Posts Tagged ‘Community culture’

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The Avatars of Capistrano

July 27, 2010

Not terribly long ago, I had a minor disagreement with one of my friends in Second Life.  What was the disagreement about?   He claimed, “No one ever really leaves Second Life, they just close one account and come back as an alt.”   I, on the other hand, agreed that does happen but believe that there are also people who actually leave, never to return in any form.   To be clear here, we were talking about people about people who fit in the category of regular Residents, people for whom SL became a conscious choice for a period of time.  Now, I’ll admit that may be a bit of a Pollyanna at times, but I’m not that naive; I know people hide and start new accounts all the time.  Yet I argued that people do leave, that they might feel burnt out on SL or maybe their first life circumstances change or possibly a whole host of other reasons, but that they log out with the intention never to return.   He contended that this happens less than you would think.  We never really resolved it, but simply moved on to another topic, silently agreeing to disagree.

Flash forward a couple of weeks and an interesting thing happened, in the space of less than of a week, I had conversations with four different friends who had all but disappeared from Second Life and had decided to peek in to see what was going on.  Four!    One had been gone sixteen months, another a year, another seven months and the last for just three.  And while looking through my old groups to decide if there were any I should cull, I saw that another old and dear friend who had been away since August 2008 silently logged in just a few weeks prior.  With the third person peeking back, I found myself thinking, “hmm, this is odd.”  When I chatted with the fourth and fifth instance of seeing that someone else had popped in, I thought it was downright surprising.

It has been wonderful to reconnect with the four that I caught up with (and I’m peeved that I didn’t at least get an IM from the one who peeked in, but I understand and that’s another story altogether); I had been close with all in one way or another and it felt like old home week.  Some have decided that they want to come back to SL regularly, while others were just interested in peeking in and going away again.  Now, I don’t think any of these people have been alting, but they were all interested to see what was going on in SL these days.

This has gotten my brain working, of course.  Why would people who decided to leave SL peek back in?   While these were just random occurrences that all seemed to happen in short order, it does make me wonder what is going on.  I don’t believe it signals anything significant about Second Life or my Friends List.  They had some different reasons for peeking back, but mostly it was about curiosity.  What it got me thinking about, however, is the human need to return.  Second Life may be virtual, but it has a feeling of place and a collection of people with whom we connect.  So, much like our need to visit former workplaces or old homes or class reunions, it makes sense to me that people might get curious and want to see what has happened in their absence.  Or perhaps they felt some other need that drew them to SL in the first place, as if they somehow felt a pull to travel back to the same place.  So let’s hear it dear reader, alts notwithstanding, do you think people ever truly leave SL?  Or that SL ever truly leaves them?

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Never Say Never

June 18, 2010

A year ago, I had the idea that it might be interesting to interview a new Second Life Resident for this blog.  I went to Help Island Public in search of a newbie who would be willing to sit down and share their initial impressions of Second Life.  I was fortunate to meet Kyla Riddler; she was eight days old at the time and our conversation became the post A Portrait of the Avatar as a Young Woman.  She had some interesting things to say, including a healthy skepticism about relationships in SL.  Her view shifted a little with time and she partnered with tonk Mayo.  Kyla and I would talk from time to time, but we really hadn’t been in touch much for the past six months.  So I was a little surprised when I received an IM out of the blue from tonk.  He shared that Kyla had just passed her first rez day and was wondering if I would have any interest in doing a follow-up interview.  The more he and I chatted, the more it was apparent that they had a wonderful story about their experiences in Second Life together and it would be great to interview both of them.

Curious about what they said?  How does a new Resident go from being skeptical of SL relationships to partnered?  Are there any twists and turns to the story?  If you have the time to scan the first interview with Kyla, it provides a fun context, but it isn’t necessary to enjoy their story.  Read on after the jump to find out what they had to say!

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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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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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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 ?