The world Philip made

I am not often invited to chime in on a topic (unless it is SL Y-K-W‘s interface design, for some reason, and I still suspect those who do invite me of pulling my leg — pointing out it is abysmally bad, and getting worse instead of better, hardly makes me an expert after all), and thus I am usually happy to comply, especially when the invitation comes from a friend (yes, Grace, and by the way, you still owe me for risking snow blindness testing Dazzle). But when my friend Rick van der Wal recently invited me to comment on the discussion going on about « immersionism » versus « augmentationism » he had kicked off (or rather : rekindled) on his blog, I have been loath to comment. Particularly loath, I must say, not only because people I admire for their opinions and intelligence butted heads so hard the sparks flew (though I must admit it is a tad intimidating), but mainly because, simply, I don’t get the whole discussion. At all.

Call me stupid.

Well, actually, I prefer to be called other things (chérie, for instance, is veeery nice, though some people make my heart flutter as much when they call me vicieuse — you know who you are), but stupid will do for the time being. Because I must be missing something seeing how heated the debate gets. Which is why I decided to post my misgivings here, and hope for my peers and betters to point out what I have missed. Please be kind.

Always one for delaying the bashing by a display of good research (who said I hated dazzle ?), I’ll start by pointing out that I am indeed aware of the discussion having gone on for quite some time, as well as of its roots in the debate surrounding the advent of voice in the SL Y-K-W client. I have read Henrik Bennetsen’s Augmentation vs Immersion on the SL Y-K-W wiki ; admired Argent Bury’s manifesto, Taking a Stand and Sophrosyne Steenvag’s Open Letter To My Augmentationist Friends for their clearness and radicalness of thought — though I find myself unable, and unwilling to follow these two down the path of styling myself a fully autonomous digital being. I am aware they are considered the ultimate immersionists. I also know many of the bloggers and SL Y-K-W personalities I most admire side with them, to a different degree — Dandellion Kimban, Gwyneth Llewelyn, Grace McDunnough just to name a few… forming a camp, to quote the wiki, pitted against another one of people who, well, do what exactly — regularly use SL Y-K-W without immersing themselves into it in the least ?

I don’t get that.

Yes, yes, I know of Mitch Kapor’s remarks on the Suzanne Vega concert at SLCC ; I understand the notion of convergence between the web, or more broadly, 2D world, and SL Y-K-W. I can see how someone like Hiro Pendragon considers SL Y-K-W a platform for branding himself and his services, much like the many companies who have tried this (and conspicuously failed at it). I regularly read Dusan Writer’s brilliant metaverse blog, and he keeps hammering home his point that SL Y-K-W is not a world separate from the atomic one in any respect ; as does my friend Rick on his (not less brilliant for being mentioned second).

And I still fail to see the point.

Because, as I once commented on Dusan’s blog, SL Y-K-W is all about immersion.

SL Y-K-W doesn’t even begin to make sense otherwise. As a social networking tool, it is laughable. As an education platform, it is, at best, in its infancy. As the next generation of corporate communications, it is utterly inadequate. As a game, it’s ridiculously primitive and unreliable. The same holds true of it as a tool for 3D movie making. Don’t even get me started on physics simulation, 3D design, or collaboration. I’m not surprised Dusan and Rick are constantly on the look out for the « killer application » of virtual worlds. I’m more surprised they don’t see they won’t be one. And that it is not needed.

All right, I’m burning my ships here, so let’s wield the torch and enjoy the pretty flames :

  • Second Life You-Know-Where sucks as a social network : in fact, beyond the sheer fact that you can (and will) meet people in-world, it falls short of the mark in every respect. The friends list is so laughably primitive as a contacts management tool it barely is worth mentioning, even when it reveals more than an army of hippos in waiting. No groupings, or folders ; no profile data in it ; notes on the contacts hide in the profiles (anybody actually use that, besides me ?) ; on- / offline notifications are an all or nothing proposal ; no networking capabilities (friends of friends, beyond partnered ones ? forget it !). And the communication : either public chat, or one on one IM. No conference IM without creating a group. Sharing data or media, beyond the profile ? Nope. Publishing some kind of mood ? Nah…Folks, Facebook‘s better at this, LinkedIn‘s better at this, frigging Flickr is better at this, for Pete’s sake, as is any messenger service you care to name ! Small wonder most social networking is, in fact, going on off world, on Twitter, on Flickr, in the blogosphere…
  • Second Life You-Know-Where is utterly inadequate as a next generation communication and collaboration platform : unless your requirements end at a space where to listen to somebody, the whole concept is laughable. It does make a decent lecture room, maybe, cutting the requirement for physical presence, but only if you put up with it being incredibly primitive. Powerpoint slides ? Hope you’re really versed in streaming internet media, bud. Plus there’s no privacy whatsoever, barring creation of a private sim. Did I mention there are no facilities for the display, storage and exchange of data, no user management worth the name (I can just picture IBM’s human resources department relaxing when they read they can stop group members planting Linden trees — that must have weighed on their minds like a ton of lead), no collaborative tools whatsoever, no interface to accepted RL standards (group calendar, anyone) ? The future of teleconferencing might be 3D and interactive, but it will sure as heck not be in Second Life, except for those too small or clueless to use professional solutions. This is a testbed, at most.
  • Second Life You-Know-Where is a horrible gaming platform : it’s unreliable. Its graphics lag ages behind the standards of today’s 3D games. There’s no support for games logic beyond social convention and painful gadgeteering. Did I mention it’s unreliable ? It bogs down the more people interact. It has a hard limit on the number of people in the same place. As a game, it’s the ugly bastard offspring of more graceful worlds, and I’m not surprised the family does not like us much.
  • Second Life You-Know-Where is laughably bad at 3D content creation : 3D movies (machinima) ? Create some animations, upload, notice they are not quite right, re-edit them off-world, re-upload, try to synchronise them with all your actors, get a good frame, get rid of the damn transparencies overlapping in the background, wonder where your actor has gone (the joys of crashing), rejoice at them being back, shoot though you’re not satisfied because it is your window of opportunity (this region will be restarted)… then post process to lip sync, reframe, colorise, score. It merges the pains of RL movie making (getting props, locations, costumes, actors = animations, a crew, and the effort of post processing material outside the original workflow) with the effort of 3D creation. You’d probably be better off getting a HDV cam, or rendering from scratch in something decent, say, Maya or Lightwave. As to 3D creation, the in-world tools lack in so many respects I wouldn’t even know where to begin, and they have no interface whatsoever to off-world content creation tools beyond importing some building blocks (textures, which has gained a bit since sculpties). The physics model is a joke. The whole thing is OK to mod my jewellery, but anything else needs a dedication and enthusiasm entirely unrelated to the capabilities the software offers. Plus updates break things. All the time.Which is not to say I don’t have the uttermost respect for those who actually tackle the daunting task of creation.

Let’s face it : be it for socialites, educators, businesses, gamers, 3D creators, Second Life You-Know-Where is a poor man’s platform at the very best — never the first choice.

And still people use it for all of these, day for day, and much more even. Because they can. Because they are here.

Though they may flock to it for the most diverse reasons, they stay because of one, simple, frightening reality : it’s an immersive experience. It’s the ultimate immersive experience the internet has to offer. Maybe the ultimate immersive experience, period.

Ever looked at a profile because you eye caught a pretty AV, a smart quote on a titler ? Welcome to immersion. Ever grinned in front of your keyboard as a smart reply scrolled on screen ? Welcome to immersion. Ever hopped on a dance ball ? Welcome to immersion. Ever spent money, real money, however ridiculously little the amount might have been, because you thought « I need a nicer skirt / shirt » for a bunch of pixels ? Welcome to immersion.

