art themselves.
Unfortunately, comments I made during the event were taken out of context and published in a heavily edited transcript by Hamlet Linden in his blog. This led to a confrontation in the comment section of the blog, where he would admit no guilt for taking the quotes out of context, would not publish the original transcript, and made evident the downside of allowing amateurs to play at being a journalists.
To make matters worse, a problem member of the Neualtenburg group, who had become abusive and harassing in the group forum due to a conflict over religion, used the blog to attack the group and its members. This had the frustrating effect of taking the blog comments off topic, removing any hope of a resolution and once again giving more controversy to an already controversial project.
18 Nov 2004
Due to the pressures from Neualtenburg, Hamletgate, and the abusive Neualtenburg member, I took a two-week break from the project to rest and relax.
07 Dec 2004
I was interviewed by Cristiano Midnight for his ongoing series on controversial people in SL. It was quite a difficult interview, conducted in real time and lasting several hours.
08 Dec 2004
Started a thread stating that LL's regressive land-tier fee structure exploited the small land owner while benefiting the large land owner and enabling land barons. Just recently it has been announced that the regressive land-tier fees will eventually be flattened.
25 Dec 2004
Our group finished the working version of the Neualtenburg constitution. The government is a democratic republic with three branches, one that is elected by votes, one that is selected based on merit, and a third that is organized based on contribution.


07 Jan 2005
Finished SL's first hybrid in-world, web-based voting machine.
09 Jan 2005
Neualtenburg held its first election, replacing the interim government with a Representative Assembly. The city became the first SL group to have not just its decisions made by vote but its leaders replaced by vote as well.
15 Jan 2005
Organized a boycott against SLEX for unethical business practices. Certainly one of the most difficult things I've done in the forum, as the reaction from those caught in the middle was surprisingly emotional. It is the only forum event in which I've been involved that I was taken off guard by the reaction of just about everyone involved. There were distraught individuals who gave departure ultimatums; egotistical lone artisans who pulled out but made a point that they're doing it of their own accord; and individuals who dissolved working relationships because they didn't like my politics.
What was good about the experience is that I learned very quickly what elements of a boycott are successful and what elements are not. The next one will go much smoother.
01 Feb 2005
Because of the newly elected representative assembly, I suddenly found myself with much more free time. Despite promises to finish a couple of structures, I retreated from the game to take some much-needed time off.
While I was gone, due to fundamental problems with trying to hold citizens and a government together in a nonbinding group, the representative assembly and the group began to atrophy. In order to create a dedicated citizenry, a government with the ability to enforce local laws, and a truly self-sustaining group, we'd have to connect citizens with city land.
01 Mar 2005
Created a proposal for the second phase of the Neualtenburg Projekt and submitted it to the group. The main thrust of the proposal is to require that citizens are those who own or rent land in the city. By moving to the model of citizenship by land ownership, we prevent attrition and give the government power to enforce rules. The proposal was accepted with some modifications and is currently the model we're using in new private sim.
21 Mar 2005
Took possession of a new private sim called "Neualtenburg". The private sim was an exact duplicate of the sim of Anzere.
30 Mar 2005
After a poll in the General forum and Land and Economy Forum a request an email to the right folks at Linden Labs led to the creation of a dedicated SL In-World Polisci forum. It was in this forum that discussions led me to realize that the governmental face of the Lindens is a corporatist oligarchy. Thanks to other politicos which have gravitated to the forum, I've also learned much about anarchy and the concept of a virtual bill of rights.
06 Apr 2005
Created a dedicated Neualtenburg web site. It contains the overview of the project.
10 Apr 2005
Created the Neualtenburg flag.
01 May 2005
Published a tool for decrypting "name.cache" files on my web site along with a list of 40,000 name-key pairs. This led (as all things do) to several long threads in the forum discussing, whether or not a list, which links avatar names to their agent keys, should be available to the general public.
I maintain that good businesses should compete based on the quality of their product or service not their ability to maintain a monopoly on secretly traded public asset. Since it's creation, the list has grown to over 40,000 unique entries and is accessed over 600 times in a month.
02 May 2005
Began the task of rebuilding Neualtenburg in the new private sim. As the sole city architect, I prepared myself for the task of laying out, zoning, and building an entire city from the ground up. The goal was to preserve the basic city layout, while zoning land to allow citizens to move into city structures and build upon the surrounding farmland.
05 May 2005
Built the second generation of Fachwerks with seven new textures. A major update to the original Fachwerk (timbered dwelling), the homes were updated with all new textures and meticulously rebuilt for symmetry.
09 May 2005
Created the Neualtenburg street and address signs. Every road in the city is named after a contributing member and each building has a unique street address.
18 May 2005
Began work on the city Deed, Covenant, and Terms of Service. In order for the cooperative to function, we needed to draft several documents which convey ownership of the sim to those who lease land in the sim. As far as I know, these are the only player-created documents of their kind in SL.
28 May 2005
Entire city is rebuilt with the new layout and buildings. The land was terraformed, the roads were relaid, and the new buildings went up. I found these particular structures to be much more flexible than the old (due to better alignment of textures and prims) and was able to create several novel structures by recombining their prims in different ways. This is how all structures surrounding the Marktplatz were created.
04 Jun 2005
First new citizens purchase land in the city. The project is underway with over 14 residents in the first two weeks. We are 75% of the way to breaking even on monthly costs after only three weeks of sales. Elections are slated for the end of July and planning will begin on the second sim shortly thereafter.
20 Jun 2005
Started the moderation reform thread after receiving a formal warning without a preceding informal warning. Concerned at by the lack of consistency, locking of threads without reason, unidentified player moderators.
03 Jul 2005
Built a tiny version of Neualtenburg for the Tinies underneath the streets of the city.