Archive for the ‘Opinion’ Category

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Train In The Distance

June 7, 2010

I’ve always had a weakness for two things: suggestion and potential.  They’re related, of course; bound by a latent promise of something better.  To me, suggestion is the journey ahead, filled with endless routes and possible destinations.  While potential is the engine you take down these tracks, hoping that it is sound enough and has enough fuel to get you there.   My favorite sorts of suggestions, of course, are ideas; I’m seduced by ideas.  Whisper something in my ear, and I’m guaranteed to think about it.  And as far as potential?  Let’s just say that I’ve bought the American cultural ethos that we can make ourselves into whomever we want hook, line and sinker.

Which brings me to this post.  For almost three years, with the exception of a few breaks, a large part of my Second Life has been all about suggestion and potential.  I’ve been fascinated by ideas like avatar identity, communities in virtual worlds, and the ways we could use virtual worlds as a important tools.  These ideas still resonate powerfully with me, but it also feels as if something has happened in the past few months.  In short, the suggestion and possibilities that had captured my imagination feels stale.  It may well be me, that it feels like the same familiar ground has been walked upon over and over.   (This isn’t entirely true, Grace McDunnough has recently fostered some wonderful dialogue on the concept of culture in Second Life.  These important conversations, however, seem by nature to be more about defining what *is* versus what *could be.*)

Intuitively, I can’t help but feel as if Second Life is entering some sort of transitional state.  Transitioning to what seems to be the question of the month.  My crystal ball is a little hazy on this point, I can’t seem to get a good sense of all the possible directions yet.  But my question is this, what do you see the new ideas of virtual worlds becoming?  Will they be more nuanced versions of existing ones?  Or new ones altogether?  So what is it, dear reader, what suggestions and potential of Second Life have grabbed you lately?

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Serendipity

May 14, 2010

The other day I was chatting with my virtual cousin, Harper Beresford; besides gossiping about family (you would not believe what Uncle Mortimer has been doing!), she shared that she was going to be working on SL7B (and, in case you don’t know, it’s Second Life’s 7th birthday celebration.)  I was happy for her, of course, but then she told me the title of this year’s celebration is Unexpected Collaborations.   Now, if I’m being entirely honest, my first response was to stifle a giggle, but the more I thought about the idea of unexpected collaborations and Second Life, the more I liked it.

Serendipity has long been one of my favorite words.  If you aren’t familiar with it, serendipity means making fortunate discoveries by accident.  As I reflect on my second life, it has been filled with it.  For starters, I can’t begin to tell you how many of my dearest friends in Second Life I met entirely by chance.  But more than just chance encounters, much of my second life has been about exploring in all senses of the word and being open to seeing where serendipity and chance might lead.   This has lead me down some blind alleys and a few painful errors, but more often than not has resulted in something positive that I could not have predicted.  Since SL is both a social and creative space, I hardly think I’m alone in my experience and in my approach to our virtual world.

Following a string of events that have raised the question of how much Linden Lab understands how Residents relate to Second Life, I was happy to see the official SL7B theme as a positive sign.   So, for the first time, I find myself thinking of trying to see if I could do something for this birthday celebration on unexpected collaborations.  Since I’m not much of a prim masher, I’m trying to figure out what that might look like.  So, how about it, dear readers, do you have any ideas that would celebrate unexpected collaborations?   And would any of you like to collaborate?

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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…

Read the rest of this entry ?

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Your lips move, but I can’t hear what you’re saying…

January 27, 2010

As you can see, I took that good long nap after my last post.  It has been a great rest, one that I sorely needed.  Part of my rest included taking a break from Second Life, too.  I’ve been back in-world for a little bit of time now, and simply enjoying myself and not taking things too seriously.   As people who know me will attest, it is hard for me to keep quiet, though.  So I’ve decided that rather than permanent retirement of this blog, I’ll post when the mood strikes me.  If you can stand gaps between posts, I hope you’ll keep reading.  🙂

Part of enjoying myself has been visiting new places and meeting new people.  This has been great fun; I’ve made many new friends and encountered some fascinating people.   Sure, just as in our first lives, it is easy to meet people, but difficult to people with whom you truly connect. I’ve noticed something very interesting, though.  I find that within four or five lines of text, I tend to get a sense if there is any potential for a connection with a person.   And, at the same time, I also get a sense if I might need to hit the mute button, too.  Are you nuts, Lanna?  Do you really know these things in just a few seconds?  Peek after the jump to find out! Read the rest of this entry ?

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What’s in a name?

September 15, 2009

name

This may come as a shock, but my name is not Charlanna in my first life.  I think it is a pretty name and it has meaning for me, but I might have put a little more thought into it if I knew that I was making a final choice.  A few months back, I had someone named Charlanna in her first life follow me on Twitter which I thought was cool and a little fun.  Yet shortly afterward, she sent me a direct message asking me why I “stole” her name.   Her question surprised me and got a hearty guffaw, but got me thinking, too.   What if my name were Charlanna in the atomic world?  Would she still think I stole it?  Or just think it was cool that we shared a unique name?  I really think her questions of my great name caper came because I had the opportunity to choose it.

Does that which we call a rose smell so sweet by any other name?  Just how much do I share about my name? Does naming matter in Second Life?  Read on after the jump!

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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?