Yes it’s frightening. You might end up opening your heart to somebody you don’t know d’Eve et d’Adam, feeling unexplainable rapport. You might find yourself getting angry at, or worried about someone you have never met in the body, just because they are not starting a piece of software for days. You might die of shock when you notice your heart beats faster as a blue box announces « so and so is online » ? You might agonise about antagonising people you have never seen on matters that have no impact whatsoever on your atomic life. You might feel your mind split in the middle as you fall in love without ever considering meeting the person you fall in love with.

Sshhhh, it’s all right. You can be afraid.

Nothing in this is new en soi. Online communities predate SL Y-K-W by generations. LambdaMOO. The Well. Even CompuServe for that matter. Emotional involvement with a virtual community has not suddenly popped up with the advent of 3D rendering. SL Y-K-W might very well be « one of the largest communities devoted to the arts of love of any city in imagination or history », as Lillie Yifu once remarked (en passant, as is the wont of her brilliant mind ; I have a nagging suspicion that, when we take stock 20 years hence, people will be wondering how we could miss how close she came to the whole point of the metaversal experience, so much closer anyway than my own feeble attempts, though that will hardly be a matter of records then), and the emotional impact of the virtual environment has been noted by more than one resident before me (pulling a reference out of my notebook at random : Kit Meredith’s Rezbian theory), but people have fallen in love in virtual communities before. Even today, SL Y-K-W is anything but unique, or dominant. Facebook and Habbo Hotel are much larger communities, though the user groups hardly overlap, at least in the second case

So we should stop asking ourselves if there is a fine point to be made between immersion and non-immersion. There is not. Second Life You-Know-Where is an immersive world. The most advanced and most powerful to date, because while it does nothing as well as specialised ones, it does make nearly anything possible. Its power has nothing to do with how much we want to disclose about our RL selves, or how much we care for the impact it might have on society at large. And no, it’s not separate of the atomic world, obviously, but it doesn’t have to be to stand on its own : not anymore than the colonies of his gracious majesty, the King of England, had to be separate of this globe we live on. That hasn’t stopped them getting quite headstrong first, autonomous against the will of his not-so-graceful-anymore majesty a tad later.

As to those not getting the last simile, all I have to say is : losing yourself in a new world is frightening, and I do not grudge people the will to stay out of it. But they will have to live with a simple fact : anybody actually resisting the immersive pull is a tourist, not a resident of the City on the edge of nowhere. That’s quite all right. As I said, the prospect can be frightening. You’re welcome to watch and comment. We value your input. Just don’t sneer at what you don’t want to share, and stop telling us we miss the point.

As to the rest of us, we’re not avantgarde, nor an élite, just people sucked up into things somewhat earlier than others, for a plethora of reasons. We are a heterogeneous, often squabbling lot having taken root in the New World, and we should stop looking at the majority standing outside of the boundaries of it, and start to look out for what we are and want. We have to discuss why we are residents of this world in the first place ; and to ponder what direction we want this world to take — or rather, what institutions we will create to make this debate public, accountable, and democratic, for the matter at hand is not papering over our differences, but realising we have to contribute our dissenting opinions and beliefs into the debate on our future. Democracy is not about the wisdom of masses, nor is it about harmony — it’s just a way to keep tabs on a lot of diverging interests, and make sure development happens without people getting caught under the wheels. We can’t go on being islands on ourselves, but we should not hope for too much common ground either, unless we angle for the lowest possible common denominator. The common ground of any modern society, propaganda aside, is but this : we all live in it, and no one is going to leave, or should be forced to.

It’s time to claim the world Philip made as our own.

55 thoughts on “The world Philip made

  1. Wow, Rheta, just… wow. A tour de force, something that anyone pondering the nature of SL Y-K-W should be required to read.

    I’m also tempted to conclude that this Augmentationist/Immersionist “debate” is a false choice. It’s a big grid you know where, plenty of room for everyone to approach their experience however they want. But, you said it much, much better than I ever could have.

    Again… wow.

  2. Rheta,

    First of all, let me say I enjoyed reading this thoughtful and informative post.

    I’ve mostly tried to stay out of the recent debate on definitions. The camps, I think, are largely an illusion anyway. The debate at Orange Island showed that even people who identify themselves as “Immersionists” have different ideas of what immersion means. Again, I feel that we should be talking about more fundamental principles that we believe in as individuals than lumping ourselves into camps. Despite my words occasionally being held up as an “Immersionists Manifesto”, I like to think of myself as…myself. One person, who stated some rules she lives by.

    So we should stop asking ourselves if there is a fine point to be made between immersion and non-immersion. There is not. Second Life is an immersive world. The most advanced and most powerful to date, because while it does nothing as well as specialised ones, it does make nearly anything possible. Its power has nothing to do with how much we want to disclose about our RL selves, or how much we care for the impact it might have on society at large.

    Exactly. The issues we should be debating are much simpler, much more finely grained. Trust, responsibility, freedom of expression, law, customs. People need to be open and honest about the rules they follow here, even if they don’t disclose details of their First Lives.

    And no, it’s not separate of the atomic world, obviously, but it doesn’t have to be to stand on its own : not anymore than the colonies of his gracious majesty, the King of England, had to be separate of this globe we live on. That hasn’t stopped them getting quite headstrong first, autonomous against the will of his not-so-graceful-anymore majesty a tad later.

    I don’t think it ever was, and ever will be, totally separate either. We get a lot of good things from the Atomic – art, education, stories, experiences. My only hope is that our world will retain and develop it’s own culture and customs, and not turn into an airport lobby or a boardroom or suburban America, trading wonder and freedom and history for a Starbucks on every corner.

    But they will have to live with a simple fact : anybody actually resisting the immersive pull is a tourist, not a resident of the City on the edge of nowhere.

    This…this stays with me. Thank you for that image.

    Best,
    Argent

  3. This is a most brilliant post and dare I say, undoubtedly your best.

    I may go back, dissect it and follow up on some of your more salient points later, but for now I shall just revel in it.

    Thank you, Rheta.

  4. :D this is why I asked you to give commentary, excellent post even though I fundamentally disagree on a few points :P

    Points worth noting:

    1) Dandellion and I already came to the conclusion Augmentists and Immersionists are not opposites of the same spectrum in the ‘clash of cultures’ – it was Orange Islands choice to give it context that way.

    2) I don’t believe in the killer app or holy grail in a ‘one size fits all’ kind of way – I think its tempting, but impossible, and if anything adoption will happen gradually – (as represented in my blogs name and design in going from orange to purple in several phases.). Killer apps are strictly on a personal/corporate level only, on a case by case basis.

    3) Immersion is not exclusive to immersionists (just like augmentation isn’t exclusive to augmentists), augmentists don’t claim not to immerse, its the very thing that allows us trough a 3D environment by riding a virtual car or sit on a virtual chair. The difference is in perception of application of the ability to immerse as either a new reality or something to contribute to physical world processes. Psycology is the common factor here, because it can trigger actions taking effect both in the physical, as in the virtual realm. This also shows how they are not mutually exclusive to each other (see point 1)

    4) The ‘state of the network’ as you describe it is understandable and partially true, but augmentist entrepreneurs (who you are addressing with those 3 issues in particular) are opportunists. If these factors where to be at the top of their ability you’d be right, – but they are not, they are very much in a state of development which is exactly what creates the opportunity – however, they are the foundations that BUILD second life as Cory Andrejka (the chief-linden that got fired/left) points out in the SL Y-K-W case study Collapsing Geography (the augmentist bible as far as SL Y-K-W is concerned – and notice how this seems an apparent contradiction to philips ‘building a country’), and by those standards, is not done developing by a long shot (this is where the web in 199X comparisons usually come in, and also many of the applications as developed by these opportunists/entrepreneurs are based on).

