Posts Tagged ‘Second Life’

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Apocalypse When?

September 28, 2009

AN

A Welcome Center.  Shit.  I logged into a Welcome Center.  Every time I log in I think I’m gonna rez at my home but my sim must be down.   When I was in my second life, I wanted to be in my first.  When I was  in my first, all I could think of was getting back in-world.  Every minute I’m stuck in this Welcome Center, I get antsier.  Everyone gets everything she wants in Second Life. I wanted a project, and for my sins they gave me  one. Brought it up to me like room service.

A few months back, I was hit with an idea as I watched the Apocalypse Now.  Why not try to make a version of Apocalypse Now based in Second Life?  What really put the hook in me was a sentence in the opening narration.  Captain Willard (a young Martin Sheen) was waking up in his Saigon hotel room and talking about his return to Vietnam for a second tour of duty.  The line that got me was this:

When I was here, I wanted to be there. When I was there, all I could think of was getting back into the jungle.

Why did it hook me?  Because it reminded me of moments of my experiences with Second Life.  Of the times where I was in my first life and wishing I could be in my second.  Then times in my second life where I was feeling the good pull from my atomic world.  This, of course, got me thinking.  What about a Second Life version of Apocalypse Now or Joseph Conrad‘s Heart of Darkness?  (and for those of you who didn’t know, Apocalypse Now is a loose retelling of Heart of Darkness)   I found that I was thinking about what was common to those stories and linking them to SL; telling a tale of a  lead character set on a journey for Kurtz in Second Life, but going deeper and deeper into her darker places.  Done well, I thought the SL version could be a fascinating comic, machinima, blog with pictures, just about anything.

So why are you writing about an idea that you never did anything about, Lanna?  Because, just like Captain Willard in Apocalypse Now, I got the mission I wanted.  And when it was over, I would never want another.  What mission was that you say?  Look after the jump to find out.

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The Velveteen Avatar

September 21, 2009

velveteen

Margery Williams wrote The Velveteen Rabbit back in 1922.  It is a moving story about a boy’s velveteen rabbit and love; you really should have a look if haven’t read this classic of children’s literature yet.  While reading it the other day, I couldn’t help but ask questions about Second Life after the following conversation between the Velveteen Rabbit and the Skin Horse:

“What is REAL?” asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?”

“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”

“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.

“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”

“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”

“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

My avatar is a collection of pixels that I’ve customized and there is a person with a very full first life behind the keyboard.  But Lanna also lives a very rich, but parallel life that by Skin Horse standards makes her real.  So my question is this, dear readers, do you believe that the Skin Horse’s definition of Real exist in Second Life?  Has your avatar become Real?

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And she’ll have fun fun fun…

September 11, 2009

Chakryn for twitter

It is hard for me to believe that I’ve spent two years in Second Life, especially since I initially checked it out because of a healthy dose of skepticism.  Of course, I’ve had myriad ideas of navel gazing blog posts on the subject of two years in Second Life but somehow they didn’t feel quite right.  So what do I do?  Seek inspiration from a well-worn first life behavior that has driven some professional colleagues a little batty.  You see, the moment any project I’ve been working on has been completed, I always ask “how could we have done this better?”  After seeing people react like they have ataxia, I’ve gotten better about this and recognize where people need a little time giving each other high fives before they look to making the next thing better.  So, after two years, I have to ask myself: If I want to stay in SL, how can I make my virtual life better?

I have to admit it’s getting better, a little better all the time!  Better look after the jump to see!

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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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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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My Tammy Faye Bakker Moment…

June 25, 2009

Tammy Faye

At one point I thought virtual worlds were the greatest thing since sliced bread.  While I didn’t quite reach the Tammy Faye Bakker level of evangelism, I enjoyed talking with others about the promise of virtual worlds and investigating all sorts of ways it could change how we did things.   But like many who truly believe, I’ve had a crisis of faith; I still think virtual worlds are great, but am beginning to wonder if there are limitations in what they can offer.  Just to be clear, I’m not talking about coming into SL to have fun and create things, but more about the ways in which Second Life can be used as a tool for real world applications.

The best parts of Second Life seem to lie within what Grace McDunnough describes as “weak ties,” recreation (and if I wanted to be geeky, I would point out the parallels between the idea of “re-creation” and a second life.  But I don’t want to be, so I won’t!), creativity & artistic expression, and the ability to do things that could be prohibitive or limited in the atomic world.  All of these things are all pretty great and offer tremendous potential. I love that there are mock-ups of nuclear reactors that can help new staff train on equipment and develop a clearer expectation of what to expect.  Or the idea that conducting military strategy and training exercises in Second Life could prepare people for complicated missions (thanks, Zoe Connolly!).   And work done by Gentle Heron of Virtual Ability and Keystone Bouchard of Studio Wikitecture, winners of the Linden Prize offer some amazing opportunities. We all know this sort of list could go on and on.

Okay, so maybe calling it a crisis of faith is an overstatement.  It is simply that I’ve grown to believe that the best uses of Second Life are the ones that strive to take advantage of the ability to do things that would be prohibitive or not possible to do in real life.  I’m not trying to be a wet blanket here and maybe it is a function of virtual worlds being a relatively shiny and new idea, but it seems like there is a school of thought that just because you can do something in a virtual world means that will somehow be revolutionary.  We’re entering an era of new ways of doing business!  Digital platforms can revolutionize education!  To explain what I mean, we need to look no farther than the massive fail of atomic world businesses that came to Second Life and tried to replicate their business model in SL.   Somehow this sort of thinking still seems to pop up regularly and there is still something about operating in a digital world that doesn’t seem to resonate with people at large.

Given all of that, what I’ve started to wonder is this: Are we really pioneers on the leading edge of what may promise to be a significant movement?  Or, given what currently stand as most effective uses of SL, are we power users of what might turn out to be a platform that is ideal for targeted uses for niche groups of people? I’m starting to come down on the latter but I’ll be the first to admit that maybe I’m overlooking or missing something.   I know that there are unexplored avenues for creativity and creation of content and I believe that virtual worlds – and the uses for them – will continue to evolve, but it seems as if we’re far far away from the ability to be revolutionary.

How about you dear reader?  Where are you placing your faith?  In a platform that has valuable uses?  Or in a brave new world?