Archive for February, 2010

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What Keeps You in Second Life?

February 22, 2010

Fire by Gita Rau

The thing about SL is that most of us are here by choice.  We spend chunks of one of our most scarce personal resources by exploring Second Life: our time.  But why do those of us who are regular users keep coming back?  What draws us to the virtual world like a moth to a flame?

If you’ve read this blog for a while, you know that I like to interview people in Second Life.  But rather than interview just one resident, I thought I would try something slightly different this time.  Instead, I asked a number of people the same question.  Here’s what I did, I looked through my Friends List to see who had passed their third rez day.  There are I’ll be the first to admit that the three year rez date was somewhat arbitrary.  I could have easily picked another milestone as a cutoff, but to me, three years in SL suggests a level of commitment beyond a casual and passing interest.I then sent them a notecard with a request to respond to a simple question in close to fifty words.  What keeps you in Second Life?

Are you curious what people said?  Want to find out what keeps people in Second Life?  Read after the jump to find out… Read the rest of this entry ?

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Me, My Alts, And I! (Or: Why I Alt)

February 16, 2010

Lanna and some of her alts

Last week on Plurk, Daila Holder posted “Blog Post Topics I’d Like to Read.”   Some of them were really pretty funny, Confessions of a Male Fashion Blogger’s Girlfriend and I Saw You Naked and Now I Only Want to IM.  On the whole, it seemed that the list would make for very interesting blog posts (I’d post a link to the plurk, but her timeline is set to private.)  But there was one that got me thinking, Why I Alt.   So I thought, it is an interesting topic, why not give it a go?

Alting is one of those interesting Second Life anomalies; most people do it, but few admit to it.  If I had to guess, I would say that easily 85% of regular SL users that have been in-world for more than six months have at least one alt.   Maybe people don’t talk about it because Linden Lab wants you to pay for additional avatars.  Maybe they are quiet about it because people often use alts to do things they wouldn’t want to admit to publicly.  Or maybe people don’t talk about it because they use it as a clean slate.  Whatever the reason, people seldom discuss their alts.

But what about you, Lanna?  Are you going to talk about why you alt?  Yes!  And if you’re that curious about it, look after the jump to find out!

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Two Times One Minus One

February 12, 2010

No, this post isn’t an homage to that musical supergroup Three Times One Minus One, but about how we keep our first and second lives together.  People come and go from Second Life all the time; it is simply the way things go in a pseudonymous virtual world.  (Which I blogged about before here.)   To be sure, the reasons people leave are many.  Things get too busy in their first life.  They get bored of their second life.  The list of reasons goes on and on and on.  Yet despite what people cite as a specific reason, I have noticed one theme among a group of departures upon which I can make a generalization.  There are exceptions, of course, and it doesn’t cover all people leaving SL but it does address a large group of departures.  Here’s the general trend that I’ve noticed:

“The lifespan of an avatar is inversely proportionate to the distance one keeps from their first life.”

Or, more simply put, the more people have to work to keep their first and second lives separate, the shorter their second life.   No, I’m not talking about people who don’t divulge their first life name, because that is probably 90% of SL Residents.  I’m talking more about the avatars who avoid acknowledging that they even have a first life.  If you’ve been around SL, I’m sure you’ve met the type; these are people that avoid sharing they had awful day at work for fear that someone might ask them what they do.  This is more about being so cautious that the person refuses to share contextual information as friendships develop.  Half the people in SL have something to the effect of “SL is SL and RL is RL” in their profiles, but I would venture to guess that the majority of them share some of their RL with people they’ve grown to trust.

But this doesn’t just apply to keeping your first life secret in your second, but also applies to people hiding their second life from their first. I tend to think that this is actually a larger group.  This is the people keeping their entire experience in Second Life secret from their spouse or partner.  Working hard to keep things hidden requires effort and psychic energy that eventually takes its toll.  Or, as one friend who left put it, “I just couldn’t keep lying all the time.”

Let’s be clear, I’m not judging here; at various points in my Second Life experiences, I’ve worked hard to keep them both separate.  While Second Life allows us to explore boundaries, create and do things that we might not be able to do in the atomic world, we really only have one life to live.  More accurately, I think it is often a process of realization that to maintain it all, one must find ways to be comfortable integrating all of these experiences together or risk burning out.

I would love to hear your two cents on this.  Do you feel you had to find a way to integrate all these aspects of your life?  Or, for those of you who work to keep them apart, has it felt challenging to do so as time passes?

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The One With Web 2.0

February 5, 2010

I have a love/hate relationship with web-based social networking.  This may sound funny coming from a regular Second Life user, but it’s true.  The thing for me with social networking on the web is that I’m just young enough to see the potential and utility of it but also just old enough to eye it with a bit of skepticism (and I’ll leave it to you to guess my age, tyvm!).   Of course, SL provided just the right amount of social interaction for me for quite some time.   Then a friend talked me into getting a Facebook account to play the now-defunct Scrabulous.  Then, of course, I got a Twitter account.  Finally, Plurk rolled around and I got hooked.  Where I’ve been active has often been an outgrowth of my second life and used as an opportunity to connect with friends I’ve made in-world.  I found that being involved with these sites stretched my horizons and let me meet people I wouldn’t have otherwise; in short, I met some of my closest online friends through web-based social networking.   And for a variety of reasons, I’ve mostly been taking a break from being active in my social media spaces.

Despite being mostly silent on my social networks these days, I do peek in on my accounts from time to time.  But there were two interesting things I noticed in the past week that got me thinking about web-based social networking again.  One was that even though it has been around for a while, all of the sudden everyone on Plurk was talking about the importance of claiming your name over on Avatars United.  So, like a lemming, I decided to go and do the same thing.  Then, someone else pasted a link to a blog about banning Fake Facebook Profiles, or, what appears should be named “Let’s ban Second Life avatars from Facebook.”  But just what did you find interesting about these sites, Lanna?  In one word:  friends.

One of the things that I have found fascinating are the different approaches people take to adding friends on these sites; some take the word literally, while others appear to view it as a synonym for contact.  At some point I will post about friending in Second Life, because I take a very different approach there.  But for now, let’s talk about friending on web-based social networks.  So I’ve been asking myself one simple question: Just whom do you call friend, friend?  Read on after the jump to find out…

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