    Overall it was a fantastic read, ‘I’d label it “la déclaration d’Independence of the immersionst!” even though i am sure you would object to that – thank you :)

  5. Rheta – This is sheer, lyrical brilliance, and I agree with you completely, as far as you’ve gone. Argent’s glossed it well from there: there’s no real debate over immersion/augmentation – there are as many different styles and interpretations of both as there are people.

    The debate is over the permissible and trustworthy.

    Once someone says “I would never do business with your kind” – as was said in the comments to Digado’s wonderfully provocative post, we’re out of the realm of an interesting look at the role of imagination in people’s lives, and into the sad, tired history of ideological conflict and bigotry that unfortunately has made its way into the digital world from the atomic.

    If everybody shared Aleister Kronos’s cheerful “meh,” and your lovely insight that the “city on the edge of nowhere” is *made of* imagination, both realms would be vastly better off.

  6. I have been pointed in the direction of this marvellous post by the evil genius that is Mr van der Wal.

    And dammit – this is now another blog I have to add to my “required reading” list. This simply won’t do.

    I demand less provocation of my thoughts and fewer ideas to grapple with.

  7. For days I am banging a head how to call those that call themselves “augmentationists”. I reclaim that term because it simply doesn’t mean that somebody is not immersion. I am augmenting in SL Y-K-W and I am immersing as deep as I can. So, how to call people that say that avatar is just an image attached to the email, and that the grid is just a complicated phone-line?
    And then you open my eyes, and mention tourists. Bingo! Going somewhere and not starting to actually live there… yes, that is it.
    I don’t thing digital tourists will like to be called like that…. but I have no better term.

  8. Oh my, entirely too much praise for me to handle. Undeserved, I feel, but then, Codie’s already accusing me of false modesty on a daily basis. All I can say is thank you, all of you, for your kindness and sweetness.

    @Sophrosyne : fear tends to beget bigotry — alas. We have seen nothing yet.

    @Digado : my dear Rick, there is no point in going on calling me an immersionist. We all are, is my point, unless we’re nothing but tourists : visiting, but not involved. Are you a tourist ?

  9. No, because I don’t travel. Calling someone who doesn’t immerse a tourist is only right from the point of view where someone believes there actually is a different place – I think I captured that quite well in my post, and shows the point of identifying the differences of thought.

    As a sidenote – I can understand why you use the term ‘Fear of imagination’ (dandellions blog) but it sounds elitist, the exact thing you oppose here. It creates the very diversion based on non-factual, subjective point of views that will create arguments that lead absolutely nowhere (yes!/no!) – and is definitely a wrong track here – i hope you don’t take that too seriously.

  10. @Digado, : a tourist indeed, then. And an accidental one at that, trying to deny he’s travelling (« Paris ? Now, that’s hardly another place than Amsterdam, eh, it’s on the same planet after all ») :) But there’s nothing wrong with being a tourist : tourism is an important industry in many regions, influencing local development (for good or bad, as these things always go, but neither of it by its nature, I think). Smart tourists, especially those who, like you, are very nice people to boot, will always be welcome to visit.

    As to « fear of imagination », that is what happens when you let a thought run away with you. The Calvin and Hobbes simile was too persuasive to pass the fact that there is an imagination gap in the perception of virtual worlds. What I was mainly thinking of, however, was the kind of people who tell Sophrosyne they wouldn’t do business with a digital being, never imagining one second a world in which avatars have become abstract legal personal entities, the New World’s children of today’s corporations and associations, just to take one example. No need to point out this is not the status quo, but that is why we are talking of lack of imagination here — the failure to see a potential far bigger than and very different from mere enhancement of what we know.

    I can see how this would sound snide and haughty in the ears of others who, like you again, are tourists in our world for reasons which have nothing to do with a lack of imagination ; I’d call the picture you sketch of an emerging, symbiotic virtual-atomic world very imaginative indeed, even if I my imagination runs even wilder. Especially as I associated this with fear, another thought that bolted out of my last post before I locked the gate. Guess it’s time to catch it, as it is trampling my garden and merrily kicking the fences over. I might get carried away a bit at times — you will have noticed from my blog ;) — but I would never presume to know how the majority (by far) of people are wired, nor did intend to insult them. I’ll watch my words better from now on. Bisous to you and ta a lot for pointing this out to me.

  11. Rheta this was an absolutely fantastic post. I enjoyed it so much while reading it, and found very close similarities to my whole SL Y-K-W experience.
    This is quite definitive to me (not that I really cared to know if I was an immersionist and/or augmentationist…) and I agree in full with your definition of tourists.
    I do’t know why I feel better too, after reading this!
    Again, thanx for this post, was quite… *immersive* ;)

  12. Rick, it is a different place. It is just you that fails to realize that. :)
    And, speaking of “augmentation” it is only you that sign all the comments with your site’s name instead of your personal. How should we interpret that?

  13. @ Dandellion: It is just you that fails to realize that.

    If you really want to be the pretend-elitist here thats fine with me dandellion, but as i’ve pointed out before, these discussion will lead absolutely nowhere.

    I sign my posts with Digado because of context and in a lesser way ‘branding’ – context you will find on my blog (where I do post under my own name) and give background to my opinions as expressed externally. I really don’t see how that would matter here. What I think is more interesting, is you still seem to think you need to speak for a lot of people besides yourself, or did you mean ‘we’ as in the physical you and the virtual you?
    ___

    The point Sophrosyne and Rheta make about iYan saying he would not do business with a virtual persona (when it includes non-substantial amounts of money) is not bigotry or fear at all (what a ridiculous assumption). It’s called responsibility. Real money will be trading hands between real, physical people (Yes, the money will end up on a real back account, controlled by a real, physical entity) who need to provide for real, flesh and blood bodies, who need a real roof and real food.

    Fact is, as it stands ‘unverifiable’ avatars hide important context (roots, name, trackrecord), can’t sign legally binding contracts and can blend into anonymity at any point, shifting the balance of any business relationship. What happens when you get into an accident halfway trough our contract – who will be held accountable on your behalf, who do I talk to when you fail to deliver, will you be strong enough to face a second mortgage should things go south given the choice of just ‘starting a new avatar’, what are your insurances? At some point, you will have to identify yourself, as the legal owner of the business you run for starters, by your real name in this world we all live in.

  14. Rheta, this was definitely one of your best essays so far — and so much on the spot :)

    I was composing a long comment but gave up and decided to blog on it instead…

    Thanks very much for keeping the discussion “alive” on the topic! :)

    Just a short comment: you very well list all the failures of the many areas of SL Y-K-W. It’s not good for socialising; not good for communication; not good for creative expression; not good for content creation; not good for e-Commerce; not good as an e-Learning platform; not good for developing games. So why do we use it?

    Simply put, Second Life You-Know-Where allows all that at the same time — even if it’s not particularly good at any of them :)

  15. Pingback: Gwyn’s Home » Immersionism and Augmentationism Revisited

  16. My exact sentence was:

    “If and when accountability extends to avatars, this will of course change; but for now, this is the only way to do [with real entities] – at least when non-trivial amounts of work and money are involved.”

    Please do not distort my words again, Sophrosyne.

