Posts Tagged ‘Social networking’

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Arc of an Avatar

May 27, 2011

In answer to my last post, nope, I wasn’t typing, sorry about that.  I’ve not updated my blog for the past six months for a variety of reasons.  Probably the biggest is that I haven’t spent much time in Second Life at all during that time.  The other is that I’ve simply not had anything  that I felt like saying about Second Life.  Lately, however, I’ve found myself reflecting on my experiences; wondering why I don’t think to log in much any more.  There are many reasons, of course, but I’ve broken them into two broad categories.  The first category is that *my* SL shifted and the second are my first life reasons for having a robust second life.  I’m hoping to blather some about each in this and a subsequent blog post.

The ways in which I interacted within Second Life changed for me.  One of the things that I felt when I started was an experience of place; that I was *there* through my avatar.  As time passed, I found that Second Life became more like a glorified chat room.  I would log in and my avatar would stay in one place while I would juggle conversations in IM.  I recognize that this is my own fault; I certainly chose activities that led to that sort of interaction.  While I chose those interactions, I can’t help but think that I followed some sort of arc of interaction with an avatar through the sorts of conversations I was having.  Like any context, I got to know people over time.  Where much of my conversation began as relating to the experience my avatar was having or interacting with the context of Second Life, with time more of my conversations were with friends about whatever we would feel like discussing.  In this case, much of the conversation eventually gravitated toward first life.   Talking more about first life reinforced those interactions and I realized that I was interacting through place and avatar less and less.  Not that this was bad, but it was different and marked significant shifts in my experience with Second Life.  The more I experienced it as a 3D chatroom, the less important Second Life felt to me as a place.

I can’t help but be curious if others have had this sort of experience.  So I put it to you, dear readers, have you felt your lives blurring together the longer you were in SL and got to know people in more real ways?  Did that lead to a change in experience for you?  Have you done anything differently as a result?

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Where the Heart Is

August 20, 2010

I’m a bit of a virtual nomad.  Yes, I’ve moved my home again in Second Life.  In my almost three years in Second Life, I’ve had six different locations that I’ve set as home.  No, this post isn’t about owning virtual property but more about what home means to me in Second Life and why I’ve grown to love moving around to new sims. (As much as anyone owns land in SL; I like to think of it more as a long-term lease like the United States has with the military base at Guantanamo Bay but that’s another post altogether)  As time has passed, I’ve grown to enjoy moving more and more.  Why, you ask?  Part of it is about creativity and expression, but the other is the simple reason is that in a world where we can live anywhere and have any sort of home, I don’t want to stick with one option all the time.

I very much enjoy having a virtual home.  I find that it is another way to express myself and enjoy the creativity that Second Life has to offer.  Part of it is that I enjoy all that goes into setting one up; I like shopping for homes, furniture, and other digital goodies for my house that seem to match the feel of the property.  Yet I also buy into the feeling of place in Second Life.  Having a place I call home feels comforting to me and my virtual space becomes a haven that feels safe and cozy and mine.

One interesting thing about  my tendency to move is that at first blush, it counters my interest in building community in Second Life.  I’ve found this to not exactly be true.  While sometimes place and proximity matters in building community while it is also possible to have a network and community of friends scattered around the grid.  As I’ve moved around, I’ve made new friends in each new sim; often developing close friendships with new neighbors I wouldn’t have otherwise met.  Yet as I’ve moved to new locations, these relationships have often (but not always) grown and developed further.  Ultimately, I’ve found that my nomadic tendencies has built virtual community for me more than detracted from it.

I know my approach to homes in Second Life is far from universal.  I’ve got friends who have lived in the same sim during their entire Second Life experience; becoming rooted in place and declaring their property their homestead.  Conversely, there are also those opposed to having a virtual home at all.  They prefer squatting or popping from place to place without the additional expense of paying tier.  So, what about you, dear reader, how have you approached your home in Second Life?  Do you stay put or move about?  What does have a place you call home mean to you?

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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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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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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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