Archive for August, 2009

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I’ll be your mirror

August 25, 2009

floating

Experiential education has ruined me.  Well, not ruined, but it absolutely has ingrained in me the need to reflect on every experience.  Some time ago, I worked to provide outdoor experiential education for young people (kinda like Outward Bound).  We would challenge them with activities and then ask them to reflect personally and as a group on those experiences.  It really can be a powerful way to deepen your learning.  My problem is that it has generally resulted in me reflecting on most every experience I have; this is usually a fantastic thing and I still training myself to recognize those times when things don’t need reflection.  Generally speaking, I find myself thinking about things that have happened and trying to find ways to learn and grow from them and my second life is no different.

Maybe it is due to the fact that my first life birthday just passed and my Second Life rez-day is coming up, but I’ve been in a very reflective mood lately.  It is hard to say what got me thinking about rights and responsibilities in Second Life, but I have been.  I know that I have a tendency to be philosophical and navel gaze about the differences of Second Life and when it comes down to it, things are generally the same in both worlds with the exception of constant pseudonymity and creativity.  As we move through our Second Lives, we undoubtedly have the right to be pseudonymous, but with those rights comes responsibilities.  So the question for me has been, how do we maintain ourselves in a world where there are different approaches to the rights and responsibilities of pseudonymity?  The more I thought about this, the more I thought the words that Sitearm Madonna has in her profile ring true; she’s got a simple, yet wonderful ruleset for SL:

  1. This is an illusion;
  2. Trust every one and no one;
  3. Have fun anyway!; and
  4. By your actions you shall be known. :)

Pretty great, isn’t it?  The more I think about it, the more I think she’s articulated a wonderful way to be in SL.  Implicit in it are three important things, one is that we are responsible for ourselves, we can choose how we percieve and interact with others and we can’t forget the golden rule.  With a bunch of reflection and the right timing, I’ve been trying hard to copy Sitearm’s sage advice.  So how about you, dear readers, do you have a ruleset that works for you in SL that you would like to share?

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The girl’s a superfreak!

August 20, 2009

halie

During my first week in Second Life, I thought I was clever when I told people of my impression that most people were either in-world for sex or to build, or to do both.  Thankfully, I stuck around long enough to figure out that I got that one wrong.  But if you’re new or rely on the media for your opinion of Second Life, chances are that you might honestly believe that sex permeates the virtual world.  For those of us who have taken long enough in SL to fully outfit their avatar, we know that isn’t true.  But like most misconceptions, it has to come from somewhere, and there is no question that sexual exploration is a big pastime in Second Life.

I’m confident that most SL Residents seem to know at least one person who does a little sexual exploration, but few who make it a focus of their Second Life.  Halie Slade probably wasn’t who Rick James had in mind when he wrote Superfreak, but he probably was thinking of  someone like her when he did.  You see, Halie likes sex in Second Life.  She really really likes sex in Second Life.  But more than just enjoying sex in the pixels, for Halie SL is an opportunity to explore her boundaries in new and different ways.  Thankfully, this very thoughtful and intelligent woman has recently started sharing her experiences and writings on her very interesting Mind Games blog.

I got together for a great conversation with Halie; we talked about using SL to explore sexually, teledildonics (yes, you read that correctly!) and her blog.  Look after the jump to read the convrersation….

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Botgirls just want to have fun

August 18, 2009

botgirl and fourworlds

I read Botgirl’s blog before I met her.  I’ll be honest, my initial impression of her blog was slight skepticism; she had fascinating posts about avatar identity when she was just weeks old and I was convinced she was an alt.  I’ll admit to playing the mental parlor game of “guess the main” to figure out where Botgirl came from but never got beyond half-baked theories. Fortunately, I ended up meeting her a short time later and, of course, I asked the alt question.  She took the chance to share that Botgirl was indeed a second avatar and that the other seldom came in-world any longer.

Over the past months, Botgirl came to believe that maintaining her pseudonymity felt disingenuous.  She began by connecting her identity to her first life with a small group of friends (myself included) and now to internet-at-large.  More accurately, Fourworlds Ra/David Elfanbaum first linked to Botgirl’s identity on his Tumblr site.  That David chose to reveal the connection to Botgirl isn’t particularly remarkable; it is the sort of personal choice that many make on a daily basis.  What is interesting, however, are the differences in expression between them; Botgirl has a distinctly different voice from Fourworlds.