  17. “to do business” – whoops, lost a word in the quote.

    I disagree with some points of the article (especially re communication possibilities of SL Y-K-W), but I agree with the gist – with the immersion paradigm which basically says “embrace the medium”. I agree and I do.

    However, is it not possible to immerse the medium *and* use it to augment your real life self? There is no argument here. The opposite is true – only when you truly immerse can you augment.

  18. Rick, I am not pretending any kind of elitism here. It is you who interpret me that way, but have nothing to do with it. What I am speaking here is perceiving (this sounds funny in this context) the reality. Yes, reality. Metaverse is a different place than meatspace. They both are real in their own way, but they are different. Trying to neglect that fact is not creating an illusion, but either lying or missing the reality.

    When I said “we” I meant “we that read what you are writing”. Simple as that.

    About your signing…. see, by using your blog’s name you are “branding”. There is nothing wrong with that. But what do you think I am doing when I use “dandellion Kimban” instead of the name that is in my ID card? What do you think I would do if I used ID name? It is all branding. Or actually denominating. It is just that you are insisting on “one rule (of denominating) for all”.

    Doing that, you are actually mixing the terms (again?!). You are mixing immersion with privacy. “dandellion Kimban” IS verifyable. There is a record in LL’s database with my ID name, address in the meatspace, credit card number connected to my avatar name. As you might know, both Sophrosyne and me are very interested in a system that will make a possibility to make something similar for biz purposes (not mandatory system of course, but opt-in for those interested in doing business). Aimee did that with patenting her name and look, but I think that can be done easier.

    Some ten years ago, it was a crazy and very noobie thing to do, to leave your ID name on the internet. We all used to use nicknames. There were, and still are, good reason for that.

    As you said, money goes from one human to the other, but in the meanwhile it, in the form of numbers not money papers or gold, it goes through a lot of “fictional” entities like banks are. You know, bank is not a name for one person that has a “real name”.

    Why don’t yo go with iYan’s concept?

    Gwyn, you are right. We use second life you-know-where because it is good for different things side by side. That is what makes it a platform and what makes it an universal community not a community of scripters, RP-ers or businessmen.

  19. ‘we are the ones that get it’ – ‘others are afraid of their imagination’ – ‘everyone gets it but you’. They are everywhere, the self appointed spokesmen of communities claiming their subjective points of view are fact just because they find support within their own community. Lets look at your ‘fact':

    You can do things in the virtual world you can’t do in the physical, but then again, you can’t. You still can’t fly, you can make yourself believe you can fly, or even less of an ‘immersionist’ point of view would be you could move a cartoon figure over the Z axes – but we could do that with flight simulators and i never heard anyone refer to those as ‘another place’. You can be moved by pixeled translations of someone elses fantasies or ideas but watch a good movie and you will feel it too, chatboxes and roleplaying games have allowed immersion within thoughts forever, and never has anyone ever called IRC a ‘different place’. The virtual is complementair to the physical, but both relate to a consciousness in the physical world. They are virtual translations of thoughts instead of physical translations. Only i am not enough of an elitist to call this a fact.

    Whatever your reasons are for being in the metaverse, it is driven by your physical self, some desire, some need, some train of thoughts. These desires or thoughts can be used and applied in a lot of ways. If you want to roleplay – that doesn’t make it a different place, that makes you a different person in the same world we all live in.

    Your points on business are moot. I can make any identity as long as i don’t give ll my cc. Besides you know very well those identities are well protected, legally it doesn’t get us any further. Hell, even if they where verifiable but didnt sign a contract there is still no legal accountability, and even when we did sign this contract somehow, who’s to say i am not in Nigeria? How are you going to hold me accountable? Interpol?

    This system of avatar verification has my support 100%, but as iYan pointed out, thats not the reality of the here and now, therefor I think iYans point of view is the smart one, calling that bigotry is just ridiculous. And calling banks fictional is not helping your argument either, i don’t know how you make this stuff up. Even if you come up with some philosophical spin to say banks are indeed ‘fictional’ – it still has nothing to do with the context of accountability.

    I’m starting to feel more and more for the tourist point of view, because if you are the virtual, metaverse native (as opposed to tourist), I’d be happy to call myself the ‘real world native’ (wow, doesn’t that sound dumb, maybe the tourist idea does depend on your point of view…) you would be the real world tourist, it puts your argumentation in proper context at least.

  20. Very nice post indeed; like Aleister (whose name I could swear has been in my paste buffer before, and not long ago, but I can’t recall why) I must object to now having a new place (in face a new swarm of places (nodding at Grace, and at Sophrosyne, and at I think a few more people who were at that hysterical party last night)) to feel bad about not checking often enough for juicy new thoughts.

    I very much identify as Immersionist, even though I consider my SL Y-K-W self (selves) to be the same person as my RL self. Dale Innis is ME, whether she happens to be male or female or panda or sphere at any given time. I’m immersed in SL Y-K-W to the same extent that I am in RL, which is to say pretty much totally. I don’t identify as augmentationist, I think, because the connotation there is that SL Y-K-W is just sort of a little iToy on the side of RL, like a fancier Blackberry or something. To me, it is a peer universe. I don’t know if this view is common or interesting enough to have its own name :) but a rose by any other name etc.

    Small comments on #1: ” notes on the contacts hide in the profiles (anybody actually use that, besides me ?)”: omg yes! I would be hopelessly lost without the notes page, and I assume many many people are the same way. (I find the WoW friends list pretty much utterly useless for the lack.)

    “No conference IM without creating a group”: Not true! There’s some magical way I can never remember to make an ad hoc conference, although perhaps all the participants have to be in your Friends list. Maybe multi-select in the Friends list and then hit some “IM” button or something? But I know it’s possible! (Having been on the receiving end of some memorable ones / grin)

    I think that all the things you point out that are currently rather (hem hem) suboptimal will improve, and that SL Y-K-W (or equivalent) will not finish completely remaking the human experience until they do. But the fact that we’re all in there immersing ourselves (and each other) even though they haven’t improved yet says, as you insightfully point out, something pretty durn important…

  21. “You can do things in the virtual world you can’t do in the physical, but then again, you can’t. You still can’t fly, you can make yourself believe you can fly…”

    So I was trying to decide if there was an actual bone of contention between Digado an’ some of the other folks posting here, or whether it was just sort of a “starting off on the wrong foot and snarling at each other while not actually disagreeing” sort of thing. Then this sentence and a half convinced me it’s the first of those.

    Maybe this should be the Litmus Test for Immersionism: “can you fly in SL Y-K-W?”. Digado would apparently say “no”. The true down-the-rabbit-hole-all-the-way Immersionist won’t even say “yes”, they’re (we’ll) just look at you funny, as though you’d asked if red is really a color, and wonder what the gimmick is. :)

    Not suggesting that Digado is Wrong or anything. Just saying that I, for myself, had to read the sentence two or three times before I realized that e meant…

  22. Great post Rheta!

    Until today I did not know why I lived in Second Life You-Know-Where, it is now clearer!

    By the way in Active World I am just called a ‘tourist’ because I have not taken any subscription ; but anyway in this virtual world I consider myself only as an immersionist.

