Note: I’m thrilled to welcome Princess Ivory to Dusan Writer’s Metaverse as part of a Mix & Match blog event organized by ArminasX and Vint Falken. Each of us submitted a topic and we were assigned back a topic and a blog on which the topic would appear. My entry is camping over on Tenth Life and is on something at which I’m quite the expert: um, fashion. Which means of course that the post is only peripherally about fashion.
In any case, I’m thrilled to welcome and host this guest post. Princess Ivory’s assigned topic was “Sounds Like Second Life” and…well, read it for yourself, but it sure sounds like Second Life to me. And might just in fact be a nice lead in to my interview with Tom Boellstorff, anthropologist, SL resident, and muse, which will appear here next week.
SOUNDS LIKE SECOND LIFE® by Princess Ivory
I log in to Second Life using a free viewer designed by a non-Linden Lab employee. I send him money via PayPal periodically so I can buy him a beer and entice him to further develop his viewer during his very limited spare time. I cling to his viewer for as long as it will hold against the mandatory viewer upgrades. So far the work-around he provides has been successful.
Point #1: an after-market viewer is more stable and includes more patches than the “official Linden viewer.”
SOUNDS LIKE SECOND LIFE
While logging in, I am hit with multiple pings of IMs I have received. I have not even fully rezzed yet. I am still gray. Shouldn’t my in-world presence take precedence over the arrival of any instant messages I may have already received? And even though I have everything forwarded to my email when I am not in-world, here they all are again. And intermixed with them are current IMs from my friends who are online now. They have their screens set up to ding them every time anyone from their friends list comes online. So then they all start dinging me. THAT is a feature I disabled immediately! Too distracting. Too much dinging. I don’t care if people in my friends list come and go. They will IM me if they want to let me know they are in-world. As I rezz, my screen comes into view and I see that group notices I received are here too. And hey! It turns of that most of them have attachments that were not included with the forwarded message to my email. And I can’t minimize any of the group messages, or drag them to another location of the screen to deal with their messages and attachments when I have time. They are displayed in a big blue box that takes up 1/4 of the screen. I can’t see what’s under it, and I can’t minimize the message. Dumb, dumb, dumb. I don’t have time to read those right now. I’ve come in-world for a specific purpose, and I need to attend to that first. And if I don’t get in-world frequently, these silly notices will cap my message limit and I will miss actual important messages. And the people who sent them will never even get a message that I am capped and their message was not delivered. How dumb is that? Especially if you are trying to run a business in Second Life. You get capped pretty fast. Is it that difficult to tweak to code so that when a recipient is capped, a message could be sent back automatically to the sender? Sure would be a nice feature to have. It’s right up at the top of my list. If I don’t hear from someone, I assume they are ignoring me, not that their inbox is capped. And it is very awkward to approach people and ask, “Did you get my IM the other day inviting you to my party?” Puts them in an awkward spot, depending on how well they know you, and if they want to come to your party or not.
POINT #2: it is difficult to communicate with people in Second Life. Linden Lab needs to develop some flexibility about how to handle incoming messages for residents.
SOUNDS LIKE SECOND LIFE (ding, ding, and ding.)
I showed up at a gathering to discuss a book a liked. Book readings by an author do sometimes use voice, so you can hear the actual author’s voice, which is kind of cool, I guess. It hasn’t enticed me to turn up my volume yet. But I might someday. But many book discussion groups still make use of text instead of voice because it gets too noisy and complicated with too many people trying to speak at once. And with text, you can always scroll back up and see what was said that you might have missed. So, back to the book discussion I attended. Everyone seemed to know each other already, which put me at a distinct disadvantage. I tend to be shy in these settings. About 15 minutes past the time the discussion was to have started, I typed a text message asking if there was a technical problem, because I was not receiving any comments. I was then informed that this group used voice ONLY, and if I did not have a headset with a microphone, I would not be able to participate. Oh boy – that got me thinking. There are lots of reasons why people cannot use voice in Second Life. And good headsets and microphones are an additional expense that is beyond the reach of some people. There are people with disabilities, people with speech impediments, people whose voice sounds very different than the avatar they present to the world. And there is, as is the case in my home, the sound issue to deal with. My husband and I share a small office. We can’t both be in there talking in different parts of Second Life at the same time. And that room has no door. It is adjacent to both the living room (where my husband is often playing his video game, which has a great deal of dialog), and to the bedroom as well, which means that if either of us is up late in Second Life, we will wake the other with our talking and laughing. And even though what I have to say to another person is innocent and innocuous, I don’t necessarily want my husband or daughter listening in on my conversation. It’s just respect for each other’s privacy. It’s the same thing we do on the phone. Take our conversation into another room.