I met with Fourworlds and Botgirl to discuss avatar identity, what’s been learned by being Botgirl and the reasons why they’ve decided to link identities now.  Read what they had to say after the jump…

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We see them come, we see them go…

August 14, 2009

remembering

I love Dr. Seuss.  If he were alive today, I could imagine him being very taken with the creativity of Second Life.  Not to create children’s books, but to build some fantastic places.  Of his books, One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish is my favorite.  It is wonderfully random and, as one friend in my first life wondered, if he may have, um, chemically expanded his reality when he wrote it.  But there is a page in it with the lines:  “We see them come.  We see them go.  Some are fast.  And some are slow.  Some are high. And some are low.  Not one of them is like another.  Don’t ask us why.  Go ask your mother.”   I’m not entirely sure what my mother would have said if I asked her, but she probably would have said something along the lines of: “It means that people come in all shapes and sizes, do things differently, and you never really know how long anyone is going to be part of your life.”

Of course, the same holds true for people in our second lives as well.  One important part of Second Life culture that few actually talk about is that we never know how long anyone is going to be in-world.  The brutal fact is that very active Residents leave the virtual world behind pretty frequently.  If you’ve been in-world for any length of time, chances are good that someone you’ve grown close to has left Second Life. (Or left that particular second life behind to start a third or forth instead, but I’m not going to talk about that phenomenon.)  But what do we do when people leave?

I can hear it now, you migh be muttering: “Just great Lanna, I hope you don’t plan to talk about taxes, too!”  Nope, but if you have curiosity about my thoughts on virtual death, read on after the jump…

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This must be the place (naive post)

August 12, 2009

community

Just what does community mean in Second Life?  Yes, I know we’re nearing the start of the Second Life Community Convention (and no, you won’t see me there), but sometimes it seems to me that Second Life has the community feel of, oh, the Balkans maybe?  I’m being flip by comparing it to the Balkans, but for the most part community in Second Life feels like bunches of small groups that maybe – just maybe – overlap with one another.  But more than just being a world that seems to embrace community in micro-groups, the concepts of community feels fragile and cliquey in Second Life.

Lanna, you’ve already sorta mentioned the Talking Heads; please don’t tell me you start singing Kumbaya after the jump.  Pretty please?  Read on to find out… Read the rest of this entry ?

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Do I still have egg on my face?

August 9, 2009

egg

As happens to all of us, my first life has gotten a little busy.  I had great designs on a couple of posts and pretty much have not had the time.  So what’s a blogger to do?  Recycle a really old post!  Cheating, you say?  Given the circumstances of this one, I’m going with no.  Well over a year and a half ago, I did a few guest posts on my dear friend Kit’s now defunct blog, Second Life, First Person.  Don’t try to look for them, she’s taken all of the posts down except for her final goodbye.  Thankfully, one of these posts still seemed relevant after a little updating.  Since most of you probably never saw the original, I’m not too embarrassed to recycle it.  So here goes:

I had an interesting moment while recently chatting with some friends. I was juggling general chat and multiple IM conversations at the same time and — you guessed it — typed a comment intended for one person into general chat. Fortunately, it was a silly remark that I was able to play off pretty easily, but I found myself feeling a bit embarrassed. This got me thinking, how come there seem to be so few truly embarrassing moments in Second Life?

In the atomic world, I am good for at least one embarrassing moment per month. They are usually small “Well, that was stupid!” sorts of things. (We’re not talking anything like the most embarrassing moment in my first life. I can laugh about it now, but was horrified at the time… all I’ll say here is that it involved Chinese food, a conference call, and a colleague’s hotel room.) But how can something that we almost take for granted in the atomic world be that much more rare in the digital world?

Do I embarrass myself with this post? Keep reading after the jump to find out…

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/me doesn’t understand…

August 2, 2009

hmmmmIf you’re a regular reader of this blog, you might have figured out that I overthink things every once in a while.  Well, way too often.  Okay, all the time.  I can’t help myself.  The little hamster gets running on her wheel and can’t stop.  Overthinking is hardly a panacea, but sometimes it does help me create some sort of understanding for myself.  When something occurs, I reflexively find myself dissecting things in my feverish little head, trying to figure out what happened.

Well, some commonly experienced things in Second Life make me feel as frightened and confused as an Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer.   But after nearly two years in Second Life, there are a number of things I simply won’t ever understand.  Don’t get me wrong, I can put some rationales around them, but somehow my brain starts feeling marshmallow-like when I think too hard about them.  Want to know what transcends explanation?  What gets the hamsters in my head wishing they could be fired for excessive absenteeism?  Join me after the jump if you’re curious about what I don’t understand!

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