    And in Second Life You-Know-Where any ‘tourist’ can behave as an immersionist, but somebody paying a premium and a lot of real dollars for their sims can also behave as augmentalist (is Anshe Chung really an immersionist…? I guess she is ‘augmenting’ her fortune in Second Life You-Know-Where ;)

    My humble opinion is that Second Life You-Know-Where is an ‘auberge espagnole’, we find here what we want to find, no matter the definition we put on the words (so far I want to find more immersion than augmentation, that’s all) and it’s true that this world sucks in many domains, but in the coming years it can also improve and become better in every aspects (at least I hope, et l’espoir fait vivre;)

  23. @Dale

    The context of the line was whether SL Y-K-W is really, factually a ‘different’ place – as suggested by Dandellion. I am merely pointing it its nothing close to a ‘fact’ and I think you explained that pretty well – Its a point of view, the mistake is to be so convinced of this point of view you shut other ideas out. dandellion reminded me I don’t need to tell her we can agree to disagree, yet time and time again presenting ‘facts’ in black or white – that instantly lock a discussion down into this community based on subjective point of views and her own experience of Second Life You-Know-Where – which already suffers from the unfortunate name of creating the actual illusion of a different ‘life’. Its still one life, different roles.

    Can you fly in SL Y-K-W? You can, but its a feature of the software to make you believe you can fly – you can not deny its code and graphics creating the illusion, and this could be done long before Second Life.

    ———–

    If you want the kicker in this discussion, lets look at Neal’s point of view, who gave birth to the term Metaverse, and inspired Second Life You-Know-Where.

    Now that’s interesting, at first glance this suggests a different place – there is a universe which would presumably be the physical space, and a metaverse, the virtual/digital space. But now look at the termonoligy. Meta-verse.

    Meta (from Greek: μετά = “after”, “beyond”, “with”), is a prefix used in English in order to indicate a concept which is an abstraction from another concept, used to complete or add to the latter.

    Oh dear…

    ‘complete or add to the latter…’

    me: “The virtual is complementair to the physical”

    Remember this is the original reasoning behind the term ‘Metaverse’ – not the subjective interpretation of the individuals lateron.

    ———–

    “snarling at each other while not actually disagreeing”

    Also very much true, but sort of the dance me and dandellion appear to be enjoying – Read back on several discussions over on my blog and her blog ;)

  24. Dunno whether to be impressed, disappointed or just plain jealous that Digado and dandellion have the time, opportunity and typing speed to keep up their “frank & open exchange of views” across multiple platforms – and I daresay metaverses.

  25. @Digado: Well, as long as all concerned are enjoying the dance. :)

    Etymology of “metaverse” is inneresting but not definitive; can cast light on where we’ve come from and even where we are, but doesn’t tell us where we’re going, or where we should be. Definition that you cite is from Wikipedia, but not sure where it came from. First two definitions of “meta-” in ol’ Wiktionary are “Transcending, encompassing”, and “Pertaining to a level above or beyond; for example, metadata is data that describes data”. (I’m surprised you didn’t mention what the “R” in “RL” is generally taken to stand for. :) )

    Pretty much never use the term “metaverse” myself, but if I did I would use it to refer to the larger universe that consists of all the particular universes to which we have access (default universe of RL, an’ Second Life You-Know-Where, an’ universe of The Wind in the Willows, an’ so on). That is, the thing that transcends and encompasses them all. But again etymology is at best suggestive.

    On “whether SL Y-K-W is really, factually a ‘different’ place”, I have a hard time speaking or thinking any other way. If I say “I spent most of the evening at Tiphares, and then went back home and worked on my target-rezzer for awhile, which come to think of it I have left sitting active on the front porch, probably confusing any newborns who happen by”, I’m not sure how to understand that as factually or even grammatically correct if Tiphares and my front porch aren’t actual places, and actual places that are different from the place that I’m in now.

    Sure, is true that that statement of mine is in some sense a convenient shorthand for a huge and detailed set of statements about the movement of electrons and so on; but that’s the case equally for statements like “last week I went into Manhattan and rode the Roosevelt Island Tram for the first time”: that’s also “just” shorthand for a set of huge and detailed statements about much lower-level things. Nature doesn’t recognize my front porch as a natural kind, but then neither does it recognize Manhattan Island. Is all question of degree! (Highly recommend reading the ol’ Diamond Sutra to all an’ sundry.)

    “Its still one life, different roles”: As long as you realize that that is statement of how things look / feel to you, and don’t hold that anyone feeling otherwise is therefore mistook, no objection occurs to me. :) Same for general question of “actual factual places”: if for you Tiphares is entirely different kind of place than Manhattan, with inferior ontological status, I will not tell you that you are *wrong*, only that I feel differents. (‘less of course you tell me that *I* am wrong, in which case it will be hard not to respond in kind!)

    “Can you fly in SL Y-K-W? You can, but its a feature of the software to make you believe you can fly – you can not deny its code and graphics creating the illusion…” I like this sentence alot! Normally “You can do X” and “It is an illusion that you can do X” would be pretty much contradictory. Are you suggesting that we need to relax that rule in this area, and that some illusions can be true? I don’t like the idea all that much at first glance, but I can imagine myself being persuaded. Absent such persuasion, though, my take would be that I can fly in SL Y-K-W, and that it is code and facts about me that makes that true; just as I can swim in RL, and it is the laws of physics and facts about me that make that true. No illusion properly so called in either case.

    Hoping that is useful contribution to v fun discussion… :)

  26. Above statement was in reply to Aleister by the way :)

    @Dale

    Very insightful commentary.

    I do prefer Metaverse but that’s a communication issue. When talking about virtual worlds in my line of work, virtual is often interpreted as ‘not real, hence not worthy’. Though metaverse sounds a bit technical, it does tend to trigger the attention and lose some of the bias when dealing with people who have never set foot in Second Life You-Know-Where or other virtual environment.

    The point you made about different place was a bit confusing, however I do not think we are talking about the same metaphorical place however. When I move my chair 3 feet back, technically I am in another place, but within the context of the debate I don’t see how physical ‘displacement’ compares to the ‘transcendence’ of thoughts into virtuality and the claim of entering another ‘country’ – certainly not in a factual context. If I misunderstood this let me know.

  27. @Digado again some more

    Ty for kind words. :)

    Yeah, I have no objection to anyone using “Metaverse”. You can even use it to mean “somefing glued on the side of RL to make it better” if you wanna! I will continue to use it, if at all, to mean “all these here universes all considered as big happy whole.”

    Sorry if I was confusing about places! You said “The context of the line was whether SL Y-K-W is really, factually a ‘different’ place”. I was making case that SL Y-K-W places are really, factually, places, and that they are really, factually, different places, in the sense of “different” meaning “not the same”. You are I guess maybe using “different” here in stronger sense?

    Is SL Y-K-W “another country”? Well, that is v slippery question. Has no National Anthem, so must not be country. :)

    Is SL Y-K-W “transcendent”? Also v slippery question, not sure exactly what would mean. Certainly in some senses I would mutter “yes”, but not sure there are facts-of-the-matter ’bout transcendence.

    But, an’ I hope this is something like what you’re getting at, is SL Y-K-W place “different” place from say Manhattan in difference-of-kind different way than say Kansas is different place from Manhattan? Answer there must be “yes”, I think, if only for v formalistic reason that (for instance) there is no generally-agreed-on distance metric between Kansas an’ Tiphares. SL Y-K-W places an’ RL places exist in different metric spaces, different N-manifolds (for values of N near 3.5 hee hee). To put v succinctly, RL an’ SL Y-K-W places exist in different universes. For some definitions o’ “universe”. :)

    Is that close you what you were asking ’bout? Would you answer differently, that RL places an’ SL Y-K-W places aren’t different that way, an’ are really in same universe? Would be innerested in thinking behind that position if so. Or if say SL Y-K-W places are to you not places at all would be interested similarly (ref. example of leaving rezzer on porch etc upthread) of thinking behind position.

