Applications and Tools, Identity and Expression, Uncategorized

By a Thread: In the Land of the Technolibertarian

I’m ascribing all kinds of things to San Francisco that it doesn’t deserve, or that aren’t true anyways. Last time I was here was for a Society of Hypertension conference and I remember thinking “what a gentle, rolling kind of city, it would be a great place to live if you want to keep your blood pressure down.”

This time, because I’ve arrived for SLCC, all I can think is: “What are they nuts, putting so much faith in technology? What are they going to do when an earthquake rolls through, like someone giving a flick to a table cloth, the whole place will crumble into the sea.”

This time, the whole premise of San Francisco seems incredibly gutsy and yet ultimately naive and I can’t decide whether I should scorn how ridiculous it is to build a sprawling, seething city along the edge of hills that you would never bother climbing up if there wasn’t a church or a museum or at least a view of the Grand Canyon or something on top; or whether I should applaud its moxie and vigor, kind of like slapping some teenager on the back and smiling proudly when he discovers Salinger for the first time, or the joy of baseball, or who has otherwise discovered, as if anew, something that us old folks have known for oh so long, when I was a kid I used to walk miles to school kind of thing.

Or then I was thinking that this is either like a trip to Mecca or Graceland, and in either case it’s not whether the stones are old and dusty or the rooms are filled with gaudy relics and velvet curtains – it’s not the place, per se, it’s what it represents, what it’s home to, and so you walk around and try to soak up the energies and look for a sort of roaming ether that must be in the air, the thing that inspired the visions that gave us Second Life or Twitter or Mozilla.

San Francisco Mainland
Look, this city is mainland, totally. Sure, there’s a bit of coherence because for the most part the buildings all seem to use the same texture packs. There’s a lot of detailed prim work here and there – railings that could be one hollowed cube but which have all these torus and cylinder prims added in for effect (or maybe they’re sculptys, I can’t tell).

But overall, there’s a shambling, slightly tilted, never quite coherent sense to the place.

And there’s something about the people which is very mainland as well. I can’t help feeling, maybe because I’m downtown, or wherever this is, the place with all the stores….I can’t help feeling that Orientation Island is right around the corner. There are certainly a lot of other noobs like myself wandering around and we’re fascinated with the malls, and trying to find the right prim shoes, and we like checking out all the Showcase things, and we get overly excited about things like those trolley cars which, like most vehicles in SL, seem to have a slightly jerky way about them the way they sort of wheeze and clang their way along, maybe they haven’t been optimized for Havok 4 yet.

And because there are so many noobs, there’s a fair share of griefers to go with them – people asking for a few Lindens, or hustling about needing to get back home, needing bus fare, their son is having an operation and they need to get going, if only you could spare a dime. (I want to criticize their scam, but it worked on me once in Switzerland of all places, so no point in changing something that must work, it’s like those letters from Nigeria I guess, or even better, the one I got this morning “from the desk of Ben Bernenke” who has taken a personal interest in my fortunes if only I’d send him $1,000 so he can release the stimulus money that’s coming my way).

There’s a surreal quality to the people here. The old and tired and worn down mixed in with the beautiful and glamorous and all that incredible prim hair. There’s also something about attachments – I’ve never seen so many kids wearing all kinds of bling, and buckles, and jewels in their noses, and weird straps and crazy thin pants but with giant sculpted boots – it’s sort of like a Neko craze has taken hold with some of them, just without the ears and tails.

(I’m thankful that their avatars are far less than 8 feet tall. Having a shorter avatar myself in all worlds tends to leave me feeling flat footed otherwise.)

Across these Oceans
I suppose it’s a crazy proposition this place. To let this city sprawl out, and up, where no city should really be, not if you know what’s good for you, not if you mind living on a fault line. And it’s crazy not just because it might slide into the ocean at any minute, but it’s crazy because the terraform here isn’t really meant to be built on – it should be protected mainland mostly, all trees and birds and maybe a hiking trail, not houses whose front doors are 4 floors above the patio door at the back; not apartments where you need to be an Olympic runner just to make it up the street to get home at night.

But then I get a view of the ocean and I can’t help nodding my head. Because that’s when I get the point of it, that old frontier thing first of all….we charted our course west and when the land of opportunity ran out, we dug in, and started creating opportunities that had nothing to do with travel or land or movement, it would all be based on dreams and imagination. And second, because the ocean is always there, it’s always reminding us that whatever dreams and builds we’ve managed to bring to life, there’s always another far more distant horizon, the one that reminds us that we never really get to our destination anyways, so we might as well rez some prims right where we stand, there’s so little time to waste.


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