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04 February 2009

Back at the dawn of time, I started investigating various things that had a healing, or at least distracting, element, starting with a device that influenced brainwaves, then moving on after a few years (when is was invented heh) to Journey to Wild Divine, which was interesting but also like being trapped in a Thomas Kinkade painting. *sound of a cat retching up a hairball*

I wanted to expand what I could do in the digital realm, and saw a tiny blurb in print somewhere about There, which was going into beta. I applied and twiddled my thumbs for a long time, then got a green light and went in. That was, oh, autumn 2003. Immediately I read on the There forum about Second Life, and went to their website. I took the "joo cannod yuse this product or service if joo haff dial-ub" at face value and never tried making an account because *sound of a cat hacking up a very large hairball* I had dial-up.

It's strange to look at the timeline as 2003 was the year both my parents died, my mother in the spring and my pater in the autumn. That summer was unbelievably awful in ways that went far beyond merely losing family members, and I don't want to think about it, but I came to understand that the grieving cycle lasts a year.* I spent 9 months of that time watching Losey's Don Giovanni 8645778565765 times, going to work, and, apparently, flitting about There on a hoverboard,* and then got broadband, hiked over to Second Life, and that was it. Although I poked my nose in various places like Project Entropia, Croquet, Multiverse, ATITD *retches*, and so on, SL was instantly my home and remains so today.

Coming from a less-than-free virtual world I appreciated the abilities Second Life gave to residents. It was obvious to me that the people at Linden Lab were idealistic, since they allowed residents to create in a more-or-less unfettered way despite the fact that what we came up with put serious pressure on the program itself. Three Lindens, Philip, Cory, and Robin, who shaped Second Life in an idealistic way to be a place rather than a mere business, were our visionary leaders and received exaggerated portions of adulation and ire. That was wonderful as I have no desire to live inside someone's business - but to live inside someone's dream is an opportunity to expand the boundaries of life itself.

Cory was fired. That was a real shock. When Philip stepped down as CEO it was another shock, but for me, seeing Robin's "Linden Lifer" tag was reassuring as I interpreted it as "I am here for the long haul." Unfortunately that wasn't the case as we are losing Robin, who was a kind and thoughtful person. It's a bit early to tell, but I hope that Second Life continues to be connected to human existence in a greater, general way, rather than becoming a closed and ordinary little business as every other virtual world is.

Second Life attracted me and held my attention with the ability to build and texture. I'm really only interested in making things; my entire life has been that way. I'm not much for looking at things - I get visually overloaded quickly, anyway. I'm not passive and I don't like arranging already-made things. I just like making things. When I entered Second Life I hit the ground running and made things day and night. Curtailing me now are physical and energy limitations.

Some people who make things want an audience, while others don't care. Those who like to make things are often not those who wish to be the audience for other people who like to make things. It's always seemed to me that there are far more people making things in SL than there are audiences to appreciate those things. And why is that?

The other day I was reading an old comment on an old article. The writer was explaining why many people don't like Second Life, and it came down to, more or less, that people who aren't interested in making things are amused by shopping and dancing and chatting for a bit, but then leave out of boredom as they want prepackaged "things to do" that involve the entirely faked notion of getting somewhere (levels). In other words, they want to feel they make something, not consume passively, but what they feel they are making is not something I have ever considered valid.

Clearly that's not helpful, and I am realising that it may be foreign to me but it is analagous. For whatever reason - they may be creative in another part of their lives or not be creative much at all - there is a need that is going unfulfilled. I've tended to lump people into "creates" and "consumes" categories, but the two are side-by-side continuums, it appears. It was so hard to see because when I'm standing in a forest and someone shows me a picture of a city I don't recognise that as being THEIR forest. So - now what?

*People kept dying on me every few months, though, so it was just a black time for ages and ages.
** I used to ask almost everyone I met if they'd been in SL. I'd watched that fireman-schoolmarm video umpteen times and I can remember saying to someone, "In Second Life you can BE A DUCK." I was highly impressed by that and so I should've been.

posted by - 10:43 AM

Nothing - life lags on
Heh - I ran out of time in the middle of my post and had to leave the house, but I might add more later.
It seems that the current LL is replacing the real heart of SL with an artifical one. Making it all clean and pretty and sewn up for an easy sale. People who are coming in now will never even notice the scar.
Also I would much rather look at a hairball than a Thomas Kinkade painting.
I think what makes the early Lindens so special is that they invited other artists in on their own dream. That is something I always find difficult to do as a solitary builder for so many centuries. An artist wants everything to look just right, and inviting anyone in to muck around is anathema. Even Picasso and Braque stuck to their own studios. But the Lindens allowed anybody to collaborate.

I just wish I had more time to play. Exploring becomes dull very quickly, but making art in Second Life requires a tremendous expense of time, a withdrawal from other things waiting to be made, and from all the things everyone else is waiting for one to make.

Makers and shoppers, artists and television audiences, creators and consumers; I wonder how useful a distinction this is: we play both roles in our lives, sometimes at once, and I tend to think everyone is busy creating something, realizing dreams, accomplishing goals. It's only the minority like us with that curious (at first I wrote perverse) sense of useless accomplishment to actually want to BE A DUCK.
I've been in SL long enough to remember the early Lindens, and I have no rose-colored misty-eyed view of that time. Even back in 2004 it was painfully obvious that most of the LL staff doesn't actually use SL on day to day basis (sure, there were exceptions like Ben or Kelly), and I don't attribute the braindead decisions or halfbaked solutions they came up with to malice, just to plain ignorance. They simply didn't think through consequences, since they weren't forced to live with them, or had enough inworld experience to make a good judgment. Sure, they had a dream, but who doesn't.

Anyway, my point is that no matter who gets replaced at LL, it hardly could be worse or less professional. In fact, most of the notable improvements (havok, sculpties) in the past few years were pushed through by newcomers to LL, not the old farts.

From all my interaction with Robin, she seemed to be a nice and caring person, but it also must be said that it was under her regime when SL had to deal with a lot of "community" bullshit - banning casinos, banning "ageplay", starting teen grid, identity verification. With the result that LL is now every government's bitch. Maybe it has to be that way, but it doesn't seem to me they tried very hard to keep SL free (in spirit).
"Makers and shoppers, artists and television audiences, creators and consumers; I wonder how useful a distinction this is: we play both roles in our lives, sometimes at once"

Yes, that is what I meant by "side-by-side continuum" - every person in both at once but to a varying degree moment by moment.

And Candide, I've been wondering if the regime change in the US will result in a relaxation of the strangler's noose. I expect to see gambling welcomed back if that happens. I think the grids will probably merge, but I'm not qualified to run around in a Chicken Little avatar as I don't do anything to make me feel threatened. I do wish we'd had proper sign ups though, with a log-in name and avatar names.
At the words "Punjab lasso" my pater and I would lift our hands and exclaim, "The strangler's noose id quick to fall!"

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