    And/But I still wanna know if you think I can fly in SL Y-K-W, or if I have illusion that I can fly in SL Y-K-W, or both, an’ if both would be innerested in your thoughts on having illusions of things that are true. *grins* Am condescendingly speculating that perhaps bits of you are currently holding different opinions about reality vs. illusion of various facts about non-default universes?

    Is whole v fascinatin’ literature in Philosophy about truth-status of sentences like “Peter Pan is male”. Good bedtime reading. :)

  28. All right, I guess by now everybody knows whom I was referring to when I wrote of heads butting so hard the sparks flew.

    @Dale : ta for your contribution, I like both your arguments and the tongue in cheek tone you present them in. Just one thing : you stated SL is no country, as it lacks the trappings of one. On this, I’d invite you to ponder the sentence « The past is a foreign country ». Good bedtime thinking :)

  29. “I’d invite you to ponder the sentence « The past is a foreign country ».”

    Le paradis, c’est les autres!

    (Sorry, random word-association… :) )

  30. Pingback: The Story Box: Second Life & Magic « Dusan Writer’s Metaverse

  31. Dusan Writer’s post, pingbacked (does that verb actually exist ?) above is a most brilliant, must read follow up to the conversation that has latched on this one for a time. You will find my comment — which also is an apology to Dusan for focusing only on the part of his thinking which can be labelled augmentationism for the sake of demonstration, something I most certainly did him no justice with, though to my excuse I wanted to get rid of the labels, not revive them — over here. Go and read it, to learn what a truly brilliant mind produces.

  32. the PROBLEM is PHILLIP didnt CREATE 3D IMMERSION MEDIA.
    He JUST offered the problem strewn one YOU ALL BOUGHT.

    And now youre having BUYERS REMORSE. You told the Emporer HE was dressed perfectly well and now that the nakedness of the product/system shows what was always there to those who have worked on 3d media systems for over a decade….
    you now get the “world” you made.

    liv

  33. Hello Liv, I can’t help feeling you ever so slightly misread the gist of the post :) I wasn’t complaining, I was pointing out that SL Y-K-W‘s deficiencies as a platform for, ah, most anything really do not really matter. Ta for contributing your thoughts nonetheless.

  34. liv says:

    the PROBLEM is PHILLIP didnt CREATE 3D IMMERSION MEDIA.
    He JUST offered the problem strewn one YOU ALL BOUGHT.

    Compared to what, Liv? at the time, there was virtually little else in terms of VR solutions coming off the shelf. VRML was a joke (and despite recent massive attempts to rehabilitate it in the face of newer W3C Web3D standards, remains so) and whatever was coming out of proprietary setups like Viewpoint, not much less so.

    SL Y-K-W is where it is today because at one point, they embraced letting the entire world have it. to not make it an elitist medium like early scribing or painting. Or Betamax. or HD-DVD.

    or to put it another way – Your mother/wife cooks a lot better than KFC. Why isn’t she owning KFC all over the world?

    Simple.

    Because she can’t cook for 12+ million people. (There’s also the fact that she’s your mother/wife and will pwn j00r sorry ass if you tell her her cooking sucks, but let’s ignore that for expediency’s sake)

    Giving the best and giving something to everyone are partially incompatible concepts. Phillip Rosedale, in creating Second Life You-Know-Where with his team, seek to offer a colloid of these two concepts. But like many colloidal solutions like vinegar and olive oil or calamine lotion, SL Y-K-W requires a lot of active shaking to keep mixed together (i.e. perennial development, redevelopment, marketing). That does not make it a bad thing inherently, only when done improperly…

  35. Great post and many interesting comments. However, I think it is time to move the debate from “immersion” which is essentially a feature and over to “engagement” which is more about why new people should join and return to this particular virtual world. New users into phil’s town are not happening at a good rate. There is a confused/weak message as to why anyone new should commit time/effort to getting into SL. Without significant growth in new users the content and interaction on platform will get stale.

    We think engagement has a few key points for the noobie: making friends, things to do and customizing the avatar(s). While there is no science on this, it seems that a noobie must do some of all of this in order to make a commitment and get into the virtual world. In the end all this drives toward more online time and some purchasing of stuff which although not exactly linked to engagment are at least some measure of it.

  36. @Rightasrain : I’m so with you on that. In fact, I was trying to say that I see little sense in the whole imm vs. aug debate, because immersion is the raison d’être of the metaverse. I missed my cue to add that, of course, there must be something appealing to come here, an added value to our meatverse lives — making the labels irrelevant as all residents (unlike tourists) are both immersing and augmenting. To take another leaf out of poor Sartre’s book : L’augmentationisme est un immersionisme and L’immersionisme est un augmentationisme both hold true.

    I still do think, however, that the whole topic teaches us something actually quite relevant to the question of engagement. Not to criticise you (Rezzable does wonderful things to make Second Life You-Know-Where a compelling place to go), but your list is a bit utilitarian. Granted, making these things better documented and more accessible would be a great step, but they will only ever be a reason to visit the metaverse — not one to live there, and only the last would translate into rentention rates worth of notice. Lowering the entry learning curve and prepping the world with content are good and necessary — but I think to make the big step, marketing its basic pull would be even better. Don’t ask me how — beyond my own evangelism, as limited as it is personal, I haven’t got the foggiest notion.

  37. Rheta, here’s the problem with what you’re saying, which goes very deep, and which is why you are able to rant with such eloquence and passion about it. You have an ideal in your mind of what you want to happen on the Internet, based on existing tools like email that have been around for a long time and newer social media that people are still ga-ga about.

    Let’s take just one thing you’ve mentioned, the calendar, and your bitch that SL groups don’t have a calendar.

    Now, be honest –dead honest — when was the last time you used something like yahoo groups calendar, with yahoo groups’ annoying hard sign-up process requiring you to adopt a yahoo handle, and losing the invitation in spam half the time, or google calendar with its annoying long URLs. Be honest, and asked yourself: when was REALLY TRULY the last time you used some social software with a calendar in it for work or play.

    If you are honest, you will say “Never” or “Yes, but badly”.

    So what did you do instead? You went to the lower right hand corner of your Windows on a PC, and popped up the calendar to check the dates. Perhaps you looked at your own hard-copy date book, or you got out a Blackberry or used Yahoo’s calendar. You then emailed or text messages your friend or colleague to coordinate the time. Any group of 20 people in an office coordinate their group time to meet on a conference call in about 10 minutes or less just through normal email or Skyping. They don’t reach for some online, wikified, interactive, thingie — because such thingies are still clumsy, require too many steps, handles, sign-ups, wonky interfaces, etc.

    So the Internet itself, without any 3-D world even to consider, is far worse than you in fact imagine on delivery for the user, and yet you fly into irritation that Second Life is no better, and may even be worse.

    Now, Rheta! Stop! I am asking you to *be honest* again. Be honest about when you really truly used a calendar. Not, “I’d like to be able to do that” or “This is just a standard that has to be built in for evident reasons” but…when you really, truly used that feature yourself in real life!

    I can go down every single other “feature” you are cranking about here. Lists of friends? When was the last time I really cared to go aroung pinging Twitter or Yahoo Messenger or Facebook to find out “which of my friends is on line” in some aggregated holistic way? If I need a friend, I look them up and I see “offline” or “online”. I don’t need a holistic, dynamically-changing constantly rendering representation of what all my friends are doing. It’s Too Much Information. The appetite, the concept of the ideal of the “friends’ list” as a demand to bring forward to That Place far, far, far exceeds the actual USE in real life, so to speak, in other places of the Internet.