Point #3: The ability to have a private conversation and also to have a transcript of the transaction (for meeting minutes, etc.) is very important. And if groups insist on only discussing things using voice, they are going to lose the “voice” of some very interesting people who might have some very valuable insights.
SOUNDS LIKE SECOND LIFE (or not, depending on whether or not you are using headphones and microphones. We will soon be separated into the “sound haves” and the “sound have nots.” Unfortunately, economics plays a role in this decision for many residents).
I have learned not teleport myself directly to a party or other gathering. I hide behind some tree or building and check to make sure my molecules didn’t get scrambled during the teleport. I do NOT want to arrive wearing my shoe or my hair attached to my derriere, or have my skin turned gray. Or even worse, that flailing, falling animation that you are often stuck in, which requires relogging in order to put a stop to it.
POINT #3: Appearance matters. It is part of our identity. We don’t want to show up “Ruthed” at a gathering. We’ve all had it happen. It is very traumatic. Teleportation needs some tweaking before it is a successful means of transportation.
SOUNDS LIKE SECOND LIFE (because I keep sound volume turned all the way down, the sound I hear in my head during a teleport is the sound from Star Trek when they are “beamed” on and off the Starship Enterprise. Some of our more creative content provides have included this sound in the teleporters they sell in Second Life!)
A naked male n00b with an enormous male body part strapped on runs randomly across my property. He sees that I am female and therefore I must want sex. With him. Because he has this enormous appendage. I tell him I’m not interested several times. Eventually I end up banning him from my property. He does not understand why, and stands at the property line calling plaintively in to me. Eventually I end up muting him too. Sometimes I rezz a big plywood cube on him just for fun.
POINT #4: Not everyone wants be naked and have sex. Can’t these people just stick to their own favorite sex places in SL, and leave the rest of us alone? We really aren’t interested. And even if I was looking for a boyfriend/girlfriend in SL, n00bie boy most certainly would not make my list. Not even the first cut.
SOUNDS LIKE SECOND LIFE
I buy some pose ball pairs for dancing, embracing, and cuddling. You cannot just approach someone to sit together, dance together, etc.,; you have to invite them to hop on the pose ball with you. That can be much more awkward than in Real Life, when you can just put your arm around your girl without having to send her a message asking her permission to allow you to animate her avatar. Even among people who are close to each other, that still feels very awkward an uncomfortable. And if the pose set or AO are badly adjusted, you can find yourself in a very odd position!
POINT #5: We don’t like not knowing to what we are agreeing. Some pose balls are downright risqué! Which I think is probably the intention of the creator, or of the person who has invited you to dance with him. It is hard to have a lot of trust where pose balls and AO overrides are involved.
SOUNDS LIKE SECOND LIFE
But, most importantly of all, we don’t like to be ignored; we don’t like to lose our rights. And we don’t like a 67% rate hike on such short notice with punitive terms. We don’t like to lose our content. Many beautiful sims will be lost; some are already gone.
POINT #6: During a Real Life global recession Linden’s 67% rate for Openspaces will drive many sims under. They simply cannot afford the increases. It feels greedy, with the timing so closely tied to the negative economics; it feel like they really don’t care about the people that created the content that is Second Life. And I mean the residents. Linden got some topnotch content creation for free from people who believed in Linden Lab, and believed in the Second Life platform. And now those people are feeling bitterly betrayed by the company they trusted.
SOUNDS LIKE SECOND LIFE.
Maybe it’s finally time to move to another world?