    Then move on to storage of data. Again, let’s be dead honest here, Rheta. You really, truly, seriously need to be able to access your colleagues’ heavy, many-byted, dull PowerPoint of last week? You need it to be in “some other place” besides an email attachment in regular email or Google Groups or Powce? You need always-on and ubiquitous capacity to not only store but visually see your colleagues dull PP of last week?!

    Again, look at yourself in the mirror, take a deep breath, and be brutally honest. What is it you will be storing? That you can’t store already? That can’t more logically be stored elsewhere?

    Second Life is a visual world. If I want to express a mood, I could put on a colourful new outfit or completely different avatar and visit my friend on their parcel and they will see my moon and I theirs. Why would I want to sit in IMs and have little emoticons interfering with the precious real estate on the viewer?! The whole point of a world with p2p and changeable avatars is to have visible and spatial experiences you would not get on a Facebool. So come out of your snark and go p2p to a friend and see their new dress. Go shopping with them and buy them a new dress to cheer them up. And so on. Sitting and waiting for the capacity to throw a drink at them or bite them seems really backward when you can both fly around and shop together in virtuality.

    The idea that you can bring a richly-saturated entitlement-happy Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 demand list to Second Life seems “off” to me, or rather, merely a specialized set of very tekkie gripes.

    The average person doesn’t care that he has no place to store a Powerpoint even if he is using SL Y-K-W for education — he’s happy that he can interact with people from different times zones and countries and have a persistent build that people can contribute to. The collaborative features that *do* exist so outweigh his theoretical demand for more widgets that he doesn’t even care.

    It’s funny to me that you have transposed your discussion of the tekkie demand list (all typical of whiney discussions you can find on scobleizer.com or Tech Crunch about platforms with no access for APIs blah blah) over the immersion/augmentation thing. It’s as if augmentation can only be understood in “making YKW technically like the rest of the Internet”.

    But augmentation means the *content* not merely the technology. If someone can use SL Y-K-W *as it is* for non-profit fund-raising, medical therapy, education, my God, that should be celebrated and replicated.

    Failure at Web 2.0-y entitlement fulfillment isn’t a de-immersion for me. It’s just a nice wish list. If I don’t have web on a prim, trust me, I’ll survive. I have already more on a prim than I know what to do with!

  38. Dear Prokofy,

    I agree entirely with your point. Personally, I have no need for HTML on a prim whatsoever, nor do I wish to store data or pipe Powerpoint into the world. I am also not interested in competitively collecting contacts (hence my total absence from all social networks, unless you count Twitter among them ; but I always think of Twitter as an open chat and micro-publication channel more than a « social network ». As you once said : it’s good because it’s live, and interactive, and people have to be terse). Nothing is further from my mind than « Web 2.0 entitlement fulfillment », and I actually couldn’t care less if all these so-called deficiencies were adressed. Believe me I have no ideal of what should happen on the internet whatsoever, nor some kind of technical vision for Second Life You-Know-Where. I have no technical background, no interest in technology beyond the usability of what I adapt, piecemally and rather late usually, into my lifestyle, and techno-babble tends to set my teeth on edge. My meatverse avatar still happily writes her notes with a fountain pen, and she’d still be using a paper calendar had she not lost them too often not to learn the value of backups. Oh, and neither of us could code if their lives depended on it.

    Like you, if I want to talk, I look up who’s online, and pop (err, TP, is there a trademark on that by now too ?) over ; we go dancing, or shopping, or just sit around IM’ing and chatting. I don’t need graphical emoticons or any of kind of frills and bells beyond what I see in-world to immerse in that. I am perfectly happy with Second Life You-Know-Where’s feature set when it comes to any of the aspects I tried to point out as deficient, in fact (all right, contact management could be a bit more flexible if you ask me, but that’s about it). I like this world we live in the way it is, because I can lose myself in it.

    The point I was trying to make was that anybody saying SL is « really » about the areas listed is, well, missing the point : it is such an inferior tool for all of these that I think you could wonder why people use it at all. The answer, of course, being — and Gwyn was right on spot on that — because, like in the atomic wold, you can do all these things from where you sit, however badly. And yes, I agree, the fact people manage to do so is a reason to rejoice.

    I think it is you again who said that Second Life You-Know-Where is a place, not a tool. To me, that captures the essence of it : we live there (part time, granted), and we do all these things because we can and because this is what people who live somewhere do (unlike people who play a game, or are just visiting). But they’re not the reason we’re there. We’re there because it is a world, a place, that sucks us in, sometimes willy-nilly. The rest is making do, and again, I’m quite happy with that.

    As you’ll have noticed you’re not the first commenter to think I am complaining. Obviously, I have failed to make my point clear enough, and the blame is on me for doing so. All I can do is repeat that complaining about technical deficiencies (and I don’t know If I’d actually call them that, or if I care about them enough to even think about what I’d call them) was altogether not my intent. I share your thoughts and agree with your arguments, in fact, and that is why I feel very odd trying to convince you that you do not need to convince me of your point of view. I already am.

    As to augmentation versus immersion, I still hold my ground the debate is actually moot : we residents are all immersing, because this is how SL Y-K-W works, and we are all augmenting our lives somehow by being here. To me, they’re two faces of the same thing, the pull and the push part of our presence in world.

    P.S. : what’s a « snark » ? It sounds unpleasant.

  39. P.S. : what’s a « snark » ? It sounds unpleasant.

    That depends on whether or not it’s a boojum.

  40. Rheta, you’re so funny, throwing little fits on Twitter and trying to get the tribe to back you up like Digado, it’s hilarious.

    Try to take consequence for your own statements. You’ve just printed a huge rant — a typical Web 2.0 snarky geeky rant (and your actual status as a geek or non-geek doesn’t matter — you are chiming in with the culture) in which you rage at all these features that SL Y-K-W has, that you ostensibly have to have and can’t live without.

    So, I quite rationally, quite sincerely, without any “agenda” or “desire to provoke” or “call attention to myself” just call you on your rant, which was largely calculated to find resonance among a certain tribal community, and I say: Rheta, knock it off. When was the last time you used a calendar or had to manage 5,000 friends like a Scoble???

    So why statements like this *now* after your rant is done, *doubling back and reversing yourself*?

    >I agree entirely with your point. Personally, I have no need for HTML on a prim whatsoever, nor do I wish to store data or pipe Powerpoint into the world. I am also not interested in competitively collecting contacts (hence my total absence from all social networks, unless you count Twitter among them ; but I always think of Twitter as an open chat and micro-publication channel more than a « social network ». As you once said : it’s good because it’s live, and interactive, and people have to be terse). Nothing is further from my mind than « Web 2.0 entitlement fulfillment », and I actually couldn’t care less if all these so-called deficiencies were adressed. Believe me I have no ideal of what should happen on the internet whatsoever, nor some kind of technical vision for Second Life You-Know-Where. I have no technical background, no interest in technology beyond the usability of what I adapt, piecemally and rather late usually, into my lifestyle, and techno-babble tends to set my teeth on edge.

    Well, gosh, your rant was sure filled with OS that and interop this. Seriously. You really are a piece of work! Can you please *take responsibility* for what you post! That’s all.
    If you don’t use SL Y-K-W for those things you just finished bitching to us it doesn’t have, what on EARTH is your problem?! And I say this as a critic of SL Y-K-W TOO. But it has to be a reasoned one to be persuasive.

    I didn’t find your rant persuasive; I didn’t find all the amen-choirs singing like angels in praise of you to be persuasive either. I want you to think. I am just trying to get you to think.

    >My meatverse avatar still happily writes her notes with a fountain pen, and she’d still be using a paper calendar had she not lost them too often not to learn the value of backups. Oh, and neither of us could code if their lives depended on it.

    So…why the fussing about a calendar? Hello? Who needs a calendar when time should stand still in YKW!

    >Like you, if I want to talk, I look up who’s online, and pop (err, TP, is there a trademark on that by now too ?) over ; we go dancing, or shopping, or just sit around IM’ing and chatting. I don’t need graphical emoticons or any of kind of frills and bells beyond what I see in-world to immerse in that. I am perfectly happy with Second Life You-Know-Where’s feature set when it comes to any of the aspects I tried to point out as deficient, in fact (all right, contact management could be a bit more flexible if you ask me, but that’s about it). I like this world we live in the way it is, because I can lose myself in it.

    Then why the rant about not having mood status, and friend management and all the rest? In fact, the $100 group does a lot of stuff and you can even pass inventory, not just a little icon of a drink, but an actual drink with animations.

    >The point I was trying to make was that anybody saying SL Y-K-W is « really » about the areas listed is, well, missing the point : it is such an inferior tool for all of these that I think you could wonder why people use it at all. The answer, of course, being — and Gwyn was right on spot on that — because, like in the atomic wold, you can do all these things from where you sit, however badly. And yes, I agree, the fact people manage to do so is a reason to rejoice.

    But that isn’t what you said. You didn’t write a post about how SL Y-K-W inferior for these 10 things that other things can do, but here’s 10 things it is good at. You just wrote a post about only those bad things.

    >I think it is you again who said that Second Life You-Know-Where is a place, not a tool. To me, that captures the essence of it : we live there (part time, granted), and we do all these things because we can and because this is what people who live somewhere do (unlike people who play a game, or are just visiting). But they’re not the reason we’re there. We’re there because it is a world, a place, that sucks us in, sometimes willy-nilly. The rest is making do, and again, I’m quite happy with that.

    Then why a rant that gets 20 people nodding about its technical inferiority? I don’t mind if you have a rant about SL Y-K-W‘s technical inferiority. That’s a dime a dozen on the Internet these days. I’m not some precious fanboy that has to protect YKW from criticism. I just want you to realize the consequences of your posts!

    >As you’ll have noticed you’re not the first commenter to think I am complaining. Obviously, I have failed to make my point clear enough, and the blame is on me for doing so. All I can do is repeat that complaining about technical deficiencies (and I don’t know If I’d actually call them that, or if I care about them enough to even think about what I’d call them) was altogether not my intent. I share your thoughts and agree with your arguments, in fact, and that is why I feel very odd trying to convince you that you do not need to convince me of your point of view. I already am.

    Well, you didn’t write that though? And instead, got all these people wanting to gang-warfare around SL Y-K-W who seize that kind of free-floating negativity of the Internet and use it for tribal bonding. And you even go off to Twitter and rant and rage about *me* and get Digado to print silly tripe about me.

    >As to augmentation versus immersion, I still hold my ground the debate is actually moot : we residents are all immersing, because this is how SL Y-K-W works, and we are all augmenting our lives somehow by being here. To me, they’re two faces of the same thing, the pull and the push part of our presence in world.

    P.S. : what’s a « snark » ? It sounds unpleasant.

    Well, you can read my post about the meeting with Henrik Bennetsen where people conclude the same thing, still, the analysis of behaviour patterns is useful.

    Snark is what Digado engages in.

  41. Dear Prokofy,

    as I said before I didn’t rant about features of SL Y-K-W. I wrote about its immersive pull. I…

    No, wait… you know that, don’t you ?

    Because, re-reading the post, there is not a trace of a doubt I never was ranting to promote some tekkie agenda.

    So… hmmm… you’re not delusional (well, I don’t know for sure of course, but considering your output, the fact you’re quite articulate, and that you successfully manage a business, I’d lean towards not)… you are not stupid (that I’m quite certain of)… there is no way you can have missed I was playing devil’s advocate to get to my point.

    Oh. Of course. How silly of me. You’re playing « hound Rheta », right ?

    Good game, I’ll grant you that. Oh yes. You rattled me the first time.

    But let me give you one hint : you blew it when you got back at me. You should have let it pass and enjoyed your moment of triumph / scandal / drama. Trying to press on, here and on Twitter (I just ask one simple question : do you use toothpaste, Prokofy ? think, brutally, honestly), well, that uncovered your game. Even slow silly me spotted you, cardboard horns, plastic hooves and all.

    Tut, tut, dear Prokofy, haven’t you got better things to do than frighten little girls ? Isn’t cultivating that dirty old man image getting a bit stale ?

    Know what ?

    This little girl has just stopped being afraid of you.

  42. Rheta – very, very glad to come across your thoughtful post. Since coming to sl, I’ve come to identify myself as very susceptible to emotional immersion, and I’ve found to my dismay that most people are much more interested in “sliding into the dream” than in figuring out why they do it, or how it happens. Then again that may be naive of me, as lots of the people in SL are probably on their 27th avatar, complete with a constructed personality created to match. I’ve encountered people who have been apparently been roleplaying online in one way or another for upwards of ten years. Then sometimes I find myself trying to explain the essentially “unreal” nature of sl to “noobs”, and lately I’ve wondered how many are chuckling up their sleeves at me as I do.

    As regards folks like myself, I think that figuring out the mechanisms of immersion and “projection” – which is what I think of as “identification with the avatar” – is very important stuff. We were not evolved to live in a social structure of fluid, changeable identities, and a person who comes to a virtual environment expecting a correlation between appearance and “reality” is probably in for a serious wakeup when she finds out that the handsome avatar boy she has a crush on is running three other accounts, each of which is “monogamously” partnered. Happens :) I’ve seen so many people get hurt by deceptions (including many self-deceptions) that make use of their own “immersability”… and worse, I’ve seen people roleplay emotional crises, without explaining the fiction of their activities, for their own dramatic gratification.

    I love SL. I’m a rezbian :) – married heterosexually for 31 years in rl, with three grown kids. I’ve been virtually partnered twice, been intensely sexual online, been thrilled, and been taken for all I was worth once or twice. While immersion is a wonderful thing, it’s not simple, and I think a little more thought should go towards understanding how it works, and why some of us want it to. Where’s Henry James when we need him? IM me if you’d like to chat sometime.

  43. @Dusan : I went and looked, and shied away in fear and loathing. Eeeeyyuk :(

    @Eveline : Immersion and projection (what a nice word for our way to handle the immersive pull, indeed) are both complex and puzzling topics, I agree. Understanding they are there, and very powerful, is far easier than grasping their mechanism. I do think Dusan Writer had an important aspect pat in his « Story Box » post : it is not so much the graphical bells and whistles (though these help bringing the idea home, I think) as the opportunity to write your own story on a blank canvas, and to get drawn in other such stories, that is one of the sources of the immersive power. After all, how often are you given the chance of a second go at life, all rules and ballast gone?

    If I have any criticism of the concept Dusan proposes at all (and I’m way over my head criticising someone like Dusan Writer, but then, one of the nicest things about blogging is that you can actually get away with dissenting publicly with people twice your IQ), it is that he seems to assume this builds some kind of community bond. I would rather think that part of the power, but also part of the fear this power instils, is the fact that it blows away traded concepts of identity and community, making us realise that freedom has two faces : total autonomy and total responsibility.

    Oh, and I’m always up for a good chat in-world :)

  44. Pingback: Recent Links Tagged With "lambdamoo" - JabberTags

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